Do-it-Yourself Color Analysis


Me in a tomato-red turtleneck

Trinny & Susannah, who authored a fantastic book called What You Wear Can Change Your Life say “Color has the power to make you look healthy or unhealthy, thin or fat, short or tall.”  So true!

This is a huge topic and there are A LOT of professional opinions to help you figure out color – from the scientific approach to the seasonal approach.  After a fair amount of research on this topic for personal reasons, the formulas are helpful I haven’t found a formula that is a perfect match.

If you don’t have time to read all of the books or the budget to work with a professional colorist, here’s my do-it-yourself approach to figuring out what colors work for you.

Start by holding up a wide variety of clothes up to your face.  Make sure you do this in a very well-lit room, preferably natural lighting.  Ask yourself the following:

  • How do you feel when you hold the color up to your face?  Do you feel a) energized or b) tired?
  • Do your wrinkles and/or shadows seem to a) fade or b) stand out?
  • Do your teeth look a) whiter or b) yellowish?
  • Does the color make you feel a) strong or b) weak?
  • When you walk into a room will people a) take a moment to admire or b) barely notice?

You know what to do if the answer is “b” for any of the above…

If you are having trouble with this approach, plan B is to take photographs of yourself in different colors.

Me in a deep turquoise topme in an purple topMe in a green top

Me in a white topMe in a berry pink topMe in another purple top

Compare your photos to see how the colors affect the brightness of your eyes, whiteness of  your teeth and shiny quality of your hair.  Based on personal experience, I recommend that you do this once you have showered and put a little make up on!

If this still isn’t helping, time to call in a few friends and Fabuliss.  We’ll be able to quickly help you answer the list of questions at the beginning of this post, as well as any others you might have!

When you start to discover colors that work, create a simple toolkit you can use to shop with.  Match the colors that look good on you to paint chips that you can carry with you.  This is critical because every store has different lighting.  I recently bought some beads that looked grey/blue in the store and were lavender in natural light.  Paint chips will help you same money and trips to the store because you can match clothing and accessories to your paint chips, regardless of the lighting.

If you want to learn more about color, here’s a quick list of recommended reading:

How to Have Style – Isaac Mizrahi includes an inspirational chapter that encourages everyone to add more color to the closet.  This is a phenomenal book that is an easy read, includes a lot of photos of outfits and it’s packed with Isaac’s sage advice.

What You Wear Can Change Your Life (Paperback) – Trinny and Susannah dedicate 48 whole pages to the color topic, focused on breaking colors down by shades.  They have a lot of great photos and a lot of other helpful information in the other chapters.

Life in Color: The Visual Therapy Guide to the Perfect Palette–for Fashion, Beauty, and You! – Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo take mix a scientific approach to color with a celestial formula and a massive amount of helpful photos.

Remember to have patience, experiment and have fun!

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