Oh, I do know how it feels to struggle with color!! I fight often with too much or not enough contrast, on top of the tones just being wrong. I know the embarrassment that comes with feeling TOO colorful, too blah, or simply just "off". With my bright copper hair, I can easily veer into extremes -- either feeling like a circus clown or frumpy and dowdy -- if I am not careful. Some redheads wear crazy colors beautifully (Julianne Moore comes to mind), so maybe it's a "confidence in color" thing and not necessarily the colors themselves.

I think you would look absolutely stunning with redder hair. Have you given some thought to going a rich strawberry blonde or light auburn so you add the warmth you are looking for without such a drastic change? If red requires a lot of upkeep, doing it incrementally could help you ease into a darker red while still allowing you to wear earthtones along the way.

I like a good epiphany, and look forward to before and after hair photos! I stopped coloring my fading naturally red hair a year ago and am now more strawberry blonde, and just this week had it cut *really* short. I needed a change and LOVE it. Wishing you the same!

Lisa, here is my color journey - 10 years ago I had long hair in a shade darker than your inspirational photo. I wore color, falling in love with dark purple, buying dark teal or burgundy tops. I took pride in not wearing black close to my face and in not having even one piece of black outwear. I ended up with a bunch of tops that work only with black pants or jeans and I could only wear jeans on Fridays. I had nice pieces but had difficulty putting an outfit together. I cut my hair, went grey and got rid of color. My wardrobe consisted of curated clothes in black, navy, white and grey. Everything worked with everything. Dressing became easier. I switched to mostly black outwear. And it worked for a few years. Then I got a bit bored. I added caramel and a few accessories in leopard (shoes and a scarf), rediscovered olive and dark greens, which were always “my colors “. I still don’t feel too comfortable with colors outside of my 4 core colors for pants but I now wear plaid, tweed pants that work with my tops. I add slowly - a rust silk tunic, a pistachio cotton jacket, dark green pants, brown tweeds, a caramel dress and a sweater, a hunter green cardigan, these are my latest acquisition. They work well not only with my black pieces but with plaid and navy. The lesson learned - I can add colors but they must work well with my main colors enabling me to maintain a cohesive wardrobe.

lisa p, as someone who is pretty color adherse myself, i'm interested in following along with your journey....my only advice is to take it slow...

Longtime reader of American Vogue here, but I have maybe 2 black items in my wardrobe because it drains all the color out of my complexion. And I don't really recall anything in American Vogue that demanded or directed that everyone wear black (or grey). Are you sure you're not confusing it with some other magazine? I always see lots of color in their fashion editorials.

First off, a few weeks ago, when I saw your post dressed in earth tones, I was verklempt....you looked amazing! Now, I think you look great in many of your black/grey dominant posts, but this seemed just, well, right. Not that the other was wrong, but better, and more alive? I may not be expressing myself very well, but I do think that the earth tones are a good way for you to veer.
As for my personal color journey, it began many years ago after I lost a great deal of weight, and had to put together an entire new wardrobe. I did start with the color theory thing, and it worked for me, but I went with how clothes "made me feel" . This was a new and strange thing for me, because when you are very overweight in the 60s, 70s and 80s, you bought what was available in your size. Which was navy, grey, and weird shades of pink. Sometimes brown or taupe. Between school uniforms, and the "only thing available", I came to detest navy blue. And I don't wear it to this day. Grey is a recent banishment. Taupe is a recent addition. I do wear black, because I did not wear much black in my overweight days; I don''t know why. Now I wear red, denim blue, black, and touches of taupe, golden yellow. Very little pink, or purple. Teal when I can find it. All these colors make me happy, and I look good in them because I feel good in them. At this point, I know when I look in the mirror if something looks good or not. It has taken me 32 years to reach this point.
I look forward to seeing your evolution!

Xtabay - I don’t recall mentioning Vogue by name The influence of fashion magazines is and was much broader . I didn’t mean that to be the point anyways

Oh, I am so glad that you and others who look great in earth tones have so much to choose from this season! Milk it! Earth tones in silk, suede, fine wool, leather, tweed, velvet and leopard, accessorized with gold, brass, amber and polished wood, look so yummy, luxe and sophisticated.

Thanks for the "comedy" award. Very nice of you, lisap.

For what it's worth, I think your desire to wear more color can be compatible with the desires you expressed in your previous post to have a simple, lean closet. It is all about having the right colorful things. I think your earth tone direction is really promising, as those can be such subtle, sophisticated shades.

I know we have been talking a lot about tonal color combinations on the forum lately but I think that could be a good way to go. I am imagining your new persimmon orange topper from Anthro with a rust-colored shell underneath...

May I suggest that you think about where/how you want to wear color in your outfits? (mainly tops, bottoms, etc. Or maybe it's different for different colors.) It seems like that could be a good way of avoiding buying a lot of things that seem like they should be right but don't work in practice.

I am one who generally likes to wear a lot of color in my outfits. I do occasionally dress in mostly or all neutrals but in general I think that "column of neutrals with a pop of color" approach that has been sort of the default for a while doesn't really suit my coloring/appearance. That said, the experience of feeling too garish/unsophisticated in color is also familiar to me. Often that happens when the combination isn't quite right in some way. Like two saturated tones feels childish, but one saturated + muted feels right.

I'm excited to see how the hair turns out!

Sarah - I agree we the column of colour approach . Good way to keep the number of colours themselves under control . Thanks for the thoughtful comments !

This sounds like it will be an exciting chapter in your personal style book! I'm not one for a lot of color (I actually thought your forest-green top outfit sounded great, ha ha). I do like earth tones and will use them for color but not much else (although I'll do a touch of red now and then). I find neutrals very grounding emotionally and don't like to wear a lot of "energizing" colors. Earth tones are less energizing for me, so I'm very happy with the colors currently on offer.

Can't wait to see the new hair color!

I remember loving your red hair a few (?) years ago. Apart from what I hear about upkeep or whatever, red hair is definitely my choice for you. I say start with the hair and then proceed from there with the color. Maybe a key indoor/outdoor jacket, scarf and tee to start with? Interesting how we were all rather hypnotized about black and grey and now they voodooed us to reconsider warm colors. I am hoping to find a happy balance in between, but if I were a redhead...

Looks like we are going down the same rabbit hole, Lisap. My travel capsule is all Burberry house colours - camel, red, and black.

Did you read the story I linked to? It is less about Susan’s colour analysis, and more about one’s personal relationship with colour and how it can be impacted by early (childhood) experiences.


To answer your question, my approach to colour isn’t complicated. I like colour and it can affect my mood as well as reflect it. I wear colour when I’m happy, and wearing colour can lift my mood when I’m low. I don’t mind ‘look at me’ colours, since my previously very bright and wild red hair made me very visible. Nowadays my hair isn’t so vibrant (and I don’t wish to colour it) so my clothes do more of the talking. I don’t feel ‘kooky’ at all in bright colours or vibrant colours - not even in my purple top.

to the wisdom here, I can only add: One way to look better as we age is to have gotten color wrong in our youth! Because my mother was an Elizabeth Taylor winter, I thought cool colors were my jam; I even wore frosty pink and blue eyeshadow on my wedding day (at least I had the good sense to wear ivory instead of white, although the light bulb still didn`t go on). Anyway, it`s never too late. I do like Anchie`s pic of multidimensional hair color. You could add reds, or add gold to your reds. Thank you for sharing this honest and insightful post. Like others, I will be watching and rooting for you!

Love your new color choices Lisa!!

I have a lot of black in my wardrobe because it's so easy to find, stays looking clean longer, and I don't have to worry about variations in shade.

But my favorite colors, and ones that I am always on the search for, are the saturated autumn colors...mustard, rich rusts, chocolate brown, olive green.

I also have many items in ivory, bone, tan, charcoal, and teal. I find that all of these colors mix and match so easily. I am on the look out for a nice knee length wool overcoat in a natural tan color. What makes this difficult to find is my preference for unstructured styles. My wardrobe is mostly Eileen Fisher and Elizabeth Suzann. ES is coming out with some new wools so I'm crossing my fingers that I will find the perfect coat.

edited to add: We got 8 inches of snow on Thursday...grrr

Lisa - I have not had time to read the comments but I wanted to chime in. The most stunning and stylish friend I’ve ever had was blonde w creamy golden skin. She rocked earthtones and was THE most truly elegant and gorgeous person I’ve known IRL. Your coloring is warm. You don’t have to work to warm them and they will make you glow. Simple, architectural, monochromatic, muted and complex colors subtle sophisticated prints, textures, quality luxe fabrics will let any color palate shine. You can be as stunning in cinnamon, coffee, and sage and more so if black and gray don’t flatter. Remember I am cool and high contrast. Black and charcoal work as naturally for me as earth tones work for you. Know theyself!! Brava!!!!!

Gryffin- nice to hear from you this morning! And know thyself indeed Wise words.

Dakotacheryl- this weather is crazy, isn't it? And I love how you and I stare so many of the same ideas, if not exactly the same wardrobe. One of my favourite coats - starting to show its age though - is a tan EF unlined boiled wool buttonless car coat. A true workhorse and accidental find. Replacing it will be tough.

Column - that made me laugh - so true about getting it wrong the first (or tenth) time around

Carla - yes, I did read it, and was getting a little ahead of my thoughts in my excitement - oops. Yes, that article wasn't about her visit to RedLeopard itself... You have nailed your colours down so well , and not only that..they seem to work perfectly for your current lifestyle.

I have had a similar Epiphany this year... Though it's more of a revamp for me...I realize I change my favorite colours every 4-5 years, and earth tones are it this year! I'm totally feeling you here Lisa. And I think you will look AWESOME with Auburn hair!

Lisa P, wrt to Brooklyn's observation - (btw, thanks for the kind compliment!) - I thought the same thing at first. But I quickly assumed that your new direction was all about EARTH TONES, and not brights, dots, plaids and stripes. That made me soooo happy, because to my eye, earth tones look much more flattering against your complexion than black and grey. Was that an incorrect assumption? I agree with Brooklyn to take things slowly. Keep on soul searching, and plan what you can.

I'm with Gryffin: " "Know thyself!" - that means busloads sour brights, dark blues, red is a "neutral", and shades of white for me. I can dabble in pastels and some earth tones - but they are not signature. For Brooklyn it means lots of black, burgundy, teal, and earth tones. For Gryffin it means black and a bit of grey. For Suz it means loads of blue, grey and white, some red, burgundy and purple,

What it means for you is precisely what I thought this post was about, and your visions and feelings are getting clearer.

Lisa, I still have, love and wear that EF tan coat !!!

Yes Angie - you assumed correctly Some of my new pieces this fall are pretty bright , relative to what I usually wear , but they are still not bright clear colours . Muted earth tones are where I’m headed !

It’s often hard to articulate these new ideas when writing on a phone screen or an iPad , or anywhere for that matter - as it’s all off-the - cuff , emotional reactions to colour and style . I realize I’m not always clear I’m not sure yet how all of this will play out over the winter , as I’ve tapped out with spending for awhile but didn’t address deep winter needs with my newfound love for earth tones . It may take a full year to make the transition away from black and grey .

Lisa P, glad I made the right assumption. My toes can continue to be tickled!

YES. I know it's hard to articulate and write about your style, style direction, and what you are feeling. I've been doing that for 14 years, and can struggle because I am not a writer. GOOD to play and see through with what you've accumulated in your wardrobe now. Let things rest and do their thing. Road test! See how things play out in the deep, deep Canadian Winter. Keep tabs on wardrobe holes in your new happy colours because those will occur. And that's fine! You will get there. Slow and steady wins this race

You certainly Rock olive and related colors!

As others have suggested, you can approach changing color palette is different ways. One distinction is between “ lots of color “ vs finding your best color tone palette. I don’t buy into rigid “ color analysis “ but I still like looking at the color “ seasons “ charts ( though they’ve gone crazy with modifiers now like Deep, Dark, Soft etc), and clothing capsule mockups, for ideas of what a cohesive wardrobe might look like in different color choices.
Also even though black is I guess the epitome of the absence of color, it’s also just a “ dark neutral” for people whose color palettes use black. So I also like recalling the “ palette advice “ of, thinking of choices for a dark neutral, a light neutral, ( or more than one if they can work together) main colors, accent colors- because I otherwise will just go all over the map and stuff won’t go together. Such as, olive might be one of your key dark neutrals.

Point is, “ earth tones” is a still a big category from the pool of warm colors— many “ earth tone” folks may have wardrobes that look very different, depending on their actual choices and how they wear them. So you get to put your own spin on what colors you let into your wardrobe.

Wishing you lots of fun and success in this next leg!

This was such an interesting read!

Based on your coloring, I would have pegged you as favoring earth tones and would have assumed that you always wore them. But reading your explanation I do get why you've worn more black and gray. It's great that earth tones are having their fashion moment right now so that you have lots to choose from.

I've never been a big fan of earth tones or of dusty or murky shades. I also don't wear many pastels. I don't think I am very influenced by trends; I just like what I like and that has stayed consistent for quite a while.

I genuinely like black and gray! I know black is an easy default and some say it's boring but I personally find it appealing in clothes, shoes and accessories. I especially like textures in black like suede, brocade, tone on tone patterns, satin/silk, etc. With a little white or ivory, some red, deep shades of green and blue, burgundy, gray and now a bit of mustard, I have a palette that offers enough variety and still feels like 'me'

I would love to see your hair with more red!

This is such a great thread. I've spent a lot of time beating myself up about choosing the "wrong" colours -- too warm, too cool, too muted, too saturated. It's only over the past few years that I've realized the root of my problems came down to some deep-seated "either/or" thinking regarding black vs brown. I went through a long phase where I really only had browns and olives as my dark neutrals, and felt something was missing. Then I eliminated almost all of the brown and olive from my wardrobe and subbed in more and more black and grey -- and still felt something was missing! Everything clicked when I started making black-white-olive outfits a couple years ago. I'm pretty sure you were doing a black-white-olive capsule at some point too? I still like that combination, but I also find myself wanting to pair my black with even warmer and brighter neutrals, more like black/cream/toffee. It's easy to say "I'm warm-toned" or "I'm cool-toned" but much harder to find just the right balance.

I think the takeaway, for me, is that palettes evolve over time. Maybe for physical reasons, maybe for psychological reasons, maybe because we have to make do with what's available at retail. And that's okay. There's nothing wrong with experimenting, even if those experiments don't always pan out. Angie talks a lot about small colour capsules, or complements, and I'm starting to see that this is one of the reasons why!

Also, I'm so excited to see where you go with your hair. I love the idea of warmer, deeper shades to add texture and dimension -- those honey/gold tones that blend so nicely with red seem very promising.

LaP - I think you've really hit on something here. Black, when tempered with warmer creams and olives , is great indeed. And yes, I did have such a similar capsule going a year or so ago. Funny, but I have hardly touched anything olive in ages - other than a pair of cargos. And that reminds me that I haven't been able to find my beloved olive Coach handbag since we moved. Must get on that . Anyways - warming up the black, and not wearing it so close to my face , will go a long way to help this transition- however long it will be. Thank you!

Wow-love the red hair on you! Big yes to moving back in that direction! To me, the main thing about color is that it has to look balanced to the wearer. Kari's bright saturated colors And Style Fan's soft muted colors are just right, perfectly in balance and harmony. Yours will be somewhere in between I suspect, and when it's right, it's So Right

Further to LaPed's really interesting points, black works for me so much better in summer -- when more skin is visible -- which is a sort of cream/ ivory in my case. I wonder if that's also true for you? I actually find black more sophisticated looking in summer also, not just on me but on many people...

I feel exactly as you do , Suz , and never made the connection with a warmer skin tone . Well , I did of course , but not very clearly Another new epiphany .