Monday, May 30, 2011

When image consultants collide

Image by Lynnette R. Cook

Way back in the early years of image consulting, circa 1981 or so, I had my colors "done".  I was working in a large department store as a department manager, and it was felt that management staff should all be exposed to the services of our personal shopper and consultant group, in order to help their business.  To nobody's surprise (except maybe my mother), I am a Winter:

part of the color pallette I was given 30 years ago...

This was reassuring, as I was already building a wardrobe of gray suits, white blouses, and brightly colored scarf accents.  (does anybody else remember Dress for Success?)  One of the coolest lingering pieces of advice, which I'm going to discuss at more length some day, was the advice to buy tee shirts, sweaters etc. in colors matching your favorite lipstick and blush.  Simple and obvious, but highly flattering.

I lived very happily with these colors and this advice for decades, until one day for no apparent reason, I decided to visit Josy Mermet at Printemps in Paris.  (  Aside from the overall completely supernatural insight the woman had into my life, I was also rattled by the VERY different advice I received.  Suddenly, someone was saying I was "Florentine", and recommended the following:

"Florentine" colors, and my cosmetic recommendations

If I had been in a situation where I was completely starting from scratch, this would have held great appeal.  But there's NO gray here, and (although it's hard to tell) no black - just really dark browns.  And I was at a point in my life where I had a terrifying amount of money sunk into handbags, shoes, and other investments of image which I couldn't really justify phasing out.  For a while, I tried to evolve from the first to the second set of colors, but found that it just didn't really seem to stick.  A big problem I found was that I could go into a number of stores and not even SEE a garment in the Florentine colors, let along find something that was of appropriate style, acceptable quality, and reasonable fit.  So as time has passed and my wardrobe becomes smaller and more carefully curated, I've migrated back to the most basic neutrals of the winter pallette.

I had two really seemingly authoritative consultations.

 I got two somewhat different sets of recommendations.  

Which I guess, at the end of the day, means you have to make your own choices.

But if I completely were starting from scratch - had nothing but the workout clothes on my back and had to re-purchase EVERYTHING, Josy's advice would be tempting.


  1. I think Josy's palette is more nuanced, and perhaps more appropriate given that you've aged 30 years since getting the first set of colors. But if you look at Josy's colors, many of them appear on the first color palette as well, either identically or toned down by the addition of black to the color. You can really see it on a color wheel. No doubt Josy's palette is harder to find in stores.

  2. It is a huge dream of mine to visit Josy for a makeover. It was nice to see the two color recommendations you received. I think the Florentine colors are drop dead gorgeous. I would love to hear more about your visit with Josy some day.

  3. I had my colors done in 1982! :)

    I was diagnosed as an Autumn. But over the years, I've transitioned myself over to Winter. I think it has something to do with losing my dark tan. I also feel like the high-contrast tones of Winter better match my personality. (I wear a lot more black than gray, in my version of Winter.)

    I've since read other books about color as it relates to fashion. I think the "seasons" method is a good starting point, but there are other factors to consider, such as the amount of red in one's skin and also one's personality.

    I'm intrigued by Josy's method. I will check out that web site.

  4. I'd love to get a consultation with Josy. But, knowing me, I'd probably argue with her and want to be a copy of the image in my head instead of what she offered (and what I paid for).

    My cousin was selling Artistry makeup many years ago and diagnosed me as a Summer. But she also diagnosed my mother, who has fair skin, blue eyes, and red hair, as a Summer.

  5. I would love to see your before and afters with Josy. I have always wanted a consultation with her as well...what a dream. A few years ago I was determined to be a "Cool" Summer by an Image Consultant. She had trouble "diagnosing" I have dark hair and freckles, very fair. But the color wheel has changed over the years and someone can be a "Warm" Summer...which means she can move into some of the Spring palette. All I know is that at the time, I had a wardrobe of Spring/fall colored clothes and I slowly had to transition to my new palette. But I couldn't believe the difference when I did. Example: I use to avoid fushia like the plague--but now when I wear it (which is still not often)--I always get compliments. xxBliss

  6. These colour assessments have been a cause of some frustration and some rebellion from me. I have always doubted the results I was given. First, I was labelled Cool Summer, and I felt it was wrong, then - and now. Recently, I was assessed to be Spring. I am still not happy - lol. I find that the colours I am supposed to use for my core wardrobe are not at all the ones I gravitate towards. And my other problem is the same as Viviennes; the nuances I am recommended are not that widely available. So, mostly, I have ignored it always but with a nagging feeling of guilt that I "should" shift my core colours. Oh well.

  7. That being said, for those of us who do follow seasonal color palette, it would be highly beneficial if that could be taken into account.

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