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When Bad Colors Happen to Good People

When Bad Colors Happen to Good People

“Don’t buy that!”

That’s what I wanted to say to a woman I saw shopping at a clothing store last week. She was trying on a dress and stood looking in the mirror. She studied her reflection and wrinkled her forehead. She was deep in thought and looked unsure about whether she liked the dress or not.

Meanwhile, the sales woman was exclaiming about how beautifully it fit and how great she looked. But…

I had to bite my tongue.

I really wanted to say something, but I knew it wasn’t my place. The fit of the dress was nice on her. It flowed in all the right places. But, the color was truly unflattering. It made her look washed out. There was no richness or vibrancy to the color – both of which she needed. And, while the sales woman mentioned brightening her makeup, everything in me wanted to scream, “Don’t buy it!”

This woman wanted to feel beautiful and radiant, but clearly she wasn’t feeling that way. Sure, she could intensify her makeup and it might help slightly, but the truth is she still was never going to look or feel fabulous in that color. She was trying to force it to happen and the makeup would feel like a band-aid.

Of course, I knew I couldn’t say anything. I wasn’t asked and I do not offer unsolicited advice. Plus, the sales woman would not have appreciated my interference. If the woman were my client, I would speak up at the store, gently and usually in private away from the saleswoman. But, in this case, it was not my place. I walked away and hoped the woman paid attention to her furrowed brow.

Has this ever happened to you? How do you deal with color in your wardrobe?

Do you choose to keep the scope of colors fairly narrow or do you like a wider variety? Either way, the principle is still the same: color is one of the foundational elements of any wardrobe and you will always look best in colors that look great on you.

But, I know…that’s easier said than done!

Let’s start in your closet. What do you see in there?

  1. A sea of gorgeous colors that make you happy to get dressed?
  2. A mishmash of colors?
  3. A space virtually devoid of color?

If either of the latter situations sounds familiar, what stops you from seeking out colors that really make you shine? Are you playing it safe and easy? If so, are you happy with that choice?

Think about it for a minute and see what comes up and jot it down.

Perhaps you:

  • Can’t find the colors you love in the stores.
  • Can find the color but rarely do you find it together with the style you want.
  • Are unsure about what colors are good so you just wear them all or, the opposite…you stick primarily to seemingly safe neutrals.
  • Would wear more color if you knew which ones were best for you.

First of all, there are no bad colors, but there are colors that look good or bad on someone. If you are unhappy with your color choices, I encourage you to take one step towards changing that. Here are two places you can start:

  • Find new places to shop. I help a lot of women build their wardrobes and each has her own color palette. Since color is so personal I have a large number of stores (at all sizes and all price points) from which to choose. If we don’t find the colors we want at one store we always have a Plan B. No woman with whom I have shopped has ever had to go naked because we couldn’t find her beautiful colors to wear. I promise the same is true for you. If your usual store isn’t meeting your color needs, find a new store.
  • Take cues from your closet. Take a peek in your closet.
    • What are your favorite colors?
    • Which are the ones that get you the most compliments?
    • Are there some that you like on the hanger, but you are not as wild about when you put them on your body?

Stick to the ones you like and on which you get compliments and eliminate the rest (or at least pack them away temporarily). You could also have a personal color palette created for you so you don’t have to guess at which colors look the best. You’ll know with certainty.

Either one of those ideas is a good first step.

One last very important thing: when you purchase colors you don’t love and do not feel good wearing you are giving a message to the designers and retailers that you want more of those colors. This is exactly why black has become so pervasive. When you buy it by default, the designers think that’s what you like and will give you more! They don’t care if you are buying black because you love it or because there’s so much of it. All they care about is that you buy it, so they make it again and again.

Just say no!

  • No to colors you do not like.
  • No to ignoring color completely.
  • No to trying to make a color work!

You deserve better and you can have it. If you want help knowing the 4 colors that look good on most people, read this article: and if you want your own personalized color palette go here (even long distance):

Join me in a color revolution! Use your pocketbook to show the fashion gurus what colors make you happy and which ones don’t. And, don’t let bad colors happen to good people like you!

Please leave a comment below about your experience with finding or wearing color. I would love to hear it.


4 Responses

  1. Oh, Ginger, this article speaks to my heart! Petite women (ha, all women) need to hear more of your creative, knowledgeable mind, about the use, placement, accent with color. I could go on forever about tops that are too long, styles meant for women 5′ 10″ plus. Petite women can easily make themselves look shorter while trying to incorporate more color life into their wardrobe.

    Please, please, help define the best way to distribute color for your petite fans ( which is the US norm I understand). Thank you in advance,
    Your faithful fan,

      1. Thank you, Ginger for taking time from your busy day to send me a link. I hang on your every word…wish I could fly to Boston!!

        Your faithful fan,

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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.