Book Review: David Zyla, Color Your Style

There are lots of books out there on style systems and color analysis. Some of the older ones are incredibly expensive (like, hundreds of dollars), but there are plenty that are either still be print, or can be found used for less than $50. I’m going to be reviewing the ones I own, and like with any book review, I hope that it’ll help you decide if it’s worth parting with your cold, hard cash for, as well as give you an overview of the system described in a particular book.

I thought I’d start with David Zyla’s Color Your Style. Zyla’s system seems to be the most popular after Kibbe and Dressing Your Truth, at least on the Internet. If you see a Polyvore set labeled “Gamine Autumn,” that’s Zyla.

Zyla’s system seems more or less based off of Suzanne Caygill’s, and if you are familiar with the latter, you’ll see similarities. I’ve only read a little bit about it, as her book is the one that costs hundreds of dollars. But anyway, back to Zyla. His book is divided into several parts. The first is devoted to figuring out your colors. Zyla has a system where you find colors in yourself–your eyes, skin, hair, etc.–and use them as specific ” bases” and “essences,” like for when you want to be seen as professional or friendly or seductive or whatever.

I haven’t done this, but I’d be interested in hearing about your experience if you have. I also think it might be useful to take your Zyla palette and try to match it to a Sci\ART palette, although it obviously couldn’t replace getting your season analyzed professionally. He talks about how to use your natural colors for different purposes, etc., like even what color to paint the walls of your psychology practice.

As far as the rest of the book goes, where Zyla outlines his “archetypes,” after my first reading of this book, which was a few months ago, I was not impressed. I am not a fan of conflating season to personality. Not all people with spring coloring are bubbly; not everyone with winter coloring is quiet. Zyla even goes as far to say that he knows your “season” after talking to you for three minutes on the phone. To those of us who come to color analysis from a Sci\ART perspective, that sounds ridiculous. (Read Terry Wildfong’s post on how she drapes and then compare it Zyla’s method.)

But when I read the book for the second time to write this review, I realized something. If you went by the phone test, I’d be a winter. I want to get done what I need to get done and get out of there and back to my own thing. I get right to the point. People tend to do what I say, even though I’m generally quiet and don’t like attention. These are winter qualities in Zyla’s world. It seems to me that Zyla’s system has a lot more in common with Dressing Your Truth than anything else.

Zyla further breaks his seasons down into six archetypes. I found myself in Vivid Winter, the “earthy philosopher.” I feel like even though I’m a Type 3 (Autumn) in DYT, this still works, since I’m a 3/4. He gives oddly specific style recommendations (yes to three-layer skirts of pleated silk, no to sack dresses), but a lot of what he said resonated with me. I do get a tendency to get stuck in a black uniform, and I do need to remember to express my style. His recommendations for the seasons, however, use his color terminology of bases and essences, rather than seasonal colors, so it is easy to adjust them to the colors that suit you, rather than in Dressing Your Truth, where you have one palette that is supposed to work for every Type 1, Type 2, etc. The only issue that I have with this section is that the description for each of the 20 types is so short. I don’t think you can get a good idea of how to dress for your Archetype without actually meeting with Zyla.

He then goes into how you can use your color palette for situations ranging from a job interview to a family get-together, and how to overhaul your closet. I do think all of this information is useful. I might try to do my Zyla colors now, and see if this use of color works for me.

Overall, I see this system much as I see Dressing Your Truth. I think Kibbe and a Sci\ART-based season make the best backbone for your wardrobe you can get in terms of what flatters your lines and your coloring. But both Zyla and Dressing Your Truth can be used to flesh out your understanding of your personal style, and how to reflect your personality and nature in your wardrobe. I also like Zyla a lot better if I pretend he is not using the term “season” to determine type.

Have you tried Zyla? Did you find the color thing he talks about works? Did your Sci\ART season, DYT type, Kibbe, and Zyla all match up, or are they all over the place, like mine? (I’m actually questioning if I might be a LIGHT SUMMER now. So no more attempts at color analysis for me until I can get draped professionally. I give up.)

16 Comments on Book Review: David Zyla, Color Your Style

  1. ithinklikeme
    August 8, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Now that I’ve reconsidered Zyla from the perspective of “archetypes” rather than “seasons,” I’m going to re-examine them based on personality traits, and see what I think about the result. I, like you, initially dismissed Zyla’s method before I even made it all the way through his book (though I did keep reading). You’ve presented an interesting take on things, here. I like it.

    • stylesyntax
      August 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up a Vivid Winter as well–it seems to align pretty well with INTJ.

      I am moving in the direction of Kibbe for lines, Sci\ART for color, and all of the other systems (DYT, Zyla, Kitchener, etc.} for defining your personal style.

      • Liz
        February 9, 2015 at 4:09 am

        I read Zyla’s book and followed the directions for finding my personal colors. I drape as a Bright Spring in Sci/ART and decided I was a T4/1 in DYT. The Zyla colors I got are very pale (icy) or very vivid and clear. Vivid Winter suits my personality well. I am also a INTJ and identified with a great deal of what you said. I am a Soft Natural with some dramatic traits in Kibbe. I am also blonde. Kibbe, Sci/ART and my personal colors (without the Zyla Archetype) work. I only find DYT useful for an idea of lines, intensity and movement.

        • stylesyntax
          February 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm

          Interesting that you also see yourself in Vivid Winter–he doesn’t seem to ever put blondes in winters, so I doubt he’d put me there. I am currently feeling pretty good about my chances of being a Bright Spring since I got my fan and have been playing around with it. I also have been wondering if I am a 4/1 and not a 3, since this combination often mimics a three, and the winter/spring combo would repeat what we have in BSp.

  2. carrie
    September 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    hi. i just discovered ur site today. and probably read 5 posts already. are you an INTJ? (asking because of the above comment.) well i am an INTJ type 2/3/4, kibbe soft natural. soft summer deep. zyla Dusky summer.
    With Kibbe, I knew almost right away I was a soft natural. i took a quiz, that said I was FN, then looked around a bit and realized I was actually SN. with my colors I probably went back and forth like 10 times. DW, DA, SA, and finally SS. but of course i considered all the rest as well. With DYT I thought I was a 4 right away, because of my INTJ mind. but was totally put off by the images. I was really drawn to T3 andT2 images. and went back and forth on those, finally accepting T2. I had a really hard time accepting it I think because I’m an INTJ and in my mind i thought of myself as a ‘hard’ person, straightforward, not a feeler, etc.
    anyway, finally getting to the point, with Zyla, the first time i read it was when i thought i was an autumn. so i had that bias. so my first pick was soft autumn, the sexy librarian. the description fits me to a T, but when I saw they images on David Zyla’s pinterest, I knew it wasn’t me. By then I had accepted I was a Type 2, and started studying the summer descriptions, and looking at the pinterest pictures. and finally discovered I was a Dusky Summer, and that in fact, dusky summer colors suit me, I feel soo comfortable in them, and really affirmed when i wear those colors. Before Zyla, and DYT i never would’ve thought I was a summer, because most people don’t think a dark skinned person can be. but i am, and i’m so glad i finally figured it all out. Good luck to ya! sorry i wrote a whole post over here!

    • stylesyntax
      September 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Yes, I am an INTJ. I liked the look of Type 4, but it seems to me to correspond to Dramatic Classic, and you really need symmetry for that. Type 3 works better for me because it’s asymmetrical. Also, I am much more fire than carbon, despite my INTJness.

      Most color analysts now seem to be moving away from using hair/eye/skin color to determine season, and just go with the reaction of your skin to colors, which I think is the correct approach. But oddly, with Zyla, I found that as a blonde, the only categories he puts blondes in are spring or summer, and none of those archetypes work for me at all. I guess since I am Type 3 and a Flamboyant Gamine, I should look at Gamine Autumn, but if I’m remembering correctly, it’s more of an N Gamine, rather than the D Gamine of FG.

      I am glad that you’ve managed to figure it all out and find image categories in various systems that harmonize with each other! I am still in the process of discovery, so mine are all over the place.

      • carrie
        September 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        🙂 thanks for your reply.
        I didn’t mean to say that because things lined up for me, in being a Type 2, summer, that it always lines up. For example, you said that Dramatic Classic (DC) reads type 4 to you, and I agree. Well, my husband is DC, and he’s a warm spring. probably a 1 with a very strong 4 secondary. A Maverick in Zyla’s system. (Is it like Zyla says, that Maverick’s break all the rules? haha, maybe.) so my husband basically dresses T4, but in warm spring colors.
        Another example of it not ‘lining up’, is that Zyla and DYT sometimes put celebrities in different categories. Ex: Emma Thompson is a Soft Autumn in Zyla’s system, and a Type 2 in Tuttle’s. Does the ‘soft’ here take precedence over the autumn in the 4 types system? does it always? so maybe in the four types you’re a 3 (flamboyant), but maybe in Zyla’s system the Gamine part is more important (which I always see as a 4/1 dynamic).
        anyway, just some food for thought. 🙂 thanks for listening.

        • stylesyntax
          September 12, 2014 at 2:13 am

          yeah, I know it doesn’t always line up–you’re lucky! My boyfriend is a Type 1 Dramatic, which doesn’t work at all. He prefers Type 1 stuff to Dramatic stuff though. Light clothes and bright colors.

          Type 2 is soft and muted, so Soft Autumn doesn’t really conflict with it as much as it may seem too. SA is autumn with a summer influence. You can adjust the palettes in DYT to your season by just selected the +white for type 1, +gray for type 2, etc. SA actually works really well for Type 2.

          I looked at Gamine Autumn, and it doesn’t work at all for me. It’s really a natural G. But I don’t agree that Gamine would be 4/1. Gamine has the highest contrast, so it has the highest energy. I did a chart of the two systems together here. FG, which is what I think I am, would be 3/1. 3/1 kind of makes sense, because I’m really messy, but I’m also an introvert and the lady on Carol’s youtube videos who is a 3/1 seemed like she was on uppers to me. I don’t think I’m energetic enough to have double extrovert energy.

  3. Amy Derry
    January 15, 2015 at 5:53 am

    I completely agree with you on Dressing Your Truth! I did buy into it at first but the more I learned about it and studied other color analysis systems and style types I started seeing similarities and even blatant copying of others work. I was disillusioned knowing that Carol is claiming she has created this system with only a small mention of one other system. I to was typed as a 3/4 and did try the type 3 look but it didn’t feel or look right. I’m a Soft Autumn Deep and a Soft Natural. That would be closer to a type 2 but I am not a 2 personality at all! I don’t like putting people in boxes of color and style and personality. We are each too unique which is why women strUggla with nailing down an archtype. Plus, from what I have seen on Zyla fan websites women are inaccurately typing thrmselves. I saw many soft seasons that used their supposed romantic color and dramatic color to guide them to a more vibrant or darker palette archtype. They are also using Zyla images to try and see color harmony but nothing compares to being draped. The true reflection on color on skin in natural light is 100 times more accurate than picture comparisons!

    • stylesyntax
      January 16, 2015 at 1:13 am

      Unfortunately, I think Zyla, both color and archetype, is impossible to DIY. The people I know who have seen Zyla, however, were very pleased with their palette and recommendations.

      I think my FG works fine with my DYT type, but my Light Spring palette would be hard to work with. I actually now think I’d probably fall into an autumn archetype in Zyla, because that would align with a Type 3 personality. But in the end, although I’d go see Zyla if it were feasible, just because so many people have such positive experiences with him, FG is enough for me, in terms of style systems, archetypes, etc. But I think that the only thing I really need to do is get draped, and I have tentative plans to do that.

  4. Molly
    February 15, 2015 at 6:42 am

    I was very lucky to have the opportunity to meet with David Zyla last year. If was a completely positive experience. My impression of how he worked was that he selected the colors at the beginning if the appointment, while simultaneously chatting and evaluating my appearance and personality. I think he probably very quickly determined the basic season and then spent time figuring out which archetype fits. What I like about his system is that he seems to have a version of each style type for each season. That is to say, there is a some version of classic, dramatic, natural, etc. for winter, spring, simmer or fall. I think this puts him far above systems like DYT – where most falls are naturals, winters dramatics, etc. it also answers the question of how a summer classic differs from a spring, fall, or winter classic. No one else seems to be addressing these questions as well. I think he is really brilliant.

    • stylesyntax
      February 16, 2015 at 2:26 am

      Yes, for a lot of people, he fills in the holes that systems like Kibbe or Dressing Your Truth leave. Although with the seasons it’s interesting, because often people will be one season in Zyla and something entirely different in another–his Early Springs seem to drape as Light Summer, his Vital Springs Dark Winter, etc. If someone is really struggling with adapting their Kibbe to their life and personality, I think they should go see Zyla.

    • Erin
      May 6, 2022 at 9:58 pm

      what spring corresponds to soft classic? I think I am early spring.

      • stylesyntax
        June 4, 2022 at 9:29 pm

        Any ID can be any archetype. They’re using different criteria, see people differently, and people get personalized recommendations. An Early Spring could be a Soft Classic–or a Dramatic, or a Flamboyant Natural, or a Theatrical Romantic…

  5. Natalie
    February 6, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    If you’re still having trouble identifying your personal colors, try John Kitchener from PSC. He’s on Pinterest and Facebook and he’s a seasoned pro – has done 3 generations of women in my family.

    • stylesyntax
      February 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      I’m familiar with his system; it’s just not one I like. 🙂


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