Jennifer Butler is a personal style consultant. She works with color in the tradition of Suzanne Caygill – locating personal colors for each individual. Each person has a general “season,” but the season doesn’t define the palette – the individual defines the palette. (That is, there is not a “winter palette,” a “spring palette,” etc.; rather, each person’s palette is created specifically for him.) If you’re local, she offers color analysis services and guest events. If, like me, you’re a good distance away, you’ll have to stick with the website and Jennifer’s book.
The membership site, originally designed for Jennifer Butler Color clients, is currently being expanded to be useful to non-clients, as well. The book is already a great resource. Reinventing Your Style: 7 Strategies for Looking Dynamic, Powerful, and Inspiring exceeded my expectations.
What’s in the Book?
I was a little surprised that it really doesn’t even touch on color. In hindsight, that makes sense (color is a huge topic, in and of itself!), but you need to be aware that this is not going to help you identify your best colors. It does help you identify your best look in other areas, though, and does so in a way that is, in my opinion, both unique and practical.
When you find a book that talks about style, as connected with your personal design – the way God already made you – what you usually find is a book that has style categories. You find which one you fit into most closely, and it has a list of guidelines for what to wear. (Kibbe’s Metamorphoses is like this.) Reinventing Your Style does not offer pre-defined categories you have to fit yourself into. That offers almost infinite possibilities, respecting the great variety among people! However, it breaks style down into only seven basic elements, which brings it back into the realm of practical usefulness.
As you read through the book, Butler will walk you through the discovery of your own best contrast level, textures, complexity, scale, geometry, visual weight and, finally, how to select your best prints/patterns. She does this through explanations, color photographs, and short quiz-like portions at the end of each chapter. In true artist’s fashion, the photographs are not all of people; they draw on illustrations from nature and art, as well. (There are photos of the elements at work in people, so don’t worry that those were left out!) Each pictures is captioned with an explanation of how it illustrates the current concept.
What Did/Do I Think?
The book is not long – it doesn’t need to be. It provides the information and tools a reader needs, without a lot of fluff (always my favorite kind of book!). This allows you to make your first pass through the information fairly quickly (‘though I suspect you’ll want to read and re-read it, to really internalize it.)
Things I really liked about the book:
- It’s to-the-point.
- It’s clear and practical.
- The premise is that we are each beautiful the way we are; we’re not aiming at some “average” that’s a standard of beauty, but trying to highlight our own unique, God-given beauty.
Things I disliked:
These are pretty minor, as the book goes, but…
- There is a spiritual undercurrent and, while much of it is very supportive of a Christian worldview, a few comments or images here and there aren’t so much. These are sufficiently non-integral to the book’s thesis that I do not find them problematic or offensive.
- I found the self-analysis portion of the scale/proportion chapter a little vague and confusing, and would have liked more specific guidance regarding how to determine the answers.
Overall, I very highly recommend this book. If you get a single book on style, I would suggest it be this one. If you want to go more in-depth after reading the book, you can purchase the “Design Online” package. Visit the link for more information, but in a nutshell: you answer a questionnaire and upload some pictures, and Jennifer will identify your shapes, etc. and provide you with a customized “workbook.” Given the usefulness of the book, I suspect that this is a very beneficial service. (I’ve not done it, myself, yet.)