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Style File

Temperaments Show Their True Colors in Attitudes and Styles of Dress

August 13, 1993|KATHY BRYANT

Walking down the street, you see someone with a shaved head coming toward you wearing bright red baggy shorts, a yellow over-sized shirt and high-topped black shoes.

Is your immediate reaction to:

* Cross to the other side of the street?

* Mentally compare outfits?

* Smile and enjoy the look?

* Or be so absorbed in your own thoughts you don't notice anything?

Your reaction will probably correspond to your temperament, as will what you wear.

"What we wear really shows our true colors," said Don Lowry, founder of True Colors, an Orange County company that wants to help people discover more about themselves and others by understanding individual temperaments. His program is used nationally in schools to help administrators, teachers and students.

There are four different groups into which everyone falls, according to the research conducted by True Colors. Assigning each group a "color key" makes it easy to visualize, but it doesn't mean that group necessarily wears that color.

According to the program, a person with a "green personality" is analytical and curious in his or her outlook on life. Blue represents a person who is nurturing and sincere; gold is someone dependable but needing structure, and orange represents a person who is spontaneous and a risk-taker.

The ideas behind True Colors have evolved from those of Carl Jung to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a test devised in 1923 that counselors and therapists use. The indicator divides people into 16 different types. In 1967, California psychologist David Kiersey distilled the types down to four and in 1978, Lowry adopted Kiersey's ideas to start his program.

How does this relate to the person in the bright outfit walking down the street? That's an example of risk-taking orange temperament, someone who doesn't mind second glances, and, in fact, welcomes them. Think how public risk-takers like Sharon Stone, Madonna and Mick Jagger dress and you've got the idea.

If you compared looks, you're probably an orange also, but if you felt like crossing the street, chances are you're a gold and would rather dress conservatively and unobtrusively. You're probably a little uncomfortable around such an obvious rebel. You prefer the way the Reagans and the Bushes dress.

If you didn't notice anything, you are probably a green and are too busy thinking thoughts and planning for the future to care about what someone wears. You could walk out of the house, forgetting to put on your socks if you were in a hurry. Don't worry. You're in good company with David Byrne, Katharine Hepburn, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood.

If you just smiled and enjoyed the look as performance art, you're probably a blue and you like dressing up also, although in not such a flamboyant way. You'd prefer a more romantic, sensual look, like Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Irons and Jodie Foster.

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