So…. umm…. What exactly IS colour analysis?

image-oneWhen I write my posts, I usually blithely charge in without even the smallest doubt that of course everyone reading knows exactly what colour analysis is. Until a recent meeting with Kettlewell, that is, when it was casually mentioned that actually a significant proportion of their customers actually haven’t had a personal colour analysis. Suddenly I realised that there’s a whole customer group that I haven’t really written anything for!

I’m going to start aiming the odd post at you lovely people, but, being the colour obsessive that I am, it seemed crazy to start without at least a bit of an introduction to colour analysis and what Kettlewell Colours does for those who have had their colours ‘done’.

The right and the wrong colours

Everyone has, at some point, looked back on a holiday photo or a picture from a friend’s wedding and thought, “Oh my goodness, I loved that outfit, but I look beyond terrible in that picture,” or perhaps you’ve had a day where everyone is asking whether you’re feeling ok, whether you’ve been a bit under the weather. Or you’ve bought a beautiful jumper in the sale that is the exact shape and very similar but slightly different shade to an old favourite jumper, but the new one just doesn’t make you feel quite as good (and so hangs, unloved in the wardrobe, while the old one gets worn to death).

Conversely, you’ve almost certainly had an experience where people at work you hardly speak to from one end of the week to the next have come up and asked if you’ve got a new lipstick or been on holiday, because you’re looking so amazing. And you know you look amazing. You have that extra bounce in your step and you wish you could feel that good every day, if only you could work out why you feel so good about yourself.

Obviously everyone has good or bad days, but the fact is that these passing comments are generally almost entirely down to what you are wearing rather than whether you got our full allocation of eight hours sleep last night. Not just whether what you’re wearing is super stylish and co-ordinated, but whether it works for you, making you look your absolute most fresh faced, healthy, young and put together.

Tell me more, how do we know colour analysis is a ‘thing’?colour_wheel

Colour theory is hardly brand new – from Isaac Newton’s original colour wheel through Goethe’s work on the perception of colour and then onwards to Itten’s ‘The Art of Colour’ and Munsell’s colour theory work, we have been studying the way colours work together for hundreds of years.

Colour analysis has evolved from this combination of the artistic and the scientific, and has been used to alter our perception of people on screen since the rise of colour films in the 1940s caused the artist Robert Dorr to begin to investigate why an actress might look simply fabulous in one scene and decidedly sinister or sickly in another. I won’t go into too much depth about the history of colour analysis right here, but look out for a future post on it – it truly is a fascinating subject.

Why an analyst?

It’s easy to dismiss modern colour analysis as total hokum – an alarmingly dressed analyst in bright pink lipstick wafting some drapes around and announcing that you look good in one colour or another, irrespective of which colours you love and which ones you hate – but in reality a consultant should hardly have to convince you of anything. The reactions of others in your colour analysis class, the way the colours all come together in the end and the compliments and confidence you get in the weeks after your analysis are persuasion enough for our clients. The value in the analyst, incidentally, isn’t purely in informing you which season you are, but in telling you what that means for you, your best colours within your season, how you should be putting colours together, how to use your wallet, and so on.

I often get told that really it’s perfectly possible for a person to analyse themselves in front of a mirror with a few different coloured tops and scarves, and I suppose it is, in theory (assuming you have a wide selection of precision dyed tops and scarves in a complete spectrum of colours), but the reality is that if it were that simple then analysts would be out of a job tomorrow. I have met the very occasional person who genuinely does know exactly what suits them (and who, inevitably don’t understand why the rest of us need colour analysis), but those people are few and far between and the rest of us usually need a little extra guidance.

It can be hard to be objective about ourselves and whether a certain colour looks good on us – years of being told that certain colours flatter everyone,or that coal blue/lime green/pastel pink is in fashion right now, or that everyone can wear black or a million and one other colour myths usually totally erode our own sense of which colours make us look our best and which ones are doing us no favours at all.before_and_after

And that’s where we come in

As I said, the purpose of the analyst is obviously partly to guide you to your correct colours, but also to spend some time discussing how to put those colours together and how to shop with all the new information you’ve been given during the class. A good analyst will inform you whether you need high contrast, tonal colours, which shades of jewellery and make up work best for you, set you on the right path to decluttering your wardrobe and a dozen other tips besides.

The analysis itself consists of the consultant comparing dozens of pairs of drapes to see which ones make you look livelier, healthier, fresher, more in harmony etc etc etc. The first pairs of drapes will be to ascertain whether you have warm or cool skin tone (whether you have a blue or a yellow undertone to your skin – this is something that is often discussed in terms of make up colours, but very few people confidently know which side of the line they fall). Having established whether your skin tone is warm or cool, the consultant will then assess whether your best colours are those that are brighter and clearer or slightly softer or richer colours. You will then be shown some make up in colours that flatter you.Spring_final

And then you shop (and that’s where Kettlewell comes in)

Once your analysis is complete and you’ve done a bit of wardrobe decluttering, then you really get to use the amazing tool that is Kettlewell to its full potential. By dividing their clothes up by season, Kettlewell have already done 90% of the work for you when it comes to buying jersey and knitwear basics that make you look your absolute best. There have been several capsule wardrobe posts on here over the past year (and no doubt there will be several more to come this year. Love a good capsule wardrobe) which demonstrate how much easier putting together a smaller but more chic wardrobe is once you know your best colours.

Hopefully you’ve got some idea now what colour analysis entails, but if you want to know any more, or if you have any topics you’d like me to cover for the un-analysed among you, comment below and let us know!

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