It all started with German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). He was the first person to ever analyze colors and the connection between them. But that was just a beginning, there was no mention yet of the connection and reaction between the color of clothes and skin tone.
Between 1919 and 1933 Johannes Itten – Swiss painter and teacher at the Bauhaus University Germany- brought more clarity to the science of color analysis. Itten was the first person to discover that only certain colors would look good with certain skin or hair color on portraits. He created 4 different color pallets that he associated with 4 types of people and designated those types with the names of the 4 seasons. The creation of his 4 color pallets made it easier for his students to paint portraits.
Suzanne Caygill (1911-1994) a Californian color theorist took the research of Johannes Itten to the next level. She combined his “season theory” with Goethe’s “color psychology”. Suzanne developed a theory describing how human beings carry information about their personality and style in their own natural coloration, through the pigments in their skin, hair and eyes. In her theory she explained how personal traits relate to the color harmonies in nature. Her research became very popular and served as a solid foundation for many color professionals.
Based on Suzanne Caygill’s research, psychologist Carole Jackson formed her color analysis theory and wrote the book “Color Me Beautiful”. Her theory and book were very famous in the ’80s. Jackson utilized a seasonal color system less complicated than Caygill’s. Carole Jackson divided 1 type of personality per season whereas Caygill’s system described 16 different color personality types per season. Through her simplified harmonious color schemes she made it possible for the everyday woman to facilitate shopping for clothes, make-up and accessories.
4 Season Color Analysis, how does it work?
As mentioned above, the 4 season color analysis by Carole Jackson is pretty straightforward. If you can figure out which your dominant characteristics are (warm versus cool as a first step and then light versus dark as a second step), your “season” will automatically unfold. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The best part is, it really IS that simple.
No need to read the whole book on seasonal color analysis. You can easily do your own color analysis by following the two easy steps below.
1. Determine whether you are a COOL or a WARM type
This is the hardest part of the color analysis method. Once you are clear on whether you are a cool or a warm tone person, you can quickly determine your specific season type. Then you’re set!
I will describe three tests to determine your skin undertone. For all the them it is key to look beyond your skin’s color (overtone) to find the undertone that gives definition to your looks.
The skin undertone is determined by different elements, namely hemoglobin, carotene and melanin. The composition of these 3 pigments is defined by genetics. This means that the composition will never change during your lifetime. Skin color (or skin overtone) can change due to a number of factors, such as exposure to sun, illness, blood pressure, etc.
A. Foundation Test
This may well be the easiest and most accurate way to determine your skin undertone. Basically, you take a pink based cream foundation and put a dab on one cheek, and a yellow based cream foundation which you put on the other cheek. Then spread the foundation on each cheek evenly so it forms a very thin layer. Look at which of them blends in with your skin versus which looks “painted on” and stands out. The one that blends in is your match.
Pink based cream foundation blends in -> COOL undertone
Yellow based cream foundation blends in -> WARM undertone
It’s that easy!
You can buy cream foundation at any drugstore, or you can buy a cool/warm tone foundation test kit right here for just $14.95 including shipping. The kit includes both pink and yellow based foundations with more detailed instructions on how to conduct the test.
B. Gold/Silver Test
For this test you will need one silver-colored and one gold-colored piece of fabric or paper. Place one hand on the silver-colored piece and the other hand on the gold-colored piece. Try also the inner side of your wrists or other body parts hardly exposed to the sun. You will notice that with the right color your skin color will blend in well with the color of the paper or the fabric and your skin will look even. With the wrong color your skin will look uneven and speckled.
Skin looks even with silver –> cool undertone
Skin looks even with gold –> warm undertone
Tips for more accurate testing:
- Make sure you do this in bright daylight, because “artificial light” can falsify the results.
- You will need pieces that are large enough to cover enough skin. If you use drapes, make sure they cover the shoulders. If you use paper, make sure it’s large enough so both hands fit on the paper.
C. Vein Test
This test requires you to look at the veins on your inner wrist and determine if they are more blue(ish) or green(ish).
Green veins –> warm undertone
Blue veins –> cool undertone
Tips for more accuracy:
- Make sure you look at your veins in bright daylight. “Artificial/yellow” light can make veins look one way or another.
- Don’t look at the veins right after you tanned, or if you have a deep tan as that makes it harder to determine the color.
Try one of these tests or try all of them! Now you are only one step away from your “true season”.
a COOL undertone –> You KNOW you are a Summer or Winter type
a WARM undertone –> You KNOW you are a Spring or Autumn type
2. Determine whether you are a LIGHT or a DARK type
Define the brightness (light or dark) of your eyes and your natural hair color.
Eyes and hair = DARK –> Winter
Eyes and hair = DARK –> Autumn
Finding your season is that easy ! It may be a bit tricky when you have a mix of light and dark. In that case the most dominant character will determine your type.
Now that you know which “seasonal type” you are, keep reading and find your best matching colors.
The best part of the color analysis is discovering your personal matching color palette! Scroll down and find out what garment colors should be in your closet from now on. Once you know your color palette, shopping for apparel, accessories and make-up will be a breeze !
Winter types should wear colors that are sharp and clear. White, black, navy blue, red and shocking pink all go well with winter complexions. For lighter colors, wear icy tones rather than pastels. Avoid subdued tones like beige, orange and gold.
If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Winter Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your winter type color samples in one convenient wallet.
Use a maximum of 3 colors for your outfit.
Dare to wear contrasting colors like black and white. You are the only type that looks good in black and pure white, use these colors!
For jewelry, silver is your color. Don’t exaggerate with jewelry and accessories.
COLOR PALETTE SUMMER TYPE
Summer types should choose pastels and soft neutrals with rose and blue undertones. Lavender, taupe, powder pink and powder blue suit summer types very well while black and orange do not.
If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Summer Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your summer type color samples in one convenient wallet.
Wear a lot of jewelry (silver), try different accessories.
For a relaxed and friendly look, choose pastels.
Fall types should select colors with golden undertones, like camel, beige, orange, gold and dark brown. Avoid colors with blue tones, like navy.
If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Autumn Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your autumn type color samples in one convenient wallet.
Use many colors, experiment with jewelry, be daring! The best color for your jewelry is gold.
To convey creativity, mix colors. Make sure to combine colors that match and complement each other well, such as green and red.
Spring types can wear warm colors like camel, peach, golden-yellow and golden brown. Avoid dark, dull colors. Do not wear black and white.
If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Spring Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your spring type color samples in one convenient wallet.
Don’t exaggerate with jewelry, wear gold (colors).
Light colors look best on you.
Wear reds for all of your personality traits. Blue-red conveys assertiveness. An orange-red would be worn by someone who is lively.
Tips for ALL types:
- Black makes you look slimmer but is only recommended for winter types, all the other types, choose other dark colors.
- To convey authority and power, wear your dark colors: black and navy blue. (Why do you think the police and other authorities are wearing navy blue or black uniforms?)
- Clear colors can be used to make your breasts look bigger.
- If you are a sales woman: do not use contrast, like black/white or blue/white, use harmonizing colors. The contrasts look too aggressive.
Experiment with these new findings. After you found your personal palette, try to analyze your friends and/or family and check if they are wearing their matching colors. If they are not, tell them about your new gained wisdom about color analysis, they will appreciate your advice !
Don’t forget to color your day !