How to recognise you own personal contrast levels

Value Contrast

Your Value Contrast is the level of light and dark to your colouring. You might be wondering why I haven’t started with discovering if you are warm or cool? The temperature of a colour, i.e. whether it is warm or cool will determine which colours or maybe I should say, which shades of colours that you can wear and which you cannot. The value of any colour however, can enable you to wear colours which may or may not be right for you. As you will read later in this workbook, one of the elements of wearing a colour which is wrong for you is to select colours in your correct level or value. That is, in layman speak, how light or dark they are.

Let’s start with understanding value contrast.

Colours range in value from dark/black through to light/white. Between these colour values, levels of contrast are formed.

When we look at contrast it can best be described as low, medium or high. For the purpose of personal value contrast you need to ascertain the differences between the colour of hair, skin and eyes.

As you will see on the image on the next page – Low contrast can be both light, medium or dark in value. Now am I messing with your mind yet? You should be on this side trying to write this stuff without using my hands to explain this concept.

contrast level toolBefore I get into specifics. I want you to keep the following in mind. When considering where to put your contrast I believe it should always be in your portrait area. That is the area of your body from your upper torso to your face. My reasoning here is quite simple. Unless you know that you will be standing the whole time, once you sit, your contrast has disappeared and you will only truly look your best when standing.

Let’s start with your own colour value grid.

I would recommend printing out this image, trimming it along the edge of the chart and then laminating it. You will have your own value contrast tool handy for all occasions.

Aside from personal use, this is a great tool to have if you are a hairdresser, retailer of clothing, jewellery, clothing or make-up.

Low contrast – A difference of 0-3 from the lightest to darkest colours

Medium Contrast – A difference of 4-6 from the lightest to darkest colour

High contrast – A difference of 7-9 from the lightest element of your hair skin and eyes to the darkest.

Have a look at these two women and see how both have similar medium level of contrast yet the first face is medium low and the second face is medium to high.

contrastThis girl has hair at level 5

                  eyes at level 6

          her skin is at level 9

This means the greatest difference between her hair skin and eyes will rate at 4. With her skin rating at 9 and her hair rating at 5.

This woman will always look better in clothing and accessories which have a low to medium level of contrast. If she wears a skin tone top she should wear jewellery in the same tones as her hair or eyes to create the perfect level of harmony. Should she wear something bold and deep the impact will be more about the garment or the accessory than her.   

Notice how when we add colour to her. The black takes over from her face. You notice the black first. That is high contrast. Whereas the second image she is harmonising with the colours she is wearing.

Now let’s look at another example

contrast 2

This woman has her hair is at level 2,
her eyes are at level 5

and her skin is registering at level 8.

In her case there is a total difference of 6 from her hair to her skin. There is also a difference of 3 between her eyes and skin. If she was to wear clothing close in colour to her skin there will be no harmony with her face. She really needs to wear a contrasting colour to liven up her image. See what happens when we put her into a light coloured top

Now she has lost her intensity and looks pale in comparison. This girl does require a medium to high level of contrast.

This girl has a higher level of contrast. While her skin is about the same shade, have you noticed how it appears lighter because her hair and eyes are so much darker?

In my next colour article, I’ll share with you more clothing contrast options to consider.

If you would like to know more about colour you might want to look at my Every Woman’s Guide to Personal Colour. 

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