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Irish - Dressmakers & Costumers
How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers (karma: 11)
By Realtreble Comments: 2094, member since Tue Dec 06, 2005
On Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:59 PM
Edited by Realtreble (146991) on 2009-04-23 23:04:08 Clarification
Made sticky by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2009-04-26 16:30:13 Great post!

How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You

Of course you may wear any colors you choose, however some colors naturally look better on you than others. One possible reason dancers buy wigs that are not their own hair color is they've purchased a dress whose color isn’t consistent with their natural coloring. A different color wig is one way to compensate, as is a completely different make up palette. You can make the wrong colors “work” for you, but that usually involves extra time, effort and expense. I’m going to help you select the most naturally flattering color palette for your next dress.

When planning your next dress, first ask your TC if s/he has any color preferences for you. TCs are usually good about color advice.

Next, go to a fabric store such as JoAnn's, Hancock's or Wal-Mart. Don't wear any makeup and pull your hair back (no colored headbands can be visible). An impartial assistant may be helpful. Get a shopping cart and locate a mirror in the store. Gather bolts of solid color fabrics in these colors: black, brown, gold lamé metallic cloth and silver lamé metallic cloth, pure bright white and ivory/beige, Go to the mirror, unroll a bit of each color cloth one at a time and drape it across your front, so that none of your street clothing shows. If you dye your hair, you may want to cover your head with a bit of the drapery color as well.

Which colors look best? There are several ways to determine "best": which colors draw attention to your eyes? Which colors make you look most rested and refreshed? Do any of the colors make you look as though you have "circles" under your eyes (a bad thing)? Do any of the colors make your complexion look especially spotty, blotchy or sallow (yellowish. grayish or greenish--also not good)? Make note of your best colors.

You will look better in one of these two groups: black, silver and white OR brown, gold and ivory/beige. Carefully return the fabrics in the group that is least flattering. To refine your search, pick out two more bolts of fabric. If the black/silver/white grouping looked best, select a bolt of medium royal blue fabric and a bolt of pink fabric. If you looked best in the brown/gold/beige grouping select a yellow bolt and an orange bolt of fabric. Please be sure to pick pure colors for this test: no neons, pastels, fuchsia, bubble gum, mustard, olive green, navy or aqua. Which of the two new bolts is most flattering to your natural coloring? If you are having a hard time deciding, drape one of the original dark colors over your shoulders, then look at the new colors.

If this choice is still too difficult to make, look at the skin on the inside of your wrist against a solid, pure white background; ignore the blue veining in your wrist. Does the skin on the inside of your wrist have a pink, bluish-pink, golden yellow or golden orange appearance?

(Remember to put all the bolts of fabric away carefully, the sales clerks will appreciate the consideration.)


Group A- If you look best in silver/black/white and royal blue (pink wrist):
* Your natural skin tone is one of these: very white, white with a slight pink tone, beige tending toward sallow, olive, or black with blue undertones.
* Your eye color (without tinted contacts) is probably, black-brown, dark reddish brown, hazel (brown center with a blue or green rim), gray-blue, blue with white flecks, dark blue, violet, gray-green, or green with white flecks and a gray rim.
* Your natural hair color is dark bluish-black, dark brown (maybe with red highlights), medium ash (dull) brown, salt and pepper, silver-gray, white blond or pure white. Golden highlights aren’t seen in this group. When you get older, consider keeping your gray hair, it is flattering.

Group B- If you look best in silver/black/white and pink (bluish-pink wrist):
* Your natural skin tone is one of these: pale beige with pink cheeks, beige with no cheek color or sallow undertones, rosy beige, very pink, gray-brown or rosy brown.
* Your eyes are naturally blue with a cloudy or webbed iris, green with a cloudy or webbed iris, gray-blue, gray green, bright clear blue, pale aqua, hazel (cloudy brown with blue or green), pale gray, rosy brown or gray-brown.
* Your natural hair color is in the range of white blond, ash blond, ash brown, dark taupe brown, brown with an auburn cast, blue-gray, or pearl white. Golden highlights are rarely seen in this group. This is the only group that is flattered by hair frosting/white highlights.

Group C- If you look best in brown/gold/beige and yellow (golden yellow wrist):
* Your natural skin tone is one of these: creamy ivory, ivory with golden freckles, peach, peach/pink, golden beige and golden brown. Many people in this color group have rosy cheeks and tend to blush easily.
* People in this color group have blue eyes (sometimes with white rays), eyes that are steel blue, green with golden flecks, clear green, aqua, teal or golden brown.
* Your natural hair color is flaxen blond, yellow blond, honey blond, strawberry blond (usually with freckled skin), strawberry redhead (usually with freckled skin), auburn, golden brown, red-black, dove gray, creamy white. Ashen highlights are not seen in this group.

Group D- If you look best in brown/gold/beige and orange (golden to orange wrist):
* Your natural skin tone is one of these: ivory with freckles, peach, peach with freckles, golden beige, dark coppery beige, golden brown.
* Your eyes are naturally dark or golden brown, amber hazel (golden brown with green/gold rims), hazel (green with brown or gold flecks), clear green, olive green, steel blue, teal or bright turquoise.
* Your natural hair color is red, coppery brown, auburn, golden brown, dark honey, golden blond honey, strawberry blond, charcoal brown or black, golden gray or oyster white. Ashen highlights are rarely seen in this group.

Once you know your basic color group, it is much easier to select fabric colors, makeup and wigs. Even if you opt to go with a wig that is not your natural color, you can choose shades that occur in your color group so the wig is naturally flattering to your skin and eyes.

People in Group A look best in clear, vivid colors. Their colors are easily the most dramatic. Contrasting colors are very flattering. For the best look, limit the number of colors you wear to only two or three at a time. Primary colors (red, blue, green and yellow) are excellent choices. The only pale tints that work well for this group are pale pink and gray. Group A is the only one that can successfully wear only black and white; that is their best combination. Other good color choices include navy blue, bright burgundy, hot pink, and taupe. Choose bright, clear colors from the neon palette such as green, red, blue or purple. Avoid all neons with a yellow base. If you must wear orange, gold, yellow-gold, rust, yellow or softened, faded, muted colors, keep them away from your face.

The motto for people in Group B is “go blue.” Their best colors are soft, light and have a bluish hue. Sharply contrasting colors, such as yellow and purple are too severe, however most people with this coloring look great in red, white and blue. Other good color choices include soft white, light blue-gray, orchid, pastel blue, medium blue-green, aqua blue, plum, raspberry, rose pink and blue-red. When wearing a dark color, balance it with a pastel hue of the same color. While the neon palette isn’t the best choice due to its harshness, try adding a bit of neon blue, purple or fuchsia. If you want to wear brown or beige, choose cocoa brown and rosy beige. Colors to keep away from your face include golden yellows, oranges and bright red, and black.

Group C has the most delicate coloring of all. Their best colors are clear and bright, never muted, faded or too dark. Any color whose name starts with “light” is a good candidate: light yellow, light warm beige, light blue, etc. Other good choices include violet, clear yellow-green, turquoise, peach, coral, golden yellow, camel, light navy, apricot and periwinkle. Don’t confuse “light” colors with pastels. Pastel colors have more white than color in their composition. They are too pale and will wash out your appearance. Choose ivory, not white as the lightest color you wear. Neon colors are not a good choice for you at all. Because they are so overwhelming, they’ll “wear you” instead of the reverse. If you must incorporate neon into a dress, choose a shade that is yellow, yellow-orange or aqua blue. Work it into small appliqué pieces or the embroidery. Avoid black near your face.

Lucky Group D has the widest selection of flattering colors. It is far easier to list the unflattering colors—navy blue, black, pink, gray, bluish red and bright white—than to list the flattering ones. You have your choice of any earth tone: brown, brick, bronze, forest green, or brick red. You can wear muted colors or clear tones. Neon yellow, green, orange, and aqua were made for you. Any color with a golden tone is a good choice. Blues can be tricky. Choose teal, peacock, turquoise or marine blue (very dark blue-green). The only purple that is flattering is dark periwinkle. Avoid pure white; select instead a white with a yellow or beige base.

In the worldwide population, the greatest percentage of people sort into Group A. Because Irish Dance tends to draw people with a Celtic background, there is a higher percentage of individuals in Groups C and D than seen in a random selection of the general population. What can be done to accommodate a variety of color types in dance groups? There are a few colors from each grouping that can be shared by everyone. Soft white (without any hint of yellow or gray), coral, light aqua, deep periwinkle and medium royal blue are good compromise colors for shared costumes.

One final observation: twenty or thirty years ago these color groups often were called “seasons.” In addition to giving fairly sound advice about color selection, authors back then often assigned personality traits to the seasons, much like a color-based horoscope. Because of this practice, I decided not to use the season labels. I believe education, religion and family upbringing have a much greater impact on personality development than hair, eye and skin color. I hope this guide helps you look your best in an expensive investment. Don’t forget to be disciplined, kind, and a good sport no matter which color group you are in.

Sources:
Fashion Academy. Costa Mesa, CA. 1979.
Mary Kay Cosmetics Demonstration. J. Segedy. circa 1981.
Revelli, Clare. Color and You. Simon and Schuster. New York. 1982.
www.askandyaboutclothes.com . . . .2009.

45 Replies to How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers

re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Dresswitch Comments: 444, member since Wed Mar 26, 2008
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 01:16 AM
Thanks Realtreble for posting this :D !
This is a great help to all dancers and dressmakers.
Karma to you!
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By celticfeetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 4050, member since Thu Sep 30, 2004
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 08:59 AM
That's awesome Realtreble...thanks! I would also add that if you look in your wardrobe and see which color dominates, those are probably the colors you would look good in. I fit into group A (fair, brown hair, blue eyes), and I had a lot of blue and pink shirts; I was told as well that jewel tones look great on people of my coloring. My solo dress is royal blue, turquoise, pink and silver; it looks awesome on me and really suits my features. So give your closet a look-into as well! :)
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By lovetodanceirish Comments: 33, member since Fri Apr 24, 2009
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 09:09 AM
Wow!! this is great! Thankyou! :)
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Ca_danseresje Comments: 541, member since Mon Apr 26, 2004
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:22 AM
Thank you so much for posting this. It really is true for me. I am type C and I made the mistake of using pastels for my previous dress. Very, very wrong! Now I have a much better color palette and I wish I had known this before.
Great help! -Karma!
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Realtreble Comments: 2094, member since Tue Dec 06, 2005
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 01:33 PM
celticfeet wrote:

I would also add that if you look in your wardrobe and see which colors dominate, those are probably the colors you would look good in.


That is true for older dancers who are responsible for purchasing their own clothes. Younger girls have most of their clothes purchased by someone else.

I'm a Group D. My Mom was a Group B. She spent a decade and a half putting me into red, white and blue because that was her favorite combination. (Mom shouldn't have married a red haired, green eyed Irishman if she wanted a Group B daughter!)

I would love to read reports of anyone who uses my method to find their correct color palette. Please be considerate of the sewing department sales clerks!

Thank you all for your kind remarks.
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By KionaTeslin Comments: 535, member since Tue Oct 05, 2004
On Fri Apr 24, 2009 01:44 PM
This is a great guide!! I've always been fascinated by the "seasons" and having been mentally doing peoples colors for as long as I can remember, its so much fun, and its come in very handy now that I make dresses. :)

I strongly encourage everyone to read this post and use the method, its fantastic! Thanks for posting!
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By hunnypothardshoe Comments: 48, member since Wed Mar 11, 2009
On Wed May 13, 2009 03:15 PM
Excellent! It fit everyone to a tee!! Thanks for posting!
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By ZandBPremium member Comments: 1068, member since Fri Sep 03, 2004
On Wed May 13, 2009 04:43 PM
Great advice! (Karma)

It's always nice to have "a consultant" with a great concept and good eye for color and your post was very insightful.

As a humble perspective, I stumbled on an article written in 1857 on the same subject:

The following are recommendations for ladies regarding dance attire as published in a book on ball room dancing by Thomas Hillgrove in 1857.


"The first thing for a lady to consider is simplicity of attire, whether the material be cheap or costly--such simplicity as produces the finest effect with the least apparent labor and smallest number of articles.

The next thing to be considered is elegance of make and propriety of color. Fashion in general will determine the former, but the latter must be left to individual taste.

In the selection of colors a lady must consider her figure and her complexion. If slender and sylph-like, white, or very light colors are supposed to be suitable but if inclined to embonpoint, they should be avoided, as they have the reputation of apparently adding to the bulk of the wearer.

Pale colors, such as pink, salmon, light blue, maize, apple green, and white, are most in vogue among the blondes, as being thought to harmonize with their complexions. Brilliant colors are more generally selected by the brunettes for a similar reason.

Harmony of dress involves also the idea of contrast. A pale girl looks more pale and a brunette looks less dark, contrasted with strong colors. But as the blonde and the brunette are both beautiful in themselves when the contour of the countenance and figure is good, a beautiful young girl blond or brunette, may without fear adopt either style or both for a change, for a uniform style of dressing assumes at last the character of mannerism and formality, a character which is incompatible with the highest excellence in any of the fine arts.

The material of the dress should be of the lightest description, the more gossamer-like the better.

A rich satin slip should always have either crape or net over it, and it is the generally received opinion that the less trimming the dress has the better. On this point, however, individual taste may sometimes successfully make a deviation from the general rule.

Ladies should also remember that gentlemen look more to the effect of dress in setting off the figure and countenance of a lady than to its cost. Very few gentlemen have any idea of the value of ladies dresses. This is a subject for female criticism. Beauty of person and elegance of manners in woman will always command more admiration from the opposite sex than beauty, elegance or costliness of clothing."
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Harpmum Comments: 29, member since Sat Jan 15, 2005
On Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:55 PM
This is excellent!
My daughter has very fair skin and dark brown hair and eyes. We resorted to the old "Color Me Beautiful" book when looking for colors. In the end we went with Red & Gold/w/Black detailing for first solo dress. Second solo dress is same colors but in different configuration: Black & Gold w/some red detailing.
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By TMF Comments: 23, member since Thu Jul 30, 2009
On Mon Aug 03, 2009 08:44 PM
Thanks, My daughter needs a new dress and her school costume is pink and the solo dress she has now is blue, she doen't want those colors for her new dress, but the do look best on her, especially blue
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By XxEllieDancerxXmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 49, member since Thu Oct 22, 2009
On Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:39 PM
this really helps
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By catwomen2050 Comments: 21, member since Wed Nov 09, 2005
On Wed Nov 25, 2009 05:39 PM
Thanks This realy helps. My DD is getting a new dress soon and we have yet to choose colors.
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By irishdancer7513member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 159, member since Thu Jan 15, 2009
On Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:31 AM
This really helps. I am going to be buying a brand new solo dress for the first time ever!! I really had no idea what to get, so this really helps me a lot. I hope everything goes well when I pick out my colors.

I already knew that silver looked better on me than gold because of when i buy jewelery, but I've always looked good in both black and brown. I will just have to have my mom take me on a trip to a.c. moore or joanns and find which group works best for me.

Thanks for posting this!
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By wendy_sansom Comments: 21, member since Fri Nov 13, 2009
On Wed Dec 02, 2009 05:20 AM
thanks for this post
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By DanceChick96 Comments: 40, member since Sat Nov 14, 2009
On Sun Mar 07, 2010 02:28 PM
Ha Thats Actually True! But I am Sallow Skinned and I have a red and black dress! is that ok??
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Realtreble Comments: 2094, member since Tue Dec 06, 2005
On Mon Mar 08, 2010 01:07 PM
Edited by Realtreble (146991) on 2010-03-08 13:11:31 Grammar correction
Hi DanceChick96,

Remember what I wrote: anyone can wear any color she chooses, however if you don't select a color which automatically highlights your natural coloring, you're faced with two options.
1) You can select a wig and make up which mask your natural complexion and hair color or,
2) you can accept not looking your absolute best.

In the case of a sallow complexion with the wrong reds, your face is apt to reflect the red of your dress with either a grayish-yellow or greenish-yellow cast.

If you are a sallow from group A, the best red is absolutely clear, without any hint of orange, yellow or blue. If you are a sallow from group C, an orange-red or brick red will work best.

If your dress's color isn't the best for you, choose a foundation which neutralizes your sallow undertones. I have found the sales people at Bare Minerals and MAC seem to have the best handle on stage make up ideas.
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By BusyMom3 Comments: 156, member since Tue Jan 26, 2010
On Mon Mar 08, 2010 02:32 PM
Cool to read this. DD is a "B" and wears black top with rainbow skirt...very blonde--it is dead on to your advice! Thanks :)
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By irishdancefreakmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 208, member since Wed Jan 20, 2010
On Tue Jun 29, 2010 02:23 PM
this is really good and helpful! thanks so much for posting!
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Stina3 Comments: 5, member since Sat Aug 07, 2010
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 09:44 PM
I have found the following book to be extremely helpful not only in figuring out which colors I look best in, but also which necklines, hems, etc. will be most flattering. Invaluable.

The triumph of individual style : a guide to dressing your body, your beauty, your self /
by Mathis, Carla Mason. Fairchild Publications. 2002.
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By lockedinside Comments: 15, member since Sun Jul 11, 2010
On Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:06 PM
good post but green isnt a primary color
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Realtreble Comments: 2094, member since Tue Dec 06, 2005
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 07:10 AM
lockedinside wrote:

good post but green isnt a primary color


Hi Locked!

It is clear you are an artist, not a scientist! Green isn't a primary color in art/color wheels, but is a primary color in science. Please check out the link below for a more complete explaination:

www.newton.dep.anl.gov . . .
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Pru Comments: 91, member since Sun May 11, 2008
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 05:37 PM
The physics of light (my favourite physics) and costume construction! Wonderful! I've lost count of the number of fellow science nerds/graduates I've have met on boards like this! Thanks realtreble for the guide to colour choice and the links to "other places of interest".
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By london1989 Comments: 8, member since Mon Aug 30, 2010
On Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:53 PM
choosing colours usually arent what open dancers do now! if u have a good dress maker that u trust u usually just leave it all down to him as at the endof the day they are the designers and know exactly what works best for each persons appearence on stage.
re: How to Select the Colors Most Flattering to You: A Guide for Irish Dress Makers and Buyers
By Realtreble Comments: 2094, member since Tue Dec 06, 2005
On Sat Oct 02, 2010 02:44 PM
Not all dancers are in Open, so advice is needed for those who don't buy from the designers to whom you refer. Not all dancers purchase new designs; some buy used. Finally, not everyone is comfortable leaving choices about such costly purchases totally in the hands of others. Thank goodness we have so much diversity and so many choices.
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