Color Me Beautiful: 1980s Fashion Nightmare

For now, I am not going to really discuss systems that are defined by color and season. After reading the materials related to Dressing Your Truth and Zyla, I have some major issues with the way that kind of system works. I don’t see how having, say, a certain kind of nose will mean that you’re more likely to lose your keys (DYT) or that a certain kind of coloring will mean you have a certain kind of personality (Zyla). I like Kibbe because it is about working with your entire essence and your balance of yin and yang to find a type, and has nothing to do with what color your hair is. While obviously knowing your most flattering colors is helpful, whether you do it by a seasonal color analysis or by using the colors you find in your eyes, skin, and hair, like in Zyla, I don’t like using it as a starting point for finding your personal style. I’d rather have the style first, and the colors second.

That being said, before I get into Kibbe, I’d like to continue with the history kick and talk a little bit about Carole Jackson’s Color Me Beautiful. There are others, like Caygill and Kentner, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of their books–Caygill’s goes for hundreds of dollars–and Carole Jackson’s book is still in print. It was the first book I read that had at least part of it based on Belle Northrup’s and Harriet Tilden McJimsey’s work, and indirectly led me to Kibbe, DYT, et al. So I thought I’d talk about it a little bit.

Color Me Beautiful‘s main premise is splitting women into the four different seasons based on their coloring. (I have been fascinated with this concept ever since coming across it in a Baby-Sitters Club book.) Using these colors as a guide, Carole Jackson further split women into what she calls “style personalities,” using the categories determined by Harriet Tilden McJimsey. Jackson, however, totally rids the system of the yin/yang concept. She tells you just to use your season as a guide and then study yourself in the mirror and see which personality fits you best. She also says that some people can wear several personalities, depending on the occasion.

Thanks to the Internet, you don’t even have to buy the book to see what she’s talking about. Someone uploaded a 1980s Color Me Beautiful promotional video to YouTube. The very 80s fashions are alternately hilarious and frightening, and I can say that after watching this, I was more certain than ever that none of these fit me. The Style Personality segment starts at around 38:19:

(The rest of the video may be helpful for determining your season if you’re struggling with it, although nowadays using 12 Seasons seems to be more popular. But it’s a good starting place if you’re unsure if you should look at, say, Autumns or Winters.)

I think it’s interesting to look at this and then compare it to Kibbe, who came out at around the same time, and see what he did with the structure provided with McJimsey. His allows for a lot more variation, and gets rid of coloring=style personality, which I definitely approve of. I will finally begin discussing Kibbe in my next post, which will be on how I see the Kibbe system.

Related Posts

McJimsey’s Ingenue

Now, Ingenue kind of has a bad rap. Kibbe says that no adult woman should dress like that, and thus did not include it in his system at all. McJimsey calls it “naive, unsophisticated, artless, and even childlike.” Ouch! But we are going to go over her definition of the Ingenue anyway. The Ingenue is the polar opposite of the Dramatic. An Ingenue is dainty, young, delicate in build and coloring, below average in height, and more charmingly pretty than sophisticated. Someone who is average in height can have Ingenue qualities if they are slender with delicate coloring. A pink-and-white coloring with natural blonde or light brown hair can lend an Ingenue quality to a person. Ingenues will be cheapened by artifical hair coloring and their charm will be spoiled. An Ingenue has a small, upturned nose, round cheeks, a rosebud mouth, and a gently rounded figure. Short feathered curls with a tiny bow or a ribbon or a short curly ponytail with a ribbon around it will increase her yin quality. An Ingenue should not try to copy the Romantic’s sophistication, but instead be content with her own ingenuous and natural charm. If the Gamine has a sturdy “little boy” look, an Ingenue has a dainty “little girl” look. Her steps are light and dainty. Her posture reflects her mood, whether her head is lowered when she is relaxed and/or shy, or if she may she is dancing on tiptoe and sparkling with laughter. Since the Ingenue is so youthful, it is rare to find a perfect Ingenue over the age of 16. But having blonde hair, fair skin, and delicate features, coupled with small size, will give off an Ingenue impression long after youth has passed. If you have a small, round face and big eyes, you can put some yin, Ingenue details in your outfit. As an Ingenue ages, she can add more Romantic and Classic styles, and change her hairstyle and mannerisms to more sophisticated ones. If you have a yin face but are not as small in size, you can add softness and curved necklines, but your details will not be as dainty.

McJimsey’s Ingenues are Helen Hayes, Shirley Jones, Hayley Mills, Tricia Nixon, and Debbie Reynolds.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The Ingenue must always select clothes that reflect her youth and daintiness. She should follow the rococo line from her hair and facial features, and while she can wear frilly dresses, she can also wear simpler clothes with delicate details in feminine fabrics. Due to her small stature, she should keep the details small and keep the effect simple, without omitting dainty details. It may seem too coy and naive and not fashion-forward enough for even the college girl. Subtle touches of Ingenue, such as dainty cotton blouses or eyelet summer dresses, may be used. Fashions specifically mentioned include:

  • Bouffant skirts
  • Empire or princess silhouettes (empire makes legs look longer)
  • Rows of ruffles or tucks
  • Capelets and boleros
  • Peplums
  • emphasis at the yoke, frequently with trim
  • fullness from gathers, rather than darts, especially at the yoke, sleeve, and waist
  • curving necklines
  • suits can be worn, but they need to have soft lines and be of fabrics that are not too severe

    The Ingenue does not have to overdo the curves, since fabrics such as organdy, taffeta, batiste, voile, or soft, lightweight woolens and cashmeres sustain the yin. Colors for the Ingenue should be dainty pastels or sparkling tints in blues, pinks, orchids, peach, mint green, and aqua, used with white accents in accessories. Navy and cocoa brown are good Ingenue neutrals, as are pearl gray and creamy beige. Light grayed hues are good for suits. Accessories should be dainty and not too extreme in style, and they include shoes with medium or low curved heels, cut-out slippers, and dainty bows and straps in kid leathers (beige for street, dyed-to-match for formal wear); gathered pouch or small clutch bags; and dainty pearl, rhinestone, and ceramic jewelry. Hats can have ribbons or flowers, and perhaps a small veil.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

  • Related Posts

    McJimsey’s Gamine

    In the book, McJimsey spells “gamine” as “gamin,” but I’ve gone with “gamine” here because it’s what is usually found when discussing this style type, and also because “gamin” is the masculine form. As I’ve mentioned previously, McJimsey places Gamine at the yin end of the spectrum, and has it as more yin than Romantic. McJimsey’s Gamine is the yin version of the Natural. Like the Natural, she is fun and casual, but she is small in stature and looks young, and often is young. In her system, it is a common type for high school or college-aged girls. She is mischevious and has some Peter Pan to her personality. Physically, she is slender, but not fragile; she often has a turned-up snub nose and small, round features, except for her eyes, which may be large. She often wears her hair in bangs or in a ponytail. Her skin varies from fair and freckled to dark, and her hair can be any color, but her youthfulness is always her most distinguishing characteristic. She does not usually wear makeup apart from a touch of lipstick. If she tries to look more sophisticated with a lot of makeup and so on, she will lose her youthful charm and look like a poor imitation of herself. She looks best when when she wears simple, playful looks.

    McJimsey’s Gamines are Goldie Hawn, Audrey Hepburn, and Ethel Kennedy.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3)

    The Gamine is the more modern of the two yin types (the other being Ingenue, which I’ll cover in my next post). She wears young clothes, like what you’d find in the juniors section. Gamine clothes do not, however, vary as much from year to year as the Dramatic and Romantic clothes do, and are less extreme, although Gamines may fall victim to fads. Skirt length is more indicative of changing styles than silhouette. Yin people generally wear shorter skirts, so when miniskirts are in fashion, they tend to go very short. Fashions specifically mentioned for the Gamine are:

  • short box or bolero jackets
  • Small waistline
  • Full gathered or pleated skirt
  • Checked or plaid cottons
  • Sweater with shorts, jeans, or skirt–they look better in jeans and shorts than any other type
  • Tailored and tucked in shirtwaist blouses, either white or with small geometric prints
  • Shells in colorful stripes
  • Sleeveless overblouses
  • Peter Pan or convertible collar, or scoop and bateau necklines in more casual situations


    Since she is small, small details suit a Gamine, but she should avoid frilly or lacy trim. Her clothes should have small buttons, small pockets, collars, and cuffs, or small bows or braids for interest. Gamine fabrics include gingham, pique, shagbark, corduroy, jersey, soft tweeds, and flannel. For formalwear, sheer cottons are appropriate for summer, and velveteen or taffeta for winter. Plaids, checks, or stylized florals in bright, youthful colors are flattering. Good colors for Gamines are white, bright yellow-reds, clear blues, and aqua. Dramatic colors like purple, gold, and chartreuse are not typical, and should only be worn by a Gamine if she has Dramatic or Romantic qualities. Shoes include flats and shorter heels and small clutch bag. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum, as it is not youthful. Handmade silver Indian jewelry or simple rings or pins can be worn, if kept to a minimum. Gamines wear berets, pillbox hats, and small roller hats, though the casual Gamine doesn’t wear hats very often.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Related Posts

  • McJimsey’s Romantic

    McJimsey’s Romantic, unlike Kibbe’s, is not the most yin expression on her scale. Yin, as I’ve mentioned previously, is a youthful quality in McJimsey, and the Romantic is sophisticated and dignified. She is the prom queen, the film goddess. She is more exaggerated than her youthful counterpart, the Ingenue, who will often age into a Romantic. Unless soemone is exquisitely and unusually beautiful, either in figure, face, or hair, and then they will be able to wear some Romantic elements, a Romantic will usually only be found in those 25 and older. A Romantic can wear exaggerated extremes of fashion, which the younger, less-sophisticated Ingenue can’t. A Romantic will often have striking coloring as well, whether it is Titian red hair and pale skin, an olive-skinned brunette, or a golden blonde, but all types of beauty can be Romantic if they combine feminine charm and beauty with the theatrical. Romantics have delicately rounded or heart-shaped faces, a full bust, a slim waist, and long, slender legs. Their complexion is perfect, their eyes large and luminous with long lashes, and a long and straight or tilted and delicate nose. So basically, they are the epitome of feminine glamour and allure, and have to in fact be careful not to exaggerate their beauty with too much makeup, too tight clothing, or too many elaborate accessories.

    McJimsey’s Romantics are Ann-Margret, the Gabor sisters, Jean Shrimpton, and Elizabeth Taylor.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)

    While she is a composite, yin dominates Romantic clothing. Her yangness lets her wear extremes, but she has to be careful not to overdress and she must be tasteful. She should still show off her figure, though. Fashions mentioned for the Romantic include:

  • Fitted waistlines, perhaps raised to Empire to show off the bust
  • Crisp, full bouffant skirts
  • Soft, flowing, draping chiffons
  • Shirtwaist dresses with feminine touches, such as gathered sleeves or ones that tie at tiny bows at the elbow, or pleated or gathered skirts
  • Soft draped collars; any neckline or bustline interest
  • Soft sashes and cummerbunds to call attention to the waist
  • Low rounded necklines
  • Off-the-shoulder or chiffon scarves


    Fabrics should be rich and lustrous and in colors like red, rose, or delicate shades of violet. Black can be Romantic if it is tailored in a feminine way and in a feminine fabric, like chiffon, velvet, lace, or a crisp silk such as taffeta. Other fabrics and details for a Romantic include sheer Dacron (for casual wear), peau de soie (for formalwear), soft woolens, cashmere, feathers, veiling, and soft furs. Their shoes, as you might imagine, should have high heels, and should be plain, yet dainty for day (in kid, suede, or patent leather) and with delicate for nighttime (in brocade or satin, with beads and bows). Her jewelry should be dainty yet lavish, with cut stones set in curved lines. Bags should be either pouches or gathered satchels in an appropriate fabric or leather. Fur capes are excellent. Hats can large or small, but always feminine and flattering.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Related Posts

  • McJimsey’s Classic

    While using “classic” as a way to describe a style is something that now seems so obvious, and something that even people who don’t obsessively read up on style systems understands, McJimsey says that she selected the term “classic” because of its resemblance to classical sculpture. A person with a Classic style essence with have regular, even features and a simple hair style. She can be beautiful, without being theatrical, or she can be plain, but she will still be charming. While a Classic will have smartness and style like a Dramatic, like the Natural, she avoids extremes. She expresses her style in more subtle ways, using fine fabric, perfect fit, and immaculate grooming. The oval predominates in her facial shape and hairstyle. Her face is more long than round, but it is not angular. She does not have a hair out of place, but it never looks severe. She is poised and dignified, but again, she lacks the Dramatic’s theatricality.

    Since it is a combination of yin and yang, McJimsey considers Classic a good solution to the style problems of aging women. Like with the transition from teenager to adult, the shift to senior citizen status also requires a reconsideration of one’s yin and yang. Someone who was once a Dramatic or Natural may find that their newly gray or white hair and loss of tone in their muscles will require more yin softening. Someone who was more yin may find that their new dignity and maturity will now require more yang. Since classics are neither too severe nor too soft, they provide a good compromise. Modifications from your former yin or yang days, however, be added to the Classic style to infuse it with your personality.

    McJimsey’s Classics are Julie Andrews, Peggy Fleming, Grace Kelly, Julia Meade, and Pat Nixon.

    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Even though it is balanced, yang qualities will generally predominate in a typical Classic. Thus, clothes that are simple and dignified are best. If a Classic is younger, she may want to make the look more yin by adding more feminine and delicate touches, but a Classic is distinguished by her dignity, not her femininity. Classics avoid extremes, and either modify trends or go for the simplest version. The fashions specifically mentioned include:

  • shirtwaist dresses with a narrow belt and a shawl or convertible-style collar (I didn’t know what these collars were, so I found some vintage examples to show you)
  • Silhouette should be straight, with fullness in pleats or folds and not a big bouffant looks
  • Straight lines and restrained curves are used, but they are softened by softer fabrics
  • dressmaker suit of wool crepe that is fitted and detailed with curved, yet flat structural detail is good
  • simple flannel cardigan suit with all gamine detailing removed


    Fabric should be soft and fine textured. Fabrics include light- and medium-weight fabrics, such as pure silk, wool crepe, fine jerseys, cashmere, fine cotton or wool broadcloth, and wool flannel. Dull surfaces are preferred to luster, and chiffon, peau di soie, and silk shantung are preferable to satin for evening wear. Small patterns such as paisley or polka dots can be worn, but plain fabrics are preferable. Necklines should be softly tailored, and a dainty bow or tie at the neck is allowed. Both line and color should both show restraint. Excellent neutrals are soft beige and navy blue. White and beige or white and navy are frequent combinations, and other colors include middle-value blues and rose-reds. Shoes include simple pumps and oxfords. Jewelry includes pearls and other modest, inconspicuous jewelry. Bags should be of average size and rather plain. Hats include the pillbox, the cloche, and the trim sailor hat.

    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Related Posts

  • McJimsey’s Natural

    Natural is a yang expression like Dramatic, but instead of angles and formality, the Natural is strength and informality. While the Dramatic is tall and thin, the Natural is more substantial. McJimsey chose the word “natural” to define this type because a Natural shuns artficiality and prefers to wear more natural-looking makeup and hair, and casual, comfortable clothes. Facial features are square and blunt; the smile and the eyes are friendly. She has a little bit of yin in her face, in contrast to the strictly yang Dramatic. A Natural can be either well-proportioned or stocky, and may be overweight. She usually has brown, auburn, or red hair, and a tan and freckles. McJimsey says that many yang types combine both of these types, and can adjust their look for the occasion, emphasizing one or the other, unless their figure limits their ability to wear high-fashion clothes. Again, while school age and college girls of above-average height may see themselves in the Natural type, especially since it is so informal, at that age, they will most likely be a Gamine/Natural hybrid. A Gamine Natural should look for simple clothes, and also clothes should have larger details than you would select for a pure Gamine.

    McJimsey’s Naturals are Candace Bergen, Mary Lindsay, Ali McGraw, and Happy Rockefeller.

    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)

    The Natural does not have the sophistication of the Dramatic. Her yang is expressed in bold simplicity, rather than the exotic or the extreme. She should look for comfort and informality. The fashions specifically mentioned include:

  • skirts with pleats or gores for movement
  • design interest should be limited to details like buttons, pockets, and seams
  • formal wear should be simple and made of beautiful fabrics like raw silk
  • large-wale corduroy for sports; pin-wale corduroy for formal wear (it was the 70s…)


    Fabrics include tweed, shantung, Irish linen, raw silks, homespun/handknitted textures, jerseys, doubleknits, and flannels. No shiny satin or crepe silk. Texture is emphasized, and good accessories include large, handcrafted wooden accessories; belts; bags; wooden, leather, or metal buttons; and novel cord fasteners (anyone know what that means?). The leather used in shoes and bags should not be shiny. Boots, oxfords, and stacked heels are what a Natural should look for. Handcrafted jewelry with uncut semiprecious stones, carved wooden beads, and coral necklaces make good jewelry for a Natural. Good patterns and details include peasant embroidery, large-scale plaids, abstract or geometric patterns, and prints that simulate textured weaves. Herringbone or silk scarves should be combined with textured knits. Necklines should be softened by collars. The shirt collar, sailor neckline, and square neckline are all good. Large bows and turtlenecks that are not too high or tight are also advised. Double-breasted coats are also good for balance. The favored neutral for a Natural is brown, and woodsy colors (forest green, dull gold, rust, dulled yellow-green), bright blues, greens, and reds. Purple and magenta seem too artificial for a Natural. She may wear a woolen cap or beret pushed back on her head, but Naturals usually prefer not to wear hats.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Related Posts

  • McJimsey’s Dramatic

    McJimsey’s Dramatic Yang is tall, thin, angular, dark-skinned, and has very light or very dark hair. She has excellent posture, formal manners, and a low voice. Almond-shaped eyes, angular eyebrows, wide thin lips, high cheekbones, and an elongated oval shape are all Dramatic. Earlier in the chapter, McJimsey made the point that her types are adjectives, not nouns. If you have high cheekbones, a strong nose, or “brunette coloring,” you have some Dramatic qualities and can wear some Dramatic fashions. If you are shorter and on the Dramatic side, you should wear heels and an unbroken line of color. Pure Dramatics who meets all of the Dramatic qualifications are rare. Going back to age again, McJimsey says that since yin is a youthful quality, people under 25 shouldn’t wear Dramatic fashions, and young people who lean Dramatic should wear a yang neckline or some yang colors while keeping the rest of the outfit youthful/yin.

    McJimsey’s Dramatics are Lauren Bacall, Joan Baez, Maria Callas, Joan Crawford, Lady Bird Johnson, and Barbra Streisand.

    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)


    The Dramatic can wear high fashion. Bold, severe lines and exotic colors and patterns suit her. The fashions specifically mentioned include:

  • Sleeves with width at the bottom
  • batwing sleeves
  • long tunics/overblouses
  • exaggerated shoulder width (when in fashion)
  • trapeze dresses or tops
  • straight lines with vertical or diagonal movement
  • diagonal draping and wraparound styles

    Fabrics include crepe, broadcloth, garbadine, satin, heavy brocade, metallic cloth, and plain weave knits. Necklines should be plain and severe, such as high tight collars, turtlenecks, deep v-necks, collarless necklines, large shawl collars, and large lapels pointing downwards. Lots of neutrals, except for light gray and light beige, but black is the most common. Colors used should be brilliant and intense, with purple, magenta, gold, and chartreuse being the most yang. Color use should be unusual and discordant. Accessories should also be large and exotic, either bold and plain or lavish and ornate. Dramatics wear hats more frequently than the other types.

    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    Related Posts

  • Harriet Tilden McJimsey

    yinBelle Northrup’s work was continued by Harriet Tilden McJimsey in her book Art in Clothing Selection, first published in 1963 and then updated and retitled Art and Fashion in Clothing Selection ten years later. You can electronically borrow the updated version at Open Library. This is the book that I am going to be talking about today.

    This book was actually intended to be used as a college home economics textbook. The things I am going to be talking about today are only one chapter of the book. The rest of the book goes into the history of clothing, social psychology, apparel design, and lots of other subjects. An interesting side note: Carol Tuttle was a home economics major in the 1970s, so it’s feasible that she read this book for her coursework.

    In the chapter on yin/yang and types, McJimsey takes Northrup’s work on yin/yang and animal archetypes and introduces the Dramatic, Natural, Classic, Gamine, Romantic and Ingenue types that we all know and love. (If someone came up with these types before McJimsey, please let me know in the comments.) She says that Dramatic and Natural are the yang types, Classic and Romantic are mixed (Romantic being mixed sounds strange to those of us who are coming from Kibbe), and Gamine and Ingenue are yin. Her yin/yang classifications seem almost to be based on age more than anything else. Gamine and Ingenue are for the most part limited to teens and those in their early 20s, Romantic is more sophisticated and probably wouldn’t be your type until after 25, Dramatic and Natural always look older than they are, and so on. Even though gamine is boyish, since it’s so youthful, it’s still yin.

    yangIn contrast to people like David Kibbe and Carol Tuttle who are adamant that people fit into one category and one category alone (or one category and on secondary in Tuttle’s case), McJimsey’s approach is closer to that of John Kitchener, who types people by percentages of essences, rather than fitting people into one individual type. McJimsey says that there are very few “pure” individuals who will fit entirely into Gamine or Ingenue or Natural. Almost everyone will pull their “style essence,” as she puts it, from several types.

    Next post, I’ll begin looking at McJimsey’s types, starting with Dramatic.

    I’ve posted the charts from McJimsey in the gallery below. More illustrations can be found on my Research Pinterest board.

    Related Posts

    Belle Northrup and Yin/Yang

    The idea of adopting yin/yang for use in describing personal style came from Belle Northrup, a professor in the 1930s at Columbia Teachers College. Northrup used “yin” and “yang” to denote the two possible extremes in women’s appearance and nature. A yang-dominant woman is strong, powerful, vigorous, and forceful. The yin-dominant woman is delicate, piquant, graceful, soft, sweet, and gentle. A true yang woman is tall, while a true yin woman is short, but you can have tall yins and short yangs; what matters in Northrup is “soul.”

    While I haven’t been able to access Belle Northrup’s 1936 article “An Approach to the Problem of Costume and Personality,” I did find, via Seasonal Color, an article in the Laredo Times from 1934 entitled “Are You Yin, Madam, Or Are You Yang?” (available here) that gives a short introduction to Northrup’s philosophies. Rather than the familiar Romantic, Dramatic, etc. categories we’re used to, Northrup uses animals.

    Alla Nazimova is a Leopard Woman, and “sinuous, clinging, sophisticated draperies, monkey fur, other exotic, rich, glorious furs and fabrics will set off that leopard quality”:
    alla leopard
    alla smoking

    Lillian Gish is a Bird Woman, and that “calls for delicacy and piquant demureness” in fashion:
    lillian bird
    lilliangish
    Northrup goes on to explain that you can also be a Horse Woman (good and strong), an Elephant Woman (strong, staunch, and wise), a Pony Woman (jaunty and jocose), and so on. The author of the article suggests matching up your favorite actress to a zoo animal.

    Northrup’s ideas would be developed further by Harriet Tilden McJimsey in Art in Clothing Selection in 1963, which will be the subject of my next post. All of the style systems that rely on using a woman’s essence to define her style have their roots in Ms. Northrup’s work.

    Alla Nazimova photograph from here.
    Lillian Gish photograph from here.
    All other information, quotes and pictures from here.

    Related Posts

    1 15 16 17