Author Archives: beautyvalued

Joan Callaway, author of The Color Connection

A few months ago I googled “Author Joan Callaway.”  I’d bought a book by her, The Color Connectionand when I realized how fabulous it was I wanted to see what else she’d written, hoping for additional gems for my book collection. A book about surviving grief came up, It’s an Ill Wind that Blows no Good, and a short twitter feed with some political tweets. Photos made it clear this was the same woman despite the subject matter of her writing having changed.  While I was slightly disappointed there was no further mention of color or style, I was pleased to find that she lived less than two hours away and I could contact her. We became Facebook friends at once (fun!)  and I continued to devour the book. Then I had the incredible pleasure of meeting her last weekend.

colorconnection

From further reading, I knew that Joan had suffered the most terrible of losses when she was just a few weeks younger than I am now.  Her youngest son (of five children) and her husband had died from a fire in their home.  Surviving this clearly led to her more recent book , but I had no idea that it also led to the book that I cherished so much.  You see, after her husband died, she needed to support her family so she opened a store.

Well, actually, she tells me, she and a friend thought they’d become realtors but at the second or third lesson they changed their minds when Joan asked a question and was told, “You don’t need to worry about that, the broker will know.”  Joan explained to me, “I’m the kind of person that needs to know about EVERYTHING so that wasn’t going to work!”  Indeed, Joan’s must-understand-everything attitude is displayed beautifully in The Color Connection.  More importantly for the reader, Joan knows how to organize information and how to explain it clearly.

The first store that she opened sold craft based art, and later beads too. One day Joan took a gamble and bought six pairs of earrings by Laurel Burch to sell though they were pricier than her customers might want to pay. They “flew off shelves” so Joan decided it was wiser economically for her to sell earrings than beads. She soon became known as the “Earring Lady.”  One of Joan’s assistants in her shop gave her the confidence later (and thank goodness!) to also sell clothing.  When clients came in with palettes, holding them up to clothes, Joan was intrigued.  This was the start of her quest to understand seasonal color analysis through reading, attending workshops and having her own colors analysed many times.

This is Joan’s Suzanne Caygill “Onyx Winter” palette on top.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a Suzanne Caygill palette presented in this plastic case format…

joanpalettesAnd, here’s the other side:joanpalettes3Below is a palette extension created for Joan later, by Dorothy Gietzen, one of Suzanne’s graduates.  It is this palette than Joan says she used the most.  Here she is with it.  Her hair was jet black when the palettes were made.

JoanCwpalettes Dorothy wrote, in beautiful handwriting, on the back of each card strip the categories that the colors fell into ( understated, dramatic, neutral, etc., and any additional notes such as how much of a color could be worn). JoanC1 If I could travel back in time I’d certainly want to shop in or better yet work at Joan’s store, Tarika.  Clients and sales assistants got free color and style advice and education.  Joan would record well dressed people on TV on tape to show her staff as a teaching aid!  She stocked garments in colors and styles that worked in seasonal harmony, making shopping in a way that would make Suzanne Caygill proud simply effortless.  Garments in summer colors were in summer styles, autumn colors in autumn styles and she and her staff understood the smaller variations too (that everyone wasn’t just one of four seasons but each had more differentiation).  Joan’s book has a concise chapter on “illusions” so no doubt her staff also knew about selecting the most flattering of garments within the s too. She had windows at the front and back of the store for good daylight and two changing rooms, one very romantic and feminine, one more masculine and ethnic.  Joan enjoyed watching clients choose which to use!

Joan mentions to me (and also wrote in her book) that she sees too many people online in style forums and, before, in her store, thinking they can only wear exact matches to the colors in their palette.  She would show people in her store how to open out their palette to see if the color or print in question blended with it.  She notes that fabric swatches are far easier to use than paint samples for this purpose.  Consider: I have approximately 3,000 fabric swatches to choose from for my clients.  The human eye, it is estimated, can discern 10 million colors.  An analyst can’t physically store and sort through that many swatches in a timely fashion even if we can discern the differences: it’s simply not practical.  (Though I admit I’d have fun having 10,000 swatches to work with or being able to magically alter my fabric samples ever so slightly!)  Clients therefore need to understand their palette and remember it’s the overall effect of an outfit that matters.  I’m so glad my teacher, Debra Lindquist, taught me this too and I’ve been passing “How to Use Your Palette” notes onto my clients when I send them their colors!

Joan suggests people add swatches to their palette when they find fabrics that fit between colors, whether from fabric bought for sewing a garment or a bit snipped from a seam if it’s a garment that was purchased.  It’s a nice way to add to your understanding certainly and, she notes that if it’s a print then having a snip in your palette in your purse will serve you well when shopping for coordinating items.

The most unexpected and genius tip I learned from The Color Connection has more to do with Slow Fashion and the wise purchasing of pieces generally.  Joan suggests that you keep a shopping wish list actually in your closet.  As items occur to you, you add them to the list and (and here comes the brilliant part), you also make a mark after the item each time you’re getting dressed and wish you had it.  When an item has lots of marks after it, it’s going to be a wise purchase and should go on your actual shopping list. 

wishlist

I asked Joan whether her book got the most favorable reception from consumers, designers or retailers (as her book has sections written for all three groups).  She laughed and said, “From color analysts!”  It wasn’t an answer I expected, but it makes complete sense. This sort of clearly written, all encompassing book was so needed!  I’m fortunate to now have a signed copy!

jcallawaysignedbook Joan not only wrote and owned her stores, but she also set up a Bereavement Outreach Group – the first of its kind-  and more recently set up a literacy program for at risk school children. I was curious which of her accomplishments she was most proud of. She had to pause to and chose co-founding All Things Right and Relevant a second hand store in Davis that provides work and job skills to those suffering from mental illness.  It’s part of a much larger support system for those with mental illness, providing everything from housing to counselling, so it was the big picture she was referring to.  After all, Joan doesn’t do things by halves.

Today, at her retirement community,  Joan leads a memoir writing group, and runs her own mini-library outside her front door.  joanlibraryAnd, due too demand, she’s working to get Color Connection republished!  It’s expected to be $48.  Whether you’re determined to find your best colors yourself (she has the BEST chapter on this), or you want to know more about style recommendations for the seasons, this is your book!  I’ll be sure to update you when it’s available. (SEE BELOW!)

If you want to read more about Joan, this is my favorite article about her.

Oh, and, last point. I also purchased Scientific Dressing by Marilyn Curtin, a book Joan recommends in hers. For anyone who loves to analyze the figure and wants to better understand style choices with regards to proportions, stance and head position (really!), this book has some interesting tidbits. I’m not jumping up and down saying, “Buy it!” as I didn’t love everything about it, but I’m glad I bought it as it made me think about a few new things.

UPDATE: The book is $52, a tiny bit more than anticipated but really it’s like three books in one.  GET IT, here.  And enjoy!

Turning 40, Slowly

As someone who’s always wanted to be in her thirties, I was grieving a bit in the weeks before my 40th.  Then a few days before my actual birthday an older friend gave me a card with a pack of post-it notes because, “It’s hard to remember anything these days!” Next, a large box arrived, sent from my best friend from middle school,  with a tiara inside and the note, “Welcome to the Big Kids Club!” The gestures were both so fun, it made it hard not to embrace the day. And not to laugh.

me40

After a family breakfast out on the actual day (tiara on head) followed by a fancy holiday party lunch, I went to the Fibershed Fashion Gala , at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma.  Please, take 20 seconds to read this blog and see its photos as I can’t describe the concept behind Fibershed any better, any faster or with more beauty. More details are here.  Pretty cool, right?

I was curious to see locally made clothes and to meet the designers that made them. Would there be colors within my palette?  Styles that would suit me?  At prices I could afford?  You see in my dream world, I’d not only tell clients their best colors and styles, but which local (to them) designers to turn to for investing in new pieces.

Currently I buy most of my clothes nearly new, really thinking about how much value each piece will add to my life.  That’s how I do Slow Fashion.  But I wanted to know how else it could be done, both for me personally and for my local clients.

There were not as many garments and accessories to see as I’d envisioned, but there were plenty of surprise discoveries.  For instance, I was expecting only to see photos of furry beasts and then the woolen creations made from them.  But this woman uses only mushroom based dyes!

mushroom

mushroomdyes

lesliedress

I liked this designer’s trail-on-the-ground-urban-rather-than-bridesmaid-convertible dress.

ditto hangers

These hangers were part of a raffle prize, but apparently everyone (not just me) was asking about them, wanting to buy them.  Earth friendly and -for those of you with minuscule storage space or who want more of a boutique, airy and spacious feel in your wardrobe – they DOUBLE your closet space!  Ditto sells them in plain brown in three sizes – adult, children and infant, and their site has a sale through January.  Perfect as my daughter’s clothes have outgrown the hangers we have for her. The Container Store sells them fora bit more in black in the adult size only. Rave reviews here.

There was a bounty of gorgeous food that I was too full to actually relish. And look  how unexpectedly gorgeous wine barrels are serving as a backdrop for fashion!

fibershedfashiongala

And then, I stumbled across a woman selling the most wonderfully scented spray.  Ever since pregnancy, I’ve been exceptionally sensitive to scents, disliking most of them but this was incredible and I didn’t even know what it was. Room spray?  Body spray?  Something called “Cloud of Protection” it turned out, and typing this I’m laughing at the name, but if you smelled it first, as I had, you’d understand. Both nurturing and cleansing, with a brightening and uplifting result. I was hooked and intrigued: the maker seemed to understand scent in a way I’d never encountered.  I bought the sample kit for $20 and have since purchased the full size of The Balm (excellent for smoothing my hair into a ponytail) and “C” Perfect Skin , the oil, even though I’m not actually out of either yet. The oil is the best I’ve tried (I swear I look younger! Best birthday gift to 40 year old self ever, right?!?) and truly affordable. 

bynievesPlus the packaging is charming.  By Nieves is sold here.

yarn2

Dinner out completed the day.

In conclusion: the yarn for sale was beautiful but knitting isn’t my thing.  The prices of the garments I saw were too high for me personally, and the colors and styles weren’t my best. The kids clothing I looked at for my daughter was cute but not soft enough. (She’s very particular.)  So while I can’t say I’ve found new designers to go to or locally made yarn to create with, I can say I continue to be inspired by Fibershed and by Slow Fashion in general.  I enjoyed taking the time to go see what was being made.  I’ve found a smarter way to hang my family’s clothes.  I’ve got happier skin.  I spent time on my 40th birthday doing something I feel strongly about and something that makes me happy.  And, I realized that if what I want to buy to wear isn’t available locally YET, then I’m inspired to make it!  And while I think that’ll involve up-cycling old clothes, I’m letting my ideas on how to do that exactly percolate SLOWLY.  (Why rush, right?)  I want to savor the second half of my life more than I have the first.  After all, I just had the pleasure of turning 40.

Hand Painted Custom Palettes and More!

“Working” on my weekends has become so much more fun since I started doing custom color.  Saturday, I spent the morning learning about how custom palettes are hand painted and the afternoon finding out more about Suzanne Caygill.  I have lots to share!

Rochele HC Hirsch, who organized the Suzanne Caygill Legacy Event  I attended in August, also organized and led this day.  Rochele began her studies with Suzanne Caygill in 1987.  Two years later, Suzanne moved out to Atlanta, Georgia and Rochele served as her agent.  They were close until Suzanne died in 1994.  (Suzanne even decorated two of Rochele’s homes – really fun to hear about!)

Since her training, Rochele has ALWAYS hand painted palettes for her clients.  And, to date, she has created over 1100.  Yup, over 1100.  

Rochele  uses acrylic paints and Strathmore drawing paper.

rochele setting up

She begins by painting light, medium and dark skin tones, looking at the clients’ arm and hand, and comparing what she has painted to the client’s face.

rochele painting

(Skin tone swatches are not always painted to be exact matches – sometimes she lifts the color.)

As she works, Rochele makes tiny tapping motions with her brush above the deposits of paint on her own palette, and quietly murmurs questions and also answers as she feels and intuits her way to the colors that best work to create the client’s palette.  

She tells us which pigments she is using and when she needs to make adjustments. 

Next, Rochele paints the reds (shown below).  She goes on to look closely at her client’s eyes.

rochele reds

rochele eye chart

She tells her client what she learns about them looking at their eyes’ structures using  Denny’ Johnson’s Rayid Model.  (She passes around a guide to the Rayid Model, shown in the photo at right.)

rochele eye colorsAbove you can see the swatches painted based on eye colors.

Rochele’s early discovery that the client needs Burnt Sienna added to colors to make them work for her continues to hold true.  Rochele says that Autumns tend to need Burnt Sienna in their best colors.

rochelepaintingmore

No one is suprised that the teal of the client’s sweater is included in the palette.

Rochele then pulls out a very large binder of neatly organized fabric swatches. They are allrochelechoosingprintsprints.  ( I tease her, saying, “You don’t paint the prints too? ”  She says that painting more than plain color swatches that doesn’t interest her.  Fair enough!  I’m plenty impressed!)

rochele first cut

As folks head out to lunch, out comes a mini-paper cutter.  Rochele cuts and glues the paper she has painted to create three separate palettes.

The client receives a larger and a smaller (purse friendly) palette; the third palette is for Rochele’s own records, with information about the client noted on the back.

There are also “extra” pieces – the ends of the painted swatches and these go in a plastic bag for the client to take home.  These extra bits of color swatches can be manipulated – moved around – to try out different color combinations made possible in the palette.

three plettes rochele

rochelefinalpalettewithbernie

Here is the client with her “Metallic Autumn” palette.

The swatches are laid out in the traditional Caygill manner, shown also in this palette which was created by Suzanne, herself:

rochelescaygillexample

It is for a “Renaissance Autumn,” a sub-type not included in Suzanne’s book, Color, The Essence of You.  (Please note the diagonal lines seen in the darker blues on the right are reflections of the wallpaper – those are not prints.)

In the afternoon, we watched the video that Suzanne Caygill’s clients saw while waiting to have their colors done.  In it, Suzanne, seated at a table decorated with flowers and lit candles,  is talking, describing her understanding of colors and their connection to the seasons.  She holds up photo collages of of people with images from nature to illustrate what she is saying.

We heard a funny story of a man in Suzanne’s waiting room horrified to discover that all the eyes had been cut out of the magazines! (Oh, Pinterest and Polyvore, where were you when Suzanne needed you?)

And we see lots of photos from Rochele’s time with Suzanne.  My favorite photo was of Suzanne, Rochele and two other women  wearing dresses that Suzanne had designed for an event, and named “Nothing Dresses.”  They were in metals not skin tones, for those wondering!

Color analysis is only part of Rochele’s field of expertise.   She studies relationship dynamics and their connection to inherited beliefs, and she’s written a book about it.

Rochele travels the world making hand painted palettes (and sharing intuition with her clients about what is going on within them and within their relationships).   Her travel schedule can be found here.  Palettes by Rochele are $350 and include the larger and smaller size and also the bag of extras.  It is sure to be a memorable experience and I can’t wait to see which readers consult with her first!  (Anyone in Singapore?  She is headed there soon.) Recommended for those of you curious to see hand painted intuited colors!

If you’d like to have her come to your town, contact her.  Typically you need five to six clients and if you provide her with accommodation and assistance (assembling the palettes), you get a great deal on your own palette!

Decoding Color Exquisitely

The only kind of high that I like is a color high.  I’m coming down off one now and it’s a dreamy, soft descent.  It started with a gentle glow at a book reading on Sunday afternoon, amid an eager crowd, hearing women whispering of paint and clothing colors as I found a seat.  Then mother and daughter authors, Joann and Arielle Eckstut, took to the podium and filled the room with laughter, delight and many a gasp, as they shared favorite snippets from their their visually stunning book, The Secret Language of Color (officially on sale October 22nd but available for preorder here ).

With slides to accompany their talk, they confounded the audience with optical illusions; bookreadingwowed us with nature’s beauty and challenged our brains with the physics of color.  (For the record, that tree that fell in the forest without a sound?  It was colorless too.)  Our magical journey through the rainbow involved leaps through history, trips over seas and reflections on the sky; we put on robes of the aristocracy and the eyes of bees.

And, then just as I was getting the hang of flying through time and space, and inhabiting other species minds’, the color ride and indeed Q&A time was over and the pot of gold – the book itself – was at the cash register.  Legs moved fast and for a short while the vibe turned tense as there appeared to be a shortage of copies of books for sale. “That one is mine! But, yes, you can look!” I heard several times.

Outside, sitting in the sun (Book Passage in Corte Madera has the nicest set up), I dived into the book, then splashed around like a dolphin, frolicking in the sea.  I delved deeper at home.  The book  tantalizes, but more importantly, it satisfies.  It’s the kind of book you can enjoy for a minute here and there just as much as an hour now and then. The photos are glorious and seemingly never-ending, the graphics flawless and the writing is charming. And, for those of you who often feel cheated of intellectual depth in coffee table books, you can rejoice!  There is real substance here.  Spare yourself three years of color related research and read this.  (With the saved time, you might like to try out the recipe for tyrian purple (purple made the old fashioned way).  Warning: you need 1000 mollusks and good aim.)

Obsessed with color as it relates to the human body, my own favorite morsels include:

  • learning that humans are better able to discern shades of yellow than any other hue.
  • seeing Pierre David’s Human Pantone rainbow collage, comprised of (photos of) human skin.  (It is beautiful not macabre!) Enjoy that artistry here.
  • discovering that plants have small amounts of melanin too, evident in fruits that bruise!

Speaking of which, I knew that our color vision was thought to have developed to allow us to find the ripest fruits. But there is a new theory, did YOU know?  

  • Our vision may have evolved to being more complex  (though not as complex as a butterfly’s) to better understand other people around us! That leg is a bit blue, that face is turning green, that person’s chest and now neck and now face is going RED!  Respond!!!

No one, the Eckstuts will tell you, is an expert in color, yet you certainly feel a lot smarter with words from these women at your fingertips.  In addition to being authors, Joann Eckstut, founder of The Roomworks, is an interior designer and color consultant; her daughter, Arielle Eckstut is a professional Book Doctor and co-founder of LittleMissMatched.  Both predict annual color trends for the Color Association of the United States, Joann for interiors/environment and and Arielle for young fashion.

My hour at the reading was fabulous enough but then I had the additional pleasure (hence the sustained color high) to chat with these woman again the next day as I showed them how I find personal colors.  It was quite a treat.

. joann and arielle

Almost done…joannfinalfan


photo

Joann’s also has shiny silvers, some plums and more warm reds.

Arielle’s also has nearly stark whites, lucky-in-the-East yellows and a few more orange-reds. 
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The black and silver in the middle are shared.  

Now, go and get this book.  You can’t, in all seriousness, call yourself a Colorista, a Color Freak or a Color Nerd without it.  It’s also a great  gift for any of your friends who fancy themselves part scientist/social scientist/artist or trivial pursuit master.  Even a color blind, mathematician friend would probably love it.  It’s that good.  Really.  (Buy it hereor, support your local bookseller.)

The beautiful fabric swatches I use are part of Debra Lindquist‘s Color Profiles System.

A Makeover for my Mom for her 70th!

My mom’s entire wardrobe would fill a single suitcase and the makeup that most women travel with to work is more than my mom actually owns.  So when my dad asked if he could treat her to my smaller size custom color palette (my FLIRT palette) so she that she could use the colors as a guide to buy some new lipstick for her 70th birthday party dinner, I thought, “Nooooooooo!” *insert giddy laughter* ,”We have to do the WHOLE palette!”  (You can read about my different custom color packages here.)

mombeforeusethisone

WHEN WE STARTED….

While my dad’s goal for my mom might have been new lipstick, my goal was a makeover.  Here’s why: my mom’s hair was dyed and the color needed work (see right).  I figured that if I had enough time to show her how the warmth of her hair was confusing her overall look and therefore her color palette, she’d get her hair color corrected.  Happily, my plan worked.

When hair is not harmoniously dyed, creating a temporary palette for a person is an option and that’s what I started to do for my mom but fixing the color is better as then you’re not compensating for color that is off.  (To see why hair color affects a custom palette, see this largely pictorial blog post which involves Elmo and imaginary friends.)

My mom is holding the part of her custom palette that was certain  – the part of her palette that is known as her “body colors.”  From left to right she’s holding her skin tone swatches; her natural blush tones;  her eye colors swatches, and then her hair color-to-be swatches that I’d chosen (to take to the salon).  As she  went off to call a new hair dresser, I decided to purchase some lipstick.

My mom won’t wear lipstick if it isn’t EXTREMELY moisturizing so I wanted to get her Silk Naturals brand.  (See their selection here.)  With just her skin and blush tone swatches in front of me, I opened my laptop.   Note: Silk Naturals has excellent swatch photos on their site or there’s absolutely no way I’d have done this.  (And, not that I’ve ever used it, but they also have an excellent return policy.)  

I wanted to get my mom a nude, a pink and a red  lipstick –  for my mother who has never owned three lipsticks at once!   It was imperative that I found colors that connected with both her skin tones AND her blush tones.  You can see  below that my choices (Birthday Suit, Eternal and Reddy)  mesh beautifully in this regard.  Actually put on my mom,  these lipsticks look more pink/red. roz makeup The lipsticks arrived just in time and – success!  – each of them was fabulous.  My mom’s hair was dyed…and then we went back to creating her palette. Here, with her custom palette just completed, she is wearing her pink lipstick, Eternal, and holding the same “body colors” from earlier.  Isn’t she looking gorgeous? momfinal Ok, aside from the nail polish she had on not jiving.

I bought her a couple of new tops on ebay and here she is wearing one of them with Silk Natural’s lipstick Birthday Suit, the nude lippie that she’s taken to wearing most of the time. birthdaysuitlippie And here she is wearing Reddy and the other top I got her (with sequins that reflect the colors in her palette): reddy In general, using your custom color palette to buy makeup is as simple as matching your fabric swatches directly to makeup and/or finding makeup in colors that fall between your skin tones and your swatches. For example, here are three of my blushes next to my palette.  You can see that Desert Plum (in the middle) and Pretty Plum (far right) are exact matches and that the blush on the far left, Lady, falls between the pink to its left and my lightest skin tone swatch to its right. myblushesandfan Another example: my most used Silk Naturals lipsticks, Fashionista, Rapturous and Sultry, are swatched below on paper next to my blush colors and skin tones. You can see how they visually make sense with these strips of swatches. Then, my favorite eyeshadows, Mohave and Prowl,  lie happily between my skin tones and my dark brown swatches (which are actually my hair color swatches). kathymakeuforblog Sooooooo, if YOU need a makeover, where better to start than with a Custom Color Palette from Beauty Valued?  (It can be done in person or online from LOTS of photographs.)  And if you buy from Silk Naturals, be sure to look at the photos of the swatched make up, not just their color indicator “dots”.

Notes come with a palette and include further details on makeup selection and how to assess current and potential clothing.  Plus, there is also customized info regarding personal style.  (For a fun example of accompanying notes -minus makeup info, as it’s for Elmo – read this post.)  

And if you want to know tips for buying clothes on ebay, keep reading. My previous blog post is about just that!

15 Tips for Buying Clothes on eBay

This list is updated from a post I had in a previous blog.  (For folks that read my last list, new points have an * by them!)

1) Search for brands/designers you know and love, whose sizes you are familiar with and consistent in.

2) Sort by lowest price first (the same garment may be listed by more than one seller and prices – as well as conditions – can vary a lot.)

3) Know your measurements (bust, waist, hips, *from shoulder seam to shoulder seam for jackets) AND the lengths you like garments to be (sweaters, skirts, the inseam on jeans, sleeves, dresses, etc.)

4) Search eBay for your favorite designers/brands and your size, adding any additional info you like, eg. “skirt.”  As you browse, look for styles and colors that you know work on you.  I generally play it safe with color choices on eBay, sticking to colors that are not easily misrepresented.  You’re aiming for a purchase you’re going to love, so stick to what you love.  (Note: save your searches in eBay, eg  Brand, size, by lowest price first.) *I also save searches on eBay for items I’ve tried on in consignment store that were nice but one size too big or small to see if I can find them in the right size. It’s worked!  I am sure to take a photo of the garment I like while in the consignment store to be sure I recognize it on eBay and I photograph any details on the inside tags too that might be helpful in identifying the garment online.

5) If, generally, you struggle to find a certain type of garment that fits really well, don’t buy it on eBay.  For example, I do not generally shop for pants on eBay.

6)  My exception about buying pants is that I have bought duplicates of jeans I adore.  If you have an item in your wardrobe you love, and want it in other colors or simply a back up for when your beloved garment bites the dust, search for it on eBay.  Bear in mind no two garments are ever truly identical.  Chances are the cut will be ever so slightly different, in the tiniest of ways.  Sadly this is true even for higher end garments.  *If you are buying a garment that is pre-owned THAT YOU ALREADY OWN you STILL want to know the size AND the measurements because the garment may have been altered (and the seller is unaware of such alterations) or incorrectly laundered if wool and the fit/size will be different from what you expect!  It’s better to be ask/double check than to make a foolish purchase!

7) Compare photos from different sources/sellers of the same item to get the best sense of color and style.  *If you save the item in your Watch List, you can then click on it and choose to ‘View Similar items”.  If the same item comes up in the same size, then as well as comparing prices, you’ll want to compare measurements supplied.  If it is or isn’t the same size as your original find,  compare colors, the general look of the item, and how it’s styled to get the best sense of the garment you’re considering bidding on/buying.  You can also google or google image the item and see if you can find it elsewhere online to gain a better sense of what the garment truly looks like.  Ask the seller questions if you need clarification.  For instance, “Is this a dark red or more like a stop sign red?” or “These boots say knee high in the description but they look midcalf in the photos. Can you measure them for me? Thanks!”

8) Read descriptions carefully.   The condition of the garment should be clearly stated.  Is it NWT/new with tags? Is it in EUC/excellent used condition?  If there is a flaw, what is it?  I’ve purposely bought a top that had a few stitches coming out from a seam because I knew it’d be an easy fix and it was a great deal. *If the item is pre-owned but the condition is not stated, ask if the garment has any stains, holes, pilling or odors.  If the condition is stated as “good” but there are no problems listed and you love the item, write and ask why it’s not described as “excellent”!

9) Read the seller’s return policy and consider what you would do if the item doesn’t make you happy.  For instance, could you resell it?  Alter it?  Dye it?  Give it as a gift?  Or would you be fine with paying return shipping charges, if the seller accepts returns?  Think this through before any purchases.

10) Check the seller’s feedback too.  If it’s a new seller, ask them a question and see how responsive they are.

11)  Sellers are generally savvy about how to best list an item. For example, a blouse might be listed by brand, then “blouse/top” and the size and color/details.  But if the seller writes only “blouse”and you search for “top” you’ll  miss seeing their item(s).  So, you need to be savvy in your search too.  Use different words to describe the same item, enter the numerical and letter size for clothing, and try both European and American sizing for shoes.

12)  Sometimes you can read reviews of clothing items elsewhere. For example many shoes are reviewed on Zappos  and many of Anthropologie‘s items are reviewed on their site and personal blogs.  Read reviews to see if items are actually true to size, if reviewers consistently say good things or if, conversely, they mention design flaws.

13)  If something you receive is not up to par, write to the seller immediately and politely: assume the error was an oversight.  Generally, sellers want you to be happy and to write a positive review for them. *Ebay will reimburse you for items that do not arrive or if you receive a garment not as described, but the onus is on you to contact Ebay and then to follow through with Ebay’s procedures.

14) “Buy it now” is most like real shopping.  I started ebay shopping using items listed in that way only.   *Note that using the browser on my phone, I cannot see if an item is “Buy it Now Or Best Offer,” I just see “Buy it Now” sales prices.  Ensure that however you are searching ebay that you are seeing when sellers are saying “Or Best Offer” if you want to get the best prices. (Why would sellers state that unless they’re open to negotiation, right?)

15) The best deals are usually  by “auction.”   Bidding right near the end of the auction reduces the chances of the price going up in an early bidding war.  Bid as late as you can!

It’s a different shopping experience than going out shopping certainly.  But now that I’ve figured out my strategy,  I’m having a lot of success.  I hope my tips help, and lead you to some great, inexpensive, additions to your wardrobe!

PS If you like buying second hand rather than new and are interested in Slow Fashion, come join our facebook Slow Fashion Movers and Shakers group here.)

The Suzanne Caygill Legacy Event, San Francisco, CA Aug 31,2013

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend the Suzanne Caygill Legacy Event to celebrate what would have been Suzanne’s 102nd birthday.  I met so many wonderful people and delighted in all that was shared.  For any readers who wished they could have been present, this post is for you!  (And, if you’re reading this and wondering who on earth Suzanne Caygill is, she was the first person to create custom palettes for clients.  She related the palettes produced to seasons, as well as to personalities and style.)

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The palette above, created in 1977, is an example of a Vital Spring.  

Rochele Hirsch, one of the graduates of the Suzanne Caygill Academy,  masterminded this event and brought it to fruition.  (Thank you, again, Rochele!)

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A hand-painted-to-match-a-palette silk scarf!  I thought the idea so lovely I wanted to show you. 

  • Coralynn Lundell of CDI,whose Caygill palette is at the top of this post, brought so many items to put on display I could not believe my eyes.  There was such charm to Suzanne’s promotional materials and in her letters to her students that  I went snap happy in my giddy state. (Click on any item to enlarge to read it.)

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 Suzanne produced a Seasonal (of course) newspaper 

It advertised her services and amused:

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I knew nothing of Suzanne’s classes before this event.  Coralyn said that Suzanne was not a teacher – that she didn’t know what a lesson plan was – but she was an INSPIRATION and everyone agreed.  Who else would have a Code of Elegance for their students to abide by?  Have a read.

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We also heard about Suzanne’s Master Class open to those students who had completed her other courses.  In this class, students put together outfits for different occasions and learned things such as how to walk, sit, eat, and write thank you notes -“Finishing school!” as Carla Mathis put it so succinctly.

masterclassSC  A completed form for one outfit.  Note the space to write which gloves would be worn and how the hair would be styled.

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Suzanne also organized evening theater performances!  She would have loved to have been an opera star and music was included in these theatrical events.   Students performed, bringing their Seasons to life!

  • Jennifer Butler spoke about a person’s essence. Suzanne had said to her – before Jennifer studied with her, “I see you’re highly trained, but can you really see who someone is?”  Jennifer related how she has taken Suzanne’s work regarding essence and expanded on it.  Whereas Suzanne had five phrases for each client regarding their essence, Jennifer uses eleven – having added six themes or aspects relating to personal growth. The words or phrases selected are used along with the palette colors in the creation of a client’s vision board.  A handful of the vision boards were shown to us, explaining the process.
  •  Rochele Hirsch paints palettes which allows her to travel and work easily!  She explained, furthermore, that how she mixes the paints tells her which season a client belongs in.  If she’s painting colors as they are, the client is Spring; if she needs to add the complement they are Summer; if she’s adding raw or burnt sienna, they are Autumn; and payne’s gray goes into Winter palettes. (Logical once you hear it, isn’t it?  Well, if you paint!)   Rochele’s healing work has expanded from color analysis to include other health related therapeutics such as something she calls relationship energies.  (See her site for more info / to buy her book.)   At the end of the day, when we chatted  briefly, she was spot-on classifying the dynamics in my family and she deducted it all through intuition!  Eye opening.

(As an aside, I was really surprised how many of the attendees had a connection past or present to complementary medicine and healing:  I felt right at home!)

  • Naomi Tickle spoke of the work she now does…reading faces!  She gave us all quick tools to better understand the personality of anyone we see and gave us two tips regarding dressing clients. One was that clients with larger backs of their heads (from ear to back of head) will wear ethnic jewelry better than others and the other was that clients with wide faces will have better interactions with people wearing their less bold colors.  You can buy her books on her site if you’re interested to learn more about Personology!

Interspersed throughout the day were “Suzanne Stories.”   Roy Cook, one of the two gentlemen in attendance, shared that he asked Suzanne once, “When looking at a roomful of people, what percentage of their seasons do you know right away?”  Her answer, he says, was a credit to her integrity.  She had replied, “I can guess.  But only about 3% with certainty.”

  •  Carla Mathis of Body Beautiful talked of writing The Triumph of Individual Style/Timeless Beauty saying that despite having worked for Suzanne for 18 years, she has no language to explain what Suzanne actually did.  (Coralyn wasn’t kidding when she said Suzanne wasn’t a teacher, eh?)  Then one day, she went to a flower arranging class with a friend and the arrangements were going to be assessed by the teacher on line, movement, rhythm, balance, etc and lo and behold here was the language needed!  She also told us how she has clients use Pinterest to share with her images of things that they love that are not clothing.  From a discussion about these images, she is led to their true identity.  In other news, she has developed a line of paint and is working on a dating site!  Yes, you read that right.  Happy Home Lives courtesy of Carla coming to a city near you, soon!  (Oh, and that’s not her product name, that’s just me being playful.)
  • Bonnie Humiston assisted Suzanne for six years in NYC and spoke to us of the similarities between the Feldenkrais body work that she does and personal colors. Both increase an individual’s self awareness.  Feldenkrais  does this through movement, and she had us all do a seated exercise to demonstrate just how easily and quickly it works.  Bonnie had also worked as a psychotherapist and she said when she learned color analysis she wanted to tell people, ” Go get your colors done! It will save you five years of therapy!”  Colors balance our systems.  Earlier in the day, Carla had mentioned that Suzanne seemed to FEEL personal colors, that she could do people’s colors in poor lighting.  Bonnie talked of color as a vibration.  If she needs fabric in a particular color, she paints the desired color and takes that paint swatch to the fabric store.  She can then feel very quickly if the fabric she needs is for sale there or not, as if it is there then she feels the vibration of the color she has painted aligning with the color fabric she is wanting to buy!  (And to think friends think I have done a 180 and left energy work behind.  Ha!)
  • Beverley Cole from New Zealand spoke of her career path through makeup and color and now to Fashion Feng Shui, which helps people dress to attract the dreams of their life. She explained the five energies/elements/archetypes and how to you encompass more of the energy you want in your life, you must incorporate more of it in your dress/home to attract it.  Online workshops and certification training are available and if you’re ever in New Zealand she’s got an amazing B&B to fortify your soul!
  • Marilyn Allen, not a student but an admirer of Suzanne and a big believer in the healing that is done with color harmony, gave us the most wonderful pep talk (as only a former school principal/current director of marketing/ Spring-y type could)  to keep this profession going strong.  I’ll do nothing else, Marilyn!!!

Happy Birthday, Suzanne!  That was a beautiful event, held in your honor.

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Why Custom Palettes Choke Up their Owners

We’ve all had glimpses of our best colors in trying on clothing. But most of us haven’t seen all our best colors laid out together at once, on beautiful fabric.  When clients receive their palettes, they’re often quite emotional.  I’m both used to the response and astounded by it. Each time it reminds me that my work is fun; my work is pretty; and my work is deeply personal.  A customized color palette may seem a fun luxury but there is so much more to it.  Usually clients realize this – it really hits them – when they get their palette in the mail.

Here are the reasons I think a personalized palette can bring tears to a client’s eyes and a mixture of emotions to their heart:

1.  A custom palette is you in color form.  It’s got the physical parts of you that you love in it, and none of the parts you might wish were different.  (This is the meta-you. No wrinkles, no spots, not a hair out of place…the perfect YOU.)  You can see and accept your physical beauty much more easily when it’s presented in color form.

2. Your palette is not fleeting.  It’s there for you to study, hold and cherish.

3. It’s what you’ve been trying to find (your BEST colors!) and wondering about and now it’s here and it’s even more incredible than you could have ever imagined.  The sweet delight is a bit overwhelming.

4.  You’ve never known yourself or nurtured yourself in this way.  You’ve never seen how beautiful and unique YOU are.

5.  Now that you see YOU, you’re more sure of yourself than ever before. You feel enriched, empowered, beautiful and smart (for making such an investment).

6.  You “grow” in knowing your colors. You understand yourself better.  You can live more fully, more beautifully.

7.  You’ve honored yourself: your palette connects you to YOU, deeply.

Of course, as time passes the familiarity of the custom palette overtakes the novelty of ownership.  But along with the style guidelines that come with a palette, the woman can create a cohesive, winning wardrobe and the novelty of that never wears off!  The palette is still treasured and serves as a gentle reminder that our outer physical self, just like the rest of our body/mind/spirit deserves and is, in fact, enhanced by recognition, respect and a deeper understanding.

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Edited on 8/13/13 to add a message I received from a mom across the country who had ordered an online palette for her teen daughter:

“SHE GOT HER FAN TODAY!!! She was blown away and is totally in love with it. She immediately held it to her heart and just cradled it lovingly while she absorbed it all. She was almost wordless as she caressed every single wand individually, just processing each color like she was committing it to memory.

It was so precious to watch her as she mentally and emotionally connected this beautiful fan with her own being. She looked up at me and said, “Mom, am I really this beautiful?”. There are no words to describe the feeling that was in my heart at that moment as tears freely ran down my cheeks. “Yes, you truly are that beautiful!”

There was then a very definite shift in her as she allowed this colorful proof of her beauty to become a part of her self-image. I could literally see the level of her confidence and self-acceptance increase. You are a color angel!

She now has clothes all over the bed going through them. It’s truly amazing to me to see firsthand just how powerful seeing one’s self in living color really is! It truly answers the age old question we all have. Who am I?”

This left me feeling very, very committed to my mission: https://beautyvalued.com/mission/

The Most Important Clothing in Your Life

Don’t we all have a friend who, when you arrive at her place, always needs, “Just five minutes!” to be ready?  And the five minutes is never really five, but always ten?   “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Ilene Beckerman is the book these friends need on their coffee table.  Guests waiting will actually enjoy their time with this little gem of a pictorial autobiography to read and, on future visits, re-read.

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I was wearing this yellow dress when I fell of a pier, age 2.

With cartoon illustrations on one side and text on the other, Beckerman takes us though her life, garment by garment.   At some point, you realize,  you’re not sure if Beckerman is chronicling the events in her life with her clothing or the clothing in her life with the events.

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My dad wore this same ‘travel suit’ for at least a decade, though he won’t admit it. We were in Greece where we’d gone to see a specialist about my eyes.  I wore clear pink glasses, briefly, with a Paddington bear sticker over one eye to strengthen the other. I had that red Canada bag for years, carrying little toys in it wherever I went. Funnily enough, my diaper bag for my daughter was similar: a dark red and ivory leather bowling bag.  

 And it doesn’t matter, you conclude, because your own version of this book would be similar: some items or outfits that simply held great fascination for you would be included, and others that were tied to an emotional event.

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My mother sewed outfits for me and my twin brother. I was always eager for her to be done so that I could see how the cloth and trimming she had purchased had turned into something wearable.

Bits of fashion history are interspersed within the stories – each story spanning a decade from the 1940’s to the 1990’s.  More time is spent describing garments or hairstyles than any event in Beckerman’s life  – even a death.  The lack of detail serves to make the losses more poignant.

There is humor.

There is endurance.

There is a granddaughter.

balletdrawingIn reports from ballet school my hair was always mentioned – for it not being neat enough in buns.  My mother had no interest in bobby pins.  If it had been up to me I’d have just danced and drawn, but my brother always wanted to play games. (You won’t be surprised to hear that these rugs always became “The Gates of Hell” in our games, or that may parents also had matching orange leather couches.)

“Love, Loss and What I Wore” made me realize that while I spend much of my time thinking about which colors and which styles are going to bring a woman “to life”, I forget about her ACTUAL life.  I don’t mean the practicalities of the styles that I’m suggesting.  No, I bear that in mind.  Rather, I forget that I don’t really know this woman.  I feel like I do:  I feel like I’ve spent hours getting to know her skin, her eyes and her hair: I’ve spent time assessing styles that flatter and styles that don’t:  we’ve messaged or emailed a lot if we haven’t chatted face to face.  But there is a rich life behind each and every client and this book reminded me that I am looking at clothing in only one context:  what works best – what brings them into the most visible state of harmony.  I don’t know anything of the clothes that tell the stories of their life.

threewomenimporatntThese are three most important women in my life: my grandmother’s best friend, my grandmother, and my mother.  They taught me that comfort never goes out of style, even if designers forget it.

I love connecting with my clients – even if it’s primarily about the direction they will be going with their wardrobe.  So much of our world is depersonalized.  To share what makes us unique is amazing.

So tell me, what item or outfit first comes to mind when you think about the most important clothing in your life?  I’d love to know.

PS Nora and Delia Ephron have turned this book into a play.  I’d love to see it!

 

Review: Green Grab Bag Build a Box

Apologies in advance to those of you not in the U.S.  While you don’t have access to this service, perhaps you’ll be interested in the products I tried.

Green Grab Bag sells eco-friendly beauty product samples.  At first, they were subscription only, delivering 6+ samples a month for $15 which including shipping.  I never tried out their service.  The frugal-control-freak-who-abhors-excess in me couldn’t do it.  (What if I got a perfume sample I disliked?  Or a face mask for oily skin?  Or makeup in a color that wasn’t mine?)  But when they started  their Build a Box Program which allows you to HAND PICK the samples you want, I was easy to woo.  (Like my colors, I like my body products hand picked!)

greengrabbagI tried out the smallest size box which, like their monthly subscription service, is $15 including shipping for six samples.  From more than 55 items, I chose:

Cocoon Apothecary Rosey Cheeks  Discovering this facial cream alone made the box worth every cent. Hands down the nicest moisturizer I’ve used.  Fans of rosehip oil and shea butter check it out. Not too much, not too little – but just the right amount of moisture for my finicky skin.  The rose scent is very, very subtle.

Tsi-La Fleur Sauvage Organic Eau de Parfum The other perfumes on offer actually all sounded nice. This  one sounded bewitching and it is, indeed, intoxicating.  I spent ages on the Tsi-La website having fun, learning about their perfumes and how you can layer them.

Aimee’s Lotions’n’Potions Revitalizing Eye Cream   I ran out of eye cream so picked two. This one is lovely and creamy.

Moody Sisters Eye Cream  When looking at the Moody Sister’s website, I discovered this can also be used as a cuticle cream!  And, indeed, that’s how I am enjoying using it – actually on my entire hands not just my cuticles. Its consistency reminds me of coconut oil and my hands love it.

Shea Terra Organics Pink Guava Pomegranate Whipped Shea Butter Body Cream  This is much thicker than I expected and lacks the heavenly scent I’d hoped for but it is nice on elbows and heels.

Suntegrity Vegan BB Sunscreen in Light.  This is why I love the Build a Box program – because I know I need Light not Medium and *I* get to choose.  I was really impressed by this product  in terms of consistency and feel.  I still prefer matching skin tones more precisely but this came really close for me and if I hadn’t just found a better match, I’d probably be buying it full size.

The Build A Box program is currently made up of products from past subscription boxes but they are planning on introducing completely different samples too.  Products are added monthly.  Customer service is fantastic.  (I had questions answered super fast!)   Go forth and sample!