The Hue For You
The science and whimsy of finding “your color”
Pale skin and jet-black hair against a cherry red dress. A man’s auburn beard peeking over the collar of a forest green coat. Black skin in a burnt orange top. A blonde, tanned by summer rays, in a pastel pink dress. Visualizing these complementary images is easy, and there’s a reason for that.
How we process color is more than meets the eye.
As the retina intakes color, our brain internalizes what we associate with yellow, blue or green. Since the beginning of humankind, red has caught the eye. It demands that our brain pay attention and be alert. Blue often lulls us into a state of comfort and trust.
The earliest color wheel was developed by Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century. Experimenting with sunlight and prisms, he noted that white light was made up of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. This finding opened the floodgates to the study of optics and perception, which would eventually influence marketing, interior design, visual art and fashion.
Swiss artist and color theorist Johannes Itten moved beyond Newton’s color wheel and also created the four-season color theory. When painting, Itten favored background colors that best went with the skin tone of people in his portraits.
Itten noted that skin tones fall into two categories: yellow undertones, which equated to warm, and blue undertones, which he called cool. Warm and cool were then divided into light or dark, often aligning with eye and hair color. Spring is warm and light, autumn warm and dark, summer cool and light, and winter cool and dark.
Spring colors include sunshine yellow, pale green, lilac and blush pink. Autumn lines up with olive green, crimson, burnt orange and gold. Summer colors include blue hues, gray and pale pink versus winter, when maroon, deep purple and cobalt blue work best.
Itten’s theory was highly popular in the ’60s and ’70s. Where Itten’s theory failed, however, was in fully recognizing the vastness and variation of skin tones in people of color.
Sunny Mitchell, owner of Kiss the Sky Boutique in Destin, thinks there is validity to the four season theory, but doesn’t believe that it represents hard and fast rules.
“As a clothing boutique that strives to think about the individuality of each of our client’s needs, one of the first things we do with them is understand how they see their own pallet,” Mitchell said. “Once we understand how they see themselves, we try and work within groupings that best fit them and align with the palettes of autumn, winter, spring and summer.”
Kiss the Sky Boutique encourage customers to work with alongside their stylists who will pull from a variety of colors. This allows people to discover how they feel in colors they might have been hesitant to buy and receive feedback from the stylists.
Finding your hue can help you build a complete wardrobe by identifying analogous colors, which is where the color wheel comes into play.
Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel, such as blue sandwiched between teal and violet. Colors stemming from the same family line create comfort and uniformity in your closet.
When looking at a color wheel, complementary colors are across from one another — red and green; yellow and purple; orange and blue.
Fashion often coincides with beauty, where color theory can also be utilized.
“Makeup is a lot like art when you think of the face as a canvas, “said Brittany Sigler, owner of Destin Mobile Makeup Box. “As a makeup artist, I use the color wheel to decide on a color palette, which colors cancel each other out and which pair well together, to create a look that best complements the client’s skin tones and features.”
Sigler begins by determining whether the client has warm or cool undertones to find the ideal foundation. Skin is typically categorized as fair, light, medium and deep, and further categorized as cool or warm.
Sigler said eyes are the biggest factor in making a client happy with her makeup. Where eyeshadow shades are concerned, Sigler suggests plum, light blue and gray for brown eyes; golds, copper and cinnamon brown for blue eyes and rose gold, pale pink and light orange for green or hazel eyes.
Uncovering your perfect palette involves science, psychology and play. Get it right and you will enjoy increased confidence and perhaps even compliments from passersby.
Cool Skin Tone
You have a “cool” undertone if: The veins on your wrist are blue or purple. Silvery jewelry flatters your skin tone more than gold. You look best in jewel-tones such as blues, purples and emerald greens.
Warm Skin Tone
You have a “Warm” undertone if: The veins on your wrist are slightly green or olive. Gold jewelry flatters your skin more than silver. When you look at your skin in the sun, it appears yellowish. You look best in earth-tones like reds, oranges, yellows, and olive-greens.
Neutral Skin Tone
You have a “Neutral” undertone if: The veins on your wrist are blue-green. Both gold and silver jewelry flatter your skin. You look best in neutral colors such as light peach, dusty pinks, soft rose, placid blue and jade green.