Colours a Blonde May Wear - The Law of Colour - The Value of Black Velvet - Colours for Evening Wear - For the Elderly - For the Nondescript Complexion - The Study of Colour and Its Characteristics - Piety and a Pretty Dress - The Choice of a Hat, and Rules which Should Influence a Decision
On the whole, the pure blonde type of beauty is easily dressed. She may wear dull blacks as background to her brilliant yellow, and yellow's complementary colour, violet. She may wear pure white because of the white in skin, teeth, and eyes; whereas the dark sister must tint white, lest she produce a violent and unpleasant contrast. Many brunettes forget this. It is pleasant to note the warmth of skin and eye and hair deepened by the friendly proximity of warm reds and yellows and glossy blacks, but it is unpleasant to note the yellow in the white of eye and teeth and skin if it be compared to the cold purity of a white dress.
This same rule applies to purple in all its various shades, and a brunette should choose the deep rich tints, leaving delicate mauves and heliotropes to the blonde.
But pronounced types of beauty are comparatively easy to dress once they grasp the law of colour as laid down by Chevreul. Chevreul was, of course, the famous French chemist who discovered aniline, also he was the discoverer of the law of colour. Complementary colours, he laid down, should not be placed near each other, but near their primary colours.
A Safe Rule to Follow
Thus none with taste would put yellow-green beside red-violet, or green-blue beside orange-red. The clever colourist combines shades of colour and produces symphonies, and the clever woman, first deciding in her own mind what is her natural colouring, then applies to art for further notes to complete her charm and beauty. The woman of no distinct type or colouring has to use more wit in finding the rest of her harmony and acquiring it. She may begin with one safe rule as the basis of her specific knowledge, and add to its results after experiment. For street wear, match the hair; for indoor dress, match the eyes; for dress worn in an artificial light, match the skin. But it will not do to wear brown simply because the eyes are brown, this being too crude a reading of similarity of colouring producing harmony; for if you will closely study the eyes and the hair, you find in them various shades of the same colour. This is why no dye can give a beauty like the natural one to hair - the tints and shades of Nature are matchless in their artistic variety and harmony. Moreover, Nature the artist puts a subtle harmony between the colouring of hair and eyes and skin, which when interfered with becomes discord, so that to make the hair tell one story whilst the skin tells another, and the eyes yet another, is to produce a veritable babel of contradictions.
The wise woman goes more scientifically to work. Studying herself mercilessly in the mirror, she duly notes good points and bad. Good points may be emphasised, bad ones neutralised, and by means of colours this is done quickly and effectively. Suppose one's eyes to be of a "nondescript grey," and by close scrutiny a hint of green is seen in them. Wear green of that exact tint, and a decisive note is struck pleasantly. In that green dress the wearer has some claim to beauty. Suppose her to dress in a pronounced blue, then all these subtle hints of colouring are killed, and the same disastrous effect is produced should she choose the wrong shade of green.
With regard to poor colouring, to what might be called the bleaching effect of time, or premature agents such as illness or worry, we may consider the value of colours used in the dress so as to give a requisite colouring to the personality. Thus the brunette past her noonday dare not wear her vivid reds and yellows. Instead, we will give her a soft pale pink or blue, because the blue will kill the yellow of her skin and make it seem fair, whilst the pink will give a glow to fading colouring. Black velvet is universally becoming because it provides contrast without challenge, as in the case of black satin or dead blacks. Black velvet speaks softly to every woman's skin, which thereupon does its best to look fresh and glossy and fair, and this though black, as a rule - even too much black velvet - deadens a dull skin. Should your skin have a most unbecoming yellowy shade, try what a bold appeal to orange will do; because blue makes yellow appear white, as the laundress knows by experience. Yellow to yellow makes yellow look white" is not precisely true, because it is the "halo" of orange-blue, which is thrown upon the complexion by the "cream" lace found so becoming for neckwear that gives the white look.
Colours for the Evening
Speaking of the effect of yellow brings us to a consideration of colour for evening wear, and, before passing on to a further consideration of the effect of colours upon the complexion, it will be well to notice the effect of the yellow of artificial light upon both dress and complexion. The brunette who is improved when the yellow in her colouring is neutralised looks her best at night, whilst the blonde whose beauty is dependent upon yellow - blondes being sometimes called sun-children - will often look her worst. No woman should disregard the classification of colours into "night colours" and "day colours." Violet being the complementary colour of yellow, becomes red-tinged under artificial light; and some blues look green, others black. A blonde beauty choosing turquoise blue silk by daylight chooses this, her own colour, badly if she chooses it for evening wear, as it will then probably look faded and toneless. Yellow-greens look well at night, and blue-greens ugly; whilst all shades of yellow, contrary to popular ideas, are good evening colours, and suit the average woman far better than white. Artificial light enhances the value of red, so that colours containing red are useful for evening wear. Though the character of a daylight colour like orange, which is yellow tinted red, is changed according to the proportion of red in its composition.