Here is an excellent question from K, one that I am asked often for most Seasons as some variation of,
Should All My Colours Be Equally Good?
In K’s words,
My question relates to the darker and cooler colours of the Bright Spring palette. Bright Spring was clearly the hands-down winner in the draping, so I don’t doubt that. However, despite really enjoying wearing the lighter and brighter shades in the palette, the cooler and darker shades seem “heavy” or “draining” somehow – the lighter ones seem to reflect more light off my face and “brighten” me up more. The darker and cooler colours also feel too serious or something. I am on the warmer side, so perhaps this could account for it…
I wondered if the darker colours were only supposed to be used in smaller blocks, or intermixed with the lighter values, in order to brighten them up? Or, should all of the colours in the palette look equally good in a large block under the face?
I also feel better in warmer, sunnier makeup, again seems less serious/formal than the cooler shades. I have tried to wear some of the cooler fuchsias as lipsticks, and it feels overdone and constrained somehow (although I do recall your comment about winter makeup being like housepaint on spring, so perhaps even if it’s a swatch match, the heaviness of the pigment/texture could throw things off)…?
These are good questions with some answers that apply to all persons of any Tone. Each woman and her own natural appearance will refine other answers. There is no one-size-fits-all when there are only 12 groups.
My first thought when I read the Q was, too dark for what? From K’s question, I take it that she’s asking about wearing the darker colours in large area, as she says, rather than whether they’re too dark to wear at all because they fall outside her own darkness range as a person within that Season. The second option can’t be it because the drapes measured her value (light/dark) range. They measured her heat level (hue) and chroma too. The Season is the name given the hue/value/chroma settings that she is herself, or the best harmonic match.
Think of your palette colours as the paint puddles on an artist’s hand board. They are the colours you will use to make an abstract painting.
No rule tells the artist that she has to use equal areas of each colour. The size of the colour elements in the painting will vary widely unless your composition is intended as a tablecloth of equal sized blocks. That’s not wrong. It can still have interest, emotion, and mood. But most of us don’t dress as coloured checkerboards. It feels somehow limited in the mind, restricted instead of expansive, not expressive of who we are as individuals. Our clothing choices tell others our story. A checkerboard is like a spreadsheet of us rather than a picture of our beautiful spirit.
could be good on an Autumn; I owned a T-shirt like this once, it was great
Every colour in any painting has a presence regardless of its surface area. Without that one thin black line, it’s a different painting. You notice one tiny yellow sail on one tiny boat in a big blue ocean landscape. You notice a woman’s nail polish or a miniature diamond within seconds. Could be the little areas attract more of our attention because they take more effort to be noticed.
We are not one block of colour to look at. In the eyes of others, we are the entire colour palette, every colour, all at once, all the time. Fan the thing out. There. That’s what the rest of us see when we look at you. Extracting one colour and wearing it as a solid block doesn’t repeat any person perfectly. The colours that are most natural and instinctive will be the ones that work best alone in large blocks. Though everyone has maybe 10 that are fantastic, the best of the best might be
- the undertone colour or close to it, like yellow orange on True Spring, or mulberry on Dark Winter
- representing the primary colour dimension, like antique mauve and silver smoke on Soft Summer
- sometimes repeating an eye colour, like flame gold and hot, rich green on True Autumn
- sometimes exemplifying the feeling of the Season, like bright and energetic on Bright Spring, or blossom colours on Light Spring
- the complement to the core colour, as purples on the five Spring-influenced groups, or a combination, such as periwinkle on Light Summer, that holds the blue of Summer and the purple of Spring and is heartbreakingly lovely
- and sometimes it’s beautiful and I’m not sure why: True Summer in soft fuchsia, watermelon red, or rose petal, with dangly, swirly silver earrings is plain gorgeous.
True Spring; no bold lines, the blocks are distinct by colour divisions; not misty, earthy, heavy, bold, geometric; instead, this is energetic, hippie, fun, busy, buoyant, and natural (where natural is not the same as earthy)
On a Bright Spring, the pure, fresh, spanking new colours will absolutely look better in a single block under the face than the business suit colours, even better if they’re shiny. Of course, they do. It would be odd and worrying if they didn’t. Bright Spring is defined by brightness and a good measure of lightness. It is expected that those types of colours would be automatic and easy. Bright means bright by any connotation of the word, including light, upbeat, clear, and vivid. Bright means intelligent too . Revlon Colorburst gloss 046 in Sizzle contains everything I mean – clear, intense, purely pigmented, just enough red to have kick. Every Bright Spring I know would be great in it.
Light colours are extremely visually attractive on Light Seasons. That’s the whole thing about that type of colouring. Light means light as buoyant and airy too. When you see dark colours on a Dark Season, conversation hangs for a few seconds. The mind is preoccupied with seeing. The Most Important Thing, TMIT, is not just most important for technical reasons. It’s also very organic. A colour-analyzed appearance is appealing to our intellect and intuition equally. The right and left brain hemispheres are equally fulfilled. For a second, the satisfaction is so high that nobody talks, like the first spoonful of dessert or sip of your favorite coffee, where one sensory system is 99% engaged.
Bright Spring; as busy or quiet as you like; more dark colours and/or small areas of black contribute to an overall darkness level that is darker than True Spring; pure pigments, still happy, bright, and fun; the composition speaks of movement, the colour blocks remain quite distinct; modern, clean, and stylized, less natural than a field of daisies or a wheat sheaf, more energy than a lily pad
The darker colours of the Bright Spring palette will not turn the person yellow, pale, shadowed, or otherwise distorted as colours of other dimensions, found in the other 11 Seasons, did. Worn alone, their mood may be too somber for the natural appearance. The feeling we attach to neutral colours and dark colours has more gravity than do the light and bright colours. For this reason, Bright Season people tend to look better in the shiny version of their colours than the matte side of the drapes.
Bright Spring contains Winter and that presence is important. When Winter steps into the warm Seasons to create its four Neutral Seasons, its effects are less subtle than when Summer steps in. The cooling and darkening are more noticeable. You can tell in the person. They look more contrasting, though not necessarily dark. Some aspect of the appearance or character may be exaggerated, like strength of eye colour, the sharpness of the planes of the face, sweetness on a dark person or intensely goal-driven tendencies in a light person.
William Shatner was like a True Spring Captain Kirk. Willing to be childlike and funny, with rounded edges. You’d be safe if you met him at a party. Chris Pine is the Bright Spring version. Edgier, more aggression, more contrast in the colours of eyes and coolness in skin, and you’d know to lock up your daughters. Point is, Pine is missing something if he dresses too safe. He needs the cooler colours and the darker colours to activate the bright, fun colours. Otherwise, he’s a boringly inauthentic version of himself. This applies to every Bright Spring I’ve ever seen, and I’m certain that includes K. Wear the cools and darks. Choose small areas but don’t leave them out.
Bright Winter; Winter’s presence is darker, sharper, balanced, and less reachable; for all Brights, the light element is clear, large, and holds the prominent interest and mood; the lines express the teardrop shape of Spring; this woman has a logical reason to flip up her eyeliner at the outer corner
What about a Soft Summer woman in a long navy dress? Even if it’s her navy, the dustiness really needs to be completely obvious, it’s TMIT after all, or the full impression risks being darker than she is. Her body will seem small in comparison to her neck and shoulders. The navy may even start looking darker than it is. The whole picture is like a willow tree top on a black flagpole. Thinking, “Well, I can see it’s muted where the fabric is sheer…” is not near muted enough.
As an aside, I can’t talk without them, you should try shopping with me, that straight solid vertical line says Winter to me, for no logical reason. Winter always feels like solid, still equilibrium. Solid, but not earthy. A marble statue is solid but not earthy. A pharaoh is solid and a little earthy. Maybe that’s why I keep the pharaoh visual in my head when I put on Dark Winter and True Winter eyeliner. Geronimo, Chief Tecumseh, they’re earthy. A Grecian column is still, neither earthy nor energized. It just is. None of them makes sense with flipped up eyeliner.
Back to the navy dress, with a silver gray shawl, sure, could be fine, but if the colour really is the darkest option in the swatch book, this is not the most beautiful painting I could put under a Soft Summer-coloured head, no matter how light or dark her hair colour.
Soft Summer is about this dark to look at
About the colours you saw yourself in during the draping process, where some looked more captivating than others:
The Test Drapes are not intended to be colours you buy, at least not the drapes that the new colour analysts from the training course are receiving. They are intended to be a little, hm, obnoxious. Terry and I looked for a colours where the other contestant colour would not be worn well, if at all, by the same person. The analyst is trying to make a decision, not suggesting you’ll be wearing these colours. If you’ve draped real human beings, you’ve seen how challenging these decisions can be. The drape colours, and you have many in our Test Drapes, push the extremes so the analyst is most supported in making the correct choice.
Dark Winter choices; top, bold colour in a neutral background ; middle, warms and cools together; lower, more colour, use of undertone colour, small areas of intense heat, spans white to black
The Test Drapes also allow the client to see who they’re not. I can babble on about saturation till the cows are home and fed. When my client understands what to never, ever put down $ for again happens when she or he sees the colour in textile. She develops a broad understanding of what Winter colours really look like, what pastels really are, and what muted actually means. If the drape colours are focused on being oh, so pretty, they can end up too similar. Wrong decisions might slip in.
True Spring; use as many or few colours as you like; the effect is sunlit, warm, natural, alive, moving, changing, safe, joyful
The Luxury Drapes and your swatch book colours are not ponchos. They do not look equally perfect in equal space under your face, though other analysts might disagree or have a different definition of perfect. **They are equally wearable without warping the overall harmony.** That is how they’re special. They allow you to narrow down to 1 out 12 the colours in the store that you have to choose from. In fact, they contribute with gigantic importance to the final harmony.
Four to eight of the colours are magic. At your analysis, they might not be the same 4 to 8 as the next woman of your Tone, though once an analyst gets used to her drape set, they usually are quite reproducible. They could be different between Sci\ART analysts, all of whom have different drape sets, so any two analysts would name the exquisite and confirming colours differently, as would the women you chat with online. We can say that none of the colours detracts in any of the ways your face demonstrated in wrong colour during the analysis.
Light Spring; you can feel the blouse, the texture, the scent, the necklace, the highlights; how lovely to be in the world and look like this
We can’t wear head to toe magic colours. A painting in only magic colours is both mundane and insane with nothing to set off the magic. We literally need grounding, as in ground colours. The rest of the colours take part in dimensional compositions that create a scene. They set up the lighting, give the eye a place to rest so it can take in the actors and the action, arrange the music almost to the point where you can hear a single note throughout the composition. They match and support the plot.
Dark Autumn; small areas of black; no white; a parchment effect, a bronzed impression ; corners; bold elements without being a modern geometric; more natural than modern/synthetic (which is Bright)
Really, colour is only definable by wavelength. Nothing else.
Colour as we see it is a massive optical illusion.
We cannot even know the truth of a line until we see it in its real colour. The real shape of a face, for instance.
That’s why the room goes quiet when the colours and the person connect, when the magic snaps into place. Because we need a minute to absorb what our eyes see and admit that before, we never saw what we were looking at. It’s a “So this is what she really looks like.” moment. Somebody might laugh. In the brilliant Cluetrain Manifesto, David Weinberg said that laughter is the sound that knowledge makes when it is born. The lens just focused on that human being. Once the colours and the person are on the same wavelength (literally), the full force of their nature is brought into the light (literally).
Light Summer; quiet grace, the optimism of the flower, swirly, no black lines, more colour or less colour is up to you
Whether your colouring is lighter or darker matters some, depending more on what your eye likes to see if you were looking at a woman who looks like you, rather than any rules someone sets down. The overall darkness level of the painting is nice when it’s the same as yours.
Your inherent contrast level – how big is the colour jump between your own big colour blocks, eyes, skin, hair – matters a little, but I think people get too hung up on it, at the risk of looking like they wear the same thing every day. Your Colour Book is like a 16 lane highway. Narrowing yourself down too much is like only driving in the middle lane. I don’t see being too careful about this making much difference for the better. You probably look better and more interesting than you think you do, in more colours than you think. If you are more medium in overall contrast, then insert a medium block of any size. Spend time expanding yourself to use your colour-analysis swatches all the way to the ends of every strip. Get out of the middle lane and try an off-ramp. It will be good.
True Summer; says who, water has to be blue? It can be silver gray, hydrangea purple, light misty blue, and cloudy day dark gray, better at the same time.
The warmth or coolness of your position in your Season does not affect which colours look better in clothing that I’ve ever seen. I actually like when warms and cools are worn together by Neutral Season people. It looks interesting, imaginative, and artistic. It gets that “How did you know how to do that?” thing going.
Warm or cool side colouring within a Tone can play a role in cosmetics in some people. Cosmetics are less predictable because they sit on your face and mesh with your internal pigments to result in a mixed colour. The same lipstick doesn’t look identical on two women of the same Season. The Seasons are too broad for that.
This aspect of your colours needs a little experimenting and custom-choosing, one woman at a time. Your Season is your center of gravity, which doesn’t mean you can’t move around without tipping over. Women often start where they’re most comfortable. Within a year, they decide to try an old too-cool lipstick again before they give it away and wonder, “Why did I think this was so bad? Why was it planted in my head that it is dark and purple? It’s neither one.”
Soft Autumn paintings; more Autumn geometry on top, great boots, an excellent handbag, a warmer overall feeling; in both, beautiful use of texture; bottom, an interesting way to bring in blue, as a pendant on a necklace
I sometimes wonder if we look for too many rules. Is there a line where we want to be told every aspect of how to dress, or how we do anything, by someone else, so that we don’t have to take on any responsibility for it ourselves? I’m all for getting advice on hair colour and makeup from colour analysts and other advisors who have a critical approach to colour and our appearance.
But there’s a difference between asking, “What looks good ON me?” and “What looks good TO me?” I can talk lipstick into the ground. What I love way more is the woman who tuned me out awhile ago and is thinking, “What would MY eyes like to see?”
True Winter? No. Too safe. This is nowhere on True Winter.
True Winter? Still no. Too much outward energy. True Winter is the Earth, and often a person, turned inward. For many Winters, empathy is a learned quality. Pent up energy, surging outward, but still cold, is Bright Winter’s feeling.
True Winter. The whites are so white, they’re blue. The black is the pitch of night. The number of colours is 1, elevated and undeniable. The feeling is contained but not gentle. This energy form is hearing its own rhythm.
At what point we insert our own opinion differs for each of us and no answer is wrong. The women and men who read here are brilliant and very far from being doormats. The fashion industry has made easy prey of us all. I get confused too and ask my kids what looks good on me.
I just wonder if we women have gotten so used to being told what to do that we’ve learned to like it. It’s easy. It’s familiar. It’s the devil we know. It would tick everybody around us off royally if we announced that from now on, we will think, choose, decide, and undertake on our own. Problem is, it keeps us stuck in someone else’s vision.
For me, beauty exists when I recognize the natural world I live in. Maybe that’s why I don’t find a lot of little detail attractive on certain types of natural colouring. We don’t see small detail in the dark (Dark Autumn and Dark Winter). We don’t see intricate detail from a distance (the 3 Winters).
I would rather you have hair colour and makeup in opposition to every word I’ve ever written a million times over before you let someone else tell you what you think. Or worse, what you feel. My answers, anybody’s answers, to how you wear your colours can only take you so far because they are neither right or wrong. Ask yourself, “What feels good TO ME?” Only there can YOUR right answers be found.
Today, it is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to Terry Wildfong. Four years ago, my family drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Easter time, for me to be trained by Terry as a colour analyst. All five of us trooped into her home to be colour analyzed as part of my training. Though Terry doesn’t recall this, I remember her walking down the line looking at everyone’s colouring and quietly pronouncing, “We might have a couple of True Seasons here.” We had three.
With events in each of our lives, we disconnected for a few years. Last August, I bought a grey backdrop from her, which rekindled the conversation. We see each other often now as we select the colours of the drapes for our students. All of us can look back on our lives and mark certain great blessings that crossed our path. Terry is certainly among mine, and today, the dearest of friends. She is one of the kindest, most giving people that I have the privilege of having in my life. Terry also has the most intelligent, accurate, and discerning colour eye that I know.
Terry sees clients for colour analysis and trains students as colour analysts in the Sci\ART system. You can learn more about her services and contact her through her beautiful website at Your Natural Design.
I have always been interested in color. Looking back, I now see the progression of events that brought me to where I am today.
In 1983, I had my colors done by Color Me Beautiful and became very curious about the differences in seasons. Also, my love for working with makeup, lead me to join Mary Kay Cosmetics as a beauty consultant in 1993. During the next two years, I gained confidence in myself and honed my cosmetic application skills. I was then ready for the next obvious step and studied with Color Me a Season and became an analyst. Color analysis and cosmetics went hand-in-hand. I had the best of both worlds. I’d found my calling so to speak. Having the color knowledge, I started teaching my sister Mary Kay consultants about color, the differences in foundation colors, and how to achieve a natural look with the glamour products, and many other workshops.
In 2004, I found Kathryn Kalisz’s website at Sci\ART. After reading her book, “Understanding Your Color,” I realized that this was the piece that had been missing in the traditional four-seasonal color analysis approach. I was excited about learning something new. So I attended Sci\ART’s workshops, and worked with Kathryn during those visits. While there, she mentioned that she was overwhelmed with creating product and that she needed help teaching. I jumped at the chance and studied with her in 2006 and became her first certified instructor.
I had many happy years doing PCA appointments and teaching. Again, I had the best of both worlds. After Kathryn’s untimely death in 2010, I retired from the color business a year later. But it has left a large void in my life. I enjoyed meeting with clients and helping them understand and learn how to use their colors and teaching students the art of color analysis.
Recently, in working with my former student, Christine, I have a renewed excitement of the business. I now realize that I need to be a part of continuing Kathryn’s work and am meeting new clients and teaching new students.
Anyone who knows what personal colour analysis is, rather than what it was, lives with a growing sense of how well it works and how much it can improve your choices. The system divides human colouring into several groups, 12 in the one that I use. Since there are far more than 12 kinds of colouring once you get into the subdivisions, not every aspect of each group will apply equally to every person in it.
As you find your private garden and arrange the flowers and furniture to suit you, you ask some excellent questions. L sent me this,
I’ve been very happy with my Soft Summer colors and they’ve made a
huge difference overall. The issue is though, that my hair color is just so
much warmer than my palette that many of my neutrals don’t look that great.
I stopped coloring my hair a couple of years ago and it’s neutral medium
brown at the base and the lengths are quite warm, perhaps a light chestnut
color would be accurate with even lighter ends. This warm brown just
doesn’t look that wonderful with all the grayish-taupes which make up the
majority of my neutrals. As an interior designer I wouldn’t put these colors
next to each other, so it bothers me to do so when getting dressed.
According to old pics and my mother, this is my natural color. I had
forgotten that since I’ve been coloring my hair for over 30 years. I’m just
tired of trying to use toners and shampoos trying to cool it down.
I’ve been looking at other companies SS and Summer fans and found wonderful
browns in the CMAS Summer fan, and Lora Alexander’s (www.prettyyourworld.com) Soft Summer fan.
I was just curious about Sci-Art’s and your opinion about hair not being that
great with the palette since you cover it during the consultation.
Overall, I’ve discovered that I lean a bit warm within Soft Summer and I
really wish [the present palette] would give a wider range of neutral browns. I
own the Soft Autumn fan and I don’t need to go that warm, but just a bit
redder, rosier than my [present] fan.
Neutral to warm? Neutral to cool? Who knows? We’ll have to measure it somehow. That’s what the drapes do. Our eyes alone are not able without imposing some errors, because of how eyes and brains work. And because of the most misleading thing of all…assumptions.
Many of L’s comments could apply to all the Seasons fans. In any Tone, the likelihood of including even half the possible hair colours is less than 50/50 since hair colour is only moderately tied to Season. Why is that? My guess is that it’s because hair colour comes from melanin. Skin colour comes from melanin, hemoglobin, and carotene. Hair colours are an incomplete version of our truth, though what’s there is real and harmonized with us nonetheless. Just not detailed enough to do a PCA with. Hair also doesn’t change enough in response to colour to take accurate measurements. Skin tone does, therefore we use it to guide a colour analysis.
Soft Summer doesn’t tend to vary as widely as some but it certainly ranges in darkness, though it remains on the cool divide of neutrality. In all 12 Tones, eye colours seem to me to be more closely resembling the skin colours contained in the colour analyzed swatch palette, and yet they can appear very warm in persons of this Season. Test them and they still have the best energy in the cool-neutral Soft Summer drapes, not the warm-neutral Soft Autumn drapes. Why isn’t eye colour tightly linked to Season? Similar reasons to the hair, adding in the Rayleigh scattering that makes the sky blue, and other aspects of the physics and biology of an eyeball, such as how it’s pigmented, where its blood layer is located, how it reflects light because it’s in a water-based jelly, and many other factors.
Soft Summer eyes can be darker, lighter, warmer, cooler. As long you give them what they care about most: colours that are soft.
A warm-eyed Soft Summer must mean that though we see lots of warm colours of yellows, golds, and oranges in the eyes, these are present in their cool-neutral versions and are outnumbered by the greens, grays, and blues of Soft Summer. You would think the two Soft Seasons’ yellows and golds to be quite different until you try to harmonize a colour palette and realize how close they actually are.
Soft Summer is also a Season where the Neutral persons are often quite warm, on the 49/51 divide between the Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. An analyst needs to be on her toes and own a seriously good set of drapes. They say that our hair and eye colours are among our neutral colours but I agree it is so if you know the real colours of your eyes. If you match what you think you see, which is never what colour really is, you’ll go too warm for your skin and turn yourself a little dull and jaundiced.
Whoa now, that’s a Winter eye! Same colour family, cool-neutral hues, similar value level (lightness/darkness), but what’s different? That third colour dimension. And the type of heat, which appears more Spring-yellow than Autumn-gold. Whole different feeling.
How can True Winter or Light Summer be a redhead? Combine their yellow and their red, I would think. Every Season has both in their own versions. The hair tends not be orange, it’s redder than that. But both have yellows, nearly primary yellow in Winter’s case, which is why their green drape can look so yellow in some situations.
L. is colour savvy enough to sense the best solution, which is to move very slightly to a warmer place without losing the harmony. Soft Summer skin is happy to negotiate on warmth of hue as long as the colour stays soft and dusty, not intensely saturated. In my Sci\ART drapes, there are 3 drape colours, identical fabrics, that are used in 2 places. The Soft Summer and Dark Winter burgundy red test is the same. The Soft Summer face is not as flattered as it could be. The client notices that. Seeing the difference is a better learning opportunity than if I just babble on about colour dimensions, because the client sees that she needs to buy dark&dusty, not dark&densely pigmented, and that darkness is not her shopping challenge issue. Saturation is. It’s a strength of the drapes, not a weakness. Makes me now wonder if I should put a few ‘don’t go here or here’ among the Test and Luxury Drape sets that I assemble. But no, you saw those during your 12 Tone colour analysis session.
Ah, back to Soft Summer eyes, neutral but cool, and soft soft soft.
Only dyed hair is, or approaches, all one colour. Natural hair has many colours to make an overall tone. You might see one colour but the rest of us don’t. How it reflects light and shows its colours requires its true colours to reveal the correct tones. Soft Summer has a drop of gold in her hair, not yellow. She is not a great blonde. A True cool Season in even slightly warm clothing or makeup has yellowed, dingy colour. If it’s silver hair, it looks like smoker’s yellow-gray instead of their beautiful clean silvered gray. The foundation colour must be accurate, hard to find in today’s overly yellow base makeup selections.
Others don’t see the discrepancy in our hair as we ourselves might. We don’t see hair as an object of one colour like a wall or a pillow. You might not pair those objects but they’re not coloured with hemoglobin, carotene, and melanin. We sense that living things are not coloured in the same way as objects, and that man-made objects are not coloured in the same way as Nature’s inorganic objects. Despite the difference, we are able to find the harmonizing colours and the relationships between them, as us and our clothes.
We can bring colours into our harmony too. Because it’s applied to our face, makeup interacts with the pigments in the skin. A lipstick that swatches on paper as Light Summers might fall flat on some Light Summer and be lovely on some Light Springs. This is called Making The System Work For You. Clothes don’t change so much. No question, in the same way that the drapes have an effect on us and we have an effect right back on them, so do we change our clothing colours somewhat, just not to the extent of makeup because of how it’s used. A Bright Winter can change True Summer’s beautiful, cool yellow into a grayed piece of cloth that’s been washed too many times.
What kind of eye is this? Soft or saturated? Neutral? How Neutral? Spring’s yellow heat or Autumn’s gold? Of the 3 colour dimensions, which one matters above all? I have no idea. This is why I can’t look at photos and know Season. I have no comparisons and no ruler. All I can say is what I always do, whether I’m shown a photo or a real person in front of me: “Could be this or could be that.” If it’s a real person, I can say, “Where’s my drapes, lights, and gray background when I need ‘em?”
L. knows that I would never advise any woman to colour her hair ever. Her natural colour will always be her best colour. Sometimes we can decorate up a little and keep the balance, and that’s good too. My advice is to save herself the time and money and wear her natural hair. Once her hairs grays, she’ll only look better. Gray is what the Soft Summer does better than anybody because gray is inherently cool, as they are, and they start off with more of it in the natural colours that define them than the other colouring types.
If L.’s discerning eye prefers to warm a few of her clothing browns, excellent. She has to feel well in what she wears. There will be no repercussions as long as the harmony is maintained (more on that in Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book). There would be more substantial repercussions if she tried to alter her hair colour.
What about L.’s question about the colours present in the Sci\ART palettes? Without stirring up a nest of hornets that have finally gone to sleep, I’ll take a guess. Only a guess. Please don’t come after me on this, I have no valid opinion to offer so I won’t say much. I do not know what was in the head of the person who designed the palettes. I’ll take a shot: As I understand the history, at the time of her passing, Kathryn Kalisz was adjusting the Season palettes, as she probably did a few times over the years for different reasons. She deeply wanted people to feel comfort in their colours, but some of the feedback sometimes said that the colours were too much, probably more in the saturated Seasons. Part of the reason for the choices may have reflected this, though I doubt it was the bigger part of it in this particular instance.
There was (is) also the question of whether the Neutral Season colours should be closer to the parent Seasons, as Soft Summer to True Summer, or to the other Neutral with which they share the most important colour dimension, as Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. Is one right and one wrong? Does there need to be a hard rule? I would say No and No as long as the dimensions of each Season is respected, though I’d be thrilled to talk about it. Where does one cloud in colour space end and the next begin? Is there an overlap? How big is it, what’s the rule? How big should it be, different question? You have thousands of colours. Maybe one day, someone will make 4 Colour Books of swatches for each Tone, not just 1. Smart woman that L. is, she found other options that contained what she was looking for and she knew how to select those that applied to her.
This completes my long-winded way of saying that L. made great choices and decisions on her own Nothing I love better than a woman empowered to work through the many choices about her best self, in any context, and come out right. Discernment is a beautiful thing.
I thought I was an Autumn of some sort. I told anyone who’d listen. Nobody disagreed. Who wants to get into an argument that has nothing in it for them? Who knew different if they never saw me dressed as Summer, Winter, and Spring?
Compliments can tell us the truth of how we are seen by others or what others think we want to hear, but we can’t tell which. We train everyone around us to treat us in a certain way to maintain the relationship on an even keel. Nobody wants to deal with rough waters. The purpose of compliments is to make you feel good or better, from people who care about your feelings more than your looks, even if you told them not to – except for children. I reward mine for straight up truth because it’s such a difficult thing to give.
P. said something brilliant about magazines – I love this woman.
I read them because they told me how I could be fixed up. I knew I had to be fixed up because they told me so and gave me tips on how to do it. It never crossed my mind that they were wrong and I was ok. I was too busy being too much of this and not enough of that and didn’t look at all like…..
The top one looks chubby and out of focus. The lower photo is wearing the same amount of makeup, weighs the same, and is 2 years older. Who owns her life and her choices? Who is in control? Who’s dulling herself down and playing it safe? Where is the impact? Which one made any impression? You answered these 5 questions within 2 seconds of reading them.
Within 4 seconds of meeting me, you’ve decided if I appear to be worth my fee. Based on what I look like, our whole relationship will be influenced by how my appearance feels in that 4 seconds. Internally, you hear, “I’m not getting a good feeling here. How committed am I to this?”, or, “This person, this place, this activity, they make sense together. I’m open to seeing what happens.” We want people to be receptive to us, and us to them, not closed down. Why not just get to the good stuff?
Which woman would garner more trust? more money? In the assault of information and imagery we live in, we are immune to the word empowered. But which woman is has stepped into and claimed her power?
Folks think I’m trying to decide their Seasons when we first meet. That’s the last thing I’m doing or any analyst should do. I used to, in the beginning. The client comes in, you visit, you think, “You look like a Winter.” Then the black drape goes on, and you think, “Uh-oh. Problem. Not Winter. Am I going to be able to pull this all together?” And you begin subtly shifting the facts, adjusting what you see, rearranging the priorities of the correct process, to suit a flawed theory that was based on nothing real – because nothing about colour is real until our eyes get context and comparison. What I am thinking about is, ‘How can I fit into your life in ways that you don’t know about yet?”
I spoke with a True Winter. She tried to pare what matters to her down to one word. Fairness. It impressed me so much that she knew herself with such clarity. The True Winters I know will go after hypocrisy like heat-seeking missiles and they pull no punches in pointing it out. They stick up for the underdog. They hate that it’s the popular kids with the good grades and the big money clothes and toys that are the worst bullies, not the kids with the tattoos who skip class and sneak a smoke at noon, and the teachers don’t see it.
I thought about my one word, about what matters to me above all else. Fame, money, and the mainstream don’t excite me. I think the word is excellence but I have to think on it some more. This is a very good exercise. Once you know it and dedicate yourself to never compromising that one thing about yourself, life opens up more.
me on the left with the blonde highlights that cost me money and time for more years than I want to think about
A Dark Winter is blonde right now. She’s sort of buying the idea of dark hair to go with her black-brown eyes but it’s a big leap after 20 years of yellow hair. You can’t out-argue Winter. They believe what their own eyes see. They’re as hard on themselves as they are on everyone else. Show them pictures of other Winters. They will live by the same rules that they apply to others. If she’d tell a friend that blonde isn’t the best choice, she’ll walk that talk herself.
Autumn seldom has far to move. She’s the one woman who usually has her main group figured out if she knows about Seasons at all. She tends not to carry one event or interaction into another. It’s hair, nothing more or less.
still too warm but better, more real, more knowable, more see-able
Spring is an optimist. They see it, it works, “I get it.”, and they’re off and running. Every picture you get is cuter, happier, and prettier.
Once she sees herself in her own colours, Light Summer laughs and cries to release the relief. Her skin can breathe and relax and so does she. Her skin can go from dry and lined back to moist and plump just by changing her blouse! Adjustments are usually small, because blonde highlights and silvering hair are such a natural fit on this natural colouring. Hair may be too blonde and need some cooling off, or may be too golden blonde and need to be switched to beige blonde.
next to my (Dark Autumn) Dad, I appear to be not in focus, as if I’m not fully present or positioned further back than he is, because our visual system expects closer things to be clearer
True Summer’s strong sense of other people has her asking all her friends to be sure the result is right. She is very willing to believe what the eyes of others see. If you’ll drape anyone twice, it will be a True Summer. God, but she’s gorgeous once her hair silvers. The deep rose petal cheek and lip colours, the blue-green lake eyes, the dangling silver earrings, she’s the woman who runs the Children’s Hospital Charity Gala every year.
The Soft Seasons’ most likely adjustment will be to cool the hair colour (it’s too tawny) or darken it (it’s too yellow). They’re usually close and they’ve worn every colour anyhow. The wrong hair colour is magnified though, because our visual system will take two adjacent colours that are close and make the differences between them seem bigger than they are. Masters at the subtlety that these Seasons excel in visually, the original whispers speak louder than words gestalt, this is an easy fix for them. What’s harder is shutting down their heads when someone tells them blonde was better (because they’re comparing her to the media-packaged ideal). Some may read this and see me as a better blonde. That’s OK, there’s no such thing as wrong taste.
I always get the feeling from this photo that my dog, Jesse, is more connected to my real colouring than my own clothing choices; colour analysis is so NOT about what you spend, it’s about what you choose among items that all cost the same
Don’t wear makeup for the right reasons. If the makeup counter is scary, and believe me, the sales staff is often scary to me, then that’s the wrong reasons. Decline having your colours analyzed, but for the right reasons. If it feels too vain, you missed the boat a little. That’s not really the point. It’s about not placing inadvertent barriers or sending out wrong signals about who you are. When we have so little time to know one another, what matters is that we’re honest.
still finding my way, still not sure, which you can see instantly from my face; at times, my hair went too dark or it went too red; I couldn’t see myself well but I forced myself to try; between this and the one above, which is better? which woman is fully in the room? this is a very different eye colour from the first picture
The receptionist in Business XYZ office has blonde highlights, turquoise eyeliner. I can tell something doesn’t ring true but I have stuff to go do. I’m not sure who she truly is. Through the disguise, like me in candy lips or bubblegum perfume that would be in the way, though perfectly real and right on someone else, I can’t get a read on her. I’m not going to share anything about me if I can help it. I’m guarded and distracted. I adjust myself to not give anything away. The interaction is stunted and just gets the payment done so I can leave. My response to her is flat. We will not have been memorable to one another. Tomorrow, I won’t know her name. She’ll be, ‘the one who sits far from the door with the blue eye makeup’. I’ll be, “who? did she come in before lunch or after?”
Next time we meet, she has let her blue-gray hair come in and wears silver gray eyeliner. Whole different deal. I tell her that her hair is awesome, she asks after my kids, and I’m happy to share. The next day, I tell a client how great her hair is. My awareness of her is focused and friendly. We instantly move to a higher level. Communication is cleaner. Less stuff is taken personally because you get more reliable human data on how it’s intended.
Pat said the most meaningful thing anyone could have in response to the drape picture (previous post), “You keep moving forward.” For me, it’s that. Living to my highest potential, keeping my 80 year old self pleased with me. Pat and I are friends, we have sat in the same room together, and I really felt seen by her words. That feels good to humans. It’s very authentic and moving to be accepted for our truth, as we really are. Colour analysis puts you in touch with that possibility, with every person in your life.
I wrote this back in The Emmas Are True Springs Part 2.
Besides covering grey, I can’t think of a time when chemistry improves base hair colour from what Nature gives us. That’s the colour we had at 25, before we darkened with maturity. It’s the most believable, flattering, low maintenance colour we can wear.
I don’t agree with the first sentence, or how I said it. I am thankful that it was pointed out to me. I still agree with the second sentence, having not been given better evidence to the contrary. Like this entire website, I await and welcome all evidence to the contrary of anything I write to help me find truth. Maybe that why Winters are so often colour analysts, because we’re so convinced about our own judgments. Not necessarily a good thing but very willing to change my mind.
Kate* saw two issues with my words:
1. Improvement? Says who?
2. 25? Why 25?
For some women, the result of a colour analysis doesn’t come as a big surprise. It didn’t for Kate. She had figured it out herself and just needed to join the ends on her entire palette by understanding what all of her colours and her colouring have in common. As all women with their natural hair colour, the road to wearing her colours and bringing the whole picture together will be shorter and easier.
When hair colour needs adjusting, as it did for me, the road gets longer. There’s this crazy thing going on where your brain can’t believe what your eyes just saw, you’re pretty sure you look like a clown in the makeup, being a Winter, you’re ignoring what everybody around you says, you know You best, and after all, your colourist is a colour expert, it can’t be, it can’t be, and yet, there is your phone in your hand with your finger dialing the hair salon before you’re out of the colour analyst’s driveway. Your colourist fits you in, miraculously gets the colour right the first time, but you can’t see that either yet, you’re questioning the whole deal now. Your husband is trying to help, he sees your Feng Shui is in a mess, but he can’t remember the words Feng Shui, he knows it’s not Shih Tzu because he said that one time and you laughed at him for days, so he tries again, “Don’t let your hair screw up your Shit Zing, you look gorgeous to me.”, and you want to drive your fingers into his eyes and rip off his nose. Useless, he’s just useless. You ask your friends even though you know there’s an element of performing for each other, which as a Winter, you resist, but such are life and compliments. They’re swept up in making you feel better, I could go on for pages because this does go on for months, do you send your analyst an email? will she be pissed? she might as well be because you sure are, so you see, it’s easier to start off with easy hair.
Meeting a Soft Summer who recognizes the perfection and specialness of her inherently dusty hair colour is always such a pleasure. This hair is as special as Bright Season hair in being misunderstood, under-appreciated, and difficult to get right from a bottle. Without that dusty quality in the hair, the harmony of the whole image is elusive. Kate’s hair had a few silver strands. Not only were they hard to see, once you did notice them, they absolutely added to the perfection of her own colouring, as if she’d reached a higher level of her colours, not just Lavender Smoke, but Lavender Silver Smoke.
Kate said to me,
It feels like everything you say flows organically/logically from the Sci/Art system, except these conclusions about grey/silver hair, and that your best base colour is when you were 25. I know you state in different ways that our nature-given colouring is never less than perfect, the genetic paint box is the same for skin, hair and eyes. That makes total sense to me – but seems to be contradicted by a statement that the hair colour we had at 25 is the most perfect? How can that be? The genetic coding that determines our paint box also determines our hair silvering pattern/tone/rate, and as well, the softening of our skin colour as we age, no? So, provided our hair and we are healthy, and the colour is not artificially affected by chlorine/sun/ hot iron damage etc, would not our current natural hair colour at whatever age, truly be our most perfect hair colour for us? I think it’s the casual/automatic assumption that covering grey is an improvement, as a fact, that is the most problematic for me. If we could see how young many people are when get silvers, we really would lose that association.
It’s important to me to be exact in the words I choose. In no way do I believe that covering gray is always:
A. More flattering – Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Many (like me) are not ready for partial gray because the white hair is obvious on the dark background. Transitions are not always easy. On lighter heads, the white hair virtually disappears and hair colour would gain the woman nothing. To my eye, it absolutely does look younger and more exciting to have the right hair colour on about half the women who colour. On the other half, no colour, even their own at 25, would look better on them than gray.
B. Necessary – My statement above, “Besides covering gray, I can’t think of a time when chemistry improves base hair colour from what Nature gave us…” should be followed by, “…if you don’t want gray”. In that case, chemical colour is an improvement on base hair colour, as in the case of me, because it’s getting me something I want. My situation is therefore improved, if not my hair’s colour.
Summers gray very easily. But nothing applies equally to all women, not even within a Season. Women need advice they can use because they’re going to colour their hair anyhow. I sure am, whether my natural hair colour is theoretically perfect for my genetic colouring or not. I lift my face with makeup and I’m going to lift my hair. I can fully agree that it should not matter to me, that I should welcome the gray, and that many real people gray quite early in life. But the fact is that I am not willing to put my money where my mouth is on that topic. I should be glad to have one lipstick when women in Africa don’t have food. Yes, but I don’t live in Africa. I buy a box of $5.99 colour and invest 20 minutes every few weeks. The payoff outweighs the inputs. If 3 hours and $120 every month were my only option, I’d rethink it, I promise you.
I may not be the right person to talk about the silvering of hair. There are topics about which I feel more strongly. On hair colour, whatever rings your bell as long as it’s a good colour for you. If I ever sound defensive, the women I’m (over)reacting for are those for whom silver hair, or silver in hair, would not be the best choice. For instance, the woman who had children in her 40s and is tired of being asked if she’s their grandmother. To her, leaving her hair silver is someone else’s crusade. To the woman who had an illness after which her hair came back gray/silver, who felt that she’s missed a decade of her life in illness, silver hair makes her feel like she’s missed two. When life spins you too hard, hair colour, like tattoos, is a way of saying, “This one thing, this one part of my own flesh, I still control.”
Many of our choices are redirected from another problem. A cat is ticked at the stray that gets into the garbage Tuesday nights, so he attacks the other cat = redirected aggression. A person taking it out on you because they’re having a major Bad Hair Day has nothing to do with you. They’re redirecting aggression. A woman colouring her hair because illness stole part of her life isn’t making a social statement about Colour Is BetterYoungerPrettierSexier Than Silver. She’s trying to get back some time. Redirection of energy towards distant and seemingly disconnected outcomes consumes huge behaviour resources, the intention as much a mystery to the redirector as the redirectee. I guess this is what psychologists do all day. It’s not just appearance, it’s healing.
A colour analyst sees people closer to undisguised reality than many professions. You just never know someone else’s story. How much of it they want to share is their business but there is always a story, and often it’s a truly hard and heartbreaking one. Humans are vulnerable enough and carry around enough hurt. Sometimes laying the gray hair card on the table along with all the others is one card too many. I’m not defensive of my own hair colour, but the discussion does seem to spark some need to protect all these people I see. And yet, I know that nobody is even remotely attacking them. Quite the opposite.
There are online groups most of them are only too aware of their view of grey hair not too long ago, and besides, they just want women to do what makes them happy. The banding-together/sense of sisterhood comes about not because they think their way is best /only way, but rather because of the sense of being judged by society / many women who colour.
I try to speak to all sorts of women and I try to keep it real-world, no pretty or ugly, no right or wrong. I don’t judge or control your appearance, I just want you to choose from many options demanding equal time and money and be able to pick out those that will really help you.
Anna* is a True Summer in her late 30s with fine hair, a spot on her face that won’t go away, weight that won’t move despite all the work at the gym, trouble sleeping, a recent divorce, and a personal commitment to live up to her greatest potential. To run her company and appear in front of young women, to meet men, to feel like a powerful leader, she feels better with coloured hair. Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter, she looks younger, more vital, and much stronger. On that woman at that stage of her life, her life will not change for the better with thin, white hair. She’ll age visibly and she’ll age mentally. I wonder if hair can lose colour before skin. It’s only coloured by melanin, not hemoglobin or carotene. Anna’s skin is not a day over how our culture perceives 30.
June* is a True Summer with silver hair. It’s magnificent. She is magnificent with it. She’d be out of her mind to come near it with hair colour.
It’s a choice. I so often come back to this great, great question Darren asked: What is it that you want to communicate and to whom? That’s where your answer lies.
Georgette* is 18 with some early graying. Should she have the moral fiber to just wear her real hair colour, despite having heard “What a shame” once too many times, which is to say, once? 18 is shaky enough. If I were Mom and she wanted to colour it, I’d drive her to the store and help pick the colour.
No firm basis, except thinking it looks good on most women. Once dye came along, this 25 colour is often the last looked one that looked just right on most heads. It is a time when we are shown our custom-colour. Sure, our silver is our custom-colour as well, but now we circle back to the top. When women show me their grad photos, I love the colour I see. If I’m being asked for hair colour advice, I request the grad photo, and there are the hue, value, and chroma for your head. It is a specific and more interesting colour, not ‘medium to dark ash brown’. It’s a colour that stylists can use to get that woman right and happy, not wrong and even older looking.
Kate said so well, that
Any diminishing in vitality with silver hair is a perception in the eye of the beholder, driven by society. I get that many women feel differently from me, that it is a personal choice, that lots of women will colour and therefore direction on that is good, and I cherish that each woman has the choice… just so long as it’s not a choice driven by fear, to quote you about not using makeup.
To me, accuracy requires the word silver instead of grey, because each hair that loses pigment is silver/white/colourless, so the overall colour we see on the head depends on the colour(s) of the still-pigmented hairs, and % of silver. Society uses grey for everyone, but that is so not correct. I, for example will never be literally grey, as I don’t have the black hair needed to add to the mix to make grey.
Q: I am curious what happens when silver sisters take off that grey cap at the end – is there a sense that their hair doesn’t belong, the same as many women with chemically-altered hair experience?
A: I wouldn’t say that silver haired women need to adjust after the cap comes off. They adjusted long ago. They’re just looking at a picture they’re used to. Even on True Autumns, the gray is stunning against the warmer clothes. Stunning and strong and interesting. I love these unexpected contrasts and comparisons. They are visually so inspiring.
Q: Once hair begins to silver, do the grays of the palette become better neutrals in clothing, even replacing black for those whose palette included it?
A: Depends on the person and the colour of gray. What colour are the eyes? What type of gray is the hair? A Dark Season with a strong iron gray hair and black eyes remains striking in black, with makeup that looks better than ever. Every feature is like a rhinestone. A Winter with a lighter, softer gray hair may find black too dark. She is more regal, yet still austere, in sharp gray, wearing black in smaller areas if her eyes appear black. At any age, black does define, refine, and outline the colouring and features of Winters, it’s part of how you came to be Winter in the first place, but the amount of it you wear will vary by the woman, even inside a Tone.
For the other groups of natural colouring (Seasons, Tones), for everybody, wearing your hair colour looks good. It looks organized and connected. Your clothing makes perfect sense on you. It feels good to look at. Wear more gray. Should it replace your taupes or beiges? Again, it depends. A Light Spring with creamy silver beige hair still look gorgeous in her ivory and milky peach beige.
In beauty, even within a Tone, there is no one-size-fits-all. If there were, it would mean that there are 12 types of women. Nope.
As you leave your personal colour analysis, you have a gorgeous little booklet that contains 65 colours that harmonize to perfection with the colours in you.
You head straight for your favourite clothing store. Within 10 minutes of being there, you notice that matching those swatches to real clothes isn’t quite so straightforward. Is close enough good enough? It wasn’t when you were sitting in front of the analyst’s mirror.
The harder you try to match those swatches to clothing, the harder it all gets. Maybe there’s another way to go about this. Forget about the little swatches. Look at the entire palette all at once. That’s how you look to others, all your blues, reds, yellows, browns, whites, all churned together at once.
One of the greatest gifts in my life, one that humbles me because I feel I did nothing to earn it, is the woman who trained me. Four years later and I’m still learning so much from her. She is an amazing colour analyst. Terry took a break from PCA. She’ll soon be seeing colour appointments and training again (in Western Michigan). You’ll meet her in an upcoming post. She showed me this most excellent way of appointing a colour to its Tone or Season.
>> Fan the Colour Book all out.
>> Lay it on the fabric.
>> Better yet, look around the store or your closet for two items in similar colours. Even once you get practice at this, without a comparison, our visual system just hangs there, thinking, “So? I’m waiting for your next move here.” Give it a comparison, any comparison, and it gets (gets both in the senses of ‘to understand’ and ‘to fetch’) what you want. We have no idea what a colour is anywhere, in a fabric, in an eye, or in a person’s face, how cool, how dark, how anything, until we compare it to something. If you happened to compare the colours of a face to a calibrated colour ruler, why, now you have a Personal Colour Analysis worthy of the capitals.
All those salespeople who feel they have enough experience to match your foundation by eye, who can “just tell by looking at you”, are the last folks I’d purchase from. That’s not because I don’t trust them from a theoretical POV, even though I don’t. It’s because I’ve wasted more $$ on those cosmetic purchases than any other. They may be the North American Head of Training for Whatever, doesn’t matter. May have more experience but they have the same eyes as everybody else. I’d buy from the new person who would feel better if she tried a few to compare. The more experience a colour analyst has, the more they’ll insist that you have a seat in front of the mirror and watch some drapes change.
Let these random thoughts float through your head:
>> Do these two things belong together, even if the exact colour swatch isn’t there? Often, it won’t be. Why not? Because you have many blues. If the book included them all, there would be no space to show you your span of greens. Or reds.
>> Does the palette look like more than the fabric, as if the swatches are separating from the fabric, or the reverse, where the palette looks dull and easy to ignore on that fabric colour? They should bring out the best and the most in each other. The eye should feel rest and ease, aware of both palette and fabric equally and happily.
We’re looking at a True Autumn 12-Tone Colour Book (from www.truecolour.com.au) on Light Spring fabric. Even though neither the swatch nor fabric colours are exactly as they appear to an eye, you can see that the Autumn colours are rendering the fabric to might-as-well-not-even-be-there. Overpowering clothes do that to us. As you see, they are not bringing out the best in each other. The swatches are separate, pulling up off the fabric, not blending comfortably with it.
>> Look at the reds. Could you make some beautiful lipstick combinations?
These swatches come from the Light Spring book. Again, the fabric in the photo is far more grayed than it really is. Still, they belong. They feel good on the fabric. The lipsticks work, both warm and cool options. Did you feel yourself relax when your eyes moved from the upper photo to this one?
>> Find the oddest, most extreme colours for that Tone. Do they work well with the fabric colour or would you never wear them together? When the harmony is right, there are no unpleasant combinations.
>> Are the neutral beiges/whites/taupes/grays really enhanced or boring? Or changed in some way, like greeny?
These are Light Summer swatches on that Light Spring fabric. Me, I wouldn’t wear the mauve taupe with the yellow green fabric, and it’s way more yellow green in real life.
>> Look for the complementary colours to the fabric colour. The pairs should be downright exciting.
>> Make some colour schemes. Monochromatic, analogous, contrasting. It should be easy.
Light Summer swatches again on Light Spring fabric. Close but no bell ringing. Those greens aren’t great together. That’s not a monochromatic scheme that works.
Are you thinking, “There are no right or wrong answers here. How am I supposed to know if I got it right?” How very astute of you. In French, they say, “Les gouts et les couleurs, ca ne se discute pas.” It means, “There’s no accounting for tastes or colours. Let’s talk about something else. How about religion or politics?”
It means that you can’t be wrong. And from there, you will settle in and get better. If you know your Season and have a coordinated closet, practice seeing harmony there before taking it into stores.
Beauty and belonging are where your eye sees them. Do you know what a split complementary colour scheme is? It begins with the usual red-green, blue-orange, or purple-yellow pair and shifts one of them just a little on the colour wheel. Much more interesting, dimensional, and stimulating than the straight red-green formula.
From your colouring to your Munsell positions on the 3 colour scales to your Tone’s book of swatches, you create your very own piece of art.
Art is partly a formula. Without some feeling, individuality, or expression, it just stays a formula. That’s where you come in.
We have two themes in this article. One is to assemble outfits that are ‘off-Season’. It’s easy to find clothing in our 12 Tone palettes at certain times of year and near impossible at other times. The second is to introduce a new style voice, since I wonder if my outfits are a little repetitive.
My daughter, Ally, has more style in her little finger than I’ll find in my whole life. She’s Kibbe-innocent but can see whether lines match people instantly. Today’s Polyvores are from her perspective. I asked her to keep in mind that she’s dressing women of all ages, to which she replied, “No woman of any age needs to wear granny clothes and I’m not picking those.” Fair enough.
Ally’s also here to break a few rules. In her charming 17 year old way, she asked, “Why does anyone have to do what you say?” Point taken. Nobody does. You’ll find colours and styles you might not normally see.
Light Summer in December
True Summer in October
Any one piece may not be perfect. But the whole thing together works. As S., the student who arrives this week for the training course, so aptly pointed out, the word ‘match’ isn’t always appropriate. I use it too often. Whether your clothes match the swatches in your palettes, whether your lipstick matches your red belt, whether your sweater matches your hair – it doesn’t really matter so much. They need not be identical colours. They need only look like they live in the same harmonic field relative to the the whole composition.
The idea is to use colour to create a vision that is cohesive. All the elements are working together and with you. Everything has a good reason for being there. That’s how we look at paintings, landscapes, and other people. We don’t dissect the saturation of their blouse. So the vest above is on the dark side. So the pink backpack could be pinker. In the big picture, I’m not sure it would make an important difference. The parts are finding enough in common to stay together. Not unlike marriage, or any other relationship.
True Autumn in April
Yes, it really is this cold here in April.
It strikes me that we’re still just making Polyvores. This may answer part of our purpose, which is, how to wear muted, warm colours when everyone else looks like an Easter basket.
The other part of the question is, where do I go to find my colours in April when the stores are full of coloured candy floss?
- shop wider; I’ve actually begun buying things I find on Polyvore. As eBay is the world’s biggest yard sale, Polyvore is the world’s biggest shopping mall right in my house.
- buy online, always risky, but many allow free returns.
- shop all year round for all year round; within 6 months of your PCA, once it’s caught up with you, or you with it, you will keep most of your choices for years, and you’ll spend more per item because you’ll know it looks right and will work with the rest of your closet
True Winter in September (or March)
Any of us who knows both her colours and her body line finds shopping nearly as easy as it used to be. There’s no one-stop-shop any longer. We buy Christmas outfits in July, we are always looking. Other than True Winter and Soft Autumn, I don’t really dedicated stores for colours. Even for those groups, you’ve only got their (limited) design lines to select from.
By request, the Bright Spring Dramatic Classic
Dramatic Classic, where pouffy becomes maternity or Jack Sparrow. A rounded edge is Peter Pan.
What’s interesting here is that the Bright Seasons tend to have a lot of sweetness in the personality. I’ve heard them called pushovers but that comes from someone who’s only working from a traditional, narrow, male-based definition. Power wears many hats. These people are not mean, abrupt, rude, or rough. As the Bright Spring is a Spring, she will take things to heart. You can’t throw words around that you don’t mean. Being with her is an exercise in being happier and more gentle.
Dramatic Classic is not sweet in the traditional sense either. If anything, it’s a little sharp. If you began with the absolute average woman, DC isn’t closer to being the average child. It’s closer to being the absolute average man.
The intersection of the two is that Bright Spring’s colours and DC’s lines are both very clean. No extras, no gadgets, no fuzzy, no fluff. If you drew the outline, the edges would be sharp, no question where one thing ends and the next begins. Nothing fades into anything else. Absence of blur effect, noise reduction up.
I gave Ally a few colour words – lively, clean, same or opposite colours, a little bit of Winter, and the shape words – sleek, expensive, close, upside-down triangle or straight lines, and then just asked her to dress me. She didn’t read the book because we get too rigid about rules and end up in costumes. Her job was to pull together an overall effect.
Black is small, shiny, on the bottom half, with other elements that warm up the overall look. If black is in the top half, it takes up small surface area, it’s opened up like lace or pointelle, or there’s lots of skin.
Every item need not be sunny, there’s Winter here. But each vignette should say bright, alive, warm, crisp.
Something delicate really looks good. Crispness near the face looks good, it need not be especially yellow. Bulk with angularity looks clunky or spiky. Fine, thin crispness is good, like icicles.
Smooth, geometric, shiny, new, expensive – all work with the pearls, in a chunkier setting. The pearls are fine because the edges are defined, as feathers would not be. Those long dangling earrings, some DC’s might disappear them, but on a Bright Spring DC, they’d be great. The sharpness offsets the small size.
Hearts are an inverted triangle shape, as are teardrops, both great on Spring and DC.
The whole earring that sprays up – unless you know different stores than me, you’d never wear earrings. Chunky smooth pieces that sit close to the ear and have a solid presence on the ear lobe are good.
Mixed metals are good here when they’re shiny.
No platforms on shoes. Frankensteinish.
I normally would never wear a bow, but the asymmetric position of it is good. I like the design on that sweater, interesting with the blouse. One of those excellent combinations that nobody could do like Bright Spring.
I hope that you go to the site and make these images bigger. There are some really nice things here.
Your eyes do not deceive you. The wonderful, the fabulous Nikki Bogardus is traveling once again.
Dates are posted under Colour Travels in the column to the right.
The West coast will fill up fast. Many have been waiting for this one.
Contact Nikki for appts and info through her website at www.mycolorrx.com
The first draft of the Training Guide came back from my wonderful editor. Iryna, my equally wonderful book formatter, is waiting to start but I still have some work to do. I’ve been keeping my head down and not attending to posting articles and answering comments as I should. My apologies for that.
I should sound more excited because I am. I’m really looking forward to these training events – maybe especially the part where we put our feet up at the end of each day, have a glass of wine, and share some informal conversation. That and going across the street (from the hotel in London ON) to swatch makeup at Sephora. It’s going to be good.
I’m not going to talk much today. Many have asked for the 12 Colour Equations from the book, Return to Your Natural Colours (linked over in the right column) to be posted all in one place. Here, they be. Any that have appeared previously have a link to that article posted with the title. Explanations are in the articles and/or the book itself.
A reminder that these palettes went through Photoshop’s colour model, my computer, the servers, and your computer before you saw them. At each step, they changed a little. No two readers are seeing the same thing. Don’t use them to buy clothes or makeup. Use them as comparison with the eleven others. To choose your colours and know your true darkness range, use your 12 Tone swatch book. Nothing else is calibrated right.
Use them to notice how my taste prefers to see neutral colours used, the overall degree of colourfulness, the use of complementary colours (to each other and to the skin undertone), and the gradual or sharp flow between colours. The geometric figures make it hard to impossible to illustrate watercolour diffusions between colour blocks, so for that, you need to read the book or other sections of this website.
If you see light icy gray, feel free to sub in diamond and platinum, certainly neutrals for you. These also can be used in place of white to set the high contrast range with black.
Very purple, this Tone. Not much red, but a lot of pink, fuchsia, and purple. No. 5′s purple is also a near neutral colour for True Winter, more magnificent than black against the skin tone.
In the article Colour Equations Dark Winter.
Easy one. Shoot the sat up to 98-100%. Small areas of complementary colours. Something has to be happy, which means a little random (repetitive=predictable=work=Autumn)
, but not too happy. If it gets too happy, rein it in. Move it darker. Make the pattern repeating. Bright Winter is the “Life is a party. So, how come I’m not having fun?” paradox.
Something has to be delicate too. Add significant jewels profusely. Jewelry is your normal.
And shiny shoes and purses. Super shiny is also your normal.
The original is darker and more saturated in Photoshop. They lose when they’re uploaded. As dark as the belt inset in #1 feels right.
In the article Dark Autumn CE and Apparel.
In the article Light And True Spring Neutral Colours at the Office and CE.
True Spring is a (2 colour + 1 neutral) or (2 neutrals + 1 colour) look. Actually, that’s probably everyone’s best way to use neutrals, but when you wear the 2 colour, they can both be equally sized if you choose (others might use 1 large and 1 smaller block), and they can be complementary or at least quite different colours (others would wear colours of the same family or neighbours on the colour wheel). When you wear the 1 colour look, make it a bright one, not one of the gentler ones.
In the article Light And True Spring Neutral Colours at the Office and CE.
Not happy with that one, it uploaded at the very low end of the saturation possibility. The bigger problem is that it looks too warm. True Summer hinges on absolute coolness. Try again to give a better sense of the darkness and saturation levels. Darn, now Soft Summer looks too light. It’s all about comparison.
In the article Light Summer CE and Being Not Pale.
Also in the book RTYNC, I write an equation called Undertone Colour for each of the 12 Tones that describes how I see my version of the 12 undertones happening. The undertones are shown in the top right corner of the 12 colour layout pages. Below is a graphic that shows the colours I saw as the building blocks of those undertone equations.
To be really clear, I am not a colour mixing expert. This is only how I figure it in my head and much of it is probably incorrect. You gotta start somewhere. This colour chart is a good guide to the colours referenced.
Blue = French Ultramarine
Red = True Red to Alizarin Crimson
Blue = Cobalt Blue
Pink = Rose Madder Genuine looks right. In the photo below, I used Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue, and some yellow to make the colour at 6 o’clock, True Summer.
Gray = is gray really added? As a product of black in pigments, a single drop can take over a mixture. Is the muting of the Tone done with complements alone to preserve the blue-pink undertone? I don’t know. In the colour circle below, no black was used, even for the Winters.
Yellow – the daffodil, the buttercup.
Gold = Raw Sienna to Gold Ochre.
Practicing The Undertones
A year ago, when I was thinking about the Undertones for the book, I did this. The white page at the top gives you a white balance.
I have many watercolours. If I had one straight that felt right, I used it, though it could easily have been made from the neighbour colours.
True Winter: Winsor Violet + Ultramarine Blue.
Dark Winter: Crimson Lake + Sepia.
Bright Winter: Permanent Red + Cadmium Yellow.
True Summer: Cobalt Blue + Permanent Rose + Spring yellow.
Light Summer: Cerulean Blue.
Soft Summer: True Summer’s mixture + Sepia.
True Spring: A mixture of Cadmium Yellow, quite warm on its own + Lemon Yellow hue.
Light Spring: Permanent Rose + Spring yellow + trace of Cobalt Blue.
Bright Spring: Permanent Rose.
True Autumn: Burnt Sienna.
Soft Autumn: True Summer + Yellow Ochre. I like yellow ochre, it has a thickness and opacity that reminds of a strong Soft Autumn visual I have, which is fudge.
Dark Autumn: Brown Madder (and maybe some red or blue, I don’t recall)
Answer: No. Never. They can appear to conflict until your colours are correctly analyzed.
I get 3 or 4 emails each month about this. So let’s talk about it, framed around pieces of conversations with real women. It’s the practical application of my digression in the earlier post, How To Match Foundation.
Palette and swatch in this post always refer to colours found within your particular group of colours in the 12 Tone system of colour analysis developed by Kathryn Kalisz. Some of the Tones or Seasons may have similar or identical names with other companies but if their origin isn’t Sci\ART, their colour collections are different. I don’t know how other organizations developed their palettes, what their colours are, or what the desired outcome of their PCA process is. It’s not my place to answer questions about them.
The eye photos in this post are just lovely pictures. They are not textbook examples of the words or the ideas.
If hair/eye colours are not in the palette
I am a Bright Spring with dark brown eyes, dark brown hair, and light skin.
Yes, Spring under Winter influence is often brown eyed, from a glowy topaz jewel yellow to black brown. Many persons of Asian and Celtic origin have this colouring of darkness in hair and eyes and lightness and brightness in skin.
Since this is predominantly Spring, not Winter, the person is sometimes not conspicuously contrasting, though they certainly can be. A brown eye with light skin or hair is fairly contrasting in itself. Sometimes, the Bright Spring eye is so light brown that it’s yellow, like a wolf. It’s quite a thing to see. Or to be, I would think.
not this, but notice the coat colours and the eye-coat harmony, animals are just like us,
The color of my veins, lips, and cheeks are all in my color swatches and flatter me. However, the brown in my eyes and my hair is not in my color swatches and does not flatter me when I wear clothes of that color. How can I wear brown as an eye and hair color but not anywhere else without looking washed out?
You’re wearing the colour you think you see, which is never what colour is. Here is one reason for why it’s harder to figure for some Tones.
There is variation in hair and eye colour in most Seasons, but nowhere more than True Winter and the Brights. I’m not sure of the answer from a genetic perspective. I don’t think anyone can answer the magic of how harmony happens in spite what our eyes think they see. Maybe the mysteries should remain mysteries.
The way I reason it is that we don’t know the exact pigments that make up our hair and eyes. If I showed you 20 brown eyes, could you pick out your own? Would you pick the same brown as your friends would choose? Would you pick the same browns, yellows, oranges, and other colours, that the drapes (consistent with the Sci\ART colour calibrations) identify within your colouring? Probably not, on any count. We do not know which colours make up our final colours until one is draped. If you knew and wore the ingredients that go into your total hair and eye colours, you’d be utterly flattered.
Bright Spring has many yellows, beer and clear cider colours. When they have dark hair, it’s usually root beer and black tea. It is never coffee, which only looks heavy and thick on a colouring that is as far from those as you can get. Lighter brown hair is herbal tea, not orangey-muted-gold, not velvety-dense-brown. It might look ash brown or medium brown but it isn’t. It is clear. While clear means high chroma, and transparency is not a quality by which we define colour (because colour can be bright or soft and still see-through), this hair is like coloured cellophane.
People with green, blue and grey eyes seem to always look great if they match their clothes to their irises.
I would not agree. Blue eyes will match blue drapes or blue clothes in any Season but the best match is only in one. It’s not even a difficult decision. Some aspects of a correct analysis are challenging for a woman to perceive on herself. Achieving the ultimate eye colour is usually easy.
The colour a woman has matched to her eyes all her life is never the best or correct one in my experience. She needs her Colour Book to direct her to her turquoise and only then will her eyes become all they could be. I see women hope they’re wearing their eye colour all the time and most cases, they’re barely in the ballpark.
Blue eyes under Spring influence (one of the 5 possible Seasons) are seldom blue. They’re turquoise, aqua, or cornflower (light blue with very little green, the cornflower being one of the few truly blue flowers, but to me, appears a little violet). It’s a beautiful thing when you find it.
Not just me but a lot of brown-eyed people can’t wear brown.
Quite right, many brown eyed people are Winters of some sort and have very little brown in their palette. And when they’re draped, darned if much of the brown in the eyes suddenly turns black and then they’re wearing their real eye colour at last.
Hair and eye colours as they appear are often not in the True Winter, Bright Winter, and Bright Spring palettes. I think the way it works is that the contributing base pigments are there but the mix isn’t.
You could say to me, “OK then, if I could take colours from my palette and mix them, are you saying that I could theoretically make my hair and eye colour from the swatches? ”
I think so but the truth is that I don’t know for sure if any and every mixture would still guarantee that the hue/value/chroma remain constant. If you mixed complements, you would mute the colour if either of the originals contained the complement of the other. You’d mute the resulting colour into a more muted Season.
To make clear green (say, Winter), you need a blue and a yellow without red, I would think. Could it be done? Winter colours contain red, but are there a blue and a yellow without red? I’m not enough of a colour mixer to know.
Thinking out loud now…To make clear orange (Spring), you’d need a red and a yellow that contain no blue. That seems possible, Spring colours are not blue-based, though some contain blue.
Clear violet – needs a blue that leans red and a red with some blue in it, neither of which contain the complement of violet, yellow. That could make a brilliantly clear violet, even a violent violet, if it’s necessary – sure it is, for Winters. How is that done for Spring where yellow appears in every colour? Haven’t figured that out yet.
Can I make amber or warm brown eyes with a True Winter palette? I think so. True Winter contains yellow, very saturated, a little blue without turning it green. It also contains the other primaries of red and blue. Three primaries make brown.
True Winter and the Bright Tones are intricate and unique types of colouring. Not inconsistent, just complex. Which is why I suggest they think twice before colouring their hair. I have never seen it be improved enough to balance the cost, time, and upkeep.
I can match clothes to the rim around my iris (which is sort of a dark periwinkle) and it is quite flattering but if I wear clothes that are the same brown as my irises I look washed out.
So it’s not the right brown that you’re wearing, it’s just the one you think you see as the amalgamation of all the many colours in your iris. Good call to notice that the rim of the iris is different and if you can match it, a superlative colour on every person.
How can brown-eyed people can be any Season, but only Autumns can look great wearing brown clothes and makeup?
There are a million versions of brown eyes. Brown eyes can be in any Season, but they won’t all be the same brown. Same with the 12 Tone palettes. Many Tones have brown choices but they’re not the same brown.
Nine in ten women only find out their real eye colour when they are draped. Those brown-eyed people you refer to in your question and the browns that you refer to looking great on Autumns… very unlikely the same brown.
Are cool hair and warm skin possible?
I was snow white blonde as a child, but am now a dark, ashy blonde. It’s a cool colour.
Dark ash blonde could be found on a cool, neutral, or warm person. Apparent hair colour isn’t tightly tied to the true heat level of your colouring, though your overall contributing colours and appearance are always 100% in harmony. Every person. The true heat level of your hair is perfectly consistent with the heat level of your skin and everything else.
We could take your dark, ash brown hair and place it next to five other dark, ashy heads. It would be interesting to see whose is cool, whose warm, and whose is neutral in between cool and warm. I would guess that your hair wouldn’t be the coolest if we compared it on a scale. It might be cool-ish, but that’s not Absolute Cool.
Because you know, Absolute Cool and Absolute Warm, they’re rare in human colouring. Kind of extreme. I haven’t seen a True Autumn or True Winter in ages. I see several Neutral Season versions of Autumn and Winter every month. The thing to wrap your head around is Neutral. What does it mean? What does it look like?
Just playing the odds, you are neither warm nor cool in skin and hair. If you’re like eight or nine people in ten, why wouldn’t you be, you’re a Neutral Season that might lean towards cool.
Whatever you are, cool, warm, or somewhere in between, the setting is the same in all your features. One genetic code governs your paintbox.
But I have medium light skin with golden undertones and no rosiness in the cheeks. All I see is yellow. Wouldn’t that be warm?
Colour analysis, which guides every colour decision you will make, isn’t about what you look like or appear to look like. Your natural colouring group, Tone, Season, is determined in the one way that can truthfully reveal it: how the colours in you react to other colours. Nobody can know their truthful colouring correctly without testing their own skin’s reactions against an organized and measured set of colours in a colour-neutral environment. If your colours react the way you expect them to, you would be that one person in 50 who knew ahead of time what was going to happen. That’s why it’s so hard to do from books and photos and impossible from verbal descriptions.
Your skin probably is light-medium. What colour your undertone is, or even whether it’s warm/cool/neutral, nobody knows till we test and measure it. Why am I so sure? Because nobody who comes to a colour analysis appointment is ever wearing their correct foundation – until we solve that question forever more and show you how to make the best choice.
If my hair is overly golden, my skin looks red. When it’s natural dark ashy color, highlighted with platinum, it looks tanned and alive. Just natural it is bland. Dark red wasn’t good. But when I went a more natural dark blonde with subtle red tones, I got many compliments. Dark golden blonde, more of a caramel, washes me out, as does all over light blonde with no contrasting darker pieces. Can someone have a seemingly warm complexion with cooler toned ash hair?
Actually it’s really common. Usual, in fact. Though there’s lots of good colour observation here, the description could occur in many of the 12 types of colouring. Sounds to me like you have cool-neutral skin with a little warmth, but placed next to wrong hair colour, it will look warmer than it really is. You may have a false yellow overtone, like many cool Neutral Seasons, and be interpreting that as your golden undertones and yellow warmth from the previous question.
Too yellow hair does make faces red, especially True and Soft Summer, I find. But then, there’s a disconnect in your comments. Dark ash with platinum sets up big distance between lightest and darkest, which I find looks right on nobody.
On Summer, their light/dark range isn’t this wide, since it goes from pastel to mid-dark, not icy light to very dark (which is Winter). And so it follows that their best highlight is not that far from the base colour, or else they look striped and severe.
On Winter, they do have this big light/dark range but putting it in the hair is only disruptive, breaking up their force. The randomness looks messy when placed on a colour language that is very far from random. Of course, nothing applies to everybody and you can’t generalize about hair colour across an entire Tone. Some Lights are not flattered by highlights either.
3/4 of women would say their natural hair colour is bland. Not remotely true but media has taught us that it is so they could sell us hair colour. The hair industry, ay? Their biggest problem is that they think they’re fine. Many women would not attest to that – the same ones who bought $40 a bottle of wrong foundation colour. Women love their colourist most of the time. We feel real friendship and loyalty. But regarding our faith that we really are wearing our very best hair colour? Not so sure. Hair is a trend-driven industry – highlights, lowlights, we’ve never tried copper, let’s go lighter. We only have one skin colour. It is illogical that we could be flattered by five hair colours. Become the expert of your own appearance.
Until you are wearing your best clothes and makeup, your natural hair colour will not appear as beautiful and perfect as it is – so I advise women after a PCA to make one trip to the salon to get the heat level set right and come closer to their natural colour. Then leave the hair for a few weeks and work on the clothes and makeup. Your eyes need time to readjust to the real original you and to absorb how your better colours affect your apparent hair colour by making it look perfect and ideal. Then you can really see your hair colour and you can go back to the salon, hopefully only one more time, and finish the fine tuning.
Also, once a woman has had many hair colours, she and those who have seen all those colours can’t make a solid judgment any longer. There’s just too much history swirling around. Someone outside your box needs to touch the reset button. I nominate your friendly neighbourhood colour analyst.
I am at a loss as to what color to dye my hair.
I’m at a loss too till your colours are accurately analyzed. You are like 98% of the real people in the real world who seem conflicting. You’re not. Nobody is. Everyone’s colours make complete sense.
Once we have your Tone understood, every single aspect of your colouring and the colour decisions to follow are consistent and coherent. It’s not even hard. Once we know the truth, each one of us is very logical and connected in our colouring.
But. Even knowing your Tone, I still couldn’t give blanket hair colour advice that would cover every woman equally well. Everyone makes her own darkness adjustment within a Tone. Not everyone is necessarily improved by departure from her natural hair as it grows out of her head. And for nobody is this more true than the Bright Seasons.
Art and Science
Not being able to explain a thing doesn’t make it not true.
C. said it so beautifully here,
…the science of light, the discovery that it is both particle and wave and how it behaves erratically when observed. So nature is evasive and we can not reduce everything in the world around us to neat mathematical equations
….artists working in isolation through history have been representing through symbol what scientists have been discovering in the lab at the same(ish) time and not even known it. Think of the cubists and surrealists relating back to Einstein’s new world of curved space and the theory of relativity, or the complex inherent patterns in Jackson Pollocks’ work reflecting a new understanding of the complex, previously overlooked patterns in nature.
It seems artists, at least revolutionary ones, had/have a deep unconscious understanding of the stuff of the universe and represent it through symbol before we have the words or the science to explain.
All of these threads…point in the same direction. Colour theory, it seems, is not about finding the best lipstick. It is recognizing we are made of the stuff of the stars and finding our place in the universe.