Find Your Colors- Creating a Personal Palette

Hi friends, I know I have been away for quite some time. We have been busy moving to a new house that gives me space to make tinctures and salves, grow lots of herbs on the porch, and create all kinds of beauty to share with you. After decorating the house over the course of a few weeks with many trips to Goodwill my surroundings finally started to became ours.(You know how when I get my mind on something I don’t stop until it is perfect? Yes, this includes decorating.) 

I then returned to work on my custom color palette and have been focused intently (obsessively…) on that ever since. Now, there are many talented and amazing stylists and color consultants out there who you can pay to create your palette much more quickly, but being the DIY and frugal spirit I am I wanted to try to create my own. Then, the money saved could go into fun things like new shoes and clothes, and grown up things like student loans (Ah, reality).

I know what you are thinking, I write about wellness, not fashion. I said it before as I shared the start of my personal style journey, and I will say it again: There is no separation between your inner energy and your outer energy. The clothes and colors you wear can either connect with you or they can block or alter your energy. The more you are conscious of this the more you will begin to feel, and see, what different colors do for you.

Suzanne Caygill is one of the founders of the personal color movement, her book is titled “Color: The Essence of You” and I would love to read it, but given the cost of her out of print book I haven’t had a chance. The basics of her system are readily available thanks to the internet, along with the many color analysts that have expanded upon her system and created their own. Here is a quote regarding her system that is a good explanation of my goals with personal color palettes:

“Can we imagine challenging nature’s magnificent organization of design and color by remarking of a magnolia, “The leaves aren’t the right color,” or of the calla lily, “It needs to be dabbed up and changed because it doesn’t go with the stem?” Surely no one would think to take such a position. If we recognize that everything in the organization of the universe is authentic and correct, then we pose the question, “Does not this organization apply also to human beings?” It seems reasonable to assume that each human being has an individualized design, color, and form that is suitable to his or her intrinsic value and intent.”

Finding your style and colors is a journey to find yourself like no other, and to give yourself permission to fully be that person is challenging, exhilarating, and frankly just makes shopping easier. It is a journey from the outside in when, at least for me, society can create all kinds of noise about who you are supposed to be. This is just another tool to create balance and thereby wellness within yourself, it also can lessen your time getting dressed when your whole wardrobe is cohesive, giving you time for other obligations and passions. My journey will not be your journey, you may find my methods don’t work for you and that is a-ok, but I hope they help you find your way!

I started my search for my custom colors with David Zyla’s method, and his book “Color Your Style: How to Wear Your True Colors” was integral in my process. As an Emmy award winning stylist David Zyla is probably the most well known stylist doing personal color consultations (he also works with style), and I am not saying he is the best or the only option. It is just where I started. As I tend to do, once I knew his premise of looking for your colors in your body I just began looking for colors that enhanced me and connected to the flush of my cheeks, or matched the color of my veins, or echoed colors in my eyes so I will mostly focus on creating a general palette.

OK, enough babble! How do I get started you ask?

Step 1: Go to your local hardware store and collect all of the paint chips that you think are even close to colors in your skin, eyes, hair, the flush of your cheeks or a pinched finger, and your veins. If your gut gravitates to a color, take it too even if logically you can’t figure out why. I did this over a few trips so as not to look super weird leaving with an 8 inch stack of colors. There are also books of swatches that designers use which could he helpful for keeping things organized when you need to go a shade darker, lighter, more muted, etc.

Just an idea of what my pile looks like (I swear I’m not just trying to show off my decor!):

pileofchips

Step 2: I recommend starting finding your version of red first, you do this using a pinched finger but I also paid attention to how colors looked with the flush in my cheeks and lips. This may be a true red, it may be orange, it may be a dusty muted pink, or a coral color. Keep your mind open to the possibilities. (Zyla calls this your romantic)

Here are a couple of my reds:

romanticblog2

One of my reds- a coral that surprised me.

My nail polish and this leaf ended up being very close.

My nail polish and this leaf ended up being very close.

Also, here is an alternative if you can’t get out to the store for paint chips. There is a color extractor called TinEye which can be helpful to start your journey. Upload your images, and then click the bar showing the extracted colors to see images with the same percentages of colors.

romanticblog

Some of my reds via photos for inspiration

Here is a mostly failed early attempt- aside from the pomegranate the colors are too light and muted, I overpower them.

Here is a mostly failed early attempt- aside from the pomegranate the colors are too light and muted, I overpower them.

Step 3: Check out your veins and notice all the nuances of color in them- during the day after exercise or after a hot shower or bath is a great time to do this. Just like with your version of red hold the color chips up, see what harmonizes. This is your power color, your dominate the world color. Wear it to go out, or for an interview, or just when you need to feel kick-ass- (Psst, I’m wearing it in my about me section.) (Zyla calls this your dramatic) 

dramatics

Step 4: Now we move on to the eyes! To do this I set my camera up with my remote, a self timer works too and took HUNDREDS of pictures of color chips close to my eyes. I narrowed out what seemed probable, and hunted for clothing in these colors, I then tried to notice what these colors did with my skin not just my eyes. For me, that meant ignoring an amber color in my eyes and focusing on the greens. Here you are getting three of your colors, the color you wear to feel approachable and friendly, and the color you that is restorative, and your version of black (Zyla calls these your energy, tranquil, and first base)

These are almost my final selections, I removed some of the too muted colors and the teals. Top image is energy and tranquil, the bottom is first base.

These are almost my final selections, I removed some of the too muted colors and the teals. Top image is energy and tranquil, the bottom is first base.

This was how I photographed my eye with colors. This collage is the same colors on two different days and lightings. Notice I'm not wearing any makeup to do this.

This was how I photographed my eye with colors. This collage is the same colors on two different days and lightings. Notice I’m not wearing any makeup to do this.

See how jarring gold is with my eye? It may be in my eye, but it isn't one of my colors. You can be too literal with this process!

See how jarring gold is with my eye? It may be in my eye, but it isn’t one of my colors. You can be too literal with this process!

Step 5: This was the hardest for me because it seems to be the least literal. Here we are working with your hair to find your version of brown and khaki. For me, this came down to what colors I wear instead of brown and khaki that enhanced me. These are fairly casual colors you treat as neutrals. For me, this worked out to an eggplanty purple and a range from black to almost white. Look at your hair in the sun, how the light hits it and all of the nuanced colors there. My hair is black and the light hitting it shines silver. Booorrrriiinnggg. But, I’ve got some hints of reds and plums in there that suit me and I’m running with it- who knows if I have it totally right, but I’m going to live it for awhile and see. That is the nice thing about doing this yourself, I can always alter my palette. I’m always growing and learning more.

It took me until round two of working on my palette to find my second base, I looked to my wardrobe to inspire my version of brown.

It took me until round two of working on my palette to find my second base, I looked to my wardrobe to inspire my version of brown.

Step 6: Skin tone. Gosh how difficult to figure out! If you have ever shopped for foundation you know this to be true. Honestly? I am still finding mine. I know what doesn’t work and have a small pile of chips that I bring with me to Goodwill and I try on shirts that match and see if it smooths my skin or makes me look sallow, or pink, or just plain doesn’t connect. I’ve been doing this for 6 months and have yet to get there. This is another spot where the TinEye reverse color search helped me train my eye to what colors are in my skin. I also tried a method like finding the colors in my eyes where I held up chips and photographed them with my face. I also did this with my hands. Be patient, we will get there! (Zyla calls this your essence color)

Getting there...

Getting there…

Now, for the most exciting part, when you lay your palette out complete (or almost complete) for the first time. I will leave you with mine, I hope it inspires you. I get such joy just by looking at it.

No pastels, no midtones, no muted colors. These are my colors.

No pastels, no midtones, no muted colors. These are my colors.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s