Color and Sustainability

Color and Sustainability

How can finding your color help you with a sustainable wardrobe?

  • It will be easier to avoid impulse shopping by not buying colors that are not good for you
  • It will help you edit your closet by only keeping those things you love in colors that look great
  • You will have more free time because your colors will mix and match. A sustainable life also means having time to enjoy life.

The history of the fashion industry and color has not always been pretty and it is still complicated. In Victorian times Paris green was created using arsenic. Paris green was a lovely color used in garments, paint and wallpaper. If you haven’t already figured this out, arsenic is toxic. Not only were wearers at risk but the workers and artists who needed to work closely with these materials were poisoned as well. Buzzfeed wrote a short article on Paris Green that you can read here .

That is not to say that there is not still trouble in the fashion industry with color. It is cheaper and easier for fashion companies to farm out production of textiles and dying to large dyehouses and unless you have an industry representative and chemical engineer there watching every step you can’t claim to be sustainable with color (or even no color – because bleaching is involved). To begin to be sustainable, dyes have to be non toxic to workers and the environment. Water used in the dying process should be recycled and it definitely needs to be purified before being discharged into the environment.

Clothing that is produced using environmental and worker friendly dye techniques will cost more. The cost is justified. Most of us (myself included) have enough in our closets to keep us clothed for many more years. As part of my quest to be a sustainable stylist I hope to learn more about companies that walk their talk and produce clothing made with sustainable technique that is designed to last for years.

Eileen Fisher has an eco certified line that is worth a look. This beautiful washable silk top is an example.

Think natural dyes are the answer? Maybe in some cases but the growing, harvesting and processing of plants uses water and arable land as well as mordants that are not scaleable for the current level of  fashion consumption.

If your budget is constrained don’t settle for fast fashion. Make carefully considered choices from consignment or thrift stores that will take items out of the waste chain. If you buy new, think carefully before picking up that $10 top made from polyester. We and the places we buy from should be considering our impact on people and places around the world. The easiest way to do that is reduce what you consume. Knowing your colors is a first step. 

Hues, Tints, Tones, Shades

Hues, Tints, Tones, Shades

This week I was asked if I use color as a consideration in helping you find your best style. The answer is a solid yes! I love color and am writing a booklet on using it in your wardrobe as well as presenting the idea on May 1 at a casual event here in West Seattle. In the meantime I will keep discussing color as a theme for this month.

Last week I discussed warm and cool. Today I am going to discuss hues, tints, tones and shades. 

Studying the contrast between your hair, lips, skin and eyes will help you determine if you look best in hues, tints, tones or shades. Your wardrobe will play very well together if you select mostly hues, tints, tones or shades when you are incorporating new items into your closet.  

 Using a gray scale and value finder that you have picked up from an art supply store. Determine the value that matches your:

  • Skin__________
  • Lips___________
  • Eyes__________
  • Hair_____________

Determine how much contrast there is between these values and check which one applies:

                High

                Medium

                Low

This tells you how much contrast you can wear between colors, how much contrast a print should have and how much contrast your make up colors should have for you to show up as your best self. This makes it easier for your natural and unique beauty to show through.

To determine whether you should wear mainly hues, tints, tones or shades of color (more on this later) add up the values. Divide by 4. This gives you your average value. If it equals 8-9 wear  tints. If it is 2-4 use a shade, 5-7 a tone. Average values of 1 and 10 use hues. (If you are a cool and have average values of 1 or 10 black could be your color). Wearing only hues, tints, tones or shades will allow the items in your wardrobe to play very well together.

A hue is the purest form of a color. There is no white, black or gray added. These colors can be found on the outer ring of the color wheel.

A tint is the next ring in on the wheel. It has white added.

A tone is next and has gray added.

A shade is the innermost ring and has black added. 

Play around in a store or your closet and see if you can identify which colors clothes are. Keep training your eye as you learn more. Have fun.