What Color is Your Personality?

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Back to our regular programming: When I was in middle school, the mother of a classmate—her name was Carole Jackson—published a book that quickly became a sensation: Color Me Beautiful. She gave a talk at our school about her seasonally based color palettes for clothing and accessories, and I was one of two or three students who won a free book. She signed it for me and declared that I was a Winter. More than three decades later, I still think about my winter palette when I shop, knowing that these colors generally look the best with my hair and complexion:

Each season’s palette was defined on perforated pages so you could rip them out for quick reference.

That book came to mind on Thursday when New York textile designer Lori Weitzner was at the Century showroom at the Washington Design Center to talk about her new book, Ode to Color. And just like Carole Jackson did in her day for fashion, Lori is doing now for interior design.

“What is that feeling that you want in your home?” is the question designers should be asking their clients, Lori said. “Sometimes people like something, but what they like might not be right for their space. What you [designers] do is critical to having people feel a certain way in their space. They’ll feel better. They’ll treat people kinder.”

From my own perspective, I quickly discerned that while I might look better in clothes that are red, royal blue, and lemon yellow—colors that would fit into Lori’s “Out Loud” palette—I’ve always been more drawn to her “Fragrant Woods” for our interiors.

Then again, I found that our family room and living room in the new house are punctuated with pops of scarlet and deep orange, so there could be an “Earthly” crossover there.

My office has accents of bright red, pink, teal and grass green, so there probably is some Out Loud (or Winter?) lurking on the edges.

My hair color and skin tone will never change (even if my hair goes silver later on, I’m still a Winter!), but Lori explained that color families can change from room to room, depending on what kind of energy you want in there. One designer I recently interviewed explained that her client was “allergic to anything darker than ecru.” Maybe that makes her a Whisper?

Now, here’s what I love about this book: Lori doesn’t just prescribe colors with practical decorating advice, she celebrates them through historical references, poetry, song lyrics and literature. The Whisper palette, for example, is all about softness, mystery, and pearly whites. “Heard melodies are sweet; but those unheard are sweeter,” she quotes from Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” right under that famous photograph of little John Kennedy Jr. pulling at his mother’s triple strand of pearls.

Another highlight is that local photographer and artist Pamela Viola contributed images from her archive of over 75,000 photographs to help illustrate Lori’s points.

Lori Weitzner, left, stands with Pamela Viola at Thursday’s lecture and book signing at the Century showroom in the Washington Design Center. Pamela is wearing a scarf printed with one of her fine-art photography images.

Pamela’s watercolor-like picture gets a perfect pairing with Joni Mitchell lyrics in the “Waterside” chapter on everything that is blue:

Lori chose pictures from Pamela’s archives based on each color palette. Here’s one that beautifully illustrates Out Loud:


And Fragrant Woods:

There are 10 color families in the book. I asked Pamela which one she most identifies with. She had to think about it for a minute. Silver Light, she finally answered. “I’m very quiet. I’m very shy generally. I’m sort of in the background, but when you scratch the surface and get to know me better, that’s when I shine.”

Beautifully put, Pamela! I would urge anyone who’s into design—or even searching for an approach to take in decorating certain rooms—to buy Ode to Color. It’s a fascinating study into color and how it affects us all.