What is a ‘clothing personality’ and why is it important?

I had my colours analysed back in 2010 and not long afterwards I went back to House of Colour for a Style Day. On the Style Day, amongst many other things, we talked about our ‘clothing personalities’ which are a key part of knowing what clothing suits you and why. What is a clothing personality you might ask? I will start by saying that personal style is about what suits you, it’s not about what’s in fashion. Your clothing personality explains why an outfit (even in the right colours) that looks great on someone else might look frumpy/at odds/like a costume on you. Personal style is about dressing to reflect what’s on the inside and knowing your clothing personality will help enable you to do this. Of course, two people who have the same clothing personality won’t necessarily dress the same, personal taste and personality comes into it too, but there will be similarities and the overall look (e.g. youthful or sexy or dramatic) will be the same. A clothing personality is designed to be a guide and an inspiration so that you are able to refine your clothing choices.

House of Colour aren’t unique in educating people about clothing personalities. There are several systems and most usually cover a version of the following style types:

  • Dramatic (statement dressing, think Victoria Beckham),
  • Natural (a much more relaxed and casual look, bohemian or sporty, think Elle MacPherson),
  • Gamine (young, boyish and fun, think Carey Mulligan),
  • Ingénue (youthful, feminine, elegant and pretty, think of Emmy Rossum when she was in Phantom of the Opera),
  • Romantic (sexy, grown-up, think Marilyn Monroe),
  • Classic (timeless, smart, think Kate Middleton).

David Kibbe came up with 13 ‘image identities’ in his 1987 book “Metamorphosis” but he doesn’t include a type for Ingénue. I was diagnosed by House of Colour as a ‘Natural Ingénue’ and this feels perfect for me so I decided not to research that system very heavily.

This brings me neatly on to David Zyla. I recently read Zyla’s book ‘Color Your Style‘ (which can be purchased on Amazon) and I really do like his approach to clothing personalities. He calls them ‘archetypes’ and so far I’ve been able to find my archetype very easily. I suspect knowing I’m a ‘Natural Ingénue’ in another system helped (considerably) but his descriptions are thorough and I do think that someone who knows their season would be able to identify with one of the archetypes (there are 6 per season). It’s also a very fun read. Zyla appears to have a lot of fans – a quick search on Pinterest reveals lots of different boards for each of the archetypes created by people who’ve read the book. I found these immensely inspiring after I was able to pinpoint my archetype and my own personal style board grew quickly as a result. I did find Zyla’s clothing recommendations in his book excellent.

The only real downside of the book is that if you’ve not had a colour analysis (that’s not a plug I promise!) you’ll find it impossible to figure out your season from the information given in the book, and you need to know what your season is in order to identify your archetype. This isn’t a fault with the book I should add – no book can tell you what season you are. It is impossible (of course) to know how your skin reacts to colour by reading a book, and this is a crucial part of identifying what season you are.

I have two Zyla-inspired Pinterest boards. The first shows my ‘true colours’ according to Zyla: (to find out what the different colours mean you can look at Zyla’s website)

I have to say, although finding these colours sounds simple I’m of the opinion you need a colour analysis before you can figure out exactly whether, say, peach is your more flattering version of pink, etc. My essence colour is in fact a fairly substantial mid-pink (a rose). The idea is that all of your ‘true colours’ flatter you, and a pale pink isn’t going to flatter someone (i.e. me!) if depth of colouring is important, for example.

Some clever person made an image for all the different archetypes and I’ve pinned them here:

You will need to read about the archetypes in the book to figure out which one you are, but the images are certainly interesting to look at and it’s nice to have them all there at a glance. If you buy the paperback version you can share it with your friends 🙂

Advertisements