An Incorrect Colour Analysis Result

Now that students are being trained, some are finding that their earlier PCAs were not correct.

I analyzed a woman, *Ruth*, 2-3 years ago as a Soft Summer. As a part of her training recently (with the excellent Terry Wildfong), she found that she is in fact a Dark Winter.

I have had students myself and found them to be a different Season than previously thought.

It’s awkward for everyone. What is the right path?

Photo: starryboo2
Photo: starryboo2


Moving through, not away from

My question today is:

As a community of analysts and clients, how will be handle this? It’s going to keep happening for a little while.

Achieving consistency between our analysts is our biggest challenge. (Whether the public finds complete consistency between the palette and their own colouring is another matter, one I worry about less.) Yet, never for an instant would I consider another method.

Can we allow our stumbles to happen openly and comfortably so we can all learn?

At first, of course, the ego takes a little beating. Not a big thing. It’s healthy, not just for me but for everyone who emails me and thinks I’m somehow special or gifted when all I do is write more than everyone else. I’m just more visible. Like models and other meteorites, the idea that anyone is near-perfect sets up a standard that is untrue and destructive for those who think they should live up to it.

If we’re afraid of being wrong, we’re lost. In school and society, we’re taught that we should avoid mistakes but I completely disagree. They’re how we learn. That discomfort feeling is called Experience. There’s no other way to get it. We all have been and will be wrong and should move towards that heat, and then through it. Running away keeps us stuck with our feet like tree roots. I love trees almost as much as oceans but they can’t walk on this Earth. Humans can.

I tell my own students that the best thing that can happen to them as colour analysts is to have been wrong about their Season a few times. Identifying with our clients is how we support them fully. Once we’ve shopped with our Colour Books, we feel what she’s up against.

Photo: arkitekt
Photo: arkitekt


The analyst’s growth

First, I get separation from my business. If every mistake feels so personal, I can’t manage it and grow from it. I just get caught up in feeling bruised and sorry for myself. Humiliation is fine and useful, because it’s the light side on the road to humility, a very blessed way to live.

Get clarity on what I care about. Not my image. Really don’t care about that. I very sincerely care about the Kathryn Kalisz-founded system of Personal Colour Analysis as a fantastic and unparalleled resource for empowering consumers. I care deeply about making your business wildly successful, whatever your definition of successful is, and seeing you having trouble holding in the joy you feel from putting yourself on this path of Personal Colour Analyst, even if you will be wrong sometimes. A wrong analysis hasn’t compromised what I care about. Easy to calm down.

Search for curiosity. What can I learn? Why might this have happened that could give the client and I even more insight into her colouring? The first analyst didn’t just pluck a Season out of the air like a random mosquito swimming by. Terry said,

I don’t wish to see an analyst being referred to as getting an analysis wrong. I see it as analysts can come to different results, plain and simple, by interpreting differently, which leads them down a different path. I analyzed my husband as a True Spring, and he is a Bright Winter. I came to the first result for several reasons, which I have now corrected in my perception. Was I totally wrong? No, he is blended with Spring. Was there a better result? Yes.


Photo: duchessa
Photo: duchessa


The client’s growth

I ask myself, What is their work and what is mine in this situation? Before getting all reactive, we both have to think, What can I do to make this situation work better for you? We can have a talk. We can re-drape you. Do I give refunds? I’ve never been asked, my clients are so elegant. Would I? I guess I’d do what would calm the person and let them feel validated. I’m not in this for the money and I never make decisions based on money. This absolutely does not set a precedent for other analysts but if someone wanted their cash back, I guess I’d return it, knowing that the communication between us would end right there. The whole “I spend $200, I deserve…” “For $2000, the least I expect…”, we hear it all the time. It’s a 2-dimensional view of the world that wants $$ more than knowledge so we don’t belong together. As a client, I wouldn’t ask for a refund. Lord knows we’ve gotten some sketchy makeup applications and massages we didn’t love and didn’t ask for refunds. Everyone is doing their best. Nobody set out to cheat anyone. Maybe the client should have got better informed beforehand.

Find gratitude. Ruth brings a very beautiful intelligence to our profession. Her first reaction was to look for something to be grateful for. That’s an impressive being who understands that there’s a bigger plan in motion towards a greater place, and who is able to quietly place her trust in it. I’m often amazed at the assembly of remarkable personalities contained within our group. Ruth belongs among us and is most welcome.


Photo: Dr_ernst
Photo: Dr_ernst


The Biology of Sight

This again. It defines how we see so there’s no getting away from it. Terry reminded us,

I believe there are two major reasons why analysts can have conflicting results. Both reasons are found in The New Munsell Student Color Set under the heading of Observer Metamerism:

1. No two people see color exactly the same. This is something that can never be altered. There will never be a set of drapes or even training that can ensure the same visual perception will be had by two different analysts.

2. Our visual perception of a color changes, based on what color was last viewed. Just making up this example: If you are comparing Blue #1 for TW and Blue #5 for TSu, the reactions you see in the mirror are made on that comparison. If I have Blue #1 for TW and Blue #3 for TSu (all technically correct), the reactions I see will be based on that comparison. If Sharon has Blue #2 for TW and Blue #4 for TSu, again technically correct, she could come to a different result.

The closest way two analysts can hopefully come to the same conclusion is to have every test drape exactly the same, which Christine and I have talked about. But even if every drape we make for every set is the same, problem #1 above still exists.


Photo:  matchstick
Photo: matchstick


The Drapes

Everything can always change for the better. The Sci\ART system is, in my view, unequaled in its approach, its working instruments (the drapes), and in its accuracy at demonstrating your natural, inborn colours. I know the strengths of the draping system and they are beyond substantial.

The drapes I have from 4 years ago are not without a few drawbacks that I’ve learned over time and today, can factor into an analysis. The True Autumn yellow is extremely saturated, for instance. A Bright Spring could wear it. Was there a reason it was placed in that Season? The person who can answer isn’t here to ask.

Soft Summer and Dark Winter’s red drape is exactly the same piece of fabric. And there are only 3 drapes to test the 12 Tones, and they are not the same colours. I didn’t know it back then. Nonetheless, I should have picked up from the beginning, back in the 4 Seasons, that on Ruth, True Winter was better than True Summer.

Other analysts have other issues. Some are not confident in finding a Light Summer. Some always question some other Season.

It’s this knowledge that went into the drapes that Terry and I offer our students. And they will improve. We continue to gather positive and negative data and re-assess. We’re working on standardizing colours even more rigorously and giving you increasingly accurate comparisons. If you bought them, you know that I’ll keep working with you and continue sending additions/replacements until I can’t improve them any more. Which I hope will never happen.

Photo: stevekrh19


Changing Colouring with Time

Most of us have settled into our Season by age 17.

My True Winter daughter was settled by age 4, maybe sooner (I didn’t formally test her but the eyes were fully black).

Terry’s daughter changed from Soft Summer to Dark Winter in her 20s, with a pregnancy in those years.

We darken several times in life, in our teens and our 30s.

We change in our 50s…do our colours really muted or do we just look different, less water, thicker outer layer of keratin…

I don’t believe that most people change Seasons, they just become a new painting from the same paint box. But clearly, some people do move to a new group of natural colouring parameters at various lifestages. Colouring is unpredictable.

Photo: txpotato


Continuing Education

The potential of a system can’t be maximized until we acknowledge its weak spots. Until truth is brought into light, it can’t be examined and raised higher. We gotta talk about this stuff with an intent to learn the why and how.

We don’t want to still be giving women different Seasons 5 years from now. Every analyst does it and if I admit freely that I did, maybe others will speak more comfortably about why they feel it happened in their case. Then we can get to work as a collaborative, non-judgmental team to fix the causes and leave them behind us.

We can’t be in denial and defense. If we go around like The Human Landmine: An Undetonated Incendiary Device when the imperfections of our process or tools are brought up, everyone will clam up. In 5 years, we’ll be right where we are today. Still strong, still smart, still fragmented.

We need ways to refresh our training with one another. Not re-accreditation for practicing analysts, but organized meetings where we can learn from the fact that every one of us does things differently.

We all have different drape acrobatics. Some analysts move to the Luxury Drapes very early in the process. Some analysts begin with the Red Drapes, before the 4 Test (True Seasons) and 12 Test (12 Tones) drapes. Both certainly correct from my POV. I can’t think of any logistic problem. So why do I begin with 4T? Because my eyes just aren’t ready to interpret the Reds that soon with a new face. I wasn’t trained that way. It’s not what I’m used to.

Somehow, these meetings needs to happen. They will help us technically and remind us to be generous with all practicing colour analysts, Sci\ART based and otherwise.


Photo: Eastop


What will potential clients think?

Ruth asked,

I felt I was able to explain this to my sister because she knows something about PCA; she understands that Dark Winter and Soft Summer can have similar qualities. (It’s not as if I had been draped a True Spring!) … My biggest concern is sharing this with the people in my life who know very little about PCA — people I’ve had to convince that there’s something to this — friends, acquaintances, people at church, business contacts. I’m telling you, I have been an evangelist about this and I have a lot of women (and a number of men) very excited to have a PCA. I am trying to think of a concise way to explain this to them — a way that won’t undermine the validity of Sci\ART PCA or require me to pull out a color clock at dinner.


My thoughts,

Communicate the enthusiasm, learning, upgrading, and increasing sense of fulfillment and freedom. If someone chooses to think, If they can’t get this right the first time then there can’t be anything to it., it demonstrates a closed mentality about everything in their life and you might not need them to visit you. What most people want is integrity, honesty, your very best effort, and to be seen and heard.

Whenever we’re learning about ourselves, our physical selves, our spiritual selves, we move forward in steps. If one doctor helps you lot and opens your eyes to a new treatment method but you don’t find full recognition on the first visit, do you never see them again and close themselves to that modality, or try again and see if there’s a way to build higher? For me, it would be decided by my faith in the method and in the person.

If you position yourself to your community as having renewed faith in the method, even despite a correction, it sends a message that the method must be really strong in your eyes or you’d have abandoned it.

I would trust the person with perspective much more than the one proclaiming only success. No medical test is foolproof, not even those that come back Positive or Negative as opposed to the Ranges and Trends types. A doctor who doesn’t know the limitations of a test is useless at interpreting its findings. The No Fail Guarantee is an uneducated assumption that folks sophisticated in a subject released awhile back.

I know the problems and I’d never consider any other process of Personal Colour Analysis. My belief system gets stronger because I have run into problems, given attention and effort to their repair, and acquired a more deeply layered frame of reference, always with room to improve.

Live the conviction that in error, we become stronger, just as surely that in giving, we receive. Both paradoxes, both true.



55 thoughts on “An Incorrect Colour Analysis Result”

  1. I can totally see how this could happen. My sister has never been draped but I believe she is a soft summer, based on observation and conversations. She does wear a lot of Dark Winter things, too, because she is 6 feet tall and a person has to be a little flexible when shopping. It is hard enough to find a decent fit. As long as the colors are flattering enough, makeup and styling can add a lot.

    In addition, all of your observations about making mistakes and growth make a lot of sense to me. That’s how I operate, too. Learning is more important than perfection!!

  2. I don’t know if this will help or not. I’m not professionally trained in color analysis, but the thing I noticed in draping myself is that I can unwittingly affect the amount of shadows a color throws on my face by the subtle expressions I make. If I determine ahead of time that I like a certain color when it’s draped on my face I might subconsciously make an almost imperceptible smile. Just a little tightening of the slackness around my mouth and voila the color seems to bring less shadows. And by the same token if I have an aversion to a color or start to feel tired I might make a slight droop in my expression that could be perceived as a shadow. By experimenting extensively with draping myself, and getting my season wrong a few times before I got it right, I realized I needed to be very determined to make NO expression whatsoever. When I kept my face as still as if I were being operated on I got a true read of which colors enhanced and which drained me.

  3. Hi Christine,

    Thank you so much for this article. I have some thoughts about this. The problem with PCAs that are incorrect is thesignificance for the client in terms of investments, clothes that are given away and so on is massive – it isn’t just the initial $200 but much more. After a recent incorrect PCA I got rid of a lovely, expensive woolen scarf that was totally wrong (apparently) but, in fact, perfect for me now that I have been re-draped by the same person. Many of us who have been draped, have been draped and re-draped on more than one occasion. It does reduce your confidence in the results. So, on the one hand a PCA analyst should not be over promising because she COULD be wrong and on the other hand, the PCA specialist does not want to undersell what she offers because it can be life changing. I personally think that there needs to be more openness about the way that things can get scewed…otherwise as an industry the PCA world is over promising to its clients. I also think that clients need to be encouraged to work with and test out their results as you describe and if they don’t like the colours and are not being complimented on their outfits – to go back to the PCA person and discuss it. Just as you suggest.

  4. What Kathryn Anne said! It’s not so much about the cost of the draping as it is about the cost of makeup, clothes, jewelry, accessories, and the effects on the self-esteem of the client. When the draping is really wrong (someone draped Bright Spring who turned out to be Dark Autumn, for example), so humiliating to hear once it is corrected that people were wondering what on earth she was about during the Bright Spring phase. So hard on the person’s judgment when they put together an outfit according to the palette and people say “What are you wearing??” or the client’s own eyes make her doubt, but she bravely marches on, because that MUST be right, since the analyst said so …

    I was under the impression that with Sci/ART, success depended on following the steps exactly — that there are a series of things you do, using a certain set of tools, used in a precise order, that leads to a result. I’m wondering if one reason for mis-draping is that the steps are not being properly followed.

    It’s also occurred to me that if you try to cram several draping sessions into one day, the likelihood of a misdrape is increased, just because your eye gets tired.

    Just food for thought.

  5. Paisley, totally agree. I’m not sure that all the steps have to be followed in a particular order, but I definitely think they all need to take place. And so so yes about too many sessions in one day. When I was training I draped four people in one day; I’ll never do that again! Even by the third client I just couldn’t see as well. As Amelia said to me, when you drape someone you are deliberately looking at disharmony for an extended period of time, which stresses and fatigues your eyes and brain. There’s only so many hours a day that you can do that and still see clearly. For me two drapings a day is the right number.

  6. Having somewhat regular analyst meetings sounds like a good idea – I guess the best method would be to have them online, so that we all could have a chance to participate! And even for those of you within Canada/the US, I’m thinking the travelling might be too much.

  7. All Facebook was screaming about the wrong PCA of that Bright Spring lady but her analyst seems to be a person who is not afraid to speak the truth if she’s mistaken. We all were not present at that session and don’t know how her skin reacted to Dark Autumn and other Seasons but it is very clear to see that in BSp colors she looks like she doesn’t have any wrinkle and is 10 years younger. We know that an actual colouring doesn’t tell anything about a Season.

  8. I’m not a North American so please excuse me if my communications are blunter than is the prevailing norm in your societies, but if I went to a colour analyst and they told me that my actual colouring had no bearing on what season I might be, I’d cancel the appointment.

  9. Christine,

    First, thank you for the courage of this post. Secondly, I appreciate the connections about perfectionism, humility, and growth.

    I’ve been contemplating the whole “incorrect analysis” question lately. I’ve been draped by 3 sci-art persons with 3 different results. Reviewed by two online sci-art trained and related persons with 2 more results. Didn’t think any of them were right – felt overpowered by some colors and faded/hidden/ dulled down in others. Was just crazy enough to try it one more time – with someone whose before and after photos I admired a lot, and whose skill with cosmetics I thought might give her additional perspective. I did not tell her my history. She was slow and careful, and shared her thought process with me throughout. The result was a season I had not been analyzed as before. I feel confident that number 6 was right! Both immediately after the analysis and after living with the results for a while.

    I’m a Dark Winter and I have a couple of ideas about what might have happened. I think I’m a Kibbe theatrical romantic, and that body style makes it harder to “see” Dark Winter on me. Kibbe says that darks need to be broken by vivid colors for a TR and head to toe darks can be stark, head to toe neutrals can be boring. Stark is exactly the word for only one dark color on me. But add a light or bright – and THERE is the harmony. So, the stereotypical “look” for a DW doesn’t work on me because of my soft and romantic body and personality. Maybe style and personality figures into the analysts view of the person’s harmony more than folks have realized. Maybe people are more likely to be missed if their style and personality is outside the obvious/expected/stereotype of their group. Maybe winters are analyzed wrongly more often than others because of the need for contrast.

    Was it worth the $1200 or so I spent on sci-art analysis? My analyst reflected that I believed the science/theory and wanted that for myself and that’s why I persevered. Absolutely worth it. I had been planning to start coloring my hair. Once I had proper makeup and colors, my natural hair color looked great. At $90 a month . . . in a little over a year, I’ve recouped the investment – and avoided the time/hassles. I’m thrilled with most of my makeup and want to tweak a little, but soon I suspect I won’t be trying new colors and spending money unnecessarily. And, just wearing the right colors from my closet, I feel supported by my clothes/colors and people respond to me with more friendliness now. Feel really good about knowing what NOT to buy or look at again. And enjoying the creativity of creating harmony.

    My new awareness of my type, this post – I feel invited to put myself out there, risking mistakes, willing to be visible, more than ever . . . Thank you Christine, for creating space for this kind of dialogue.

  10. There is something I cannot get. For instance “I analyzed my husband as a True Spring, and he is a Bright Winter “. How could it be now well established that he “is” a Bright Winter, like a definite unchallenged truth? This is not exact science, and after all, one “is” the same, no matter the label. The big problem is that most of those who seek a colour analysis are not very self-confident, to say the least (otherwise they would find the way by themselves), and “mistakes” undermines their confidence even further. Some of them do not have much money, so that one consultation might be the highest luxury in their life.

  11. And also, cannot Terry be wrong and the lady actually looks nice and sweet in Soft Summer colour? (She “is” not a SSu, she is Ruth)? To my eye, the colours Terry wears are a bit too dark in the web photo.

  12. Christine I applaud you for being so brave to acknowledge this problem in PCA.
    I’ve not met any consultant who dare to do this. So thumbs up to you for making this subject discussable!
    As you know I’ve been analyzed many, many times, with all possible outcomes, but I’ve never been analyzed with the Sci/Art system , so I can’t make comments on that specifically.
    Of course I have been thinking how it is possible to have so many different results.
    At this point I see a few reasons: every consultant used different drapes with different color qualities.
    Summer drapes from consultant A made me look like drab, where the Summer drapes of consultant B looked great.
    Than there is the skill of the consultant, some get it and some just don’t. Not everyone has the talent to work with colors.
    There is also the matter of training…..most color companies train their students 4 or 5 days. After less than a week they can call themselves color consultants! I think it needs a lot more study than less than a week.
    And last, but not least, different people like to see different things in a person. In my specific case consultants either loved to see me in soft/muted colors or clear colors.
    The soft/muted “group” likes the harmony affect, and the “clear” group likes the uplifting affect colors have on me.
    What is the truth? What is it we want to see?

    I think PCA has to evolve. We have not reached perfection, and perhaps we never will.
    I’ve always thought that the affect of color was measurable, that it was science, but I’ve come to realize that it is not.
    My Suzanne Caygill consultant once sent me this in an email, and I quote

    Remember, YOU have to like how you look!!! If you only consider what other people think, you will remain insecure. It’s not a science and it is to a certain degree subjective.

  13. Inge,

    I wonder if the “too dark” look to your eye is not related to her coloring, but rather is because of the softer rounded lines in her face and body and/or the lack of a light contrast in the outfit. This may be a good illustration of the issue I talked about in my post.

  14. Denise, you are right, it might be the lack of contrast in her outfit, and the need of something softer and lighter around her face. And the lipstick is a bit too red for her, well, at least on my screen. All this might be a matter of taste, the artistic part of the colour analysis is not at all negligible- no exact science, alas…

  15. If you can’t wear the darkest colours of your season next to your face, are you in the right season? Should a bright spring be able to wear a black scarf?

  16. Jane, in my very humble opinion, women over 45 should avoid a black or dark navy block near their face, no matter their colouring. I might be wrong….

  17. Inge, you might be. I can imagine Penelope Cruz looking good in a black fedora at 75, but, taste is subjective. PCAs not about taste though, is it?

  18. No, but it is not science. You could measure the wave length of the reflected light, and then you have the precise colour. PCA doesn’t do this. This is why taste keeps interfering.

  19. Are you saying that different analysts are seeing different seasons as the accurate season on the same client because of their differing tastes? An important point I would think, as far as reliability of results goes. The taste error, the perception of “cast” or “clearing” error, the skin fluctuations error, all possible areas of stuff-up.

  20. Something like this, yes. This may also come from the subjects of the PCA, they have to objectively assume the colours for themselves, otherwise they might not recognize themselves in those colours after a while. Soft Summer and Dark Winter colourings, for instance, are both cool with a touch of muted warmth. One person may favour contrast and faces that stand out- an elegant uptowni-sh look. Another may like a blended softer look – a natural look that would look good even in (right coloured) pyjamas. If the client is not a case by the book, people may have different opinions,. I would prefer the latter myself, :-)

    As for errors, I do not know if these are errors, in most cases….
    One could have a different opinion without being actually wrong.
    PCA gives an educated advice, not the absolute truth.

  21. Christine,

    Thank you for this article and for space to discuss these things openly.

    I was draped in person (not by Sci/Art analyst) and I wasn’t satisfied with the result. I looked pale wearing my new colors. I was disappointed and began to experiment with colors again – on my own. Currently I cannot afford to pay for PCA with another analyst, but to be honest, I also realize that this is not an exact science and taste of the analyst and what she actually sees as harmonious on a person is highly subjective. When the taste of the analyst and the draped person meet, then the result and satisfaction might be great. I think I do not believe that someone *is* a certain season – I think it is a matter of interpretation of the person’s coloring. For example, I was brought up with an opinion that if someone is pale, it is not a good idea to wear light colors with low contrast, because they will look unhealthy. Someone with a different opinion might see this person in light colors as porcelain and ethereal – in a positive way. There is something like common knowledge and opinion that people have about what it means to be healthy looking, but it might differ from person to person, and probably from culture to culture too. And the aim of PCA is to find colors and their combinations in which the person looks their healthiest.

    As to the PCA systems – I think 12 seasons are not enough, maybe there are 12 basic tones that are possible to discern with drapes, but even within the tones there might be subseasons. Like e.g. someone might be a lighter version of Dark Winter – they may look much better in blackened Winter navy than Summer softer navy, but black might be too dark near the face. Anyway, I believe it is possible to create more colour palettes than just 12 as they are available in Sci/Art.
    Regarding the contrast – if I understood it correctly, in Sci/Art people with neutral coloring should wear either low contrast (Light and Soft seasons) or high contrast (Bright and Dark seasons). But what about people with neutral colouring who need medium contrast? Actually I do not understand how Sci/Art sees contrast, because I saw persons with obviously higher value contrast (when we determine a natural value contrast – the darkness/lightness between eyes, skin, hair) to be draped as seasons with low contrast, and vice versa, persons with low to medium value contrast were put into the high contrast seasons. Maybe Sci/Art approaches the matter of person’s natural value contrast like the matter of natural coloring – any in any season.

  22. Mistakes happen. There can be a number of reason. I would like to mention health. In my opinion it is a factor that can have influence on PCA. Liver problems can cause slight yellowness in the eyes and some dark spots on the face. Chronic breathing problems (asthma, emphysema, heart disease) can make skin look purple. Low iron level makes our blood a little more blue. Some other disease can make us much redder – our face, lips… Big hormone changes can darken our eyes and hair. Sometimes it’s very obvious (as when we know we are ill) and sometimes it’s a very small change which can make some difference. I don’t know if that was the case and if it was – how much influence it might give (maybe it just blurred a little bit the whole picture). In my opinion it’s better to make shore that we get PCA being healthy and taking good care of ourselves. And we should do that anyway :)

  23. This is a fascinating article, as are the comments. Ineke, thanks for the quote from your Suzanne Caygill consultant. A good reminder not to give away your favorite clothes if they clash with a color analysis! Mimi, I agree that there must be many more types than 12, simply because there are billions of people on earth. Just imagine how many Dark Winters there are, for instance. As for contrast, that’s been hard for me to figure out too. I do believe any Season can have any hair color, but if high contrast is important for Winter, what should the blonde Winter do? Could she be the rare blonde who is flattered by black?

  24. Kirsten, I think the basic question regarding contrast is whether to repeat the natural value contrast in clothing or not – to my eye it looks harmonious when it is repeated. Contrast is a very confusing issue for me. Summers must be able to wear low contrast and Winters high, no season apart from purely Warm seasons is theoretically allowed to need medium contrast to look harmonious. Quite interesting, why? In billions of people and with all possibilities how colors can be combined… With a cool to neutral coloring and medium value contrast I feel not to be theoretically included in this PCA system. I know some other systems allow it, but these are basically systems where natural coloring is taken into account.
    As for the PCA mentioned in this article – DW vs. SS – some DW and SS colors may be similar, but it is quite a big difference to wear SS low contrast and DW high contrast.

  25. Interesting discussion. Thank you, Christine, for starting it.

    Kirsten, any Winter is going to be flattered by black, regardless of hair color.

    The argument that there should be more than 12 season because there are billions of people is illogical. Those same billions divided by gender fall into only 2 groups, men and women, and I haven’t heard anyone say that we need more gender groups.

    I don’t really see the need for more sub-seasons or types. If you give a thousand people identical boxes of crayons, they’ll draw you a thousand different pictures. Many of them will not contain every single color from the box, but that doesn’t mean you should give those people fewer crayons next time. The pictures are complete, so you don’t need to give the people different crayons next time, either.

    This is also how we use our color palettes – very individually. Each of us is different, with far more to consider than color alone. We have preferences, some lifelong, others that change seasonally or even daily, we live in different climates, different cultures, different lifestyles, etc. We use the same palette as our sisters, but the pictures are very different.

    IMO, color analysis is just the beginning of the journey. You get a palette of colors. You get some basic guidelines, no prescriptions. What you draw is up to you.

  26. I love the analogy of 1000 pictures from the same box of crayons. I had considered DW on my own before my last analysis, but had rejected it because I didn’t like the dark head to toe look on me. But seeing myself as a DW in the last analysis and after using this box of colors, the only looks I don’t like are head to toe darks and head to toe neutrals and neutral makeup – which are exactly the combinations Kibbe says I should avoid, and however, exactly the combinations I love on many DW’s. 12 paintboxes times 13 ways of combining the colors is quite a bit of different looks, even without taking into account individuality.

    Maybe the line from the old CMB holds as true for 12 seasons a for 4 – that different people will use their colors in different ways. Some will be best for pants and skirts, some best near the face, some best as small accents. . .

  27. To Christine’s question – about what can be learned/changed because even the best of analysts will make mistakes. It seems to me that the process calls for some difficult judgment calls early on when the colors being compared have both good and bad effects, so choosing the best can be difficult. One decision would take a person down one path and another decision would go down another. I don’t know how that can be changed, but it seems to me that this issue is where part of the difficulty lies.

  28. I can’t afford another PCA, either. I was first told I’m a Summer (4-season system back in the ’80s). I’ve also been typed as a Spring and as a Clear Winter. I think the first PCA was closer to the truth, as I have soft eyes and and an overall soft appearance that makes me look horrible in clear colors. Now I’m stuck between Soft Summer and Soft Autumn; not sure which. I bought both swatch books from Indigo Tones. I wish I could figure out which palette is indeed the best.

  29. Good for you, Christine, to admit this method of color analysis is not infallible. To be fair, I am quite certain that neither you, or Terry, ever claimed that it was. I do think Sci/ART, or this offshoot of Sci/ART, in its marketing efforts, does, however, present their system as having more scientific merit than can truly be supported by any scientifically measurable facts. Indeed, the same could be said about all of the systems that utilize Munsell, whether they use “magic” drapes, colored-coordinates and some computer software, or what not. In the end, a person does the analysis and selects the colors that result in the palette, and we are all fallible. I agree that our clients need to know this up front. Thank you, again, for putting yourself out on a limb here.

  30. Thanks for your replies, Mimi and Alexandra. Like Denise, I like the crayon analogy, and I remember the chapter in Carole Jackson’s CMB where she points out how different people wear the colors of one Season different ways. Whether we consider four, twelve, or more color types, everyone does have to adapt a palette to one’s individual coloring and preferences.

    As for the blonde Winter, I think there’s a quality in the complexion that harmonizes with black despite the light coloring. On a stint of jury duty not long ago, I noticed that one of the jurors had platinum blonde hair but looked tired in all-light colors, while her face looked smoother and younger when she wore black. Turned out her hair was bleached, not naturally so light, yet even without darkness in her surface coloring she looked balanced in black. Maybe her platinum-painted hair served as her “high contrast” to black.

  31. Alexandra, I like the analogy with crayons. Perhaps I tried to follow the recommendations, including the contrast, too strictly.

    Regarding the palettes – I wonder what is actually the range of colors within a particular season/tone. I was quite surprised when I saw some corporate color fans – the colors are slightly different, and they also seem slightly darker. It’s true, I did not see them IRL. But certainly a different palette than the regular fans.

    Also the men’s color fans – I remember one lady wrote that she bought True Autumn men’s fan and the colors were slighly darker. So it seems within a tone the darkness range of colors is wider than I originally thought.

  32. Ruth, about being in between soft autumn and soft summer, various commentators around the web say that it’s common to flow between them. Also, personally speaking, I find the Indigo Tones swatches for these seasons way too light and soft, no offense to their maker. Cruising around the internet looking at other swatches and palettes, there are plenty of representations of the SA palette out there that have more oomph.

  33. I started out with a Sci/ART analysis and my Sci/ART fan is still my touchstone, but it’s true what Elizabeth Jesse said about perhaps Sci/ART makes too many claims on the “these colors and only these colors” (and, depending on who you ask, also “from only these fans from this maker”), when it seems that maybe what’s closer to The Truth (tongue-in-cheek caps) is that we need to educate our clients thoroughly about the whys. SSu is my best season, but I can certainly wear a lot of the SAu fan and not suffer too badly — because my most important thing is Soft. So perhaps if someone is on the borderline, the opportunity is there to show both fans and identify which colors might be her personal best.

    Color Alliance has some advantage in this way because the palette has to be ordered, so when the client comes back to pick it up, there is a session during which you show the client how to wear the colors in the fan. That is a time when you can educate about how to use it for matching, which colors might be her personal best, etc.

    I do agree we should counsel people NOT to throw out their entire wardrobes and all their makeup on the first day.

  34. Mimi, Softs and Lights are indeed lower in contrast compared to Brights and Darks. However, that’s speaking on a general level. It doesn’t give an exact picture of the contrast level in all the eight Neutral groups. I’m a draped Light Summer and in that group of people the contrast level is not low but from low to medium. If I want to, I can easily spend all my life wearing medium contrast and still stay within my palette. I can also stay low contrast if that’s my choice. The contrast level does play a part when choosing outfits but I don’t have to worry about it too much. The thing that all my best colours have in common is that they’re relatively light in value.

    I know my own season best but I suspect that medium contrast does exist in other Neutral tones as well – at least in some of them. I don’t think you necessarily fall outside of Sci\ART.

  35. Anne, I was draped a Light Summer too. My problem is that medium contrast seems to be a must for me (high contrast is too much). For example I cannot wear a dress in pastel color without something darker or brighter, because I look like wearing a nightwear. Also several people independently from each other told me I looked pale in pastels – which is strange for a Light season – I expected receiving compliments. What I wear in practice is something between Light Summer and Bright Winter – and I like the result (also taking into account what I can get in the shops – with my time and budget available).
    After all the years of searching for my color type and uncertainty, I gradually got to the state that I do not try to get it perfect with colors – if it’s good enough, it’s okay.

  36. Christine, this is yet another example of why you are high on my list of people to admire. You admit mistakes, learn from them, tackle the challenges.

  37. Christine I always love reading your writing. I think there are many reasons a PCA can create an imbalance in the person afterward…could be psychological (the colors don’t feel right), could be insecurity (these colors are amazing and make me stand out too much)… could be the way the palette is being used (I’m a Dark season but I’m a Soft archetype and therefore the high contrast a Dark season “should” be able to rock isn’t working)… could be the way a person’s skin reacts to makeup (I have personal experience with this…I’m a Dark season who cannot wear overly Dark makeup, because my Soft archetype requires a shimmer and gloss effect rather than an opaque high contrast effect)…or, as occurred to me recently, it could be that during a PCA we are in a perfectly neutral environment, something that is almost never replicated outside The Room unless it is 11 am on an overcast day (the golden sunlight or the lighting in a room will react with the colors we wear, just as our skin/hair/eye combination does). I had an amazing PCA with my analyst, and I went back a second time because the colors felt heavy and oppressive on me. I watched her with a more practiced eye the second time and saw what she did, including how my skin changed with each drape. The DA drapes completely smoothed my skin (the intent of the Sci/Art system) but to my eyes it made my skin and eyes dull. The DW drapes left a couple of white and red spots on my cheeks, but it made my eyes sparkle and I feel more “at home” in the DW colors. Based on her Sci/Art training she was completely correct in putting me into DA, but the psychology of color comes into play and I felt physically ill in the warmer shades of the palette. I’ve created a bit of balance for myself now, which is the cool side of the DA fan and the warmer side of the DW fan. As I’ve said recently, the Sci/Art and Kibbe systems help me more in learning what to AVOID absolutely, as opposed to what to WEAR absolutely. (I have never been good in adhering to what I “have” to do.) As others have said, thank you for being willing to address the shortcomings of any analysis system (whether it is color, body type, diet, etc., nothing is a one size fits all).

  38. I just saw this article on “mistakes” – haven’t read all the comments so hopefully I’m not repeating too much.

    I can’t think of another professional service in which the professional is 100% responsible for outcomes, with no input or response from clients. I think part of the problem is the pressure to do it all in a few hours.

    I think you and most colour analysts would redrape and reconsider, but clients might not know when to ask. Perhaps clients should be taught what to look for as clues that things aren’t right. I was shocked to be called a soft summer, but fairly quickly found the “truth” of it in the mirror. My face looked calm and settled. I found myself choosing clothes that reminded me of my most beloved high school pieces. I quickly and inexpensively shifted my wardrobe to the new colours and comfortable using the full range of my soft summer pallet. Makeup sits easily on my skin.

    Many years ago I was done as an autumn, and encouraged down that path. I never loved the warm colours – they felt “hot” and overbearing to me, so I lived in my neutrals. Anything coloured felt somehow off, even when a perfect match with my pallette. I was constantly in search of the perfect shade – it should not be this hard! Coppery lipsticks turned fuscia on me, and I cursed the lipstick world for shade after shade after shade that should have been perfect, turned into waste.

    Finally, as my hair started to turn a pewter-y grey, even my neutrals weren’t working, and I went to Christine. Although I was shocked at the cool tones of soft summer, it’s remarkable how easy everything became. I really don’t need to carry my colours with me to shop – the effect on my skin, hair and eyes is enough.

    Perhaps clients should be encouraged to do a checklist at the one year mark to see how they’re doing. If they have serious reservations, they should check in before too much money and time (and developing self-image) is wasted.


  39. Irem – from one woman who looks like she’s always headed to the gym to another, it sure does take patience to find those colours. Patience and practice as your eye learns to zero in on high saturation at all value levels. The next few months should be just excellent for you. Your colours often appear in party clothes, but they will be available in other styles as well.

    Sarah – fascinating thoughts. Changizi’s book has been in my Amazon shopping cart since first you mentioned it to me, waiting for a second title for the free shipping and to clear up my present reading stack. I looked at the comments of his other title, Harnessed, also sounds remarkable but mixed reviews. Have you read it? About your Q, well, I had to think about that. Different people key in differently. I think the physical effects are probably easiest for folks to see on themselves first, and one at a time. “Just look at your lip colour. Don’t take your eyes off your lips. Where is the colour best and the outline strongest?” That’s where they start. The feeling associations are instantly accessible to everyone in the room. In fact, where this began was with a man in the chair whose wife forced him to sit there. Talking about lip colour, he’s like, “Yeah, whatever, are we done?” Once I said, “Which man would you give more money to?” “Which guy is going to break the girls’ hearts?” and every person in the room responded, “That one.” consistently, together, and within 2 seconds of seeing the drapes change, the man is now paying attention for the full duration and sending in his employees. I’m trying to decide if the client ever sees themselves in the R brain ways as well as everyone else and I don’t think they do. By the end, many are up against the very solid wall of their own resistance and those types of global observations can be very disruptive. Like the cognitive dissonance, where you have to reconcile “I am X.” with “I am Y.” I understand the intelligence of your connection between seeing and drawing, and R and L brain aspects of PCA. My feeling is that the difference is that PCA doesn’t require a re-interpretation of observation, a translation step from input (chair = 4 equal legs) to output (chair = 3 legs, not equal). PCA just needs the deliberate pause to observe every aspect every time. As with medical diagnosis, a miss often doesn’t come from not knowing, it comes from not looking. PCA requires everything to be recorded, but not converted, as drawing requires. Great, great ideas though. Love to hear your thoughts about what I said.

    Kathy – I’m with you on the foundation and will look at Neutrogena. It’s exactly as you describe. I’ve given up on MAC too, I’ve bought many, never one correct. Look at Merle Norman Alabaster Beige. Try it on. It can look light and gray in the bottle but it’s outstanding on Dark Winter skin that’s light to light-medium and can work on warmer and cooler women. Agree about True Match, the C3 can work on some True Summers. DW blush is I’ll look at Fever, I’ll be in a mall 2 weeks or so. Terry at Your Natural Design set me up with Mary Kay Bold Berry, quite great.

    Linda – happy to welcome your comments anytime. We have now trained four European analysts, hopefully one near you. Once their businesses are ready to receive clients, I’ll post it on this site.

    Jane – exactly what you said, “Can’t assemble the whole palette.” That’s the whole thing because nobody can. Most of us have a few items that work very well. Harmonizing an entire clothing and cosmetic wardrobe with our natural colouring is near impossible without help, and high level help, higher than me. The palettes we used were devised by a Master Colorist (Kathryn Kalisz).

  40. Hi Christine,

    I didn’t see this for a long time, I was looking for it under the Looking Normal article!

    I’ve put Harnessed on hold at my library, when I’ve read it I’ll let you know what I think. I had a look at the reviews you referred to, and those about the Vision Revolution, which I hadn’t seen before. I had to laugh about the comment that colour is evolutionarily more likely to be a result of looking for predators than each other’s skin, just because it was such a male viewpoint. I can’t wait for you to see the graph comparing the frequency range of the cones and the frequency of human skin, it blew my mind.

    Loved hearing your thoughts about what I wrote, that’s very useful. So with that male client, you seem to be saying that the global effects were easier for him to see, but for most people they are too disruptive. Is that right?

  41. Mimi- I have exactly your ‘medium’ issues and resort to a similar compromise! I posted on the FB page about using all the 3 types of a season as and where- largely I think because of the contrast problems. I was a 4 season Summer and failed to follow advice to make it my own because I couldn’t understand why I could get by so well in the other three yet many of my ‘own’ colours were the worst imaginable! Fast forward nearly 30 years lol- my neutrality in temperature and depth make me soft summer- the very worst for me . I found refuge in Chatta Romano’s system ( simply Light Deep or alleluia Medium.) But as all palettes are clear- she hates dirt- it wouldn’t suit everyone.
    I don’t know the answer to this – I long to prove this elegant system of 12! What colour are your eyes? Mine are grey green, dark rims, very amber Sunburst/Aztec star (I know! But my skin is sallow and hair greying bluey silver)

  42. On the issue of taste. Taste can have a physical reaction too. I ‘feel’ recognition of the whole summer palette even now (I had one summer draping and one summer-autumn years ago and I feel guiltily loyal to it) I was analysed recently online twice- Rennae Knapp light-warm bacause of the eyes and Lora Alexander soft autumn. I persistently get a physical kick in the solar plexus when I see SA colours in the world around me and I’d never decorate in anything else- couldn’t live with it! Yet in the mirror I can see the benefits of clear colours. I wonder if this open discussion by analysts puts off poorer folk? I can’t imagine risking a draping without disposable income. But with it I’d go for drape after drape for the fascination of it !

  43. First, I’d like to point out that the post by Jamal Weatherspoon on October 1st is spam. A very vague statement and a weird url = spam.

    Second, I’d like to respond to this comment by Alexandra even though it is mostly off-topic:
    “Those same billions divided by gender fall into only 2 groups, men and women, and I haven’t heard anyone say that we need more gender groups.”

    Then you are not listening. People who consider themselves to be men or women, unchanged from birth, do not usually feel the need for more genders. That is their privilege.

    It is comparable to those who had an easy, one-time-only PCA. They very rarely say 12 is not enough or the method is wrong. After all, no one thinks to fix a problem they’re unaware of. It is almost always the other group that has struggled who thinks–hopes–something is wrong with the PCA.

    Back to gender… There are not 2 genders in the world. Some people consider a male to female transgendered person to fall into the 2 categories of male or female. Some people do not. Either way, these people are born with reproductive organs and DNA that does not match the gender they believe themselves to be. When feminists say gender is a social construct, it is not only about gender roles and expectations, it is about this mismatch between the outside and the inside. Sex and gender are NOT the same thing.

    And what about intersexed people (people born with male AND female genitalia or reproductive organs)? Or even just ambiguous parts that don’t seem like one or the other until they get older like age 6 or 12? What gender do you consider these people to be? Because many cultures throughout history have considered them to be a 3rd gender. Some of these cultures had a third gender for the people who were biologically male or female but felt more like the opposite sex (like transgendered MtF and FtM) OR like they were EQUALLY BOTH. The Native American Two Spirits and the Indian Hijras are examples of third genders.

    So why does this matter? Because psychological issues that transgendered individuals face stem more from the outside pressures to fit into 1 of 2 genders than from internal ones. And social influence doesn’t just apply to gender (btw, 2 gender theory isn’t so great on men and women either). You can see this influence in comments and forums on PCA.

    Here’s an example: I can consciously believe in being a Light Summer, in knowing absolutely that I look terrible in black. It’s been 4 years since I found PCA and my type, yet my eyes still land on black in the stores first. I still think of black first when a Project Runway contestant says they’re going to make something “modern”. I still imagine the singer of a rock song I haven’t heard before to be wearing black. And I didn’t even like black as a kid! It was boring and dull and I never wore it until my teens. But black is “modern, cool, chic, slimming, hardcore, rock n’ roll, goth, punk, easy, matching”. All words I have heard over and over and over again to describe wearing black. I bet I’m not the only one who associates the color with those words. My point is that I am still influenced, strongly influenced, by these media images of black clothes even though I consciously know I look like death in them.

    This is what happens with categorizing people. And when you and anyone else say the problem isn’t the categories? You really mean the problem is the people who don’t fit. It’s their fault for not fitting in. For not understanding the categories. For not paying attention to where they do fit. This is what people internalize and implicitly and sometimes explicitly believe. And it’s not about how smart people are, if they should know better than to think such self-punishing thoughts. Cultural stereotypes and schemas are very powerful. They are automatic and override conscious personal stereotypes. A person can become aware of how this process works and be more on guard when they stereotype but we never stop doing it because that’s just the way our brains work.

    So, it’s no surprise that most of us who look to PCA have had a struggle with other analysts or makeup artists or clothing stores or fashion and style in general. We have been told what is good and bad by media a million times (more so in America but sadly globalization also means Americanization and many places are adopting our crappy media practices). Our friends and family also influence us but they’re just as exposed to it. We have learned the problem is us and when we get through our PCA we still subconsciously believe it even though we have consciously become aware of the BS “fashion” machine.

    After all that, I’m not saying I think 12 categories aren’t enough or that it’s terrible for analysts to be wrong. I believe there is wonderful brilliance in the grey background and full-spectrum lighting but also issues with at least a few of the drapes. There is definitely to the psychology of PCA than I have mentioned and might have a large influence from gender psychology. But neither gender nor personal color analysis are black and white and should not be treated as such.

  44. Brilliant comment, Tora. Thanks for the heads up about the spam, the software and I both missed that one. I thought for some time (and will continue to think) about your point that we feel there’s something wrong with us when we don’t feel right in our Season. It sure happens with trends – the saleslady says EVERYONE is wearing this (which isn’t true of course) and suddenly I think “What’s wrong with me?? I can’t wear it. Am I on the outside of everyone else?” We are so strongly evolved to want to belong. I had not thought about it in the context of PCA and I should have. I know the struggles of fitting in whether the Season is correct or not, I just hadn’t considered those “What’s wrong with me feelings?” wedging their way in. Thank you for acknowledging it and bringing it forward. We all learn.

  45. I am totally confused by my color analysis. I was told I was an autumn- I have dyed my hair blonde for so long, that I can’t honestly remember the tones, or if there were highlights- when I look at pictures from my youth, my natural hair seemed to be a different color every year- blonde as a toddler to very dark brown, to chestnut brown. I have extremely pale skin with some freckles. The problem is, autumn colors are probably the worst colors I could possibly put on. Browns and camels make me look 10 years older and heroine addicted. I tried the wrist vein test, and my veins are blue and purple at the wrist, but teal/green everywhere else. I don’t honestly think that my skin has any undertone. I tried the gold or silver jewelry thing, and one doesn’t flatter any more than the other. I once tried on sweaters that had some shiny silver through it and the same sweater with a shiny gold threading through it, the silver looked better, but when I try very cool make ups- such as blue eye shadow, or purplish lipsticks, it is overwhelming against my extremely fair complexion. Yet jet black eye shadow looks amazing. The bold colors of winter seem to overwhelm my ultra-pale skin, but pastels and muted colors wash me out! I give up.

  46. Oh I should add I have very dark brown eyes- no flecks of anything, no ring around the edges, no inner rings. In the light they are a reddish brown. the closest celebrity types I can identify with are Rose McGowan (if I didn’t dye my hair) and Anna Paquin (sookie from True Blood)

  47. Many women found their result confusing, Michelle, for many reasons. For instance,

    1. The result was correct but they need some more support, more individual attention, and more time to adapt it.
    2. The result was the closest possible in a 4 Season system but those 4 Seasons actually apply perfectly to a minority of people. You may be a Neutral Season and have not found home yet.
    3. The result was not accurate and you need to be re-draped. If your draping was more than 3-4 years ago, I would have it done again. You can only learn and grow. It’s by trying something that you can go back to the store and say, This didn’t work because…

    Because the result has not made sense for you, accurate or not, seeing it one more time is amazingly helpful for many women. Now you know what your real Q are. You and the analyst can focus on you.

  48. and the lighting, white balance… where can i buy the drapes? (all of them, like you said, blue #1, #2, #3, etc.. all?)

  49. Answered privately, right, Olga? Please email again if you have any other Q.

  50. I was draped by a 12 Blueprints analyst….the result did not stand up in real life beyond the room. I spoke with the analyst, but her viewpoint is that she stands by her deduction. So I was left feeling I had spent a large amount of money that was not easy for me to put together for this purpose, and left having ultimately wasted it. This has put me off on draping. I have met too many women who have spent hundreds and hundreds on subsequent draping, walking away with a different result each time. It all feels too subjective, like ice skating judging. So I am on my own, feeling my way to what seems best for me.

  51. Chana, what you wrote is actually one of the biggest reasons I haven’t had a PCA… Though I know it goes against the ethos of this site (so I apologize), but the things you wrote are all valid, IMO.

  52. I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment with the draping. Draping in multiple systems can certainly lead to multiple results, a situation which is normal and unlikely to change. This is something that the consumer may one day just expect because the testing systems and drapes are very different. Ice skating judging is actually a most interesting comparison. The list of technical criteria is a mile long, and there is certainly a right-brain component when beauty and artistry are involved. I am unfamiliar with that sport but I wonder if there would be very great disparity among the placings for the same group of skaters observed by the same group of judges with the same training, viewing lenses, and standards. Thank you for your comment, Chana, I will think about this.

  53. Perfectly fine, Melina, I welcome your comment because it describes a true and real situation. Painting a false image helps nobody. To find answers, we need to know the questions and then pull the problem under the light for all to participate. I find that balance and moderation are useful, maybe because I’m a medium sort of person. Thinking of what could go wrong or how the service might fail would keep us away from too many wonderful experiences. I have had $100 massages that were transporting and carried me through a week, and massages at the same price point where I was unfocussed and impatient. Doctors give different diagnoses. Hair colourists advise different colours. Once humans are involved, the path is never straight. I could say though that, while I respect the cost and time, I have never met anyone who has had other previous Season results who didn’t understand themselves and colour better because of it.

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