How do I know I’m “right”?`

I was talking to someone about being a color analyst the other day and she asked how do I know I’m picking the right colors. “I’m looking for color harmony  between the client and the colors,” I explained, “For the colors to look balanced,  pleasing, and “right” with my client.”

“How do you know it’s right?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “it’s my own artistic interpretation BUT if you had other custom color analysts do the same person’s colors our results would most likely be very similar.”

Here is an example. These are all custom made palettes for the same person.


The palette on the top right was done by Suzanne Caygill in 1982.  Suzanne Caygill was not the first person to do study the effect of wearing different colors, but she is regarded as the pioneer of color analysis – and she started the seasonal approach that is so well known.  The palette shown is an Iridescent Summer palette.

The palette on the bottom right was done by Lois Marlow Scott, who trained with Suzanne Caygill and was known as Suzanne Junior. Her palette for this client is an Early Spring palette.

I, not having seen any of these other palettes before, made the palette between these two. You can see how it actually looks like a blend of the two other palettes encompassing both the muted pinks of Suzanne’s palette and the warmer peaches of Lois’.  I was not trained in and do not work seasonally so this palette is not of a particular type. I simply choose the colors that make my client look most magnificent.

You can also see two other palettes and part of third to the left. They look more similar to each other, but still similar to the three on the right.

None of the analysts had seen each other’s work prior to making their own palette for her.So how do I know I am right?  I see it: I see color harmony. But also, by way of visible evidence (separate from photos of my clients with their palettes), here you can see that my work falls between two women very highly respected in this art form.

Edited to add two points, and a photo of the client with these palettes:

1)  This client had light blonde hair through adulthood and then started highlighting, so her hair is more constant than other people’s might be from decades ago.

2) I’ve been asked if this woman would be a Soft Summer in 12 Seasons approach. I can see why this is being asked though there is a yellow-green-peach influence that is being missed..and well, these are customized palettes considering her hair, skin, blush and eye colors not just looking at her skin. Sadly or interestingly, depending on how you look at it, she did also have three 12 Seasons analysis by different analysts both in person and online. She was told Bright Winter, Bright Spring and Light Summer.

All would overwhelm her spectacular quiet beauty which you can see here:

muchablogTop right, she brought only her Suzanne Caygill palette when she came to see me. I saw it after I completed my palette for her. I did not want to see it before as I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s opinion – not even Suzanne’s!

Bottom middle, her palette byLois Marlow Scott, which she brought along with her other palettes when she came back to see me.



Frequently Asked Questions!

A lovely woman from the Czech Republic emailed me with questions.  I thought why not share my answers in case some of you are wondering the same things. (And if you have other questions, drop me a line and ask!)

Q. “Do you consider personality – for example if someone loves colors that are not the best for him/her?”
A. I choose colors for a palette based on my client’s coloring (see this blog post for a review of that) but I can think of four cases where other factors come into play:

1) If a client loves yellow/pink/green/whatever hue and is DYING for it to be in their palette, 
for example, yellow but it’s not one of their best colors, then I will SHOW them their best yellow , let them photograph it and compare it to other yellows so they can really ‘learn’ it, but no, they do not actually GET it in their palette from me. I tell them that they should wear their best yellow with one of their best colors (actually in their palette) and in a style that is FANTASTIC for them.

2) If someone’s palette feels at odds with
 a person’s environment (let’s say they work in  a very corporate environment and their palette feels sweet and girly) or their personality doesn’t mesh with their colors (perhaps they are very quiet and their palette goes loud) then when it comes to how to actually USE the palette, I help them do that successfully so that they feel and look fabulous (and appropriate).


3) If someone is very fair in skin and has light/soft (in color) hair and they NEVER wear make up they’d get a different palette than their identical twin sister who LOVES makeup and doesn’t leave home without filling in her brows and at least wearing mascara, blush and lipstick too.

4) If someone wears a color they love daily
, for instance, as glasses or hair color then I’ll work treating that as though it is a fixed fact – a part of their own natural coloring.  That’s what I did for this client who keeps her hair colored pink and wears her two tone glasses all day (not just for distance or reading).  Bear in mind when I choose such colors, like with selecting any client’s “body colors” (meaning, colors that relate to their hair, skin, eyes, blush), the colors I pick may not be literal translations. They are colors the MAGNIFY beauty of the entire being when worn as clothing, makeup and accessories.


wickedskittlesAnother shot of the palette – here you can see, from far right working in:  glasses colors , green eye colors, pinks (after the magenta of freshly dyed hair fades slightly) then her natural hair colors as they start coming through before she re-dyes…and her rainbow!

Q. “Do you name all your palettes?”

A. If clients want a name then, yes, we name the baby!  Usually I suggest a handful of names based on enticing things the colors make me think of, hear or smell. Working with clients online, I’ll have often had a lot of conversations with them and get ideas also based on their interests, location, etc. Sometimes clients love one suggested name and selection is fast.  Other times one or two suggestions feel ‘almost right’ so we fuse, modify or keep searching from there. Occasionally clients want to name their own palettes.

Bear in mind that my brain is trapped and temporarily detained in color-selection-mode at an in person appointment (and when I am working on palettes for online clients) right after completing your palette.  It needs time to decompress and switch gears to name-creation-mode. Think of the excitement of learning your best colors and – if you want a name for your palette, getting that name pinned down as two distinct, fun events!

maggiechloeDaughter and Mom’s palettes named respectively,
“Glitter Bug” and “Angelic Mermaid” AFTER the in-person appointment


 Q. Will you be in London seeing clients in summer, 2016? If so, when and how long is an appointment?

A. I would love to work in London in the summer of 2016 but it’s not confirmed yet.  It’d be the end of July/start of July in Wimbledon over a couple of weeks. Let me know if you are interested!  Seeing clients face to face, the color analysis takes 1-2 hours. (Online takes me much, much longer as I have many ‘targets’ (you in each photo) rather than one (you in the chair)!  For those of you wanting style too, that is done based on meeting you and then online photos of your in outfits -so I can see what you own, how else you might combine items, what’s missing, your proportions, etc.

Regarding travel: if you have a handful or more of people in one location who want colors done and will commit in advance, do let me know.


Don’t forget, if you have questions not yet answered, drop me a line! I love hearing from you!

Ayla: The Ultimate Skin Resource

Dara Kennedy, founder of skin care boutique, Ayla, scours the planet, researching and studying endlessly, so that Ayla sells only the finest, most effective products out there.
Her approach is unique, with spectacular focus. She demands excellence in outcome and in ingredients and settles for nothing less. Take note: neither should you.
dara ayla
When chatting about her selection process for which products Ayla will stock, I realized there were incredibly similarities to creating your ultimate wardrobe.  Let me share!  You’ll learn how she curates an amazing skincare collection and you can apply this same strategy to your wardrobe! Then I’ll tell you why Ayla is even more impressive.
Here we go!

1) Identify your needs. Then stop!  (Did you hear that? Avoid excess.)

2) Select items with maximum visual impact.  We want gorgeous results!

3) Invest in great quality.  It’ll feel better, look better and treat you better.

4) Consider the big picture. Sometimes imperfections are ok because the end result is still incredible. Sometimes, they’re not.  Establish this on a case by case basis and re-evaluate as necessary.*

5) Look around you and buy from people and companies who really care about their product, their customer, their employees, the planet and the animals on it. Be a part of compassionate excellence.

Abiding by these five strategies, you can enjoy (in your wardrobe or skincare shopping at Ayla):
                                                                     (feels good, right?)
and also
                                                                streamlined fabulousness!
                                                        You’ll have the best of the best 
                                                                    (with no extra clutter).

Dara is discerning and has judgement I admire and trust. When I ask Dara questions, she has factual answers at the ready and  a opinions -her own AND what four top-notch dermatologists she works with would say.  Linn, one of her employees, helped me identify the ingredient I was using when I came to Ayla that was clogging my pores. I’d have NEVER figured it out otherwise. What a resource!  I’ve only felt educated and spoiled at Ayla, never pushed into purchases.  Two months later, my skin hasn’t been so at peace and joyous since I was 11!   It’s pretty darn amazing, decades later, to be loving my skin.

Ayla has a Sample Kit option with products handpicked just for you for $20. Given my fickle skin, fussy taste and cautious spending, this was my ticket in.  Highly recommended.

Ayla means the bearer of light. a completely fitting name. Want your best skin? Shop wisely, shop at Ayla.
 dara ayla2
Dara Kennedy, founder of Ayla, with her Beauty Valued extended Flirt Palette. Knowing your best colors is one more strategy to looking fabulous! On the top are her hair colors (her best dark neutrals) and two swatches of her best metals (especially fun for evening clutches and sandals), then her eye color strips (imagine them in a glassy necklace!). Next is her skin tone strip (the lighter end for undergarments under sheer blouses, and the darker colors for nude shoes). The guavas, brandied melon, cinnamons and saffron thread reds – a softly spiced concoction of beauty- lend themselves to a variety of makeup option from natural and elegant to fun and flirty to Christmas party extravagance.  All the swatches I give clients can be used for clothing, accessories and makeup. To learn more about how the skintone strip can be used in makeup selection, see this post here.

Amazing, Affordable Custom Made Jewelry! (Mara’s Got Your Back!)

I’ve had a glimpse of what it would be like to have an entire house designed for myself; to have my needs and desires turned into a space I then inhabit; and to live in an environment, rich in self expression and nourishment.  What an absolutely amazing experience and process! And, yet, curiously, I’ve had this experience not from buying property and then working with an architect and interior decorator but from working with an Etsy jewelry designer, Mara Marlow, who makes custom fashion jewelry, as well as selling ready made pieces in her shop, Ambient Zebra.

I’ve bought many a thing from her. Recently I asked her to make me an item that wasn’t based on another in her shop. Nor was it like anything I’ve ever tried on or actually even seen in real life! I wanted a shoulder necklace, and it was this experience that was most extraordinary!


Do you own clothing or accessories that really make you feel like you’ve come home?

How about to a palace?

The steampunk festoon part I’ve had and worn as a necklace for a while now.  It’s a piece I commissioned from Mara. The arm and back piece (which turns the necklace into a shoulder necklace) is the new part. And, folks who appreciate slow fashion and versatility, take note: this is a convertible piece!  It GYBcloseprettyworks in many ways, producing a variety of looks, alone and with other pieces.  Sit tight, I’ll show you 8 different looks. (1, at right)




(2, at left)

First, know that Mara is a true artist. She is not someone who copies. You share your inspiration and needs with her and she goes from there. She improves on your and her own ideas as she works.


When I asked Mara if she’d ever made a shoulder necklace (she said no, but she was up for the challenge!), I sent her links to a few bridal shoulder necklaces with front views I liked – and for the back, I included this (non bridal) piece, below.


I also told her I wanted to use my steampunk necklace from her as the centerpiece. Then I let her work.  (Ok, maybe I sent her a few more images in my excitement.  But I try to behave and give her space.)

The chain link shrug image might look familiar.  Prompted by Andrea Siegel, in her mind bending book, Open and Clothed  (the review of which you can read here),  to consider clothing that I’d like the SOUND of  -literally the sound of- this was the winner. I could imagine the swishing sounds of the chains, but when I realized that a favorite necklace of mine could be on the front, I fell in love with the entire concept. 


To compare, here is what the back of my shoulder necklace looks like. And in case you were wondering, not only does my shoulder necklace sound lovely, quietly jingling with my every movement, it feels absolutely AMAZING on. The weight evenly distributed, I can scarcely feel it’s there, yet as I move, the chains caress and gently tickle my skin! (Who knew?!?!)  It’s incredibly soothing! That the piece hangs most best with back straight and shoulders down no doubt contributes to my sense of well-being when I wear it. (Standing properly feels SO much better than slouching! Thank you, lovely item of jewelry for teaching me this important lesson!)  

All in all, I feel extraordinary wearing it – as though I’m sporting a super hero cape flying behind me that captures magic and brings miracles and beauty my way all day.  Really, I do. This feeling shouldn’t be something we only achieve on our wedding day.  The right jewelry, with the right outfit, can transform you and any day!

With the steampunk centerpiece on the shoulder necklace, I keep the rest of my outfit simple, letting the necklace take center stage.

Here I’ve switched out the necklace on the front again. It’s actually a wooden bobble necklace Mara restrung and adapted to work with Got Your Back (the name of the arm/back piece).

(3, below)

polkadressGYB! - Edited

In this outfit, I balance the level of intricacy of the dress (in terms of texture changes, the print, and the embellishments) with the shoulder necklace, which also has texture changes and elements of different size.

tulipGYBpolkadetailsGYBlove how the arm chains drape out beneath the tulip hem sleeves of my bolero (left), and that the  ingredients of this outfit (right) remind me of the successful but unexpected combination of chocolate, sea salt and chile!

I don’t abide by the suggestions often made for a minimal necklace or just earrings when wearing a strapless garment: if I did my strapless tops and dresses would look like they were falling down! I have a long decolette which means lots of empty space.  Knowing your proportions and scale; understanding your facial feature; and realizing your overall vibe helps you to select the most flattering necklaces.  My best necklaces are delicate but not small in size, and they contain a range of various sized components and spaces within, with more small components than large.

Statement bib necklaces, I love, but 99% of the time they are too chunky and not long enough on me. Multiple layered chain necklaces I also ogle, but on me they are long and narrow, taking my face completely out of focus.   If you know what works on you and want to expand your repertoire, consider necklace styles that you admire from afar and brainstorm ways to adapt them to suit you!  GYB encompasses what appeals about each of these two styles.  I retain the delicacy and face framing aspects that I need AND enjoy the statement and long chain effect!  Win-win!  Play with your necklaces and anything jewelry-like (ribbons, zippers, etc) in the mirror. Take photos and keep tweaking and experimenting, with your most flattering necklines on please, until you like where you’re going with length, size, shape and scale.  Use this information to buy jewelry wisely. 

 On the left, below, I’m wearing a comparatively simple necklace, Mara made for me. On the right (and also shown above), I’ve turned the outer ends under and attached it to GYB for a really pretty look. 












My outfit is still a backdrop to the shoulder necklace but now I’ve changed the skirt for one that is more elegant, keeping in sync with the necklace used. The beads are silvery teal with purple highlights.


In the next couple of photos, I’m wearing  Got Your Back alone without additional necklaces. Here it’s turned back to front under my red cowl neck, barely peeking out.  It looks like it’s part of my sweater, and partially covered in cashmere, it flirts with the world in a coquettish sort of way.

 (4, left and right, below.)


peekcowlGYB2 - Edited (2)

The dangling chains  add delicate drama to my sweater and the darkness of the gunmetal connects the top half of my outfit to the brocade of my jeans. 


Here’s GYB is worn back to front and pulled forward, with the small extension chain (included with the purchase) so that the necklace can follow the dress’s neckline, again resulting in my clothing looking embellished rather than accessorized.


(5, above)

The vertical seams in the center part of the dress are enhanced by the verticals of the falling chains . 

Working with Mara, you will be part of the design process. You initiate the work; you see it as it’s progressing; you make further choices along the way: then you get your affordable custom-made one-of-a -kind-piece shortly thereafter!  

It’s fitting that her Etsy Shop’s name, AmbientZebra,  was inspired by Dr Seuss’ book On Beyond Zebra, a story in which wonderful but unknown animals are shown to exist, their names starting with letters of the alphabet that we’ve never heard of before.  My mom came by while I was taking photos of the shoulder necklace with bobbles on it and exclaimed – her attention clearly focused on the jewelry, “Oh, wow! How beautiful!!!” when I rather expected her to say, “So, what exactly is that thing you are wearing?”  She never even asked.

It’s been an unexpected surprise that I get compliments on my GYB renditions (creations?) from men and women, and from all generations. Don’t be afraid to be different.  Different can still have mass appeal.

Here is GYB worn with a pendant (one I already owned)  rather than a necklace, and pulled forward. For someone that wears crew necks this would be a be fun to spice them up!

(6, below)

OtherGYB1What item do you own that you currently wear in a multitude of ways? What item could you play with to explore new options? 

This is what it looks like worn back to front and spread out across shoulders:

GYB other 3

(7, above)

Don’t you love the different patterns that form on the back?

You could also wear it as a decorative trim to a strapless dress with the longer extension chain link piece (that comes with GYB)  in the back. Similarly it can also be worn as a belt, draped a little or held taut so it is belted straight across.  

(8 , below, and would be 9, if I’d taken a photo of it as a belt too!)

GYBother2 - Edited

I’m sure I haven’t even begun to exhaust all the ways to wear it! (Do tell me if you can think of a tenth!)

Mara is funny, talented, kind and FAST. Adaptable and resourceful, she’ll  happily incorporate beads and components you send her too.  

Here are other necklaces that Mara made.  Bear in mind that her designs come in a wider range than what I wear. Treat what you see in her Etsy shop as a starting point if nothing screams BUY ME JUST AS I AM!  You won’t find a lovelier, wiser or more dedicated fashion jewelry designer. 

dragononme - Edited

 Mythical beast necklace, above, inspired by a piece she had for sale.

Wooden earrings varnished and turned into a necklace, below.


Mara’s inspiration and ideas come from books, colors, words (!), and stories (!!!).  “One of the most influential books was of the jewelry of Miriam Haskell,” she said.  “What I saw in those extravagant creations gave me the courage to go ahead and make things just because I wanted to, and not to worry that they were too weird or big or unconventional because SOMEBODY will like them!” (Me! Me! Me! And what a great attitude for us all to have about what we wear, and what we create, each day!)


My earliest Ambient Zebra pieces! The one on the left I bought straight from her shop, the one on the right was custom made, inspired by a necklace she had for sale.

Friends near Seattle: Mara works at two markets in Washington State: the Federal Way Farmers Market,, and the Des Moines Waterfront Market Look for a woman with a long braid down her back, selling jewelry that’s just a little bit different. You can also message her through Etsy to get her schedule. When she’s not making or selling jewelry (fulfilling her childhood fantasy of being surrounded by boxes of jewels and treasures), she’s outside working on her edible garden, or inside cooking something spicy.  In addition to knowing how to make your everyday jewelry dreams come true, she also appears to have the art of living figured out!

Necklaces from Ambient Zebra range from $39 to $79. A gunmetal GYB like mine sells for $120. (Message Mara through her Etsy Shop, here, if you’d like to have one made, or about any of your other fashion jewelry related heart’s desires…I just did! Twice.)

Photographic Proof You’re Gorgeous

Shamelesspostcard - Edited

I recently discovered the most wonderful business just a short walk from where I live. It’s called Shameless and their name connects to their mission, which is what first caught my attention when I read about them.  Tell me if you aren’t utterly captivated after reading this:

“In a world full of fantasy images of models and movie stars, Shameless is working to create a space for women to feel safe, beautiful, and empowered. The tools of makeup, lighting, and photography can create images that are part fantasy, part reality.  It is a powerful thing to enter the realm of fantasy, and to know that you can do so whenever you choose.  No model or movie star owns the realm of fantasy — we all do.  In some small way, we hope that  our business can help women to feel more empowered and embodied — and to see femininity as a space of play and possibility rather than shame.

We’re in this to prove that YOU can be a bombshell, no matter what shape, size, age, color, or ability. We’re here to help every step of the way — from wardrobe to makeup to hairstyling to pose & expression coaching — so that you can see your own beauty more clearly.”  (Words from their website,  bold emphasis my own.)

I  went to look at their photos on their site and was BLOWN AWAY. They were doing exactly what they set out to do over and over again, shot after shot. Yes!!! What a celebration of the female form!  I had to meet the women who made this happen. They capture a woman’s beauty; they make her a star; and, then, they present proof in photo after photo, so that she is sure to see it too.

Sophie Swinelle, founder and photographer of Shameless NY and SF,  opened the first Shameless studio in NY in 2009 and two quick years later expanded to SF. Corey Lynn is the principal photographer for the SF studio.

Sophie and Carrie of Shameless - Edited

They showed me how they make women beautiful and I showed them my methods with personal colors.  Sophie is on the left, and Carey, on the right.

Both are women with poise and grace, and completely approachable, too (perfect for those who want to do this but who are also camera shy).  Their studio is neatly organized with clothes (vintage and vintage inspired recreations), jewelry and props on one side. Clothes are pinned to fit: shoes they have in all sizes.

Finished Mini Palettes incorporating hair, eye, blush and lipstick type colors:

Shameless Flirts

Perhaps even more fabulous than the clothes to choose from at the start and the photos to see at the end, is the depth of the process.  When a new client calls (or a repeat client calls back), the Shameless staff work with the client to come up with an idea to execute. Sophie asks women about secret dreams because, after all, this is part make believe!  Why not make it all real, briefly, and then photograph it to cherish for ever?  She gives, as an example, someone who always wanted to sing but stage fright kept her back. They’ll get her a vintage microphone and shine a spotlight on her!  The shoot they were just about to do when I was there involved a science lab theme and they’ve even done Outer Space.  They can magic anything up!

Go like them on Facebook, here. They post photos frequently and have awesome competitions, like writing a love letter to your body – to win a photo shoot (as well as increasing your own self appreciation!).  And check out their galleries (Classic Pin up, Old Hollywood and Retro Boudoir) on their site, here.

With studios on both coasts and packages starting at $495, they are very reasonably priced and accessible.  So, I hope that some of you will continue your ‘studies’ (shall we say) in looking great and go get your beautiful selves photographed  by these whizzes.  Maybe you’ll even share the photographic results?  No worries, if not.  It’s for you to find and KNOW your beauty.  I just wanted to show you another path – one that commemorates your beauty in the most fantastic way.

Shamelesspostcard back - Edited

Their NY photographer, who I did not meet is Maxine Neinow.  And, if you want to see/read more, this is a great interview with Sophie, here.