Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Color Me Confused [KNOW YOURSELF]

First, I'd like to give a nod to my unexpected, yet quite welcome, male readership. Now on to business...

What if I told you that there was a way to look healthier, less fatigued, and generally more attractive today? What if I told you that there was no weight loss necessary, no magic creams or treatments, no visit to the salon? Just click here to go on over to the HSN, where, for six easy payments of $13.95 (plus S&H, of course), you can have all this and more. STOP! I'm just kidding. Don't click that [fake] link. Or do, nothing will happen.

All kidding aside, there really is a way to achieve the aforementioned benefits immediately, with a little (not so miraculous) miracle known as "color analysis." I would venture to say that many women of my age and younger haven't heard much about this topic. We missed its wave of popularity that spanned the late 70's into the late 80's.  I vaguely remember seeing a book called Color Me Beautiful (published in 1987) as a teenager, but the 80's styling and my youthful attention span ensured that I didn't gain anything useful from it. Current discussions on color in relation to clothing and fashion tend to focus exclusively on color as trend. So what is color analysis?

Color analysis, also referred to as seasonal color analysis, or skin tone matching, is the practice of determining a person's underlying skin tones and the colors that look most flattering against these tones. Color analysis operates under the (true) principle that all people, regardless of hair, eye, or skin color have either blue or yellow undertones as the foundation of skin color. These undertones dictate if a person has cool or warm coloring, respectively, and indicate which color palette (i.e. cool or warm) is most flattering to the wearer. Some methods move from the cool / warm distinction to as many as twelve different sub-groups. If you do a Google search of "color analysis" you will garner a wealth of information, much of it confusing,  and some of it contradictory. You will also find contact information for people who are color analysis specialists. You pay them, and they take you through a series of quizzes regarding appearance and visual exercises involving swathes of color held against your skin. Most of us don't have the time or resources to engage such a professional, so I would like to offer a few suggestions to clear the color confusion and help you wear what best enhances your natural coloring.

As a novice to color analysis, set aside all complicated versions involving multiple sub-groups and determine if you are warm or cool.

The easiest way to determine your coloring is to look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. A bluish cast means cool, greenish means warm (if you are having difficulty distinguishing here, jump below to the epilogue).

If you are warm, choose colors that have have a yellow base - orange, coral, peach, olive green, khaki, and warmer reds.  If you are cool, choose colors with a blue base - purples, pink, mint, and greens such as turquoise and emerald. 

White, black, navy and grey are the best neutrals for cool coloring. Cream, brown, and tan look best for warm coloring.

Silver and white gold are more flattering on those with cool coloring. Yellow gold looks best with warm  coloring.

Over time you will notice which shades, tints, and tones are not just good, but great, for your individual coloring.

If you love colors that aren't in your palette, wear them away from your face.

This information truly is power, power to immediately improve your appearance, not by altering it, but by respecting it. Now that is a beautiful thing.

For more info on how to determine your coloring and what to do with that knowledge, check out this easy to read article, or leave me a comment below and I will answer any and all questions that I'm able. I also highly recommend the book It's So You (by Mary Sheehan Warren) for a more in depth, yet un-confusing, look at color analysis (available here) and how to use it to your advantage in clothing and cosmetics.

EPILOGUE: Since posting this article yesterday, I have received some feedback that there may be those of you out there who can't distinguish the bluish or greenish cast that is the crux of the method given above. Have no fear, it could be one of two things. One, you could have coloring that is considered neutral. Like my husband, you are one of the few who looks good in both warm and cool colors (though you may lean more toward one of the palettes). Or, you just need to do a bit more "analysis." Find two somethings (an article of clothing, some other fabric, or even a piece of construction paper), one pink and one orange. With no makeup on, stand in an area with good natural lighting and alternate holding the swatches up to your face. It should be clear which is more flattering. If you still can't tell (it can be so difficult to be objective about one's own appearance), ask a friend for his or her opinion. If the pink looks great, you are cool. If the orange looks best, you are warm.

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