QUESTION: I love color and the following bit of advice left me feeling shot down. "If you have more than three colors in your wardrobe, your closet is chaos." Is this good advice or is there a better way to approach the problem of color coordination in a wardrobe?"
ANSWER: You're asking a woman who is married to a physicist who just wrote a book on "chaos." So I went to the man and asked him what he thought of this bit of advice."Three colors sounds boring. At least chaos is interesting." Not a bad response - for a physicist.
Fashion advice in the form of a rigid absolute is nearly always full of holes, so don't feel shot down. A wardrobe limited to three colors gets boring in a big hurry - at least for most people. There are a few individuals who wear only one color, for effect. It becomes their signature, their trademark.
If you are among the majority of people who want to wear a larger variety of colors, by all means do so. But do it with a plan in mind.
You can't work with all colors at once and expect to achieve good mix-and-match versatility. I suggest planning your wardrobe around two or three wardrobe neutrals, with accent colors added to make it interesting.
You may remember from previous columns on the topic that wardrobe neutrals include black, white, gray and muted tones of navy blue, burgundy, forest green, taupe, rust, brown, camel, tan, beige, ivory, cream, plum and teal blue-green - to name a few. Red is a classic sportswear neutral.
Start by selecting a favorite darker, solid color first, add a lighter color second, with contrasting accent colors to follow. Reverse the order if you prefer. Start with a light neutral and finally accent colors. The point is to build a workable wardrobe with a balanced variety of warm and cool, light and dark, bright and dulled colors.
People are seldom satisfied with fewer than five colors in a group of clothes that coordinate with one another. What's fun and interesting is to build a second cluster in new colors that inter-coordinate with the first. You get more looks for your money. That might be a route for you to consider.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up question on photographs for professionals. What should my business partner and I consider if both of us appear in one picture?
ANSWER: When two people appear in a business photograph, each must receive equal billing. One person cannot upstage the other.
You and your partner must be positioned side by side, with faces on the same plane, not with one behind the other. When the latter happens, the face of the person behind appears smaller and less important - is often lost in shadow. The face of the person in front becomes the dominant figure, appearing larger and obviously more important.
Take a Polaroid photo to pre-check position and lighting. And it's smart to take additional poses.
QUESTION: How often should I get my suits dry-cleaned?
ANSWER: Many men and women get their clothes dry-cleaned too often. Clothes made of natural fibers do not survive frequent baths in dry-cleaning fluid. Suits are generally tailored and tend to lose their tailored shape if cleaned and pressed too often.
If you practice good personal hygiene, wear clean underwear daily and put a clean shirt or blouse on top of that, you can expect your suit to remain clean and fresh.
Get in the habit of letting your suit air out after each wearing. If possible, alternates it with another suit - don't wear it two days in a row.
Follow these suggestions and don't spill your food or sit in something dreadful, then one or two cleanings a year should be enough for most suits.
-Judith Rasband is a certified home economist and director of the Conselle Institute of Image Management. (R) 1988 Conselle Corp.