Color and Confidence: Anatomy of an Outfit

I shop in stores a fair amount, but I prefer to order online. The selection is much larger so I can zero in on just what I want. Today’s post is with an outfit that makes me squirm. I’m persnickety about most things that have to do with fashion, especially

the color. I know that wearing the right colors for your skin tone will make your complexion glow, your eye’s sparkle, and your wrinkles less noticeable. Unflattering colors do the opposite so I avoid them like the plague.

Jennifer Connolly from A Well Styled Life wearing Madewell turtleneck with cashmere scarf from Nordstrom
cashmere and silk scarf // turtleneck sweater //high-rise straight jeans // handbag // water-resistant ankle boots

Chunky sweaters are on trend this fall/winter but living in California means I only need lightweight ones. I spotted this one online and loved the description of the fabric. It comes in six colors and since I’m loving everything soft white this winter, I zeroed in on the Antique Ivory. Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled life wearing rust cilored turtleneck, black jeans and black ankle boots

Then I started to second guess myself and worried that I might get makeup on the collar so I ordered the Heather Ruby. I also ordered a Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing Madewell turtleneck and black jeans

When it arrived, I was surprised to find it a warm rust color. I never wear warm colors because my skin is very pink and cool. It was a cold day (for northern California) and the fabric is just so soft I couldn’t resist putting it on. I styled it with high-rise black jeans and Over 50 style expert Jennifer Connolly wearing rust sweater with black jeans and black booties

We went out to grab some pictures and as we parked the car, my husband said, “that’s sure not your color”. Now my husband has no idea of colors or shapes but he did know this was wrong on me. I had to chuckle because I felt uncomfortable wearing this color.

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life n wearing black jeans with Madewell Turtleneck and cashmere scarf from Nordstrom
cashmere and silk scarf // turtleneck sweater //high-rise straight jeans // handbag // water-resistant ankle boots

I love everything about this outfit, except for the color of the sweater. I won’t wear a color I know is unflattering. The wrong color leeches the life out of your complexion, makes your eyes look dull and your wrinkles are more pronounced. Not a look I go for.

Style tip – to determine if you’re warm or cool-toned, look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If your veins look blue or purple, you’re likely cool-toned. If your veins look green or greenish-blue, you’re probably warm-toned. If you can’t tell if they’re blue or green, you may be neutral and can wear both warm and cool tones.

Chunky Sweaters

Call me crazy, my husband does often, but I won’t wear this sweater again. It’s not ruby, it’s rust. A pretty rust, but not one I feel confident wearing.

Is color important to you?

Thanks for reading and be sure to wear what makes you feel's why wearing the right colors for your skintone matters



  1. This is so interesting. I think that over all, you look lovely in that sweater/scarf combination, despite your relative pallor–which, let me hasten to add, I would never have noticed if left to myself. You used a bright lipstick, so your face doesn’t look too washed out, to me. Are the sunglasses throwing me off? If you were wearing your regular glasses, would I think the same? I wonder.

    I also wonder if I think you look so good in this outfit because the beauty of the color itself makes up for it not being the very best color for your skin tone. I know I have seen other women in colors that make them glow, but, because I found the colors themselves harsh or unattractive, I thought the over all look was not great.

    Do you ever find that you have to like the color before you will wear it, even if everyone tells you it looks wonderful on you? For example, I think I look good in a royal purples and certain cobalts, but these color always seem to me too hard and vulgar (except, perhaps, in velvet), so I tend to avoid them.

    1. The sunglass frames have a warm tone too. I chose them to tone down the sweater. Without the sunglasses, I look positively ill. My regular frames are cool-toned which made the sweater even more jarring.

  2. Color is so important. I had my colors done back in the 80’s and was told I was a Spring. Funny that those were the colors I had been drawn to for years. The one thing that has held true is for me to not wear black or pure white near my face. I need color! I know that pastels are not my friend. The past couple of years, I have been drawn to medium grey for some reason. I’ve found that grey is OK for me if I add a colorful necklace or scarf or if I intensify my makeup. Wearing the right color can change your mood and create a perception of health and happiness.

  3. I think you look lovely in whatever you have on, but if you are not happy with how you look, that is all that matters. I cannot wear light grey. I’m still trying to wear a light grey sweater, thinking of putting a colored scarf with it and if the grey is not next to my face, it might be ok.

  4. I perused my new Coldwater Creek catalog – there was not one color which I could wear. I am a “Winter” through and through, although I now have silver/grey hair. I knew when I first started reading your latest there was something wrong w/the sweater. Thanks for the lesson! Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. I LOVE the color (and entire outfit) on you! Of course, the computer screen may be distorting the color, but I think you look great. That being said, the only opinion that matters is yours…you have to be comfortable. I tend to wear a lot of blue because it flatters me, but I often try another color just to try something new. More often than not, I am disappointed and the article of clothing just languishes in my closet, I try to get to stores to try things on for both fit and color, but not always possible in today’s busy world. Online shopping has become a necessity, but many items sure do appear different in person!!
    I love your site, and look forward to your posts. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  6. So interesting. The minute I clicked on the first photo, I thought it really didn’t look like you. So now I know why. I have some colors I love but simply can’t wear. Thank goodness I’ve finally reached an age where I have stopped buying them to just “try once more.” LOL.

  7. It’s so frustrating because according to rules I am a winter. However, I am drawn toward the warm colors. I also prefer gold jewelry but have silver because it’s in my colors. I have a wardrobe full of black, navy and grey but never feel comfortable with it next to my face. I prefer lighter colors there. My husband says I look great everytime I wear my peach sweater or pastels. I really can not look in the mirror and tell. im just sticking to light neutral colors and adding color with scarves and jewelry next to my face. I figure if I wear a mixture of colors in a scarf, one is bound to flatter. LOL

    1. Please listen to your intuition Eve! Rules are meant to be broken. Experiment with colors you love. We seldom love what’s not flattering. Buy peach, soft yellow, light greens and see what you feel alive when wearing.

  8. I had my colors done by a very talented person. She doesn’t subscribe to the simple Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring system. So I have lots of mid tone blues and greens. Best investment ever. I can shop very quickly as I can spot my colors instantly then move on to fit, etc I won’t wear anything too pale or too bright…just ocean colors, light gray, navy and scarves.

    1. The seasonal color system is the most common but not the most effective.

  9. I just checked my veins on my wrists and they are blue. I’m blue eyed and blonde but it’s mostly highlights/lowlights now with very little white or grey hair to be found. What would be my best colours?

    1. It sounds like you’re a cool soft summer but it’s hard to know without seeing you.

      1. Well, we’ll have to rendezvous next time you’re on the island. ?

        Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family, Jennifer.

  10. Bright red is not my friend…..even though my late husband always wanted me to wear it. Right now I’m on a navy phase….but I remember when you couldn’t find navy shoes.

  11. I like red but usually shy away from it as it is overpowering and washes me out. I’m drawn to navy blue, black, white and gray. I count on my husband and daughter telling me the truth when I have chosen the wrong color.
    I like the outfit you have put together and the red/rust sweater won’t be in my closet.

  12. I have a problem with hot pinks, fuschias & magentas. I love the colors, but these don’t love me back. I find true reds, rusts & purples are more flattering on me. I’ll trade my bright pink sweater for your current sweater! ?

  13. In the pictures this looks good on you but if you feel less than beautiful in it, move on along! I do love how the scarf goes with the sweater. Hope you can return?

  14. My first color lesson came around age 7! I desperately wanted a camel coat because my best friend had one!! With my pale hair and complexion, my mother said Absolutely Not! She made me get a beautiful blue coat instead. To this day my late mama remains my number one style icon. Her clothes in the 50s and 60s were beautiful.

    1. You’re lucky to have had her guidance! Camel is usually ghastly on me too. My goal is to find a cool-toned one.

      1. @Jennifer: I’m surprised you can’t wear camel as you and I have very similar coloring and one of the blazers which I get the most compliments on, is in Camel. That said; I wonder if its more the undertone of the camel color you’ve tried as I have seen some ghastly samples.

        Also, am wondering if you might consider some time doing a video re the application of your eye and eyebrow makeup. -Brenda-

      2. I did a short video of my eye makeup application on my Facebook page last year. I’ll see if I can find it.

  15. I have the same coloring and body shape that you do, and you are right color makes a huge difference in how we feel and look, and I have to pass on warm colors. I’ve made mistakes in the past and ended up giving away items because I didn’t feel good in them. I had my colors done in the past, but the aging process has faded my hair and skin so I don’t wear really bright colors anymore, however I still favor cool colors. When I look good I feel good and confident….and get compliments. Thank you for your blog, Jennifer! You are always spot on!

  16. Color looks nothing like the color on the website. Sorry you wore it and can’t return it.

  17. I agree, the right color is always more complimentary. I am a summer, and warm tones aren’t my friend, but neither are really dark tones my friend. Every fall, I struggle with colors, I admire them on others, and keep looking, I love blue.

  18. This is a great topic. As an artist, I find that color affects me in many ways. There are colors that definitely look better on me, but some colors that may not be my best option, I just feel like wearing, because they suit my current mood. I also have to dress in more neutral colors when I make art, because what I’m wearing will influence what colors I use in my work. It’s best to dress in muted neutral colors on those days. Normally I look best in clear bright colors.
    I also find that looking at certain colors can affect me viscerally, which sounds weird, but I sometimes feel queasy if I see certain colors used in large amounts. And there are also many colors that make me feel happy or comforted when I look at them. When I where the colors that look best with my skin and hair color, I feel more put together and confident in my appearance, and I get compliments too.

    1. It’s fascinating to hear that what you wear influences your work. I’d never considered it.

    2. Glad to know I’m not the only one that can feel queasy looking at some colors!

  19. Sue L. Petersen says:

    I went to the website that sells the sweater. The red color on the website looks more like a nice true red. I order a lot of online things and I have sent things back because of their color. Reds are especially hard because you can’t tell if it is an orange or blue shaded red. I can not wear beige, mustard, or some shades of green. Color means a lot to me because I feel better if I am in the right color. I did have my colors done once but I think they were wrong. They said I was a summer but I feel a lot of the winter colors look better on me. Just stick to what you feel good in!

    1. Not all color “specialists” are very talented;) If your contrast is strong and your personality is striking, you are probably the winter. Personality does count.

  20. Karen Young says:

    My first thought when seeing your photo was that you looked paler than usual. The sweater looks ruby to my eye, though other than the pale factor, is gorgeous.

  21. Thanks you for telling me the wrist trick. How did I not know this all these years! My veins are hard to see but think I’m a neutral. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  22. From here the color of that sweater on you looks great!

    I’m Spring/Summer cool tones, but since I stopped coloring my hair 7 years my colors in that range are changing. I’m trying to adapt. I love cream and whites too and wear a lot of black. I’ll take a peek at the colors of those sweaters because I’m living in a much colder climate now and need more sweaters for the winter!

  23. I like that sweater and scarf on you! It looks different from other outfits you usually wear, and, of course, you look good in anything. If it makes you feel not confident, though, that is another issue. But honestly, I think you look lovely in this red sweater.

    Having said that, my solution to buying outfits that I later regret is to wear them to dental appointments.

  24. Absolutely, I only wear cool tones that suit my coloring. I’m very pale and don’t ever wear black except perhaps for some black shoes that I’ve had for a long time. Navy, purple, green, pink – nothing warm toned. I would return that rust sweater immediately if you can.

  25. The one big downside to internet shopping…the monitor doesn’t always report a true color. We superwomen always think we can make it work but it always ends up at the consignment store!

    1. I’m a nurse and not artistic, but ill people in certain colors look so extra terrible, it makes me feel sick. So, of course, I’ve learned to detest those colors all the time. Blech. Workplace hazard.

  26. Oh, I am definitely finicky about colors. I am a Winter, so I know exactly what colors to wear and do not stray at all from them. I am even strict about the strength of the color, for example, a “blue” is not enough, it has to be navy or royal blue or bright blue. I cannot wear washed out heather colors. I never wear organge, yellow, beige, brown, light green, ivory. I have to wear a pure stark white. Even the red I wear has to be the cherry red not the orange red. So, it is a shame that you cannot wear that sweater again. I do like the scarf.

    1. Lois Williams says:

      The color of the sweater in the photos looks fine on you to me but my opinion doesn’t count if you dislike it that much. I’m a spring/summer but quite frankly I wear a spectrum & change my makeup accordingly. I have found that black is not so kind as I’m getting older – that’s what pretty’s scarves are for. Totally agree one must feel comfortable/ confident in their choices. Just recently found your blog, glad I did ?

  27. for me, the color that dislikes me is Maroon….but i love it…ive tried it so many times and nope, no joy. now, other darks, navy, black, gray, forest green, they work, and any kind of purple or red works, so what is the beef with maroon, i just dont know.

    1. Sheryl, SNAP! Maroon/burgundy makes me look jaundiced. Also find greens & yellows do likewise. Colour & shades certainly do matter.

  28. Yes I do care about color and seem drawn to Navy blues and dark reds (not rust) and pale beige. Boring? Fir yoga and rai chi classes mist all if my workout clothes/are bkack or grey. Shades of grey look fine on me while others ….not so much!

    I need to re think makeup again. I tend to go light on it and I think I need to punch it up a bit. Especially my wonderful bronzer which usually needs re application. Otherwise I look oh so pale! I do include a deeper lipstick at times which brightens my face! Color matters!

    1. I have deepened my eye makeup to compensate for my fading complexion. At this age, the last thing I want to look is “fading”;)

  29. In the photo where you are in front of the brick wall I think the colour looks great, but that could just be the lighting. I know what you mean about colours, at 66 I know what suits me and no sales lady can ever tell me different.

    I work in a small independent ladies store and we would never let anyone leave the store with something we know she will be sorry with later, it won’t reflect positive for the store but more importantly the customer will always regret the purchase as a waste of money.

    1. Good for you! Too many salespeople are on commission and aren’t as honest.

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