We here at Segmation are continuously fascinated by the incredible power color has to beautify, heal, captivate, and empower. We aren’t the only ones obsessed with color, though. Millions of like-minded people around the globe share our passion. Many of these individuals are artists in the traditional sense of the word (painters, illustrators, fashion designers, etc.). However, there is a type of artist whose entire world revolves around color: the professional color analyst.
Have you ever heard of personal color analysis (PCA)? Are you familiar with the role of the color analyst in society? Would you like to find out how to use color to improve your life? If so, you are in for a treat. Cate Linden, a Louisville-based color analyst, graciously answered some of our most pressing questions about PCA, the life of a professional color analyst, and the personal importance of color. Cate is the owner and operator of Cate Linden Chromatics 12-Tone Personal Color Analysis, and she’s quickly making a name for herself as one of the finest color analysts in the country. Read on to learn more about Cate and discover why a personal color analysis may be your ticket to a more authentic, enjoyable existence.
Exclusive Interview with Professional Color Analyst Cate Linden
Q: Some of our readers are totally unfamiliar with personal color analysis. Could you explain to them what PCA is, and what exactly you do as a color analyst? What are “seasons”?
A: I always struggle to describe Personal Color Analysis in a straightforward way! Essentially, PCA pairs your physical coloring with a specific color palette. These palettes are generally known as “seasons.” Back in the 80s, there were just four: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. The more advanced system I use now has twelve, with three variants for each main season, so three Winters, three Springs, three Summers, and three Autumns. These twelve seasons each have their own unique blend of temperature, saturation, and darkness.
However, it’s not as easy as looking at someone and saying, “You’re a Bright Winter.” A brown-haired, brown-eyed person, for example, could be any season! In my studio, clients sit without makeup in front of a neutral grey background, wearing a neutral grey cape (much like a barber’s cape) under full-spectrum lighting (designed to mimic neutral daylight). I have a large set of fabrics, called drapes, which are separated into those specifically harmonized seasons. I use these drapes to determine which season holds the best balance and most magic for each person. Generally, my PCA philosophy is this: I want you to look like yourself – but your most magnetic self. It takes a lot of attention to make sure I’m staying true to the baseline of each person’s coloring. I want to enhance, but not change. If someone has olive skin, I don’t want their skin look whiter than it really is, but I don’t want to tip the other direction and make that person look sallow, either. I want eyes to be bright, hair to look rich and multidimensional, bone structure to look normal – neither too severe or too soft, staying true to each person’s actual face.
Q: How did having your PCA done change your life? Did it bring out new aspects of your personality?
A: I can’t emphasize enough the difference that PCA has made for me personally. I was always interested in makeup and style, but I had no idea how to put even a simple look together. Magazines and makeup counters left me confused. I’d buy clothes and know they looked bad, but I couldn’t figure out why. I walked around feeling that maybe I was just an unattractive person. During my own PCA, I saw how certain colors, even many colors I love, made me look drained, childish, or just plain bizarre. It was actually very freeing to realize that the problem wasn’t ME – it was the colors! They just didn’t harmonize with the coloring I’ve been given. I find that people take me more seriously when I wear my colors, which boosts my confidence, which boosts others’ confidence in me, and it’s just a great cycle. I feel sexier and I like to look at myself in the mirror, instead of avoiding reflective surfaces. The confidence I’ve gained from wearing my colors has allowed me to take some risks in my personal life that I’ve found very fulfilling. I get dressed every day and think, “I’ve got this.”
Q: What do you love most about being a color analyst?
A: Playing with all the different palettes is great. I enjoy harmonizing them to clothing or jewelry or makeup or even scenes in nature. But my favorite part of the job is when I have clients who really and truly click with their seasons. They aren’t always the seasons the clients would pick for themselves, but they’re sitting in front of the mirror during the analysis, they’re wide-eyed, they see why they are that season and no other, and they go forth feeling empowered. I love when clients email me photos and say how happy and confident they feel, or when they send me longer, more emotional emails about how their season has helped them relate to themselves. It’s a highly emotional job for me, and I love that. I think color is so powerful, and being able to connect with people in this way is a treasure.
Q: Your career revolves around color. Obviously, you have great respect for it. What do you wish people understood about color?
A: Color influences how other people see you, in both obvious and very subtle ways. Humans are highly attuned to reading faces and skin tones, searching for signs of mood and health. If your lipstick is draining color from your eyes and creating discolored circles beneath them, your family doesn’t know it’s the lipstick: they assume you’re tired, or ill. If your shirt is distracting your colleagues from looking at your face and eyes while you talk, they won’t necessarily blame the shirt: they just know they find you less compelling. And I believe that this can cause a lot of self-blame and hatred. When women get dressed or put on makeup and they feel ugly, or frumpy, or just like they aren’t living up to their full potential, they blame themselves. They decide that they must be ugly or frumpy or falling short as people. But there’s never anything actually wrong with the woman. There’s something wrong with the color (or the cut!) on that particular woman. I have male clients too, but they don’t self-blame the way women tend to.
Q: Tell us about your personal season. What are your favorite colors in the palette? Which color makes you feel most powerful? Which makes you feel most feminine? Which makes you feel most vulnerable?
A: I’m a Dark Autumn, and I’m one of those lucky people who looked at my palette after my analysis and felt that all my favorite colors were there. I love my palette’s olive greens, muted berries, rich teals, and midnight navies. I wear a lot of burgundy and wine, both in clothing and in lipstick. Those are probably my power colors. I feel about equally feminine in all of my colors, maybe a little extra when I find Dark Autumn’s golden white. I’m not sure why, but I feel more vulnerable in golden reds, particularly in lipstick, whereas I don’t have that issue with berry reds. It’s not a bad vulnerability, but something about that autumn leaf color makes me feel less “protected.”
Q: What type of client do you most enjoy working with (ex: shy people who need a boost of confidence, bold individuals with big opinions, etc.)
A) My favorite clients are probably the ones who are most like myself, where they blamed themselves for their lack of beauty/confidence/color skills/what-have-you, and then come to realize that they were never lacking themselves. These clients aren’t always like me in personality or lifestyle, but they feel the same giant breath of relief when they start wearing their colors and realize they’re finally where they always wanted to be.
Q) What is the main reason why people need to have their colors analyzed? What are the benefits of PCA?
A) Everyone’s reason for getting a PCA is different, so the most important reason will be different for everyone. Some people want a very streamlined wardrobe, and PCA is great for that, because you can have a tiny wardrobe where everything mixes and matches. Some people want to look more capable and powerful at work, or while job-hunting. Some people want to stand out in the dating scene. But I find the most common reason people come to me is a combination of all of the above, and more: they’re sick of thinking about it. They want to know their colors so they can stop standing in front of their closet hopping from foot to foot every morning wondering what to wear. They want to know what color lipstick to buy. They want to feel confident in their choices so they can think about other things.
Q: What are your top 3 favorite colors of all time? Why?
A) What an impossible question. A warm green, somewhere between olive and pickle. Deep berry purple. And a slightly burnished copper, like cooking pots that have gained a bit of patina but still have a brightness to them. My palette is pretty much all of my favorite colors in one place, and I pretty much drool over my entire Dark Autumn Pinterest board constantly.
Interested in learning more about PCA? Visit Cate’s personal website, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at (502) 419-0395. Also, don’t forget to take a few moments (or hours) to peruse her other PCA Pinterest boards.
So, dear reader, what season do you think YOU are? Share with us in the section below!
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I never knew that color analyst is even a job. Thanks for sharing this 🙂