Looking your best with simple color theory

Emma Polen | News Editor | Jitske Shunfenthal, a color analysis expert, knows exactly how to match her customers to their very own color palettes. She tries her best at making sure her clients leave with self confidence and the colors that suit them best.

Emma Polen | News Editor

Feb. 16, 2023

Color analysis has been a trendy way to find the ideal color palette that matches an individual’s natural tones.

Jitske Shunfenthal’s professional color analyst business, Jitske Studio, is making this happen right here in Pittsburgh.

The Big Move

Shunfenthal started color analysis after moving to the U.S. from the Netherlands about 10 years ago.

While Shunfenthal has always had an interest in fashion, including making her own clothes, she was a project manager and a computer coder for several years. Her background in digital programming has helped her run her own business: Shunfenthal’s website is completely her own creation.

“I wanted to do something totally different,” she said.

Different can be difficult, but Shunfenthal made sure to stick to what she loved.

First, she moved to California from the Netherlands but Shunfenthal then moved to Pittsburgh because the West Coast was missing something she really loved, the four seasons.

Shunfenthal also tried her hand in the world of color and fashion, training in both the draping and 12-season methods of color analysis. Both techniques make an appearance in her color analyzing appointments.

The Dutch entrepreneur found her niche in the color analyst world with color palettes, actual, hand-painted colors that were used to match clients to their exact skin tones.

Now, Shunfenthal takes several customers a week in her “one-woman business” located in the Monroeville area. Interested clients can book online at https://www.jitske.studio/.

The Process

Shunfenthal’s process for finding a client’s ideal color palette starts by matching their skin to one of her signature hand-painted skin tone samples.

Some skin tones might have more green, red, yellow, blue or even purple, Shunfenthal said, so determining what these undertones are will help a client find their best-matching palette.

Once a skin tone has been matched, Shunfenthal uses the “draping” method, which involves a series of colored cloths that match a specific season palette. Everyone has a “version” of reds, yellows and other colors in their skin tone, Shunfenthal said. As she drapes the best matching colors over a client’s shoulders, their tones start to pop.

Some colors against a person’s skin will reveal their under eye circles while others, will show a “blended” look that matches their skin better than any concealer on the market.

“Sometimes you do want the yellow to come out. It gives them that healthy glow,” Shunfenthal said. “And sometimes you don’t want the yellow to come out because it makes them sick, greenish.”

Every person has an ideal season from the 12-season method (see graphic below) of color analysis that Shunfenthal uses at her studio. The last step of her color matching process is selecting the client’s ideal season.

“We keep narrowing it down, keep narrowing it down until we have…your palette,” Shunfenthal said. “You see the total person.”

The next step is to make the client confident that they have what they need to continue matching their color.

Shunfenthal sends her clients off with a booklet with more information about the season and how to use the colors she has selected with them.

Because Shunfenthal has an interest in color and fashion, she also hopes to expand her business to help beyond the color analysis completed in her studio.

This might be a wardrobe or closet color combination review or a clothing analysis to assess what shapes look best on a client’s natural body shape, Shunfenthal said, but the final goal is to always help the client be more confident in their skin.

“It has nothing to do with vanity, although you feel better in your own colors,” Shunfenthal said.

Build up a wardrobe and self confidence

Knowing your own palette also makes narrowing down decisions in the store easier, Shunfenthal said. A person does not have to waste their time and space in their closet when they know which colors work best on them.

For young people especially, Shunfenthal understands how important it is to want to “build up your wardrobe and…want to have a wardrobe that makes you look the way you want to.”

“Each palette has a feeling,” Shunfenthal said. A bold winter contrasting tone has a different feel than soft autumn.

Whether it’s for a first impression at a job interview, or for an everyday “creative and explosive” look, Shunfenthal knows that clients want to “feel the joy of composing” outfits every time they open the closet.

“It’s a way to get to know yourself,” Shunfenthal said.

One of Shunfenthal’s clients, Sylvie Schapiro, shared how her color analysis appointment has had an impact on her style choices.

“When going shopping, I now eliminate the colors that I know will “fade me out” and now I keep an eye out for the colors and patterns that I know suit me best and bring out the best in me,” Schapiro said.

Schapiro’s true winter palette even inspired the colors she used to recently remodel her home.

“I let out all my ‘palette’ fun, and chose dark charcoal tile and matching charcoal paint, with chrome (shiny silver) hardware. Jitske made me realize that these colors and statements ‘speak to me’ for a reason,” Schapiro said.

Shunfenthal said the color analysis techniques are not random and her job is to make a person’s colors harmonize in a thoughtful way.

As Shunfenthal continues to guide clients through color analysis, the professional color analyzer is always learning herself.

“I have not found 100% rules,” Shunfenthal said. “Everybody is a surprise.”

However, Shunfenthal said the color analysis techniques are not random, and in the end, her job is to make a person’s colors harmonize in a thoughtful way.