A seasonal color palette

Dear Dorigen,

Whelp, that 10% of my intuition was right, I am an Autumn. The other 90% doesn’t know what’s real anymore because for 40+ years I have dedicated my entire wardrobe around the delusion that I was a Summer.

To the untrained eye, I have all the Summer markings: I’m pale, I have light eyes, and my hair is ashy. But don’t believe online seasonal quizzes (or your own mother) because you may also be lied to (either by their faulty system or by your faulty view of yourself).

I now KNOW my seasonal color palette is Autumn because I hired a professional and I saw the differences with my own eyes.

As instructed for the appointment, I wore no makeup and arrived at a time scheduled to ensure the sun was out. The sun reveals the truth. Also, because the analysis looks for colors that harmonize with your skin tone, eyes, and hair, my dyed hair had to be hidden. We used a hairnet.

The stylist first draped fabrics across my front to determine if I was cool or warmed toned. The cool colors made me look sickly, so Summer (a cool season) was immediately out and I started chewing my lower lip.

Next, we compared Spring colors (bright) and Autumn colors (rich). Some Spring colors really popped on me, but in a way that the color was wearing me and I barely existed. The Autumn colors harmonized.

This is a pic of me draped in my best colors, trying to make the scar in my eyebrow work while wearing not nearly enough makeup to cover my look of dismay.

I was given a fan of colors in my season to help with updating my wardrobe, which currently consists of shades that don’t belong anywhere near me. I own a lot of greys, blues, pinks, and other cool tones (Summer) and I should own browns, greens, teals, corals, and other warm tones (Autumn).

Let’s see if you agree with this Autumn designation with a couple comparisons to Summer.

Exhibit A: As extreme examples, the one on the left shows me in full Summer clothing and makeup, complete with platinum dyed hair, while sitting in an office best used for potato professors. The one on the right shows me in full Autumn clothing and makeup (trust and believe that shirt is teal, not blue) with hair dyed back to my natural brown.

Exhibit B: For a subtle comparison, I have the same medium blonde hair in both pictures, but with Summer makeup and clothing on the left and Autumn makeup and clothing on the right.

In the extreme example, I think the Summer colors make me look like I’ve been locked in an attic my entire life, and someone needs to come get me; while, the Autumn colors make me look like I got the help I needed.

In the subtle comparison, I think I still look slightly sickly in the Summer colors and healthy in the Autumn colors.

Do you agree?

I’m so curious to know your color palette. How convinced are you that you’re a Winter? If you’re down, I recommend House of Color; next you’re in town, we can schedule an appointment with Laura, just sayin.



P.S. Because I own almost no Autumn colors (I could open a shop called Soft Summer) and because I recently did a haul of misguided spending, I’ve decided to not open the floodgates to buying all new clothes. Instead, I’ve taken to dying some things (including that now teal button down). Nothing is safe. Stay tuned.

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Work It Out

Dear Dorigen,

I work out now. I own more than one sports bra and these fila shorts in every color and I work out now.

I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I was lying, but this IS happening. In part, I keep motivated by the mix I complied with songs that mostly have an electronic beat or a slight tinge of dissent or both.

It’s a lot of Crystal Castles. Like, if “Fleece” by Crystal Castles doesn’t make you want to get up and move, then this mix isn’t for you. As an aside, this “Fleece” music video is the vibe I get from the Honored Matres of Heretics of Dune.

If you’re still with me, then M.I.A.’s “Meds and Feds” is especially effective at getting me moving, and I sometimes need to remember to slow myself down.

I also always delight in hearing Aja’s lament on the wave of praise washed over Valentina in Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I remember watching this moment on screen and then finding Adam Joseph’s “Linda Evangelista” track immortalizing it the very next day. It was a gloriously quick turnaround and a savage burn.

Here’s the full DorEm Work It Out mix on Spotify.

Alternatively, if you ever need a good cry, I also have a solid catalog of songs that make me weep instantly; just let me know. There’s a lot of upbeat songs in the Cry mix. Here’s one that overlaps with the Work It Out mix: “Let’s Go Surfing” by The Drums.

What music gets you moving? Do some upbeat songs also make you sob deeply?



P.S. Out to lunch recently, the restaurant played a mix of classic 90’s songs. Pete and I started uncontrollably (yet quietly) singing along to “Gonna Make You Sweat” by C+C Music Factory. And then a couple tracks later, Pete remarked “Another C+C Music Factory song; already?!” It took me a couple beats to correct him. It was “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. I broke out into a fit of laughter. I wasn’t laughing at Pete; I was laughing at the “tough guy” Mark Wahlberg, making a song barely indistinguishable from a pop dance hall mix.  

“Yeah, can you feel it, baby
(Ooohooo) I can too”

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Haute pink

Dear Dorigen,

I’m excited to hear that you’re a Winter. Bright colors abound!

Let me introduce you to hot pink and start with its disciple, Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino. See Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection, in which Piccioli shows that hot pink is an equal staple to black.

Valentino Pink PP is now it’s own Pantone shade. According to British Vogue, Pierpaolo Piccioli was:

“… fuelled by a desire to create a lasting shade that would communicate the legacy of Rosso [red] Valentino through a modern lens.”

see the full British Vogue article by Alice Newbold

And so he did. Hot pink is redder than red; it’s vibrant, daring, goth.

Hot pink is like science fiction. There’s a hot pink pigment that technically exists, but its vibrancy can’t be captured in film.

I wish I could twin with you on a hot pink quest.

Leaning into my Soft Summer palette of muted colors, greys abound and hot pink is currently relegated to the furthest reaches of my body. For example, these hot pink sneakers from Fila are especially comfortable and the mini heel backpacks hold enough change for the parking meter and the arcade at our local movie theatre.

If you’re looking for options closer to your face, I point back to our At Least Two Pair correspondence, where I piled on the wishful thinking and multiple bright sweaters from Loft. They’re still on sale, and the Fuchsia looks especially bright.

Or if you’re feeling daring and an intense chill in the air, check out the hottest of hot pink Cashmere Balaclava from Carolyn Rowan.

The most recent Valentino Haute Couture collection (Spring/Summer 2023) still includes pops of neon in yellow, green, teal, orange, blue, and the beloved hot pink. However, the vibrancy is no longer head to toe. I especially connected with the looks that paired the neon with muted tones, so us Summers aren’t completely left in the dark.

Is hot pink calling to you?



P.S. The Menu is great.

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Jeans on bottom

Dear Dorigen,

As mentioned, I have denim on the brain. It’s a rare wardrobe that doesn’t have at least one pair of jeans tucked in a drawer somewhere and the current options are anything but common.

For example, take these Mugler knockoffs from Ali Express, which offer the “idea” of jeans in the form of covering most of the lower half with wrapped denim and sheer mesh ribbons, which then pool at the heels like two world-collecting trains. Mugler pairs theirs with heels, but I like to image that (when worn with flats) these tiny sweepers help clean the earth.

In between moments of me lusting after AREA’s Crystal Mussel Choker, I stumbled on one of their diamond encrusted pairs of jean shorts, which spells out their brand name. For those unfamiliar with this brand, I wonder what they would think of this “AREA” wording. Would they think it’s referring to the general “area” that the cutout is exposing? If not in the know, I would likely guess it was the wearer’s name because I have dear memories of your gold-plated belt that spelled out DORIGEN. That mall kiosk artisan was a master to get all those letters on there and still have a functioning clasp.

Each jean brand seems to offer at least one pair that’s either been aggressively eaten by a dog or by a paper shredder (hugs and kisses to Jumpin’ Jack Flash). I own a couple pairs. I chose to share one I don’t own, this pair by 7 for All Mankind, because the sea blue color and especially exaggerated calf frays make me think of the (sometimes modern) pirate stylings of Our Flag Means Death, which brings me joy.

As another beloved reference, I kind of love Alaïa’s take on a jean with built-in black cotton biker shorts because it reminds me of the movement fashions of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. That VHS tape is still one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received. If I didn’t thank you in 1989 (and then steal your gum), then I’m thanking you now (and my bad about the gum).

I could also rant about jean skirts getting so short, they’re becoming headbands, but the mom in The Wonder Years already made that joke when lamenting about the 60’s miniskirt and, really, to each their own skirt length.

Did you end up watching Lizzo: Live in Concert on HBO? It had so much <3, but if you didn’t watch it, I’m sure you felt it when you saw her live.



P.S. Learning that I’m definitely 90% certain that I’m a summer palette has me rethinking my entire jewlery game. I’m supposed to wear silver?! After decades of almost exclusively wearing yellow gold, I’m now sifting through old bins for wearable options. Thankfully I uncovered the silver dinosaur bones necklace that Pete got me when I was watching Raja rock it (in gold) on Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

P.P.S. Dior is doing a live feed of their 2023 Spring-Summer collection tomorrow (1/23) at 8am Central. Perhaps we’ll see more of Cedric Diggory.

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Jeans on top

Dear Dorigen,

Throughout the years I sporadically wore jeans. Growing up I pulled on whichever jeans were handy (or to coordinate with my friends on a day trip to Six Flags), and then, in my goth teen years, I refused to own a single pair. In my early twenties, I was more concerned with work attire than jeans, and then, with a steady paycheck and a false sense of responsible spending, I scheduled fittings to overspend on “the perfect pair.” Now that I’ve embraced comfort and I understand the dangers of credit card debt, my go-to jeans look and feel “good enough.”

While practically is currently answering the Wear jeans? question, my fashion curiosity has an intrigued glance (and sometimes side-eye) towards the latest jean trends. Let’s take a look from the top.

At its best, denim material is being crafted into intricate gowns that win 2022 best dressed lists. I’m looking gleefully at you, Jodie Turner-Smith in Balmain (see HauteLeMode’s enclosed take at minute 16:42 or watch the whole video because it’s great).

At its worst, scraps of jean fabric are being taped to celebrities who mistook the red carpet for an impromptu play about #choices. For evidence, I submit slides 51, 55, 60, 65, 73 in Go Fug Yourself’s 2022 worst dressed list.

In the tangible wild, jeans aren’t just crafted for the bottom; they’re being turned into skirts, which are then given side slits and thrown on as a shirt, as in this example by Balenciaga. I love the whimsy; I hate the fit (especially from the back). I also wonder, if a cell phone fits into any of these pockets, can it be safely reached?

While the jean-skirt-shirt is a special artifact for a very small sliver of daring fashionistas, the jean corset top is having a real moment. You can shop these in a variety of styles.

I may not add a jean corset top to my wardrobe now, but my inner goth is delightfully reminded of my long-ago worn white rubber crop top which scooped up in the back to show my lower back tattoo. I used to pair it with wide leg black velvet pants and black wool blazer. I hope others have just as much fun styling a jean corset top and that parents are still spoken-word-poetry-to-music asking Where do you think you’re going in that?.

Staud’s Cindy Denim Corset

Miaou’s Denim Corset Top

Of course, if a corset top is uncomfortably formfitting, you can always cut a pair of overalls in half and wear the severed top as a vest.

As kids, I have a vague memory of us sharing a white jean jacket to which we likely sewed on a Guess patch. I don’t recall wearing a jean jacket since, but if my bank account allowed it (and if I left the house more), I’d consider this jean utility jacket from Isabel Marant because it looks cool and I’m 90% certain I’m a Soft Summer, who should wear more grey.

I don’t think I’d consider a business vest with optional cropped jean jacket because it seems like a fuss and the brown may work better for an Autumn. Then again, I’m 10% certain I’m actually a Soft Autumn.

I’ll keep you posted on my understanding of jeans for the bottom, which have also evolved into curious delights. For now, what’s your seasonal color pallet? My guess is something in the Winter range.



P.S. I have so many pairs of old jeans I’m cutting them up for a quilt and may force it on one of the kids in our family when they go to college.

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At least two pair

Dear Dorigen,

You recently admitted to purchasing two pairs of the same olive-colored “lounge pants” (aka “fashion sweats”). I too confess to recently purchasing two of (frankly too) many items, justifying these indulgences as “they’re on sale” and I “need to update my wardrobe” after dying my brown hair very blonde.

Before: Here’s me as a tomato for Halloween (inspired by Annie Collinge’s photo series Table For One):

After: And here’s me now (inspired by Paisley Grey of the Pistol Shrimps):

Below is the list of my confessed double purchases. I’m embracing dark hues and pops of color on top, so that I don’t completely blend into my mostly white interior walls. All of these clothes are in heavy rotation, and I included an * asterisk for the items I actually wore today.

Fingers crossed that this new look (and excessive purchasing) is the extent of my mid-life-crisis.


My first move was to replace the BCBGeneration Mint Green puffer coat (also shown in my first blonde pic) with the Black* version. These are the puffiest of puffer coats that ever puffed and I highly recommend.


From your recommendation of the Shaker-stitch cardigan at Old Navy, I picked up the burgundy (correction “Raisin Arizona”) and Black* versions. Both are great with a graphic tee.

To add pops of color into my life, I also got boldly colored v-neck sweaters in Bright Celadon and Capri Blue, both from Loft. They bring joy to my wardrobe, and (if my bank account recovers, which it may not) I’m considering their versions in Deep Fuchsia and Tango Red.


As a continuation of our discussion about cold-shoulder tops, I embraced the more classic off-the-shoulder top, acquiring this Free People shirt in Black and Jaded.

On a related note, when will The Kit drop a darker hued version of the Logan Sweatshirt?! My Smokey Lilac version is fabulous with not blonde hair and I need my body to be warm while my one shoulder cools.


Similar to your doubling up on lounge pants, these Nyluxe Utility Joggers from Calia (in Bronzed Topaz* and Carbon Grey) are super comfy.

Speaking of super comfy, if you ever choose to revisit your hunt for the most comfortable jeans, I suggest starting with Democracy. Their pants with “AB Technology” have an interior elastic waist band that make wearing pants and jeans feel like I’m wearing my fashion sweats. No one needs to know that I’m essentially wearing maternity pants. I accidently purchased 2 of both of these bottoms (Ripped Ankle Jeans and Sky Rise Pants) and the excess shan’t be returned.

So, that’s my list. At least, that’s the extent to which I’m willing to share about my doubling up on clothes. 😉

As a fun exercise to see where I’m at with my new wardrobe, I completed this Personal Style Quiz. In the last question, I specified that my “People, characters or archetypes I find inspiring/fascinating or want to look like” are Jennifer Connelly and André 3000. Who are yours?



P.S. For Halloween next year, I plan to dust off the old office attire and dress as Principal Larissa Weems from Wednesday, the show I’ve been unable to get the family to watch, but it’s great.

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