Happy Tuesday, ladies. A reader mentioned that she needs to wear different colors within her color pallet since going gray and wondered if there is a formula or guidelines to simplify things. There are three components of color. Hue is the actual color…red, yellow, blue, etc.). Value is the lightness or darkness of a color. Finally, saturation is the strength, purity, or intensity. Let’s talk about value today, contrast, and how to find your personal contrast level.
Read more about personal color analysis here
Our hair color, skin, and eyes all have a value (light to dark) on a sliding scale. Our personal contrast level is the difference between them. Wearing contrast levels that match your own contrast levels is as important as whether the undertone is warm or cool. In some instances, it’s more important!
A high level of contrast is when there’s a big difference between the lightness of one or more colors. For example, if you have very dark hair and light blue eyes, you have a high value contrast. However, if your dark color hair has gone a medium grey, it will lower the difference (contrast) with your eyes.
If you have light silver or blonde hair, fair skin, and pale eyes, you have a low contrast value and will look best in low contrast outfits. Medium value contrast is when there’s a difference, but it’s not extreme.
Contrast levels that are too strong, overpower and wash you out. Conversely, wearing a contrast that is too low reduces your visibility. Knowing and wearing outfits that echo your personal contrast levels keep you looking vibrant and visible at a time when society often overlooks midlife women.
How to find your personal contrast level
The easiest way to see your inherent color contrast is to take photos of your face and hair. Then use the settings on your phone to change it to a grayscale, monotone image. Now you’ll see the level of difference between the intensity of your hair, eyes, and skin. I have makeup on in my photos, but you can still see the difference.
The black and white have a strong contrast which overpowers me. The red lipstick attempts to make it flattering but falls short in the monochrome image. The black jacket is intense against my complexion. Its contrast with the white shirt draws your eye to the garments, away from my face.
I have light ash blonde hair, fair skin, and medium eyes, so I have low/medium contrast value levels which match the chambray shirt and denim jacket. My eyeglass frames and lipstick are also a low contrast which doesn’t overpower my coloring. What color I wear is less important than how light and dark it is. My low intensity is also why I am flattered by monochromatic outfits because they are the epitome of low contrast.
Let’s look at some outfits. This sweater with different wash jeans is a great example. High contrast is when there’s a big difference between one or more colors. Low contrast is when they’re very similar. Medium contrast is when there’s a difference between them, but it’s not extreme.
When we remove the color, you can see the contrast levels. The light sweater and deep wash jeans have a high contrast which would flatter someone with equally high contrast. If you have white hair and deep brown eyes, you can wear stronger contrast.
Now let’s try a deeper sweater with the same jeans.
Now here’s a sweater with a medium value and the same jeans.
Try this yourself. Do all the grays meld softly, or do your eyes stand out? Is your hair noticeably darker than your skin tone? The comparison is what shows your personal contrast level. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize the contrast levels in outfits so you can wear ones that match your own. These will be the most flattering so you’ll look the most vibrant and visible.
Hair that changes from black to pale gray lessens your personal contrast level, so you will look better in color combinations with lower contrast. You may also look better wearing the lighter colors within your palette. Remember, you will not change seasons, just the colors that flatter you most within those seasons…unless you were mistyped in the first place.
Do you pay attention to contrast levels in your outfits?
Thanks for reading ladies and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.
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