“Wipe your makeup off.” My sister instructed, handing me a wet towelette.
“Excuse me?” I asked, thinking I had heard wrong. If she thought I had overdone the mascara or applied too much lipstick, she could have been a little more kind.
Before I had a chance to unceremoniously scrape my face clean, she thrust a gift bag at me.
“Open up! Open up!” She said, clapping her hands together. We sat in her car on an early spring day in the middle of a church parking lot kicking off my birthday mystery ride adventure. “Mystery rides”, a term used lovingly by my family, almost always came on the heels of big occasions and involved much thought and planning.
I placed my towelette on the seat cushion and opened the gift bag, pulling out a small, bedazzled round mirror with colorful crayons poking out like sun rays around the circumference. As I stared in the mirror, I was getting the distinct feeling she was trying to tell me something, noting that my mascara was not excessive after all but thinking that I could have used a little more concealer to hide those purplish bags under my middle-aged eyes.
“Okay, what is this?” I mumbled.
“Guess!” She cried. “Guess where we’re going?” I looked blankly back at her, so she continued. “We’re getting your colors done! You know, the seasons!” She consulted her watch. “We’re a few minutes early, but we’re just going down the road for a complete color consultation. This very nice lady is going to tell you the best colors for your clothes, makeup and hair based on your skin tone and eye color.”
Seasons? I vaguely remembered that being a thing a few decades ago but I had never given it much thought. Besides, I had my favorites…of course, there was black and white, a staple of every girl’s closet; I also liked a bold, deep red when I was wanting to stand out in a crowd. The rest of my wardrobe was not so much filled with specific colors as what was on sale, even better if I had a coupon. Admittedly, many items hung in my closet with the tags still on and my reluctance to purge them was tied to the notion that I still might be inspired to wear them one day.
As we pulled up to a lovely shingled New England style Cape, I was holding on to a big bowl of skepticism, but I figured worst case scenario, we were going out for a birthday lunch after and I would just listen politely to this woman in order to get to the yummy food. I mean, how could a perfect stranger know me better than I knew myself?
Minutes later, we were settled into a beautiful room full of natural light listening to the expert talk about the impact color can have on how we present ourselves to others and how it affects our mood. Scarfs, bandana sized, were draped one by one close to my neck as I sat before a full-length mirror. By processes of elimination, colors of every hue… green, blue, red, yellow, purple and more were layered on and then every round’s inferior color was stripped away. It was startling when the expert began to eliminate options, pointing out how certain colors created shading under my eyes and at my jaw line making me look washed out and tired while other colors illuminated my complexion and made my eyes look like glistening jewels.
My sister and I consider ourselves fairly creative. Our grandfather was a metal arts engraver and artist who threw a few bread crumbs our way in the gene pool. We both understand how color evokes a mood and certain combinations can be scintillating but I never imagined what a difference wearing the right colors could make in how you look and feel.
As the decades whiz by, it’s easy to believe we know ourselves best. For the most part this is true; but I learned, sitting there in front of that “not gonna lie to you” mirror, that I had checked the wrong book out of the library as far as coloring went. Turns out, my season is Spring. Not just Spring, but extra bright Spring. My wardrobe should be bursting with colors like tangerine, poppy red, shocking pink and apple green. I wasn’t sure how my current closet full of olive green, charcoal gray and rust was going to feel about that. And guess what? Black and white do me no favors after all. I’m more of a cream and bright oxford blue kind of girl.
We wrapped up the two-hour consultation with further instructions to focus on gold jewelry instead of silver and made a few makeup color tweaks. I was mesmerized by what I had seen with my own two eyes. What an absolute treat to emerge from the session with a blueprint for a refreshed and better me. Also, because at my age it’s easy to forget where I parked the car at the mall, I was grateful to leave with a fan deck of small fabric swatches that listed all my approved colors. I could bring it right into the store to make sure I was searching for the right hue.
After a wonderful lunch and a happy good bye hug to my sister, I spread my fan deck out on my bed and immediately started attacking the closet. Anything with a tag still hanging on it that was in the wrong color went in the donation pile. That was round one. Round two meant evaluating the things I wore regularly. Items that I knew were wrong for me were also added to the pile. I did hold on to some black and white items, just in case, but made a pledge not to buy any more.
The next day, I went to several department stores searching out my new colors. It was so much fun picking out things that I would have walked by ten times out of ten before my consultation. It took me several shopping trips before I started to gravitate towards my new colors but now, a few months later, I know what works.
I’m not sure about the “science” of color. I can tell you I feel more inspired wearing my Spring colors and without a doubt, every time someone compliments what I’m wearing (and yes, that happens more now), it makes me smile. So, thank you to my sister and her crazy crayon-sphered mirror for giving me the tools to a whole new me.