Category Archives: Personal Style Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions!

A lovely woman from the Czech Republic emailed me with questions.  I thought why not share my answers in case some of you are wondering the same things. (And if you have other questions, drop me a line and ask!)

Q. “Do you consider personality – for example if someone loves colors that are not the best for him/her?”
A. I choose colors for a palette based on my client’s coloring (see this blog post for a review of that) but I can think of four cases where other factors come into play:

1) If a client loves yellow/pink/green/whatever hue and is DYING for it to be in their palette, 
for example, yellow but it’s not one of their best colors, then I will SHOW them their best yellow , let them photograph it and compare it to other yellows so they can really ‘learn’ it, but no, they do not actually GET it in their palette from me. I tell them that they should wear their best yellow with one of their best colors (actually in their palette) and in a style that is FANTASTIC for them.

2) If someone’s palette feels at odds with
 a person’s environment (let’s say they work in  a very corporate environment and their palette feels sweet and girly) or their personality doesn’t mesh with their colors (perhaps they are very quiet and their palette goes loud) then when it comes to how to actually USE the palette, I help them do that successfully so that they feel and look fabulous (and appropriate).


3) If someone is very fair in skin and has light/soft (in color) hair and they NEVER wear make up they’d get a different palette than their identical twin sister who LOVES makeup and doesn’t leave home without filling in her brows and at least wearing mascara, blush and lipstick too.

4) If someone wears a color they love daily
, for instance, as glasses or hair color then I’ll work treating that as though it is a fixed fact – a part of their own natural coloring.  That’s what I did for this client who keeps her hair colored pink and wears her two tone glasses all day (not just for distance or reading).  Bear in mind when I choose such colors, like with selecting any client’s “body colors” (meaning, colors that relate to their hair, skin, eyes, blush), the colors I pick may not be literal translations. They are colors the MAGNIFY beauty of the entire being when worn as clothing, makeup and accessories.


wickedskittlesAnother shot of the palette – here you can see, from far right working in:  glasses colors , green eye colors, pinks (after the magenta of freshly dyed hair fades slightly) then her natural hair colors as they start coming through before she re-dyes…and her rainbow!

Q. “Do you name all your palettes?”

A. If clients want a name then, yes, we name the baby!  Usually I suggest a handful of names based on enticing things the colors make me think of, hear or smell. Working with clients online, I’ll have often had a lot of conversations with them and get ideas also based on their interests, location, etc. Sometimes clients love one suggested name and selection is fast.  Other times one or two suggestions feel ‘almost right’ so we fuse, modify or keep searching from there. Occasionally clients want to name their own palettes.

Bear in mind that my brain is trapped and temporarily detained in color-selection-mode at an in person appointment (and when I am working on palettes for online clients) right after completing your palette.  It needs time to decompress and switch gears to name-creation-mode. Think of the excitement of learning your best colors and – if you want a name for your palette, getting that name pinned down as two distinct, fun events!

maggiechloeDaughter and Mom’s palettes named respectively,
“Glitter Bug” and “Angelic Mermaid” AFTER the in-person appointment


 Q. Will you be in London seeing clients in summer, 2016? If so, when and how long is an appointment?

A. I would love to work in London in the summer of 2016 but it’s not confirmed yet.  It’d be the end of July/start of July in Wimbledon over a couple of weeks. Let me know if you are interested!  Seeing clients face to face, the color analysis takes 1-2 hours. (Online takes me much, much longer as I have many ‘targets’ (you in each photo) rather than one (you in the chair)!  For those of you wanting style too, that is done based on meeting you and then online photos of your in outfits -so I can see what you own, how else you might combine items, what’s missing, your proportions, etc.

Regarding travel: if you have a handful or more of people in one location who want colors done and will commit in advance, do let me know.


Don’t forget, if you have questions not yet answered, drop me a line! I love hearing from you!


Amazing, Affordable Custom Made Jewelry! (Mara’s Got Your Back!)

I’ve had a glimpse of what it would be like to have an entire house designed for myself; to have my needs and desires turned into a space I then inhabit; and to live in an environment, rich in self expression and nourishment.  What an absolutely amazing experience and process! And, yet, curiously, I’ve had this experience not from buying property and then working with an architect and interior decorator but from working with an Etsy jewelry designer, Mara Marlow, who makes custom fashion jewelry, as well as selling ready made pieces in her shop, Ambient Zebra.

I’ve bought many a thing from her. Recently I asked her to make me an item that wasn’t based on another in her shop. Nor was it like anything I’ve ever tried on or actually even seen in real life! I wanted a shoulder necklace, and it was this experience that was most extraordinary!


Do you own clothing or accessories that really make you feel like you’ve come home?

How about to a palace?

The steampunk festoon part I’ve had and worn as a necklace for a while now.  It’s a piece I commissioned from Mara. The arm and back piece (which turns the necklace into a shoulder necklace) is the new part. And, folks who appreciate slow fashion and versatility, take note: this is a convertible piece!  It GYBcloseprettyworks in many ways, producing a variety of looks, alone and with other pieces.  Sit tight, I’ll show you 8 different looks. (1, at right)




(2, at left)

First, know that Mara is a true artist. She is not someone who copies. You share your inspiration and needs with her and she goes from there. She improves on your and her own ideas as she works.


When I asked Mara if she’d ever made a shoulder necklace (she said no, but she was up for the challenge!), I sent her links to a few bridal shoulder necklaces with front views I liked – and for the back, I included this (non bridal) piece, below.


I also told her I wanted to use my steampunk necklace from her as the centerpiece. Then I let her work.  (Ok, maybe I sent her a few more images in my excitement.  But I try to behave and give her space.)

The chain link shrug image might look familiar.  Prompted by Andrea Siegel, in her mind bending book, Open and Clothed  (the review of which you can read here),  to consider clothing that I’d like the SOUND of  -literally the sound of- this was the winner. I could imagine the swishing sounds of the chains, but when I realized that a favorite necklace of mine could be on the front, I fell in love with the entire concept. 


To compare, here is what the back of my shoulder necklace looks like. And in case you were wondering, not only does my shoulder necklace sound lovely, quietly jingling with my every movement, it feels absolutely AMAZING on. The weight evenly distributed, I can scarcely feel it’s there, yet as I move, the chains caress and gently tickle my skin! (Who knew?!?!)  It’s incredibly soothing! That the piece hangs most best with back straight and shoulders down no doubt contributes to my sense of well-being when I wear it. (Standing properly feels SO much better than slouching! Thank you, lovely item of jewelry for teaching me this important lesson!)  

All in all, I feel extraordinary wearing it – as though I’m sporting a super hero cape flying behind me that captures magic and brings miracles and beauty my way all day.  Really, I do. This feeling shouldn’t be something we only achieve on our wedding day.  The right jewelry, with the right outfit, can transform you and any day!

With the steampunk centerpiece on the shoulder necklace, I keep the rest of my outfit simple, letting the necklace take center stage.

Here I’ve switched out the necklace on the front again. It’s actually a wooden bobble necklace Mara restrung and adapted to work with Got Your Back (the name of the arm/back piece).

(3, below)

polkadressGYB! - Edited

In this outfit, I balance the level of intricacy of the dress (in terms of texture changes, the print, and the embellishments) with the shoulder necklace, which also has texture changes and elements of different size.

tulipGYBpolkadetailsGYBlove how the arm chains drape out beneath the tulip hem sleeves of my bolero (left), and that the  ingredients of this outfit (right) remind me of the successful but unexpected combination of chocolate, sea salt and chile!

I don’t abide by the suggestions often made for a minimal necklace or just earrings when wearing a strapless garment: if I did my strapless tops and dresses would look like they were falling down! I have a long decolette which means lots of empty space.  Knowing your proportions and scale; understanding your facial feature; and realizing your overall vibe helps you to select the most flattering necklaces.  My best necklaces are delicate but not small in size, and they contain a range of various sized components and spaces within, with more small components than large.

Statement bib necklaces, I love, but 99% of the time they are too chunky and not long enough on me. Multiple layered chain necklaces I also ogle, but on me they are long and narrow, taking my face completely out of focus.   If you know what works on you and want to expand your repertoire, consider necklace styles that you admire from afar and brainstorm ways to adapt them to suit you!  GYB encompasses what appeals about each of these two styles.  I retain the delicacy and face framing aspects that I need AND enjoy the statement and long chain effect!  Win-win!  Play with your necklaces and anything jewelry-like (ribbons, zippers, etc) in the mirror. Take photos and keep tweaking and experimenting, with your most flattering necklines on please, until you like where you’re going with length, size, shape and scale.  Use this information to buy jewelry wisely. 

 On the left, below, I’m wearing a comparatively simple necklace, Mara made for me. On the right (and also shown above), I’ve turned the outer ends under and attached it to GYB for a really pretty look. 












My outfit is still a backdrop to the shoulder necklace but now I’ve changed the skirt for one that is more elegant, keeping in sync with the necklace used. The beads are silvery teal with purple highlights.


In the next couple of photos, I’m wearing  Got Your Back alone without additional necklaces. Here it’s turned back to front under my red cowl neck, barely peeking out.  It looks like it’s part of my sweater, and partially covered in cashmere, it flirts with the world in a coquettish sort of way.

 (4, left and right, below.)


peekcowlGYB2 - Edited (2)

The dangling chains  add delicate drama to my sweater and the darkness of the gunmetal connects the top half of my outfit to the brocade of my jeans. 


Here’s GYB is worn back to front and pulled forward, with the small extension chain (included with the purchase) so that the necklace can follow the dress’s neckline, again resulting in my clothing looking embellished rather than accessorized.


(5, above)

The vertical seams in the center part of the dress are enhanced by the verticals of the falling chains . 

Working with Mara, you will be part of the design process. You initiate the work; you see it as it’s progressing; you make further choices along the way: then you get your affordable custom-made one-of-a -kind-piece shortly thereafter!  

It’s fitting that her Etsy Shop’s name, AmbientZebra,  was inspired by Dr Seuss’ book On Beyond Zebra, a story in which wonderful but unknown animals are shown to exist, their names starting with letters of the alphabet that we’ve never heard of before.  My mom came by while I was taking photos of the shoulder necklace with bobbles on it and exclaimed – her attention clearly focused on the jewelry, “Oh, wow! How beautiful!!!” when I rather expected her to say, “So, what exactly is that thing you are wearing?”  She never even asked.

It’s been an unexpected surprise that I get compliments on my GYB renditions (creations?) from men and women, and from all generations. Don’t be afraid to be different.  Different can still have mass appeal.

Here is GYB worn with a pendant (one I already owned)  rather than a necklace, and pulled forward. For someone that wears crew necks this would be a be fun to spice them up!

(6, below)

OtherGYB1What item do you own that you currently wear in a multitude of ways? What item could you play with to explore new options? 

This is what it looks like worn back to front and spread out across shoulders:

GYB other 3

(7, above)

Don’t you love the different patterns that form on the back?

You could also wear it as a decorative trim to a strapless dress with the longer extension chain link piece (that comes with GYB)  in the back. Similarly it can also be worn as a belt, draped a little or held taut so it is belted straight across.  

(8 , below, and would be 9, if I’d taken a photo of it as a belt too!)

GYBother2 - Edited

I’m sure I haven’t even begun to exhaust all the ways to wear it! (Do tell me if you can think of a tenth!)

Mara is funny, talented, kind and FAST. Adaptable and resourceful, she’ll  happily incorporate beads and components you send her too.  

Here are other necklaces that Mara made.  Bear in mind that her designs come in a wider range than what I wear. Treat what you see in her Etsy shop as a starting point if nothing screams BUY ME JUST AS I AM!  You won’t find a lovelier, wiser or more dedicated fashion jewelry designer. 

dragononme - Edited

 Mythical beast necklace, above, inspired by a piece she had for sale.

Wooden earrings varnished and turned into a necklace, below.


Mara’s inspiration and ideas come from books, colors, words (!), and stories (!!!).  “One of the most influential books was of the jewelry of Miriam Haskell,” she said.  “What I saw in those extravagant creations gave me the courage to go ahead and make things just because I wanted to, and not to worry that they were too weird or big or unconventional because SOMEBODY will like them!” (Me! Me! Me! And what a great attitude for us all to have about what we wear, and what we create, each day!)


My earliest Ambient Zebra pieces! The one on the left I bought straight from her shop, the one on the right was custom made, inspired by a necklace she had for sale.

Friends near Seattle: Mara works at two markets in Washington State: the Federal Way Farmers Market,, and the Des Moines Waterfront Market Look for a woman with a long braid down her back, selling jewelry that’s just a little bit different. You can also message her through Etsy to get her schedule. When she’s not making or selling jewelry (fulfilling her childhood fantasy of being surrounded by boxes of jewels and treasures), she’s outside working on her edible garden, or inside cooking something spicy.  In addition to knowing how to make your everyday jewelry dreams come true, she also appears to have the art of living figured out!

Necklaces from Ambient Zebra range from $39 to $79. A gunmetal GYB like mine sells for $120. (Message Mara through her Etsy Shop, here, if you’d like to have one made, or about any of your other fashion jewelry related heart’s desires…I just did! Twice.)

What Information Comes with an Online (or In-person) Color Analysis? Part One

I send all my clients a document explaining how to use their palette to assess their current wardrobe and for future shopping.  It’s not as simple as “Toss everything you have that is NOT in these colors! ”  No, no.  Your palette contains your BEST colors but you also have plenty of ok colors, and I want you to salvage as much as you can from your wardrobe that is good.  I advise how to do this.  I  also want you to remove your worst colors from your wardrobe and you’ll learn how to do this.  (Note: during an in-person analysis I usually can’t resist but show a client her/his worst colors, saying as nicely as I can, “Please never wear these colors.”)

An online color analysis does not include a formal in-depth style consultation but I do include some guidelines.   If you just wear your colors but not in your style, you won’t look great. The “ok” clothes you’re salvaging need to be great styles for you.  If I need more photos to formulate my style thoughts, I ask for them!

I also add personalized information. This might include where a client has more wiggle room with color and where they do not.  (Most of us have a hue or two we do really well in.)   I offer suggested garment purchases and information about color combining where relevant – more about that in part two.


This online client had an incredible array of fantastic “colors” that worked on her.  But neutrals?  They were not forthcoming, and she was relieved when I told her that as she’d suspected it herself.  I included her best traditional neutrals and suggested she use her medium dark purples as neutrals too.  Doesn’t she look beautiful?

So to give you a taste of how my personalized comments read, here are my personalized comments for Elmo: ElmoPalette - Edited

(Oh, and if you missed it, go  here for his original custom analysis!)


1) You may use your body color (your reds), as part of prints or in details.  A mechanic’s jumpsuit in your body colors will lead to an Emperor Has No Clothes effect, and this would negate you coming to have your colors done. On the other hand a Hawaiian shirt with a touch of your reds in it would work nicely.  Red as part of an accessory is also good – like red shoelaces.

2) Ideas for purchases to build a working wardrobe:

For formal speaking occasions:

  • Dress shoes in your blacks
  • Dress shirt in your whites
  • Dress shorts in your blues or purples
  • bow ties in your greens
  • Satchel in your oranges/yellows

For every day frivolities:

  • Converse or retro sneakers in your yellows or greens
  • Graphic T shirts or Hawaiian shirts in any combination of colors – just not a red background or you’ll look like you have a tattoo not a top on
  • Pants with medium -large geometric designs – stripes, polka dots, etc or a fun, large crisp print, airplanes, for instance
  • Casual back pants are an alternative to jeans if you are wearing a lot of color elsewhere
  • Socks in any of your colors including red if you MUST wear socks with sandals
  • Backpack in any of your colors, especially a bold mix with clearly outlined shapes

I told Elmo to keep in touch and to feel free to email me with any questions! (Note: I told the same thing to his similarly but not quite identically colored Elm friends and family in this post, where I demonstrated pictorially why creatures with the same skin tones but different hair or nose(!) colors need customized palettes!)

I always want to be learning and if clients ask me something I don’t know it’s WONDERFUL to figure it out and build on my knowledge.  If you ask me something I do know, it’s a fast, easy reply.  And, I like to keep in touch.


The 10 Items Every Woman Should Own

Personal stylists often write a list of the top ten items that they believe every woman should own.  Often it includes a  white shirt, a black dress, a trench coat…. items too generic in taste for my liking in terms of color, lifestyle and individual style.

Here is my list:

1) A piece of jewelry of great sentimental value – and who cares if it is costume or real?

opal - Edited (1)Mine is an opal ring from my grandmother. 

2) A pair of shoes that make her feet SMILE.

naotred - EditedI wear these Naot sandals at home in place of slippers.  

3) An item she loves so much she’d like to buy more in her favorite colors (or have them made) and for this to be her uniform.

prairie cloak hoodie assortment collage

Prairie Underground Cloak Hoodie (in organic cotton) would be my choice

4) A hand bag that sits right on her shoulder….and is just the right size.

5) A fabulous find from a second hand store that no one can believe she found “there”!

6) A secret weapon for bad hair days.


For some this might be a hat, headband or turban.  For me, it’s the common hair tie.

 7) A handmade or re-fashioned item: a necklace, a scarf…maybe a sweater?

8) A customized hand selected palette of her best colors



9) Personalized style guidelines from an expert or a lot of self study

And the last thing she should own?

10) Her unique beauty (which will be a cinch after 1-9)

Tell me about some of the items you have on this list!  And, does this list feel right to you or how would you change it?  I’d love to know.