Colour Signs

By Alixe Wallis

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As a model, I learned that being tall and skinny was a definite plus, but the true pros in the business knew what they were there for - to make each outfit look irresistible. The clothes were the real stars. During the fifties, every self-respecting department store in Toronto held their fashion shows during the spring and fall while, during the off-season, one could be a house model in the garment district on Spadina Avenue.

"Oh, she's bustless, hipless and hopeless" was the favourite lament of a wonderful designer friend of mine - or if you were unfortunate enough to have an inch or two extra on the derriere "She's got duck's disease" was the verdict. I modelled outfits from their birth in the cutting room through the process of pinning and basting, followed by hand finishing and finally being photographed in the sample.

I learned that only a good designer could deal with all height, weight and proportion issues. And some years later, returning to the fashion world and co-ordinating shows in B.C., I learned that putting fashion presentations together is an art form in itself.

However, following some of these fashion shows, I noticed customers standing in complete bewilderment in front of a dress display, seemingly not knowing where to begin in their quest for that special outfit. The question arose in my mind, “Where does one begin in the search for a look that truly spells you?” While style, fit and proportion do have an important place, I wondered what would be a key factor in bringing out one's own individuality. My attempt to find answers began with colour.

Colour is personal, and so much a part of our lives, we take it for granted. We say, "What a colourful person" to describe someone bright and energetic. "She looks at the world through rose-coloured glasses" brings into focus a positive and happy person. Being "green with envy" is another old expression, while the term, a "scarlet woman" was never intended as a compliment. Faber Birren was way ahead of me. He has devoted over 30 years to the study of colour, researching and writing several books explaining how colour communicates and elicits emotional responses. Birren's comprehensive work confirmed my ideas, but there was still an element missing. The last piece to fit the puzzle came while reading my horoscope.

"When crazy things happen in the emergency room you can bet there's a full moon out," says a medical friend of mine. Because the tides are so influenced by the moon, it doesn't take a great leap of faith to speculate our largely liquid bodies are equally affected. Add the pull of Uranus the planet of surprises, expansive Jupiter, intense Mars, strong Saturn, turbulent Pluto, emotional Neptune, plus Mercury, the planet of the intellect together with the refinement of Venus and you can't deny there's a lot of cosmic energy at work. Plus, the planets are always moving!

Astrological signs predict our personality traits and foretell our emotions. Colour creates moods and elicits emotional responses. Combining both should lead straight to your best colour.

For me, the stars were in perfect alignment because everything fell nicely into place and Colour Signs was born. I wrote and designed my book with its own colour wheel, to give a quick and easy reference to each sign's best shades and tones.

When holding seminars on the subject, it was gratifying when people shared stories of how the colour-wheel helped them. My little book made its way to the U.K., as well as Australia and can now be found on Senior Living's online bookstore.

So, if you're curious to see whether you're a Leo dressing in Taurus tones or, better still, to confirm you've instinctively been wearing the right shade all along, Colour Signs can be your guide. It's sure to colour your fashion spectrum with new possibilities.

For a copy of Alixe's book, visit Senior Living magazine's online bookstore at



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