Science and Art. Color and Dress.

Scientific American 18, 13.1.1855

Red Drapery - Rose-red cannot be put in contact with the rosiest complexions without causing them to loose some of their freshness. Dark red is less objectionable for certain complexions than rose-red, because, being higher than this latter, it tends to impart whiteness to them in consequence of contrast of tone.

Green Drapery - A delivate green is, on the contrary, favorable to all fair complexions which are deficient in rose, and which may have more imparted to them without inconvenience; but it is not so favorable to complexions that are more red than rody, nor to those that have a tint of orange mixed with brown, because the red they add to this tint will be of a brick-red hue. In the latter case a dark green will be less objectionable than a delicate green.

Yellow Drapery - Yellow imparts violet to a fair skin, and in this view it is less favorable than a delicate green. To those complexions which are more yellow than orange it imparts white; but this combination is very dull and heavy for a fair complexion. When the skin is tinted more with orange than yellow, we can make it roseate by neutralizing the yellow; it produces this effect upon the black-haired type, and it is thus that it suits brunettes.

Violet Draperies - Violet, the complementary of yellow, produces contrary effects; thus, it imparts some greenish yellow to fair compelxions; it augments the yellow tint of yellow and orange skins. The little blue there may be in a complexion it makes green. Violet, then, is one of the least favorable to the skin, at least when it is not sufficiently deep to whiten it by contrast of tine.

Blue Drapery - Blue imparts orange, - which is susceptible of allying itself favorable to white and the light flesh tints of fair complexions, which have already a more or less determined tint of this color. Blue is, then, suitable to most blondes, and in this case justifies its reputation. It will not suit brunettes, since they have already too much of orange. Orange is too brillian to be elegant; it makes fair complexions blue, whitens those which have an orange tint, and gives a green hue to those of of a yellow tint.

White Drapery - Drapery of a lusterless white, such as cambrle muslin, assorts well with a fresh complexion, of which it relieves the rose color; but is is unsuitable to complexions which have a disagreeable tint, because white always exalts all colors by raining their tone; consequently, it is unsuitable to those skins which, without having this disagreeable tint, very nearly approach it. Very light white draperies, such as muslin, plaited or point lace, has entirely different aspect.

Black Drapery - Black draperies, loweing the tone of the colors with which they are in juxtaposition, whiten the skin; but if the vermillion or rosy parts are to a certain point distant from the drapery, it will follow that, although lowered in tone, they appear relatively to the white parts of the skin, contiguous to this same drapery, redder than if the contiguity to the black did not exist. -
[Harmony of Colors, by M. E. Chevreul.

[The above remarks of this distinguished French chemist must be taken with some caution, because the question of complexion is a very puzzling one. The lesson, however, which he desires to impart is a good one, that is, the study of colors in dress in relation to complexion. Some of the strangest and most disagreeable results are produced by the choice of fashionable colored bonnets and their trimmings. Every person should study the effect of color upon complexion, so that the coloring of nature and art may be in harmony, not at loggerheads, as they often are.

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