Colour analysis – what is your main colour direction?

What is this all about?

When we do a colour analysis we try to put everyone into one main category of colours Deep, Light, Cool, Warm, Bright or Muted. Most people will suit one better than others, although usually they have a secondary colour direction too. If we can help you identify which one (or two) palettes is most complementary for you – given your hair, eye and skin colouring – it an make it easier to choose outfits or fabrics that enhance and work with your natural colouring.


When I had my book launch my friend Giorgia did quick colour analysis for our guests, which was much appreciated and enjoyed. At the time I thought – how could you give people a very quick idea, of what the palettes look like against their face. So I got some cheap canvases and painted with specific palettes.

Well these are my paintings, some of them inspired by 20th century artists (can you guess who was in my mind?). Each one is painted in a colour direction.

Traditional colour analysis uses what they call “corporate drapes”. This allows the consultant to show someone how they look in the chosen colour direction at one go. I don’t have a set, but they look something like this.

Mixed drape for quick colour consultationsTo my mind there is something very bizarre about draping the client in a multi-coloured cape. I couldn’t do it. I think the capes look like a rainbow skirt, or something you might put on for a new age dance festival. So although I did think of sewing my own version, I tried something completely different. I decided to use a painted surface to give an idea of a colour palette.


Like the “corporate drapes” they have a limitation, but they do give a rough and ready feel, and maybe they would help a client get an idea of what colours they are attracted to, which is often related to what suits them (but not always). I know Nick always says he likes natural colours – by which he means softer shades. So no surprise that he suits the muted palette best. On the other hand I am attracted to bright shades, and while bright is my secondary direction my main cool palette is bright and I rarely wear muted shades, although I do love my neutrals.

If you look carefully you maybe able to see my colour coordinated slippers. I made several pairs of these in various colours to give to my helpers on book launch night.

Recently my friend Lyn Bromley asked her colleagues (what is the collective name for colour consultants? – “a rainbow” perhaps) – what was their favourite palette. I said mine was warm even though I don’t look good in warm colours. I think I am just contrary and always want what I cannot have. I always wanted curly hair too. Of course the cool colours are really my best colours.

As a painting I like the muted one the best. These are the colours we have mainly used for decorating. They are so easy to spend time with and are useful in creating a calm interior.

Which colour direction do you like the best? On you? Or in your home?

Over the next few weeks I will share more of the themes from my book launch event – Nigerian head ties, origami, making slime and make up.

12 Responses

  1. Alison

    How fascinating… I hadn’t ever thought of there being six basic “divisions” of colorways, but given those options, I easily picked the ones that are mine: cool, dark, and muted. There is nothing in my wardrobe that doesn’t encompass those.

  2. Elaine

    I find this stuff fascinating but totally confusing…so I just go with what I like [purple, green, blue strong red, black and white], and dodge what I know looks horrible on me [yellows, browns, orangey red]
    What does that make me? lol My hair colour looks much better if it’s toned down these days, a recent colour went way too yellow and looked dreadful, now it’s more silver/beige again it looks better. My makeup has to be ivory toned, or I just look weird, lipsticks are blue-toned rose shades, always, nothing else works.
    I get most compliments when I wear red [but I think that’s because everyone is cheered by it] and purple/green. On the other hand, my wife starts most days by saying ‘I love to see you in….’ fill in whatever colour I’m wearing! This always makes me laugh.
    Looking forward to seeing everyone’s comments here!

  3. fabrickated

    From Sis (my comments were not working properly on Saturday)

    “I have found that m favourite colours have changed over time but white, and variants of it, has always been m go-to colour for home decor and clothes. I have tried black for clothes but do not like it. I prefer charcoal and dark shades of grey or blue as the opposite neutral instead. My mix-in colours are the ones that have changed much over time. I used to go for brights now they are are more muted tones. No idea what suits me – I just go along with my mood and I what I feel happy wearing or looking at.”

  4. fabrickated

    From Shelagh

    “Dark, bright and cool are my favourites. I don’t know much about colours but when I’m wool shopping, I always hold up the wools to my face and beige, yellow, brown always make me look ill. I think those are warm colours. Bright and dark in any colour seem to work for me. Bright pink and red look particularly good. I mostly wear blues. Navy blue and white are my basic colours instead of black and cream. I steer clear of light colours such as lilac and pale pink because I am wary of looking too feminine with my blond hair and blue eyes. White I have reasons why I avoid certain colours I think it probably comes down to what looks good. I find colour analysis fascinating as I have strong gut reactions in what works for others but I don’t know the science behind it. Thanks for sharing Kate.”

  5. Sue Stoney

    I loved this section in your book but am not really any wiser as to my palette. I look at your paintings (great idea) but am hung up on which design I like best rather than which colours! I might need professional help!

    • fabrickated

      I think you make good choices Sue and you have lots of style, so I wouldn’t worry too much. Your instincts are good. I would love to give you that “professional” help – maybe we can meet up again one day. In the meantime go on your hair colour – rich, warm shades.

  6. Joyce Latham

    You have helped me with my colour direction Kate, and the muted cool colours have been working for me. I was wearing a lot of grey for a while, and that was great for a neutral, but now I’m moving into more colour. My favourite is a deep plumpish blue jean kind of blue ( perfect for the season as well ). I think this is such a great post! I think your canvases are wonderful and you somehow make those slippers rock! As always you are such an inspiration!!
    How’s the photography course coming along?
    Joyce from Sudbury

    • fabrickated

      I am getting more confident with the camera Joyce and learn something every day. I am going manual regularly now so that feels good, although there is so much to think about.

      I love the greys and blues on you Joyce and especially your wonderful natural hair with its many shades of grey – time to explore all those blue based colours and branch out with more colour perhaps.

  7. Suzanne

    I’ve never had my colors done, but I know I’m attracted to cool colors that are strongly hued, like darker blues, cranberry and the like. I feel like I fade in anything pastel, so I avoid them. I know that black and white are harsh, but I do tend to like the combination – it’s so clean!

    • fabrickated

      Agreed – black and white is a sharp and strong combination – but some of us look like a waitress or police officer if we go for too much black. When I want a strong authority look I usually put my white shirt with dark brown, grey or navy. If you have warm colouring try dark brown with a creamy white.

  8. Blakandblanca

    Such a great post with the paintings and those charming slippers as color examples. This past year I let me hair go silver gray and it has made a difference in the colors I can wear close to my face. All my life it has been black and white in my clothing and interiors. Warm tones look icky on me but not sure if I am better in bright, deep, or light. Since our hair is similar I am going to use your paintings and see if I can figure it out. Those slippers are the best!

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