Friday, February 25, 2011

36. Skin, Hair and Eye Color

“What colors should I wear?”  This is a basic question asked by style-conscious women.  The field of color analysis strives to offer useful and practical answers.

Several philosophies coexist about how best to respond to this question.  Should skin tone, and/or hair color, and/or eye color be considered when seeking to determine one’s palette of best colors to wear?  The majority of color analysts believe that skin tone must be the major consideration.

  • The first step is to determine the “warmth,” “coolness,” or “neutrality” of one’s skin color.  
  • The second step is to then identify the depth of color of one’s skin on a scale that measures skin color from lightness to darkness.  

Your answers to the steps (above) will determine the correct category of  colors that will most flatter your skin tone.

Some color analysts believe that one’s hair color, and perhaps also eye color, should be considered for the purpose of:

  • Further refining the best group of colors to wear, and
  • To compare to the skin tone to determine a subject’s color contrast level for the purpose of determining a palette of colors with appropriately similar contrast.

This necessarily opens the door to a new set of questions.  How does a sun tan effect my choice of best colors?  My hair color has changed over the years.  And sometimes I dye my hair.  How does that effect my color choices?  Also, I wear colored contact lenses.  Does that make a difference?

Color analyst and author of Color Me a Season, Bernice Kentner, taught that skin color alone is the key to answering your question, “What colors should I wear?”  The answer should not rest on hair and eye color.  Most other color analysts believe that skin tone is, indeed, the first and major consideration.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

35. Review of an Online Color Quiz

I came across a simple online quiz with twelve multiple choice questions to assist you in identifying your "correct" personal color analysis season.  The quiz looked simple, straightforward and fun. As finding one’s best colors has been a daunting task for so many women, it can be very enticing to find a method that claims to clarify the task.
Let’s look at a quick run-down of the questions on the quiz:
  1. Question one wants you to identify your age.
  2.  Next, identify your sex.
  3. Number three goes into substantive criteria by asking you to identify your skin tone. What color is it?  Is it “very fair,” “peach,” “golden beige,” “olive,” “brown,” or “pink?”
  4. Then, “What color is your hair?” 
  5. Number five, identify the color of your eyes.
  6. Question six asks you to identify which of 6 color families look best on you.
  7. Now think about your wardrobe and decide if it‘s “rich and intense,” “crisp,” “earthy,” and so on.
  8. Next you’re asked how your skin reacts in the sun.
  9. And then, do you think you look better in gold or silver jewelry?
  10. What color is your purse?
  11. At this point, you’re given six different groups of personality traits and asked to select the one that best describes you.
  12. Finally, you’re asked whether your skin undertone is blue or yellow.
Okay, was that quick and easy, or was it confusing?  From my perspective, some of the questions didn’t even relate to finding your best colors.  If you want objective information on what specific colors belong in your personal color palette, a valid argument can be made that your age, sex and personality really have nothing to do with it.  

Also, how is a person to determine if their skin is “peach,” or “golden beige?”  What does that even mean?  The color names must first be correlated with specific color identification numbers for a person to have a realistic chance to accurately answer that question. 

As for which colors you think look best on you, it depends on where you come from.  The answer could vary depending on a person’s experiences and associations with color.  Someone with a good deal of color education, for example, will likely be more open to nuanced, sophisticated colors.  By virtue of having more knowledge about color, they may also be in a position to make more accurate, and less biased color decisions.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

34. What About Color Contrast?

Most color-conscious people agree that color analysis, in general is a good idea because people look better when they’re wearing their best colors.  What is not agreed upon is which  color analysis method is best.  The older competing systems are fraught with complexities that leave people feeling less than confident with the results.  Let’s look at a recent attempt to move away from the complexities involved in seasonal color systems.  

It is thought by some investigators that it may be possible to achieve attractive results by focusing just on the level of contrast between a person's skin tone and his or her hair and eye colors.  Towards this end, in 2002 Alan Flusser laid out 2 fairly simple rules.

The degree of contrast between the wearer's skin, and their hair and eyes, should be reflected in the degree of contrast between the colors in their clothes.  Naturally, a great many shades of colors will be found in any individual’s hair, eyes and complexion.  The theory is, however, that these many shadings can be reduced to 2 areas of interest:  

1.  color contrast format, and 
2.  muting or clarity of the colors format.

Under this concept:

  • if you have very dark hair, and very light skin, then your have a contrast format.
  • If your hair color and skin color are similar, then you are looking at a muted, or tonal, format.  In other words, your personal coloring would be considered muted or tonal.   

The goal is for a person with a high-contrast complexion to dress in clothes that have a lot of contrast between the colors.  The idea is that the clothing would set up a harmony with wearer’s likewise contrasted hair-eyes-skin tone triangle.  This is said to draw an observer’s eyes to focus on the wearer’s face.  

On the other hand, an individual with a muted complexion should wear more muted colors as a high contrast in clothing colors would distract attention away from the individual’s face.  

One or more of the tones in the skin and hair should be repeated in an article of clothing near the face.  One option is to select one of the hair colors and repeat it in an item of clothing worn near the face in order to “frame” the face.   Preference should be given to selecting a hair color to wear in a blouse, jacket or scarf which would draw an observer‘s eyes to the face which is in between the two.  Flusser claims that it is possible to achieve harmonious results by repeating the eye color, or the skin tones, in clothing articles that are close to the face.  Even better, wear several colors in the clothes to match some combination of skin, hair and eye color.

The personal color analysis system worked out by Flusser is sketchy and imprecise, but there's definite merit to his philosophy.   In fact, the mathematic computer-aided calculations used by's system pays exacting attention, and provides precisely correct results, regarding contrast, muting, clarity, value and hue within each cohesive, 620 color, skin-tone-matched palette. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

33. Review of the “In Your Wardrobe” Method of Personal Color Analysis

The “in your wardrobe” method of personal color analysis is a commonly used way to determine one’s best colors to wear based on assessing the clothing  you already own:

1.   Before you start you will need to have on hand:
  •  The clothes presently in your wardrobe.
  •  A good sized mirror.
  •  Plenty of natural light.
  •  An honest friend who will help you make decisions.

    2.  Divide your clothing into stacks by color:  blues together, reds together, etc.  Only include solid colored garments.  Do not consider clothing with a mixture of colors.

    3.  Designate areas for the “reject pile,” and for the “accept pile.”

    4.  In good lighting, and in front of a mirror, pick up one solid colored garment and drape it under your chin and across your chest and shoulders.  Here’s where the fun begins.  For any single garment, if you can answer any of the following in the affirmative, the item goes to the “reject” pile.
    •  Does it create shadows on your face?
    •  Has your complexion turned grey, yellow, orange or blue?
    •  Does the color exaggerate facial structure and lines?
    •  Do circles under your eyes appear to darker?
    •  Does it cause your skin tone or hair to look dull?
    •  Does it overpower your face and eyes?
    •  Does the color cause the white of your teeth and eyes to look yellow, grey or dull?

    5.  Now, for the keepers:
    •  Does the garment light you up…make your skin, hair and eyes look great?
    •  Do your eyes look bright and beautiful.  Do they “sparkle?”
    •  Does the color make you look healthy?
    •  Does it draw attention to your face?

      My assessment of the “in your wardrobe” method of personal color analysis:
      The above criteria for accepting or rejecting a color is too subjective for anyone to feel confident in a decision made either way.   Even a color expert would struggle with these questions.   A reasonable person could answer most of  them in both the affirmative and the negative. Consequently, it’s best to continue to look for a better personal color analysis method.

      Sunday, February 20, 2011

      32. 4 Reasons Men Need Color Analysis

      Personal color analysis is for men, as well as for women.  Everyone would do well to put their best look forward.   One of the most advantageous lessons you can learn is how to dress for maximum effect, and the colors you wear are the first thing people notice.  First impressions matter.  There aren’t any first impression “do-overs.”    In fact, wearing the wrong colors can cripple not only your business and financial opportunities, but also your personal relationships and even your health.  Keep reading for 5 ways that wearing the wrong colors can hinder you.

      1.  The wrong colors age you.  They don’t make you look older and wiser or more distinguished.  Instead, wearing the wrong colors will make you look tired and a little dowdy.  We live in a world where being young, bright, even good looking, may directly effect your finances.  You certainly don’t need to look like you’re past your prime.

      2.  Wearing the wrong colors, especially near the face can make you look unhealthy.  It gives you a dull, less than vibrant appearance. Colors that harmonize perfectly with your complexion promote the appearance of a fresher skin tone, brighter eyes and an overall healthier, more upbeat image. 

      3.  The wrong colors will cause image depletion. Men tend to wear whatever they like, whether it really works for them, or not.  You might get by with this in a more casual setting, but regularly wearing the wrong colors will take its toll.  It will cause you to look less intelligent, less powerful, less dependable and less aware. Poor color selections reduces not only your presence, but also the words you speak.  Wearing the right colors as identified through a good personal color analysis, however,  demonstrates your attention to detail, and makes it possible for you to command more respect. 

      4.  Most men do not enjoy shopping very much.  And they don’t like to put much time into it. Having a definitive answer to, “What are my colors?” allows you to go straight to your best choices, and efficiently make a selection.  Not only will you have saved time and frustration, but you will have confidence in your selection.  No longer will you need to settle for all white, or all blue, for example, thinking those are your dependable colors.  In fact, even “white” and “blue” will not necessarily work for you.  It all depends on the particular white or blue.  You need to get it right to look good.

      Friday, February 18, 2011

      31. Color Contrast

      “What colors should I wear?” you ask.  Interest in color analysis systems reside in a very delightful place in the consciousness of those of us who are “color nuts.”  We love color.  It’s delicious, and the more we understand about how to use it, the better.

      We’ve followed the progression of the four season system to the twelve season system.  Still, we want more.  We’ve realized the frustrations of trying to make sense of the complexities built into season color analysis systems.

      Conclusive seasonal categorizing remains elusive for many women.  To add to the uncertainty are the opinions of color analysts who focus on color contrast as a necessary consideration in deciphering one’s proper color category.

      To some extent, the seasonal systems look at the issue of color contrast.  However, in pursuit of simplicity, some experts look exclusively at color contrast.  Their rules are clear:
      1. Consider the degree of color contrast in an individual’s skin tone, hair and eyes.  That same degree of contrast should be repeated in color wardrobe colors.
      2. At least one of the skin tone, hair and/or eye colors need to be repeated in an item worn near the face.  This can be accomplished as simply as:
      • Wearing a scarf or tie that is the color of your hair
      • Repeating your eye color in something you wear near your face
      • Repeating your skin color in an item worn near the face

      The conflicting and imprecise nature of previous color analysis methods leaves many women still wondering, “What colors should I wear?”

      30. What Colors Should I Wear for a Friendly Effect

      “What colors should I wear?” you ask.  If you are wondering about what specific colors will look good on you with your skin tone, the answer is, you will need to do a personal color analysis.  Within your determined group of colors, there are choices you can make that will project a “friendly” image.
      • What are the characteristics of a friendly person?  Well, they are approachable and engaging.  They smile.  They may have a lot of energy that plays out is being outgoing, but the main thing is they are easy to get along with.  They’re easy-going, and they make us feel good.  We’ll be looking at colors that create that affability.
      • You can always count on a saturated, red-orange to shout, “I’m friendly!”  Not every shade of orange will do.  A “spicy” or more brown-orange conveys other messages.  This darker, spicy color is more sophisticated. It speaks of coffee aroma, maturity, and earthiness.  A brighter orange is playful, youthful, and…friendly.. 
      • Additionally, look for colors that are fairly intense, or slightly muted, that are cherry red, apple green, orange-yellow.  These are colors you probably associate with toys and summertime vacation.  They look wonderful alone, or as companion colors. “Friendly” clothes are comfortable, loose, easy, and rather bold.  
      So, look at the colors in your personal palette of colors for the ones that will convey “friendly.”  “What colors should I wear?”  The short answer is, “Any color in your palette of skin-tone matching colors.  Beyond that, learn a little about what moods colors convey.

      Thursday, February 17, 2011

      29. What Colors Should I Wear for a Tranquil Effect

      First of all, always wear the colors found in your own skin-tone compatible personal color palette.  You should find all the colors you need within your assortment of colors to achieve a tranquil effect, or any other effect you wish to project. “What colors should I wear?”  Wear the colors that enhance your beauty as determined through color analysis.
      • We receive color by way of wavelengths.  Colors like shades of blue, blue-green, and blue-purple have a short wavelength..  Because of this, our brains have an easy time interpreting these colors, giving us a direct physiological response of calmness, or tranquility.  
      • Another way to achieve a calming effect with color is to greatly lighten the color, and to greatly mute, or dull the intensity of the color. Beiges, which are really very light, dull browns are certainly calming.  They lend a sense of comfort and safety in their presence.  This quieting of the emotions gently invites processes of reflection or thoughtfulness. 
      • There’s another, interesting way to create a sense of tranquility with color.  When wearing two colors together, a calm effect is achieved when they are very close in value (lightness or darkness) and when the colors are analogous, or similar.
      You might like to supplement the gentle color choices with gentle, airy lines and spacing of print patterns in the fabric of your attire. First determine the image your want to project, or the mood you want to set, then you’re well on your way to answering your question, “What colors should I wear?”

      Wednesday, February 16, 2011

      28. What Colors Should I Wear for an Urban Effect

      Everyone looks best in colors that harmonize with their skin tone.  When you ask, “What colors should I wear? the  main rule is to select colors within your own color analyzed palette.   However, your palette of colors should be extensive enough to allow you to achieve any effect you choose. To convey an urban, or high-tech image you will want to wear colors that suggest an aggressive, strong and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
      • Think “appropriate attire” for a business office.  You’ll want to look smart and sharp.  The basic colors of  this look are gray and a cold blue.  You may add black and/or white.  The colors need to have a strong contrast to one another. No soft blending.
      • Black and white alone can exude a very crisp, business-like mood.  You may add a little cold green, or for women, purple to any of the colors mentioned above.  A cold (slightly greenish) yellow combined with gray projects a city-sophisticate image, too.  So, the idea is cold, crisp and high-contrast. 
      • Look for good strong geometric shapes either in the lines of the garment, or in the fabric pattern itself.  Smaller, more compressed shape images soften the hard,  cold,  lonely feel of the urban image. For this, use size of the shapes, not softer colors.
      When you ask, “What colors should I wear?” you need to realize that it all depends on the effect your are striving to achieve.  Stay within the color selections available in your own personal color palette, and simply substitute in your closest color matches to create your best urbane image.

      Tuesday, February 15, 2011

      27. I Want Accurate Color Swatches

      “What colors should I wear?” is an often asked question among style-conscious women and men.  It’s a question that still begs for the definitive answer.

      In the 1970s and early 80s color and image consultants jumped on the opportunity to make use of newly available color printing equipment to market books on their color analysis theories.  Color printing at that time produced a relatively reliable color representation, but it wasn’t perfect by any means.  In fact, Color Me Beautiful made a point of stating on their copyright page “All colors are subject to the limitations of the printing process.”

      Printed color swatches provided an approximation of the target color.  This may be acceptable for seasonal analysis because no claim is made that these exact colors, whether printed or fabric, are your colors.  Instead,  the swatches are meant only to suggest a range of colors that are right for you. It is up to you to imagine what other colors may fit.

      Color printing continues to be an imprecise art.  In Color Me Beautiful: Looking Your Best (1995), Mary Spillane and Christine Sherlock state, “…please bear in mind that some colors are extremely difficult to reproduce exactly…particularly when very many colors are shown together on a single page.  They are, however, true enough…”

      Many of us would like to have a definitive answer to the question, “What colors should I wear?”  We appreciate what seasonal analysis has done for us. It put us on our feet, headed in the right direction.  But we want more. provides more...much, much more.

      Saturday, February 12, 2011

      26. 5 Reasons for Men to Wear Their Best Colors

      Women are not the only ones who should have their colors done.   Color is one of the simplest and most impactful tools you can use. First impressions matter.  There are no do-overs.  And wearing the wrong colors can be professionally, financially and personally crippling. The following 5 paragraphs detail the problems with wearing the wrong colors:
      • The wrong colors create an aging effect, and I don’t mean you’ll look distinguished.  
      • The wrong colors sap your appearance of vitality.  They make you look unhealthy.  You may even get asked, “Are you feeling okay?” You may have felt fine, but the problem is that wearing a color that doesn’t suit you can make you look washed out.  It tends to drain color from your face.  Colors from a personal color analysis palette will enhance your appearance, making you look your best.
      • Wearing colors that are unbecoming to you is like committing social suicide.  Men, more than women, tend to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, whether it suits them or not.  Unflattering colors speak volumes about the image you convey to others.  Unconsciously, people judge you based on your overall image.  If you look good, they tend to see you as smart and competent.  Poor color choice reduces the credibility people associate with even the words you speak. Don’t let a garish shirt distract from your authoritative presence. That would be unfortunate when simply wearing better colors could testify to your detail-oriented nature and boasts a polished and refined look.
      • Not knowing your colors makes shopping time-consuming, frustrating, and disappointing. Why would you want to waste time shopping for a good-looking shirt only to get it wrong?  Many men don’t know what colors look good, so they just stick with white, or blue.  Besides monotony, the problem is that “white” or “blue” may not the most flattering white or blue for you.  Knowing exactly what colors look good on you will make shopping a breeze.
      • Colors convey psychological messages.  They carry a lot of weight.  People have associations with color that convey some pretty powerful messages, whether we intend them to or not.  The color black, for example, can signal serious, conventional and sophisticated. A very particular shade of pink is often used in jails because of it’s calming effect.  Red connotes excitement, boldness, and energy.  Getting colors right is crucial when a specific message needs to be delivered.