We are excited to welcome a good friend of Sawyer Brook to our Sew in Fashion blog. Nancy Nix-Rice is a star in the Image Consulting field, working with women of all ages, sizes and life-styles to find the best style for each individual. AND Nancy is a life-long sewer herself. Formerly running her own sewing school, Nancy understands the process of choosing the right fabric for the right garment. She’s offered to share her tips on planning a wardrobe here on our blog pages. If you want to learn more from Nancy, you can find her latest book here Looking Good Every Day. Please welcome Nancy to our blog and feel free to post comments and questions for her.
I sew all the time, but I still have NOTHING TO WEAR!
The answer to a closet full of “nothing to wear” is a planned wardrobe. And the easiest way to plan one is to let a great print define your color scheme. If the colors are appealing and flattering together, they will almost certainly mix and match well when repeated in your solid garments. The most versatile prints give you at least two neutrals and two accent colors to work within your grouping. It’s easier to find coordinating solids when the color areas of the prints are variegated rather than specific. Your OPTIMAL print isn’t just pretty. It relates to the details of your appearance in some specific ways that you’ve probably never considered.
#1 – Buy prints that feature your most flattering colors.
View the print from a distance. Small color areas sometimes blend (eg. red and blue areas could appear purple) to be sure its over-all temperature matches your own. Just a touch of gold, orange or lime green can substantially warm an otherwise cool print. Oddly, it doesn’t work in the reverse. Add cool touches to a warm print and the overall look usually remains warm. Reds are especially critical. If a print includes shades from the red family that are not your best, you’ll be stuck for makeup. You can either match your lipstick and blush to the print colors – which won’t flatter you – or wear your correct makeup shades and clash with your outfit.
#2 – Balance the print’s overall color value (visual weight) to the visual weight of YOU from the shoulders up.
If you wear a print dress in colors significantly darker than your skin/hair/eye colors, your head will appear to be “floating”, disconnected from the garment. The same imbalance occurs when the print colors are too pale. But that pale print might work just fine as a blouse under a jacket in a stronger solid color. Sun Prints would balance on the auburn-hair gal (left) but look too heavy for the lighter gal (right) Patio in peach would balance on the lighter gal and look insignificant on a woman with strong coloring.
#3 – Watch contrast levels carefully.
The light/dark contrast within a print should be no greater than the light/dark contrast in your personal color pattern. Otherwise all the focus will go to the garment and away from the face. Fast Forward in cerise (good on the brunette, too strong for the blonde) and Bramble in berry (wishy-washy on the brunette but fine on the blonde) make a good comparison of less/more contrast Avoid whites that grab more than their share of attention.The white in a print often looks more intense than it really is because of the surrounding colors.
#4 – Prints that include a touch of your hair color create an immediate visual connection between the print and you.
#5 – Match the print scale to your body proportions.
The palm of your hand typically defines the maximum size for an individual print motif. Print motifs appear smaller when they flow right into one another, and larger when they are spaced farther apart on a solid background. Motifs also seem smaller when they are sewn into draped styles because the folds of fabric obscure the edges of the print shapes. The same print that might seem too big for you in a sheath dress could work fine in a softly draped style. If you have swatches from a top-quality color consultation, use them to help with print purchase decisions.
- Fan out the entire set against the print. Do they relate in terms of color value (light/dark) and color intensity (bright/muted)?
- Separate the first 4 strips of colors from your fan – the ones that represent your own skin, hair, eye and natural red colors – and hold them against the print. Do they harmonize? And do the color strips have at least as much contrast as the print does?
- Look for the major colors from the print in your color fan:
A print that passes those tests is almost certain to flatter you: Once you find an OPTIMAL print, purchase enough for a top and a bottom garment (skirt and T-shirt, for example). Then look for coordinating solids and you’ll soon be on the way to mix-and-match magic.