A fifties colour scheme

Among its myriad of styling tips, the Madeleine Hunt Sew and Save volume also includes some suggestions on colour. Now, those of you who’ve been following me for a while may have noticed that my colour palette is a bit, ah, limited, and I generally eschew prints as well (excepting the odd plaid). I prefer my fabric interest in the form of texture… anyway. I could obviously use some help in this area, so I thought I’d reproduce it for you.

It begins with a segment on colour combinations. Some of the combinations are pretty obvious (navy, red, white, anyone?) but others are a bit more unusual, such as pairing pink with “wine”.

Basic Colours Contrasting Colours or trimmings
Pink White, blue, wine
Blue White, pink, navy
Yellow White, mauve, violet, black
Beige Tomato-red, black, green
Green White, rust, copper, black, mauve
Red White, navy
Brown Green, yellow
Rust Brown
Wine White, pink
Mauve White, light grey, light yellow
Purple White, orchid, grey, green
Navy White, red, pink
Grey Purple, darker grey
Black White, pink, rose, yellow

They also have a section on colour for your complexion—years before Color Me Beautiful! :

White—very good for young and old. If complexion is brick colour or blotchy, no! no!

Green—excellent for red-heads or blondes (lightens the complexion)

Red and yellow—for brunettes

Blue, light red, geranium, red with rose cast—best for blondes

Mauve, violet—very becoming for platinum blondes and the grey-heads.

Is it just me or are “light red”, “geranium” and “red with rose cast” not all variations on “pink”? Also, apparently blondes can wear anything. I guess blondes really do have more fun. (I have no idea what you’re supposed to wear if you have black hair. Sorry.)

The page finishes with these words of wisdom:

Colour suggests personality.

pink, blue, shell-pink, rose—denote daintiness. These colours suitable for baby garments, slips, blouses, dainty summer dresses, lingerie.

Jade green, orange, red, bright blue—denote vivacity, energy, force, joy. Good for sportswear, housecoats, also dresses.

Beige, brown, grey, purple, navy, black—denote dignity, serenity, seriousness.  Excellent for your best dress or suit. Select darker shades when clothes are to be worn a long time.  Brigh colours may be used for trimmings which may occasionally be replaced.

I must admit, the subtler points of many of these colours are lost on me (and I probably could’ve spent more time tweaking the shades for my examples 😉 ). What is shell-pink? or geranium? (My mom has a zillion geraniums but I could’ve sworn they flower in all different colours). “Wine” I can just about wrap my head around (though I would’ve said “burgundy”. And what’s the precise difference between mauve, violet, and purple?

What do you think of their colour combos? What’s your favorite colour combination?



Filed under Sewing

14 responses to “A fifties colour scheme

  1. Oh, I LOVE thinking about color! I’m obsessed. I guess it’s a side effect of the day job, too. I love all the subtle variations of color (like light red, geranium, red with rose cast 🙂 I married a man who shares my love of color. He spends a large part of his day matching paint and stain samples (he designs products for a flooring company). You should see us when we try to pick a paint color– takes years.
    Right now, I’m all about orange and blue. But I like variations on the two– not just plain old orange and blue. Melon, persimmon, sky blue, robin’s egg blue…. I love the crayola crayon box that has 120 different colors, too.

    • My first year painting class in uni was pretty much ALL colour theory. It was fun, in a technical kind of way.

      I’m terrified of trying to pick paints with my hubby. He grew up in a world where the only acceptable colour for walls was white. *shudder*

  2. LinB

    Mauve is a grayed purple, more red than blue.
    Purple has more red than blue.
    Violet has more blue than red.

  3. Sewista Fashionista

    I loved your color card with the pink base. I adore pink! It lifts my spirits. Are you going to choose a color scheme and sew just those colors? What shades are you thinking about?

    • I tend to sew in two basic colour schemes so far… what I’d call the “website colour scheme” (ivory, pale blue, dusty purple/pink, possibly a light grey), and then what I’d call my “default” colour scheme: black, red, and grey. Occasionally the two can cross over—I have a gorgeous piece of plaid *something* in the stash right now that’s black, grey, and pink—but mostly they don’t mesh well. I’m not quite sure what to do with my occasional forays into dark purple, either…

  4. fave combos:
    red and pink (i know and i do it all the time, even as a redhead!)
    aqua or turquoise and red
    navy and white
    green and blue

    i’m not a huge fan of prints in my wardrobe (except stripes or polka dots) but i seem to buy a lot of print fabric. i think i get bored sewing solid colors?

  5. Mauve and green?? *lol* Not exactly two shades I’d wear together, although I’ve been known to combine bright red with bright green (though usually it’s the more traditional navy). Or blue-green and magenta. Then again, it might just be the RGB color palette. I never seem to be able to pick the color I want from it, either…

  6. This is what the world was like pre-pantone?
    Of the color schemes in your post I probably like the first one best, think the one on the green background is most interesting and find the last one to look like the test dips from an Easter Egg Coloring Kit.
    This past year or so I’ve really been into various shades of grey, paired mainly with black, purple, red, or army green. There’s also an elusive color that is a dusty medium purple (or dark lavendar?) that sometimes looks grey, sometimes looks mauve, sometimes browninsh…. I really dig this color and it goes well with the above list. A monochromatic is another favorite in these parts.
    I’m also thinking about warmer weather sewing and trying to actually PLAN, so a palette would be very helpful. One of the troubles I often encounter though, is finding the fabrics in the color scheme that I have imagined.

  7. I disagree about blondes and green, especially pale sorts of green. I do admire the effect of a blonde wearing yellow.

    • I suspect it depends on the blonde… it annoys me that they start this section by talking about complexion, and then focus most of the pointers on hair colour. They are not the same thing! 🙂

  8. I’m excited when I can get away with green-purple or green-red! And brunettes can wear anything, the list was made to give a helping hand to red-heads and blondes!;)

  9. I am crazy for color – I am attracted to almost anything bright (with the exception of any of the yellow-greens)
    but turquoise and aqua rule in my book. Also almost any pink or coral color. Maybe my love of the ocean influences that feeling. all the ocean colors are beautiful. A friend once told my closet looked like the paint box exploded. To me that was a compliment – but I don’t think she meant it that way. I always try to encourage people to wear color, the world has enough black and khaki.
    My favorite combo, aqua and white.
    I think you would look great in the right shade of red, let’s see something in a bright color!

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