Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Tonal vs Seasonal Analysis

I recently discovered a new website "Looking Stylish", which has some great advice for those of us trying to build a coherent capsule wardrobe based around our best colours. What interested me in particular was that Maria uses tonal analysis rather than the usual seasonal colour analysis, which ties in with the 7 Steps to Style system used by Imogen. Of course colour is only one of the 7 steps, as explained in my previous posts. Using Imogen's system I am an Enigmatic, which is a combination of deep, smoky and warm: you can see my swatch in the photo below.

Maria told me that my dominant colour characteristic is warm and my secondary is soft. She said that the colour of the top in the picture below is perfect for me: it just so happens that it blends well with the colours in my swatch as well as being warm and soft.....!

The closest match to my dominant colour characteristics is Autumn in the seasonal analysis system but, like any attempts to pigeon-hole human beings, it's not always accurate and not all Autumn colours look good on me. I think this is always going to be a problem when undertaking any type of colour analysis. How can you divide individuals' colouring into four, twelve, sixteen or any other arbitrary number of groups? We are a lot more complex than these systems would suggest.

Going back to the aim of building a capsule wardrobe, and starting with some colours that already reside in my current wardrobe, my neutrals for autumn and winter are going to be navy and brown., with accents of coral (see above photo), aqua, teal and spice red. Of course I can't afford to buy an entirely new wardrobe but, as items need replacing, these will be the colours that replace them.

You may be interested in checking out the following post on Looking Stylish: Capsule Wardrobe Essentials. When you visit this page you can also sign up for Maria's Friday Bulletin and you can download your free colour guide if you're not sure what your colour dominant is.

Do let me know what your colour dominant is and whether you prefer this way of deciding your best colours to the traditional seasonal colour analysis. Having read many of Maria's blog posts, and looked at various capsule wardrobes for those of us with warm colouring, I for one am finding it very helpful.

If you decide to join the Looking Stylish Style Club like I did, you will not only have access to even more helpful information, but you will also receive a monthly magazine and can join the friendly and helpful Style Club facebook group. I hope to see you there!


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog about your colour journey. I have also enjoyed reading Imogen Lamport's blog as well. I took on board the concept of value and whether someone can be of high, medium or low contrast. Having said this if someone is high contrast then they are neither light or deep but light and deep at the same time. This person would need a swatch that contained both light and deep colours. If someone is low contrast then they could be deep or light or medium in value but not together. So this person would need a swatch that just had either deep (not light or medium) or light (not deep or medium) or medium (not deep or light) colours in value but not all together. I have medium value contrast (bit of contrast) around the middle value range so I am neither light nor deep. My skin is honey coloured so I am better in warm colours and there is soft look to me. I am not Autumn or Spring. I am still thinking this through but I don't think the seasonal or tonal systems yet cover the gambet of an individual's colours (based on skin, eyes, hair, lips cheeks etc). People are on sliding scales of Hue, Intensity and Value. I have a little idea that clients should be given small swatches (little hue halos) for each matching eyes, skin, hair etc and then together these smaller swatches make their colours. This would automatically address contrast levels and clear vs smokeyness. Thanks Susan for your posts - I'm just thinking aloud. Carol S

    1. Thanks for your interesting comments, Carol. As part of Imogen's system, we did identify which colours in our swatch matched our eyes, skin, hair etc and I wrote these on the back of my cards to remind myself. I am high value contrast but low colour contrast so look my best in monochrome outfits such as a range of light to dark blues, or light to dark browns. Now I realise why some outfits don't look good on me even if they are in flattering colours. There's a lot to take in. I don't always follow the "rules" though and have been known to throw in a touch of red to liven up my outfits!

  2. Hello Sue - I've been in the color business for many a year and take a very flexible approach. Tonal and Seasonal Color Analysis are exactly the same, both use color characteristics. The individual's coloring will decide where they are directed - Tonal has 6 'simple' Color Families and Seasonal has 4 more 'complex' families - they complement each other! I think there's far too much high fallutin' talk about what we should and shouldn't do and trying to blind people with science - Color should be enjoyed! I don't like limited color palettes, they're demoralizing and frustrating when someone is trying to 'get it right', it's much better to understand the characteristics they are looking for, learn to experiment and have fun. Color Analysis should explain why someone's natural coloring is linked to a specific Color Family and why it works for them. You should always wear what makes you feel good and if something doesn't completely work then you will understand why and also how to make it work, whether it means adding another accent color or even extra makeup! Understanding is the key!