Having my Colours Done

If you remember the ‘Color Me Beautiful‘ craze back in the 80’s (and we won’t judge you if you do), then you’ll know about the whole categorising of people into colour schemes thing (and it’s limitations for people who didn’t fit the Caucasian mould it was originally designed for). For those of you who aren’t familiar with this fabulous 80’s fad of epic proportions…

“Carole Jackson exploded onto best-seller lists over [25] years ago with Color Me Beautiful. The basic premise of Ms. Jackson’s seminal work is that women can be divided into two groups: gals with warm skin tones and gals with cool ones. These two groups can then be divided – like life itself – into four seasons: Autumn and Spring (warm); Winter and Summer (cool). Each season has a set of complimentary color swatches that provide poor, lost souls the tools to cobble together a coordinated wardrobe for themselves. We cult members call this process ‘having your colors done”. Color-Me-Carole spawned millions of swatch-wielding followers and apostles: In swanky living rooms and tawdry trailer parks across the nation, Color Me Beautiful consultants courageously attempted to cut the cackle out of clothing consumption.”

Excerpt taken from Simon Doonan’s website – you can read it here

Personally I think the basic concept is sound, and I’ve been wanting to try it out since I read about it at the beginning of the year – so I did some recon and booked a ‘Colour Analysis’ appointment – a completely modernised version of Carole’s approach (and suitable for every skin colour under the sun) – we are having a bit of an 80’s revival after all, aren’t we? 

It was a fascinating couple of hours, as we discussed the impact of colour on personality, our interactions with others and how we are perceived based on how we present ourselves, and not just with styles – but colours as well. Anyone who doesn’t believe that colour can positively or negatively influence needs to read this!

I won’t blather on about my specifics, but after being draped in fabric swatches of myriad hues I now have a ‘wheel’ for my best coloured foot forward. My best hue’s are ones with ‘low intensities’ (rather than high impact and bright jewel tones) and I’m ever so slightly more warm than I am cool (it’s a sliding scale between extremes). It’s nice not to be too surprised – I know that I’m automatically drawn to blues and greens when fabric shopping, so seeing a lot of options in these categories is comforting :)

It was no surprise to me that black is not my colour (the darker shades above are charcoal greys, purples and deep burgundy’s) – I’ve always been a tad anti-black, so it looks like I’ll never be able to call myself officially Melburnian… 

My best basic ‘neutral’ colours have lots of greys, olive earthy tones and warm beige’s. No simple white though – I’m better off with cream!

The colours I’m most excited about though? The ones I’ve always been a bit apprehensive of. I’m really very shocked to see that bright fire engine red there, and so much orange. It’s a little exciting – I’m definitely going to have to break out and experiment! Including some non-standard hue’s by outsourcing the hard decisions to my wheel will be lovely.

On that note – I know a lot of people are against the whole concept of ‘being told what you can and can’t wear’ – just have a look at the comments in the ‘Color Me Beautiful – Friend or Foe‘ post by the fabulous Peter Lappin. I don’t really have a problem with such things, as long as I like the end result of course. It’s not like this colour wheel is the law or anything, it’s a guideline, and guidelines are supposed to aid, rather than define, the solution. One of the things my consultant stressed is that it shouldn’t stop me from wearing colours that aren’t on the wheel – but I’ll get the best result if I adhere to a 20/80 rule (small amounts of brighter colours mixed with larger amounts of softer colours).

The simple way to use a tool like this is to place it up against a prospective fabric/garment – if the colour seems harmonious with the wheel, then it’s more likely than not to be flattering. If the colour looks jarring or out of place against it, then I’ll probably move on. I like this concept, especially because when it comes to sewing my own clothes, I often struggle to visualise the end result when working with fabric colours I’m not 100% comfortable with (especially prints and patterns!), which is probably why everything I’ve made to date has been in that comfy ‘safe’ category. I’m hoping this little wheel will take the guesswork out of whether it will suit me or not. I’ll be putting this concept to the test as soon as I can :) 

We also identified the colours within my wheel which are the best of the best, and to put it as my Consultant put it – these are the colours that make my face ‘pop’:

My appointment included a ‘make-up update’ and an application lesson. Considering the only make-up I own is mascara and a red lipstick (which, mind you, only get pulled out for the odd special occasion) I wasn’t sure how useful this would be – but I’ve always suspected my laziness around the whole make-up thing had to do with having zero knowledge of how to apply the goop in the first place.

I’ve always wanted a basic, everyday, neutral lip colour though – something for a bit of extra definition – and I’ve never been able to find it. But thanks to my Colour Consultant I now have one, and the reason I never came across it before is because it’s a colour I would have looked at, pulled a nasty face at, and moved onto the prettier colours. It’s frustrating that you can’t really tell how a lipstick colour will suit until you put the darn thing on!! 

I went out and put my money where my mouth is – I now have a grand total of 3 lipsticks, and I’m actually going to wear them too. My beau was as shocked as I was at how good the colour looked on as to how boringly brown it looked in the tube. Success!

So – Have you ever had your colours done? Did you take part in the ‘Color Me Beautiful’ obsession? If not, would you consider it?



  1. What a cool concept! I never heard of "having my color done" until now. I am a redhead and finding the suitable colors is sometimes difficult. This may help me in my decision making when purchasing and making clothes. Thanks!

  2. Hi Melanie, I too have always wanted to do my colours, not because I don't know what suits me, but I shy away from colours which might suit me and I haven't been 100% convinced otherwise. I think it's money well spent when you can have that confidence to purchase wisely. As you know, the time spent in making a garment, only to find the colour wasn't really 'you' can be very disappointing. Look forward to seeing your progress with 'colours' and I should make that appointment, before I change my mind, again.

  3. Funny that this post has come along now. I attended the Australian Sewing Guild industry day on Saturday where they had a colour consultant as a guest speaker. Very interesting. A little expensive for me and my big worry is that I just outlayed a lot of money on base colours for a new wardrobe I am going to sew and would be heartbroken to know they are not my colours – best to stick the head in the sand at this time – but maybe when I have a few spare dollars!

  4. this sound really interesting actually. I didn't even know something like this existed (still, because I had heard that people used to do that in the 80's)I just went to target and tried on every t-shirt colour on under the sun and determined which colours look better then others. I should look into this, maybe as a present for myself for my birthday.

  5. I had mine done a few years back, by Kerryn at Kerryn's Fabric World (Sunshine Coast). Love the colours she came up with, and interestingly she commented that they are usually the colours you decorate your home in as well – she was certainly right!!! I whip my colour chips out when shopping for fabric all the time.

  6. Everything 80's is new again! Sounds like a fun and interesting experience. And good that it broadened your (color) horizons a bit!

  7. Ha! My grandmother did my colors when I was a preteen I think? I didn't really like most of the colors, and I think I only got rid of the thing a few years ago (now wishing I hadn't, curious about it!) I loved how it told me what hosiery color and perfumes to wear too.

  8. Ha ha! I had my colours done when I was a teenager in the late eighties! Colour Me Beautiful still sits on my bookshelf! In those days you were simply Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter – I understand now that there are a few systems around and they have refined things so that where I am a Spring in the old system, I would cross into some Autumn colours since I have auburn hair. It is fascinating and something I have considered taking training in ever since I had it done. I don't carry my swatches around anymore as I know them so well – although I don't always stick to them religiously!! Enjoy!

  9. oh my gosh! the 80's mom jeans wearing part of my soul is doing a happy dance!! i'm so glad you can still go and "get your colors done"!! And this seems soooo much more thorough than the 80's rendition. I believe that this will be the beginning of you looking ah-mazing 100% of the time! plus think how much easier this makes fabric shopping!!

  10. Good for you! I analyzed myself and I'm so glad I did. Have fun with your new colours :) The best part is that your entire wardrobe will be harmonious so you can mix and match EVERYTHING.

  11. Sounds fun! I like your color specialist's point that you can still wear colors that aren't on 'your wheel' (so to speak) just use them in smaller quantities. Make-up and fashion can be intimidating sometimes; I think this is just one possible useful tool to make it work for you :)Thanks for commenting on my blog, btw, glad to find you!

  12. Oh I do remember this – a colleague "had her colours done" in the 90s, and I was kind of jealous! You look to have a lot of fun colours in there; I didn't realise you got to have so many colours!Just in the last week I've been realising I was wrong about some of the colours I thought looked OK on me – I probably need some professional recommendations but am making do with a second hand Trinny & Susannah book's colours for now :-) – and I wear minimal make-up but mostly because I just don't know what to do with it!

  13. Heh, I remember this craze. I remember looking at the book, which my mom had, and being intrigued. There are a bunch of websites dedicated to the idea now, too. Very interesting. I hope you find plenty of inspiration from your colors!

  14. My aunt was a big follower of the whole "having your colours done", my mother however was completely opposed to it. I've never really known which colours did or didn't suit me (or anyone else for that matter) but I've always wondered if there was a magical set of colours for me. Over the years I've found that there are colours I avoid (yellows, beiges, greys and pastels) and colours I always gravitate towards (black, occasionally bright but dark colours and more recently red) but as for shades? No clue. I was really just going with colours I liked and had no idea whether they suited me or not. Oh, I like purple too – I think it makes my eyes look bluer. To make things trickier, my hair has been every shade between platinum blonde to fire engine red, including deep, dark auburn – surely that's got to make a difference as well. I don't think I have an 'eye' for these things. Recently I went to said aunt's place and while going through her stash (to pilfer fabric) this topic came up so I asked her to "do my colours" as she was the expert (anyone is compared to me). After much draping with fabrics she concluded that she thought my instincts had been fairly correct and that yellows looked awful on me, pastels looked wishy washy and although black looked pretty good, red and deep orange were better. One thing she said was that if you wear something and everyone says how fabulous you look in it, that's probably a great colour for you (which is why I pounced on red a couple of years ago, a particular red dress I have never fails to get lots of compliments – thinking I was on to something, I asked tigerboy about it "I think red dresses just stand out." was the reply, not helpful, apparently we're both useless in this area). But those compliments are going to depend on the style of the garment too, aren't they? I've known women who slavishly followed the colour swatches they had and in one case in particular, I thought she always looked washed out and dreary – I'm sure that's just my particular preferences interfering, so maybe it depends on the "eye" of the person that does them and their particular preferences? Upshot – I'm still clueless and likely to be wearing all the wrong colours now that I'm actually injecting something other than black into the wardrobe. Maybe all those years of wearing black, black and more black have made me even less clued in to this concept and I'll improve – for crying out loud, if anyone ever sees a pic of me in a colour that either does or doesn't suit me, please give me the heads up, I need all the help I can get!Oh, I have to say that I don't think I've ever seen a pic of you where I thought "that's not her colour" but considering the source, that's not saying much is it? You could probably wear every colour under the sun and I'd think you looked great.

  15. I loved reading your post! Like you I've always had colours I've naturally gravitated towards like a safety net. And because sometimes its easier to trust the opinion of someone who is an 'expert', this was a way to try and expand that safety net. It seems to have worked – I bought a bright red cardigan the other day – a colour I've always shied away from. I got compliments immediately from several strangers (the best kind of compliment really – no bias!), so now I've got another colour in the arsenal, so to speak. I'm counting this experience as a win, but at the end of the day – we've all got to push our boundaries a bit otherwise things get boring. Even if that means we venture out in public in a colour that isn't 100% right for us. Rules were made to be broken anyway!Thankyou :)

  16. I'd say that's a win!! I also would have thought that red would look great on you ….. just like it must on every other person in the world, because you know, I like it, lol ….

  17. Back in the 80s Mum had herself and all four of us "done" and I have recently wondered about whether ageing changes (i.e. hair colour) affects what your colours are. "Colour Me Younger" is a newer version of the "Colour Me Beautiful" book and seems to address this issue. For me, having my colours redone would save money at the fabric shop! On another note, can anyone in Melbourne recommend a colour consultant?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s