Brandied Plum | Polished Work Look

After a series of posts focused on cool violets, I thought it might be nice to turn the temperature dial up for our next color inspiration. Rather than steering purple toward gray or blue, I thought we might stir some extra-cozy red tones into purple this week and spend some time with plum shades.

I wanted to try to put together a look using rosy-plummy shades on the eyes without dulling down the plummy-ness with brown or gray shades. I love neutral colors on the eyes–they can be so flattering and sophisticated. But I also think there’s been a lot of focus on neutrals in makeup lately, with all sorts of jumbo-sized neutral palettes coming to market this season (and many, many seasons past). I feel a little restless with neutrals; I want to experiment a little bit with color.

That said, when I’m at work, I don’t want my color experimentations to interfere with my ability to communicate. Ideally, I think, work makeup should be simple, polished, and flattering, so that it enhances a person’s ability to relate to coworkers, rather than getting in the way. So I thought it would be interesting think about how to wear a true-plum eye look in a way that would feel very comfortable at work.

Once I settled on plum as the focus on this week’s color story, and I decided that I wanted to try to get to a work-appropriate look without watering the plum shade down with brown or gray….I realized that I had no idea what to do next. I’m pretty sure that the only way I had worn plum in the past was to pair plums with similar shades: plums with other plums of greater or lesser intensity; plums with pinks; plums with purples or violets. Well, all workplaces are different, and everyone’s comfort level is different, but it was pretty hard for me to imagine wearing a whole face full of plum, purple, and pink shades at work. And how was I going to define the eyes and prevent the rosy-plummy shades from making my eyes look sore, if I wasn’t going to use browns or grays? Black? That would just be cheating–gray is black with white in it, basically, so why wouldn’t the black just dull down the plummy shades like other neutrals?

I sat back and tried to imagine what a plum looks like–that is, what the fruit itself looks like, the contexts in which I’d seen it. When you cut a ripe black plum open, the inside of the fruit is often a kind of rich golden yellow shade, with bright-red veins. If you look at the surface of a plum, you can see the inner flesh through the skin sometimes. It comes across as kind of a deep-reddish-blush shade.

I had just so happened to have been thinking about a color story centering on what we call “blush” shades–the color (as opposed to the cheek product). What do we mean when we say something is a “blush” shade? In thinking through the blush color story, I had worked my way around to thinking that blush shades–that spectrum of honey-rose colors, touched with red and married with a bit of brown–can be a good support for deep, vivid colors, especially vivid shades with a substantial amount of red in them. I thought that blush shades might help to make those colors more wearable for pale people like me, by warming the features a bit and adding depth to, say, cheeks and lips (particularly when compared with nude or light colors that tend to pale down the features). Might blush tones be a good complement to….*forehead slap*….plum?

Having worked my way around to this point, I had this sudden, vivid image of brandied plums. Why not try it?

Back row from left: Aerin Multicolor for Lips and Cheeks. Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Konpeito; Bobbi Brown gel liner in Cobalt Ink. From row from left: Clinique Chubby Stick for Lips in Whole Lotta Honey; Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Cardinal.

Back row from left: Aerin Multicolor for Lips and Cheeks. Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Konpeito; Bobbi Brown gel liner in Cobalt Ink. From row from left: Clinique Chubby Stick for Lips in Whole Lotta Honey; Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Cardinal.

On the eyes, I decided to go with a deep blue gel liner to define. I hoped that the blue liner would fend off any impression of soreness from the rosy-purply-plum without muting down the rosy-purply-plum shades. For lips and cheeks, I deliberately chose ‘blush’ shades that lean just a tad warm amid all the honeyed rosiness–I wanted to stir in a bit of warmth, because the eye colors are leaning quite cool this time around.

A few sad swatches, since these cream products in particular are hard to gauge in their packaging:

From the top, Aerin Multicolor; Clinique Chubby Stick in Whole Lotta Honey; Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Konpeito and in Cardinal; Bobbi Brown gel liner in Cobal Ink.

From the top, Aerin Multicolor; Clinique Chubby Stick in Whole Lotta Honey; Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Konpeito and in Cardinal; Bobbi Brown gel liner in Cobalt Ink.

This look seems to me as if it has a chance of succeeding, and a chance of failing miserably. lol. I think a lot rides on whether the red undertone that’s running through the “blush” cheek and lip shades and through the eyeshadows will carry the day. (You only have to try to imagine the eyeshadows with peach, orange, or coral tones to realize that it’s all about that red base.)

I’m looking forward to trying this out on my face–hopefully I’ll fare better with it than I did with the taupe lippy a couple of weeks ago! 🙂 In the meantime, I wish you all a lovely day.

xo bunikins@mua

**Please do reach out to me with your thoughts and feedback by leaving a comment, emailing me at bunikinsbeauty[at]gmail, or finding me at Makeupalley under the handle, “bunikins.”**

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