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Color and You

Adapted from Tero's Image and Influence participant manual

Color has the power to evoke thoughts, emotions and physical reactions. Since humans are so visually stimulated, color is an important element of our visual communications. The colors we wear speak volumes before we ever have a chance to open our mouths.

Wearing colors which are compatible with your natural features will enhance your image and help to make you look more healthy, dynamic, approachable and professional.

It is certainly ideal to have a color analysis done using full spectrum lighting by a consultant who has been professionally trained. If that is not an available option to you, there are a few guidelines that you can follow to aid in determining whether you have cool or warm undertones in your skin.

People with dominant warm undertones in their skin make up approximately 20% of the United States population. They are typically of Eastern European or Nordic ancestry and have fair, thin skin which is sensitive to sun exposure. Genetic freckles and red hair are common. They look better in yellow-based colors.

People with dominant cool undertones in their skin are the remaining 80% of the population. Cool skin is commonly rosy or olive in appearance and is complemented by blue-based colors.

Your skin's undertone will not change with age or sun exposure. Those factors may, however, create the need for you to adjust to wearing a stronger or softer shade of the warm or cool colors that coincide with your inherent skin tone.

Everyone can wear every color. You should just wear your more flattering colors near your face and other colors away from your face. For example, a person with warm undertones can wear a navy blue jacket but should wear a cream or off-white collared shirt with it so that a warm shade is nearer the face.

Just because a color is considered "the" color of the season and it is in all the stores does not mean it needs to be in your closet. Choose colors based on how they look on you rather than how they look in the fashion magazines.

All people have a physiological response to color. We can use it to help us achieve our desired results.

Generally speaking, darker shades are seen as more authoritative, credible and assertive. Wear these when you want to focus on the matters at hand and command respect.

Lighter, softer shades are seen as more approachable and gentler. Wear these when you want to gather information rather than draw attention to yourself. They can also be more effective when you need to deliver bad news or deal with an emotionally charged group.

Bright shades are seen as those that create energy, excitement and animation. Wear these when you want to convey a sense of creativity and enthusiasm.

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