Introducing Colour Analyst Sarah McNary (Pennsylvania) Thumbnail

Introducing Colour Analyst Sarah McNary (Pennsylvania)

Introducing Colour Analyst Sarah McNary (Pennsylvania)

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I speak of colour analysis as alignment of exterior self with interior soul because ultimately, I believe that it can be a gateway that connects those two aspects of our beings. As poetic as that may sound, we want to manifest the abstraction in the real world that we all share. Without method and measurement, the foundation may be weakened. Sarah understands colours on many levels, from simple energetic relationships to picturing them interacting in a closet or drawer. She can project a wardrobe of clothing and cosmetics for a client during the draping (how will this individual use the palette?), which is so valuable because we are all individuals within our Season.

There were many things that I loved about the week we spent together. She has social grace and consideration for the client’s comfort and security, and these are important to me. She has a heartfelt love of colour and is committed to accuracy in her results and answers to client questions. Her ability to use colour for personal expression is remarkable, which led to some rich discussions between us, often with the balanced and constructive conclusion of, “I see what you see.” If we met, you might know quite soon that I find that level of communication to be magic.

I learned from and enjoyed her imaginative ways of combining colours. She could effortlessly create exciting and innovative colour combinations that were modern, outside stereotypical patterns, and adapted to many individual tastes and preferences. (Tip: If I were her client, I would draw on this strength and have her suggest combinations for me 🙂 ) Her flexibility with envisioning colours and combinations will support her clients in making the best use of their palettes while still recognizing themselves and feeling confident.

One more thing that I love. In preparing to write this post, Sarah wondered if her colour story was too straightforward. I replied, “Sarah, my story was simple too. The analyst identified the Season, I went home, I did it, it wasn’t that hard, and I created a closet that looks like me.” We need to share more of these stories because they are the majority. You can do this. Everyone can do this. It is a devotion to yourself and there are many wonderful analysts like Sarah who can help you get started and support you in your journey. 

  Sarah McNary colour analysis

In Sarah’s words,

I first became aware of personal color analysis all the way back in the late 1980s, when I was in eighth grade or so and my mom got the book Color Me Beautiful out of the library. I walked into the living room one day and it was sitting on the coffee table, and, well, I think I probably read it in one sitting. I remember it was like a bombshell for me—I never would have thought of it myself, but it’s so logical that certain colors would look more appealing on some skin tones than on others! I was struck by the different palettes and their distinct—and distinctive—personalities. I quickly determined that I was a Summer, and even though I still bought some clothes from other palettes, I made Summer-ness a core part of my identity.

After I graduated from college and started looking for a job, I wanted to refresh my memory of exactly what Light Lemon Yellow (Summer’s singular yellow option) looked like, so back I went to the library—where I discovered that the four seasons had become twelve! I was taken aback, yet intrigued by this development. Again, I devoured the book and determined that I was a Soft Summer, having just a drop of Autumn warmth added to Summer’s essentially cool colors.

Sarah McNary colour analysis drapes

I might have lived happily ever after from that point, except for one thing: I didn’t have a swatchbook. The color blocks in the library book had faded so much with age, all the greens looked identical! The best I could do was to write down the names of the Soft Summer colors and try to imagine what they must look like…which didn’t go so well. (Amethyst? Soft rose? Buttermilk? What?) Finally, I gave up and just started buying whatever I liked that didn’t look awful in the mirror. For one reason and another, this phase lasted several years.

It was about two years ago now that I couldn’t take it anymore—I had to know my season for sure! I needed a swatchbook! When I found 12 Blueprints, based on the Sci\ART method of color analysis, I was so excited. I had never been willing to spend money on a color analysis before because the outcome had always been subjective, and a subjective opinion is still just an opinion, even if it’s professionally given. (I was especially wary because everyday people who knew of color analysis would say to me, “Oh, you must be a Winter!” or “Your eyes say Spring to me!” No one ever said Summer.) But now there was a scientific process that would lead to a clear, rational answer. I discovered that there was a 12 Blueprints-certified analyst near me and (after the inevitable argument with myself over whether I deserved to spend good money on something as frivolous as my own self-esteem…) booked an appointment. Part of me was hoping to be right about Soft Summer, because being right would feel validating. Part of me was hoping to be anything else, because Soft Summer colors look so…gray…on the page! Dark Autumn, maybe? (I hadn’t gotten the memo that Soft colors don’t look gray on a Soft person—they just look normal!)

Sarah McNary Personal Colour Analyst

Well, it turns out I was right! I am a Soft Summer, just like I thought. But…remember how I said I had given up on trying to imagine what Soft Summer colors look like? I wasn’t even close! My entire wardrobe had ended up being a combination of True Summer and Dark Winter. I don’t think I kept more than a handful of items!

It took some time to get comfortable with my new colors, but the validation immediately started pouring in. People asked me what had changed. They said I glowed. They definitely noticed my lipstick, which I had never worn before, and enthusiastically assured me that the color was perfect! I subconsciously began responding to their positive reactions. My self-esteem increased, I felt more grown up, and I found myself making more daring decisions than I ever would have made otherwise. One of them, of course, was to become a personal color analyst myself, to help others who are seeking their color identity find the same level of self-confidence and—honestly—joy that I am now experiencing in my own life.

Whether your story is the same as mine, or you need to be assured that you are representing yourself and your profession with as much polish as possible, or you just want to get off the merry-go-round and stop taking the fashion industry’s word for it that you need an avocado-green blouse this fall and should definitely wear nude lipstick and absolutely must cover your incoming gray with caramel highlights to look “young” again, personal color analysis is the tool you need to orient yourself toward the palette of coordinated colors that will let you achieve your goals.

Sarah McNary Pizzazz Personal Color Analyst

My studio, Pizzazz PCA, is located in the greater Philadelphia area, and I would be delighted to help you find the pizzazz in your own natural coloring. Find me at, and let’s get in touch!


13 Thoughts on Introducing Colour Analyst Sarah McNary (Pennsylvania)

  • "; ?> Sarah McNary

    Thank you, Nicole! Thanks to the camera software the colors look somewhat more saturated than they actually are–but then so do I! The balance is still quite good.

  • "; ?> Nicole

    I never realized how rich looking soft summer can be. Very pretty !

  • "; ?> Jan

    Congratulations, Sarah. I’m sure your clients will benefit greatly from your insight and talent. And you look lovely in your Soft Summer colors.

  • "; ?> Melina

    Congratulations to Sarah, and it’s great to hear that there *are* indeed people who have got their season right, pre-PCA! 🙂 As most say no one can do that.

  • "; ?> Joan

    Interesting that Sarah’s glasses, at least on my screen, appear to be Soft Summer-colored.

    I wonder whether the softer seasons might have better luck figuring out who we are because it’s easier for a color to make us look bad. A Bright season can dominate a color, whereas for a Summer or Autumn person it’s more often the other way around.

    When a Bright season tries on a very wrong color, the response might be, “Yeah, seems ok, I guess.” As a True Summer, when I try on the wrong color, the response would be more like, “Are you all right?”

  • "; ?> Melina

    That’s a very interesting theory, Joan! I have myself considered nearly every season for me, & have managed to convince myself every time that yes, this season looks good, it *must* be my season… Unbelievable (and ridiculous) though it seems; after all, how can one convince themselves of so vastly differing seasons as for example DW, BSp and TA… And yet I have. (*blush*) And your theory might explain why – maybe I’m (after all) a Bright? Incidentally, I am currently set on either DW or BW. 😉

  • "; ?> Carnationsandstars

    I don’t believe it is impossible to analyze your own season. I have never had a color analysis done, but I feel confident in my armchair diagnosis of Bright Winter. I’ve always known that electric colors suit me: cobalt, fuchsia, emerald, citron. I have definite cool, almost violet, undertones, and a pale yellow overtone. My hair is almost black, my eyes are bright blue with flecks of turquoise and gray, and I have a very light and even complexion. No ruddiness. I’m not sure what other season I could be, really. Muted and soft colors make me look fuzzed out. Warm colors, unless a scarlet red or deep chocolate brown, are disharmonious or distracting. I can wear the neutral to cool range. Anyway, given that my natural coloring is extremely high contrast, markedly cool and icy looking, and that I am too pale to be at my best in very dark shades unless they are also clear, and that I have slight warmth due to the turquiose in my eyes and the yellow in my skin, Bright Winter it seems to be. I drain the chroma from everything. It’s true that I can get away with unflattering colors to some extent because I dominate them, but, as I am sensitive to color, even small movements away from my best range are quite noticeable and annoying to me. So many days I try on five lipsticks and have to layer them to get the right look. The rose-pink is too muted and still not cool enough so I will add a sheer violet with high chroma. Too matte. I need a gloss. And so on. I feel Bright Winter can be as tricky as any other season to get right.

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      You’re quite right, Carnationandstars, I agree with you. Some folks do get the Season correct. When I began as an analyst, 8 years ago, the odds were about 1 in 40 of a person knowing their correct Season among 12. Even in a 4 Season group, the odds were 1 in 10 that the person would be correct. Today, with the vast selection of images and resources available, we have clients who understand how colour relates to their appearance and can find their way to the correct group. More than colour perception, we have many clients who have not the time or inclination to study the topic and would like a quicker path to the answer. As I think about it, I would fit into the second group. I wanted to learn about colour for what it offered people, and even for reasons that I couldn’t explain, but my own appearance doesn’t captivate me very much (something I have to work towards) and I am unable to see myself as clearly as you see your colour reactions. Bright Winters tend to be analytical thinkers and quite willing to look at themselves, which I do not say as a vanity but rather a determination towards self-understanding by this visual means. We often ask why so many colour analysts are Winters and this may be part of it.

  • "; ?> ruby

    Sarah looks so beautiful in her colours, I especially like the rose pink with the two blues. Anyone who is a soft summer and worries they will be stuck wearing shades of grey needs to see this article!

  • "; ?> Jane

    Are these all pictures of soft summer drapes? Some of them look surprisingly pigmented. If they are, it almost seems like it’s more of a “tonal” equation than one of saturation. Can you say something about the value/hue/saturation mix of these if they’re all soft summer, Christine?

    • "; ?> Christine Scaman

      I agree, Jane. Whatever is being photographed, whether presented online or in magazines, the reality is always different in small or large ways. With regards PCA, between the cameras, lighting, software, drapes, cosmetics, and the human being, we never see pictures of PCA that look exactly as the real event did. These drapes are indeed more saturated than the actual colour, and Sarah herself is not as contrasting as the image appears. One can spend hours adjusting but every viewer is probably better served by allowing great flexibility in these images.

  • "; ?> Sarah McNary

    Regarding camera “vision” never quite capturing the true appearance of the real world scene, is a summary of a scientific study assessing that very phenomenon. While it doesn’t address PCA directly, of course, it offers an explanation of why PCA truly and scientifically *cannot* be accomplished through photos. (Digital/electronically-transmitted photos, at least; it does not speak to the question of actual physical prints made using old-fashioned film photography with no computers involved *at any step* in the processing. An interesting question in and of itself!)

  • "; ?> Rita

    I love this post! I’m a draped True Summer and it is refreshing whenever I see the power of the colors that seem to many so muted on a page look so alive and vibrant on a person of that coloring. I mean, take that picture of her in red. It is just WOW on her and nothing about it looks dull or muted (common complaints about the softer seasons in color discussion groups) on her. We see so many bright winters featured everywhere, and of course these colors are beautiful and exciting (as are the people who wear them well), but when I see someone wearing well colors like these – I feel a sense of aaaaahhhhhhh and awe! Such relief. She is beautiful and I absolutely would want her to do my draping if I haven’t already had a lovely bright winter show me my own subdued coloring came alive in my True Summer colors. I just love this site, Christine, and all the trained 12 BPs color gurus.

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