Harmony in Personal Colour Analysis

Recently, Amelia at True Colour AU posted an article entitled PCA Myth Busters Perfecting the Skin (Part 2) and Any Hair/Eye/Skin Colour Can Be Found in Any Tone(Part 1), a myth for which I surely take responsibility, maybe full responsibility, for perpetuating. Actually, I recognize a lot of those myths ;)

More Myth Busting Please

I am only grateful when someone teaches me something, changes my way of thinking, or points out where my words have been misleading or confusing. As in everything she writes, Amelia is 100% correct. She is always very gracious in disarming and dismantling my various discrepancies. I feel a bit regretful that Amelia has to keep defusing the bombs but I sure do recognize and appreciate her patience and willingness to teach us all on her website. We badly need precision in this game. And to keep asking questions at the leading edge of understanding ourselves. And to be grateful to be part of a movement that respectfully improves people’s lives by guiding and supporting them towards choice and truth.

Digression: About the TMIT thing, for those wondering where it came from (I see a response at TCA to a reader question about it) – I made it up all by myself :D Readers saw it in the articleThe Most Important Thing (TMIT). Besides precision, the other thing we could use in this game is a means of remembering and applying the fact that colour is comparative. Forcing it to be absolute is trying to outsmart the system to make it easier. That won’t work well. The Light Season woman might think, Hey, if black on my body makes those areas look bigger, would a black bikini top make my chest look bigger? Nope. It boomerangs to accentuate the smallness.

I have said that the longer two things (colours, shapes) stay together, the more they emphasize their differences and look even more unbelonging, unbalancing, and unbecoming. They push each other even further in opposite directions. A woman in a drape colour that is not congruent with her inborn colouring looks more blemished, shadowed, and ill, the longer you look at her. Slinky fabric on a straight body just looks wilted and limp. I found a very cool page that helps illustrate how our we alter the things we look at.

Our nervous system, all five senses, work by making comparisons.  Bark doesn’t feel as rough if you wear clothes made of burlap. It feels so much rougher if you live in a satin lined cocoon. A room seems warmer and bigger if you come in from a cold cave. The brain generates visual images largely by comparison too. We never see what’s really there, interesting on a whole new set of levels. A nightlight is plenty bright at midnight. To get your new foundation right, bring your old one so the cosmetician can make a comparison. And in colour analysis, we’re always comparing 3 properties of colour.

I didn’t call it TOIT, The Only Important Thing, or The One Important Thing, right?


The Endpoint IS Harmony

For me to say that the endpoint of a colour analysis is evenly coloured skin was a poor choice of words because it could be evenly grayed, like a ghost, or evenly pasty, evenly red, etc. Every face needs some shadows for topography and definition. Otherwise, it’s a moon face, it’s blurry, flattish, and fattish. A pencil sketch of a face contains many shades of gray. A colour sketch of a face contains many colours. If there’s no 3D geometry because there are no shadows of any sort, the face and neck appear to occupy the same plane, like there’s no chin or a double chin. On the crosswise axis, if there are no shadows, the nose looks blurred into the face without a defined shape of its own.

I am after a clear, tight, smooth skin that has little (but not zero unless you’re under 14) use for concealer. Sharpness and contrast levels are perfect, noise reduced, great and appropriate colour intensity, and lip colour is pink without being grayed, yellowed, or blued (because when they’re subtle, those effects are easier to see in the lip than the skin, but they happen to the entire face. What happens to part of the face happens to the whole face, but certain features show certain effects better – like if edge of iris blurry, then whole face blurry.) The other extreme, too much colour activity with reds that are too red, shadows too dark, and light areas too oily and shiny, is not good either. The face looks too activated instead of calm.

I avoided use of harmony to describe the desired effect of PCA because it has many interpretations, as many as there are analysts. It seems abstract, even though it’s not. It’s qualitative, not quantitative, at least in the beginning of seeing this – and I am remembering that Amelia said endpoint and I’m still at the beginning of an analysis, so we’re still in perfect agreement. To explain to the woman staring at her face in the mirror what to look for, I begin by defining the reasons for my choices based on measurable parameters as darker/lighter, yes/no, yellower/clearer, greyer/pinker because she can tune into these almost immediately. For readers, would you have understood better if I’d written, You see more harmony. or, Eye colour looks more intense.?



Harmony can be recognized once you’ve connected the seeing and the feeling of it a few times, but how do you explain it? Like nausea or passion, it is beyond the divisive nature of words. A spoken language is separating. Almost isolating. Word A means this. Word B means that. Draping decisions are necessarily exclusive – it’s this one or that one based on certain findings. For a new analyst, the distinction matters. She might see simultaneous good and bad effects when comparing two drapes or two sets of drapes – how to know which one gets precedence? Harmony is inclusive. It speaks of wholeness and unity. Colour measurement appeals to our rational mind. Because colour is visual, it also invokes the image-based mind that deals in emotion, imagination, art, and intuition. Hard stuff to find words for.

Harmony can seem obvious when two things are far apart, like these gentlemen. And not just with colour. Could Placido straighten or highlight his hair and look better? Could he do either without you knowing it? Would harmony be disrupted if Denver had been born with Domingo’s voice? When two things are closer together, it can be a harder call. (Does anyone know what that language is in the subtitles? The characters are very pretty.)


To begin by thinking your way to it and eventually feeling your way into it, maybe that’s what experience is. It surpasses conscious thought in favour of just being. Some things are not this way. You don’t think your way to sleep, you release to it, but sleep is not new to our nervous system. Not so with colour. The client is being asked to see something she’s never seen before on the most vulnerable canvas of them all, the most invested real estate on her body – her own face.

Plus, we are exploring current reality in a big way, a place most of us hold only briefly each day. A colour analysis asks us to live in the moment for 2 to 3 sustained hours. Fatigue and sensory overload, plus info overload if I’m the one doing the analysis ( :D once again), can set in. For one woman, by the final decisions, she’s worn out and finds the subjective easier to see. In another case, she has gained enough experience during the draping and can see and feel the best harmony in the final choices. In either case, what I’m after is exactly what Amelia says, ultimate visual harmony.

To any of our senses, harmony describes the linking between a stimulus that presents as a single, continuous whole and the agreeable feelings that arise in our minds, a flawless satisfaction. This is what others have sensed when they say we are glowing or look great. When we get concurring data from our senses, we feel good, reassured, and relaxed. The world is working right. When we don’t, that’s called motion sickness and many other forms of sensory conflict. That’s the Bright Winter woman wearing True Summer colours.


Let me see if I can do a better job of describing harmony for you – at least, what my eyes see.

Harmony means that the whole person and what they are wearing vibrate together because they emanate the same wavelength of colour between their natural colouring and what they’ve added to themselves. Energy in synchrony.

The item/colour is part of the person, not separate. If you merged the colour and the person into one image, there would be no division lines.

These bring out the best in each other. The longer you look, the more good things you see, feel, and associate, and the more pleased you feel.

The clothes, makeup, and hair colour look like extensions of the person. You can find them in each other.

Is there perfectly uninterrupted visual flow between the face and the colours it’s wearing? Can your eyes move from the face to the colour and back and never feel effort?

They look rational and logical together. If you’ve ever seen lettuce green on a Dark Autumn, it looks zany and cartoonish. Dark army green on a Light Spring looks like they’re in hospital.

Like a migration back to yourself, like a homing pigeon, you’re coming back to a place you knew and probably held somewhere, even if by a thread. Does the colour look native to your face?

Does the colour look like a natural extension of the head? In wrong colour, between the colour and the person is a disconnect, they seem disjointed. We want to keep complete integrity between who we are and what we add to enhance ourselves.

When the colours we wear are not in accord with our own, they push each other further in opposing directions. That sensation of being pulled apart cannot compare with the peace of being at one with the things you have added to the image of you. Others feel it perhaps more strongly because they can see us. That not good feeling is disharmony.

Continuity <> Interruption equals Relief <> Tension.

Pleasure <> Processing equals Ease <> Work.

Nobody likes tension, processing, or work so they’ll feel resistance and look away. On the other hand, with a blue-eyed True Spring in her turquoise drape, it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Like a language, every element interacts with every other in a relationship. You have no sense of where each word ends and the other begins. Insert a random foreign word in a sentence and it loses its meaning, its flow, its imagery, and the logical and beautiful sound of the words together. At best, it’s a distraction that needs dealing with.

Do you wear readers with strength about 1.25? In wrong colours, you look to us the way the world looks to you before putting on those glasses. Before you put your contacts in for the day, do you feel like you’re not quite part of the world? Once you can focus, you feel more present. That’s how wearing right colour looks – the person is fully present at full power. They are fully engaged and available for us to engage with them, not like a photo where you’re so far from the lens that nobody’s even sure it’s you in the picture. In wrong colour, it’s like an out of focus photograph, like the object isn’t quite there. Once the focus is corrected, you feel as if the object has advanced to be in the room. You can appreciate it fully, where before, some aspects of it were neutralized, canceled, limited, or held back.

Is the colour so demanding that it takes effort to keep your gaze on the face, or so underwhelming as to be insignificant in your awareness, like Johnny Depp in a pale beige shirt and pants? Now we’re getting away from harmony a bit, into what I think of as colour balance, but it’s really all going into the same pocket.

To paraphrase what a child said so beautifully to a recently analyzed friend: I really like your outfit. Everything matches you.

New Limits

Part of the reason that I love talking to my friend, Darren, is that he can be objective about the value and pitfalls of conventional wisdom. He applies his unique persona (we all have one) and his imagination to stretch the borders. Exploring the new edge is when the ride is really fun, like discovering new rooms in an already fantastic house.

… sometimes I find pleasure in discord, when things seem to clash but in a good way. Not everyone likes the offbeat but sometimes I find it awakens me and makes me see things different. Like for example the color blocking trend often clashes unlikely colors…

On a different note, but very apt, Darren also said:

I suppose no system is foolproof but I do like that your system allows the client to see themselves draped in the colors especially in comparison with other colors. What is your experience though when a client insists that even though they look good in say, Soft Summer colors, that their personality will not allow for such quiet, softness? Or the Deep Autumn who just loves, loves, loves Light Spring colors and can’t imagine ever feeling comfortable in anything Autumn?

My answer: keep personality out of it if you want to look great. We don’t really know our personality and it’s probably more congruent with our appearance than we’re prepared to admit. We adjust our character in a thousand ways in every situation. We don’t know ourselves. Other issues come into it. A Dramatic Classic and a Flamboyant Gamine (from David Kibbe’s book, Metamorphosis (Atheneum, Macmillan, 1987)) will have different characters, both Dark Winters. An Autumn who sees herself as something besides some type of Natural – not saying you are or not, just that it’s very hard to self-know if you don’t have a measuring tool and you may go a long way down the path of who you imagine yourself to be. Do colour by sight.

I recently analyzed a Dark Autumn. Julia Roberts gets out of the car. Tall, angular, dramatic, full features, a face that could light a fire with its power and beauty, and still be your BFF. Could she see herself that way? Does the real Julia? We would all need a little practice to live up to her Flamboyant Natural larger-than-life magnificence. Was living life as a Romantic Soft Autumn easier? Our Julia has brilliance she cannot see. She will make the colour and style adjustments with ease. She already has. On seeing her Season, she asked, What if my character isn’t bold, striking, or dramatic? Her appearance sure is, but she had a point. She feels graceful and feminine. Where is the connection with eggplant and turmeric?

We are all a bit of everything. We all have grace and femininity, but hers wasn’t heavenly or exquisite predominantly. What came across was splendid and strong, even in her character. Over time, she may have taught herself to soften and suppress her edges (and her edginess) in character as well as clothing. These became the new normal, the new me.

Do what Darren said:

You go home and sort it out. It’s complicated, no doubt, but growth-worthy too.

And she wrote recently to tell me that outspokenness seems to be creeping into (back into?) her conversation.

Colour analysts have the best job in the world.




26 thoughts on “Harmony in Personal Colour Analysis”

  1. I love this article so much! Explaining colour analysis is something I find difficult, especially when I’m trying to sell someone on its virtues. The photos are beautiful too. If you ever come to London UK I’d love to have an analysis (even though I’ve had one and am very happy with it) as I’d love to meet you and learn more!

  2. Thank you for this article! The language in the Domingo/Denver video is Japanese ^_^
    I would love to have a PCA done–maybe someday. For the moment, I just try to study the colors in the mirror, but I have trouble seeing sometimes the subtle differences between them. I do notice that very muted shades seem to make my face look pasty and puffy, and slightly more saturated, but not bright or dark shades seem to bring my features into focus. I lean towards cool colors, but I do not have the high intolerance for warm colors that TSu’s are supposed to have. I’m becoming to believe that I am some sort of Summer, but it is very hard to find out which one without any kind of drapes.

  3. I think the subtitles are Japanese/Chinese kanji. Might be hirigana or katakana, but looks like one of the Japanese forms of writing to me. :)

  4. I’m so sorry – I have to confess to being slightly confused. The myth that is being debunked – is it that any combination CAN be found or that any combination CAN’T be found? My understanding has been that any combination CAN be found – that any combination is possible. (I apologize for being so dense!)

  5. There is one point I cannot see entirely. You say ” keep personality out of it if you want to look great”. Personality is shaped also by education, culture, not only body colour. A clash between the way one moves and outfit is worse that one’s hair and outfit, for instance,
    Also, the place we live must play a role, I think. Someone living in the Northern parts of the world needs different coulours to look harmonious. No matter how Bright Spring one is, one looks strange wearing bright orange or lime green during a Stockholm winter, say.

  6. Lots of interesting ideas to ponder in this post. Finding harmony in our appearance seems only slightly less difficult than finding it in our soul.

    There is a particular shade of light, cool pink – perhaps best called an “icy pink” – that “perfects” my skin. It takes away all the lines and shadows from my face. A miracle! Unfortunately, it also takes away all the signs of life. I look like a lovely ghost. In a recommended lipstick with that shade of pink, I look like a lovely painted ghost. My skin looks so clear. So very deadly clear. But the harmony I seek is missing. I do find it in deep coral. The coral does not erase every flaw, but I look like I have a pulse. I look alive.

  7. Lena – I have a shade of apricot that does the same thing, but I always feel like I need some kind of contrasting something to balance the fact that I have somewhat darker hair. Actually, I don’t think this changes my season — or what I suspect to be my season, true spring, which does have quite a few deeper colors — but illustrates how limiting putting people into boxes, be it four, 12, or 16, based on their coloring can be.

  8. Christine, I loved this article. I like the reference to wearing 1.25 readers…the way things are not quiet in focus. Just bait off. I think this is true of TW or BW with nude lip color. To me if they have a full face of perfectly placed makeup, but finish it off with chalky nude lips….ick…it looks like they forgot to put their lips on! Or ran out of time to finish the job right. At least that’s the way it looks to me.

  9. Oops! I meant to say…Just a bit off…. Not just bait off…lol! My iPad had a mind of her own!

  10. Ah Christine – you are too kind. I thought DA was something I had to ‘live up to’. The power of those colors. But you helped me to start to see I already am the power of those colors. I AM those colors. I just have to be me.

  11. Awesome post…probably one of the best ones I have seen here. If someone is having a difficult time trying to discover what harmony in color looks like on them, this description should be of tremendous assistance. All I can say, from personal experience is that once you have seen what color harmony looks like on yourself, you will always remember that when going shopping, getting ready in the morning, etc. It has to be experienced to be appreciated. Once you have personally experienced and felt that color harmony, you won’t settle for less.

  12. I”d just reformulate my previous post to avoid misunderstanding. Let us admit that the analysis is flawless. However, some persons might see the season but understand-as a result of the process- that for them is more important to look sweet, energetic, romantic, granny, silly or whatever, than to look great, no matter what. Tom Sawyer in everyday clothes rather than Tom Sawyer in Sunday attire… Or the other way around.

  13. Amazing you got the chance to analyse Julia Roberts, I wonder how many celebrities get an color analysis. I know some people have mentioned that they suspect some celebrities like Cate Blanchett or Taylor Swift have got one as they often wear their best colors. Of course some people just have a better eye for flattering colors than others.

  14. Japanese? It looks so curvy, almost reminded of an Arabic infusion. I always think of Japanese as being very linear and geometric, like Vietnamese. But when I think of their paintings, they’re very curvy too.

    Tara – you might have to check on the TCA site to get a very clear take on Amelia’s position. She states it better than I could ever repeat it.
    When I said “Any hair and eye CAN be found.”, I wanted to blow up the stereotypes. I hope I took us all some way towards that end. I could add details like “you’ll find blue, green, brown eyes in all Seasons but they are unlikely to be the same blue, green, or brown”. I believe that to be correct.
    I could say that hair colour is virtually useless for choosing Season, but it will be in perfect harmony ONCE Season is decided. Some hair colours are unlikely, but the minute I say “You won’t find dark hair in Light Seasons”, someone pops up and says she has dark hair or very dark brows…and they do look dark next to HER face, but the part she forgot to say and the reader forgot to think was they wouldn’t if you placed on the face of a Dark Season. And I do believe this to be correct as well.

    Inge – all true. I was too absolute in that sentence. There are many factors that play into beautiful appearance. Maybe I should have said “Forget your personality in choosing your most harmonious, flattering colours. After that, use character, location, occasion, etc. to assemble perfect ensembles.”

    So right, Gates, my friend. The colours were there first.

    Sophie – I’m not really analyzing celebrities (yet : ) ). She just looked a lot like her in her essence and carriage. But if you could have seen her in that final bronzed raisin drape, with the makeup on. She was stunning. No other word for it. Could give the real Julia a run for her money any day.

  15. When I said “Any hair and eye CAN be found.”, I wanted to blow up the stereotypes. I hope I took us all some way towards that end. I could add details like “you’ll find blue, green, brown eyes in all Seasons but they are unlikely to be the same blue, green, or brown”. I believe that to be correct.

    Yes! I totally understand what you mean here. You can take three celebrities with fair skin, dark hair and eyes — let’s say Rose McGowan, Winona Ryder, and Natalie Portman — and though they have that in common, none of them are flattered by the same colors. (I’m guessing their respective seasons are Bright Spring, Dark or True Winter, and Dark Autumn.) I’ll always describe my hair as dark brown because it’s the darkest thing on me, but compared to my dad’s ashy black-brown hair, it’s quite light. This is my biggest problem with the systems that seem to place hair and eye color as the top of the pyramid, with skin color following.

  16. Dear Christine,

    I have tremendous appreciation and respect for your writing, thinking and integrity.

    After reading your post yesterday, I decided to stop trying to find my Kibbegory based on my essence (just keeps me going in circles) and focus on the given/physical instead for now. Your book will probably help understand the essence part better, but I just ordered it from Kerry so it will take a few days to arrive.

    If you have a moment, could you please take a look at my photos on yuku: http://seasonalcolor.yuku.com/sreply/53801/Back-to-square-1-What-s-my-Kibbe-

    Looking for / recognizing harmony in people is what you do every day, so your opinion would be very valuable to me. What Kibbegory would you put me in?

  17. Speaking of how colors affect one another side by side, I have a break-the-rules outfit that works. We are supposed to wear prints in 80% our colors, right? I have a sundress that is maybe 60% not “my color” and 40% my color. It looks surprisingly fantastic! The print is in the darkest blue and blue-green (blue emphasis) of SS, but the background is a mellow icy green. So why does this work so well? I think it’s because neutral green is fairly universal, and when you mix it with the print colors, the overall color temperature remains SS.

    I also discovered that two colors in close proximity to each other can yield an apparently new color that is non-existent upon examination. Sometimes the brain just merges them.

  18. Kathryn,

    Look at the garment from about 5 feet away and see what colors it looks like from that distance.

  19. It is Japanese. The language is written in a combination of hiragana (the curvy script), Chinese characters (kanji) and katakana (which is pointy and used for foreign words only).

  20. Hello, Christine! The subtitles are Japanese. Why do I know? because I’m a Japanese :)
    I’m glad to know that many people have the right answer.

  21. Yelena,

    This was very interesting. I think I felt most comfortable looking at TR, and would probably have liked even more waist definition than you have here. The obvious separates and looser pant in SG didn’t work for me. I prefer clothes close to your body, moving me away from SN, one I always seem to think about. R felt a little too lacy and flouncy. You look good with a fair bit of decoration at once, ruffle on vest and blouse repeating the hair wave, necklace good, silver shoes good.
    Kibbe is even harder from photos than colour is. You seem trim, slender, smallish, delicate but are not boyish at all.

  22. Since this post is about color harmony I was wondering if you have seen the TV series “Downton Abbey”, especially season 1. The colors are simply delicious, not only on the actors, but also on the walls and furniture. A lot of the colors seem to be soft summer (true summer?), soft autumn, deep autumn and deep winter. Would you venture a guess? Season 1 takes place in the Edwardian period.

  23. SD, I don’t know that series. It’s British, right? Makes me think of those Ivory Coast films in which every colour in the scene had been planned so beautifully. They were a pleasure to watch.

  24. Coming very late to this party, but want to add that as I have not had the chance to be Sci/Art analysed and was confused as to which type of Spring or Autumn I am, I draped myself. I collected drapes in Light and True Spring and in True Autumn as I knew I must be one of these. The Light Spring drape looked fine until I “dropped it” and revealed the True Spring drape beneath. I did this in three different colours. The True Spring colours made my face suddenly come into focus, just as you describe. It was magical! Like tuning your camera to focus sharply instead of just looking vague! In contrast, the Light Spring drapes, when I replaced them, made my face look really pale and pasty, the notorious “cream of wheat” effect. Looking at the True Autumn drapes, my skin looked tired and older. Thank you for writing this article, which has really helped me and many others to understand the draping process.

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