Dark, dark, bright, dark.

I was first introduced to the idea of dressing based on one’s own personal coloring by Rebecca at The Space Between My Peers. At first I thought it was a rather limiting idea, that one could only dress based on the colors in one’s hair, eyes, skin tone, etc. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. If one wants to dress in the most harmonious manner, one should indeed take into account one’s natural coloring, as they form the base for whatever clothes come next.

I had always thought this was a nice theory, but never put much more thought into it other than occasional observations in street style photos or that one time when one of my classmates accidentally put together the most perfect color harmony because the gold in her watch exactly matched the highlights in her grey-brown hair and the rose color in her floral shirt matched the undertones in her skin–oh man, it was perfect–ahem, until I flipped through the September Teen Vogue and lighted on this photo of their “Beauty Blogger,” Eva Chen, trying on her best Beyonce impression. At first glance, this photo reads “One of these things is not like the others:” Jane Keltner de Valle (the blonde) stands out terribly, as she’s a bright spot among dark workout clothes.

See? Dark, dark, bright, dark.

But take a closer look at who’s wearing what. The editor on the left has dark, almost black hair, and dark skin. She’s wearing black workout pants, and a dark-toned (but not black) top. Eva Chen has dark–black again–hair and pale skin, which she sets off with black workout clothes. Jane Keltner, the pale blonde, doesn’t go for black–instead she’s wearing pale blue (like her eyes) and silver, which doesn’t appear to be part of her coloring (her eyes look brown) but matches the value of her hair and skin better than either white or black. [Editor’s note: I’m pretending Laurie Gibson doesn’t appear in this photo because her pose is so awful.]

Desaturate it.

The idea is more pronounced when I desaturated the photo–and I didn’t boost any black or white levels in photoshop. Notice how Left Editor’s top almost disappears into her skin? And how Eva Chen’s shoes blend in with her legs, but how her hair matches top matches pants? And how Jane is almost one solid color from top to toe? She’s almost entirely bright, while L.E. is almost entirely dark. Eva Chen, whose hair contrasts highly with her skin tone, mixes dark and bright.

If I were art directing this photo, I’d put Jane in the center, to balance the visual weight a little. Especially with the inset of Eva Chen on the left, the whole visual weight of the picture lists to the left. However, that would completely derail the concept of the article, because it’s all about putting Evan Chen in Beyonce’s shoes. Literally. In this case, the emphasis focused on drawing a comparison with B’s “Single Ladies” video (with a screencap conveniently on the first page of the article!), so I’m guessing that body type and the three-person pose took precedence over things like visual weight as it regards to personal coloring.

Overanalyzing teen magazines? That’s what we do best here. Over and out.