A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!

4.21.2015

How To Work Out Your Colour Palette (Or For My American Readers): How To Work Out Your Color Palette!

I promised a while ago to update this topic and often receive emails from readers who are equally as fascinated with the whole idea of wearing the right 'colours'. I very much buy into the Colour Me Beautiful theory of there being 6 different palettes. Well, I did train with the company but I don't have any affiliation with it now. It just seems so logical somehow.

Even after all these years, I still follow my own colour swatches. Ok, I break the rules sometimes but I know what I can get away with. It really does make shopping easier. For example there's little point in me trying on a big black and white bold patterned dress. It won't work no matter what I do to my hair and make-up. The pattern will overwhelm my blended look so I'll leave that  to the more dramatic colour palettes. On the other hand a faded black (or black with a very soft pattern), I can do even though black isn't in my palette. It's less harsh and doesn't fight with my colouring. So I can discount all the clothes in a shop that I know won't work, making trying on much easier and more pleasurable. There's nothing worse than going into a changing room and finding that nothing looks right. Great for the confidence (not).

Colour can dramatically affect the way that you look. Get it right and you can look vibrant, healthy and even younger (gosh this is sounding like one of those scammy pop-up messages by the minute - it's not I promise). Get it wrong and it can make you look pale, tired, ill and older. Hmmmmm, let's just think about that. I know which I prefer!

Actually, we talk about wearing the right colour. That's not strictly true. Everyone can wear colour. I mean, I could find a perfect red for every single reader of this blog. It's the shade of colour that we have to get right. Let's look at red in more detail.

Here we have different shades of the colour ranging from pinky-reds right through to orangey-reds. There's one for you here - you just need to identify it! Actually there's probably a few shades that will work equally well but they'll all be from the same part of the table.



The Important Bit Is Coming Up...

The right shade depends on your overall look made up of your hair colour, eyes and skin tone. These 3 things tell a story, your story. So, Oprah Winfrey has a much stronger look than say, Jennifer Aniston. The idea is that to achieve your best look, you mirror your own little story with what you're wearing. Oprah can therefore wear much stronger colours more successfully than Jennifer. Are you still with me?


Ok, so now we know why wearing the right colour is good for you, let's see if we can identify your palette. For ease going forward, I've created 6 different tabs running down the right hand side of the blog which I'll keep there - hopefully it will act as a prompt when I'm talking about colours in future posts.

LIGHT

Ulrika Jonsson / Naomi Watts / Claudia Schiffer



You're a Light if you have naturally light blonde hair (ie. NOT out of a bottle) and light eyes (pale blue, green, grey). You may have pale eyelashes and brows that you have to pencil in. Your skin may burn easily in the sun and can be either pinky or golden in tone.

So your overall look is light and delicate. It figures therefore that your best colours will be light and delicate also. Take Claudia above, if we put her in a dark olive, it would totally overwhelm her casting dark shadows underneath her chin and cheeks. She'll no doubt look tired and very pasty. Naomi, the naught girl is wearing black (she doesn't get black in her palette) but it's away from her face so works. This is a great example of how to wear black if it overwhelms you although I'm not suggesting you rock up to work in an evening gown. A deep v-neck is probably more suitable!


Here are some examples of a few colours in your palette. As you can see they're all light and delicate. You'll probably find it easier to shop in the summer than winter when lighter shades are replaced by darker colours.





DEEP

Catherine Zeta Jones / Halle Berry / Audrey Tatou


You're a Deep if you have dark hair and dark eyes. Your skin tone can be anything from porcelain through to black. It's a large group of ladies this one! Overall your look is strong and dramatic so you can wear strong colours. Beige won't look great on you unless you team it with a darker shade near to your face. Actually I recommend everyone has a 'poorly' colour should you ever feel like a day off work. In your case put on a beige polo-neck. You'll be shown the door by your boss before you even sit down!! Yes, it's that bad. Lurgy will look as if it's oozing from your pores. Black will be a wardrobe staple for you but don't forget other colours too.

Here are some examples of a few colours in your palette. A much stronger look than the Lights above. You might struggle in the summer months when shops tend to stock more delicate colours so stock up in the autumn and winter.


Look how much stronger the palette is to the Light one above. Much more suited to dark haired women.


WARM

Julieanne Moore / Julia Roberts / Nicole Kidman



You're a Warm if you have red or warm tones in your hair, eyes can be any colour. Your skin may be golden or porcelain and you may have freckles but not always. How utterly beautiful are these women and yet they're all guilty of changing the colour of their hair. Julia went dark for a while (it looked ghastly), Nicole went blonde (that was okish as she has fair skin) and Julieanne went grey (but that was for the film, Hunger Games so I'll forgive her for that one).

So if you fall into this palette, your colours should all have a yellow undertone to them. Think back to when you were at school and were taught how to mix primary colours. Well let's take our example of red. By adding yellow, you get an orangey-red and if you keep adding yellow, eventually you'll end up with pure orange. This is a yellow based colour. The three ladies above have a golden look so will look incredible in orangey-red as opposed to a more strawberry colour that has lots of blue in it.

Here are some examples of colours in your palette. Rich, warm colours that will look amazing on you.


This palette is of a medium depth so the majority of colours are not too dark and not too light (black being the darkest of course and pure white the lightest - although these don't feature in your palette. No worries, I'll talk about alternatives in a future post). But more importantly, they're all warm and rich. If  you're wearing a flat colour such as navy, try adding a coral or yellow accent - it really works wonders in lifting it.


COOL

Judi Dench / Jamie Lee Curtis / Rita Moreno



You're a Cool if you have ash tones to your hair (grey, white, even dark blonde). Your eyes can be any colour. Your skin tone will be pinky or if you have black skin, a slight blue tinge. Many Oriental ladies fall into this category if they have very dark hair and a sallow (yellow-based) skin tone. The reason being because wearing anything yellow-y will make their skin look even more sallow - this palette is devoid of golden colours. You hair colour will give you a strong look and no doubt you'll find paler colours on their own (such as taupe, very draining on your complexion). By the way, white is a strong colour!

So if you fall into this palette, your colours will be the total opposite to the Warm palette above. Yellow based colours will often look dreadful. You're so much better in blue based colours. Let's take two pinks for example: coral and baby pink. How do we get to these two colours? Well both start with primary red and white. Mix these and you get a 'true' pink. Add yellow and it becomes coral. Or add a touch of blue and you get baby pink. So your friends are cool blues, blue-based greens such as peacock and teal (there's a heck of a lot of blue in these), pinks, cool reds and so on. 

Here are some examples of colours in your palette. Cool and fresh shades. 



You also get black and white - colours that we see the ladies above wearing well. 


CLEAR

Elizabeth Hurley / Courteney Cox / Elizabeth Taylor 


You're a Clear if you have dark hair and BRIGHT eyes (they must be bright but can be any colour) so there's lots of contrast between hair, eye and skin tone. Your brows and lashes will be dark. Skin tone can be any colour from porcelain through to black. Oprah Winfrey is a clear - she has amazingly bright eyes. That's a bit complicated to work out so you're going to have to trust me on this one!

So if you fall into this palette, your colours will be bright and strong. You'll look great in lots of contrast (so for example a sharp breton stripe in crisp black and white). I dare you to try on wishy-washy colours - they'll do nothing for you at all. 

Here are some examples of colours in your palette. Lots of jewel shades - you lucky thing. 


You do get lighter colours too but wear them with lots of contrast. The ones above can easily be worn with black or white or indeed on their own.



SOFT

Kate Winslet / Kylie Minogue / Sue Johnston


You're a Soft if you have mousey or light blonde hair (often hilighted). Your eyes can be any colour but will be much more muted than a Clear above. They won't really stand out but they can change colour (mine turn green when I'm cross!!!). There's little contrast between your hair and skin colour so your overall look is quite blended. 

I've included an 'older' Soft in the pictures above, the lovely Sue Johnston as I think ladies can confuse salt and pepper hair (Sue's) with a Cool's steely grey or white hair. If yours is more like Sue's then chances are you have a softer look so this is your category. 

So, soft looks call for soft, muted colours. Bright, zingy colours and strong patterns may look cheap on you but hey don't despair, this is a very sophisticated palette, not too strong and not too deep. 

Here are some examples of colours in your palette.


Lovely muted shades that are often found in high-end designer collections (I'm talking about you Mr Armani). Thank goodness the High Street does them too!


And so there we have it. Six very different palettes. Hope you've been able to identify your own. I'll pick up on this again soon as there's so much more to explore.

If you read the blog on a tablet or computer, you'll notice 6 little pop-ups on the right hand side (I don't think you'll see them on mobile devices - sorry). I'm going to keep these there so you can easily identify your own palette which will make it easier when we're looking at colour in future posts. You can click on any of the pictures and they will bring you to this post. Hope that helps as I've had lots and lots of emails from people who are interested in finding out their colour palettes.

I'm going for a lie down now - it's taken me literally hours to write this post!

Back soon.



40 comments on "How To Work Out Your Colour Palette (Or For My American Readers): How To Work Out Your Color Palette!"
  1. HI, Love this post I guess like you I am the soft I already have the MV overdye woven t it is grey and I love love love it ! Im just ordering the M&S top in the blush I don't have a top in the colour but it would work. Can you wear turquoise as currently looking at ordering the Cerys dress from boden ? (already have lemon/ yellow dress).

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    1. Hi Lynette thanks for your comment. Blush/nude pink is brilliant for Softs so hope you like it. I have lots in this colour. We actually get jade which is slightly duller than turquoise but the Boden dress doesn't look too bright so I think it will be fab. And to be honest I find that if I have a bit of a tan, I can wear slightly brighter colours (and in the winter, I wear more blusher - told you I was a rule breaker) x

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  2. Hello
    Love reading your posts. I was a warm spring by cmb but a jewel winter by another company. I'm never quite sure which to trust but going with winter now?! I have dark blonde/mouse hair and bright blue eyes. Never sure about complexion tone... It's a hard business this colour!
    X

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    1. Oh thanks for your kind comments. You know what as we get older, we can move from one colour palette to another. Take my mum for example she was a Soft back in the day. She's definitely moved over to a Cool (Judi Dench colours). Maybe this is happening to you?? Google Kylie Minogue images and have a look at her. She has mousey brown hair (hi lighted of course) and quite bright eyes. Do you resemble her at all?? If you do then you're a Soft. If you're struggling send me a picture of your face (in natural day light if possible)....ok yes I'm asking for a selfie!!! Donna x

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  3. Hope I'm getting this right Donna....am I a soft? I would normally wear all the neutral colours but as much as I love the shade of green, I'm not sure I've ever worn it! Maybe I should give it a go?! xx

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    1. Yep you're a Soft Michelle. I added the green because I didn't want people to think the palette was drab but soft muted tones are perfect x

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  4. It's so interesting how different colors can change skin tone. I never quite know what I am Donna? I have naturally dark ash blond hair (Mouse!!) , but have light blond and ombre highlights. Blue eyes, and a yellow undertone skin, although not olive. What color palette would you say I am....I have prob been getting it wrong forever?!! Helen xx

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    1. Hi Helen just checked your Insta but couldn't find a head shot. Do me a favour and email me one over (preferably in natural day light - a true selfie)!!!! x

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  5. It's so interesting how different colors can change skin tone. I never quite know what I am Donna? I have naturally dark ash blond hair (Mouse!!) , but have light blond and ombre highlights. Blue eyes, and a yellow undertone skin, although not olive. What color palette would you say I am....I have prob been getting it wrong forever?!! Helen xx

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  6. I love your colour posts. I had my colours done years ago and I came out as an autumn - soft, earthy, muted. I'm a bit obsessed with colour really! Lynne xx

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    1. I guessed you had had your colours done Lynne as you wear it so well. I'd never ever expect to see you in say lilac or mauve as you suit your palette so well x

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  7. I LOVE this! I am going to have to go out and try some different colours on though, as my colouring is closest to the warm women (!), but I never wear any of those colours! I love autumnal shades - burgundy-type reds, khakis, browns and french navy, but of course I spend most of my time in black and grey. I'm too tempted by all the wrong stuff, and find it impossible to resist! xx

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    1. I probably wouldn't have out you as a warm Becky - are you sure you're not a clear???

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  8. I *think* I would be a clear from the descriptions. I've always veered towards brighter colours & yes, wish you-washy colours look awful on me - they make me look ill!!
    Really great post, thank you! X

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    1. But Sarah, you need a sludge colour in your wardrobe for those duvet days. You'll be sent straight back to bed by the family lol. Mine's a really cool red, it washes me out and I look positively blue. I only have to do the pretend shakes and say oooh think I'm coming down with flu. Cue, hot drinks, toast and the Sunday papers in bed. Sooooooo devious x

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  9. I love these posts Donna! I think I'm a bit of a mix - you would think I'm a deep but my eyes are light brown (so not dark) - but not bright - see confusing! I do seem to suit red and green but probably wear a lot of colours I shouldn't! xx

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    1. Thanks Jenny. I'd put you as a Deep. Ok your eyes aren't as dark as some but overall you have a strong deep look x

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  10. GREAT post Donna - I am positive it took you a long time to prepare and will help lots of women.

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  11. Thanks Donna, a really inspiring post. I've never really worked out what I am between a light, cool or soft! Will persevere in working it out but probably shouldn't be wearing as much black as I do ;) xx

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  12. Thanks Donna, a really inspiring post. I've never really worked out what I am between a light, cool or soft! Will persevere in working it out but probably shouldn't be wearing as much black as I do ;) xx

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    1. Ok, just to confuse you more, you're probably all 3. Take me for example, I'm a Soft, Warm. Deep. My most dominant feature is my blended look so my main palette is Soft. But my skin has a warm undertone so that's where Warm comes in. And I'm on the deeper side hence the Deep. What you need to work out is your most dominant look overall. Send me a photo of a head shot in natural daylight and I'll have a look for you x

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    2. Thank you x I've emailed you a head shot - sorry about my rubbish photography skills ;)

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  13. Arrgghh I'm a bit confused..am I deep or clear..I have very dark almost black hair..dark eyebrows..hazel eyes..very fair skin that tans well..don't have a clue if I'm warm or cool toned as I gave up trying to work that out a long time ago..I love wearing black..white ..navy..and grey..but getting brave with cobalt blue..lilac and orange..could I send you a head shot so I can find out the best nude shade for me..beige just washes me out..after just coming through a messy long divorce I want to try a new me..Many Thanks Jxxx

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    1. Send me a headshot in daylight and we'll work it out x

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    2. Thank you so much Hun..will do :) xx

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  14. I think I identified myself as a deep originally when you put out one of your first colour posts. And the colours are consistent with what I would wear when I wear colour. However, I am also rather drawn to the cool colours that you've shown. I think I could just about get away with those?

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    1. And I meant to say - Fiona is spot on - these are really brilliant posts. They are an enormous help, take an age to do but so interesting. Looking forward to the next part!

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  15. Great post! Are all red heads warm tho?
    I tried the colour wheel myself and didn't think warm was best... I would never wear orange or yellow .. hate them on me! I like pink on me which is the complete opposite of this .. feeling confused x

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    1. Most true red heads will fall in to the warm category yes. You don't have to like all of the colours in your palette though. There are several that I wouldn't touch in mine. Actually you do get pink, but it's more salmon based than candy. Hold both colour up to your face by the window but not full sun light and see what happens to your complexion. Colour really is magic x

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  16. Many thanks for your reply Donna. I go for the opposite .. Blues and candy pink.. I'm confused so maybe I shoudl have my colours done properly .. Would hate them all to be colours I hate though! X

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  17. Well you have 3 options, do a full Colour Analysis with a consultant. Ring a few up and have a chat before you choose one. Use my services (link at the top of the blog) or buy a Colour Me Beautiful book. These are excellent - you can pick them up for a couple of pounds online. Even the older version Colour Me Confident is brilliant and the clothes they use aren't too out of date x

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  18. Hi Donna, I know this is an old post but I've only just read it!
    Like the poster above I'm a natural redhead (think Carol Decker T'Pau!) with blue eyes. However I think my complexion is more pink toned than yellow toned. Make up wise pink based foundations suit better as do pinky lipsticks rather than brown based lipsticks. Orange and yellow clothes look awful on me. Also blue reds look better than orange reds. I think I suit soft colours more. I'm having my colours done next month so we shall see but I hope I'm not a warm!

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    1. I've been humming China In Your Hand for the last hour and a half now!!! Hmmmm yes I think you could be one of those challenging clients and a face to face consultation is probably needed. It sometimes happens. Don't confuse yellow skin with golden. A warm palette will have golden or porcelain skin. A yellow palette is actually cool skinned and is treated the same as pink skin. Bizarre I know. Complicated yes. If your skin tone is very pinky then it maybe the consultant decides to put you in a different palette as you're right, warm colours won't do you any favours. Are you doing Colour Me Beautiful? Do let me know how you get on. I'm dying to know x

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    2. Thanks for your reply. Yes it's with CMB. I'm on a clothes buying ban until I go at the end of September because I don't want to buy the wrong colours. I will report back!

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  19. I'm 40 plus a tiny bit and loving the buzz that 'we can be trendy, cool and stylish' so I've upped my game (encouraged by bloggers!) and am loving the feeling. So, why not go the next step and really understand if I can make my clothes work better? Donna's approach to colours really appealed, from my first contact she was fantastic. The hardest part was 'what outfits' do I send pictures of to try and cover as many items in my wardrobe as possible along with 'natural light and no make up not even mascara'?!....aaaaaaah! I managed it and in no time Donna had reviewed all the pictures and sent me a very comprehensive report with 'my' colours, clothes examples and lots of other bits of very friendly advice. Being honest at first glance I thought 'where do I start' and it panicked me, but with each new purchase on the quiet I have gone back to my colour palette and sense checked it, subliminally the advice has gone in, my wardrobe is working very hard for me and I'm getting the comments! I never thought in a million years I would own anything mint green, now I love my jumper, of course I still sneak black in there even though it's on the no go list! I'm chuffed to bits with my colour palette and on the odd query I've had Donna has been kind enough to answer it for me.

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  20. Great article although I'm not sure what section I fit in at all

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