I went through, to put it charitably, a long awkward phase. Roughly a decade, I would say.
I distinctly remember the beginning of the end of it. I was in middle school, or maybe early high school, and my mom was reading a book her friend Karen had given her. Karen is one of those people who always looks perfectly put-together, whose clothes always fit just right, who just exudes an aura of being totally with-it. Looking up from this book, as if seeing me for the first time, my mom said, “Oh! You’re an Autumn!”
It took some explaining to get at what that meant. I don’t know the exact book she was reading (though I suspect it was Color Me Beautiful, by Carole Jackson), but it was one of many that categorized colors by season, and then helped readers figure out their season by examining their hair color, the undertones of their skin, and other features.
Mom, you see, is a classic Winter. She looks fabulous in jewel tones. Black doesn’t make her look washed out–she looks great in black. She can wear all sorts of wonderful colors like teal and magenta and look awesome.
The combination of having a mom who is a Winter and, of course, the fashions of the late ’80s/early ’90s was not a good one for me. Mom helped me pick out my clothes, and what she was drawn to didn’t look great on me. Those colors dominated the racks in that era, which made it worse. I thought I just was particularly unattractive.
Learning that I was an Autumn helped explain a number of things, like this ratty barn jacket I insisted on wearing constantly. It was exactly the perfect green to make my hazel eyes pop. I loved that thing, even though I knew it sort of looked awful, and I only figured out why much later.
Wearing the wrong colors was not the sole reason I was an unattractive child. My regrettable plastic glasses (lavender, as big as half of my face) were also a bad move. My teeth came in all wrong and I had to have retainers for years. I also just never thought of my appearance much, and when I did think about it, it was with a bit of a shrug. Whatever wasn’t working seemed out of my control. I just remember this as the first moment when I realized that, with the right information, a few minutes of thought could really make a difference.
I had forgotten about all of this. I buy green and brown instead of chartreuse and black out of habit more than anything else. I have a lot of purple clothes that my mom has given me–it’s one color we share, but I’m sure she wasn’t thinking about it that way. I feel, lately, that I can’t find anything that I like in the stores, and it doesn’t occur to me that the problem is the current sherbet-themed palette that is very in.
It wasn’t until this past week, when Bethany saw Petra in an outfit of red, gold, and brown, and exclaimed, “Oh! She’s an Autumn!” that I remembered this. She’s right, of course. Petra is a perfect Autumn, and I’m sure that’s why I love her in chocolate and cinnamon.
Bethany got in another good line about this outfit. I commented that “Mommy’s Attention Hog” absolutely does NOT describe her, at all. Bethany replied, “She wears it ironically, like a hipster.”
For the curious, the Chic Fashionista offers a number of self-assessments to find your color season. Try it! You might end your own awkward phase.
Bonus, lifted from a friend’s Facebook:
How did the hipster burn himself?
He drank his coffee before it was cool.