Yesterday I received the first edition of Grace Morton’s The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance in the mail. The second edition from 1955 is available online, complete and completely free thanks to Cornell University. The one I have is slightly different; for instance, in the clothing personality chapter, Morton uses “masculine” and “feminine,” and the revised, posthumous 1955 edition uses “yin” and “yang.” Regardless of which edition you read, it’s a book filled with dense information about everything we care about: style, line, movement, color… It’s definitely a book I recommend either downloading from the Cornell site or picking up cheaply on Amazon. A lot of it is antiquated, such as the section on how your personal appearance should make you “marriageable,” and the fact that there is no information on coloring for women of color. The information it does have, however, is incredibly helpful, and echoes of her work can be found in everyone who came after her.
(This book also solidified my view that McJimsey is the one who came up with the “types” as such. There are a few more books from this era I want to obtain, but so far, I haven’t really found anything that predates her that uses Dramatic, Classic, Romantic, etc.)
A lot of the masculine/feminine (yin/yang) stuff basically repeats what we already know from Northrup. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing, since, as I said above, the material in this book is pretty dense, but from what I have read, what has interested me the most is the information about color. She groups people by hair color, and then hair color subgroups.
Obviously what interested me most is the section that applies to me, the blondes. She says that the best colors for blondes are blue-greens and violets, of both the red-violet and blue-violet variety. I find this true, for the most part–these are easy colors for me to wear, the ones I can steal from most palettes.
But I also found some kind of recognition for the thing that confuses me the most about my coloring:
This is the first thing I’ve found that says that some blondes do better in medium-to-dark value colors. Conventional wisdom gives blondes light pink lipsticks and puts them in light blue dresses. Getting the Light Spring palette was life-changing moment for me; the sheer terribleness of the colors on me turned everything I had always been told about color in relation to myself on its head. I’d never seen myself look so red and unhealthy. It took me a long time to figure out what was missing. It turned out to be darkness.
Darkness, for me, is magical. Even colors on the Dark Autumn palette that fall on the brighter side of things are hard for me to wear. I love Dark Autumn yellow, but if I wear it by itself, I lose some jawline definition. When I put on a lipstick described as “warm, rusty brown,” it loses all brown and looks like a nice, rosy pinkish-red. I used to gravitate toward spring colors in makeup. Now I understand why I’d look at myself in the mirror and wipe off my lipstick before I left the house. I didn’t even wear lipstick on a regular basis before this year because I had no idea what colors worked for me.
I’m a blonde, but I happen to need darkness to come alive–which is something the color world has seemed to kind of forgotten since 1942. Certainly beauty magazines and makeup companies have. It’s always nice to get a little confirmation about what you see in the mirror and in yourself.
tordisJune 10, 2015 at 9:13 am
That’s interesting! Thanks for the link! (Sadly, if you’re not enrolled at one of the partner universities, you can’t download it, just read it online)
I see similar connections with my own color/style type.Reply
I’m a true winter, but I don’t wear contrasts well at all and I don’t wear the light colors well. White and icy colors just don’t do anything for me. I’m in the “pairing black with jeweltones”-section. It’s interesting that this seems to stem from my kibbe type (TR). I seem to be the winter version of zylas Jeweltone Summer, which is very compatible to kibbe Rs. And I don’t seem to do well with bright color all over, it always has to be in smaller doses (up to 50 or 60% or so) with black as the canvas.
I love connections.
And I wonder what this book will confirm, so looking forward to it. Too bad i can’t load it on my kindle …
tordisJune 10, 2015 at 5:41 pm
Something irritates me. I’m a TW with light olive skin. Definitely olive. Definitely green. It’s a fact that olive skin is cool skin, it’ yellow skin with a blue undertone. If it was the other way round, it would be blue skin with a yellow undertone.
But what the author in this book recommends to olive skinned brunettes are colors that seem to be Deep Winter and Deep Autumn.
What are your thoughts?
stylesyntaxJune 10, 2015 at 9:16 pm
The composite ash blonde description doesn’t match me exactly, either. I would look at whatever makes the most sense with what you’ve experienced with colors. So Vivid Brunette might work better for you, even though your actual skin tone is olive.
ChiaraJune 11, 2015 at 10:35 am
Interesting post- I have ash blonde hair with a lot of gold and some red in it, very pale pinkish skin and (by comparison), dark green/blue/grey eyes with a few pale beige flecks. My eyes generally appear quite dark in my face, with disappearing eyebrows, which seems to be a bit of a lspring trait (judging by Caygill pictures), and I feel comfortable wearing light spring colors. BUT the usual light spring lipstick recommendations look variously like chalk, mud or nasty pallid crayons on my skin :).Reply
However, I found some Elea Blake lipsticks that worked really well, and based on them tried the Elea Blake new color grouping system. Sure enough, I need the ‘dark side’ spring colors in their system. The light side colors are SO bad (although very pretty colors), but the dark side colors make my face snap into focus, and bring out my hair and eye color really well.
So, in case we needed any more proof, working out your color palette is…complicated…but I can recommend trying the Elea Blake system in the meantime!
stylesyntaxJune 11, 2015 at 6:24 pm
I have pretty similar coloring except I don’t have disappearing eyebrows. My eyebrows are pretty dark and I have to be careful not to get too early 90s Madonna, especially when I’ve been in the sun and gotten some highlights. That and my deep love for bronzer were some of the earliest indicators that I might not be a light after all, despite having light hair/skin/eyes. My sister would fall under the “honey” designation in this system, with very tan skin and brown eyes and blonde hair, but her eyebrows have always been much lighter. She definitely has a more springy appearance than I do.
Elea Blake I haven’t tried because I find their new system confusing. I also can’t wear any of their products besides their lipsticks because they use an ingredient I’m allergic to. I’ve managed to find my lipstick sweet spot anyway, which is the reds and oranges on the DA palette and using the lightest colors for mixers to create medium-value lipsticks with enough depth.
ChiaraJune 12, 2015 at 12:00 am
The new Elea Blake system is tricky to understand when described in words, and absolutely easy to understand when you see it (they really need to stop trying to describe it verbally and just use photos!).
It’s great finding your lipstick home- just like you, I now wear it all the time.
I had a leaf through the Grace Morton book last night- fascinating detail on line and pattern.
MirandaJuly 5, 2015 at 12:00 am
Oddly, she (like many) has overlooked blue eyes and (light) brown hair. Unless I’m also an ashy blond, but I am fine with contrast and white. Overall, I think it’s hit or miss.Reply
stylesyntaxJuly 5, 2015 at 12:58 am
Well, it’s almost 80 years old 🙂 Being an ash blonde has nothing to do with handling contrast or white–there are plenty of Brights who do have ashy hair.
MirandaJuly 5, 2015 at 12:09 am
Vanessa, I wonder if you might either a soft dark autumn or a dark soft autumn. The soft seasons also have a high affinity for darkness, if I remember correctly. Everyone has their unique colour parameters.Reply
stylesyntaxJuly 5, 2015 at 12:57 am
I don’t really know what those seasons are. I really only consider the 12 seasons, with the understanding that everyone’s exact color parameters are unique, as you said. I don’t need softness, however. I can even wear some Dark Winter colors with no problem, and DW/DA crossovers tend to be my most successful makeup colors. Softness doesn’t have any benefits for me.