Conversant In Color: Harmonizing with Your Environment

Last week, we discussed how to step away from rigid color rules and use observation and intuition to build your personal color palette.

I am not interested in dictating what colors someone else should wear.

Instead, I’m setting out the ways I think about color and opening up a discussion about our use of color in wardrobing as sewists.  I like making color palettes, it’s fun to play with color inspiration.  The idea is that if you see one or two colors on a palette that you like and work well together, you may just find another new “color friend.”

Some guy who had a way with words once said “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  What does your set, your stage, your backdrop look like?  Do your clothes contrast, camouflage, or clash with the world around you?  The idea that my environment serves as a backdrop for my life appeals to my imagination.  It makes sense to dress in a way that reflects my climate and environment.  This extends to the way I use color in my sewing.

One of the main influences of color perception is light.  I’m intrigued by this relationship, especially how it helps determine color preferences in latitudes that experience brighter or softer sunlight.  I drew color palettes from photos of Paris and Queensland- examples of two places with differing qualities of light.

Contrast- How Do You Want To Stand Out?

Very tasteful, classic colors. Skewed towards warm, but could easily be “cooled off”. Photo from http://www.parisprovencevangogh.com/paris/hoteldauphine

Black against limestone, glass or steel cityscapes with low-to-medium light creates a strong, clear, sharp silhouette of the wearer.  It’s pleasing to the eye.  It’s powerful.  It’s favored by sophisticated urbanites in “northern” latitude cities like Paris, New York, London, and copied widely.

Black where I live absorbs the sunlight- that means it’s HOT to wear, and also the sun tends to bleach the color out of all but the deepest, truest blacks.  Otherwise sophisticated black garments may show themselves a faded shade of purple, blue or green.  It’s not a good look, especially head-to-toe.   Please disagree with me if you will, I’m interested in hearing other perspectives.

Conversely, white is often shunned as a wardrobe staple in the aforementioned cityscapes for a variety of reasons- among them the “grit” factor.   White in a medium light can very easily look grubby, and doesn’t provide a lot of contrast with the neutral colors one usually finds in a cityscape.

Personally, I’m a convert to dressing in white/ivory.  “Tropical Whites” are traditionally favored in hot climates for a reason.  This is due to the reflective property of white in bright sunlight.  Just as the sun bleaches out black, it glosses over small smudges and fingerprints on whites.  A white garment dazzles the eye in a tropical (or sub-tropic) summer, nothing looks cooler or fresher walking down the street or along the beach.

Last summer, I wore a maxi-circle skirt of bright white hemp nearly every day.  It was a magical skirt, perhaps one of my favorite garments ever.  It felt cool and bright in the sunlight, and generated its own breeze while I walked.  I’m planning to make another one this summer.

Camoflauge- If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

Some areas of the planet receive more sunlight than others; this affects perception of color as well as the types of flora and fauna found in a specific region.

Jardin Des Tuileries, Paris. Tender, soft, lovely springtime colors. Photo from here http://www.ecole-st-martin.fr/wp-content/themes/mimbo2-1.2/images/2009/10/paris-jardin-des-tuileries-011.jpg

Consider flowers as an example of effective use of color in a given environment.  Why do native tropical flowers so often grow in supersaturated color, while higher latitudes nurture flowers with more delicate, hopeful tones?  The color of flowers serves as an advertisement to pollinators, attracting bees and butterflies and other helpful animals to aid in plant reproduction.  (Click here for a somewhat more scientifically correct assessment of flower color and pollination from the Vermont Extension Service.)

I’m in the shade, the marina behind me in full sun and you can see all but the bravest colors wash right out. I didn’t realize how much I harmonized with the Brisbane river until I looked at the pictures later…

Since living in Queensland, I’ve learned that blazing sunlight bleaches all but the bravest colors.  Around here in summer, only the aggressive green foliage, the blinding blue above and the lividly colored flowers below stand up to the brilliant sunlight.  Other colors fade to dingy, tired shades of their former glory.  It’s early spring now, I’ll start taking pictures of the bloomings for my banner so you can see what I mean. (Jacarandas are just around the corner!)

We have huge flocks of these strident little birds, and they eat these pretty flowers. Photo from http://www.nothinglikeaustralia.com.au/nz/flash.htm#/entries/13289/details

I think there’s a strong relationship between light and “naturally occurring color” which in turn shapes regional color preferences.  Brightly colored Hawaiian shirts, sarongs and fruit are associated with the tropics for a reason.  If I wear a shade of pink any paler than obnoxious fucshia around these parts in summer, I feel grubby and invisible.  It’s depressing.  Bright colors seem “right” for the environment where I find myself, though I never used to favor brights as a rule.

If you’re not sure what the “naturally occurring colors” for your region might be, I encourage you to take note of the colors of flowers, fruits and animals that are native to your region.  The color of the land, trees, and water may also offer some inspiration.

Clash- Troubled Zone

This one is tricky, and entirely subjective.  It’s wearing colors that might look good on you but may not look good on your “stage set.”   Or, it means playing too much matchy-matchy with your background even if the colors don’t suit you.

My clash colors are pale-to-medium pinks and light blues.  I used to favor these colors heavily, but I can’t quite make them work for me since I hopped hemispheres.  It’s not because they don’t suit my coloring, but because my environment requires more saturated colors in general.

On the other hand, I could try wearing bright tropical oranges or yellows because it’s suited to my environment.  I don’t because those colors don’t work for me. (Though I’m contemplating trying them as accent colors…)

What do you think?

Of course, that could be all in my head.  At the end of the day it matters more that I’m wearing clothes than what color they are.  However, I think it’s an interesting consideration and can lead to new and interesting color considerations for those of us who can make clothes in any color fabric we find.

I wish I lived right on the coast. The endless blue echos infinitely between sky and sea, and I love mixing shades of clear blues and aquas in the same outfit. Photo from http://www.complexamenteazul.com.br/2011/02/whitsunday-island.html

What’s the light like where you live?  Do you ever wear head-to-toe black or white?  How does that work out?  What colors are the flowers where you live?

Next week: Wardrobing and Color.  I’ve been writing about Lila’s wardrobing project lately, but I want to look at a few different ways to put together colors for wardrobe, and show what I do when I’m not sewing for a 4-year-old.  This should be a more “practical” post than this week’s!

Also- if you haven’t already, please do sign up to test Tiramisu.  The deadline is tomorrow!  I’m keeping track of everyone who signs up, and I really appreciate your support, enthusiasm and encouragement.  If you don’t get pinged to test Tiramisu, you’ll have a better chance of helping me out with the next one, Pavlova.  It’s rollover points or something.  Or testing the one after that.


76 comments

  1. What a lovely post! I will refer back to this series for a long time :)
    I wore black for years, first living in Italy, then over here in the UK.
    These days I merely try not to mix black with brights (each to their own, simply not to my taste) and wear a range of colours mostly based around blues and browns.

    The light over here is milky grey (if that makes sense), we had a big storm earlier and it’s definitely “Farewell, you excuses for a Summer that we get in Manchester!”.

    • I live just north of Manchester..that storm was a doozie. Summer is definitely avoiding our part of the world at the moment!
      I’m with you on not mixing black with brights, and blues look great in our grey light. Don’t you find the light here not only affects what you wear but your interior decoration too….that’s a WHOLE other topic! ;-)

    • Mmmm.. Italy… I love the old-ness of the place. And it has a special light all its own…

      I’m so pleased to hear the weather report! :) I kind of feel the same about the “winter” here… It’s over. Bring on the 8 months of summer… Sigh.

      I could set my mom started about interior decoration and take notes for a few posts maybe… She’s got a gift for it, truly, and is so good at making rooms pretty and welcoming, not cookie-cutter magazine rooms, but genuinely hospitable and lovely… Once I have a place of my own, I’ll have to fly her out to wherever and get her to help me put it all together… ;)

      • I would love to see some posts about color and interior decoration! I used to have a business sewing for interior designers, but I don’t have much design sense of my own. One of the interior designers I used to work for told me that you should decorate your home in colors that look good on you so that you always look fabulous in your own home. That philosophy makes so much sense to me. Your posts about color have me thinking about what colors to use to redecorate my house. (The yellow walls have to go!) Interior decorating seems like a natural extension of “Harmonizing with Your Environment.” I mean, your environment is inside as well as outside, right?

  2. very nice article steph!
    usually I sting out with my looks from my (human) environment. the natural environment, however, inspired me a lot with my outfits either.
    Here in the eastern central europe we have seasons – so I can wear at the tender spring light pastels, in summer at 30 ° C bright tropical colors, in the golden light of autumn warm green and brown tones, and in winter a mix of various grays and jewel tones….
    but i never wear orange – brrrrr.

    • Ah, beate, seasonality would be wonderful! I lived in the Southern US for most of my life, it’s not as seasonal as your climate but it’s more so than here… I really miss it!

  3. I don’t really wear a lot of black or white. My neutral of choice is brown (or a pair of blue jeans if I have to work). I do notice that I gravitate towards lighter colors in the spring/summer and darker, richer colors in the fall/winter.

  4. What an interesting article. I never thought about it until I read the last post on color consideration. I lived in NYC for many, many years and black is a staple there, especially in the winter. Every where you would go, you’d see black. Black coats, black skirts, black boots, etc. It looks nice when it’s crisp and chic but then again, seeing black everywhere can be soooo depressing.

    I moved to Florida recently and I realized I hate wearing black here. I’ve even changed the color of my shoes – right now I’m wearing what I call my “sunshine shoes” – yellow Miz Mooz wedges. I’m wearing them with a blue dress, a yellow tank top and a beige cardigan. Yesterday I wore red shoes with a black dress – yes, I still wear black even though I hate it. I wore it because it looks slimming and it’s easy to wear when you can’t figure out what to wear.

    I didn’t realize before how much color has an effect on your life. Now that you’ve written these articles, I’m more aware of the colors I wear and how they represent how I feel in my liife at the moment.

    • How interesting.. :) I totally get what you’re saying about the move to Florida, it was similar for me when I moved here… Black seemed to really repel people, even though that wasn’t my aim, so I started trying to figure out what might work better…

      LOVE red shoes with black dresses!

      I’m pleased I got inside your brain a little. hehe. There are several blog posts I remember getting in my head like that.. I might have to dig them up and feature some of them..

  5. I definitely don’t harmonise with my environment! I live in the UK, in a semi-rural area so the colours are all fairly muted – lots of shades of green, slate grey houses and various colours of sky. I like to wear bright colours as I know they suit me and I like to brighten up what can be quite a dull world (after days and days of rain) by wearing something very colourful. I often get a smile when I’m wearing a bright red coat or a mixture of pink and purple. I think I’m a little stand-out in my personality and lifestyle anyway so I don’t mind my clothes standing out too.

    • Aw! You don’t have to play matching with the colors necessarily, I would think that lovely spots of bright color against a green/gray background would make you stand out like a flower in a bed. :) I love using color to make the world a little brighter. It’s fun, isn’t it?

  6. I didn’t realise what effect colour had until I took a holiday in Greece , and was astonished by the quality of light! I immediately felt drab in my English clothes. Normally I wear muted colours, but as my skin and hair colour has faded a bit, I am moving to slightly brighter tones to compensate, before I blend into the background in a sea of beige.

    • Yes, it’s amazing the difference that light can make, isn’t it? :) Love colors, your red Cambie is just lovely and you won’t fade into the sea of beige in that one.

  7. I live in southern California and we tend toward light colors too, with an emphasis on faded brights and beige/white/ivory. Not the saturated colors of humid areas like Hawai’i, but definitely brighter colors than most of the rest of the US. I remember moving to Santa Cruz for college and being surprised/annoyed at how much more muted the colors were there – and how out of place I looked in my peach and aqua. Black is fine, but you’d best break it up or you’re going to look out of place.

    The light here is quite distinct. The shadows are sharp and the sun is omnipresent. Nothing soft here, except in the early morning while the sun is hidden behind the fog. But we get salty/dusty – so we’re not quite as clean in color preferences as say, Greece. It’s more Spanish really (we have quite a lot of Spanish influence in architecture and whatnot anyway).

    • Oooooh, now I’m going to go looking around at what South Dakota looks like… I’m picturing the classic “southwest” type colors, but deeper, sharper… Must look into this. :)

      I am SO interested in that! This nerd thanks you!

  8. Thanks for the teasing on the next pattern :D This is a very interesting post, I am usually not interested in texts on colour and clothing and what kind of colour you should wear according to your skin tone, because I don’t seem to understand how it works. I like the fact that you’re linking colour and environment and the first photo struck me! You’re totally right about the light and how it affects the way we dress (I never thought about it before I saw it here)..
    I don’t wear black head to toe anymore, nor do I usually wear white all over. I tend to keep white and yellow clothes for the summer, especially when it’s for the lower part of the body (skirt, trousers, etc).
    It might be the beginning of my understanding of colour palettes ;)

    • Heh heh heh… It’s been on my mind a lot lately, it’s super hard not to just blog about everything that runs through my head…

      Cool! :)

  9. I hadn’t really thought about wearing colors to suit your environment. But I’ve always lived in the same area, so maybe it’s more of a subconscious choice? I live on the coast and I’m wearing an aqua blue sweater right now. I do like to wear black, but if i wore it head-to-toe i would stand out. People would ask me if i was going to a funeral. But maybe if i was in a different city (like NYC) i’d fit right in that environment? Here’s a thought: when you travel do you adapt your wardrobe to fit where you’re going? (I probably just look like a tourist!)

    • It might be a little more subconscious for you… As I was writing, I kept thinking these are the kinds of things someone thinks about when they move too often… ;)

      Yes, I do my best to blend in when I travel. (Though to be honest, I haven’t traveled as much since I had Lila. But I will again!) When I was in North Africa as a student, I wore headscarves/hijab to see what it was like and that’s also when I learned to value hats for summer sun protection… Also experimented a lot with wearing long caftans, etc. I’m positive I didn’t blend in seamlessly (if nothing else, I have green eyes), but it was interesting.

      And… Once I went to visit a friend in Paris with nothing but my paintbox and the clothes on my back. It was super fun, I’d travel like that again for sure. I had a small amount of money set aside to buy a few separates in the same tiny shops where my impoverished student friends shopped. Again, I’m not sure I looked 100% French but it was cool… Also fun to buy local toiletries… Really, it is!

      Ah, stories…

  10. Great post! It’s so true that where you are affects what colours will work. When I’m in North Carolina, visiting my parents, I tend to look totally out of place. It’s so tropical there by comparison by the (reasonably far) north where I live. I think it’s easier to dress in northern places with drab weather. But maybe that’s because it’s what I’m used to.

  11. Interesting post; I’ve lived in southeast Alaska for 36 years and have noted that most people tend to wear dark clothing. I have a hard time wearing dark clothes all of the time so I add some medium bright colors. The landscape is dark conifers (spruce and hemlock) with blueberry bushes the pop of color. It rains a lot, but when there is a clear day it is gorgeous. Blue sky, dark green trees, white glacier (oops forgot about all of that snow), fire-weed blooming (magenta), and because we are on the coast the blue of the water (greens too).
    I am cool in coloring so I wear Navy, grays, white, blues, raspberry, purple, & pinks.

  12. I wear a lot of muted/neutral colors, but as soon as summer rolls around I feel the urge to wear the loudest colors in the brightest combinations. Only on sunny days, mind you. I never had an explanation for this; now I do. Thank you!

  13. I definitely do not harmonize with my environment. I live in a big urban centre where the chicest colour is black or some other dreary take on it, and I just don’t do black. Even at funerals. Espresso is about as dark as I can get, but mostly I’m wearing colour and more colour. This was a very thought-provoking post. Growing up in big-sky country there were a LOT of colours in the environment which changed every 3 months, BTW, and I just happily chose what I liked. It was quite a variety, too, come to think of it. But I’ve lived for 25 years surrounded by grey, greyer and greyest for 7 months of the year, and I find I deliberately flee for refuge to anything with colour. The more saturated and brilliant the better. Won’t win me chic points in this black-is-fashion-forward city, but it makes me happy!

    • I was just watching that Korean music video last night that’s become so popular, and I was admiring their use of bright colors (bright yellow men’s suit) in a bland urban setting. It was so exciting, color-wise, I just couldn’t look away!

      Meh. Happiness is worth far more than being chic, I figure. :)

  14. Here in New Zealand we have a very soft, grey light. In the evenings around an hour before sunset it turns a brilliant gold though, which I love. I had noticed but hadn’t really thought about light affecting colour though, you’re so right! Sadly, I come from South Africa, land of bright and warm light, and the muted colours here in NZ depress me so.

    • Oh how lovely! :) it sounds divine, I must get over to NZ sometime soon…

      I really struggle with the summer light here… I’m probably better now than the first summer, but if I’m not careful I end up all kinds of edgy and over-stimulated… Like having a bright light shone in my face constantly…

  15. I live in Arizona, where the colors of nature are burnt orange, cactus green, turquoise and… lots of brown. I tend to categorize colors into ones that go better with brown and ones that go better with black (although some can fit into both categories). My wardrobe is mostly a “brown” wardrobe, even though I don’t actually own that much brown clothing. They’re the kind of colors I would pair with brown, though. The flowers are generally bright colors, lots of orangey reds. The greens, however, are quite muted, usually sage greens. I think my personal style fits in really well with my environment, with lots of turquoisey blues and reds that err on the orangey side.

    Also, we have jacarandas too! I have one right outside my upstairs bedroom window, and when the petals start falling off, our front yard looks like it’s carpeted in purple grass.

    • That’s an interesting way to think about color, and it totally makes sense!

      A lot of my family live in Mesa, I love the colors in AZ. So lovely. My grandmother and aunties tend to wear a lot of silver and turquoise jewelry, I always loved that because it’s like a direct tie to the land… :)

      The jacarandas are all over the place here, but I never notice them unless they’re blooming… This amazing, unbelievable, dreamy blue violet glowing against the tired greens around it… I just love it.

  16. I’d never really thought about it before, but I definitely wear darker colours here south-of-Sydney than I did when I lived in California. The desert is sandy brown forever with the occasional greenish patch of scrub or Joshua trees. Even the houses are beige. Such a contrast from the dark brick and red tile houses I grew up with, and the red red soil so prevalent here.

    My colour choices also change with the seasons. I just can’t pull off white in winter, and in summer everything is lighter. My husband however has stuck to his formula of black, with some more black, a little black, and a touch of black, with the occasional army green. I nearly died of shock when he bought a turquoise shirt last year and a red one this year.

  17. Since your last post about colour I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I seem to have a preference for muted or dusty versions of brights, if that makes sense. A dirty apple green is preferable to a bright apple green for me. I tend to wear black more in winter than summer, of course, being from the sub-tropics. Interesting thing I’ve learned during my time in Hobart. In Byron, the days are shorter and so are the shadows. In Hobart, even on the shortest day of the year, we get more daylight and it is way stronger than in Byron. Even when the temperature is cooler the light is more harsh and it has really affected the colours I wear. This winter I wore a lot of red and black whereas in Byron I wore a lot of orange, purple and yellow in winter. In Hobart’s harsh winter light those colours just looked awful on me. I can’t wait to get back home and start wearing the clothes I can’t wear down here!

    • I think that may be partly due to your natural coloring? :)

      I’ve heard that- about the sun being stronger in Tasmania. Maybe because it’s closer to the ozone hole (or is it the ozone-thin-spot now?)? How interesting.

  18. Thank you for this wonderful post, you inspired me to start playing with photoshop and extract color palettes from my photos.

    I grew up in Berlin, then moved to the US and spent almost a decade in NYC and am now in Boston. The Northeast US is the sunniest place I’ve lived in so far. Berlin is a very grey city in the winter, green in the summer, but since it is located at a similar latitude, comparable to Edmonton in Canada, the sun does not get very intense. In NYC and Boston on the other hand the light intensity and colors are very similar to what I saw in Italy or Spain – the sunlight feels warm, even in the winter. I know NYC is known for black clothes, but to me black looks too dusty in the sun, even in the winter, and my favorite color for city winter coats became charcoal grey. In NYC you can tell spring has come not by the change in the greenery but from the sidewalks turning colorful over night.

  19. I loved wearing red when I lived in the UK, but since I moved to Brisbane I have found that I can only wear red at night when it’s cooler, because during the heat of the day my face gets a little red and it clashes with any red/pink clothes I might wear

  20. Oh, such an interesting post and comments! I think that one of the reasons white is so popular in hot climes is not only that it reflects light and heat, but also that the sun is one of the best ways to bleach something. Why waste all the time it takes to dye and decorate clothing with bright colors, when the sun will bleach it to bone within one season of wear? Black is also popular in some cultures because white attracts insects more than does black.

  21. You’re probably right, but I still love wearing black. :/

    How do I sign up to test Tiramisu? I’d love to be a tester! Let me know.

  22. Hi. Well here in rainy Ireland the most common colours when you look outside are usually grey with lots of shades of green. On a bright spring or summer day there are lots of splashes of yellows & purples from the wild flowers.But today – the last day of august its drizzly grey even though a heatwave was forecast!! (& temps are very autumnal).
    I’ve found over the years I’ve stepped away from blacks and dark colours and choose pinks, purples and greens but still when I buy fabric I go for muted dullish colours which I have to try and change – think I’m trying to play it safe with my sewing.

  23. Very interesting thoughts about the quality of light and relevant colours! My sister noted a similar thing going on with Indian sarees, too – the traditional sarees from various regions. Southern sarees are usually simpler in patterning but with very bright, rich colours (or white). Northern sarees, she said, usually have less bright colours but are more boldly patterned (maybe to make up for that).

    It’s also interesting to observe how the light changes as you go from this Central European country with fairly symmetrically distributed four seasons to the north, where winters are longer and summers are even sunnier. I love the quality of light of summers in the north (the northernmost I’ve been to is Estonia, btw). It seems to permeate everything, but it’s not so aggressive (until about 10 PM, when the sun starts refusing to set: then it gets on Central Europrean nerves a bit). The colours of Estonian and Finnish flags seem to go quite well with that, and since I love blue and white, I love this. :-) Maybe it’s the blue sky and white clouds, above and below, reflected by the countless lakes! And my beloved blue “Andrea” blouse, which I love wearing anywhere, still never felt better than in sunny summery Estonia. http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/andrea-blouse

    • P.S. I kind of forgot to mention what it’s like here in the Czech Republic, didn’t I? Well, a lot of denim blues, and blacks in winter – which I both tend to avoid. Yesterday, I saw a “warm” lady in a yellowish sweater that seemed to match the yellowish tones of most of the buildings around, and I loved that. Most people tend to match the pavement – or, if they go brighter, the traffic signs. Your post and that lady made it clear to me that I prefer to match something else than the traffic. :-)

    • P.P.S. Actually, perhaps the very colours of buildings have something to do with this phenomenon you’re describing, too. Those soft, often slightly orange-ish or brown-ish yellows are very usual here. Related soft colours, too; all of it topped with brick red roofs. Recently, there’s been an outburst of brightly coloured houses (like turquoise or bright green!) that seem VERY out of place in the Czech landscape. Thankfully they’re singular occurences; it simply does not go. Czechia is, somehow, very earthly.

      • Beautiful, beautiful descriptions. I’d love to see winter sun in the far north, it has always sounded so magical to me… I doubt I could do it for a whole season, but just to visit…

        How lovely Czechia sounds, as you describe it…

  24. I’ve been reading a lot to try to figure out what colors look best on me these last few days (thanks to your posts!). I think I look best in grayed hues and rosy beiges and browns like the ones in the Parisian Street graphic in this post. I also look good in plums and berries and blues, as long as they are muted. And I loves me some grey-greens. The colors are toward the center of the color wheel and devoid of yellow–more cool than warm (http://3hourspast.com/2012/08/14/conversant-in-color-warm-or-cool/).

    I’m a “soft summer,” if you go by the Color Me Beautiful system. I also read “The Color of Style” by David Zyla (you should get a kickback from him for inspiring me to buy his book so I could do more research) and did the exercises in that book. Zyla goes so far as to say that there are personality characteristics associated with a person’s color profile. Apparently, I’m an Dusky Summer/Earth Mother. It’s eerie how well he describes me. Eerie.

    This post and the last post add more layers for me to think about. And I’m totally side-tracked from my self-imposed pattern fitting lessons. You’re right: “Learning the colors that suit you (and how to wear them!) is more fun and less difficult than learning to fit clothes well.” I will get back to pattern fitting soon, though.

    I live in Nebraska–the middle of the United States. Hmm…I suppose we have medium light most of the time, with low light in the winter. I don’t ever wear head-to-toe black or white. The flowers here are prairie flowers in subtle, muted colors–coneflowers, wild petunia, black-eyed Susans, golden rod–lavender, mauve, gold, etc. I can’t think of a single native red flower. We have a lot of native grasses and trees with grey-green foliage. The colors I wear definitely blend with the environment, but I’m not sure they’re a result of living in the environment. I’ve never lived anywhere else. I wonder what I’d wear if I lived in sunnier climate. Interesting.

    • I thought about this as I was falling asleep last night: How would I have described our landscape if it were the middle of winter or early spring? Right now we’re at the tail end of one of the longest, hottest, driest summers in history. I’m sure my description of the colors and light would be different if the actual weather outside had been even cooler and wetter for the last several weeks, let alone an entirely different season.

      • Interesting, Deanna… Very very interesting… :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this…

        I would hazard a guess that you are very much of your environment, if you’ve always lived there. :) My husband gets mad when I point out the ways he’s “of his environment” because to him that’s just the way things are. He’s never lived anywhere but this region, though he’s traveled a bit. It’s interesting…

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  27. Lovely post – thank you. I moved from Melbourne to Adelaide 2 years ago & started wearing much more white in summer.

    • Thank you! :) I don’t know much about Victoria, is Adelaide a great deal warmer than Melbourne or does it just seem more “right” to wear white in Adelaide?

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  30. I always enjoy your writing when it is clear that you have taken your own interesting point of view and expanded in it with a lot of research and care in providing great illustrations. How did you get so good at that?! well done.

    • Haha. Thanks, Robin! I completely missed this lovely comment somehow. Thank you.

      Uhm… I don’t know…. I was in an experimental education program when I was a kid, they had us 7 year olds writing annotated research papers with correct scholarly notation. Maybe it started there? :)

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  32. I’ve found a similar phenomenon with music. I’ve travelled a lot, and to me, the geography and the climate affect so many things. Color, as you’ve pointed out, and music. For expample, when I visited Hawaii, traditional Hawaiin music fit. It matched the pace and the activities there. And when I brought Hawaiin music back to NY (where I lived then), it didn’t have the same magic.

    Even more modern day music can have similar differences. After living in NY, I then spent time in LA. One is a walking culture and the other is a car culture. For me, that explained some of the differences between East Coast and West Coast hip hop. Both are popular nationally (and even internationally) but spending time in both places explained some of the differences, to me.

    • I think so, too! :) Thanks for sharing, that’s really interesting. I’d not thought about walking vs. car culture explaining some of the differences between East Coast and West Coast Hip Hop, but I think you may be onto something.

      When I travel, sometimes I’m completely overwhelmed by the incongruity of exported culture. I suppose it’s everywhere these days, cultural mixing. Which is cool, definitely, but quite odd sometimes. When I traveled to Paris with a friend in college, she was particularly disgusted by Parisians wearing basketball jerseys for American teams… Really interesting.

  33. Pingback: Dark Winter in Hot Weather : 12 Blueprints

  34. What a fascinating post! I completely agree with variability according to setting. I have a palette of colours that look good on me, but I have to choose different ones depending upon season and location. When I lived in London, the colours were darker, deeper and more serious – dark red, navy and jewel blue, all seen against a background of mid-grey. Here on the West Coast of Canada, there’s still a pale grey undertone, but the surrounding colours of sea, sky and lots of trees make everything much more casual and much lighter, with an almost wooly/heathery quality. Pale heather grey, denim blue, sky blue and purples feel at home here. In the summer I lighten more to driftwood and sea colours – pale grey-beige, happy sea blue, silver and hints of coral. In Germany, the colours seemed more saturated (air was more humid, as well), and I stuck with brighter mid-tones and gentle whites.


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