Category Archives: Customized Color Analysis

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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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!

Do you have eyes? Eye brows? Hair? No way! ME TOO!

Know what? They matter! Sure, when you’re testing out a color to see if it’s good on you, you hold it up to your face to see how the effect. But your hair color and your eyes matter too. Forget them and you are only looking at part of the equation.

For instance, sometimes bright color works with someone’s skin…but their eye coloring is soft and their hair too. Their eyes and their hair temper this person’s best colors: they don’t support the brightness.   An example of the opposite: a person’s eyes are dazzling blue and her hair and brows are brilliant silver. There is a strong connection with bright colors held up near the face BUT…actually, the person’s skin is not nearly so bright.  It’s just hard to see that because even with hair up out of the way, her brows and eyes effortlessly steal the show.

Our best colors do not work with only some parts or aspects of our coloring: our best colors work with our coloring in its entirety.

These examples of body colors “pulling” a palette in different directions are big. There are countless other, more subtle combinations and interactions between body colors that exist and must be considered in a personal color analysis. For example, myself: I can wear medium to dark reds really well – dark blues, dark emerald greens, dark purples, and dark grays too. Yup, I fit fairly well into Dark Winter in 12 Seasons. But my blush tones (shown in the photo below in my nail polish) are Soft Autumn. Dark Winter has pinks (and other colors) I cannot wear well at all.  My blush tone can’t be overlooked.  Human coloring is crazy complex: this is what makes it so fascinating!

naipolishblushtones

I’m connecting the dots when I do a person’s colors,  but I’m not connecting them with lines, but with colors themselves. Everything needs to work with everything else.  Or else it isn’t really a best color.

Another example:  Let’s pretend you’re in a contest to decorate a living room.  You are told that the walls have just been painted: the floor has an area rug on it,  and there is a new couch in the room.  The judges chose these features. They felt they were captivating colors and PERFECT together, though admit they may be challenging to work with. Your job is to finish decorating the room. You have unlimited access to anything you might desire including: bookshelves, ottomans, throws and throw pillows,  curtains, lamps, wall decor, candles, even bouquets of flowers.  You have three days to complete your challenge and can bring anything you want over to try out in the room  – only rules: no altering the walls, rug or couch.  Judges are looking for great use of color and a style that is in harmony with the room itself.  The most fabulously dressed – oops, I mean –  decorated room wins!

While you are running around and considering options, an eager assistant comes up and asks you if you’d like to have the rug or the rug and couch covered with a drop cloth. “But I’m not painting, you say.”

“Oh I know, I just thought it’d help you really focus on the paint color while you’re making your choices,” replies the assistant.

Would any of you NOT want to see the rug and couch colors while you are adding more  colors into the mix, trying to make the room look as spectacular as possible???  If you are decorating a room you need to  consider ALL the colors involved and likewise, if  you’re dressing a body you need to factor in ALL the colors involved too.

Any colors that I can see in a person play a role in determining that person’s best colors. Actually, it’s more than that. Any colors that I can see in, on or supporting a person play a role in determining their best colors.  A client who is in a wheelchair has the wheelchair colors used as part of his/her body colors in a personal palette. A client whose eye colors cannot really be seen behind their glasses (sunglasses worn all the time for health reasons or other), then the color of their glasses become extra important to me. They are now a body color, like the wheelchair (but more easily changed for another color!).  A client can have vitiligo (patches of skin lacking pigmentation, cafe au lait or strawberry marks, port wine stains or any other kind of birthmark  on their face/neck and I’m not phased.  I simply take all the colors I see into the equation.

An approach to color analysis that does not consider all these body colors (and the variation within them) misses the opportunity to create consistently great beauty.  Body coloring is complex.  I’m so glad it is. I love my journey of discovery.  

Incidentally, when I select colors for a client, I don’t think in words so much as feelings. My heart grows bigger and my cheeks feel warmer when there is color harmony in front of me. My sensory system is flooded when colors are too bright. My body feels weak when colors are not supportive enough for a person.  I’m always looking at the gestalt in my work, not one body color and then another. It’s all at once. But, if you’ve enjoyed reading this, and want more posts breaking down the interactions between body colors, let me know and I’ll do my best to study people with that in mind.

Meanwhile, if you’re new to my blog and want too see photos that quickly illustrate why it’s not just skin color that matters see my earlier blog post here.  And, actually, if you’ve only heard of custom analysis based on skin tones, check out my earlier Elmo post demonstrating a simplified version of how I do color analysis.   Finally if you want to know what if feels like to get your own custom palette made just for you, then read this post.

Joan Callaway, author of The Color Connection

A few months ago I googled “Author Joan Callaway.”  I’d bought a book by her, The Color Connectionand when I realized how fabulous it was I wanted to see what else she’d written, hoping for additional gems for my book collection. A book about surviving grief came up, It’s an Ill Wind that Blows no Good, and a short twitter feed with some political tweets. Photos made it clear this was the same woman despite the subject matter of her writing having changed.  While I was slightly disappointed there was no further mention of color or style, I was pleased to find that she lived less than two hours away and I could contact her. We became Facebook friends at once (fun!)  and I continued to devour the book. Then I had the incredible pleasure of meeting her last weekend.

colorconnection

From further reading, I knew that Joan had suffered the most terrible of losses when she was just a few weeks younger than I am now.  Her youngest son (of five children) and her husband had died from a fire in their home.  Surviving this clearly led to her more recent book , but I had no idea that it also led to the book that I cherished so much.  You see, after her husband died, she needed to support her family so she opened a store.

Well, actually, she tells me, she and a friend thought they’d become realtors but at the second or third lesson they changed their minds when Joan asked a question and was told, “You don’t need to worry about that, the broker will know.”  Joan explained to me, “I’m the kind of person that needs to know about EVERYTHING so that wasn’t going to work!”  Indeed, Joan’s must-understand-everything attitude is displayed beautifully in The Color Connection.  More importantly for the reader, Joan knows how to organize information and how to explain it clearly.

The first store that she opened sold craft based art, and later beads too. One day Joan took a gamble and bought six pairs of earrings by Laurel Burch to sell though they were pricier than her customers might want to pay. They “flew off shelves” so Joan decided it was wiser economically for her to sell earrings than beads. She soon became known as the “Earring Lady.”  One of Joan’s assistants in her shop gave her the confidence later (and thank goodness!) to also sell clothing.  When clients came in with palettes, holding them up to clothes, Joan was intrigued.  This was the start of her quest to understand seasonal color analysis through reading, attending workshops and having her own colors analysed many times.

This is Joan’s Suzanne Caygill “Onyx Winter” palette on top.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a Suzanne Caygill palette presented in this plastic case format…

joanpalettesAnd, here’s the other side:joanpalettes3Below is a palette extension created for Joan later, by Dorothy Gietzen, one of Suzanne’s graduates.  It is this palette than Joan says she used the most.  Here she is with it.  Her hair was jet black when the palettes were made.

JoanCwpalettes Dorothy wrote, in beautiful handwriting, on the back of each card strip the categories that the colors fell into ( understated, dramatic, neutral, etc., and any additional notes such as how much of a color could be worn). JoanC1 If I could travel back in time I’d certainly want to shop in or better yet work at Joan’s store, Tarika.  Clients and sales assistants got free color and style advice and education.  Joan would record well dressed people on TV on tape to show her staff as a teaching aid!  She stocked garments in colors and styles that worked in seasonal harmony, making shopping in a way that would make Suzanne Caygill proud simply effortless.  Garments in summer colors were in summer styles, autumn colors in autumn styles and she and her staff understood the smaller variations too (that everyone wasn’t just one of four seasons but each had more differentiation).  Joan’s book has a concise chapter on “illusions” so no doubt her staff also knew about selecting the most flattering of garments within the s too. She had windows at the front and back of the store for good daylight and two changing rooms, one very romantic and feminine, one more masculine and ethnic.  Joan enjoyed watching clients choose which to use!

Joan mentions to me (and also wrote in her book) that she sees too many people online in style forums and, before, in her store, thinking they can only wear exact matches to the colors in their palette.  She would show people in her store how to open out their palette to see if the color or print in question blended with it.  She notes that fabric swatches are far easier to use than paint samples for this purpose.  Consider: I have approximately 3,000 fabric swatches to choose from for my clients.  The human eye, it is estimated, can discern 10 million colors.  An analyst can’t physically store and sort through that many swatches in a timely fashion even if we can discern the differences: it’s simply not practical.  (Though I admit I’d have fun having 10,000 swatches to work with or being able to magically alter my fabric samples ever so slightly!)  Clients therefore need to understand their palette and remember it’s the overall effect of an outfit that matters.  I’m so glad my teacher, Debra Lindquist, taught me this too and I’ve been passing “How to Use Your Palette” notes onto my clients when I send them their colors!

Joan suggests people add swatches to their palette when they find fabrics that fit between colors, whether from fabric bought for sewing a garment or a bit snipped from a seam if it’s a garment that was purchased.  It’s a nice way to add to your understanding certainly and, she notes that if it’s a print then having a snip in your palette in your purse will serve you well when shopping for coordinating items.

The most unexpected and genius tip I learned from The Color Connection has more to do with Slow Fashion and the wise purchasing of pieces generally.  Joan suggests that you keep a shopping wish list actually in your closet.  As items occur to you, you add them to the list and (and here comes the brilliant part), you also make a mark after the item each time you’re getting dressed and wish you had it.  When an item has lots of marks after it, it’s going to be a wise purchase and should go on your actual shopping list. 

wishlist

I asked Joan whether her book got the most favorable reception from consumers, designers or retailers (as her book has sections written for all three groups).  She laughed and said, “From color analysts!”  It wasn’t an answer I expected, but it makes complete sense. This sort of clearly written, all encompassing book was so needed!  I’m fortunate to now have a signed copy!

jcallawaysignedbook Joan not only wrote and owned her stores, but she also set up a Bereavement Outreach Group – the first of its kind-  and more recently set up a literacy program for at risk school children. I was curious which of her accomplishments she was most proud of. She had to pause to and chose co-founding All Things Right and Relevant a second hand store in Davis that provides work and job skills to those suffering from mental illness.  It’s part of a much larger support system for those with mental illness, providing everything from housing to counselling, so it was the big picture she was referring to.  After all, Joan doesn’t do things by halves.

Today, at her retirement community,  Joan leads a memoir writing group, and runs her own mini-library outside her front door.  joanlibraryAnd, due too demand, she’s working to get Color Connection republished!  It’s expected to be $48.  Whether you’re determined to find your best colors yourself (she has the BEST chapter on this), or you want to know more about style recommendations for the seasons, this is your book!  I’ll be sure to update you when it’s available. (SEE BELOW!)

If you want to read more about Joan, this is my favorite article about her.

Oh, and, last point. I also purchased Scientific Dressing by Marilyn Curtin, a book Joan recommends in hers. For anyone who loves to analyze the figure and wants to better understand style choices with regards to proportions, stance and head position (really!), this book has some interesting tidbits. I’m not jumping up and down saying, “Buy it!” as I didn’t love everything about it, but I’m glad I bought it as it made me think about a few new things.

UPDATE: The book is $52, a tiny bit more than anticipated but really it’s like three books in one.  GET IT, here.  And enjoy!

Turning 40, Slowly

As someone who’s always wanted to be in her thirties, I was grieving a bit in the weeks before my 40th.  Then a few days before my actual birthday an older friend gave me a card with a pack of post-it notes because, “It’s hard to remember anything these days!” Next, a large box arrived, sent from my best friend from middle school,  with a tiara inside and the note, “Welcome to the Big Kids Club!” The gestures were both so fun, it made it hard not to embrace the day. And not to laugh.

me40

After a family breakfast out on the actual day (tiara on head) followed by a fancy holiday party lunch, I went to the Fibershed Fashion Gala , at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma.  Please, take 20 seconds to read this blog and see its photos as I can’t describe the concept behind Fibershed any better, any faster or with more beauty. More details are here.  Pretty cool, right?

I was curious to see locally made clothes and to meet the designers that made them. Would there be colors within my palette?  Styles that would suit me?  At prices I could afford?  You see in my dream world, I’d not only tell clients their best colors and styles, but which local (to them) designers to turn to for investing in new pieces.

Currently I buy most of my clothes nearly new, really thinking about how much value each piece will add to my life.  That’s how I do Slow Fashion.  But I wanted to know how else it could be done, both for me personally and for my local clients.

There were not as many garments and accessories to see as I’d envisioned, but there were plenty of surprise discoveries.  For instance, I was expecting only to see photos of furry beasts and then the woolen creations made from them.  But this woman uses only mushroom based dyes!

mushroom

mushroomdyes

lesliedress

I liked this designer’s trail-on-the-ground-urban-rather-than-bridesmaid-convertible dress.

ditto hangers

These hangers were part of a raffle prize, but apparently everyone (not just me) was asking about them, wanting to buy them.  Earth friendly and -for those of you with minuscule storage space or who want more of a boutique, airy and spacious feel in your wardrobe – they DOUBLE your closet space!  Ditto sells them in plain brown in three sizes – adult, children and infant, and their site has a sale through January.  Perfect as my daughter’s clothes have outgrown the hangers we have for her. The Container Store sells them fora bit more in black in the adult size only. Rave reviews here.

There was a bounty of gorgeous food that I was too full to actually relish. And look  how unexpectedly gorgeous wine barrels are serving as a backdrop for fashion!

fibershedfashiongala

And then, I stumbled across a woman selling the most wonderfully scented spray.  Ever since pregnancy, I’ve been exceptionally sensitive to scents, disliking most of them but this was incredible and I didn’t even know what it was. Room spray?  Body spray?  Something called “Cloud of Protection” it turned out, and typing this I’m laughing at the name, but if you smelled it first, as I had, you’d understand. Both nurturing and cleansing, with a brightening and uplifting result. I was hooked and intrigued: the maker seemed to understand scent in a way I’d never encountered.  I bought the sample kit for $20 and have since purchased the full size of The Balm (excellent for smoothing my hair into a ponytail) and “C” Perfect Skin , the oil, even though I’m not actually out of either yet. The oil is the best I’ve tried (I swear I look younger! Best birthday gift to 40 year old self ever, right?!?) and truly affordable. 

bynievesPlus the packaging is charming.  By Nieves is sold here.

yarn2

Dinner out completed the day.

In conclusion: the yarn for sale was beautiful but knitting isn’t my thing.  The prices of the garments I saw were too high for me personally, and the colors and styles weren’t my best. The kids clothing I looked at for my daughter was cute but not soft enough. (She’s very particular.)  So while I can’t say I’ve found new designers to go to or locally made yarn to create with, I can say I continue to be inspired by Fibershed and by Slow Fashion in general.  I enjoyed taking the time to go see what was being made.  I’ve found a smarter way to hang my family’s clothes.  I’ve got happier skin.  I spent time on my 40th birthday doing something I feel strongly about and something that makes me happy.  And, I realized that if what I want to buy to wear isn’t available locally YET, then I’m inspired to make it!  And while I think that’ll involve up-cycling old clothes, I’m letting my ideas on how to do that exactly percolate SLOWLY.  (Why rush, right?)  I want to savor the second half of my life more than I have the first.  After all, I just had the pleasure of turning 40.