By: Emily Yakashiro
Sometimes you just get lucky. There I was, in a used book store in Powell River, BC, when I came across this vintage gem, Showing Your Colors: Designer’s Guide to Color: Coordinating Your Wardrobe by Jeanne Allen. For a mere four dollars, it is now part of my little home library and hot damn do I love this book–I just had to share some scans of the book for your viewing pleasure.
Published in 1985, Allen explains that the book’s purpose is to show off possible colour combinations for outfits for professional designers and non-professionals alike. Allen would know–according to the bio at the back of the book, she was a designer for Marimekko at the time!
She starts the book by showing off colour combinations, focusing on one colour in particular as shown above with Candy Blue, Olive Green, Red, and Bright Navy (all pictured). She does this for 95 colours, explaining the do’s and dont’s of possible combinations.
The age of the book is revealed with certain attitudes towards certain colours that have shattered since. For example, Lavender Blue (not pictured), “is a wonderful mixer that should be used only in bottoms or as an accent color.” Almost quaint, no?
On the other hand, some of Allen’s opinions stand the test of time. Of Yellow Green (not pictured) she says, ” Don’t buy too much of this color–yellow green will be as ‘out’ next year as it is ‘in’ this year. If you love this color but feel hesitant, perhaps a pair of anklets is the best investment.”
Allen also takes into careful consideration skin tones and certain colours, not unwise given the extreme popularity of seasonal colour analysis, which would have been in its heyday when this book was published. For example, readers are warned away from colors like Khaki, “because khaki’s yellow tone is difficult for most complexions to handle, keep this color away from the face.”
After we work our way through the colours, Allen tests her theories by showing off colour combinations in standard 80s outfits. How great are these little drawings?? For those of you who favour tomboy style, never fear, Allen has you covered with outfits like the ones below:
Allen rounds out this fascinating guide with a “Color Gallery of Accessories,” in which she encourages readers to,” study the way small amounts of color are used to alter and accentuate the personality of the garments,” see an example below. All in all, a charming guide–I wonder how much of her theories we could see in practice on today’s runways!
FURTHER READING :