Since I was a teenager the mediterranean shade of my skin has troubled me in winter. Summer is for me a season of physical rebirth, sunshine makes my skin blush with radiance where fairer skin grow red and troubled, my hair shines darker and my nails grow smoother. I am a summer being and winter leaves me drained and colourless. It’s in days like these that I grab my favourite jumper or scarf, knowing I need a little bit of a boost. Then there is people that never seem to need it, people who always look radiant and harmonious and I often accepted it was just the way it’s supposed to be. Good colours and bad colours – tough luck.
Apparently though, this is very much not the case!
I have very recently treated myself to a full colour consultation with Kate, an incredible friend and prolific blogger met at a pattern-cutting course last year. K. has had professional training at First Impressions in Colour Analysis and has been one of my first interlocutors about colours, back when I started to get interested in the topic. Her attention and knowledge of colour is very generously shared on her blog fabrikated.com, and here you will find several examples of colour analysis she has done for friends and family.
The most fulfilling part of having my colours done with K, has been that not only she has helped me discover “my best palette” but also that gain a much deeper understanding of colour; of what properties colour has and how I can use them to identify what colurs make me look rested, fresh, radiant.
I haven’t taken any pictures on the day as I am quite camera shy and as I said K is a friend and I wanted to enjoy our time together without being distracted by my own phone (even though I felt it was great material to report on). The consultation was focussed mostly on colour theory, rather than stylistic advice.
First things first we spent some time in natural light draping seven sets of colours ( blue, green, purple, red, pink, yellow and neutrals) around my neck to see how they worked. These colour swatches come in different nuances, divided in opposite pairs of deep/light, cool/warm and bright/muted. Despite liking all colours, seeing them framing my face and having a cut-off comparison really helped me recognise which shades suited me best.
To tell you a little bit more behind the science of this colouring method I can report what I learnt through K:
- deep/light: this has to do with the intensity of the colour. If you poured it straight from an ink bottle that would be at its deepest. The more water you add to it, it is diluted becoming lighter
- cool/warm: has to do with the predominance of respectively blue or yellow in it. This can compliment or contrast your skin undertone. We didn’t touch much skin undertones and we did not talk much about what my skin was, but she showed me how some colours set off the pink/reds in my lips, or the deep tones of my brown eyes – while others will snuff them off like a candle in the rain.
- bright/mutes: dependent on the percentage of grey in the colour. I have little to say about this one as it seemed to be the less significant in my particular case. We talked much more about the deeps and the cool/warms.
The key of the consultation is that you are draped in a specific sequence: by colours (all the blues, all the reds etc etc) and dichotomy (first deep vs light, then warm vs soft etch etc). The comparison and the logic on which the pairs are made is what makes the consultation truly valuable! The method was very much looking at all of them, studying the effects and taking notes on the emerging pattern. The aim was to find the combination of three options (one for each dichotomy) that best defined my most flattering colours.
credits to colourpalettes.net and their artists!
Firstly for instance, we realised that Deeps are my thing. Not one deep colour looked bad on me and some like the deep purples and the deep greens made me go from oww to wow in a second. Cool and Warms were a bit harder to figure out, as some colours suited me in warm and some in cool – which was interesting in itself as we realised that the warm colours that were ok on me were of the cool family anyway (blues, greens and purples), and that only very cool yellows and reds worked on me. This seemed to guide our choice in establishing I was Deep&Cool rather than Deep&Warm.
Lastly we had to work out if I was bright or muted and this one puzzled us for a bit, to the point we had to go inside and have a cup of tea. The second step of the colour consultation was to pick of all 7 colours the shades that had worked best and decide on the dominant notes, and also helped us establish that Muted was my third note – even if K. admitted it wasn’t particularly determinant given the results so far.
In the end, K.’s wide table was covered in a rainbow of fabrics that had my name written all over it (figuratively) and it was great to see how well they all harmonised with each other. As part of the last step of the analysis, K draped combinations of my colours together showing me how colour, together with shape, could determine the feel of an outfit: authoritative, elegant, fresh, casual – the list goes on!
I have also left with a very precious sheet with my colours outlined, that I can use for reference while I learn to train my eye to recognise them. Needless to say I have spent the rest of the day looking at people running colour scans in my head and quizzing myself on the notes of colours all around me.
I am really very appreciative of the experience, and I feel that I am very far from done with my study of colour. Learning about this method though, free of all seasonal nonsense, helped me understand not simply what my palette is, but why my palette is. I know I have strong blues in me now, that I should not look at black with all that skepticism, and that -sadly- I should be very careful with yellows and mustards.
If you feel like you could be a Deep, head over to Kate’s blog post on Suggestions for people with Deep colouring, which takes our consultation as an example and shows some of the colour combinations.
Now I can’t wait to make myself a bottle green or a dark purple dress, to take out on the days I need some extra confidence!