Sidewalk Style: Know Your Colors

The stylishly outfitted subject we spotted this week happens to be an image consultant. We tried to get her to elaborate on how one’s skin tone dictates the size of patterns she should wear, but apparently it’s complicated. In the words of Kelis (’member this one?!): “I could teach you, but I’d have to charge.”

Jane Pennewell, 65

Personal image consultant

What she’s wearing: Black Norma Kamali trench-style wrap dress from Neiman Marcus, Amalfi red patent-leather shoes from Nordstrom, tote from Syms in New York, necklace of her own design (available at

What are three things a woman should always have in her closet?

“Hair-color or skin-tone-color shoes. That ensures a balanced look if you cannot match a color you are wearing. Updated jewelry and updated handbags are musts.”

Why is knowing your colors important? Isn't that outdated thinking?
“We relate better to people, and people relate better to us, even subconsciously. It’s a whole new way to think about dressing, actually. And it has nothing to do with body type.”

What rules should mature women follow?
“Stay current with styles and fabrics—know your colors and size of patterns that work with your skin tone.”

Skin tone has something to do with pattern size?
“Skin tone as well as eye color and the natural blush of the skin—they dictate the intensity.”

What’s something you would never wear?
“Large patterns.”

Favorite stores:
Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Loehmann’s, Marshalls. Pennewell also hits consignment stores, both for her own wardrobe and with clients: “The important thing is not where you shop but what you purchase. Know your wardrobe, what works for you, and what you need to leverage more looks.” She likes Encore Resale (3715 Macomb St., NW, #201), Secondi (1702 Connecticut Ave., NW, upstairs), and Fashion Exchange Consignment (6663-B Old Dominion Dr., McLean).

Rachel says:
I bumped into Pennewell right after leaving Secondhand Rose (1516 Wisconsin Avenue, NW), one of my favorite consignment stops. Of course, I showed her my purchases: a gorgeously cut linen dress from Piazza Sempione ($60) and a fitted black silk jacket from Tahari ($10). She approved of the jacket but instantly wrinkled her nose at the dress. Apparently, the one color no one should wear is olive. “It’s no wonder the Army chose it,” she said. Oh, well. I’m not sure if I’m sold on this color stuff anyway. What does everyone think?

Weigh in on Jane’s look!

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