Personal Color Analysis: Is It For You?

I have a complicated history with color. Like many women, I’ve had my colors analyzed and been typed into a season. Several times, in fact. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on personal color analysis and why so many of us may love the concept but are less than thrilled with the results.

Most of us are familiar with Carol Jackson’s book, Color Me Beautiful which became a pop-culture phenomenon when it burst on the scene in 1974. She was far from the only person doing seasonal color palettes but her book was the most commercially successful. It slotted people into 4 categories (seasons) based on the intensity and undertone of their personal coloring.

I continue to discuss our personal color by seasons because most of us understand the concept.

It promised to make shopping easier because once we knew our “true colors” we could always dress in our most flattering colors. After the success of the book, she began selling color fans (fabric swatches by season) to use as a shopping companion, and trained consultants to advise women on what colors they should wear.

This system was helpful for many of us and disastrous for others. Many women were typed incorrectly plus the 4 season system was too general and limiting. It was later expanded to include 12 then 16 categories which were inclusive of more women, but still not foolproof.

Your personal coloring can now be typed as soft, light, muted, bright, deep, warm, cool, clear, fresh, calm, rich, crisp, bold, and on and on. You can be typed by Feng Shui element, your DNA and personality. The end goal is always to tell you what your most flattering colors are.over 50 style blogger Jennifer Connolly wears Loft mint cardigan with Talbots gray jeans

Here are my current thoughts on color typing:

If you want to be typed, find a very skilled pro. My friend Susan had her colors done recently by a team in London who sounds fantastic. I’d love to have them do mine.

We have great instincts about what colors do and don’t flatter us, so trust yours.

It’s smart and more cost-effective to build the backbone of your wardrobe in neutrals, but you don’t have to. If you want to use leopard print as your base, go for it.

If you’ve had your colors done and they don’t resonate with you, don’t limit yourself to wearing them.

If you feel great in a color, wear it.

I’ve had my colors done multiple times by fellow image consultants and always find my color fans extremely limiting. I also feel washed out in many of them. Most may be flattering on me but they don’t always send the message I want to project with my appearance. In broad terms, I have summer coloring.

The frames of these sunglasses (similar) are a jarring reminder of how colors are affected by the colors that surround it. They look especially warm against my cool outfit and background.

It’s true that I am taking a hiatus from wearing black. But that has more to do with my own boredom and our gray weather than anything else. Although black is not one of my best colors, I will wear it when I want to feel a bit edgy, cosmopolitan, or project authority. I’ll wear white when I don’t want to commit. I’ll reach for beige when I want to dress quietly.

Do all these colors flatter me? No, but color can influence our thoughts and behavior so I will use it as a tool to affect my mood and the impression I give others.

My color training was based on the work of Suzanne Caygill who believed in the fundamental link between style, color, and a person’s personality. I was typed as an iridescent winter with her system. Then an iridescent summer.

I find the topic of personal color fascinating. Do you?

Thanks for reading ladies and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.



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  1. Deanna
    May 12, 2020 / 10:00 am

    OK I’m new on here because I just found this website about a week ago. Who is Susan and where did you find pictures of her? I am totally lost. I don’t like being critical of others and at this time of all times we need to build one another up!

  2. Penelope
    February 4, 2020 / 7:42 pm

    Jennifer I’m coming to this discussion a bit late. But very much am interested in the subject, as many others are.
    I agree with you that skin UNDERTONE does not change. It’s quality may change but not it’s temperature
    Bright colors worn in youth may be muted down later in life and perhaps this change in intensity and value is mistaken for temperature change.
    I have studied color as an artist and as a color consultant. Understanding the scientific components of color is essential for accurate color analysis, which should always be based on skin. I also agree that there are many consultants who do not have this in-depth
    My first question when consulting was to ask what
    4 items of clothing the client always reached for. Invariably people have instinct about their best colors.
    We just worked on increasing their confidence and ability to recognize their palette. It surprised many people to learn that they could wear any hue, as long as it was in their undertone and intensity. All hues come in both cool and warm variations.
    Personally I find it is as important to use ones colors in their environment as well as clothing, as much as possible.

  3. Rebecca Husak
    February 4, 2020 / 5:55 am

    I recently had my colors done by an image consultant with 20+ years of experience in color typing (her name is Ginger Burr). She has moved away from the season classification system as she found sometimes individuals straddled seasons. The system she currently uses has over 2,000 color choices from which she selects only those that are the absolute best for each person. I appreciate her more individualized, seasonless approach. I look forward to shopping with my unique wheel of best colors and seeing the changes that it brings.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2020 / 10:55 am

      I met Ginger at an AICI conference years ago and know she’s very talented!

  4. Anon
    February 3, 2020 / 6:52 am

    I was correctly labelled a “spring” by a Color Me Beautiful consultant. This is the hardest category of all. Redheads can be autumns, but with pink skin undertones, blue veins, freckles, golden highlights in my hair and gold flecks in my eyes that make them appear aqua green at times: spring.

    Now there are subcategories of spring in color systems. As my hair has gone gray, it’s trickier. The subcategories are more accurate and better defined for me.

    • Jennifer
      February 3, 2020 / 7:20 am

      There are a lot of pseudo experts doing color typing these days.
      Those sub categories are crucial. Graying hair changes the intensity and brightness of colors that flatter you but won’t change your skins undertone.

  5. Susan B.
    February 3, 2020 / 6:06 am

    Jennifer, that light mint green is so pretty on you!! Thanks for the mention. It will be interesting to see how we each settle into our colors.

    • Jennifer
      February 3, 2020 / 7:13 am

      You’ve inspired me to play around with my colors. It’d be awesome to get a group together so Red Leopard would come our way to do some assessments.

  6. Christine
    February 2, 2020 / 8:20 pm

    Not sure who Sue is, but would like to see the colour options, they sound fun. I am a winter, but find my skin tone has darkened and my hair is silvering…so some colours, like bright cobalt, no longer flatter. My best tip I learned was to close your eyes, bring the colour close to your face, and look in the mirror. If shadows and imperfections are the first thing you see, the colour is not for you. I use this tip all the time!

    • Jennifer
      February 2, 2020 / 9:09 pm

      Thats a great test for a color! I do something similar.

  7. Gec
    February 2, 2020 / 7:10 pm

    Thx..Please continue this discussion. I want to follow my colors but they make me feel bland. Would love to hear more about what to do. Perhaps I should have them done again (been 20years). Just want to feel like I have a handle on how I dress.

  8. Elaine @ Following Augustine
    February 2, 2020 / 6:55 pm

    I had my colours “done” back in the 1980s and was told that I was a spring. At the time, I found it quite helpful. I especially liked the fact that it gave me the confidence to try some colours that I hadn’t worn before. Over time, however, I began to colour outside the lines, so to speak. The recent resurgence in interest in colour analysis prompted me to dig out my old swatches and take a look at my closet with a somewhat critical eye and I wasn’t entirely happy with what I saw. While I definitely won’t restrict myself to only those colours in my assigned palette, I do plan to move some of the less flattering colours out and focus more on those that look best on me.

  9. Kate
    February 2, 2020 / 6:54 pm

    I had my colors done back in the 80’s and then again about 8 years ago. I couldn’t believe how much more helpful and accurate the process is now. I loved it so much I gave it to all of my daughters and my mother as a gift and I think it’s saved us all a lot of money. We’re buying clothes that look great on us and we have way fewer orphans in our closet. Kerry Jones at Indigo Tones is great! She travels and does this now too – used to just be in our area. BTW I’m a soft autumn. And you’re right Jennifer, it addresses more than just colors. I’m much better in heather fabrics/soft edges. It really helps my bland (haha!) face stand out.

  10. Lynn F
    February 2, 2020 / 5:38 pm

    Such an interesting subject! I too had my colours done according to the Color Me Beautiful model. I was an Autumn back in my 20s and recently had another analysis as I no longer colour my hair and it has made me wonder if my colouring changed overall. I wasstill classed as an Autumn now at 69. The Autumn colours resonate with me and I was drawn to them even before I knew they were “my colours”. This year there seemed to be more warm colours available up until the winter season. Winter in Canada makes it hard to find clothes as most everything is the cool colours black and grey. I would love to find a great winter coat in my colour!

  11. Janice
    February 2, 2020 / 2:08 pm

    I, too had my colors analyzed way back when. The lady said I was unusual and she could not tell if I was summer or spring and that I even looked good in black! I tried to figure it out myself by reading “Color Me Beautiful”. I couldn’t figure it out either! All these years I have worn most colors, but there are some colors I just do not care for. Gray seems to wash me out. I wear beige and get lots of compliments, so maybe I am warm. Who knows? I would love to have my colors done where Susan had hers done in London if I ever get to London. I think she looks so much better in the bright colors instead of black, but maybe that is because as I have gotten older I gravitate to bright colors!

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