12 Seasons: The Most Important Thing (TMIT)
December 31, 2011 by Christine Scaman
My conversations with Rachel of Truth Is Beauty always anchor down some previously floating piece of information so that I can begin using it. What’s written below, you already know but it’s not completely self-evident.
There are three dimensions or measurable properties of colour that we use for personal colour analysis:
- value – how light to dark
- hue – or heat level, how cool to warm
- saturation or chroma – a colour’s position between the most greyed version of the colour and the purest version of the colour
Your colours don’t zigzag all over the place on any of those scales. They stick to a fairly close setting. Who has colours that are extremely warm and extremely cool at once, or very clear and very muted? Nobody. We can have several positions along the value scale but there is still a logical and consistent range that is respected within each of the 12 categories. The genetic paintbrush is very organized. It decides what your settings are on the 3 scales and from there, faithfully picks the paints for your own personal colour wheel, a predictable slice through Planet Colour.
However, whatever the settings on your 3 scales, which is what decides your Season or natural colouring group, one of those matters more than the others. It’s The Most Important Thing, or TMIT, for that natural colouring to glow with their most perfect skin. Once that attribute is fixed at a certain setting, colours that respect that setting are more likely to work well for you. That setting on that scale is your TMIT. The other two scale settings matter but they are less critical.
Your TMIT setting can’t be known just by looking at you. That’s done with drapes, by knowing the Season first. Sometimes when you’re looking at photographs without seeing the person in various colours, you find yourself thinking about their TMIT. I believe Color Me Beautiful calls these Dominant Traits. They ask themselves “Of Dark, Light, Clear, Soft, Warm, or Cool, which of these is the person MOST?”, or the reverse as “Which of these is the person LEAST?”
Tricky because some people don’t really look like what they are. You might look at a woman of medium-dark complexion, quite dark brown eyes, and fairly dark brunette hair and think that she seems Dark, when in fact, she’s a Soft. Look at this gallery. What do you think about Pics 13 and 28? (As a side note, I wonder if Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti would look like Pic 15 on a True Spring. Who else could look that good in clear orange?) As you go through all the photos, try to pin down their TMITs.
The intensity of a brown-eyed True Winter can be so undeniable, especially if complexion is dark, that you think “Wow, they’re really a Dark”, when what they are most importantly to perfect their skin tone is Cool. Think about Kim Kardashian, often thought a Dark Winter. She might well be. She doesn’t have the squareness of the Selena Gomez/Salma Hayek Dark Winter jaw. In fact, her long face is more a True Winter shape. She looks terrific in B&W&red. Scroll down the photos, worth the trip in itself, till you get to her. Does she need browner colour? You could say her lips and cheeks are Dark Winter now, quite possible. The point is just that you can’t tell by looking at one photo.
This is one of the weak points of Photo PCA – you never saw it happen. Your mind can’t get completely at ease with the Season. One relative comes along and expresses doubt about your lipstick colour and you feel all unsteady again. You can’t say back to them “I thought I might be Dark Autumn too! But, oh, my dear, you should have seen how drained those colours made me look. And I learned that a Dark Autumn looks near dead in my Summer pastels (so does a Bright Spring)!”
Once your Season is known from a correct in-person draping, your TMIT is most important when you go shopping. And that’s when you’ll begin choosing and wearing your rightest makeup.
Light Summer: Lightness! Saturation (clearness) is low-medium. Neutral cool.
Light Spring : Lightness! “ “ medium. Neutral warm.
Lightness in a colour will help it work well for her. Her eyeshadows, suits, eyeglass frames, nail polish, and shoes are more likely to be beautiful if they’re among the lightest in the selection at the store. It doesn’t mean that every colour she wears must be light, not at all. She has her version of dark tones too, but they’re her version, to look dark on her. Nevermind that they’ll look medium or light on someone else, we’re not talking about them here. Too dark colour on a Light and oldness will happen. Dark colours are not forgiving at all, meaning that she really needs to get them right or they’re way wrong and she is subtracting from herself.
A so-smart reader asked “Since every Season has its best black, does each have its best white?” Sure, yes. The Lights will do raw cauliflower better than latte, but many could get away with latte just fine if it’s mostly milk. Just being light in value raises a colour’s odds of being pretty good. As long as the other scales, of warmth and clarity, stick near the middle, things will probably be quite ok. Once we raise the darkness level to cinnamon or nutmeg, we run into problems with aging, fatigue, and 5 oclock shadow effects and they’re not even dark colours. The woman needs to have her colour analysis swatch book to wear the best suit for her speech.
Soft Summer: Softness! Value (darkness range) is medium. Cool to neutral.
Soft Autumn: Softness! “ “ “ “ .Warm to neutral.
Another so-smart reader pointed me to Cobie Smulders. I see her as Soft Summer. Is her hair too dark for that Season? No. But notice her eyes. Yes, they’re light-medium blue, but what are they MOST? Blue or hazy ? I’d say hazy (at least in this photo). Someone might say icy. The overall impression isn’t light and it isn’t dark, it’s medium. She seems cooler than warm, but more soft than cool. Someone might say “She’s definitely mostly cool. She’s a True Winter.” Who’s right?? Who knows?? Drape the woman already, then you know.
Cobie Smulders Pictures
That white is hard on her. The white is owning the whole picture somehow, it keeps nagging at our attention. A Winter would subdue that white into behaving itself. The same woman in that great soft pine green that is pure beauty for a Soft Summer blue-green eye (we could pretend the beads are not there):
Doesn’t always work. Like that green, not every colour that would look fantastically good on a Soft Summer’s colouring is obviously grayed, though many are. Same as True Autumn can have reds and golds that are so rich and so hot, you’ll think red and gold before you think heat (but with time, you’ll come to think HOT or at least, GOLD, first).
Some Soft Summers have a brown eye that is most perfected by their red wine colour. Some, who lean towards the warm side, can have warmer greens like avocado and army in the eye. Their eye colour is incredible in Soft Summer’s medium taupes and can even look great in Soft Autumn’s greens and browns. As long as the colour stays soft and muted and they don’t try Soft Autumn’s reds, oranges, and yellows, the skin will remain beautiful. I love this effect on Soft Summer and it’s not common. You see it sometimes in Dark Winter too, the very cool skin with the very warm eye, like the last golden-green-brown leaf left before the first snowfall. The contrast looks remarkable and even better when repeated by wearing warm and cool colours from their palette together in outfits.
Dark Autumn: Darkness! Saturation is medium to fairly high. Neutral warm.
Dark Winter : Darkness! ” ” “ “ . Neutral cool.
I find most people cooler than they think they are, but are confused about how to get a little cooler with their colours without going all the way to pure cool. Demi Lovato carries darkness well. She can look Warmer&Dark and Cooler&Dark quite well as long as the Dark takes precedence.
The Warm version:
Demi Lovato Pictures
There are cool photos in her gallery. The picture she presents of herself is often cooler than warm. Below, Demi goes too cool and we lose it. She’s become cooler than she is dark. It becomes hard and uncomfortable to be with compared to the molasses cookie above. It’s that dark toasty woman that we want to get close to. We wonder how close we could get and if our intuition is right, could we be singed? Winter is coming in and even in small amounts, a vague sense of unease or jeopardy comes with it.
Demi Lovato Pictures
Bright Winter: Brightness! Value is medium to fairly dark. Neutral cool.
Bright Spring: Brightness! Value is medium, not too dark. Neutral warm.
It’s the pure colour that you should become aware of first, before Thinking Mind engages and starts chewing on “Well, let’s see, I don’t perceive greying down of the colour, it looks neutral and somewhat warm,…” Grab onto that moment before dissecting mode turns on and proloooonnnng it. Spend some time just feeling what’s happening there. Soon, you’ll have more control of it and will be able to slow down that time. Think of fresh basil or parsley. Before you get going on how cool, how dark, what enters your awareness is GREEN.
I don’t get the same feeling here:
True Summer: Coolness! Saturation is medium. Value is medium.
True Winter : Coolness! Saturation is mid to high. Value is mid to fairly dark.
Stand a True Winter next to a Dark Winter and ask someone “Who’s darker?” The TW may have dark hair, dark eyes, but if the complexion level is the same, it’s often the DW that gives the darker overall impression. They seem a little shaded, less shiny, their whites not as blinding, as if their skin were so slightly and evenly cross-hatched with a graphite pencil.
Now, if you’d said “Who’s cooler?”, the TW always seems not necessarily frost-coated like a windshield, but they’re more absolute, more hard, more definite, more clear-cut and less ambiguous. They seem cleaner. Better to ignore the hair colour a lot. Seems to me I see more variation in natural hair colour among the True Winter than any other.
I was asked recently about the difficulty True Summer has in finding shoes (and mascara) in a world of brown and black. Compromise the darkness but not the coolness. In time, you’ll insist on being more discriminating. You’ll have found yourself enough great items to give you confidence in holding out for the right shoes. You won’t need to buy stuff just to have shoes at all. Use soft blacks, navies, and cranberries. Borrow some True Winter greys. Choose textiles that mute colour. Look for medium colours like denim, teals, mauves, and taupes. It takes time for every Season to build a background wardrobe.
True Spring : Warm-ness! The kind added by pure, clear yellow, so the feeling stays warm, bright, and light in that order when you shop. Saturation is mid to fairly high. Value is medium.
True Autumn : Warm-ness! The kind added by darker, duller, richer gold. So the feeling is warm, muted, and mid-darkish when you shop. Saturation is medium. Value is medium to med-dark.
I find these the most difficult people to decide their TMIT just by looking at them or their photos.
People ask “How can I be warm and cool at once?” It depends on how warm and cool you’re talking about. You won’t see really warm and really cool colours together in one person. Nobody’s setting on the Hue scale will swerve around that much. If your inborn colours are all completely warm, you won’t contain any completely cool colours. You might be 90% warm and 10% cool, but for shopping purposes, you’re so much more warm that you would shop as though you’re 100%.
For those people whose colouring is nearer the middle on the cool-warm scale, the Neutral Season folks, they can have slightly warmer and slightly cooler versions of their best colours. “OK”, you say, “how slightly?” That question can’t be answered well with descriptions or numbers. You need to own the palette that the colour expert made for you.
So if you know TMIT, often built into the Season’s name, plus the approximate heat level, the other parameter is a fairly safe bet at medium. Or ‘what I should worry about less’.