September 07, 2023 6 min read
It’s a treat to introduce you to this month's colorful lives feature, Soft Autumn Tim Stich who is also my son!! Tim’s experience with shopping for clothing and wearing color is unique as I became a color analyst when he was quite young. When he and his sister Clare were little, I tried dressing them in bright colors with strong patterns as was the style then.....but even before learning about personal color harmony, I started to sense that the clothes overwhelmed them (Clare is a Soft Summer) and began dressing them in muted colors and solids. I was even shocked the other day to discover when I pulled out his school photos that every single photo (even before I learned of his color palette) was taken in a Soft Autumn color. You can see how his soft autumn coloring has evolved wearing the soft, earthy colors that suit his ruddy hair, freckles and soft blue/green eyes.
Tim was always drawn to a classic style and never liked wearing anything baggy like cargo shorts (he refused even while in preschool!) or trendy. He preferred button down collared shirts and pants. He never owned a pair of jeans. Many of the clothes in the muted hues are designed for guys with a more natural or outdoorsy look. As a classic style, he was always drawn to navy and softer versions of navy and gray work well for him but it has been a challenge sometimes to avoid the stripes, plaids and stronger patterns that are popular in the classic style. It’s when he wears solids that match the colors of his eyes and hair that the overall harmony really shows.
Over the years, he has mostly been very eager to wear what suits him and looked to me to help him distinguish soft autumn colors from the two seasons nearby - warm autumn and soft summer. We enjoy shopping together, especially now that he lives in Manhattan and the shopping is abundant. It can be a challenge to find his colors in sizes and styles that fit but when its perfect, it feels great and he knows it. Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a guy whose mom is a color consultant!
For me, having a personal color analysis wasn’t a choice. I was indoctrinated into the color world early when my Mom started the business. I remember when she first talked about jumping into this career I was only about 10 and confused. “People are going to pay you to tell them they look good in pink?” was my first question. I thought of colors as finite, the ones you’d find on flash cards or that make up your starter pack of crayons, but I have spent much time since looking out for the specific shades of each.
Throughout my adolescence I was supportive while my Mom picked out the majority of my clothes, and we were struck looking back at how often she picked ones that fit my season even before she had formally started her business. The gap in my teeth and greasy hair were more than enough to keep me humble, but at the very least she hit on the colors and soft nature that I’d grow to look out for.
One of my younger memories of getting my Mom’s expertise was when I tried out for a golf team and played awful (shocker!). When I got home my Mom saw the shirt I was wearing - a bright red to emulate Tiger Woods - and jokingly said “Well of course you didn't play well, that shirt is way off for you!” The shirt and my desire to wear bright colors on the golf course are both long gone. She’s right - look good, feel good, play good a la Deion Sanders.
It’s in sports that I have to stray from my colors. The teams I support have long gone passed being a choice and I didn’t decide their colors - Syracuse Orange, Rochester Red Wings red, Penn State white, and the blessed Buffalo Bills all have team colors that are way too strong for me - it becomes more of an issue when they play poorly.
During high school, it was noticeable to my friends and became a running gag the amount of soft earth tones I wore. Mine were different from the colors that were in style, and I don’t think we’d fully found the shades that made me most comfortable yet. As I moved towards graduation more and more of my friends wanted to get their colors done too. It confirmed that we should be wearing different tones from each other - none of us were the same!
When I finished high school, senior pictures tended to be done in the timeless white or a light blue dress shirt. We knew that wouldn’t work for me then and even now in a professional setting, I stick with the color and tone that suit me as a Soft Autumn. Ten years later I wore almost the same green shirt in an updated headshot.
I strayed a bit from what I’d learned and just went after the style when I first started to shop more on my own. Time after time, however, I found that if something didn’t feel like it “worked” it was because the color was off. The design would match my classic style but when I looked in the mirror it just didn’t feel right. Shopping on my own, I finally had the lightbulb moment in understanding how this works - sticking to solids, tone on tone, monochromatic combinations with soft fabrics and textures. (I do still like to text a pic of what I’m picking out to my mom, just for a second opinion from time to time).
Living in New York City, there’s a sea of shopping options, and I’ve appreciated being able to eliminate the majority of them quickly. At times I find myself digging through racks of clothes frustrated that I’m coming up empty. A lot of the earth tones that make up Soft Autumn seem to show themselves in more rugged, outdoorsy styles. My outside activities tend to lean into the “soft” in Soft Autumn.
When I recently shopped for a new pair of glasses, my first thought was just brown - but as I started to look through various pairs I realized even in the glasses I needed something softer, and my Mom encouraged me to find ones that matched my hair color and more wavy hair. My previous frames had been too harsh and dark, and pulled too much attention instead of mixing in with the rest of what I was going for.
I’ve reached an age where I’m more consistently needing clothes to wear to more upscale events - meetings, networking events, and just about a wedding per weekend have become commonplace. I’ve kept to lighter earth tones even for weddings, which has been a standout from most of my friends in their standard navy suits.
Some purchases, however, are more custom and in the past few years I’ve jumped at the chance to find pieces I’ll use often that I can customize to my needs. I recently worked with Chuck Alf at Buffalo Custom Tailors to choose shades in Soft Autumn. For the jacket we went with a muted plaid. The shirt is my off-white and the two pairs of pants are also high off my swatch book. When combined with my hair and glasses it’s a monochromatic look.
It’s been interesting to think of myself as a Soft Autumn as I’ve grown older and to consider what I connect with instinctually. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year and when I feel the most in sync with the world. It feels like home and a connection to my roots - a crisp day sporting a sweater and an Irish cap is what I look forward to year round, and always a reminder of my color palette.
Most often when I talk about my Mom’s job, the responses are similar to the one I gave when I was 10 - at first. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more adept in answering the question and more eager to explain the benefits of understanding your personal coloring and style. I don’t think I’ll ever take over the family business but I’m proud of my Mom and love that I get to find the opportunity to promote what she does. After nearly 20 years of her being in business, I can now confirm - she certainly does more than just tell people they look good in pink.
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August 01, 2023 7 min read
I am so excited to introduce you the “entertainingly irreverent” (Associated Press) Soft Summer, Valerie Peterson. Valerie is an extraordinary storyteller in a variety of media including scriptwriting, screenplays, fiction, non-fiction and book publishing/consulting. I analyzed her colors years ago in Rhode Island at a girls weekend hosted by a mutual friend (color analysis and girls weekends make a great combo!). In the years since, Valerie has embraced her Soft Summer colors in spite of living and working in New York City where black is a standard and practical.
It was a thrill when her publisher chose a photo of my family for her wonderfully spirited book, Peterson’s Happy Hour. On page 46, you can find me with my family - brothers, Mike and Tim and my parents Marcia and J. Michael Jones circa 1970. The book features many more photographic gems and recipes for a fabulous social gathering!
In this month’s colorful lives blog, Valerie shares her journey with her color palette. As with all her writing projects, she is humorous, colorful and entertaining! She has kept in great condition and still uses the Sci Art swatch book that I provided back in those days!! Be sure to check out her large body of work on valeriepeterson.net and read more in the blog:
July 25, 2023 4 min read
While doing color analysis in Boston in June, I had the pleasure of meeting Danielle Burton and giving her a 12-Season Color Analysis. Danielle had recently experienced a 4-Season Color Analysis with a House of Colour consultant and was told she was a Winter. I was skeptical that she was any type of Winter (in the 12 season system, there are actually 3 Winters - Dark Winter, Cool Winter and Bright Winter). Her light eyes, natural lighter and soft brownish hair and skin tone were much more consistent with my clients who fall into the lighter seasons, especially Summer.
Since her hair had been highlighted, we covered it with a neutral gray cap to do the testing portion of the analysis, ensuring that the lighter color did not sway the results of the analysis. It was clear from the beginning that Danielle was responding more harmoniously to the cool tones even some of the lighter cool winter drapes which was consistent with her 4 season color analysis.
But, while she contrasted with any drapes that were dark and bright, she was softened and balanced by the lighter cool tones, particularly Summer. The dark colors brought out shadows under her eyes and the brighter colors overwhelmed her and brought attention to themselves. In the end, she looked lovely and perfectly balanced and harmonious in the Cool Summer colors!
"While I had a great experience at House of Colour, I do think they are missing out on a ton of research and color science by not including the 12 seasons and variants. The added layer of cool vs bright vs dark was a huge difference for me and really solidified which category I best fit”.
Enjoy reading more about Danielle’s experience with both systems and her reaction to her diagnosis as a Cool Summer:
July 05, 2023 6 min read
What fun to introduce Cool Summer, Genevieve Van Voorhis. Gen is an American who has been living in Berlin for many years and recently founded her own nanny service, Lighthouse Nanny specializing in English speaking nannies and babysitters. She put together a wardrobe in a large international city where black is the preferred color choice and her business demands that her clothing must be casual, comfortable and simple when interacting with children.
Gen spent some years thinking she was a Soft Autumn but actually is a Cool Summer. The good news is that after some adjustment, Gen is now fully enjoying the joys of wearing colors that are more perfectly harmonious. Her coloring is actually the essence of the Cool Summer season - soft, muted medium brown hair that lightens slightly in the summer, large round blue eyes and cool porcelain skin.
Enjoy reading more about her journey with her colors in this month’s colorful lives blog:
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