How to find YOUR colour consultant

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Here at Kettlewell we firmly believe that knowing more about colour can bring style, more joy and more energy to your wardrobe and, by extension, your life. Which means that if you've started to explore colour analysis at all, you're no doubt more than a little curious about your own personal colour palette. You might have started with our brilliant Colour Quiz (if you haven't, it's a great way to begin your colour journey), and have now decided that a full analysis from a trained consultant is the next step for you.

But how do you actually go about finding that analyst, the right person to take you on that journey of colour discovery, and what can you expect from them both before and during your colour analysis? To coincide with the launch of our brand new  Find A Stylist  directory, I thought it was about time to really tackle the thorny issue of how to choose your own consultant, and what you can expect from them.

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Hannah is a Spring - Clear and Warm in the Tonal system. She is drained by Black but looks vibrant and fresh faced in Apple. I always wear a neutral, like Pebble Grey, during analysis sessions, to avoid distracting from the process in front of me.

On with Kettlewell Colours' official guide to choosing your own personal colour expert!

Word of mouth

There really is absolutely no better way to find your own consultant than a word of mouth referral, and it's how consultants get the vast majority of their business. If you've got a friend who consistently looks amazing ever since their colour analysis, grab their consultant's number ASAP! If you aren't lucky enough to have a handy friend to refer you, then read the rest of our guide to choosing your consultant...

Geography

How far are you prepared to travel? If you find the perfect consultant 150 miles away, are you going to go all in and make a weekend of it, or is 20 miles your limit? Neither answer is right, and I would always advise being prepared to expand your search area if you don't find the right consultant in your immediate vicinity - knowing your colours is so powerful that having the right person guide you on the journey is worth a bit of, well, a journey.

Analysis system

Perhaps the trickiest decision to make, especially while you're still in the position of knowing virtually nothing about it all, is exactly which colour analysis system is right for you. Of course, a good consultant should lead you to your best palette regardless of which system they use, but there are subtle differences between the main analysis systems, and slight variations in the final colour palettes. There are two main colour analysis systems, which most types of colour analysis can be grouped into, and a couple of smaller sub-groups which are worth a quick mention too.

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Emma is a Summer - Soft and Cool in the Tonal system. She looks sallow and tired in warm tones, while soft and cool Summer colours make her skin glow with health.

Seasonal

Perhaps the analysis system we're most familiar with. At the end of your session you'll walk away knowing whether you're a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter. As well as knowing which season you belong to, your consultant may well go through your palette and demonstrate your absolute best colours to you - your 'wow' colours, to help you identify where you fall within your season (darker, lighter, warmer, cooler, brighter, softer or, indeed, bang in the middle?). The benefit of this system is that as well as knowing your absolute best colours (your 'wows'), you also have a wider palette of 'really pretty good' colours to work with, which can be more helpful when dealing with colour and clothes shopping out in the real world. The downside of this system is that it can feel less useful for those who fall right on the cusp of two seasons - for instance, if your skintone is barely warm and very light but also somewhat bright, then some Spring colours will look amazing, but there might be Summer colours which feel better to you than some of the stronger, warmer Spring ones, although a good consultant should be able to talk you through how to deal with this. The most common seasonal analysis process in the UK is used by House of Colour, although there are others, each with infinitesimally different analysis processes and final palettes.

Tonal

Slightly less well known as a system, but used by a huge number of consultants in the UK, the tonal system is at first glance less instinctively understandable than the seasonal system, as the analysis process consists of identifying your primary, secondary and tertiary tonal directions, rather than a single broad seasonal category. As a system, it is absolutely invaluable if you don't fall neatly into one seasonal palette; for instance, if your colouring is very obviously deep and dark, but not obviously warm or cool, then a tonal direction of Deep might be more useful to you than 'Winter' or 'Autumn', although you'll also get guidance on whether you lean Cool (Winter) or Warm (Autumn) and Clear or Soft with your secondary and tertiary tonal directions. The other benefit of a tonal analysis is that you should end up with a really finely tuned palette, really drilling down to your absolute best colours, rather than the broader four-palette seasonal system. Colour Me Beautiful, perhaps the name most associated with colour analysis in the UK, uses a tonal directions system.

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Milly is an Autumn - Soft and Warm in the Tonal system.  She looks pale and drawn in cool tones, while rich warm Autumn colours bring her beautiful English rose complexion to life.

Bespoke

As well as the two main approaches - tonal and seasonal - there are also some analysts who will create an entirely bespoke palette just for you, rather than relying on fitting you into a one-size-fits-many box. The upsides of this are that with an experienced consultant you end up with a palette that is filled with colours that are 100% perfect for you, without any compromises, and that your consultant will likely spend the time with you to ensure you fully understand your new palette and how to work with it. The downsides are that these services are usually much pricier than a standard analysis, and you are entirely dependent on the expertise and individually created process of the consultant you work with, rather than a tried and tested over-arching system developed by a larger and longer established company.

Online

Online colour analysis has been around for several years now, but the disruption to face-to-face services during the early months of the coronavirus epidemic led to a boom in this area. Consultants working with seasonal, tonal and bespoke systems have begun offering them, and they certainly offer the chance to explore colour without needing to worry about travelling to a consultant. Their biggest limitation is that the analysis can only ever be as good as the quality of the lighting at the client's end, and any slight mis-representation by cameras or webcams can lead to entirely incorrect results. This area is still in its infancy and I suspect we'll see it develop further over the coming years.

Is this the right consultant for YOU?

This one is easily overlooked, but is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle. Consultants come in every shape, size, age, personal style, approach and energy - there is so much more to it these days than the 1980s, middle aged, colour lady stereotype.

A consultant being right for you might mean that you 'click' when you first speak to them on the phone, or them having evidence of successful client journeys on their website, or being a similar age or style to you. To find out more about your consultant, visit their website, check their social media, and most importantly, speak to them. Do they fill you with confidence about their own sense of style, ability and expertise? Whatever it is that matters to you, make sure your chosen consultant fills you with confidence and excitement for your journey into the world of colour! Remember that a busy consultant is often a good consultant - the more faces a consultant sees, the more attuned their eye is likely to be to subtle differences in skintone.

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Yasmin is a Winter - Deep and Cool in the Tonal system. She looks positively jaundiced in warm tones, but clear Neon Lime enhances her deep, cool colouring.

The day itself

Last but not least, what can you expect on the day itself? It varies a little from system to system, but the general process is usually the same. Most consultants work from their homes, often with a dedicated studio. Top tip - a well-lit, neutrally painted studio supports more accurate analyses than one which is gloomy or painted in an excessively warm or cool colour. A good consultant will generally have a predominantly white or grey studio space with either good natural light or powerful full-light-spectrum bulbs. You will be asked to arrive without make up and with your hair off your face.

The consultant will explain a little about their particular system, before beginning the process. The details of the analysis will vary depending on whether you have opted for a tonal, seasonal or bespoke system, but in all cases the consultant will use coloured drapes held under your chin to identify which colours make your eyes sparkle and your skin glow, and which ones make you look tired, older or less healthy. Ideally, your consultant will be able to demonstrate to you why you belong in a particular palette; the best outcome of an analysis is not just knowing your palette, but actually seeing and understanding the journey to that point. However, not all of us easily 'see' the transformation initially, which is where being confident in your consultant's abilities really comes into play. The last thing you want to do is leave feeling unsure about your palette!

Finally, your consultant should spend a little time with you discussing how to wear your colours and what your particular palette means for you. If you have any questions about why you belong in that palette, or want clarification on any part of the process, this is your chance - remember you are the customer here, and your consultant should be guiding you on your journey, not leaving you unsure how you arrived at your final destination!

Hopefully our guide to colour analysts has helped you on the journey to choosing your own consultant. Now you know what to look for, it's time to head over to our comprehensive, unbiased consultant directory  and find the one that's right for you!

J. on Sep 14, 2020 12:00 PM

Thanks for including the option to look for tonal directions in the Shop by section! I had a tonal analysis done and was classified as "muted warm light". The new search option is very helpful to me!

Linda W on Sep 12, 2020 5:35 PM

I’m a soft, deep, cool and look best in colours both Su & Au. Any chance of colour inspirations for tonal? Fingers crossed!

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