How to Look Expensive Part 1 Thumbnail

How to Look Expensive Part 1

How to Look Expensive Part 1

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Z asks:

Christine, could you please make a video on how to use color to look “expensive”? In some industries (real estate) you need to look successful. In Vancouver, BC, it means expensive before you’re actually successful. What do you do, when you have neither desire nor resources to look like a fashion slave (a highly respectable look here by the way ;-)) BUT still want to project the mandatory image of success?

  Fashion slave – yes, a recognized look everywhere.

Too often, attention to appearance is considered vanity. As colour analyst Naomi Eastman in Vancouver said, it’s no different from improving a home’s curb appeal before selling it. A more attractive exterior invites people to imagine being part of the image, wanting to belong, and the house sells faster for a higher price tag.

In this series of posts, I will focus on colour’s effect on appearance. Colour analyst Florentina Mossou, owner of Calla Studio in The Netherlands, will join me later to offer ideas relating to body shape and scale, a.k.a. line analysis.

I Googled ‘how to look expensive’. Tailored looks, boxy bags, white this, black that. The most surprising part was how the advice never seems to change, which might mean enduring, but in this case, I think it’s acknowledgment that there is no single way. Mainstream advice applies to a tiny fraction of readers, usually the blogger herself if the advice is specific.

Regarding the white and black, this is a traditional combination worn successfully by persons whose natural colouring comes mostly from Winter. They are called True, Bright, and Dark Winter. If we play the odds, with more Winters in the world, more advice might be delivered to the right ears.

Which kind of Winter? There are 5 and most belong to a group other than True Winter. Those in Japan and the Southern USA not the same. Where I live, there are many Winter Caucasians with wide variation of skin tone. Indian,  Arabic, which usually differs from Egyptian,  Indigenous North American, and many others. Winter appears in some part of their colour make-up but the proportions vary. For many, black and white may be a detracting choice with a better alternative.

We also have many Caucasians in Canada, with varied genetic influence. Asians in Western Canada, Scots in Eastern Canada, evolving into a less Eurocentric population than we once were. Many have darker skin tones, and yet contain no Winter at all, and are better flattered by neutrals other than black and white.

With influence from continuous human migration and the variable immigration policies of different countries, human colouring may be  more varied than in the past, with proportions that may depend on where we live.

Is mainstream advice speaking to all of these people equally?

Should you be listening equally?

The video is also here on YouTube.

Looking expensive that works

1. As the video explains, know your relationship with colour. Personal colour analysis (PCA) shows you the effect that you and colour have on one another. If you are warm in colouring and cool pastel colours make your skin look green, what’s the point? If the robin’s egg blue looks like children’s clothing when it is next to your colours, what’s the point? Save yourself a lot of time. Start with  a PCA.

2. Neutral clothing can go either way. Although not quite automatic sophistication, the less-is-more appeal is undeniable. Winters look terrific in large areas of one or two neutral colours. Summers are dreamy and lovely and elegant in entire outfits in a blend of neutral tones. Springs look so good in colours that even neutrals are colourful, as brown, green khaki, or bright navy blue. Autumns excel in depth effects, be they light to dark, texture, or layers.

Neutrals are the most challenging colours to select but we have good tools to help. If the colour is neutral and the style is too simple, the look can be of long gray dresses and surgical scrubs. Florentina will go into this a bit more, I expect. Colour is inherently energetic, memorable, easier to select, and occupies the viewer’s attention. Neutral colours are like the support structures, like bark and ground and air. They have to belong to the image (lead and carnations are not as easy together as feathers and carnations) while at the same time, being a kind of blank or negative space.

Colour done right looks like money. – Christine Scaman

3. Neutral makeup colours. Not trying too hard is part of looking expensive. That’s because we prefer to think and do the opposite of what we’re told, asserting our freedom to decide for ourselves.  Appearance is great when it could have happened by itself, grown right out of the body that wears it, meaning the same colours and lines as yours.

Neutral makeup colours are more inherently part of the face. Brighter colours should be applied with good judgment and be in your palette. If the colour is not part of your inherent make-up, it will stay apart from the face when added as makeup.

Certain warm colouring groups wear beige or brown eye makeup beautifully; they are the 3 Autumns and True Spring. Everyone else might look mushy or undefined, while an expensively made up face is crisp and clean. A safer choice may be medium gray that doesn’t have an obvious colour component, in a darkness level adjusted to yours, so that the eye doesn’t appear smaller or dominated when circled by liner.

Whenever you read anything, the reader’s first decision (responsibility) is to decide how credible the source.  Instead of knee-jerk beauty,  ‘last seen in a magazine, young, thin, on YouTube, wearing blingy stuff’, look more carefully. How about ‘dusty pink eyeshadow next to yellow green eyes’ and ‘dusty pink top next to dyed blonde hair’. If those seem beautiful to you, carry on. To me, the people are beautiful and at the same time, their eyeshadow and eye colours are getting in each other’s way. Take care what you put next to your eyes.

As with attire, we come back to, which neutrals? The closer together colours are, the more profoundly they affect one another, with better or worse outcomes. Once on the face, the colours are in such proximity to our own that the good or less-good colour interactions are powerful.  Second, makeup has to blend with our colouring while clothing and jewelry sit on the surface.

Spring coloured people have a very different neutral blush from Autumns. Think of the distance between juicy peach and terracotta. If you could narrow your most natural blush to carnation (Summer), adobe (Autumn), coral (Spring), and red-violet (Winter), you’d be in a good place. Once you have the blush, pick a lipstick in a similar colour.

 All makeup is eye makeup. -Christine Scaman

4. Organized shopping. Wandering and not knowing is how we get talked into stuff or buy impulsively. If you shop with a friend and you know,  “Pastels are my way of wearing light colours.” and she can say, “Metallic effects flatter me.”, you know how to shop for you and advise her.

In Canada, The Bay (and I hear it’s coming to Holland) has a huge inventory online, excellent shipping and returns, and tons on sale. The striped top from the I Shop For You video of the previous post is by Guess, cost me $30.  I see this on every website.

Impulse purchases are the junk food of our closets. -Christine Scaman

5. Wear jewelry. When the right colours and shapes meet the right body, the expense level increases. Know the right shine for you. I enjoy Autumns in brushed surfaces and deep, rich metals and minerals; Winters in dense, shiny metals and jeweled stones;  Summers in brushed surfaces and opalescent to pearlescent shine; and Springs in light shiny metals with twinkle and sparkle in the stones. Choose the one where you and the piece show each other’s best qualities to keep the expense level climbing, not falling.

6. Wear makeup if over 30-35 to maintain feature separation from the canvas (the face). It looks like energy and youth and evens the playing field with younger people. Know the right shine for you. I prefer Autumns in matte to metallic finishes; Winters in cream to lacquer (expensiveness level of vinyl determined by person and place); Summers in soft shine to cream (all lips should look moist); and Springs in crème to gloss. Ultra-matte lips are never appealing to me, maybe I’m too old to get it but I really hope the trend is soon replaced. Lips that literally look like earth…the thought bubble in my mind: ?

I would love to say that nobody needs makeup, and it is each woman’s choice. As a realist and a moderate person who can always see both sides, I acknowledge that we are compared to others in our industry.  In some industries, morning show hosts perhaps, everybody’s off together but two wrongs don’t make a right; we have accommodated the work costume.

Trust that as your best you, the viewer will get it. With subtle makeup, the viewer feels refreshed. Looking other than the pack may offer us identity and leadership qualities.

7. Line analysis. Classic styling (think of flight attendants) has been the custom in many workplaces and many people choose the tradition for their work attire. If others might look at you and not find any similarity with Mrs. Partridge (of the TV show, The Partridge Family) or Princess Kate, there may be a better choice. Non-classics wearing classic styles may be unexciting compared to other possibilities. At other times, folks have such aversion to fuss and frill that they over-simplify. Florentina will speak more about this, I am simply here to endorse a form of self-knowledge that will make your shopping and presentation better.

8. Carry a purse in a great colour. Black and tan bags can be overlooked unless they’re spectacular. Functional is fine but if it stops there, it goes unnoticed. We want to be remembered for all the right reasons.

9. Have an expensive-looking pen, pocket mirror, and phone (and tablet case). These can be small expenses with a big payoff.

10. Wear red. Few do. It can be downright thrilling.

The header image was taken at The Secret Garden tea shop in Vancouver. Highly recommended.

6 Thoughts on How to Look Expensive Part 1

  • "; ?> Pamela

    Blown away! This blue suede jacket’s color is perfection on you. All you have to do to dress is start with this color, and you are more than half way done, sans makeup. The closures on this jacket are the jewelry, making you sparkle, just the right amount for a dark winter. I love finishing this outfits’ possibilities off in my imagination…won’t be the standard black yoga pants, for sure! That would not look EXPENSIVE! It wouldn’t be black anything, because the right colors enhance our true selves so much more than black. The blue is reflecting and enhancing skin tones already there, you’re vibrating. Like you say, why would you diminish this beauty by using black, and flush it down the proverbial black hole. The best illustration of what color does to skin tones is Imogen Lamport’s utube video, HOW TO MAKE YOUR DOUBLE CHINS DISAPPEAR–a 54 second video basic illustrating why PCA is so important. She’s just using black and white…imagine what color reflection is doing to our skin tones!

    HOW TO LOOK EXPENSIVE…you have accomplished this by just wearing this jacket. This is where true beauty starts, by knowing what colors enhance your skin tones. Hue, value, chroma…you are telling the world about you. You are painting a picture– I do believe you, I want to know more about you, I can focus on you, the message is clear, not distracting. THAT’S EXPENSIVE! Never let the color, design, accessories overpower your image. The focus should be on you, not the garment. The overall picture states who you are. The old cliche, “ARE YOU WEARING THAT DRESS, OR IS THAT DRESS WEARING YOU?”, will never be out of style in my book. I also like the cliche, “Keep it simple, stupid.” This jacket
    is simple, and so effective.

    I’ve read all the articles on your blog–your information is priceless. I’ve watched you grow and expand in all aspects of personal image…Thanks so much for the ride. I would be no where without you sharing your knowledge. Your writing and visuals are so explanatory in expressing the season ‘s feeling. I would still be looking at a color fan, and guessing what colors would look good together, if not for your expertise, telling us there’s more to it. Color analysis has been a journey for me too, since CMB was written. As you admit with your brave self confessions, I think you have come from 0 to 100%. Believe me, I’ve made all the same mistakes with makeup, clothing, hair color. I laugh when I see you with blonde highlights…I’m a light, light summer and when grey (blends with my light blonde hair, anyways) started showing up, I started dyeing my hair dark ash blonde to light warm browns–awful! Started wearing khaki, greyed out neutrals, what I thought were sophisticated. Had to start wearing soft autumn makeup. Somehow, I thought I was passing–FAIL!!! Guess what? In 2011, I cleaned up my diet, exercised, and those wiry grey hairs in my hair and eyebrows dissapeared! I stopped hair coloring, spent the summer in the sun. I didn’t know what my true hair color was anymore…It turned out to be light high-lighted blonde! People compliment my hair color all the time, which most people pay big bucks trying to achieve (unsuccessfully I might add, for many reasons having to do with color analysis). I’ve had someone ask to take my picture so she could give it to her hair dresser to duplicate! I’m 63 years old, and don’t look it. Like you, Christine, when I’m on my color/style wave length, I’m a force to be reckoned with! THAT’S EXPENSIVE!

    Maybe you have guessed by now, I am obsessed with color analysis! What looks EXPENSIVE?–COLOR HARMONY! I like people to look like a slightly enhanced version of who they are. Take for example, the recent awards shows, all these stars in expensive black dresses! If you need proof that color analysis works, that black isn’t for everybody, look closely. First, the hair color is completely disorientating. I can’t even begin to analyse season because hair color is so off. The make up is overdone, and don’t get me started on nude lips! A face needs balance, dark makeup on eyes does not balance the lower face with no lips. Why did makeup go from Goth lips to no lips? They both look like the walking dead to me. It amazes me to think how much money is spent by stars to look Red Carpet ready. Most have missed by a mile, with supposedly well paid advisers. Christine, I could run on and on just like you about color analysis– I feel it deeply. Don’t stop talking or worry about being to wordy, I’ll be listening! I appreciate every piece of advice. Somebody has to say it. You’re very brave to do so, and wisely diplomatic. It just occurred to me–You have taught me more about beauty than any fashion advice out there . Thanks, no one else gets the facts across like you. Be the best version of yourself. Nature gives everything harmonious coloring, you are not an exception.

  • "; ?> Alexandra

    This might come across as a bit off topic, but I often notice that even though we all know hair and eye colour tell us nothing about a season, and what our eyes see might not be what the underlying pigment is, your advice often revolves around appearance defining season:

    > How about ‘dusty pink eyeshadow next to yellow green eyes’ (what if the person is a Soft Summer?)

    > more Winters in the world (to me this reads : they have dark hair and eyes therefore they are a Winter or Autumn)

    For people who fall outside of the season stereotypes, this is very confusing, and not helping with the popular opinion that colour analysis is just for white people (hence the comment on prevalence of Winters in the world).

    Having yellow green eyes doesn’t automatically make you a warm season. Many have been told they are warmer than they are due to reddish hair or brown eyes or yellow overtone to the skin.

    I would love to see more advice for people who don’t fit the season stereotype and how the way they wear their pallete might differ from somebody more “traditional” looking.

    (There were amazing articles about a blonde Winter, a Summer with brown eyes ( this one got deleted probably) and Summer with warm tones to her hair and there is one about a Light season with dark-ish hair, but they were mostly along the lines that “yes, these can exist as well”.)

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      Thank you for this excellent comment, Alexandra. I agree with you. There may be more people outside the stereotypes than in them. If I make a comment like that, I should provide the link for readers to decide for themselves (but it was a real person so I wouldn’t do that). Sometimes, the cosmetic might be in Season on paper or as clothing but just doesn’t make for great eyeshadow. Reds around the eyes can be an issue for many Seasons, especially when they’re very sparkly.
      About ‘more Winters in the world’, you’re quite right, I have no proof either way. I was thinking of personal experience with various pigmentations and the population density of certain countries, but I should not make these assumptions without numerical evidence. What I didn’t say and do not believe is that dark hair and eyes make a person an automatic Winter. Whatever the stereotypes, the averages, or the probabilities, Season always comes down to one person and one set of drapes in real time.
      Articles about non-traditional appearances…you know, at my end, I find that those create more confusion or agitation than clarity. Trying to break down the boundaries, even saying that Seasons can have a variety of eye colours, meets with a lot of pushback. We tend to be good at understanding what we can imagine to be true (Jay Abraham said that). You’re good at imagining yellow eyes in cool Seasons and you’re right. There’s a middle ground. There are people who are what they look like, some who only deviate from those tired averages a little bit, and some who are more distinct exceptions. The exceptions don’t outnumber the others. I’m not sure that “we all know that eye and hair colour tell us nothing about Season” is entirely correct, or at least, doesn’t represent the clients that I meet. In trying to write for many audiences, it may be that nobody will be entirely satisfied. I’m not sure what the answer is. I appreciate that you took the time to share your perspective. It helps me find better balance.

  • "; ?> Melina

    Alexandra made a very valid comment, one I fully agree with, too, especially as I’m one of those exceptions myself 😉 (A SSu-looking DW; haven’t been officially draped, but my various DIY testing & draping has lead me to this conclusion).

  • "; ?> Chrysa

    Thank you for this beautifully written post! This will become my guide for shopping from now on.

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