Colour Analysis Part III: How to Use your Colours
(↑ Can you recognize which one of the 12 types these models represent? Click the right arrow to see the answer)
Ok, so you have analysed your complexion, worked out which one of the 12 seasonal types you are the closest to, and have explored your recommended colour palette. What's next? Finding your type and colours is easy, figuring out what to do with that information is the tricky part. Are you supposed to throw out every item in your closet that does not belong to your recommended palette (short answer: no)? What if that palette does not match the one you developed as part of your style concept? And what happens if you simply don't like the colours that supposedly suit you so well? In this post, I'm going to address all of these concerns and tell you my perspective on how to utilize your colour palette, althought that perspective might differ a little from what professional colour analysts would tell you. My no. 1 point is that colour analysis is just one of many tools or techniques that you can use to define your personal style and build a wardrobe that perfectly fits you and your lifestyle. Try it out, implement certain parts and ignore others, bend rules or follow them to the letter, whatever works for you.
3 BASIC RULES
RULE 1 ǀ USE YOUR COLOUR PALETTE LIKE A GUIDE, NOT A SET OF RULES
You cannot and also should not rely on your colours like a fail-proof blueprint. Why can't you? Because the 12 colour types are neither exclusive nor 100% comprehensive, meaning that not everyone will neatly fit only one type and suit only one colour palette. Why shouldn't you? Even if your complexion does fit one of the types well, it would be a huge shame to just ignore the rest of the colour spectrum from now on. The other palettes, especially your type's neighbouring ones, offer a whole host of other shades to explore that will suit you just as well and that can help you build a more varied, yet still cohesive colour palette for your wardrobe. Bottom line: Use your recommended colour palette as a starting point but nothing more. Don't reject colours simply because they are not in your palette and don't assume all shades in your palette look great on you. You still need to do the legwork of examining colors against your skin and figuring out which colours fit your individual complexion, shade by shade.
RULE 2 ǀ SELF-EXPRESSION TRUMPS COLOUR ANALYSIS
Your colour palette should never restrict your ability to express your aesthetic ideals through your wardrobe. If your recommended colour palette does not match your style concept, you need to analyze each shade individually and then make a decision: wear, avoid or tweak. If a certain shade really does make you look sick and just plain bad, try to find a replacement that still captures the colour's essence but fits your skin's undertone a little better. Use the 12 palettes like a navigation system: If, say, you love the pink in the light Summer palette, but are a warm Autumn, move along the palettes towards your own type until you come across a potential alternative, e.g. the neutral plum shade in the soft Autumn palette. Your own palette might not include your wanted colour, but perhaps your palette's neighbours do. If a colour does not look amazing but also not horrible on you, then I say go for it! I'm a light Spring so black is definitely not one of my best colours, but I love it and it's an important part of my style concept. If I want to wear black I will just put on a little more make up or use a few other tricks (described below) to make it work for my complexion.
RULE 3 ǀ PRIORITIZE ITEMS CLOSE TO YOUR FACE
The whole point of colour analysis is to find colours that flatter your skin tone, hair and eye colour, in other words your face :) Items that are not in direct contact with your face might have an impact on the overall coherence of your outfit, but not on your complexion. Regardless of your colour type, feel free to wear shoes, skirts, trousers, etc in any color of the rainbow and reserve all of your colour-analysis-energy for your tops, jackets, scarfs, earrings, necklaces, make up, etc.
3 WAYS TO USE YOUR COLOUR PALETTE
Over the years you will have likely built up certain beliefs about which colours suit you and which don't. Perhaps someone once told you in third grade that you look awful in pink and since then you have fully internalized "I don't suit pink", even though you might not remember why. Your colour palette can help you break out of a colour rut and introduce you to new shades that you had not considered before. Make sure you also expand your horizont to your neighbouring palettes, e.g. if you are a clear Winter, also check out the cool Winter, deep Winter and clear Spring palette.
TO OPTIMIZE YOUR MAKE UP AND HAIR COLOUR
Your hair colour is the one thing you should always tailor to your colour type. Since it is so close to your face, a wrong shade can have a pretty big negative impact. Lightness and undertone are the two factors to get right. Are you a blonde Summer and have recently died your hair a cool light brown. Great! Did you dye it a deep auburn colour? Not so great. Make-up wise, don't worry about every eye shadow, liner or lip gloss, but make sure the basics (foundation, concealer, blush) match your skin's undertone. You're a warm Spring and love pink blushes? That's fine, as long as you use a peachy, warm-toned pink, instead of a blue-ish powder pink.
TO TWEAK YOUR WARDROBE'S COLOUR PALETTE
If you have already developed a colour palette for your style concept you can use your colour type to further tailor it to your complexion. Except for a few exceptions (e.g. yellow and pink), each of the twelve palettes contain versions of every major colour group. By studying your palette and paying attention to the shade's undertones and saturation levels, you will soon be able to tell your warm salmon-y Spring shades, from your Summery baby pinks. The graphic below is an example of how to analyse your existing palette and tweak it just a little - for a more coherent overall look that will flatter your complexion. Let's say you are a light Summer. Before you were aware of your best colours you developed the left colour palette. It is already relatively well-suited to the overall light qualities of your complexion, but some colours are a little too warm and saturated. Swap the warm green, yellow, orange and pink for softer, cooler versions, and the deep blue for a cool, mid-range blue. Grey is a great neutral for your type, but make sure you choose pieces with a cool undertone.
HOW TO WEAR COLOURS THAT DON'T SUIT YOU
RESERVE THEM FOR SHOES, SKIRTS, TROUSERS, ETC
As mentioned above, colours that don't come in contact with your face do not have any impact on your complexion. A fail-proof way to wear colours that are absolutely not in your palette (e.g. a warm orange if you are a cool Winter) is to reserve them for your footwear, skirts, trousers, belts, bags etc.
WEAR THEM IN SMALL DOSES
A chunky fuchsia pink knit sweater might make a soft Autumn look a little pale, but the same colour in a smaller dose, e.g. in the form of a delicate necklace or as a nail polish, won't do any harm. If you love a colour that doesn't suit you all too well, get creative and figure out ways to incorporate it into your looks, without making it the centre of attention.
WEAR A LITTLE MORE BLUSH AND FOUNDATION
The basic symptom of 'not looking super great in this colour' is sallow, tired-looking skin and darker under-eye circles. Fortunately, all of these can be easily combatted with some extra foundation, concealer and blush. Just add a little more on days when you want to wear your favorite, 'not-colour-analysis-approved' colour and you are good to go!
To what degree have you incorporated your recommended colours into your wardrobe?
The entire colour analysis series: