Category Archives: Reasons why I do this work

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.


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:


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.

My Four Year Old is Going to Weight Watchers. Wait, what?

At the park the other day, my daughter, “Peaches”, made a new friend fast.  Holding hands and giggling, the two of them were immediately in sync. It was sweet to witness – the first time my daughter clicked with another child right away.  Mary was older.  Then, playfully, she started to pull my daughter, hands still grasped, legs running, towards the far end of the park. “Where are you going?” I asked, hoping my question would cause the girls to slow down, to turn and respond.  I didn’t want this lovely experience brought to a harsh end with my daughter falling from being pulled too fast.   Mary’s reply threw me for a loop. “We’re going to Weight Watchers!” she said, with an earnest grin.

At first, I smiled. They were so deep in imaginary play.  Then I felt sad.  I remembered a pregnant friend telling  me she was relieved to be carrying a boy, because if she were to have a daughter she’d fear passing on food and body issues, like she and her sister had “inherited” from her mother.  Another friend told me that whenever she goes home to see her mom, her mother either tells her she’s too skinny or too fat.  How young are girls when they start to pick up ideas about eating, weight and appearance?

thoughtful - Edited

Just think about the name: Weight Watchers.  What message does it convey to young girls?  That one’s weight is of utmost importance and must be watched! That you need a group of people to support you in watching it!  Couldn’t it have been called Healthy Lifestylers?  I’d have no qualms about my daughter hearing that name.  To me that would be a positive message.  Some might say these are two sides to the same coin, but I disagree.

I want my daughter to know about good nutrition. I was pleased, and also chuckled, yesterday when she asked, “Are these organic, Mommy?” putting grapes into our basket.  (If you don’t know which fruit and vegetables have the highest levels of pesticides, read the updated list, here.)  I want her to witness mindful eating in our home.  I want her to understand how her body feels when it is hungry and how it feels when it’s pleasantly full.  I want her to enjoy food.  And find forms of exercise she loves, as she grows up.

I recently heard about a great organization (thanks, Jenn!) called Girls on the Run. Everything about this non-profit seems fabulous.  (Well, ok, I’d rather it were ‘Girls on the Swim’ because I love to swim…but, wait, did you stop to read their Mission and Vision on that link? )  Let me share:

Mission: We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

Vision: We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

It’s for girls age 8 – 13. Pretty awesome, right?  I want my daughter exposed to those kinds of messages.  Yes, please!

And then, when she’s around 13, I want my daughter to know about color and style BECAUSE IT IS HEALTHY.  I want her to recognize that her coloring is one possibility out of many millions, and so is the shape of her body.  I want her to appreciate that there is a huge range to the female form, and yet every single woman can look stunning.  They just need to know their best colors and styles.

In unison with the founders of Girls on the Run, I want my daughter to be joyful, healthy and confident.  Without question, how she feels about her looks as she enters adolescence affects how joyful, healthy and confident she is.  I hope she never stops liking what she sees when she looks in the mirror wearing new clothes.

Still in agreement with the folks at Girls On the Run, I want her to be part of a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.  Worry about one’s appearance is time consuming and energy zapping, whereas feeling confident in appearance is energy releasing.  When a person looks their most beautiful, authentic self, doors in the world open.  We have more opportunities because people see us for the beautiful, put together, capable souls we really are.  More time, energy and positive influence can only help us to move faster to our dreams.  Style and Color know-how can be a catalyst to activate this limitless potential in girls.  I know of no other color and style consultant who focuses on helping young women, and it boggles my mind.  So much value can be added to these young lives and so much distress avoided.  Personalized color and style guidelines offer a healthy, fun, real approach to feeling and looking great.  To work in this capacity,  enabling girls and young women to better pursue their dreams, is my life purpose.

My four year old is not going to Weight Watchers. My daughter will be part of a new generation of women who are empowered and body wise from a young age.  And if she ever asks me what Weight Watchers is, I’ll tell her,”Honey, its an old fashioned notion.”


Please note: I mean no offense to anyone that goes to or has benefited from Weight Watchers. I simply detest the name and prefer my food not have pointsWhat gets me is the notion that we should watch our WEIGHT over our HEALTH. People are meant to be different shape and sizes.

If you’d like to see photos of my professional color analysis work, please click on menu links above, and see more here.

More Reasons Why: Dressing for Health

“The sense of being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I worked at a psychiatric hospital when I was twenty, assisting the nurses. The first week I had to watch a man who was waiting for brain surgery. His condition was such that he was very unsteady on his feet, but he kept forgetting this and getting out of bed.  My job was to sit outside his door.  If I saw his feet swing out from under the covers, I popped my head into his room, and then he’d remember, “Ah, I forgot, didn’t I?,” he’d say, slightly embarrassed, and lie back down.  This went on for days.  We needed to ensure he did not break any bones in a fall before his surgery.  He was lovely but my twelve hour days dragged on.

When he left for surgery, I was moved to the eating disorder ward.  I was told I’d be monitoring the girls at each meal, and was to ensure that each patient ate everything on her (individually proportioned) plate.  Looking back, I cringe at my naivety.  I was excited I’d be with a group of people close to my own age three times a day!!!  It had not occurred to me that meals would be eaten in stony silence.  It had not occurred to me that no meal here would ever be a social event.

Immediately after meals, I was to lock every bathroom door for a couple of hours so that no one could secretly purge themselves of their nutritionally calculated meal.  I sat and filed papers, and understood more of the girls’ lives.  Previous hospital admissions were listed on the inside of each file.  Except for one patient all these girls had been hospitalized multiple times.  Every two to three years, it seemed – when their weight fell below a certain point, which was also noted.  Those that were bulimic had a monetary amount of how much was spent on food every month.  I was stunned.  And, then… I also felt some sort of kinship with these girls. They were almost all straight A students. They were perfectionists.  So was I.

What kept our lives on different paths?  My family is naturally slim and taller than average.  Did I simply have a genetic advantage to being nearer the “ideal” form of our day and age?   My parents have always told me I was beautiful, have never once criticized my appearance.  Was that it?  Was it that my family ate healthy food as a lifestyle, with no yo-yo dieting relatives in sight?  Was my life less stressful?  (It certainly didn’t feel that way.)  What combination of things was it, I wondered.

These girls were gaunt, but each was pretty.  Each came from a family with means.  (This was a private, expensive hospital.)  This was the best care…yet they seemed to keep coming back.

I didn’t work there long, my position too sad.  The man I looked after that first week turned out to be the bright spot: completely cured of his memory loss and balance after surgery and happily back to his family, his job, his life.

Why am I telling you all this?  Do I think personal color and style can cure eating disorders?!?  Gosh, no.  Do I think awareness of how to bring out and showcase a person’s unique beauty can help with self esteem and a positive body image.  Most definitely!

What if women and especially the present generation of YOUNG women start to see unflattering clothes as the problem instead of themselves?  What if they could simply say, that skirt is not good on me and move on to finding one that is, instead of then thinking negatively about their own appearance in the process?  What if education about style as it relates to different body shapes/types promotes mental well-being? 

From age fourteen, I  envied looks worn by models in the fashion magazines. I tried similar clothes on and they looked terrible on me.  I didn’t understand why.  I was tall-ish and slim.  Wasn’t that supposed to be the ticket?  I had no understanding that the models were chosen because they looked the part  – for example, dramatic and avante garde; sporty and athletic; or natural and outdoorsy – looks very different from my own.  I also had no idea that clothes could look very different photographed, from angles or pinning.  I wish I’d known those basics. And I wish I could have learned what colors and styles would flatter me best, in addition to the overall vibe.  I simply wanted to be at ease in my attire.

Young women today would similarly benefit from such information.  And with technological advancements (errr…I’m not sure that’s the right word here), they also need to know how models are digitally altered so that they don’t start comparing themselves to unreal beings.  (Great information and visuals about digital manipulation is here,  Don’t Compare Yourself to Celebrities Pinterest board.)


About Face, a non profit that educates young women about how women are portrayed in the media, posted this image on their Facebook page recently and it delighted me. The personal color/style consultant in me usually wants to alter uniforms, subtlety changing colors and shapes for different people, but this is so celebratory, I love it as is. (If you want to buy a print of this image the creators are here. Let them know that they rock!)

I dream of style and color savvy young women, of overhearing a teenager saying, “This skirt would be great for me if the fabric were crisper, the color deepened, and…hmmm, maybe some trim added.” Or, “Yes, now, we’re talking – this is a great color and a great style for me, I’m trying this on!”  I want all women to understand and know how to honor their own unique beauty through color and style.  This is not to say I don’t believe in healthy lifestyles – far from it. I am all for eating well and exercising! It’s just that for many women appreciating how they look NOW is the best first step towards that healthier place.

If knowledge is power; if personal colors and styles can be taught;  if it’s also fun to learn; and it’s great for self esteem …then shouldn’t all women, and especially young women, be informed?   Then shops like Bow and Drape where clients customize their own clothing could be the way of the future!

Look Good, Feel Better is a non profit that helps women with cancer.  They recognize that feeling better about one’s appearance boosts morale, that it is health giving.  I’m so glad they exist.  And, I think the self esteem of ALL women could use a boost, especially young women in our media driven culture.  The results?  A greater appreciation for oneself and others, and a more positive response in daily interactions from looking and feeling your best.  Let’s shift our cultural mindset to value our physical bodies right now, as they are, and to make them as beautiful as they can be through educated choices in color and style.  Let’s dress beautifully, for our health. 

This is why…

If you ask women who have had their colors done  when they wish they’d known these colors, the majority will say at age 12 or 13. Some will say, “18…before college.” This second group of ladies wanted time to rebel, to follow trends, to be a little crazy.  A few women will give a younger age.  I’ve heard as young as 7.  These women, sadly, were teased or bullied about their looks.


This is why I want to focus my work on young women: their lives will be richer for knowing their best colors (and best styles) at a time when, typically, self criticism sets in.  Knowledge of our physical being is not superficial.  It’s empowering.  Knowledge of our physical being helps anchor us in who we really are.  It helps us appreciate our own innate beauty and that of others.discgirls This story, from Discovery Girls, of an 11 year old  taunted about her (stunning) hair ends on an up note.  But I believe deep in my heart that the more teens (and tweens and grown ups, too) who understand color and style – as it relates to enhancing the natural beauty of each individual, the less bullying there will be and the greater appreciation there will be for different bodies and different coloring.  Conventional beauty need not stay fixed!

When I was thirteen, I moved from San Francisco to a small city outside central London. My hair had turned from blonde and to what I felt was a mousy brown.  My skin had spots. I had an accent different from my peers.  I was adjusting to a new place, a new school and a new educational system. I would have LOVED to have known my colors then, to have had something of me outside of me – to see, to use, to admire.

In the same way that young children delight in making hand prints with paint on paper, seeing something of themselves made into art, people of all ages love to see THEIR colors.  We are animals.  We want to look good.  Our (individual)  colors reflect us and enhance us.

I attended private (British readers, that’s public to you)  girls’ schools from age 11 to 18. The message I heard repeatedly was, “You can do things.  You’re smart.  Paying attention to your looks is superficial.”  This made me feel bad for caring how I looked.  And I didn’t want to look like a glamorous supermodel.  I  just knew that I didn’t look my best and it bothered me.  I want to give teenage girls (or any girl that is younger and teased or bullied about her appearance)  the tools and information needed to look their best, so they can feel great about how they look and get on with making the most of  their lives!

(By the way, I highly recommend Discovery Girls magazine if you have a daughter age 8-11. Past articles I’ve loved have included: 1) how a typical cover is made for a women’s magazine including all the digital manipulation involved and 2) discussing online versus real life behavior, for example, a shy girl being more outgoing online or someone bullying in cyberspace when they would never do that in real life.)