How To Choose A Color Consultant

If you’ve made the decision to have a professional color analysis, your next step will be to find one. A task that can be challenging depending on where you live. The best and easiest way to find a good consultant is to ask other women if they know of someone. A good consultant often spends very little on advertising. Word of mouth brings them most of their clients. If no one you know can suggest a consultant, here are some suggestions on how to find a good one.

Remember that many color consultants are also image consultants who offer other image related services. This can be good or bad. Some image consultants will offer some form of color analysis (not all do) along with other image services like personal shopping, figure analysis, personal coaching, branding  or fashion style consulting. They may also sell products like cosmetics, clothing, jewelry, or even nutritional supplements. I say this can be good or bad because the color part of their business may not be their true passion or expertise. It may be an adjunct. But it doesn’t always mean that a consultant offering other products or services will not be a good colorist. Most consultants must offer more than color services to round out their businesses.

Google color consultant or color analysis and your state. A professional will have a web site. Any color consultant without a web site is probably not a ‘professional’ or is new to the business.

Don’t rule out consultants that may be an hour or two’s drive from where you live. Getting to work with a color expert is worth the drive. Do not choose your consultant based on distance. Your priorities should be experience, expertise, and your gut feelings.  Once you have found all the color consultants located within driving distance from your home look at their web sites and Google their names to find blogs, articles, or any other mention of them. See if they are members of a professional organization like AICI (Assoc. of Image Consultants International)  or CDI (Colour Designers International). Having said that, this doesn’t by any means guarantee they are experts at color, it does show however that they are serious about their businesses. Members of AICI who are CIP or CIM certified have also met certain standards of education and experience. Members who are FLC level are on the “First Level” on their way to higher certification.  Here again, I must confess that I know AICI color consultants who are excellent at what they do and they are not CIP (Ceritified Image Professional) or CIM (Certified Image Master)  members. They just haven’t bothered to apply for certification.

Arm yourself with as much information as you can before calling them on the phone. When you speak to them, you will be trying to determine if color analysis is a primary focus in their business; how much experience and training they have had; and whether or not they are using a color system that is comprehensive and up to date.  A consultant who will tell you that you are a Summer, Winter, Autumn or Spring is using a system that is outdated and simplistic. It can not accurately serve the millions of people who do not fall into these 4 very basic categories. A four season or ‘type’ consultant will be telling you whether you are a small, medium, large or extra large. You can probably figure that out yourself. You want an analysis that will accurately put you into the color harmony that fits you like a custom made suit. Perfect for YOU.  Look for a consultant that uses a system that has a minimum of 12 different color palettes. These should not be variations on the four “seasonal” palettes where some additional colors are simply added to a basic Seasonal palette to individualize it. Each palette in a system should be different and have different neutrals.

The ultimate color palette is a personal or custom palette. Consultants who offer this service will be able to hand pick every single color for your palette from an inventory of 1 to 3 thousand different color swatches. This palette will likely have more swatches than a pre-set palette and you will either have to assemble the swatches into a usable format yourself or wait a week or so for it to be made for you.  This service requires a consultant with more training and a very keen eye for color. Expect to pay at least twice as much as you would for a “pre-set” palette. Pre-set palettes have color swatches representing a particular color harmony already assembled into a shopping guide. Most of the time you will be given your palette on the day of your consultation and you can head right to the shopping center to look for ‘your’ colors.

Some color systems that have 16-30 pre-set palettes can then be semi-customized by adding your unique body colors to them. This is a budget concious option for those wanting a more individualized palette but unwilling to pay the higher fees for custom.

Consider bringing a friend along on your consultation. Your friend should be able to “see” the flattering affects of colors on your skin and can act as a 2nd unbiased opinion.

When you interview a consultant on the phone ask her/him:

  • Do you feel that one can wear almost any color well as long as they change their makeup? (if they answer yes to this one, look elsewhere)
  • Is color a primary focus of your business?
  • How long have you been a color consultant?
  • What is your color system like?
  • Do you offer fully customized palettes? (even if you don’t want it, it indicates a high skill level)
  • If not….how many color palettes are in your system?
  • If I am not happy with the palette you give me, will you re-visit my color analysis at no charge?
  • May I bring a friend to sit in on my consultation.?

Pay attention to your gut feelings when you talk to this person. Does she sound mature, knowledgeable, confident, pleasant?

And my final tip – remember that like a self analysis, a virtual (online or photo) analysis is not a very good option if you are serious about wanting the benefits that knowing your ideal colors can bring to your life, your looks, and your wardrobe. You should be color analyzed in the flesh, sans makeup,  in abundant daylight or specialized color balanced artifical light.

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