HIGH VALUE CONTRAST
Value is the technical colour word for how light or dark a colour is. Your best value contrast is high value contrast.
Harmonising your clothing with your natural features is most flattering. Look for colours that are in a similar value to your hair, eyes and skin for the most pleasing appearance, where you are the focus, not your clothing.
A dark colour will always appear darker when placed near a light one. The dark colour makes the light colour look lighter, creating more of a contrast, as does a bright colour with a dark colour appears higher in value contrast.
You don't need to add contrast in equal parts - adding an accessory or a small proportion of a light or bright colour to an overall darker coloured outfit will create the right contrast.
Ideal Value - the overall darkness of your outfit
Your Ideal Value is the value (similar depth of colour) to your hair colour (i.e. dark) and should make up 60% of your outfit.
When putting a jacket or cardigan over a top or blouse, make the outer layer (jacket/cardigan) in your ideal value and use the shirt to create your ideal value contrast.
When wearing just one top layer, ideally choose a colour in your ideal value. Then create your value contrast using an accessory such as a necklace or scarf. In the summer, skin can be used to create your ideal value contrast as you may have arms and decolletage showing.
When wearing a patterned garment - choose one with a background or dominant overall value that is in line with your ideal value. So a dark background if you have dark hair, medium background with medium hair and light background if you have light hair.
LOW COLOUR CONTRAST
Colour contrast is the difference between the colours of your hair, eyes, skin/lips. Replicating your natural colour contrast will provide harmony and balance in your outfits. Your hair and skin are neutral. Your eyes are a colour although you say that they don’t always appear so. Wearing an eye enhancing colour will bring out the colour in your eyes.
Your ideal colour contrast is therefore one or two neutrals with one colour.
You are value contrast dominant, therefore wearing your ideal value contrast will make your outfit look balanced and in harmony with your appearance.
Personality and Contrast
The final piece of the puzzle is how your personality affects your contrast levels.
Your personality can be a ‘rule breaker’ or ‘rule stickler’ one - if you are dramatic, rebellious or high energy (life of the party), no matter what your outward appearance, you may enjoy breaking the rules and wear higher contrasts (either value contrast or colour contrast or both).
If you are quieter, you may prefer to wear more subtle combinations of colour and value contrasts as you don’t want to stand out from the crowd, even if you have high contrast colouring.
How to Play Outside of Your Ideal Colour Contrast Levels
If you want to wear a more colourful outfit than is ideal for your colour contrast - do it in one of these ways:
Wear a multicoloured item on your lower half then take a colour and wear it in your top to create balance.
Wear an analogous colour scheme (that is, colours next to each other on the colour wheel - blue with green, or orange with yellow etc.)
Add the extra colours in smaller proportions - such as in accessories - shoes, bags, necklaces, scarves, belts etc.
Using Contrast to Communicate
A high value contrast conveys more authority.
A low value contrast makes you more approachable.
A high colour contrast is more fun and social.
A low colour contrast is more businesslike and serious.
A dominantly light outfit is more approachable.
An overall dark outfit is more authoritative.