True Summer Visuals and Soft Dramatic Styles

June 15, 2013 by · 11 Comments 

The term Soft Dramatic (SD) is one of 13 Image Identities from David Kibbe’s extraordinary book from 1987, Metamorphosis. If you can find yourself, it can be an astounding key to your best clothing line.  I am so NOT a Kibbe expert. I’m certain that if he looked at my Polyvores, he’d think, “This isn’t what I meant at all.” Reader beware.

David Kibbe Metamorphosis



This question from J:

I’d like to add femininity to casual wear but sometimes I don’t know how. Mrs. Tuttle (of has helped with that a little, so I know now that I like silver teardrop earrings, lace, cowl necks, and ruffled scarfs. How to add glamour into your everyday life/work? I used to want to appear as strong as possible. Now I have softened it down a bit, and, big surprise, no one ate me. ;-)

I think I have the most difficulties separating the True Summer from the Soft Summer in the range of beiges/taupes/browns and the range of corals/reds. Kind of the colors that we see as “warm” per se. Maybe also some of the greens, that are not actually blue greens, but more along the “grassier” or khaki side. The more unusual Summer colors, I guess.


By the time we’re working with neighbour Seasons in 12 Season colour analysis, and from the same parent Season, like True Summer and Soft Summer, finding words to help you distinguish them is not possible, at least not for me. They’re just too close if you look at them one swatch at a time. Trying to find your colours that way may be part of why PCA fizzled 40 years ago.  Going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth from one colour dot in a swatch book to a piece of fabric  will only make you irritable and the store staff even more so.

My best advice is to learn to look at your entire palette when you try to match a garment to it. Have a read of the article Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book.  This is a total woman, head to toe, all the colours together all the time, big picture situation.

If you’re a precision person, as Summers often are, you’ll want to own both True and Soft Summer swatch books. Compare them both to a garment by laying them flat and fanned out on it. You’ll see which is best. Sometimes, it’s very hard, in which case, it just doesn’t matter enough for clothing. For drapes, that would be a fabric I’d never use. How can you test with it if both work? When you look at only one, one anything, your visual system is stuck. It’s like asking someone if this colour looks good on you. They’ll say Yes. What they should say is, “Compared to what? Show me two and I’ll LYK which one is best.” That’s how our biology is configured to get information from vision.

You’ll want to own Colour Books from different companies. The more ways you see and read about your colours, the more sense they will make and the more recognizable they’ll become. You’re looking to replicate a feeling, not a particular colour.


Photo: surrahman

Photo: surrahman


Also, to my eye, color not only flows from cool to warm but also from one color to the other. So, sometimes, I just don’t know, if, what I look at is a grey with a lot of purple in it or maybe a very greyed down purple?

We’re not comparing apples to apples in that question. Colour always flows from cool to warm. It’s built into the physics of how light strikes objects. It can’t be altered or argued. In the 12 Season sequence, the heat setting of one palette shifts to a warmer or cooler setting as you move along to the next Season.  If the two purples you describe belong to True and Soft Summer, one will be warmer. If you paint them as two dots and let them run together, then the colours will indeed flow into one another, but the two ends and any given colour between them will only belong in one Tone’s palette, the one whose colour dimensions (heat, value, chroma) match those of the colour.


True Summer and True Winter
True Summer and True Winter by christinems featuring pyrus


I get the feeling of coolness and freshness that you described. What I don’t understand here is the softness. Soft as opposed to True Winter, yes. But then, when I’m in a store, all those colors mixed up, that is not the feeling I get.

Regarding the image above, understanding ‘softness’ in your question to mean low saturation rather than draping fabric, and choosing apparel line and styles randomly just to demonstrate some colours:

Summer colours are on the left. They feel watery, misty, calm. Not heavy. Far from white. A little heathered.

Winter colours, on the right, feel more aggressive and intense.  They have more green. More colour. They’re further from gray. It’s hard to tell though, because as colour darkens, or as one colour dimensions changes in any way, we find it tougher to judge the other two colour dimensions. The top one seems too close to white for a Summer and I don’t pick up heathering.

Neither one is at minimum or maximum saturation, because True Summer and True Winter are not. What matters most is that they’re cool. Even that’s hard to tell. Winter’s green can look warm, I suppose because the blue and yellow that made it came from Winter’s paintbox, where the yellow is intense.

What about the center column? I wouldn’t know if those are Winter or Summer any better than you would just by looking at them.  I’d have to lay the palette on the garment and see if the two were equal or if one loses energy. You’ll see this happen. The Summer palette will dull if the fabric is Winter. The swatches will be much too strong and bold if the colour is Summer. You’ll be able to feel which one is at home for most fabrics. If you can’t, it would probably be fine. You might need to own the Winter Book. The more precise you want to be, the more precision tools you’ll need to acquire. True for carpenters, musicians, and colour matchers. Not a big thing. Probably costs less than two blouses. You won’t learn this by owning one Book. You’ll get it as soon as you own both.

Clothes in photographs are just like people in photographs. A little off. You can take a hundred pictures of the same person, same time, same place. They look different in each one. Can’t tell what’s true. In real time, our brain can adjust for that, like it does all the time with all the white we think we see that would not be pure white, were an artist to paint it. For survival, our brain has adapted to learn when to get visual information that means white, even if the colour isn’t white. We see many photos of women trying on clothes. When have you ever met anyone and had them look just like you expected? Never. If Mr Kibbe writes another book, I hope he puts in lots of group photos.

Photo: lpierard

Photo: lpierard


I do get a feeling of elegance. The same cheap sweater, that looked so funky and trendy in Autumn’s beige, managed to look somehow more expensive in the blue-grey. Seems elegant and calm to me and… nothing! There’s nothing added, no warmth, no “pop”. It just stays as it is. I used to judge that as boring and without personality. Now I’m open to see if one day it will show me that there actually is something. Maybe I just can’t see it yet. I wonder if what I’m asking for is a comparison of the visuals for the three Summers.

True Summer, like True Winter, isn’t an overly colour busy Season. In the Winter’s case, it’s because every colour is so much that one at a time is plenty. In the Summer case, there’s a tranquility, with none of the agitation that accompanies heat, whether smoke (Autumn) or sun (Spring). The softness of the colours means that they weave together more fluently than Winter. Even a hint of hectic or functional takes the feeling off track. Also no giggles, no sarcasm, no squirting (Spring), and no forcing, no pushing, no controlling (Winter). All is perfect and  all will be perfect. Not rugged, earthy, productive, or work-related (Autumn), no showboat, glitter, or anything synthetic (Bright).

A visual for True Summer: the Japanese Zen garden.

Peaceful, green, strong, by no means self-effacing, monochromatic, courteous, the penultimate of diplomacy and respect, meditative, reflective, cool but not dark, searching.

Soft Summer’s visual is heavier, more solid and substantial, a rock garden, a woodland. Light Summer’s has movement and lightness, a fountain.


Photo: lemunade

Photo: lemunade


Maybe also some jewelry advice. I do fine with the T2 lines for that, just not as huge as they present everything. But I find it very interesting, that they are all about teardrops and elongated s-curves, all very looong, while you mention the circle as the True Summer shape.

That circle shape came from my imagination. It is not a fact, it’s a blend of what I’ve read, seen, and thought about. There’s no more truth in it than if you said, “I think Summer’s shape is a pentagon.” There are no facts here and only a little logic. The left brain isn’t the one doing this. We’re not measuring anything. I could see spirals too for the true cool Seasons, though more in Winter since they begin and end in the deep center, which has True Winter written all over it. The trailing vine is definitely a good Summer shape. For many, their hair follows this line. Every Season could have many shapes. So could every body type. Some see triangles for Winter. I don’t feel it but I can see why they do. Spring is more triangly to me, though more the zigzag than the closed shape.

Jewelry shape and line is decided by body type. Its colour comes from your own natural colouring, your Season or Tone. A Dramatic Classic True Summer won’t look as good as she could wearing long necklaces or pearls. You’ll barely even see that jewelry on her. The hugeness of T2 jewelry at DYT could be really good fit for SD bodies (note that I have not looked at it).


Photo: br44

Photo: br44


I’d just love to see your perspective on Soft Dramatic True Summer. How does this combination of colors and lines and whatever else there is look to you?

It won’t match the Type 2 of Carol’s system. In each of those 4 types are way too many kinds of bodies.  There is swirl, flow, and drape in Soft Dramatic but the scale is much bigger than what T2 says to me. This body is not mainstream and her presence isn’t safe.

I know this woman from my life.  She is indeed a True Summer. She’s 5’9″, sleeps till noon, reads all day, is far more busty than hourglass. In fact, I have no idea what her body looks like below her bust. Couldn’t tell you if she’s curvy or not, no idea what her legs look like. I do know that she’s a knockout.

She cooks like Julia Child, drinks like a sailor, wears a splashy sarong skirts and big chunk diamonds in her ears to have her backyard bulldozed, and looks ridiculously like a plump and top-heavy Linda Evangelista. The sarong and diamond look is the only time I notice what she has on. She also favours mid-thigh tunic tops and straight Capris, which look pretty good as long as the print is a big, boozy Georgia O’Keefe vision.

Her right location is in a chaise longue beside a Vegas pool with a turban on her head, cigarette holder in hand, G&T on the go, watching the 18 year old pool boy at work. The picture absolutely needs up-there jewelry, exactly what Kibbe describes. Smooth, big, and $$$-looking. Andre, the masseur, is arriving later this afternoon.

These are casual clothes. It’s easy to fit this body in gowns and gigantic jewelry. What’s it look like at the parent-teacher interview?


True Summer Soft Dramatic 1
True Summer Soft Dramatic 1 by christinems featuring diane von furstenberg


Like colour, the whole point is to bring together the person and the clothing lines that bring out the absolute best in each other. Finding the style in any palette would be tough because it’s just so exaggerated. The women who would look great in it have no idea who they are, not unlike fuchsia blush. For the general population, the image seems meant for the stage, not the office. Get Noticed clothes are scary when the crowd all looks identical.

She has much less texture and more opulence than a Flamboyant Natural. She won’t wear wedges, the FN could. Same big frame, big hands. A movie star who comes into her own on the big screen, loses something on a TV, and looks almost ordinary on a smartphone. A cocktail ring babe. Sunglasses and wide brim hats, earrings, necklace, rings, scarves. Drama, glamour. She can make the dainty, delicate, and simple disappear, not in the good way, like blue on Summer, which is so much part of them that it’s almost invisible, like their ultimate neutral, their perfect equal. Here, little stuff gets chewed up like it isn’t even there, the ultimate unequal.

Like all Summers, contrast outside her colour palette can disappear her. Stay inside your lightest to darkest range if possible, whoever you are.


True Summer Soft Dramatic 2
True Summer Soft Dramatic 2 by christinems featuring patent leather shoes


The only way to get your clothes look like yours is to wear your own line. That’s when you look normal and fabulous, as opposed to normal. Your clothes look like ‘just clothes but wow clothes’, like Bright Winter blue sapphire satin looks like ‘just blue but wow blue’ only on that one type of natural colouring. These clothes are lusciously large scale. In this picture of Sophia Loren, it doesn’t seem as if she and her clothing bring out the best in each other. Nor this image. She’s  not who we know her to be. The colours and lines next to her look as if she feels some way that she doesn’t at all. There’s no point telling the world that.

The True Summer colour analyzed palette is the opposite of exaggerated. I can see that it might be careful looking on this woman. Accessories and big shapes pull the whole thing in the right direction.

Discovered I could search ‘drape’ on Polyvore. That moved things along.

True Summer looks better in their greens and teals than their blues. Blue is too equal to their native wavelength. They’re like a blue aura inside a blue force field. Such a good fit that you can’t tease them apart. All their blue-greens are unbelievably enhancing. Like if you can find the right red lollipop red, it’s more incredible on True Spring than their yellow, maybe even more stunning than their nectarines just by the power of red.

For an Soft Dramatic, no casual outfit will ever be casual by other body types’ standards. The clothes look normal in a Vogue shoot, not a Food Court. This is not a Natural body. Turtlenecks, hoodies, shirts, the clothes much of the industry provides are not the ones that best flatter her. How to do casual? Would wear kitten heels when the men arrive to replace the front porch, but not high heels. Will not wear shoulder pads to the Farmer’s Market. Will wear flip-flops when hosting the Fun Day BBQ for the summer cottagers and their kids. Is going to wear jeans, fleece, and flats just because they feel good.


True Soft Dramatic 3
True Soft Dramatic 3 by christinems featuring paul smith – black label






Can Some of My Season’s Colours Be Too Dark?

May 19, 2013 by · 5 Comments 

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.

Photo: johnnyberg

Photo: johnnyberg


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.

Photo: Billy Alexander at

Photo: Billy Alexander at

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.


Photo: bbeltz

Photo: bbeltz

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.

Photo: iprole

Photo: iprole


Photo: patkisha

Photo: patkisha

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.

Photo: k_vohsen

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.

Photo: wing

Photo: wing

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.

Photo: caltiva

Photo: caltiva


Photo: Billy Alexander at

Photo: Billy Alexander at


Photo: fishrmann

Photo: fishrmann

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.

Photo: sqback

Photo: sqback

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.

Photo: caltiva

Photo: caltiva

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.

Photo: Billy Alexander, at Billy Frank Alexander Design on facebook

Photo: Billy Alexander, at Billy Frank Alexander Design on facebook

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).

Photo: fangol

Photo: fangol

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.

Photo: StefanG81

Photo: StefanG81

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.”

Photo: Ayla87

Photo: Ayla87


Photo: winjohn

Photo: winjohn

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?”

Photo: tnimalan

Photo: tnimalan

True Winter? No. Too safe. This is nowhere on True Winter.


Try again.

Photo: nijop

Photo: nijop

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.


Photo: tnimalan

Photo: tnimalan

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.




Getting More From Your 12-Tone Swatch Book

March 17, 2013 by · 13 Comments 

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.


Swatch Harmony4

We’re looking at a True Autumn 12-Tone Colour Book (from 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?


Swatch Harmony3

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?


Swatch Harmony2

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.





Season Colours in the Off-Season

February 23, 2013 by · 15 Comments 

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


Light Summer in December
Light Summer in December by christinems featuring purple stud earrings



True Summer in October


True Summer in October
True Summer in October by christinems featuring an amethyst necklace


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 Autumn in April
True Autumn in April by christinems featuring dorothy perkins


True Winter in September (or March)


True Winter in September
True Winter in September by christinems featuring slim pants


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.



Bright Spring Dramatic Classic 1
Bright Spring Dramatic Classic 1 by christinems featuring leather tote bags



Bright Spring Dramatic Classic 2
Bright Spring Dramatic Classic 2 by christinems featuring l’wren scott



I hope that you go to the site and make these images bigger. There are some really nice things here.


True Spring Blue

February 4, 2013 by · 9 Comments 

Every time I apply the 12 Tones of colours to a different medium, it’s like learning it all over again. Once you’ve learned to choose clothes, you figure makeup will be easy. Not so. It’s a whole new sorting experience. Students who come for the Analyst Training Course will bring a page of makeup swatches that we’ll classify to Season. We will also have a bag of fabrics and we’ll organize those. And they’ll think, “Does this ever get easier??” This is partly why I feel that those who are serious about their colours should own their swatches in more than one format.

Shopping in the Theoretical Universe

When one of the three colour dimensions (hue, value, chroma) changes in a colour, so do the other two. Maybe you’re looking at a green item and it seems a little less pure and more heathery than your swatches. You’re really not sure if it’s still in your Tone’s chroma range or not. Compare the item to your swatches based on something besides chroma.

Darkness level can be useful. If the Tone has definite upper value limits, like the Light Spring and  True Spring (though really, they all do except the 3 Winters), this can exclude certain Bright Spring colours. The pastels of Summer have a fair bit of pigment, much more than the Winter icy light colours, so giving a light colour to Summer or Winter isn’t hard. The Winter ones are much closer to white.

Sometimes, the distinction isn’t so easy, especially between neighbour Neutral Seasons, meaning the 2 Softs, 2 Lights, 2 Darks, and 2 Brights. We have to go after what makes them most different. You have to get colour-specific because they’re too similar in terms of the 3 colour dimensions. Is one redder, greener, yellower, etc? Even with Trues and their 2 Neutral Seasons, it would be hard to distinguish True and Soft Summer by darkness. For some of the colours, the saturation difference doesn’t seem obvious, though it is there, because both are muted. True Summer is cooler, but ‘cooler’ is too generic. True Summer is bluer than Soft Summer. Even the blues are bluer.

Neighbouring Neutral Seasons are more accepting of one another’s colours without interfering with the overall harmony. They have the most important colour dimension in common – Light, Soft, Dark, or Brightness. They’re similar in value. The heat setting is close, one cooler, one warmer, which musn’t be discounted. One definitely looks better and one definitely looks worse, but there’s some willingness to compromise.

True cool Season palettes share no colours with their Neutral neighbours because the Neutrals contain a little heat, the one dimension where True cool Season skin won’t negotiate. There are definite detractions from appearance.

True warm Season palettes share no colours with their Neutral satellites because their Neutrals contain a little coolness, the one dimension where True warm Season skin won’t negotiate. The person doesn’t look as good in many little ways that, when added into a bigger picture, make a big difference.

So, why couldn’t the True cool Seasons share colours, like a True Spring wearing True Autumn colours, since they both respect the need for warmth? The theory seems sound enough – as long as the theory only recognizes this one single dimension, which isn’t how colour works. The result reminds me of one of Sherlock Holmes’ more famous quotes, from A Scandal in Bohemia,

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.



Any two True Seasons have only one colour dimension in common: heat (Spring and Autumn), high saturation (Winter and Spring), coolness (Winter and Summer), low saturation (Summer and Autumn),  lightness (Summer and Spring), and darkness (Autumn and Winter) . In an analysis, a person who looks good in Autumn and Summer is probably enjoying the softness of the colours. It’s the only thing the two Seasons share. The fact is that they differ in the other two. All three have to be bull’s eye perfect for ultimate harmony. True Seasons do not share colours no matter how dark blue the True Summer’s eyes are or how blonde the True Winter.

Winter colours on Summer people stick out. It’s hard to see anything else. Summer colours on Winter people are weak. Maybe a couple of each could slide by but the whole thing isn’t right. It fascinates me to no end how the Sci\ART drape colours that Kathryn Kalisz assembled are not always exactly to be found among her swatches. And yet, the harmony with the Tone is unmistakable. I think of True Autumn’s famous schoolbus yellow, beloved by many who have been draped with it. It’s not exactly in the True Autumn swatches. You might even think it’s in the Bright Spring group. Lay all the fabrics out together and you’ll see that the colour belongs with True Autumn.


So many of Conan Doyle’s character’s quotes apply to PCA. From The Sign of Four,

I never guess. It is a shocking habit,- destructive to the logical faculty.


Colour analysts do not guess. You know or you don’t. If you’re not absolutely sure, don’t call it. Say the truth, “I don’t know.”  Fine, we’ll figure it out some other way, but don’t bring in a mistake that will carry through the rest of the analysis. People send  me photos and I say, “I do not know.” When I was in medical school listening for heart murmurs, the students would say “I think I hear a murmur.” And the Scottish professor who had seen it all or the genius woman who led the surgical department, they replied, “Pick one. Either you hear it or you don’t. Commit.” Colour analysis is not guesswork. It takes some confidence. You have to know when to open-mindedly yet politely ignore the client the way a doctor does with rambling medical histories and pages of internet self-diagnosis. It’s not that the ramble contains no value or truth, it’s just that given the facts of the patient’s condition (or colouring) and the facts of symptoms and illness (or colour classification), some of their conclusions cannot be correct. In our training, we will cultivate the strength of your convictions.


And from so many of the stories, the most immortal quote of all, for the I-look-just-like-my-Soft-Autumn-sister who drapes to be a True Winter:

“… and when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”


The Neutral palettes will compromise on heat level as long as their important dimension is respected. Keep colour dark, and Dark Autumn skin says, “A trace cooler, a trace warmer, a trace more saturated, I’ll play along. Your total look won’t fall apart.” If colour goes light, Dark Autumn skin says, “Sister, get it right or you’re done like dinner.”

Keep colour light and Light Summer skin says,”Stick with the cooler of Light Spring’s colours and it won’t be a big deal. They’re all pretty light in the big picture of  white to black. Yes, OK fine, Light Spring is a bit yellower, so don’t plant a big block of it right under your chin, but your harmony won’t self-destruct.” Once colour goes dark, Light Summer skin says “There will be no good choice. We won’t like anything we see in the  mirror. You did pretty well in the True Summer drapes, arguably your closest runner-up, till they turned dark and we took a wrong turn.”

Back to the topic, choosing blue for True Spring. It’s kind of tricky because blue is inherently associated with coolness. Many have trouble with True Spring blue. I would guess that the difficulty arises between True and Bright Spring. The other Seasons’ blues are quite different. Is Bright Spring blue just bluer? Yes, partly, and as the amount of blue increases, so does the darkness. Other things change too. Red is arriving in Bright Spring. Yellow is moving out. Pigments are not being muted. They’re so pure, they’re almost synthetic. True Spring still looks from-nature, without the sense of  the Brights’ “Whoa blue.”

By the time we add enough yellow to colours to create a True Spring group, the most yellowed colours of all, there’s not much blue or red among the swatches. They’ve turned into turquoise and coral. But True Spring does have some blue that harmonizes perfectly with the other colours. It’s very blue but not as blue as it could be (which would be closer to Bright Spring) and not very dark.

Bright Spring blues are not just more saturated than True Spring. They’re redder by the arrival of Winter (so purplish) or less yellow (so without a green or teal quality that True Spring’s darkest blue has) . When you compare them side by side, the individual colours in the palettes are not as similar as the whole palette appears to be. This is a hard call though, if you only look at one palette. So if there’s one palette where you get hung up, buy it. Make sure you know the difference. Learn to trust your eyes and your taste too. If the blue item doesn’t disrupt your beautiful harmony, then it will probably be just fine, especially if the colour block isn’t too big.


Shopping in The World As We Know It

Got all the talking out of my system. I’m scanning the Polyvore layouts looking for True Spring blue.

I want colour. As I look, I think ‘lots of blue, lots of blue’.

There should always be more colour than darkness to perceive in all of True Spring. More colour and a feeling of sunshine. Yellow sun shining down on blue would make it look a little green IF you compared the blue to a redder blue. It leans a little turquoise/teal, not red/violet, to harmonize with the rest of  the composition, or palette.

Remember that colours on every monitor look different. We’ll think more about comparisons than absolute colours. I started this post about 10 times and kept changing everything till I only worked on it in the same two hour slot each day. Imagine how long that took.

1 looked pretty good, but too dark. It’s saturated, so must be Winter or Spring. Spring’s blues aren’t red. If anything, they’re greenish, presumably from all the yellow in them. Winter’s colours are redder. I’d put this in Bright Spring as their second-darkest blue.

2 is too hazy for True Spring. It’s too dark for Light Spring and a little too saturated (too much blue) for True Summer. It also has a green quality, meaning it must be heated with yellow or gold, which True Summer isn’t. It’s in between the warmer and cooler darkest blues of Light Summer.

3 is not saturated enough for a Spring. It’s also more pink-mauve. I’d put it in Light Summer.

4 is interesting. It’s reddish, making it look a little purple. Means Winter. Too light for Dark Winter. I’d see it between True and Bright, closer to Bright.

5 doesn’t have the slight greening of True Spring’s darkest blue. Looks to me like Bright Spring’s darkest blue. A true blue that is obviously no black.

6 is  more saturated than 3 but not enough for True Spring. I see haziness. Must be Light Spring. Amazing how hard it is to gauge colour in different lighting, ay? And across different textiles.

7 is hard. Doesn’t seem red enough for True Winter. The saturation is very high, leaving the Brights and Dark Winter. It feels too saturated for Dark Winter. Not sure. Probably be alright for all 3 Winters. I’d need to see the item surrounded by gray under full spectrum lights to decide for sure.

8‘s shine is making it look lighter than it is. I could imagine Light Spring’s darkest blue. Looks like it could be bluer, like it’s not at full saturation. It’s  not True Spring blues which lean to green, and not dark enough to be Bright Spring’s dark blues. Bright Spring dark blues are greenish or reddish. This is pinky, like Summer’s mauve undertone.




Spring Blues 1
Spring Blues 1 by christinems featuring stella mccartney



9 is heathered. It lives between Light Spring and Light Summer.

10 is a good contender. It could be Bright Spring too, better if it were a trace more violet. Bright Spring is a Neutral Season. Like all Neutral Seasons, they have warm and cool version of colours including blue. Bright Spring has a greener blue and a redder blue.

11 is nice, ay? makes me think of Japanese art, those blossoms on branches. The blue could be good for True Spring. The flowers that go to white and black moves the item into Bright Spring or Winter, but the blue doesn’t have the red-violet quality of Winter’s effect on blue.

12 has yellow and significant haze, so a Summer. It’s a sunny day, not a shady one, so Light Summer. But it’s too desaturated for Light Summer. Maybe it’s at the low end of that Tone. If we pretend the light  on it is a little cooler, it would be True Summer.

13 has yellow and more pigment, still hazy. It feels better in Light Summer.

14 is a little too saturated for Light Summer, it could be Light Spring.

15 is yellowed too much for Light Summer, looks like Light Spring.

16 is very close to white. One of the Winters get that.

17 Well, gosh, Light Spring? It’s a little too red for Light Summer and for Soft Autumn. Not dark enough for True Autumn, I don’t think. In Light and True Spring, those orchid purples appear. But it’s dusty. Maybe Light Summer is better. In making drapes, I’ve learned that there are very few, maybe zero, colours that nobody could wear. There are many, many colours out there that are  not in the swatch books, but they don’t need to be. They only need to harmonize with the colour dimensions of that group. For a colour such as this one that I can’t place visually, I have to fan out the possible swatch books and lay them on the fabric to see which ones belong together. This probably simulates most online shopping situations.  (Commentary on this colour edited Oct. 27/13)



Spring Blues 2
Spring Blues 2 by christinems featuring vila


18 isn’t lots of blue. What I get first is dusty, then dark. Soft Summer. Thank you, goddess, easier one.

19 could be True Winter. It’s not at full max sat like 22 and it’s reddish. You’re not alone in finding this really hard and I have all 12 Colour Books.

20 True Spring, oh, please? Nope. Not greenish and a little too dusty. If I had to say, does it lean green or purple, I think, “Shoot (or a word with similar first sound), I don’t know.” I hold up the True Spring swatch book and the blouse turns pinkish. I see a marketing opportunity here. We could sell pieces of cool, neutral, and warm gray. You could hold your garment up to it and watch them change each other. This top looks like Light Spring.

21 is Soft Autumn, right? I’m not so sure. It’s a little too colourful and not dark enough. Amazing too how hard it is to judge one colour dimension when the other two aren’t constant, as in, how hard it is to tell which of two colours is lighter when their saturations are not the same. Soft Autumn is less saturated and more dark. Light Spring purple is more decided about itself, it’s is either bluer or redder. Light Summer? Yes, probably.

22 could be True Winter in the light areas, aggressively blued with definite black feelings. The saturation is so high that I think of a Bright Winter. Shopping in the real world is like searching for the lost world of Atlantis.

23 is True Summer. I pick up no heat, or hardly any. It goes a little darker than True Summer at the bottom and the top blue part is not quite as freshly cooled. Soft Summer would be fine here, though her blues are a touch warmer, and her lighter blue-gray is less blue. Whatever. We are going to have no clothes unless we cut ourselves a little slack.

24 could be True Spring quite well (or Light Spring). The aqua writing is too blue for True Spring (would be greener) and works better in Light Spring.

25 Stark white, high contrast stripes means there’s Winter in it. The blue is too blue for True Spring. The two Bright Seasons could  manage this but they would want to add sunshine to the overall look. Too saturated for Dark Winter. Could be True Winter.

26 Light Spring. Groan. I have to believe this is getting easier. For True Spring, it would need a faint green tinge and no dusty quality. This has a red tinge. I know that because I held the True Spring book up to it and the item looked even redder. But I gotta say, it’s so close.

Spring Blue 3

Spring Blue 3 by christinems featuring a lace tee


The other confusion might be with True Autumn, but there’s no problem here. True Autumn blue is redder (purpler, actually), duller, and darker. I figure the purple must come from making gold (Autumn) from the yellow primary, since gold is added to Autumn colours. Adding purple would mute and darken yellow. Then, adding gold (purpled yellow) to blue  makes darker, muted, purply blue. True Spring’s darkest blue is not as dark as True Autumn’s, and it’s a little green (from all the yellow of Spring), not a little purple. Autumn mostly has teal and brick, what happened when all the gold was added to blue and red.

27  Enough fooling around or we’ll be here all night. 27 is good. I’m using 36 as my reference red-blue in this panel. 27 one leans green.

28 is one of those pieces that would keep me wondering why. Why does it look like a strapless dresss with an undershirt? That orange stripe would captivate my attention and I’d be stuck. Not everything has to make sense of course. Like my liking of yellow-beige stone with plum doors for a house. Just put it here randomly.

29 Bright Spring. Too light for True, and tending red. Plus, details are silver.

30 I can feel a tough one coming on. Too blue for True Autumn and Dark Autumn. Must be an Autumn, though, it feels muted and earthy. What’s too blue for Autumn and still muted? Summer is. This is too blue for Soft and True Summer. Wouldn’t be Light Summer, would it? It’s a trace dark, but as Sherlock says, once you’ve eliminated the probable… Honestly, it doesn’t feel altogether harmonizing with Light Summer’s freshness and it’s somewhat dark. How about Soft Autumn? It’s a little too blue, but it feels more belonging. Is that just the cut? If it were a sheer blouse or shiny taffeta, would I have an altogether different feeling? This textile reflects light in a way that mutes colour. One thing I hoped this post would illustrate: We post photos of ourselves in a Light Summer colour when we’re really in Soft Autumn. I get sent photos of a woman comparing Light Summer and Bright Winter, and the colours she’s wearing are off for both. Maybe by just a hair but it changes the whole skin reaction, just as it changes the perception of a garment. Photos and I don’t get along. My other point: sorting drape colours accurately is hell on wheels. Understandable why analysts have trouble agreeing.

31 is OK. A bit light and better by colour in Bright Spring. The lace is rough, which makes the saturation look lower, which would place it in True Spring.

32 Quite blue for a True Spring or True Autumn. Not enough chroma for the 3 Winters. Too saturated for a Summer blend. Dark Autumn?

33 Heart be still, it seems fine. Lots of blue, not too dark. Navy isn’t something I agonize over. I organize it in fairly dark and dusty (Summer, ease up on darkness for Lights), really dark and saturated (Winter), not dark and very blue (Spring, more dark for the Brights), and there are better choices (Autumn).

34 Thanks be to Jesus!!!, another good one.

35 is good. Lots of blue, not max blue, not too dark. How do I know it leans green? Because I’ve given myself a reference point, which is 36. In a store, do the same. Gather up a bunch of close colours. Your eye will sort them automatically.

36 is a red-blue. Would be True or Bright Winter. It on the darker side and not fully saturated, as True Winter is, but I can look at it again and think, “No, no, Christine, you ding-dong, the darkness is fine for Bright Winter. It just needs a trace more chroma.” Holy  cow, who cares? There are 30 million worse blues you could wear.

37 Put the kettle on, dolls. It’s good.


True Spring Blue 4
True Spring Blue 4 by christinems featuring peplum tops




Can Eye, Hair, and Skin Colours Conflict?

November 7, 2012 by · 33 Comments 

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.


Photo: L-O-L-A


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.

It’s this,


Photo: beverlytaz


not this, but notice the coat colours and the eye-coat harmony, animals are just like us,


Photo: danjaeger



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.


Photo: boogy_man


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.


Photo: mzacha


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.


Photo: lcrumling


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.


Photo: mokra



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.


Photo: otbora


 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.


Photo: thegnome54


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.


Photo: ElvisFan76


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.


Photo: Jan Willem Geertsma


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.




Contrast For 12 Seasons

October 26, 2012 by · 14 Comments 

Part 1



The video above is here at YouTube.


I need to refine something I said in Part 1. I’m grateful to anyone who steps forward and challenges me. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, it’s next to impossible to do. I know you’re questioning my ideas, not me personally, so please do as Rachel did and respond honestly. We all learn something.


Rachel heard,

that  A) all colors in the palette should work equally well for anyone in any combination. This, in and of itself was easy to understand, but when combined with concept  B) if you don’t use the proper amount of contrast for your type (i.e. true winter is a high contrast type, so it needs high contrast combinations) you will be expressing less than your potential.

She responded, “Now, each one of these ideas works fine on its own, but when you put them together, I believe there is a contradiction going on.”


Good points, Rachel. I wasn’t clear in my thinking. How about this:

Part 2



Here at YouTube.


Rachel thought about it and asked,

Maybe what you meant was: stick with your type’s contrast level. If you are a season influenced by winter, that will be high. If you are a season influenced by summer, that will be low. Other seasons: medium. It works regardless of whether you are an exception to the seasonal stereotype. Have I got it now?



Yes, that’s what I meant – and that nobody needs to even think much about it except Winters.

I can’t think of any Season that couldn’t go to the highest extreme in their palette. Is it necessary to refine them? Only for the three Winters, not Bright Spring or Dark Autumn who also have some of Winter’s colour properties in them.

Also an important point: the size of the lightest and darkest doesn’t matter to establish the value contrast range. A band on a collar, a very shiny piece of platinum, a row of black navy buttons, white stitching…as long as the two extremes are present, the viewer will register them, the range is set, and the point is made. Adjust the size of the lightest and darkest blocks to the overall darkness level you want to achieve.

Would you sometimes need to heighten the contrast level offered by your Tone’s palette? I don’t think so. I don’t know of anyone within a Season who needs more contrast than their colours provide, regardless of the distance between hair and skin’s apparent darkness level. To do this, you have to lighten your lights, darken your darks, or both. We know that the 3 Colour Scales go up and down independent of each other (meaning you can have saturated colour that’s light or dark, warm or cool) but also that when you change one parameter, you influence the other two. To lighten your lights and/or darken your darks, what did you have to do? Add white? Yellow? Blue? In most cases, you’ll alter the colour right into one of the other 11 Tones and out of harmony with your natural colours.


Part 3

A few more questions from readers about True Winter.

Here at YouTube.


Who would wear very high value contrast (light to dark) and very high colour contrast (complementary colours, like the skirt and scarf mentioned earlier or similar shapes of nearly equal size)? A Bright Winter.

Like Dark Winter, she has a better white than True Winter’s so-white-it’s-blue. Retail reality probably means that she’ll just buy the TW white. She is the lightest of the 3 Winters and I find she is better in coal than the dark, dense pitch black of True and Dark Winter. The 3 Winters do go all the way to B&W but I see their pure unadulterated form best on True. Dark and Bright need to adulterate.

Important for me to be reminded that nothing applies to everybody. In our group on facebook, we talk about colour as it applies to different body types, even within the same Season. No two women will apply the same palette in the same way. Partly, that’s just taste. As the ladies pointed out, tapped in as they are to elegance and balance in body line as much as colour, (applying David Kibbe’s 13 Image Identities from his 1987 book, Metamorphosis), women of the same Season but different body line will combine from their palettes differently. As a Dramatic Classic Dark Winter, my colour contrasts are higher, with heavy use of neutral colours. A Theatrical Romantic Dark Winter might find that too stark and minimal. She would wear more colours together at once, using more of the mid-range colours together. She looks and moves in a more delicate and animated way than I do, and she looks right when  she repeats that energy in how she dresses, applies makeup, and chooses hairstyles.

Everybody adjusts everything in the way that’s right for them. It’s easy once you know how. One afternoon, you and I together. You will be amazed at the new tools in your toolbox.



The Soft Dramatic Soft Summer Part 2 (and Hair Colour)

September 25, 2012 by · 16 Comments 

Still lunar and fluid like all Summer, still vaporous, but with a dimensional quality, like a silvery apparition, the hologram we discussed in Part 1. Soft Summer does not have a feeling of steps. What these fairly-light and fairly-dark colours do is flow smoothly.

Paisley asked

“Can the Soft Summer archetype as you model it have a warmer embodiment?…mostly we’re compared to water spirits (which imagery I do love). I wonder if we could have a warmer side that’s maybe more of a mountain spirit? I do have warm-leaning eyes and some warmth in my hair, but yes, the SA drapes turn me yellow. Even so, gold, brass, copper, and rose gold are better on me than silver or pewter, which tend to just sit there on me.”

She makes an important point that applies to many Soft Summer. That warmer incarnation is certainly in my head, but maybe not always in my words and images. Something that comes up often for me is that I see many who are very borderline Soft Summer/Soft Autumn. They’re like the neutralest of the Neutrals, positioned almost even between those two Neutral Seasons. To see the eyes alone, you’ll pick the warmer Season for sure, except that the skin yellows with drapes. On these women, silver (not overly cold and shiny) and gold (not overly yellow and shiny) are about equal.

Soft Summer warms and solidifies significantly relative to True Summer imagery. In my book (over in the right column), we went from a lake to a forest. Hopefully, the Polyvores below portray that.

About shimmer, Paisley said,

As long as the iridescence doesn’t take the color too high, I think iridescent makeup is gorgeous on us. Also your makeup style depends on your Kibbe. Having been identified as a Romantic, I was relieved to read Kibbe’s recommendation that even daytime makeup should have some sparkle. I think very softly glowing making adds to the misty factor, as do finishing powders that are pearlescent. The point being to keep it soft-focus — it’s can’t go toward metallic in any way. But glowing and pearlescent is gorgeous on us, IMO.

And IMO, you’re exactly right, Paisley. I can not say it as well as a woman who lives it.

Seems to me that part of the shimmer, maybe all of it, is explained by the equiluminant property of this palette. Rendered in B&W, it would appear to be just a few shades of grey and much of the detail would disappear. Bring in colour and the combinations are pure melody. Everyone of the 12 Seasons soars depending on what you can do with it. For Soft Summer, it’s in the allure that happens when these colours are worn together on this type of colouring.

Why? Because vision in our brain operates on two parallel tracks. The colour system recognizes faces, objects, and details. The B&W system sees movement, depth, and position.  In equiluminant compositions or outfits, the colorblind B&W track won’t quite be able to tell the location of the elements. But the colour track will see the elements well. This disconnect gives these compositions an unstable, shimmery, unearthly feeling. We talked about it in Part 1. Sorry for repeating, it is so amazing to me.

The SD body has presence. The horizontal shoulder line is substantial and the vertical line equally so. I am not a Kibbexpert, but narrow, petite, or slender wouldn’t be words I’d associate with Soft Dramatic. If someone picked those words for you over Amazonian, I’d have to wonder about another Image Identity. If you look at Images for Raquel Welch, she is luscious-yes, dumpling-no. Compared to other body types, these are a little burly. A lot of size, strength, and length in the upper and lower body.

Kibbe Soft Dramatic (SD)

  • broad shoulders, a strong horizontal line
  • a long bold sweeping vertical line
  • drape, flow, light fabric ; soft plush – so far, great on Soft Summmer
  • shiny fabric – for Soft Summer, this looks like the lustre of pearl and abalone shell ; go past it and your colouring will make the fabric shinier than it is and the fabric will make your face more muted


Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 1
Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 1 by christinems featuring a tuxedo shirt



Many Summers ask if they look good in pearls. They absolutely do, taking into account your body’s geometry. Classics wear the classic strand(s) better than one big-huge piece. Dramatic bodies need big and geometric shapes to include the necessary angularity that balances who they already are.

We’ve talked about what looks like black and white on you in Black and White for 12 Seasons. Once you learn to manipulate what you wear to look like B&W or black&red or whatever on you without actually wearing those colours, you have cracked the code. You can achieve any look without ever venturing into unflattering colour by knowing how your own colouring exerts influence over what you wear. How do you do this? Wear your 12 Season Sci\ART palette. Job done.

Mr. K talks about bold and dramatic colour combinations. Great. Use your palette and go wild. Don’t compare your bold and dramatic to how Mr. Spock would get there.

Contrast levels are high here. First, it increases the drama and boldness. Second, I’ve rethought this whole contrast thing – 3! videos coming up about that in another post.


Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 2
Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 2 by christinems featuring oversized tops


  • Head to Toe.
  • T with rounded edges, always the vertical and horizontal lines.
  • Luxe and glamour.
  • Colour repetition works well to give flow and continue a vertical line.
  • Not stiff, tight, shapeless, sharp of drape.
  • Lots of length. Strong geometrics with soft edges.
  • If you don’t like the muted purples, don’t wear them as clothes. But they make darn good eyeshadow.
  • Wear your hair colour on your feet.


Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 3
Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 3 by christinems featuring strappy platform sandals


Enlarged the jewelry to be big. With her size and the very generous amount of Yang, jewelry needs to be scaled way up or she’ll dial it down into a dime store trinket.

For the day of the week you go to the office, not the opera, there are shoes here that won’t punish your back and feet. The guys wouldn’t put up with that. Why should we?


Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 4
Soft Dramatic Soft Summer 4 by christinems featuring a gathered skirt



Soft Summer Hair Colour

This came up on facebook but this is a good place to insert it. Whatever your Kibbe or Season,

When do highlights in the hair look right? When the distance between the lightest and darkest approximates that in the rest of the colouring (except if you’re a Winter (where contrast rules are unique and addressed in those 3! videos)). That’s how the hair can be a realistic extension of the head.

Summer’s light colours are pastels, more ‘colourful’ than Winter’s icy colours. Also, their darks don’t get extremely dark. So there is not a big distance between the lightest and darkest colours. Soft Summer begins from a darker base colour position than the other Summers. Applying the pastel concept, their highlight will be darker than the other Summers too. Message for colourist: don’t overbleach or add back toners that are too light.

Use a taupe highlight, like medium mushroon, for a tone on tone look. The colour is in your swatches. It is cooler than it is warm. But be careful. Someone sees warmth in the eye and the very neutrality of the skin and overestimates the warmth. Soft Summer is often getting coloured way too light and yellow so the face goes oily and yellow. This is not a butterscotch light, it’s taupe.

Also be careful again. That dusty quality in the hair is essential to bring the roses out of the skin. I mean, essential. Don’t stare at your hair colour and not see the whole like we do. Don’t compare your hair to anyone except other perfect Soft Summer hair, like Princess Kate. Would she look better with saturated hair? No way. Highlights? Absolutely not to me.

Start with a colour a couple of shades lighter than the base, usually a medium ash brown And be careful once again. Chemical colour is often very saturated and looks darker than expected, like saturated cosmetics do. So you might even go a few shades lighter than the base to compensate.

If you can keep 80% of the hair as totally unprocessed, much better to give the skin harmony and perfecting potential that chemistry so skillfully removes with chemical pigments. Make highlights filaments, not chunks.

How about this?  Look at the before. Cooler than warm but not pure ash cool silvery brown. The highlights on the right side of your screen (not the model) are pretty good in the lower half of the hair. On the other side, the eye can get caught up on the too-light strands. Soft Summer’s total expression is Summer colours in shade. Still, those too light strands are at least cool beige, not platinum, not yellow or orange. The base is pretty darn good for a Soft Summer. I like it. (IDK if this model is a Soft Summer, it’s just about the hair).




The Best Skin Finish on Spring Colouring

September 7, 2012 by · 46 Comments 

The surefire path to looking easily and believably beautiful is using what you have already as the mooring, and then adding more of it. Anchoring what someone else has into your own physiology isn’t nearly as convincing. To the viewer, this can feel like looking at a seesaw.

Where order  and agreement exist between the elements of a composition (for instance, between your natural colours and those in your  highly structured Sci\ART 12 Season palette), we sense harmony. Their relationships are visually interesting and appealing. More than that, their relationships confer upon the elements the ability to interact. This is visual magic. Now, appearance becomes scintillating.

However often an untruth is repeated, it doesn’t become a truth. When it comes to our appearance, others can tell the difference. They may not know exactly how we looked before we wandered away, but they can tell we moved farther from the starting point.

When you read what I’m about to say, we have to keep the following people out of your thoughts:

i. You – an unobjective situation if ever there was one.

ii. Your family – lots of history and emotional investment, not always a lot of reality going on, though can be a great place to learn to see apparel colours next to human colours.

iii. Anyone in magazines – make-believe worlds that nobody really lives in.

iv. Anyone under 20 – very pretty but have not reached full power in the face or mind, not the reality I want for you.

Of your friends and people at the office, whose appearance looks calm and complete when every hair is pin straight? You can almost feel the ironed hair groaning, “Stop doing this to me. Let me out of this hair girdle.” as if you’re the one getting ironed flat every day. Appearance empathy.

Highlights, bronzer, coloured eyeliner, dewy, glowy, metallics, the list has no end. Knowing which trend or look is for you is power plus – maybe because the other way round is power minus. The more people sign up for an idea or a trend, the more it can cash in for its brief stint in our attention. It doesn’t care if 8 in 10 look worse. It never cared about that in the first place. Its mandate was to rake in $$$.

The only people who should straighten their hair have 80% straight hair at the start and just need to seal the ends. Most everyone else just looks shorter.  Flip up your eyeliner if your eye flips up, otherwise you may be accentuating that your eye doesn’t. If the eye line is straight, then continue liner straight a bit. Many eyes just stop at the outer corner and are a bit squared. They look better with no eyeliner extension. Like over-whitened teeth, that little difference is the edge between creating an appearance that makes sense and one that is confusing.

A Spring woman looks unsettled when she wears Winter colours. She looks more like a child, one who raided her parents’ closet, wearing clothes that look too big and too serious. In her Spring colours, she finally looks like an adult. Spring colours only look kiddish on non-Springs. In her light caramel, peach, and ivory, with sparkling light gold wire hoops from which dangle pieces of coloured glass that catch the light, she is the Director of Educational Development for her province. She knows what she came here to say. Her natural cheerfulness in no way detracts from her credibility. In fact, she was selected for this job because she is so clearly non-judgmental. She so sincerely sees the best in everyone that she brings great comfort to the assembly. She got voted Most Loved Principal by her students. Her workshops are so well-attended because people look forward to being around her. They can feel that she just plain likes them. Spring is the no strings attached person.

Spring shares with Autumn that its colours are very warm, but that’s the end of the similarity. Even the type of heat is different. Spring’s is the yellow found in jellybeans. Autumn’s darker, richer gold colours make more sense as velvet drapes than jellybeans. Spring is smooth and shiny. Autumn is the queen of depth and dimension and we’ll talk about how to make that happen on a face in a later post.

Look at Charlotte’s skin, below. Spring fabrics have shine because of what shine does to colour. Shine can elevate and exaggerate colour. It can also lighten it. Those colours are in the skin too so it follows that we’d enhance them in the same ways, using the same shiny finishes.



Notice that when I add videos, there are two people to compare. Also, IDK what Season Charlotte is, she could be a Soft Autumn or some other. Some of her physical traits resemble Spring’s. Above, look at his skin compared to hers, it’s grey and it’s red. Her hair colour is fantastic. Buttery warm and yellow, not the heavier moose brown of Autumn. The highlights are just that, threads of light, heat, and shimmer. That brown eyeshadow – would it look better grey? No. Moves me closer to considering a very warm Season.

Heaven love her colourist for not making her a beach babe. The hair is coloured but not a lot. It’s believable, friendly, open, not highly contrasting or serious, just like her presence. The upkeep is probably occasional. You can see the yellow in her eyes even from a distance. The brows are dark, which is interesting, with as much drama as the face and her position as an artist will comfortably allow.



Again, below, fantastic golden beige hair. See that she’s not yellow in this dress, most people would be instantly so. Notice the mesmerizing from-elsewhere eyes, they have an Avatar quality, as if descended from a golden, gilded world, the magic that is Spring. She sings with a smile, radiating the pure joy in the sound (many singers frown often, like it’s a job). Spring people seem made from the sun.



Here is another woman with many Spring attributes. Look how yellow her skin is compared to the other women. She actually needs to wear her Spring colours to not look yellower than her clothes.



Nothing should come near this skin, this person, this energy, that could dim its light.

Bring Out the Beauty of Spring Skin

When any drape containing Spring comes near the skin, even if the dose of Spring in the person is small as in Light Summer, or even if the drapes are not quite yellow enough, this skin visibly tightens, plumps, and looks reflective and moist. This happens just as much whether they’re 16 or 60. Tighter skin and easing of lines happens for everyone in their right colours, but I could argue that the Spring colouring takes more years off than any other.

Spring skin keywords: dewy, young, delicate, smooth, tight, shiny, and moist.  Like petals.  We’d all like to think we have petal skin but it’s not realistic so there’s no point. We’ll get to the other Seasons soon.

 Spring makeup tips:

1. Try cutting foundation with moisturizer. You’ll look the same or better. Opaque coverage is never needed here.

2. Keep use of translucent face powder to a minimum, just enough so the next products can be blended. Matte and dry finishes don’t feel right for colours that feel like juice and cream. Even peaches manage to be velvety without feeling heavy.

3. Transparency, as sheer products, are much better than opaque ones with heavy colour deposits. What looks normal and necessary for colour to get noticed on Winter skin looks like house paint on Spring skin.

4. Uplighters, not low lighters!  Choose slight shimmer of the finest grind and uplighting liquids. Think of Charlotte’s face. Adding shadowing products would look heavy and dull. Emphasizing the angularity of a young face never looks quite right to me. It feels old and solid and carved out on a very opposite type of energy. By using uplights, so light + shiny + colour (which isn’t the same as white + frost + icy absence of colour) beautifies the geometry of the face and keeps the vitality and vibrancy high, since Spring’s settings are up at the top on those scales.

5. Jingle, twinkle, sparkle, movement, and high shine – they look odd on a face, but keep them near the face with jewelry. Let the jewelry do what the makeup can’t reasonably do.


Light Spring

petals in hazy light

daisy to daffodils

more delicate and less shiny than tulip petals

peaches and cream


Photo: yenhoon


Photo: relliott3


> For Light Spring, try

delicate peach-gold bronzer very lightly applied

milky colours, which look creamy, not wildly vibrant yet, as the top rose below

to reflect light, a surface must be smooth; make word associations, as ‘milkshake colours feel smooth because milkshakes are smooth’; creamy and smooth feel connected wherever our brain stores sensory data; creaminess of colours feels right

still some Summer here so keep a little haze with more powder and less bronzer

sheer and cream products, to create a moist and dewy finish as the bottom rose photo below; notice this isn’t icy, glitter, metallic, bronze, it’s just wet (kept within reason on a face)


uplights on cheeks using coloured (coral, light beige, gold), not icy, products; remember that Light Spring’s lightest colours are more ‘colourful’ than Winter’s icy colours because they are pastels

eye shadow probably better light, sheer, and matte to recognize Summer’s haze


True  Spring





Below, notice all the light bouncing off every surface. There are highlights everywhere. Surfaces are tight, plump, moist, with no associations of cold, hard, or frosty.


Photo: plrang


>For True Spring, try

the least face powder of anyone, just enough to dry the skin so the next product doesn’t catch


cream cosmetics as for Light Spring

eyeshadow can be shiny or matte, your preference; matte is easier on mature skin

peach-gold bronzer, same product as Light Spring’s but using more of it to create a face that is very vibrant with the colours of health


Bright Spring

delicate shine

icier lights (more ‘colourful’ than Winter’s but not soft/muted/grayed/dusty/heathery)


more contrast as Winter arrives

moist lips

The Birds In A Tree picture is smooth, light, shiny, crisp, tight, and clean, with significant separation between lightest and darkest. The overall effect is still warm, bright, and alive.


Photo: mckenna71 at


On the cherries, the overall effect is darker and the placemement of highlight more strategic than the currants above. The surface is still round, tight, and plump and doesn’t need any strategic shading to make it better.

Photo: al71


>For Bright Spring, try

sharper angles with more deliberate uplight placement along upper edge of cheekbones, browbone, and center of nose to sharpen the angles, not a warmth diffusion

lighter uplighters, not too gold/peach/caramel/yellow as Winter’s sharpening comes in

multicolours and colourful colours to keep the Candyland feeling of this colouring;  peach eyeshadows, dark turquoise eyeliners, fuchsia lips (all from her Colour Book of swatches) together actually looks perfectly fine because that’s how her face is put together to begin with

you can’t put glitter on your face, but you can sneak a little in the hair depending on age and occasion; this is the colouring of figure skating outfits, after all; or just use jewelry, but sparkly sparkly, Swarovski, not pearl/coral/jade/turquoise which don’t feel glassy and twinkly

use glitter in nail polish but keep it delicate, like winking; there is huge delicacy in Bright Spring that more aggressive cosmetic effects don’t respect

more definition of features from skin (a form of contrast)

more distance between light and dark colours


Will the face look wet or oily? No colouring will in right colour because the whites that the color brings out in the face don’t exceed your own. That’s part of the magic. When lights get lighter than your own, which can happen for a variety of reasons in wrong colour, there seems to be a random too-shiny white light bouncing all over, which looks a little greasy.

What your makeup looks like in pans is only how you see it. The rest of us see it painted right on top of your own colours. When you and your product are a match, your appearance has rhyme and reason. I promise you, with only your empowerment in my heart, you look better than good.


Recap: The skin is dewy, setting up highlights. The features are fresh, lively, distinguished from the skin by being very colourful, moist, and vibrant.




Black and White for 12 Seasons

June 26, 2012 by · 19 Comments 

A reminder that I will not be shipping the book, Return to Your Natural Colours, in the month of July. If you’re in the US, Kerry at Indigo Tones may have some copies. Otherwise, best to wait till August.


Women often say that they want to wear bright, vibrant colour. On most types of colouring, that kind of colour is the only thing others will see, hear, feel, or remember. The right lipstick for your natural colouring will look plenty bright to the rest of us who look at you. We don’t look at your clothes on a hanger or your makeup on a sheet of paper. Your right colours in hair and clothes look just as vibrant ON YOU as truly vivid colours look on those women where they have a natural presence.

Only the True Winter wears pitch black and stark white and looks complete. Pure black and pure white do appear in all 3 Winter palettes, but my eye prefers the Dark and Bright  in B&W if they also wear one of their ‘colour colours’ as an accent somewhere in the ensemble. They could do fine in B&W alone if their natural colouring is very close to that of TW. As a Dark Winter, I don’t wear B&W. I can’t meet the coldness and the sharpness.

Not everyone can be invited to every party and nor would they want to be. Would we rather stand in a room full of strangers or friends? There will be some combination of near white and near black that will look like B&W on you. That’s the whole thing, to get the optical effect of B&W on your natural colouring. Wearing pitch black when it isn’t in the natural colouring looks like wearing sweat pants because it can’t find focus or definition. The viewer has an impression of a bulky blur. Besides, it matches nothing else in the wardrobe.

Stores won’t supply 12 great ‘blacks’. Just practicing the basics for that True Season trio will help more than you can imagine.

Look at the graphics below in natural lighting without sunlight. Play with the tilt of your screen to see the colour’s versions. Don’t go shopping from these colours. Use your Colour Book of personal swatches.









Spring True: Buttery cream and a grey so yellow it looks brown. At this degree of skin warmth, pure white doesn’t look any better than on the Autumns.

Light: Raw cauliflower white. There is a Brazil nut brown that goes darker than the grey above, but I’m trying to keep obvious ROYGBIV out of this.

Bright: As good as it is on Bright Winter, absolute white is far from the best on this colouring, causing the skin tone and eyes to grey and fatigue, especially worn in a large block. White looks good and adds crispness if the area is kept small and mixed in with warmer, brighter colour to keep the eye moving. The better white is very light, a white that is greyed and yellowed at once. The ‘black’ isn’t black but a dark, clean grey, not earthy or blued. Bright Spring can often manage dense black in small areas, not right under the chin.


Summer True: This trip through Photoshop taught me that if I pick the undertone of the skin (see them in RTYNC, the book pictured in the right column, they’re not on this website), adjust the saturation as appropriate for the Season, and select the lightest colour possible, I get the Season’s ‘white’. True Summer’s began as clean cobalt type blue and moderate saturation.  Many with darker hair tones could go darker in their ‘black’ above, but not too dark. The colour above hopefully represents everyone, knowing that darker tones are available once colour pigments like blue, green, red, and so on, are added.

 Light: Vanilla ice cream. There is a grey that goes darker than what’s shown but it is more blue-looking than this grey.

Soft: Campfire smoke. And smoke blocks light, so the whole palette is a little smoked, muting colours. Smoke also reduces transparency. Earrings (like these) made of glass smoked with your palette colours are simply beautiful. Medium pewter makes a great black.


Autumn True: What applies to pants and boots applies to anything where we default to black. Diorshow Brown mascara is a very close match.

Soft: Light putty. This Season also has medium and dark putty. Compared to Spring, greys are more orange and somehow greener – which makes sense since green is made of blue (Summer) and yellow (added as gold since this is Autumn). Summer’s greys are bluer.

Dark: like the pages of an airport paperback. Books aren’t truly B&W, that’s too hard to read, especially on a screen where it seems to twinkle. But our brains, that are adjusting colours all day long and telling us they’re white, do the same to the pages of a book.


Winter True: Snow so white, it looks a little blue next to any other white. And black.

Bright: Polar bear, maybe with the slightest yellow peach tint… polar bear at sunrise. Adding that my eye loves Bright Winter in crisp white even better than black. For me, these are the ultimate wearers of pure white. And black.

Dark: One drop of tar fell in the white paint pot, but barely a trace. You don’t know it’s not pure white unless you hold it next to pure white and even then you’re not sure. And like all Winter’s icy lights, this is mostly white with barely a trace of pigment, nowhere near as softly grayed as Summer’s white. So, white can be icy or pastel too, an interesting concept to roll around. Enough of my talking, think about the center of an Oreo cookie before you separate the halves and light shines on the white. Look at Merle Norman’s Ice, best eyeshadow highlight for the Season that I know and we can move on.


Like an alphabet that makes sense out of sounds so they can be used and shared, the 12 Season (12 Tone) Sci\ART palettes make sense out of colours. Then, it’s up to you to write the poem, the song, the story. It’s up to you to make your house a home.





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