burgundy. I obsess.
Most of you know I look and feel my best in true, pure, bold hues. There is no color palette police who will come give me a citation for doing it wrong. I can do what I want. I choose it because it makes me look and feel my best.
Some hues are easy to identify, like red, yellow and blue. Some colors are harder, like coral, turquoise, purple, green, and the hardest of all BURGUNDY. It’s like the unicorn of hues. I’ve stayed away from it all this time because I didn’t feel confident in my ability to identify it.
I always get color envy in the fall when the gorgeous autumn colors are in season. Oh how I want to wear them, and oh how ghastly they look on me. It would be like wearing the flu for three months. I’ve been getting my fall fix by combining bold colors in autumn color combinations, and that has satisfied me a lot.
But that wasn’t enough. I wanted more, and I decided it was time to find pure, true burgundy. I read and researched and studied, and I ordered so. many. things. trying to find the perfect stuff. Most of them were big fat nos. So very no. No matter how it looked on my monitor. I was able to find a few things, but I still haven’t found what’s on my true wishlist: a burgundy utility jacket and burgundy boots that ARE NOT velvet. For me velvet is a winter fabric, and I want them for winter and fall. Also, velvet booties + snow = no.
Burgundy is hard , but I have some tricks to help you find it too. My bestie from high school is an artist, graphic designer, and principal at an advertising firm. The girl is a color genius. I called her to confirm all my thoughts on this, and she even made me a burgundy color scale for you by varying how much red or purple was in it! So here goes.
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A little color theory
Just a little. Primary (which means one) colors are red, yellow and blue, and all other colors are made from them. Secondary (which means two) colors are combinations of two primary colors. They include green, purple, orange. Tertiary (which means 3) colors are a secondary color plus a primary color. These include turquoise, coral and burgundy.
What is Pure Burgundy?
Pure burgundy is hard because it’s not like green, which is when you combine two hues: yellow and blue. Burgundy is when you combine purple (which is blue and red) with red, making it a tertiary color. More colors = more hard. It can lean more red, or more purple, depending on the ratios. There are three things that make burgundy impure. When it has black added to it it becomes a shade, when it has gray added to it, it becomes a tone, and when it has brown added to it, it becomes a raisin. Make sense? Let’s keep going.
For me it’s easiest to think in terms of food. Pure burgundy looks like Swiss chard stems, pickled beets or beet juice. It’s the color of Burgundy wine (named for the region in France), and red grape juice. Those are easy images for me to conjure.
Maroon is burgundy with brown added to it, and it looks more like a raisin. Maroon comes from the French word marron, which means brown.
Burgundy with black added to it looks more like jellied beets. It looks a little dirty or deep.
Burgundy with gray added to it looks like the skin of red grapes with the bloom (cloudy film) on them.
Or let’s talk laundry. Pure hues look like primary colors, Crayola pure. Shades look like you washed a pure color with some dark jeans that bled. It’s still burgundy, but now it looks dirty, less vibrant. If it had gray added to it, it looks like you’ve had it for years, and it’s been washed a few too many times, vintagey. If it’s had brown added to it, it’s like a mud stain that never quite came out.
I don't get it
It’s not that easy for some people to see color bases, including me. Some people, like my bestie above, have that gift for seeing colors, and others don’t. I’ve had to train my eye and come up with mental and visual tricks, and I’m sharing the tricks I’ve come up with.
My easiest trick is to put it next to something that is pure red or cobalt blue. That will show you quickly if it’s a hue or not. What looked right at first will suddenly look dirty, washed out, or muddy. This is a helpful trick when you are out shopping because you can almost always find something red to put it next to. And to be honest, I’m still training my eye. This is research I did for myself, to train myself, and I may still get some things wrong.
It’s easiest to find it in the winter, and it’s often velvet, though not all velvet burgundy is true burgundy.
These corduroy bootcut pants were my first win, and definitely lean on the purple end of the spectrum. The corduroy texture and fabric makes it extra tricky because the way the light hits it does tend to make it look a little washed out. Does this look like it has gray added to it? Or is it the texture?
I love, love, love this outfit, so plan to see it again if the weather holds (with the pants below). I felt so perfectly autumn-y and perfectly edgy classic, which is perfectly me. I love these pants so much I ordered them in navy and black as well (in a size 4), but the burgundy turned out to be too dusty (like the grapes above), and I returned them.
Lipsense 1x blackberry, 2x purple reign, opal gloss.
I love this flannel so very, very much, I wore it twice this week. And got busted. By a BRIT!! Europeans in general choose quality over quantity, which is something I have been leaning toward myself. They buy the best they can afford in a fairly neutral palette, and then mix and match, repeating constantly.
So I was surprised when this man (not even a woman!) was checking out my blog while we were chatting, and when he saw my Instagram feed at the bottom goes, “Oh look, that’s the same outfit you are wearing now.” Yep. Like 3 days ago. And I’ll probably wear it next week, too.
This burgundy is on the far red end of the spectrum. It does have a faint, thin brown stripe through it, but it doesn’t bother me. The overall look is bold. I love that my lipstick matches perfectly. Lipsense 2x purple reign, 1x flygirl.
This shirt is basically pure burgundy, with equal parts red and purple. It’s an old shirt, and honestly somewhat ill fitting. I took it to the tailor and it’s a little better, but it still needs…something. I’m determined to salvage it because the color and the windowpane pattern are p-e-r-f-e-c-t.
I forgot to take my pictures because it was Saturday and we were busy with the family all day. I got my nails done and had her layer red and purple to get this perfect burgundy nail polish color. They match my shirt!
Then we went mattress shopping. With 6 kids. Which was incredibly fun (please tell me you know I’m crying on the inside). I also put on this cobalt cardigan so you can see that they stand up to each other, but I wore the moto jacket. Lipsense 2x purple reign, 1x flygirl.
I love this sweater. The rivets are brass colored, but I will paint them with silver nail polish now that I know I’m keeping it. This is also a little more on the red side, but still close to pure burgundy. I wore it to church with this black pencil skirt and riding boots, and I can’t wait to pair it with black jeans, dark wash jeans, and another pair of pants you will see below. It’s a fall-weight sweater, and quite fitted. I’m wearing an XS, but wish I had a small so I could layer with it.
This cardigan is more purple, and it ended up going back because the color isn’t pure (can you see it has some black in it?). It’s such a hard color to photograph. In real life it’s identical to the shirt below (that also went back). Cardigans are tricky for me. I need that edgy factor, and often get it with destroyed jeans. And I’ve decided this style of cardigan doesn’t work for me.
With my current bootcut kick, I don’t have any destroyed black jeans, and this was bordering on Mr. Rogers. I have too many sharp edges to do that. This was actually outfit #4 I put on with this cardigan because I felt too sweet. After I settled on stripes, I started with one necklace and changed to the textured chevron necklace before I felt better.
This is what I had on the day I was busted for my repeat, but when I decided the color was off and wearing this kind of cardigan is a no, I had to change and grabbed the flannel shirt outfit above, hence the repeat twice in three days. Lipsense 2x purple reign, 1x flygirl.
This boatneck top is the exact same color as the cardigan above, and I had the same question. Is there a bit of black in it? Or is the intensity just a tiny bit less. The answer is yes. It goes amazing with this turquoise jacket, so I’m on the hunt for one that is pure burgundy. I love, love, love burgundy paired with turquoise.
I also went with a smokier eye to up the edgy factor on what could have been a PTA mom outfit (not that there is anything wrong with PTA moms. They make the world go round). Lipsense 1x icicle, 1x purple reign, 1x kiss for a cause, opal gloss.
This is another pair of corduroy pants that are on the far red end of the spectrum, and the color is so different from the first pair, but the color is good! I paired the color with turquoise again, and while I love the color combo, I don’t love this outfit. It’s just not me. These pants run big (always), and I’m wearing a 2 in them. I’m not a size 2. I’m a 4 at Express. A 4 or 6 (really I’m a 5. Can we get a size 5?) at J. Crew, 4 at Banana Republic. They also come in skinny. They are the exact same color as the striped sweater up top, and I might just wear them together some time. Does it look right to you?
Lipsense 2x purple reign, 1x flygirl.
Does burgundy tempt you the way it tempts me? What do you think of the items I found? The colors are so hard to photograph. Time will tell. In the past as I’ve trained my eye to pure hues, over time I start to see the things that stick out of my wardrobe and clearly don’t belong.
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