Who Should Do Your Style Analysis?

Lately, there has been a real uptick in color analysts also performing style/image analysis. I’m not talking about something like Caygill, where the style advice is built into the system. (By the way, if you haven’t seen it yet, Cornell has made Caygill’s book available for free!) I’m talking about people who were trained in systems that just look at one thing–your coloring–and now also offer some kind of style or image analysis.

Now, I can understand why a color analyst would want to offer such a service and expand their business. But just because they can doesn’t mean they should, for two major reasons.

The first is that the barrier for entry for becoming a color analyst seems to be whether someone can pay the money. Someone who is a color analyst isn’t necessarily an artist with a great eye and a great sense of style that they come by naturally. The quality of analysts, from what I’ve seen, varies widely, even with the same methodology and training. You can teach people to look for certain things, but an eye can’t be taught. The analyst, who in all likelihood is no style maven themselves, because how many of us really are, simply can’t see beyond what is in front of them, so they give you something close to what you already do, maybe just tweaking the lines a little.

Both Zyla and Kibbe have this ability to see beyond. They can look at someone and see their style potential. That is why they are geniuses. Now, you may think, “Well, [random analyst] probably isn’t a style genius like Kibbe or Zyla, but they were trained in a system to look for certain characteristics and apply this framework.” This is the second reason. Most seem to be working with some permutation of a system based off of Kibbe’s work. The fact is, there isn’t a system that is based on his work that doesn’t do the exact opposite of what Kibbe aims for with his. They put you in a box with a style stereotype, and chances are good that it’s the wrong box anyway. They don’t teach you how to apply the principles of yin/yang and express any style you want. So they are analyzing you to the best of their ability, but they are working from something that is based on an incorrect understanding of David Kibbe’s work (and there are numerous people now who profess to “teach” Kibbe; they’re all over the world, and they’re all wrong).

Now, again, I’m not talking about Caygill analysts here, or other systems where color and style are inextricably linked. I don’t know enough about these systems to criticize them, really. I am talking about color analysts who also offer some kind of “image analysis” service as something separate.

So when you see that the color analyst you’re planning to go see for a draping also offers some kind of styling or style analysis service, I would pause before adding it to your appointment. If you’ve been exploring these style systems, are you really going to get any clarity from this person, or will it just set you back more and confuse you? My money is on the latter. My suggestion would be to save up for either Kibbe or Zyla, artists who can give you their vision for your style. Being able to look at a client and see their potential is not something you can learn in a course. That’s not how you end up with this moment:

In fact, you are better off exploring on your own, learning how to apply Kibbe or Zyla’s work to yourself if you are unable to see them. At least then, you don’t have the voice of an “authority” in the back of your head and you’re not out $200 or $300.

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