I always get a bit uncomfortable when I tell someone what I do and they immediately say: “Oh, you’re a colour analyst; tell me what season I am.”
I have to gently explain that I really can’t tell just by looking at them, and that the analysis process takes at least a couple of hours, in daylight with them in their bare, unmade up face, and all distractions such as their clothes, coloured hair and jewellery covered up. One of my colleagues is far more direct than I; she says bluntly “It’s not a party trick, you know: that’s why we charge you £110 for it!” Such is her personality, she gets away with it. I’m sure I would just sound rude.
And you really can’t tell by just looking. Even when you’ve got somebody who you feel is so blindingly obvious they should have “Spring” (or “Winter” or whatever) tattooed on their foreheads, they don’t always turn out to be what you’re expecting.
My second daughter is a case in point. The moment my first daughter was laid in my arms in the hospital, I looked at her pinky/blue skin next to my golden skin and thought “Ah, she’s a Summer, like her father.” (yes, I do realise that this is not the first thought that crosses the minds of most mothers when they see their new baby, but then I am just a bit passionate (who said obsessed?) about my job.) When daughter number two came along and her skin was yellow, like mine I thought it was also easy: she would be a Spring like me. Then she got more yellow (jaundice?) and when I analysed her colours (more or less the first thing I did when we got her home) she was an Autumn! Well, I didn’t believe it – so I did her again the next week, and the next – and then I called in a colleague! Yes, Autumn. I’ve had her in my chair about eight times since then and, every time, Autumn.
The point is that she still looks like a Spring! Anyone looking at us would say that she gets her colouring directly from me. Our eyes are the same grey/green/gold (most people think they’re blue), my hair was once upon a time as blonde as her’s. Our skin is clear, pale and bright. But she is a Vibrant Autumn, and I am a Golden Spring. My Spring colours look pale and washed out on her; her rich colours look heavy and frumpy on me.
A friend of mine is also a Golden Spring. She has mid-brown hair, and hazel eyes. You wouldn’t expect the same colours to suit us both, but they do.
This Colour Analysis business is a lot more scientific and technical than most people assume. Many (especially the chaps) think it’s an airy-fairy area and that their wives/sisters/mothers/girlfriends are paying someone a ridiculous amount of money for the benefit of yet another opinion. Those of you who have been through the process (with a reputable Colour Consultant: House of Colour Consultants are, of course, the best!) will know that it’s anything but opinion. the evidence is empirical, but definite. Unless you are an extremely unusual case; right on the cusp of two seasons, I would expect you to come out the same every single time.
So I was intrigued this week when I analysed the second of two identical twins. Now, I have their permission to blog about them, but forgot to ask if I could use their real names; so rather than calling them twin A and twin B, I’ll call them Anne and Belinda. (Hi girls: I’m really sorry if your most detested cousin is Anne and the school bully was Belinda, but they were the first names I thought of.)
Belinda came to see me first, on the recommendation of one of my long time clients who has sent me I don’t know how many people over the years (thank you: you’re a star!). Belinda is someone you look at and think “Autumn” as there are warm lights in her hair and her complexion is fresh and creamy. There is a lot of warmth in her personality too, and you would just think that warm earthy colours should be right.
No – Summer. A dark brown Summer admittedly (they often look like Autumns), but definitely Summer.
Perhaps I had better explain the categories of Seasons, because not every Colour Analyst does this additional sub-division of the Seasons.
At House of Colour we determine the season split by firstly discovering if your natural colouring is blue based (Summer and Winter) or yellow based (Spring and Autumn). The next step is to see if that natural colouring is clear and bright (Spring and Winter) or soft and muted (Summer and Autumn). You will see therefore that, as a Spring, my colouring is yellow based, clear and bright, and so warm clear bright shades harmonise best with my skin, eyes and hair and I look healthy, attractive (!) and well-rested.
It will be obvious that the description “warm, clear and bright” covers a lot of ground, and that within that description there will be certain colours that look absolutely amazing when worn top to toe, some that need just a bit of a break around the throat, some that work best as separates and some that, although great for bags, shoes, patterns and accessories, actually aren’t so fabulous in big blocks of colour. There are many reasons for this and it would take a whole blog in itself to go through them. There is always a pattern to these “amazing” colours and they determine the sub-category of your season.
So, within Spring, there are golden springs (who look best at the warmest end of the spectrum), paintbox springs (who claim the brightest end as their territory), blue springs (who rarely wear outfits in all coral, canary yellow and tan but who grab the violet, navy and turquoise triumphantly), and pastel springs who need to spend a fortune dry-cleaning all their ice-cream shades of mint, honey, peach and banana!
There is more of an element of subjectivity around this area of the analysis and the ratings would rarely be identical from two different consultants (one might say tan could be worn as a three quarter length coat, another might say it was best as separates only) but the best colours should, by and large, be the same.
So my expectation was that, when Belinda brought her sister Anne along, that Anne would also be a dark brown Summer.
But – I also had a reservation at the back of my mind.
You see, having done this job now for thirteen years, and analysed hundreds of clients (it’s not quite in the thousands yet) I’ve noticed that personality seems to play a part in this last part of the analysis. For instance, one set of shades may display a client’s strength and authority, but her best colours may (while losing none of that strength and authority) reveal her warmth and compassion as well.
So I just wondered, especially when it became clear that these two women have very different personalities, if they would actually be identical when it came to the results of their colour analysis.
The answer: not identical.
Oh yes, both Summers (Hey – I’d be worried if they weren’t the same there); but whereas Belinda has her absolute best colours at the darker end of the Summer spectrum, Anne is a “sweet-pea” Summer: her best shades are the brightest and prettiest in the garden!
Why is that?
Well, I’m not absolutely sure, but I do have a theory.
You see, Belinda is a girlie girl; she’s pretty and warm and bright and giggly (yes, you can imagine the two of us together: we’re like seven-year olds in the playground). She loves shopping and shoes, manicures and spa days. Anne is much more practical and straight-forward. She hates shopping, is frankly astounded that anyone could own sixty-five pairs of shoes (see last blog) and hasn’t got time for all that pampering nonsense!
You’d think that it would be Anne needing the darker colours and Belinda the prettiest, wouldn’t you?
But Anne has all the authority she needs in her manner; that’s a given. The brighter and prettier colours bring out her prettiness and warmth, the same prettiness and warmth that Belinda has without trying. Belinda needs her authority colours to ground her, so we see her strength underneath the giggles.
I might be totally wrong; the different lives they have led might have changed (slightly) the tonality of their skins. I would love some more identical twins to experiment on (volunteers, form an orderly queue here).
But it’s an interesting theory, isn’t it?