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Wednesday 15 February 2017

Colour analysis: updated

The cover of Pamela Graham's book "Color Analysis: What? Why? How?"
If you had your colors* "done" a few years ago, you probably spent an hour being draped in scarves before being pronounced a Spring, or other season, and given a swatch of colors that realistically you were unlikely to find in the shops.

I had my colors analysed in the 1980s as a journalist writing about this new phenomenon and I was proclaimed a Spring who could also wear some winter colors.

Fast forward to the 1990s and I am on a women's management course where we spent some time with a rival color consultancy. This time I was proclaimed a Summer and was by now, quite confused.

I'm Cool - who would have known?!

So when Pamela Graham told me last week she thought I was a Cool, I thought "here we go again." But when I looked at the colors for Cool in her new book, out today, my interest was piqued. The Cool colors are definitely the ones I do business with: a palette that includes bright pinks, my absolute favourite color lilac, quite a few greens and watermelon red. There are several blues too but I'm going to have to learn to love them! A fellow Cool is Kate Middleton who wears burgundy/aubergine particularly well, and this is a color I've been recently drawn to.

(Update: Pamela spent more time doing my virtual color assessment a few weeks later and I am a Bright. I was a bit challenging because my hair has warm tones, my eyes bright and my skin cool, but looking at many photos, Pamela is confident I can wear the Brights palette).

Pamela Graham approaches color and image consultancy with a fresh look based on the work of Albert Munsell, who began to define colours as Light or Deep, Cool or Warm, and Clear/Bright or Muted at the beginning of the 20th century.

She says: "I think there’s too much high fallutin’ nonsense talked and I like to compare the process with nature.  Your natural coloring, eyes, hair and skin, are decided at the moment of conception, all you have to do is identify them."

Combine Tonal and Seasonal

Pamela uses both the tonal and seasonal methods to analyse people's colors as this gives greater flexibility. There are 10 color families: six tonal and four seasonal. "They complement each other perfectly and work side by side. I don’t like to see anyone being given a very restricted color palette, it’s limiting and frustrating.  Everyone should be encouraged to experiment."

Image consultant Pamela Graham
Pamela, a UK based former PR professional, is keen to share her passion with everyone and her website features testimonials from dozens of women from countries across the world who have had their colors analysed virtually. Initially you complete a questionnaire and send some photos. Pamela's site has many resources including swatches, books and ebooks, and an online personal stylist resource, which is available 24/7 and gives access to the best accessories and clothing styles for your shape.

Her new ebook, "Color Analysis: What? Why? How?" will be followed by books on the Warm and Cool color families and how to wear, co-ordinate and build wardrobes.

Pamela initially struggled to find the colors that were right for her. "I always gravitated towards bright blues and pinks, although sadly they rarely appeared, but never understood why something could look good on one woman and not on another.

"I didn’t understand how colors or shapes worked at all until I was nearly 40. Then everything fell into place.  It’s often the age when we’ve had children that we take a ‘dip’ in confidence. I have Cool coloring but I’m fair and the lightest shades of the Cool palette are best close to my face.  I’m not a Summer because those colors, although Cool, are too soft for me."
Image consultant Pamela Graham with husband Maurice
Pamela and husband Maurice 
Once we know which colors, and which styles of clothes, work best for us, we'll actually save money by making the right choices as well as feeling better about ourselves.

I had a couple of questions for Pamela, namely around our colors as we get older, when our hair and skin tone change;  and also about black, which we all like to wear although it doesn't suit many women.

How to wear black

On the question of colors as you age, Pamela points out your genetic colors never change. "You might feel more comfortable in softer shades but this is by no means always the case. Many people keep very strong and dramatic coloring into old age and continue to enjoy their brightest shades. Your natural coloring decides whether you transition into grey, silver or white hair. "

Pamela advises that when you change your hair color, it's best to be guided again by nature. Knowing whether you need a Warm or Cool shade is probably the biggest factor is getting it right.

On the thorny subject of black, she says there's no reason why everyone can't wear it provided we wear a more flattering color next to our face.

"If black is not for you wear a top, a scarf even a pair of earrings to brighten up your face.  If you like to wear a little black dress, go for a slightly lower neckline and add a pearl or sparkly necklace close to your face. There’s always a way to make things work. I hate the old fashioned dogmatic rules of color analysis, I don’t like being told what to do!

"If I wear black I'll team it with a bright cool pink which I love, a silver necklace and pearl earrings (my signature) and a low enough neckline so the black isn’t heavy around my face."

Win Pamela's new eBook!

Readers of Is This Mutton? have the chance to win their own copy of "Color Analysis: What? Why? How?"

Visit and like the Is This Mutton Facebook page and leave a comment under the article about color analysis. You might want to share your experience, if any, with color analysis, or explain why you'd love to know more.

It doesn't matter what country you're in, the competition is open to all. The book is only available in English. The competition will close in a week's time, 5pm UK time (9am PST) on Wednesday 22 February.  Mr Mutton will then choose a lucky winner at random from the names placed in a hat (yes, the old methods are the best!).

Pamela's website, Style Yourself Confident, is here and the new book is on the Amazon UK site here

* I decided to use Pamela's example of the US spelling of "color."

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Sharing this post with Celebrating Style at Vanity and Me, #SaturdayShareLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, with Nicole at High Latitude Style. and with Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style.



  1. Thank you Gail for this lovely article. Forgot to tell you that my legs were swollen and covered with mosquito bites - such is STYLE!

  2. Such a great article! Love this.


  3. It is always so interesting to find out your colors! The right colors can make such a difference in your wardrobe!

    Nicole to the Nines

  4. How interesting! Colors can really make such a difference!

  5. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. I was diagnosed a winter in the 80s who can do also some fall colors. According to the new scheme I am a deep. It fits so much better.

  6. I love this subject! I had my colours done last year by House of Colour and they said that I'm a Spring. This book sounds really interesting, especially as there's a bit more flexibility around how to wear colours. X

  7. Isn't it great? I'm just starting to read the version that Pamela sent to me.I've never had my colours done and I find it all very interesting. Thank you for joining the Celebrating Style link up xx

  8. I always enjoy reading about color philosophy, because it all seems a bit mysterious to me. I just know I look best in jewel tones, and personally do not care to wear pastels. Thanks so much for linking up with Fabulous Friday!


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