My journey with color began almost as soon as my career in fashion. One of the most common questions women ask me is how a certain color looks on them. “Do you think this color makes me look too pale?” or “What do you think of this color on me?” are questions I answer almost every day. About ten years ago, I decided to invest in getting my own colors done professionally in an effort to learn all I could about diagnosing colors for my customers. My own color analysis began with the draping of sheets over my shoulders – one silver and one gold. This test determined the undertone of my skin. From there, the next forty minutes were spent in holding different swatches of fabric next to my eyes and looking carefully to see if each one made my eyes bright or dull. This process produced my color palate, and I have been using it ever since.
What I discovered about having my colors done is that shopping changed and so did my closet. I first went through and pulled out every piece of clothing that wasn’t in my palate. That was difficult because some of my favorite items ended up in the donate pile. But a surprising benefit occurred too. When I stood back and looked at my now greatly reduced choices, I could see how everything went with everything else. I no longer had to worry about hanging my clothes by outfit. Now, I could hang them by category and choose any bottom or top I wanted, feeling confident that they would coordinate perfectly. Best yet, I knew my shoes, jewelry and handbags would also complete the look. It was a revelation to me, and I have been encouraging women to spend the money to get their colors done ever since.
So, in my Fashionable Friday video series about how to dress your best, I knew I would want to do a video on how to choose your best colors. My research into the process began with a copy of Color Me Beautiful which was first published in the 50’s and is the iconic book that places people in one of four seasons: Winter, Spring, Autumn and Summer. I also looked the topic up online to see what modern articles were saying about color. While I found that most new information on this topic has ditched the four seasons and now just refers to people as cool, warm and neutral, the basics of color analysis have not changed much since Color Me Beautiful was written.
There are several tests that you can do to determine if your skin has warm or cool undertones. First, there is the drape test. Take a piece of tinfoil and another piece of golden foil. Remove all your makeup, and stand in front of a mirror in natural light. Drape the silver foil around your face and then observe the following things: your eyes, your teeth, the darkness under your eyes and the smoothness of your skin. Then take the golden foil and do the same thing. Which ever one is better for you will make your eyes brighter, your teeth whiter, your skin smoother and the dark circles under your eyes less noticeable. If it is the silver foil that makes you look your best, you are cool toned. If it is the gold, you are warm toned.
The next two tests are quicker. In the same natural light, look at the veins on the under side of your wrists. If you are warm toned, they will appear green. If you are cool toned, they will appear blue. If you are still not sure, recruit a friend to look behind your ear. Yes, behind your ear. Look at the skin in the crease created by your upper ear and your skull. If the skin appears yellow, you are warm toned. If it is pink, you are cool toned.
Now the really hard work is done. All that remains is to understand your value, either light or dark, and then get to the business of finding the best colors for you. If you want to know more about this topic and see some examples of specific color palates, watch the video. It really is worth your time to figure out what colors compliment your skin and avoid the days when five people ask you if you are tired or sick when you feel just fine!