Wearing colors can come with a lot of emotional attachment. Maybe you wear your school colors, or there’s a cause that you support that's represented by a color. But unless you have some sort of affiliation, you probably have just been wearing the colors that you like. Maybe you’ve even been able to decipher what colors are flattering on you. Maybe.
What if I told you, you might be wearing your worst colors?
You may have seen “color consultants” popping up on your Instagram feed lately without knowing what the heck that is. Categorized under the umbrella of “image consults,” it's a trend from the 80's that's gaining huge popularity in Japan, and also seeing a resurgence here in the States. From coloring to face type to body type, image consultants analyze you and tell you what is flattering, what enhances your look, and what you should stay away from. For personal color analysis, there’s a palette of 12-16 colors that are categorized into 4 seasons: Summer, Winter, Spring, and Autumn.
Now, I know this sparks two very different reactions.
If you’re like me and love good ‘ole fashioned personality tests like the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and astrological signs, this is another fun categorization that feeds the need for self-discovery.
Others will protest, “More vain self-concern. Just what we need,” or “This is the kind of vapid, narcissistic navel-gazing that has brought America to its knees,” or “Women, please stop buying into the belief that we must spend billions of dollars to look better, and realize that beauty comes from within.” (These were all actual comments pulled from this article)
Look, I get it. Color consultations can seem silly and self-indulgent and even a little vain. But as a postpartum mom struggling to have fun with fashion, getting my color analysis changed my relationship with clothes. My body had changed, my life had changed, and my clothes no longer felt like me because I no longer knew who me was.
I’d always been curious about color analysis, but had given up on it years ago after a few self-quizzes that automatically categorized me as having yellow undertones because I was Asian. In the predominantly white color analysis space, the models, the celebrity examples, and even the description of the colors weren't speaking to me. Spoiler alert, it turns out that I do have a yellow undertone. But the analysis didn’t feel right, especially when I read statistics from a Japanese color analysis website saying “60% of Japanese people have blue undertones."
It’s no surprise that color carries such huge racial undertones (pun intended here), from the Yellow Ranger to Yellow Fever to Yellow Peril. Sure, we've sort of reclaimed the color with that beautiful rendition of Coldplay’s “Yellow” in “Crazy Rich Asians,” but being called yellow by a white person is still such a loaded experience.
I’d always been curious about color analysis, but had given up on it years ago after a few self-quizzes that automatically categorized me as having yellow undertones because I was Asian.
I still engaged though, because I wanted the guidance that color consults provided. The self-guided quizzes categorized me as an Autumn. If you imagined Pumpkin Spice Lattes, you are not wrong: Colors like deep mustard, army green, and browns like dead leaves rule the season. And because I liked these colors, I figured that they looked good on me. So in a sea of neutral black and white clothing (these look good on everyone, right?), the only colors I owned were in this dark, rich, and muted territory.
Enter Lindsey Myers of Created Colorful. “Asians have been misclassified as all being warm just based on the surface appearance of their skin,” Myers explains in her Instagram highlights. She is a refreshing voice in the color analysis space who highlights People of Color not only as her past clients, but also as celebrity examples, and even offers a promo specifically for BIPOC. “It’s always been a huge goal of mine to make color consults accessible for Women of Color, who have historically been underserved, mistyped, and largely ignored by the color analysis community.”
Okay, so if I’ve successfully piqued your interest and made you fall in love with Myers in one go, you’re not alone. I instantly fell in love, and on the same day I found her, followed her, consumed all her content voraciously, and booked a consultation.
Here’s the low-down on the consultation process. You take multiple selfies of yourself, with no makeup (ugh), facing a window (natural light is key here), with various colors of fabric draped on yourself. I hope the fact that I’m sharing these photos shows how committed I am to this publication.
This was literally days after giving birth to my second child, which is why they look like colorful mugshots of an overtired but chroma-happy serial killer. (This is a no-judgment space, right?)
The attractiveness of the photos aside, the team over at Created Colorful takes these photos and analyzes which colors best highlight your features. Even I noticed that certain colors made me look much darker, or made the whites of my eyes stand out, or exaggerated my freckles. After they analyze your photos, you receive instructions for the second set of pictures, and in 30 days the team delivers your color palette.
My results? Clear Spring. Which meant bright, neutral-warm crayon colors. Literally, the opposite of any color I ever owned.
I panicked, honestly. The only colors in my closet were dusty dead earth colors (I say that affectionately, since it seemed to describe my personality too), which were literally listed as “colors to avoid.” And while there was a very dark and yummy chocolate brown in my palette, there was no black: A color I had built my wardrobe around, believing that it made me look slimmer and more put together. Well, shit.
It’s been a year since my consult, and a lot has changed. In conjunction with this new passion for color, I began culling my closet and being more intentional with the clothes I owned. I got rid of over half of my clothes, and cut my shopping budget from $700 a month to just $1800 a year. It was the typical story: the wife with the entire walk-in closet to herself and nothing to wear.
Now, I share a small standard closet and dresser with my husband. And yet, I love all the pieces that I own. Shopping has become a lot harder now that I am also conscious of the color of an item in addition to the fabric and style, but that means I'm no longer compromising on pieces that aren't perfect. If it doesn't check all my boxes, I don't need it.
Look, if you know yourself and what you look good in and are 100000% confident in that knowledge, then great! I am super happy for you. But more often than not, fashion feels like an impossible problem that you can’t find the answer to. Every step you take sometimes feels like the wrong one, so much so that you lose the energy or motivation to even go on.
And don’t confuse a color consult result for a Stage V cancer diagnosis. There is no color police who will come around now that you are typed, to tell you that you can’t wear the colors you love. Heck, I’m not giving up black or white, let alone a black and white stripe, anytime soon. But knowing what colors you look great in is like having a home to go back to. A safe space. Your backbone, your ride-or-die, that can lift you up when you need it. I now plan my family photos around our colors and wear my best colors when I have to speak in front of people. Knowing that I can rock my palette of bright, unapologetic colors that are kind of in-your-face and intimidating makes me feel like a different person. Someone who yields great power, even.
Myers really sums it up in her website: “It seems like a superficial thing, to wear clothes that highlight you, but for me, it has been a surprisingly emotional and spiritual endeavor.”
If you’re interested in getting a consult at Created Colorful, sign up for their email to receive a special code for the POC community.