Choosing The Best Grey
April 18, 2011 by Christine Scaman
First thing I ask myself when I’m trying to put a grey into a personal colour analysis Season is: “Does it contain any colour other than B&W?”
If I can only see black and white, it’s Winter. Winter’s greys can be the lightest light, colours known as icy, or the darkest near-blacks. If your eye doesn’t pick up anything other than some rendition of black, this is a Winter colour.
Grey is a most underused colour and the most important neutral colour. Grey can be your lights, mediums, darks, and neutrals. It is more imaginative than black, what isn’t, and makes an outfit look much more interesting. It’s elegant and sophisticated and far more slimming on most people. Grey is also wildly underused in eye makeup and suits more types of skin than brown. The drawbacks may be that there are so many versions, but there’s only one good ol’ black. The worst thing about black is that it’s so easy.
Grey can take on a suggestion of the colours around it, so it looks purplish as eyeshadow if lipstick or clothing is red or violet. For this reason, getting too particular about placing greys to a specific Season within the 12 is not something to worry about. As long as you can place it among the 4 True Seasons, it will adapt nicely with the rest of the outfit. The Neutral Seasons stick quite close to the parent True Season’s greys.
Winter’s greys are usually pretty easy. The might-as-well-be-wearing-nothing effect that does Winter no favors happens when the grey (or any color) is gentled. You know that generic soft heathered grey used in men’s T-shirts? A Winter will dominate that colour entirely, and the shirt will have no character at all, like a big blank space. It looks like underwear or pyjama wear. Along with being made of B&W, there should be a definite sense of sharpness, like a knife edge, or darkness, like a charcoal. Winter’s taupe, at the bottom of the graphic above, has that Winter redness that comes out of it, giving it a sharpness, making it unlikely to strike you as soft.
Summer’s grey is easy to pick out. There will be a wash of blue, pink, or mauve. Even the taupes, which go from grayer oyster to Portobello mushroom are pinkish.
If it’s brown or green, it’s Autumn’s grey. Autumn has more colour in their greys and taupes. The greys are more obviously greened, like camo, or oranged, which makes them look heavy, like a velvet couch. They may also seem browned (because brown is just dark orange), or greened in the various shades of dry tobacco. The taupes look more brown.
In a Spring grey, you can see sunshine yellow coming out of it. Grey is inherently cool and Spring is not. Grey is quieter while Spring sings of colour. Therefore, Spring has few real greys and many more browns, peachy ones and greenish ones. Their greys are yellowish, which I could never pick up unless I held up several grey items in the store together. The greys are actually so yellow, they can seem a little green. Spring is often that way, like dandelion yellow is almost green, like the unripe banana is greenish-yellow, like the hair of some True Spring children is so yellow, it can seem greenish in pictures.
Does darkness or lightness guide the grey to a Season? Doesn’t help. Every Season has several levels of light/darkness in most colours, including grey.