- Color analysis (art)
Color analysis, also called skin tone color matching or color seasons, is the process of finding colors of clothing and makeup to match a person's complexion, eye color, and hair color. It is often used as an aid to wardrobe planning and style consulting.
Color analysis is the process of determining the colors that best suit an individual's natural coloring. There are several means of analysing personal coloring. The most well-known is "seasonal" color analysis, which places individual coloring into four general categories: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. "Winters" and "Summers" have cool coloring. Some clues that a person has cool coloring might include ash tones in the hair, grey-blue eyes and pinkish undertones to the skin. "Springs" and "Autumns" have warm coloring. Some signs of warm coloring are red or golden hair, golden brown eyes and golden undertones to the skin.
Another system of color analysis relies on analysing whether the person's coloring has high or low contrast; for instance, dark hair and pale skin create high contrast. Under this system, individuals are classified as "light-bright," "muted," "gentle" and "contrast." This color system uses all colors and states that each person can wear any color depending upon how bright or toned down the color is. Still other systems combine analysis of warm and cool coloring with analysis of contrast levels.
Another color analysis system attempted to classify individual coloring into "morning," "noon" and "sunset" palettes. These palettes are called Colortimes and were developed by Leatrice Eiseman. The Colortime names are Sunrise, Sunlight and Sunset are a reflection of the sun and how nature and people look at these times of day.
There is evidence the colors a person wears can affect how others perceive him or her; according to a British study, red and pink are thought to signal sexual attractiveness, particularly when worn by women. Dark colors like black or navy may convey authority or simply make the wearer seem less approachable. The theories of color analysis also teach that certain colors are capable of emphasizing or, conversely, de-emphasizing an individual's attractiveness to others. Unflattering colors may make a person look pale, for instance, or draw attention to such flaws as wrinkles or uneven skin tone. Flattering colors are thought to have the opposite effect.
One practical application for color analysis is that by limiting wardrobe color choices a person will probably find it easier to coordinate his or her clothing and accessories, thus possibly saving time, space and money.
Early History of Color Analysis (1810-1970s)
In 1810, German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published his Theory of Colours. In 1840, it was published in English in London by John Murray. Goethe made an exhaustive study of color. However, he did not speak of the use of his theories with regard to choosing clothing colors, or with regard to the influence of hair color on the face.
Therefore it may be historically accurate to say that the first "color and image consultant" was Michel Eugene Chevreul (1786–1889). As the director of the renowned tapestry firm, Les Teintures des Gobelins, Chevreul made it his business to know everything he could about color. In particular, he noted that colors interacted with each other when they were placed side by side. When viewed alone, however, the very same colors appeared quite different. When a client gave Chevreul a fabric swatch of her yellow curtains, for example, he was expected to incorporate that exact shade into the client's tapestry. Alas, when the carpet was completed, the yellow appeared not to match. However, when the yellow fabric swatch was placed next to the yellow pattern in the carpet, the two yellows did match. Chevreul discovered that the viewer's perception of the yellow in the carpet had been influenced or manipulated by the other colors alongside it, so that it appeared to be different than the yellow of the curtains. (The curtains, of course, hung completely alone, so they were not subject to the influence of another color.)
Chevreul further discovered that when looking at any given color, the eye demands that the opposite or contrasting color on the color wheel simultaneously be generated. Apparently the eye has a precise equilibrium, so that when looking at red, for example, the eye generates green, even though we are not aware of it. He called this phenomenon Simultaneous Contrast. In 1839, Chevreul published the findings of his meticulous and extensive research in a voluminous publication entitled De la Loi de Contraste Simultane des Couleurs ("Of the Law of Simultaneous Contrast of Colors"). Chevreul devoted a separate chapter to his research on clothing and hair color, in which he concluded that any color worn next to the face, including hair color, would affect the appearance of the skin's color.
The French Impressionists were greatly influenced by Chevreul’s book, and Georges-Pierre Seurat, in particular, became obsessed by Chevreul’s theories with his Pointillism style. He learned to "manipulate" colors in his paintings and the mixture of the colors he used would very often take place only in the eye of the beholder, and not on the canvas. Van Gogh used many of the same principles, but his fiery temperament was not suited to the intricacies of pointillism, so he applied the theories to canvas using more assertive brushwork.
Two German-born artists and art educators who expounded upon the principles of simultaneous contrast set forth by Chevreul were Johannes Itten (1888–1967) and Josef Albers (1888–1976). Itten published The Art of Color in 1961, and Albers published Interaction of Color in 1963. Itten proposed a natural correspondence between the four seasons of the year and four groups of naturally harmonious colors, thereby establishing the framework upon which would be founded the "seasonal" color analysis that would become popular in the 1980s. He stated, "I have never yet found anyone who failed to identify each or any season correctly. This demonstrates that above individual taste, there is a higher judgment in man, which, once appealed to, sustains what has general validity and overrules mere sentimental prejudice."
"Seasonal" skin tone color matching for clothing and cosmetics
The concept of studying color in order to change and enhance the way a person looks was introduced in universities in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, when home economics teachers passed along the principles of color from art studies to their students. Until that time, only artists had been concerned with the study of colors and how their appearance could be manipulated and changed.
Starting in the 1970s, the availability of high-quality, accurate and inexpensive color printing made it possible for the first time to produce books for the mass market in which skin tones and clothing colors could be accurately reproduced. The result was a the near-simultaneous publication by a number of authors of books proposing systems of color analysis designed to allow the reader to "discover which shades of color in clothes complement your natural coloring to look healthier, sexier and more powerful."
The authors of these books all present roughly similar ideas. Most agree, for example, on the following basic points:
- Most rely upon a color system in which the colors are divided into four groups of harmonious colors which are said to match with the four seasons of the year. The seasons are, to some degree, arbitrary, and it sometimes happens that someone will be on the cusp of two seasons. But, as Carole Jackson insists, "with testing, one palette will prove to be better [more harmonious] than the other." Jackson also acknowledges, however, that the reference to the four seasons is nothing more than a convenient artifice: "We could call your coloring 'Type A,', 'Type B,' and so on, but comparison with the seasons provides a more poetic way to describe your coloring and your best colors."
- A person's color season is simply a determination of their skin tone.
- An individual's basic color category, or season, remains the same over his or her lifetime, and is not affected by tanning, because "[w]e still have the same color skin, but in a darker hue."
- Skin color, rather than hair or eye color, determines a person's season. Bernice Kentner warns, "Remember, do not rely on hair coloring to find your Season!" While hair color may change over the years (and hair or eye color may be artificially changed by dyeing and colored contact lenses), the person's color season will not change.
- A person's color season has nothing to do with the season of his or her birth or favorite season of the year.
The four color "Seasons": The fundamentals
Color analysts usually describe the seasons as being the result of a combination of the three traditional primary colors (red, yellow and blue), as they appear in the undertones of the skin. However, in practice things are a little more complicated.
Everybody's skin color includes strong elements of red (based on the color of the haemoglobin in his or her blood, which is visible, to some degree, through the translucent skin). Color analysts agree that this is the case for persons of all races, and for all varieties of skin color. The undertone, which will be either blue or yellow, determines the person's color category, or season. A person's skin may have a strong or weak blue undertone, or it may have a strong or weak yellow undertone.Unfortunately, the blues and yellows in human skin are not actually the same as the primary colors on an artist’s color wheel, as they are the result of melanin and carotene, two pigments which do not have the effect of turning the skin blue or yellow. Rather, melanin produces browns where it is the predominant pigment, and greys and blue-greys where it is mixed with the yellows and reds caused by carotene and hemoglobin. Where carotene is predominant, it produces undertones that are described as "golden" or "peach."
Winter is, along with Summer, one of the two "cool" (i.e. blue-based) palettes. This means that a person who is a Winter should wear colors that have blue undertones. Winters differ from Summers in that their skin tends to contrast dramatically with their hair and eye color, and therefore seem "intense." This means that they look best when dressed in colors that are relatively more intense, and that contain sharper contrasts, than would look best on a person belonging to the other "cool" season (Summer). When dressed in the strongly contrasting colours that suit them best, Winters look "intense", "pure" and "clean". When Winters dress in less intense or highly contrasting colours, the strong contrasts between their skin on the one hand and their hair and eyes on the other will seem "washed out."
Summer is, along with Winter, one of the two "cool" (i.e. blue-based) palettes. This means that a person who is a Summer should wear colors that have blue undertones. Summers differ from Winters in that their skin tends to contrast gently with their hair and eye color, and therefore seem "softer" and "less intense." This means that they look best when dressed in colors that are also relatively softer or less intense, and that contain less dramatic contrasts, than the colors which look best on a person belonging to the other "cool" season (Winter). When dressed in the less strongly contrasting colours that suit them best, Summers look "harmonious" and "subtle." When Summers dress in more intense or highly contrasting colours, the gentle contrasts between their skin on the one hand and their hair and eyes on the other will seem "overpowered."
Spring is, along with Autumn, one of the two "warm" (i.e. yellow-based) palettes. This means that a person who is a Spring should wear colours that have yellow undertones. The main difference between Spring and Autumn colour palette is that the Spring's colours are based on yellow such as yellow sparkling gold, in contrast with Autumn's colours which are based on deep gold. As a result spring's colours are intense, often bright and playful.
Autumn is, along with Spring, one of the two "warm" (i.e. yellow-based) palettes. This means that a person who is an Autumn should wear colors that have yellow undertones. Generally the autumn colours are warm, soft, and deep. Some of the autumn colours are brick, coffee, caramel, beige, tomato red, forest green.People who fall under this category usually have brown hair with golden or red undertones but a person with almost black hair and skin with yellow undertones can find him or herself to be an autumn too.
Prominent systems of "seasonal" color analysis
A large number of color guides have been written since the 1970s. Unfortunately, as Alan Flusser notes in Dressing the Man, "their methodology was ... tortuous in detail and demanding in time...." Moreover, many of the books—and many of the associated color analysis websites that continue to exist to this day—were intended merely to be an entry-point to understanding color. The reader, it was hoped, would make further investments by ordering color wheels on which to determine the shades that looked best on her, or by attending seminars or workshops where a professional would review color swatches with her.
The section below attempts to provide this information in a more comprehensible and usable manner, outlining each author's system separately, but using the same set of subheads in the same order for each, in order to allow comparisons between them.
Deborah Chase, The Medically Based No Nonsense Beauty Book (1975)
Chase explored the impact of skin pigments on coloration. She noted that there are three primary pigments that give the skin its color: "Melanin, which gives the skin its brown tones; carotene, which imparts the yellow skin tones; and hemoglobin, the red pigment in the blood, which gives the skin its pink and red hues....The three pigments--melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin join one another to produce our flesh tones."
Bernice Kentner, Color Me a Season (1978)
Bernice Kentner, who had worked as a licenced cosmetologist since 1950, began holding lectures on color analysis in the early 1970s, and in 1978 published Color Me a Season, which went through several printings in the early 1980s.
Like Chevreul, Kentner drew her ideas from the art of interior decorating. She wrote, "It is possible to color coordinate your home so it is pleasing to the eye....So it is with the human body. The body itself is the background for all color that will be placed upon it. It remains our task then to find what color scheme our bodies fall into. As with the walls of a room we must determine what color our skin is."
Kentner emphasizes that it is skin color rather than hair or eye color that serves as the base from which a color analysis must start. The color of a person's skin determines whether that individual should be classified as a Summer, a Winter, a Spring, or an Autumn. This can cause confusion, because the color of the hair may be the first thing that strikes the observer's eye (particularly if the hair color is dramatic). Thus, "even though [one palette of] colors work best for [a particular person's] complexion, the individual may look like another Season because of haircoloring....I call this their secondary Season." The color of the hair and eyes serve to heighten the appeal of certain color choices for clothing and makeup, and to rule out certain other choices, but all such choices must be made from within the palette that is compatible with the shade of the skin.
To illustrate this point, Kentner offers the example of a woman whose dramatic hair color suggested that she ought to be an Autumn, but whose skin color made her a Winter. When the woman was "color draped" in swatches from the Winter palette, "she came to life", and looked considerably more attractive than she had been when wearing Autumn colors. However, one of the colors in the palette was incompatible with her hair, and was determined to be inappropriate for her wardrobe.
Dominant skin characteristics (an individual's skin may include more than one): "cool with rose undertones"; "may appear almost white, yet the skin will be a bit darker than the very pale-skinned 'Summer'"; "not the transluscent look that a 'Summer' person has"; "Rosy cheeks will not appear naturally on a 'Winter' person"; "Dark-skinned 'Winters' are usually olive-skinned with a blue undertone." 
Dominant skin characteristics (an individual's skin may include more than one): "very pale"; "It is the Summer person's lot in life to never have a suntan"; "transparent"; "fine-textured"; "light with a rosy-red or lilac undertone that does not come to the surface"; "not prone to blushing"; "The overall look of a 'Summer' is colorless".
Dominant skin characteristics (an individual's skin may include more than one): "Light amber with gold tones"; "darker suntanned look with a yellow undercast"; "There is a tendency to blush easily"; "often very rosy"; "there is a lively appearance to skin-tone"; "The overall appearance of 'Spring' is 'Radiance'".
Dominant skin characteristics (an individual's skin may include more than one): "gold or yellow undertone"; "more gold or orange-toned than a 'Spring'"; "Bronze".
Suzanne Caygill, Color: The Essence of You (1980)
Suzanne Caygill published Color: The Essence of You. in 1980. Regarded as the pioneer of color analysis and image consulting, Caygill may have been influenced by her association with Edith Head, wardrobe designer and consultant to Hollywood studios and stars.
Caygill used an elaborate version of the "seasonal" color theory, first noted by artists nearly a century earlier. She had sub-types within each season, for example. In her book, she attempts to match personality and body types with seasons and sub-types of seasons. She believed that a person’s coloring at birth shaped and influenced his or her personality. For example, when writing about Autumns, she remarks, "The usually strong face will preclude any attempt on the part of an Autumn woman to appear "pretty." If she is pretty, this quality should not be emphasized, since it will not dramatize her personality."
Caygill utilized a color system that corresponded with the four seasons of the year, but she inexplicably reversed the names for the summer and winter color categories. In other words, she dubbed winter as a bright color category and summer as a muted color category, despite the fact that Johannes Itten and other color theorists had agreed that summer is a bright season with long daylight hours and bright blue skies and bright colorful landscapes; while winter has much less daylight and is a season of muted colors, such as blue-grey skies. Although Caygill's classification is counter-intuitive, image consultants have continued with this classification system ever since.
Carole Jackson, Color Me Beautiful (1980)
The most successful book on seasonal color analysis was Carole Jackson's Color Me Beautiful (1980). The book was a 1980s pop-culture phenomenon and spawned a number of related sequels, including Jackson's own Color Me Beautiful Makeup Book,  and Color for Men, (1984), as well as titles in the same line by other authors. Jackson utilized a seasonal color system less complicated than Caygill’s, and sought to assist each reader to find her own "thirty special colors." [Carole Jackson was the first of the "color analysis authors" to create a retail success story based on her highly successful books, selling swatch packets (a wallet designed to house fabric swatches by season) for use as a shopping companion, a successful line of cosmetics, and a direct selling company Color Me Direct featuring Color Analysis as it's key home selling strategy.]
Dominant skin tones (an individual's skin may include more than one): "Very white", "White with delicate pink tone", "Beige (no cheek color, may be sallow)", "Gray-beige or brown", "Rosy beige", "Olive", "Black" (blue undertone)", "Black (sallow)".
Dominant skin tones (an individual's skin may include more than one): "Pale beige with delicate pink cheeks", "Pale beige with no cheek color (even sallow)", "Rosy beige", "Very pink", "Gray-brown", "Rosy brown".
Dominant skin tones (an individual's skin may include more than one): "Creamy ivory", "Ivory with pale golden freckles", "Peach", "Peach/pink (may have pink/purple knuckles)", "Golden beige", "Rosy cheeks (may blush easily)", "Golden brown."
Dominant skin tones (an individual's skin may include more than one): "Ivory", "Ivory with freckles (usually redhead)", "Peach", "Peach with freckles (usually golden blonde, brown)", "Golden beige (no cheek color, needs blush)", "dark beige, coppery", "Golden brown."
Mary Spillane and Christine Sherlock, Color Me Beautiful's Looking Your Best
Spillane and Sherlock introduced an expanded classification system, in which the four "seasonal" palettes were expanded to twelve.
Veronique Henderson and Pat Henshaw Henderson and Henshaw combine the seasonal analysis method with a classification system based on contrasts in an individual's coloring, returning to the previous color study from doris Pooser in the early 1990s.
Systems of contrast analysis
In an attempt to move away from the complexities involved in seasonal color systems, some authors have suggested that it is possible to achieve attractive results by focusing instead on the level of contrast between a person's skin tone and his or her hair and eye colors.
Joanne Nicholson and Judy Lewis-Crum, Color Wonderful (1986)
Another method of analysis was developed by color consultants Joanne Nicholson and Judy Lewis-Crum, whose 1986 book Color Wonderful  explains their classification system, which is based on the amount of contrast in an individual's coloring.
Alan Flusser, Dressing the Man (2002)
Flusser lays out two relatively simple rules:
- The degree of contrast between the wearer's skin and his / her hair and eyes should be reflected in the degree of contrast between the colors in his / her clothes. "[The] great variety of shadings ... can be scaled down into two basic formats: contrast or muted. If your hair is dark and your skin light, you have a contrast format. If your hair and skin tone are similar, your complexion would be considered muted or tonal." A high-contrast individual should dress in clothes with highly contrasting colors. The result will be that the "high-contrast format [of the clothing] actually invites the eye to look at [the wearer's] face because of its compatibility with his [dark] hair and light skin." By contrast, "Encasing a low-intensity complexion within a higher-contrast setting dilutes the face's natural pigmentation in addition to distracting the viewer's eye."
- One or more of the tones in the skin and hair should be repeated in an article of clothing near the face. One option is to repeat the color of the hair in a jacket, tie or scarf, in order to "frame" the face: "The obvious choice of suit shade would be that which repeated his hair color, thereby drawing the observer's attention to what was bracketed in between--in other words, his face." Flusser uses a series of photos of models to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve attractive results by repeating the eye color or the skin tones in clothing articles that are close to the face, and that it is even more desirable to use several colors in the clothes to match some combination of skin / hair / eye colors.
Color psychology, an extension of color analysis, is a valuable tool that is used in conjunction with the analysis of colors. In reality, the psychological connotation of a color has nothing to do with its effect upon the color of one's face or the results in the mirror. It is necessary to consider both the physical impact color has upon your appearance, and the impact a color has upon the unique persona that one projects to the world.
- Spring colors are clear and bright, just like the colors of a spring day. The sun is low on the horizon, so everything is imbued with the golden hues of the sun. The trees and grass have not yet matured, so they are tinged with yellow undertones and are a bright spring green color. Distinct yellow undertones impart a vibrant, electric appearance to everything. The colors of this season are truly like a spring bouquet of flowers enveloped in bright spring green leafy foliage: red-orange and coral tulips, bright yellow jonquils and daffodils.
- The colors of this season are muted with blue undertones (think of looking at the scenery through a dusky summer haze). Late summer blossoms, a frothy ocean and white beaches are seen everywhere. Baby blue, slate blue, periwinkle, powder pink, seafoam green and slate grey are typical Summer colors.
- Autumn colors are virtually indistinguishable from the rich, earthy colors of the season for which they were named. They are as golden-hued as a fall day, and it is impossible to mistake them for any other season. Typical colors from the palette include pumpkin, mustard yellow, burnt orange, brown, camel, beige, avocado green, rust and teal. Autumn colors are perennially popular, because they bring a feeling of warmth and security. The painting by Millais personifies the color of autumn.
- The colors from this season are clear and icy, like a winter's day; always with subtle blue undertones. To name a few: hollyberry red, emerald and evergreen, royal blue, magenta and violet. Winter inspires pictures of winter berries, pine green conifers and black and white huskies racing through snow.
- ^ Theory of Colour - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- ^ Michel Eugène Chevreul - Simultaneous contrast
- ^ Johannes Itten, The Art of Color ISBN 0-442-24038-4
- ^ Josef Albers, Interaction of Color ISBN 0-300-01846-0
- ^ Color reproduction technology was still not perfect, causing Carole Jackson to warn her readers, "Because it is difficult to print the color swatches 100 percent accurately, ... verbal descriptions will help you understand the concept of your colors when you shop for clothes." See Carole Jackson, Color for Men. New York: Ballantine Books, 1984, p. 61.
- ^ From the front cover of Carole Jackson, Color for Men. New York: Ballantine Books, 1984.
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color for Men. New York: Ballantine Books, 1984, p. 57.
- ^ Carole Jackson, "Color Me Beautiful". New York: Ballantine, 1980 (revised version, 1985), p. 25.
- ^ Bernice Kentner, Color Me a Season, p. 26.
- ^ Bernice Kentner, Color Me a Season, p. 30.
- ^ Deborah Chase, ‘’The Medically Based No Nonsense Beauty Book’’.
- ^ a b Carole Jackson, ‘’Color for Men’’, p. 46.
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color Me Beautiful MakeUp Book. New York: Ballantine, 1988, p. 36.
- ^ a b Carole Jackson, Color for Men, p. 61.
- ^ a b Carole, Jackson, ‘’Color for Men’’, p. 40.
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color Me Beautiful MakeUp Book. New York: Ballantine, 1988, p. 38.
- ^ Carole, Jackson, Color for Men, p. 40.
- ^ Carole, Jackson, ‘’Color for Men’’, p. 65.
- ^ Alan Flusser, Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. New York: Harper Collins, 2002, p. 19.
- ^ On p. viii of the Preface to the 1983 fifth printing of Color Me a Season, Kentner notes that she has "been involved with Color Analysis for a decade or more and 33 years as a licensed Cosmetologist".
- ^ Color Me a Season, p. 24.
- ^ Color Me a Season, p. 31.
- ^ Color Me a Season, p. 25.
- ^ Color Me a Season, p. 30.
- ^ Color Me a Season, pp. 26-28.
- ^ Color Me a Season, pp. 28-29.
- ^ Color Me a Season, p. 29.
- ^ Suzanne Caygill, Color: The Essence of You ISBN 0890871957
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color Me Beautiful ISBN 0345345886
- ^ Color Me Beautiful Makeup Book, ISBN 0-345-34842-7
- ^ Color for Men, ISBN 0-345-34546-0
- ^ The front cover of Color Me Beautiful contains the promise, "Whatever your style or mood, you'll glow in your thirty special colors!" Carole Jackson, Color Me Beautiful. New York: Ballantine, 1980 (revised edition, 1985).
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color me Beautiful, p. 47.
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color me Beautiful, p. 49.
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color me Beautiful, p. 53.
- ^ Carole Jackson, Color me Beautiful, p. 51.
- ^ Color Me Beautiful's Looking Your Best, ISBN 1-56833-037-5
- ^ Joanne Nicholson and Judy Lewis-Crum, Color Wonderful 1986 (ISBN 0-553-34238-X)
- ^ a b Alan Flusser, Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. New York: Harper Collins, 2002, p. 21.
- ^ Alan Flusser, Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. New York: Harper Collins, 2002, pp. 21-22.
- ^ Alan Flusser, Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. New York: Harper Collins, 2002, pp. 24-33.
- ^ Sandy Dumont, Tattle Tale Looks ISBN 978-0-9801071-4-2
Color topics Color perception Color space Basic colors Related
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