Simple Guide to Colour Analysis

August 30, 2016
colour analysis

Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to add a little more colour to my wardrobe. When I first created my capsule wardrobe I stuck to a very simple black, white and grey colour palette, which although was the right thing to do at the time I’m now craving some colour in my wardrobe again. I struggled to find many coloured items for the photographs for this post so clearly need more colour in my life. I recently received a lovely comment from a reader about how she feels colour suits my personality better than lots of black. Which has got me thinking that I do need to have a little more colour in my wardrobe, I’m never going to stop wearing black but a pop of colour here and there can only be a good thing.

I think the thing that puts me off wearing colour is it can be tricky to get right, a slightly off shade can completely drain your skin. But how do you know what colours you should and perhaps, more importantly, shouldn’t be wearing? I have recently experience 2 separate colour consultations at blogger events, which has got me thinking about colour analysis and whether or not it works. Colour analysis is something stylists are always talking about, but if I’m honest I thought it was a load of nonsense. To a certain extent, I’m still very sceptical about it as it can be quite limiting saying you can only wear certain colours. But in the interest of finding the perfect colours for me and my wardrobe, I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’ve done a little research into the topic and wanted to share 3 types of colour analysis with you. The best part is you can do all of them yourself at home free of charge, no need to book an expensive appointment with a stylist.

Warm or Cool

One of the most simple colour analysis methods is finding out whether you suit warm or cool colours. I recently attending the launch party of the new TK Maxx here in Edinburgh and as part of the event, Numba Pinkerton from The No Black Project was doing free colour consultations. As the colour consultations were part of an event we didn’t have time to do a full-colour analysis so we focused on looking at warm and cool colours instead. Apparently, everyone will either suit mostly warm or mostly cool colours and once you know which shade suits you buying colour will become much easier. We had a lesson in how to identify warm or cool shades. Warm shades have a yellow/orange undertone and cool shades have a blue/green undertone. Numba had a great tip to ask yourself if a colour reminds you of the sun or ice, if it reminds you of the sun it’s warm and if it reminds you of the cold it’s cool. Once we had learnt about cool and warm tones, Numba held a fabric colour wheel up to our faces to help us identify which colours suited us. To be honest, I didn’t notice the difference, but everyone sat at the table could see that the warm colours brightened up my face whereas the cool drained my complexion a little. Now I know that I should be looking for warm colours when I’m out shopping as warm tones will brighten up my face. Numba also gave us handy colour cards to help us identify warm colours.
So how can you work out whether you suit warm or cool colours without a stylist or colour wheel? I recommend starting at home and looking to see what warm (reminds you of the sun) and cool (reminds you of ice/cold) fabrics you have around the house. Grab a couple of different options and sit down in front of a mirror (preferably in natural lighting) and hold each colour up to your face in turn. Do you notice any of the colours drain your complexion and others brighten up your face? You should find that the colours which made you look great will be either warm or cool. It’s pretty simple really.

Colour Elements

You may remember a few months ago I attended an event organised by Colour Elements where I had my colours read. I was told I was a water element which means I can get away with wearing bright, bold colours. Colour Elements is an Edinburgh-based company which aims to help women make the most out of their wardrobe by showing what colours suit them and giving them tips on how to wear colour. Colour Elements categorise colours by elements: fire, water, air and earth you can be a single element or a mix of 2/3. To find out your individual element you just need to send your picture to the team and they will get back to you with your colour element. They will also send you weekly outfit ideas based on your colour element to help you add colour into your wardrobe. They also have an app (only for apple users just now) which shows all the colours for your element – so useful when you’re shopping.

Colour Elements understand that wearing colour isn’t just about the clothes. You can add colour into outfits through makeup and accessories, which is great for anyone on a budget (or just doesn’t want to buy new clothes). In fact, at the event, I was complimented on the way I wore a bright pink lipstick with a black dress. Personally, I think this is a great way to get into wearing more colour as pink nails are far less scary than a pink dress.

Red Colour Analysis

Colour Seasons

One idea which keeps cropping up is colour seasons, similar to Colour Elements 4 elements (water, fire, earth and air) you identify whether you are a spring, summer, autumn or winter and each season has its own colours. So how do you identify your season?

The first step is to find out your skin’s undertone. Your skin will either have a pink undertone or a yellow undertone. One of the easier ways to find this out is to look at the veins on the inside of your wrists, if you have green veins you have a warm undertone and if you have blue veins you have a cool undertone. Cool undertones will either be a winter or summer and warm undertones will be spring or autumn. To identify your season you then need to look at your hair and eye colour. If you have cool undertones with dark hair and dark eyes you’re a winter. If you have a cool undertone with light hair and eyes you’re a summer. If you have a warm undertone with dark (or red) hair and eyes then you are an autumn. If you have a warm undertone with light hair and eyes you’re a spring. In To Mind has a great post breaking down the colours for each element and there is loads of information on Pinterest if you’re interested in finding your seasons colours.

According to this method, I’m a winter colouring which like a water element means I can wear bright bold colours. Obviously, I should be wearing more bright and bold colours and staying away from too much black and grey.

One thing I’ve noticed is all the colour analysis methods had very similar results for me, so maybe there is something in it.This is a massive topic and you can really narrow down colours and shades which suit you, but I think keeping it simple is best. You only really need a guideline of what colours to look for when shopping. As I’ve already said I don’t think colour is set in stone and you should wear colours you love and enjoy wearing. But for people like me who lack colour in their wardrobe, it certainly is helpful in getting started. I know I will be thinking about colour when planning my autumn capsule wardrobe and finding new ways to incorporate it into my outfits.

If you find the idea of adding more colour to your wardrobe overwhelming, read my post on adding colour to your capsule wardrobe for easy tips which aren’t overwhelming.



4 responses to “Simple Guide to Colour Analysis”

  1. Jessica says:

    You are labeled a winter (I was too) which means bright and cool colours. I can see how Water would fit in with that. However Numba recommended warm colours for you, which is the opposite of Winter. So what sort of colours are you going to look for?

  2. Hey Jessica,
    You're very welcome to enjoy a free Colour iD with Colour Elements. Send a selfie headshot taken in natural light to
    You'll receive your iD and Colour Script plus you know which element of colours to use on our app which is free to download for iPhone and iPad.
    Jen, thanks so much for this excellent post. Brilliant to hear that you're enjoying your water element and don't forget your shots of earth element too!

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