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.

pale green cardigandenim shirt similargray jeansankle boots similarsunglasses similar –  tote bag similar

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. 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.

The frames of these sunglasses (similar) are a jarring reminder of how colors are affected by the colors that surround them. 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.


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




  1. Lucretia Roletta says:

    I was typed as an autumn in the 70’s when I had red hair (not totally natural). Now thru aging, grey hair and paler skin, I am definitely not that type. I am still experimenting with what colors I feel best in. I don’t feel comfortable with all this typing, it’s too limiting.
    An iridescent winter sounds so interesting!

  2. Like everyone else, I followed the Color Me Beautiful rage. I was typed as a winter, and I still try to follow these colors. I do feel comfortable in them. Some are better than others. But for me, it’s a place to start. I still struggle with finding a lipstick that works. I have a lot of tubes that I thought were going to work, but sadly they’re sitting in a drawer, unused.

  3. I love the colors of the outfit you have on. It is very flattering. But, the lipstick color is just perfect on you! Makes a big difference

  4. I was fascinated to learn of color analysis in the 70-80’s, and read color me beautiful. However, I didn’t feel it was accurate. When I heard of And trained with other systems, Color One, Color Profiles, and others, was amazed at the difference I saw in those who applied their new knowledge of their best colors. Unfortunately, many people had a little training, but didn’t have an accurate eye to see the variations of undertones in color, and many women were inaccurately diagnosed.

    As for women who have allowed their silvers to shine, your best colors remain, but may need to change level of contrast. Best colors are determined by skin tones, not hair color.

    1. @Jane & Jennifer: So agree about undertones in color as feel they play a major role when choosing, similar to that in interior decor. -Brenda-

  5. Paulette Levy says:

    Like others I was color typed back in the 1970s. I was Spring but now I hear there are actually 3 Springs! I just went online and if I’m on target I am a Clear Spring!
    (There are 2 others). Navy still flatters as does a deep Cadet Blue. (Deep sky blue).

    It’s interesting and used to be so helpful early on in my career when looking fir work clothes that were polished and flattering. Today? I just use the mirror as you suggest. I’ve learned a lot from you! Thank you!

  6. maryellen walsh small says:

    Just take someone whose opinions you trust and either go thru your closet holding up colors next to your face and ask their opinion about what suits you and what brings out your natural coloring and what does not.

    Or go shopping and hold up different colors next to your face and ask that person what suits..

    I trust a friend or family member more than someone who wants to slot me into some strict systems. I think most people can wear a wider range of color than that. And listen to their ideas…

    Recently, my friend says pink and teal for me…she’s right but only if they are pale versions of each.

    Color help is at home…don’t need to spend money on special consultants or books.

  7. I had my colors done in the early 80’s and was listed as a Spring. When I learned my “best” colors, it was no big surprise because they are the colors I have always gravitated to. Only big difference was I had more black in my closet back then, so for many years, I did not buy any black except for pants. Then a few years ago, I starting buying a few black tops, but not because I feel that black looks great on me. In the past year, I have been drawn to grey and again, it’s not because I think grey looks good on me. I use the grey or black as a base for other colors, or to emphasize a statement necklace or colorful scarf. Spring colors are still my go to and my happy place.

  8. I am another one that is turning gray. I am adding a little champagne weaves into it as I look washed out now. Seems my skin tone has jchanged somewhat now. I have always been a Winter color but feel that is not always true now. I think my skin tone is changing from under tones of pinkish to more a yellowish. The aging process. Would like my colors done now.

  9. This is a great article, thank you. Maybe you could do something about color and grey/white hair. I see a a number of your readers touched on this. Since I turned grey years ago I do notice that it is easy for me to looked washed out and tired. I have no interest in coloring my hair nor wearing lots of blush. It would be good to have your opinion about this.

    1. Going gray can mean we need to soften or brighten our colors to compensate. You’re not likely to go from warm to cool or vice versa but the intensity changes.

  10. As a therapist, I have always been interested in color in terms of your environment, and the way one dresses. It can have so much impact on your mood as well as your confidence in clothes. I had my colors done in the early 80’s, and discovered I am a Winter. I then tried Carol Tuttle’s program, Dressing Your Truth. Again, all my colors revolve around cool winter colors. As I look back on pictures of my adolescent years before color analysis, I always chose my colors true to these systems. I guess it’s important to trust yourself and know what colors you feel best wearing,

    1. The color of my environment effects me greatly, I spent three months in earth toned Italy, and while beautiful, as a cool toned summer, I felt out of place visually , white walls made me happier. My Italian husband looked perfect in his surroundings!

  11. I had my colors done in the early 80’s and am a light winter. My skin, eyes and hair color have faded and recently have been told I am a summer. However, I still gravitate toward clear cool colors although some seem too bright now. I just go with my gut these days and feel like muted summer colors wash me out. I’m wearing more blue toned reds now…I never felt good in red in my younger days but now get compliments. Fascinating!

  12. I am not a fan of the assessment that Susan got from the London people. She may have needed some brighter colours but what she is doing now is all over the map trying to include colour and it looks very busy….I am hoping that settles down once she gets the hang of colour but so far not yet…..and don’t get me going on that “pixie cut hair”….way too severe for her, she needs more softness. Rant Over.
    As far as I can tell the colours that are best for us change with the change in hair colour, skin tone, etc. It is a moving target that we need to stay current with…..but that is where you come in giving us ideas and stirring the pot….

    1. I have to reply to this as Susan is entitled to her happiness. Her archetype of gamine is totally reflected by her love of colour and her hair style. As she said herself, she was looking for a change and this is what she got by someone who is trained in the science of colour. If we all looked the same it would be a very boring life for sure. If someone is interested in an honest opinion by a professional I say go for it and enjoy it. Life is too short.

      1. I agree Diane. I’d love to have a Red Leopard assessment myself! The color theories they’ve combined are quite brilliant. Maybe on my next trip abroad:)

    2. The important thing is that Susan is happy with her assessment and hair cut, Lauren. Her pixie cut looks adorable! Change takes time and experimentation until we find that sweet spot. I love to see what’s happening with her colors and she has inspired me to play around with mine.

      1. I agree that Susan looks great. My first glance, now, looks at her glowing face, not at her clothes. She looks so much more vibrant wearing “her” colors.

  13. As a person with an art background, color analysis always made sense to me. I’m a summer. And have recently reconfirmed that I still am a summer. I do notice that the clothing industry / stores lean towards “ winter” colors, and colors that are easily identifiable, red, blue, green, black, white, etc. Summer colors are more complex, and less identifiable, because of their muted, greyed tones, which makes them harder to find. And I find our perceptions about color, may lead us to wear colors for effect, rather than to enhance our uniqueness. Fascinating subject.

  14. Thanks for this column, and thanks, other readers, for your comments.
    My take is that for the most part, I accept that I am a light winter, but sometimes I just wear what I want. Even pea green if it picks up a color in a sweater.

  15. Are there any universally understood changes in most flattering colors as hair grays? I tend toward neutral skin tone, with hazel eyes (which just means a little green, a little brown, a little grayish blue, a few gold glints) and always preferred a “tarnished” silver or gold tone, not bright bright. I would get compliments when I wore a muddy green color that seemed to work with my natural brown hair that had gold red highlights. Pastels always washed me out. Going gray seems to change everything. I am moving toward a basic black, gray, white and denim blue wardrobe, but want to choose one or two accent colors for tops, scarves and jacket. I’m trying to pare down my wardrobe, not have a myriad of colors in the closet. Help! Do you or your readers have any advice on how to choose? Are there any generally accepted best colors?

    1. I meant “tarnished” silver or gold tone JEWELRY

    2. Try teal. It’s universally flattering as is eggplant and navy.

  16. I had my colors done by a Color Me Beautiful consultant in the early 80’s, and I’m definitely a winter. For the most part, I have stuck with wearing these colors. My wardrobe is pretty streamlined, and it’s easy to mix and match. I find that I wear the black and grays more in winter, but my summer wardrobe leans more navy and white. I’m getting bored with red, red, and more red and am on the hunt for bright pinks and blues for variety.

  17. Deb Meyer says:

    I too was typed as a Summer, but I hate pastels! I never felt comfortable wearing them. I don’t even decorate with them. So I build my wardrobe around basic neutrals and get my color pop from a scarf or necklace. Pastels remind me of old ladies with purple hair. Dress how you want to feel and that will project your confidence. I never let anyone else dictate how I should dress!

  18. I loved having my colors “done” during the heyday of “Color Me Beautiful”. I have stayed pretty much within my Spring palette of colors and have found it pretty accurate. I have since analyzed my depth of color between my eyes, hair and facial skin. I color my hair and have to consider that in the overall scheme values. My face and eyes are light and hair medium. Consequently I tend to look better in the lighter to medium shades within the warm Spring colors. I loved this whole way of looking at color and value in my wardrobe. It has proven invaluable in choosing colors in my wardrobe. Unfortunately there have been many who have not been sufficiently trained in color analysis who have misled many men and women. I will admit there are some who straddle colors that fall between the warm and cool colors. They can be more difficult to analyze.

  19. Donna Nance says:

    Color me Summer! I found my old color swatches last week and am wondering if the silver hair invalidates the collection. Hmm, probably not as my skin tone is pretty much the same. (Minus the age spots…ha!) I love your outfit, especially the necklace! The scarf is the perfect finishing touch.

  20. I too, had my colours done in the 70’s! Hey, if there is a bandwagon I’m on it! Lol besides I find the geeky science behind the theory very interesting.
    That said, I can’t even remember what season I was, but I do remember I found the whole thing very limiting,. Only being able to dress in certain colours was very difficult, especially here in Northern Ontario where access to clothing was limited or required a weekend trip to Toronto – 400 miles away. (The days before online shopping) Also, I was drawn to colours in every season and thought that they too, looked good or that I could make them work On me. (I’m a rebel I guess)
    I think it is a good guideline but adding the occasion, my mood and what Draws me to the equation works best for me.

  21. Color has always fascinated me. (In 1960 I wrote an essay about color on my high school English Regents exam!) I think I am a winter, but as my hair color has changed to silver, I am not sure anymore. I seem to get compliments when I wear lighter blues and greens – colors I never used to wear!

  22. KIM Vardas says:

    I read Color Me Beautiful in the 70’s and had my colors done. I am a winter. I carried my swatches in my purse for a while. Some of the colors I didn’t like but most worked well! I find that since my hair has become white/gray many of the winter colors I didn’t care for now work (the paler shades of cool gray). I’ve also found that many colors I couldn’t wear with dark hair work with white hair (is: coral). I’ve also learned that a scarf around my neck in a complementary shade will allow me to wear colors from other color palettes.

    The colors of the outfit you’re wearing look amazing on you.

  23. I always had red hair, blue eyes, and skin that would only burn. A prescriptives counter sales girl was very excited when she typed me as a red undertone because I was the first red undertone she had seen. I was told I was an autumn and those were the colors I had always worn and felt I looked best in. Now the gray hair has turned my color blond, sort of, and I never know what colors look good on me anymore. Color in clothing and makeup has been a struggle for me in the last few years.

  24. I was typed as a summer too, which was helpful as a guideline but I have always dressed in colours I consider flattering and make me feel great. These are often brighter, stronger colours than the summer palette. I also am very bored with black but it is a basic I rely on for work and for the cold, dreary winter weather. I really move away from it from spring to fall.

  25. Even as a child I was drawn to my Autumn colors. My favorite school dress ever was a gold plaid one in 3rd grade. I still remember feeling great in it. However I am not drawn to all the colors in the classic autumn palate. Purple? No thanks. I think color analysis can be a good place to start but in the end you have to go with your gut.

  26. I did my “Color Me Beautiful” colors in the early 80’s. I am a Winter and still follow her method. I make sure my colors have a blue base and do not usually make a mistake

  27. I’ve had my colors analyzed twice – the first time with Color Me Beautiful only a few colors resonated and I got away from them as time passed. I recently had a consultation with Red Leopard (after seeing Sue’s results). Although I was pretty sure I was an Autumn, there are colors in my own palate that are far better than others and I now know why (I’m a “Blue Autumn”). I still have personal choice to wear what I want but my colors make me happy and energized. Shopping is simplified since I’m only looking for my “best” colors, although my choices may be fewer. Now if we can only get manufacturers/retailers to offer more items in something other than black!

  28. I am so glad you wrote this. As I rework my wardrobe I came across my swatch book from the early 90’s and it has been just sitting on my dresser.
    l also found the book you mentioned available on Cornell’s open resource library so I will look it over. I was labeled a summer but since my hair was ashy blonde and is now graying I found I got more compliments on cobalt and reds – even when they were in the orange range – as opposed to pastels which confused me. Bright Periwinkle was always complimentary and felt the prettiest and that wasn’t on any of my swatches so I cant wait to see what that says about my personality. Thank you for this thought provoking post and as always the reading resources!

  29. Rose Oelberg says:

    I also read Color Me Beautiful back in the 70’s and had someone help me with my ‘color’ which
    is summer. I have found this to be true with me and something is always ‘off’ when I wear warm colors.

  30. I too was typed as Summer. But as time has passed and hair losing the blonde and is more white’ I have chosen brighter colours. I just feel blah and one coloured in pastels now.
    Hope this is the right move? Living in Canada we have lots of Grey Days

    1. I was told I was typed as cool, but honestly I don’t remember what those colors are anymore. Since my hair is silver now I like to wear black and grey sometimes. I don’t think beige looks good anymore with my hair, I feel washed out. I would love to find out what type I am now! Jennifer I like your views on that.

      1. I too have white hair and a pale complexion emerald green looks good on me. What other colours are good for me. says:

        Beryl Ward.

      2. I like emerald green also because I have green eyes!

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