“Value” means how light or dark a color appears. Your personal color pattern has value too. When the two don’t connect, your head looks disconnected from your body – that’s kind of weird, no? And it makes you look shorter and heavier – not too many woman are looking for that effect!
Here are two pretty jarring examples of the disconnect, taken from celebrity photos in a popular fashion magazine. See how their heads seem to be almost floating away? Just not really part of the same picture with the outfit?
The dark green outfit on the left is far too dark and visually heavy for the coloring of the wearer’s head. And the head-to-toe white outfit is so light that it doesn’t connect with the wearer’s much stronger coloring.
So how do you measure your own color value? It isn’t just your skin color or just your hair color. Think of it as an average of your skin, hair and eye colors — give each a numerical value 1-10 (lightest to darkest) and divide by 3 if that makes sense to you. But honestly it isn’t an exact science.
During my all-day workshops I invite the participants to divide into groups of 6-8 people and arrange themselves in “value” order. Here is one example of that exercise. See the color values of the women – not necessarily their current clothing – get progressively paler from left to right. You could debate a few of their positions — possibly swapping #2 and #3, possibly reversing #4 and #5. But you get the idea, right? And notice that the far-right gal is wearing a subtle plaid shirt that is a great balance with her personal color value.
Try a similar exercise on your own, by holding up solid items from your closet and looking in the mirror for a vertical flow or balance — no floating head.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever wear darker or lighter colors, and we’ll talk more about the optimal way to manage that in a future post.
I’d love to hear what you discover about yourself from this color-value exercise. Did you discover that some wardrobe favorites do indeed blend with your personal color value? And with some of those things in which you never feel quite right … was value mis-match part of the problem?