My Color Journey

The first question I’m asked when I say I’m a color analyst is “What the heck is that?”

I explain. (See What is a PCA)

The second question, without fail, is “Am I wearing good colors today?”

I don’t know. I haven’t draped you! Call me, we’ll figure it out. You can sit in my awesome chair.

The third question is “How did you get into that?”

It’s not a very straightforward answer, but in order to better understand me as an analyst, it’s helpful to know how I got here. I usually give a very abridged version of the following story:

I have very high-contrast coloring. Basically, this means my skin practically glows in the dark, it’s so light compared to my very dark hair. My eyes are neither brown nor green, but have elements of both. I put “hazel” on my license as a teenager, because “green with some brown around the middle” didn’t fit.

I adored makeup, but it was always a struggle finding the right shades for me. Every magazine spread seemed to have recommendations for Fair, Medium, and Dark skin, yet none of the “Fair” options ever seemed to work for me. I felt clownish in the fire-engine red lipsticks they suggested, and muddy in the peachy blushes they said would “warm up” my face. And don’t even get me started on eyeshadows meant for your eye color. The first problem was determining what my eye color actually was, and the second was determining if the shadows looked awful because I picked the wrong one (likely) or if they just plain didn’t work.

Clothing was an even bigger battle. I hated how “pale” I looked in white, but ivory just looked dirty next to my skin. I was frustrated when my face seemed particularly puffy when I wore certain shirts, and thought I needed to drop a few pounds. I couldn’t seem to let go of a particularly ill-fitting T-shirt that just seemed GOOD for some reason. Eventually, I was wearing black all the time because it was the only color I felt comfortable wearing.

So, like many a young woman with a Pinterest account, I stuck to what was popular. Shimmery nude shadows, soft pink lips, and bronzer. My closet was filled with more and more black, which I could never seem to make work with the trendier, more muted colors I would occasionally buy. I didn’t really ever feel like I was “nailing” a look. I would roll my eyes at the concept of a capsule wardrobe – how could someone really live with just three pairs of pants? They won’t go with all of your tops!

After I had my first daughter, I loved wearing her in beautifully patterned baby wraps. One day, while I was browsing a message board, someone asked if a certain wrap would work for a Bright Spring. I had heard people mention “I’m a Winter” or “She’s an Autumn” before, and I knew it had something to do with coloring, but I had never heard of a Bright Spring before.

Several hours of Internet time and about twenty “What’s Your Season?” quizzes later, I self-diagnosed myself as a Bright Winter. I have light skin, dark hair, and kinda-not-all-that-dark eyes, so it seemed like a good choice. I tried a few of the makeup recommendations, and they just felt wrong. I tried to convince myself I just needed to get used to it, but after a while, I gave up and went back to my nude lips and peach blush.

Several months later, I saw a friend at a babywearing meetup. She had her color fan with her, and was talking about the analysis she had done only the day before. I was intrigued, though not convinced it would work for me – what could the analyst do that I hadn’t seen myself?

On a whim, I visited the website of the analyst later that day. I read every page. I read every page of every blog and website she linked. I was shocked to learn that the analyst would ONLY be looking at my skin – my weird eyes and dark hair wouldn’t matter! I booked an appointment, and anxiously awaited my draping.

When I arrived that day, I was nervous and intimidated. I had no makeup on, per her instructions, and next to the extremely well put-together analyst, I felt downright dumpy. I was convinced I’d never look as good as she did.

Then, during the draping, I SAW IT. As she moved through the drapes and got closer and closer to my season, I could see the difference in my face. My skin was not pale, it was porcelain. My hair was not vampiric, it was rich and nuanced in tone. My eyes, which I had never been happy with, were multi-dimensional and downright gorgeous. She declared me a Dark Winter, put the makeup on, and I felt like I was seeing myself for the first time.

In the weeks following that draping, I started to realize why I had struggled so much with makeup and clothing in the past. Those fire-engine red lips for “pale skin” were great on a Bright Winter, but too much for me. That peachy blush felt safe because it was light, but the warmth left me ruddy. And black does NOT go with everything – those muted shades couldn’t hold their own against the dark, saturated colors I needed.

I started fully embracing Dark Winter. I fell in love with lipstick (something I never thought I would), knowing that I was totally rocking those deep red and dark berry shades. I didn’t entirely give up black, but I started adding much more color to my wardrobe and marveling at the ease of putting together my outfits. I recommended PCA to anyone who would listen to me, and became more and more familiar with personal coloring and Munsell’s color theory.

After urging my husband to make an appointment for the umpteenth time, he told me he’d only get draped if I learned how to do it. That watered the seed that had been planted during my own draping. I wanted to become an analyst.