Escaping the Tyranny of Fashion Color and Style Archetypes

Recently I’ve been hearing this complaint: “I’m tired of trying to fit into a style and color archetype. I hate being put in a “box.””

These comments are coming from women in my online community who have had multiple color and style analyses from different people over the years. I’d be really confused too if I got strong and conflicting opinions about what I should wear. But I’m glad this discussion is happening. It opens up several important topics.

John Kitchener, Director PSC

Here is what I constantly tell my readers: you are not an archetype. You are a glorious embodiment of what Personal Style Counselors Director John Kitchener describes as color “harmonies” and style “essences.” There is so much more room to breathe in those words: harmony and essence. They are liberating instead of constraining.

Now, of course I do use and describe archetypes in my book. That’s because they offer a framework to understand aesthetic details that make up who we are, visually. But (and this is crucial) we are all combinations of these style archetypes and seasonal color harmonies. In our bone structure, coloring, features, and personality, we each embody between 0% to 100% of a number of different style essences and seasonal color harmonies. Those combinations are practically limitless. And understanding where you fall within them gives you an excellent basis to develop a great wardrobe.

The Most Important Questions

That brings up the next point. People come to a color and style analyst asking, “what should I wear?”

Joan Songer, Founder PSC

There’s nothing wrong with asking “what should I wear?” A good stylist will see your color and style combinations and use them to the best effect for you. The problem arises when they have a strong opinion of how you should look based on an arbitrary concept or their own aesthetic biases.

But there’s are more important questions. Many years ago, Joan Songer, the founder of Personal Style Counselors, offered these to help her clients determine what to wear: “Where are you going, and how do you want to be perceived?” She was referring, of course, to the occasion or environment for which you were getting dressed. That’s an excellent basis for deciding what to wear. But the words suggest something more potent.

Where am I Going? How do I Want to Be Perceived? 

“Where am I are going?” can also mean “where am I going in my life?” Through our attire we tell ourselves who we think we are and what we think we deserve. If what we are wearing diminishes our “light” in some way, it has an effect not only on those we meet, but on us too. By simply elevating this one, tangible factor in our lives, other things, starting with our sense of self, but extending to the quality of our relationships, our achievements, etc., can be uplifted too.

Dark red shopping bag illustrationSo yes, learn the elements that make up your unique physical expression: your coloring, your facial bone structure, your features, your body shape, and the facets of your personality that reflect the real you. Apply them to create a wardrobe that expresses your unique qualities in the best light. And then add this: make sure that everything in your closet supports where you want to be going in your life.

Here’s to the Real, Fabulous, Now and Future You

[PSC now offers color and style analyses the Southeast, the East Coast and via Skype with PSC Director John Kitchener, on the West Coast with Hella Tsaconas, and in Utah and the Mountain states with Brook Mercer and Mariah Bishop.]

Learn more about your best colors and your unique style essences in my book, Shopping for the Real You.

Andrea’s books and new video series:

Shopping for the Real You front cover image




About the Author:

Author of Shopping for the Real You, Andrea Pflaumer, is a non-fiction writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and host of the video series, Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50. She has written extensively about fashion for local and national publications and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Better After 50, Sixty and Me, She Savvy, and Prime Women. Her free ten-lesson course, A Lazy Person's Guide to the Perfect Wardrobe, is available on