Matching The Swatch Book : Blue

March 21, 2010 by  

Jelena asked a question we can all learn from:

I need some suggestions for shopping with my [Personal Color Analysis Swatch Book]. Some of the colors in the True Summer book (especially the blues) seem quite saturated and (almost) bright. When shopping, I’m always wondering how I can tell the difference between a True Summer blue versus the Winter blue and even the Spring cobalt blue??

Another question is about the cool-ish coral. I found a lot of similar colors when out shopping, but it was difficult to tell if the colors were cool enough. The artificial store lighting complicates things as well. I noticed that some of the things that were perfect matches to my Book in the store were totally wrong once I took them home and saw what it looked like under natural lighting (and the same applies to make-up colors). Do you have any suggestions for making color matching easier?

What to try:

1. Pick a few items in the store of similar color to compare, rather than just 1 item. It’s by comparison that we understand color. I learned a lot about color and textiles at Value Village because they group 20 reds, blues, etc. together, so the differences become easily apparent.

2. If there are no similarly colored items (often stores work with just a few dye lots each season), hold it against a white item, or better a white and an off-white item.

3. Look in daylight. Jelena is very right about that. Even before your PCA, you probably find that you buy something only to find it wasn’t what you thought.

4. Be sure you can return things.

5. Assume the color of the item and the swatch are NOT a match until you can convince yourself they are. For True Summer, ask yourself:

“Do I see any heat (orange, tan brown, dark brown, gold, yellow) in the color”? go through them 1 by 1. I get in a hurry, or I want to believe it’s the right color, so I  make myself slow down.

Every time I listen to a dog’s heartbeat, I assume there is an abnormality till I can convince myself it is normal. I use the same approach here.

6. Flip the concept and see if you can come at it the other way. Ask yourself  “does it appear less intense than it COULD?” or “could I imagine a MORE saturated version of this color?”

Instead of “is this soft?”, ask “could it be MORE pigment-rich?”

If the color COULD be MORE  intense, it’s probably a soft color.

Here are the 3 closest blue matches among True Summer, Winter, and Spring.

From top, True Summer, True Winter, True Spring.

True Summer is not hard to pick out. It’s always some version of faded denim, even the darkest wash. True Summer is not necessarily obviously grayed; it is just relatively less saturated than Winter. True Summer is not dull or drab, and some of the colors have some strength to them.

When you see a highly saturated color, you usually know it. It is more common to see Winters walking around in color that is too soft because saturated color is hard to find and after a few washings, it’s softened.

Surprisingly, it’s Winter and Spring that are closest for this color. It makes sense for blue.  Both are saturated Seasons. Blue is darkish at high saturation so this is one of Spring’s darker colours. The Spring is a bit yellower. On the 3 Colour Scales of Light/Dark, Warm/Cool, and Clear/Soft, we’re matching all 3 very closely.

My feeling here is that it’s too close to matter.  The difference will come from the other elements of the outfit and how the person wears and combines the color.


9 Responses to “Matching The Swatch Book : Blue”

  1. Ashley on March 21st, 2010 8:27 pm

    I’m rather surprised; the True Summer blue seems yellower than the True Winter blue.

  2. Searcy on March 22nd, 2010 5:28 am

    SO helpful!!! Now please do purples and pink/fuschias and greys. You are right – once you see the comparison, you’ve got it. I’m a True Summer and keep asking the grey question – this was a new approach that will work better.

  3. Christine Scaman on March 27th, 2010 5:42 am

    Funny, I thought True Winter was looking yellower than True Spring. This is hard to photograph. I’m going to start doing them in Photoshop. Takes time but so does fussing with lighting. True Summer is not yellow at all. It would be like looking for yellow in denim.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Christine Scaman on March 27th, 2010 5:43 am

    Happy to, Searcy, but ask me more specific questions, if you have any. Broad topics like “red” would be a 10 page post.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  5. Matching The Swatch Book : Coral : 12 Blueprints on April 3rd, 2010 2:10 pm

    [...] 1 is at Matching The Swatch Book : Blue. Today is about True Summer corals. This would not apply to Soft Summers, who have very different [...]

  6. Zandra on September 13th, 2010 2:20 am

    I don’t know if I’m completely off here… which is why I’m posting this… But I really DO get the “sunny, sunny” feeling from the one in the middle rather than from the one at the bottom (which gives me the “icy, icy” feeling)??? I so don’t understand :-(

    Maybe it’s got to do with how springs can look icy in their warm colours? Clarity? But when I’m taking a warm and clear yellow and putting it next to these blue ones, it still seems like the ones in the middle match better… very confusing. And then again, I can’t seem to find any yellow in the True Summer blues so perhaps I’m the one seeing things differently.

  7. Christine Scaman on September 13th, 2010 9:34 am


    You’re understanding fine. It’s just proof that photography can’t accurately render color. Springs don’t look icy in any colors. And True Summers blues contain no yellow. You’d see it instantly if you were holding the Books. I’ve stopped photographing them for this reason, and make the palettes with Photoshop – which still leaves room for error of a different sort.

  8. Zandra on September 14th, 2010 4:40 am

    Oh. Yes, I see why Photoshop’s a good idea, I really appreciated the post about turqoise.
    (I’m afraid I’m not a big fan of wearing turqoise or aqua though, my devotion goes to the True Spring greens. My kitchen is full of them, I can’t stop buying pot plants in these greens… and they make my eyes pop as well – I’m a happy camper.)

    Thank you for taking the time. Blue is my next “colour project”…

  9. The True Summer – True Winter Divide : 12 Blueprints on May 26th, 2012 9:31 am

    [...] a look at previous articles Matching The Swatch Book: Blue and Matching The Swatch Book: Coral.  Both were written to help with [...]

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!