I have a question about colour. I’m 46 years old and I’ve noticed it when I’m wearing black or dark coloured clothing it is not suited to me any more. Could you please tell me why? And what colours we can we wear instead of black as we get older?
Thank you so much.
Colours have properties, and each colour has 3 properties which are:
1. Value – how light or dark the colour is. For example, light mint green, medium apple green, dark forest green.
2. Intensity – how bright or muted (greyed or dulled down) the colour is. For example, hot pink (very bright) or ashes of roses (muted pink).
3. Undertone – whether the colour is warm or cool. If we think Green, it could be a warm olive green or a cool mint green, or tomato red (warm) vs raspberry red (cool).
Black’s colour properties are cool, dark and bright, and if these are your colour properties it will flatter you, but beware, if you are warm, light or softer in your colouring, black will appear harsh and unflattering.
Your unique colour properties will relate to the colours that most flatter you. So let’s look at each of these as related to colouring.
Do you have light or dark hair (overall)? Do you have light or dark skin?
For example, I have dark brown hair, so have a deep value (even though my skin is very fair), because hair is 75% of what we notice colour wise when we look at someone’s face. If you were a blonde like Cameron Diaz, you’d be light, even Jennifer Anniston would be classed as Light in value.
Now, as we age, this can change (or if we dye our hair lighter or darker). For example, here is a photo of my Dad when he was young with deep black hair, and now with white hair. He was dark in his colouring, but now he is light and suits overall lighter colours.
Now if you are of an ethnic background that has darker skin such as Indian or African, you may find that your skin gives you your deep value. I have found with Asian skins there is the full gamut of light to deep, so you need to see which suit you more, light or dark colours, and you may find a colour consultation can really help you nail what suits you.
Are your skin, hair and eyes clear and bright, or are they more soft and muted? When we are young we’re at our brightest, our skin is clear, our hair is more intense.
Here I am at around 27 years old and then again at 42. You can see that my skin was much paler than it is now and my hair darker – I have included a hair swatch (hard to see in a photo, much easier to see in real life). You may think my hair is the same colour, but in fact it’s now the Medium Brown pictured and at the time of the first picture it was Black. I have had to start lightening up the shade of brown I dye it since I was about 37, and I really notice now if the hair colour is to dark and harsh for my more mature skin.
It stops being flattering to our skin dying our hair to what we consider to be our natural colour, instead we need to soften up our hair and start lightening it to make it more flattering to our current complexion. I used to be able to wear really bright red lipstick but now I need to wear a more subtle red (if that’s the direction I’m heading) or it makes my lips look like they’re jumping off my face.
As we age, our hair goes grey, our skin dulls, our eyes lose some of their brightness. I remember when I was young my Dad’s eyes were a really bright blue, now they are a dull grey blue.
It is this greying down that makes black become harsher and harsher on our skin and harder and harder to wear. It highlights wrinkles and double chins, adds shadows and bags under our eyes. Not flattering!
Our undertone comes from our skin pigments such as melanin and carotene. These pigments change too as we age, and warm skins can cool down as they age. So the colours that suited you when you were younger may not suit you as you age.
How We See Colour
When we see a colour we’re seeing reflected light. Black is the absorbtion of colour (no colour is reflected) but what does happen is cool dark shadow is reflected onto our face. Watch this short video on how to get rid of your double chin to show you how it works.
So what to wear now that black is no longer flattering to your skin?
As you lighten up you will need to choose lighter and softer neutrals instead of black. As your skin and hair loses its brightness, think about wearing neutrals and colours that look a little smoky or soft instead of bright or bold.
Cool neutrals: charcoal, grey, navy, rose beige, rose brown.
Warm neutrals: warm grey, khaki, olive, walnut, camel, brown, tan
You’ll be amazed at the difference between wearing black and one of the many other neutral options available to you.
In a colour consultation you receive a colour palette which includes a range of great neutrals and colours that flatter your complexion today. We’ll look at the colours that really flatter you, find you your best dark neutrals plus all of your other signature colours. It’s important to reassess your colouring about every 10 years as it continues to change during your life.
There are many great colours and neutrals that will be way more flattering for you than wearing black, and they will be easy to mix and match with your wardrobe if the colours you choose are all those that work with your unique colouring.