1. When you can’t be anything else
In his very famous Stanford Commencement address of 2005, Steve Jobs says that your heart and intuition always know what’s best for you. I believe that to be 150% correct. That is, if you can connect with them before judgment arrives. Once judgment settles in, it’s over. No more right or truth can happen. We’re stalled in a character that has reverted to a less mature form.
I watch this video quite often for the reminders.
I began seeing Jennifer for facials two years ago. Before too long, a pattern emerged. Before starting the car, I’d sit in her driveway for 10 minutes writing down all the things she said about how to think (and not think) towards what I want my life to be like.
I’ll experiment with any advice, from Deepak Chopra to Alan Weiss. A woman I adore suggested a Vision Board, among my present projects. Fascinating to me that I wasn’t sure how to make one effectively, so send along your good resources. Experiments tend to work or not pretty fast.
From Visit 1 with Jen, I supervised my mindset according to her guidance and my life direction began to materialize faster. Presently, I’m reading The Power of Framing by Gail Fairhurst, in which she discusses priming the pump of our subconscious so that we can have rehearsed situations for our best reaction as they happen, not a day later. To describe in left-brain language what Jennifer’s guidance does, it would be that.
She listens to me talk for about 60 seconds, evaporates all the irrelevance, and extracts the highest calling. She can link me to my greatest good and the situation to its best outcome near immediately. If her words don’t make sense at the time, I wait 48 hours. Once it took 2 weeks to get the “So that’s what you meant.” light bulb moment.
Sometimes, we begin with a card reading (not Tarot or Zodiac) to give us something to talk around. The results of the four cards I choose are always freakishly related to one another and to new directions that are opening up or something I’m worried about. They might be a confirmation. They might feel uncomfortable and I start with the excuses, but I’ve learned that sooner I stop talking and start listening, sooner things arrive. She can get me out of my own way faster than anything I’ve ever encountered.
As with colour, we sabotage ourselves in so many ways until someone who sees us clearly says, ”This is your colouring. This heat, this darkness range, this softness.” Until the physio says, “Stop hiking your right shoulder and your left hip won’t hurt.” Until an intuitive person says, “Stop right there, that’s a judgment and I hear you apply it every time you bring up that situation”.
Jen taught me how to meditate. The usual ways were boring. I can pay attention to 2.5 breaths max. She said, “Try listening for the most far away noise you can hear.” That was fantastic. You know your eyes and brain relax when you look far away? This is exactly the same. It also creates a big, empty, open space between you and the place you’re listening in.
This is not the usual psychic “you have sorrow in your life” or “money is coming to you” reading. Jen’s readings are clearly “you gotta give something to get something and here’s what you gotta give.” When I leave, I have the jobs for the month. My jobs are the ways that I will hold and transform my thoughts. If I’m willing to do it, change is willing to come.
This isn’t only in person. She’ll do readings just by hearing you talk. She’s at Cloud 313. Below, she describes the difference between psychic and soul readings:
Regular psychic readings are more likely to tell you what is coming to you in the near future, which will be based on the vibrational energy & thoughts you have been sending out into the universe. Soul sessions/readings are geared more towards me tuning in to your soul, retrieving and interpreting information on the level of soul. When we “hear” the truth from our higher intuition it resonates perfectly with us on every level – we can instantly FEEL a change physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We can use this information to begin to practice new ways of being, allowing us to be easily joyful, confident and loving in all our moments as we move forth towards our soul’s true purpose. Our soul does not require us to analyze our past, present or future meaning. We do not need to focus on our darkest secrets or fears.
She looks quite amazing, not a face you see often or a presence you feel often. You probably have no idea what personality she has. Well, she’s completely down-to-earth and very direct. She enjoys colour but feels most grounded wearing black (oddly, that’s when I feel most tethered – which is the same as grounded, come to think of it). Her house contains more shades of red than any other colour. No question, she had the priestess presence of Zyla’s Soft Winter. Winter that she is, she is completely and unquestioningly internally guided. She will wear black exclusively. That’s her way to be Bright Winter. It’s a success story.
Jennifer had to be a Bright Winter. This mixture of faith and trust that normally resides naturally in children, people who have complete faith in magic because they see it all around them, takes a form in adult bodies. Material magic is in the Bright Season neck of the woods.
I expected her to feel all sorts of energy things during her PCA. No. She was a model for a colour analyst training course, probably the fastest student-directed PCA ever done. Jen flicked away all the other colours like pesky spirits trapped in a middle world to confuse humans. We all saw that every other choice was so far behind that we could barely recognize its presence. Even True Winter was, “Yeah, whatever, get that one off, put the other colour back.”
Variations on the Bright Winter Theme
I have said: “Add Spring’s wonderful humour to Winter’s formality in jewelry that sparkles, belts that are crayon-coloured and shiny, or imaginative hair accessories.”
Bright Winter colouring often reminds us of storybook characters, Snow White being the most familiar. That Katy Perry face, the child in a grown-up body, will follow that advice.
Nothing is for everyone.
Every woman expresses her colours in her own way.
She’s not always Sweet Queen. Sometimes she’s another type of queen. She might be the person that is bigger than life, big, strong, and flamboyant, a super heroine. She will wear the big, bold, bright colours in large areas easily. Pucci designs in prints. Platinum rings that look like silver lava. Shiny zippers and buckles make sense on her. They express a truth about her. They are a rational continuation of her energy. I think of Sci\ART Lauren Battistini of Color My Closet in Houston.
When the image is more mysterious, as the fortune-teller, she enjoys Winter’s ability to wear dark drama like no other colouring can. Try the dignified version in huge eyes and crystal clear-as-glass details (transparent buttons, lip gloss) to convey consummate clarity. These words, divine everlasting infinite immortal omniscient omnipotent. Wear a Zodiac medallion (eternity) on a violet (higher realms, highest Chakra) cord.
The character might be even darker, sensuous and mysterious. Morticia Addams has been suggested. Yes, like that. She was extreme, but still stunning, like a slinky and more dangerous Jessica Rabbit, pale as the most seductive apparition. Subtle, snaky wit and fierce loyalty describes most Winters I know. Morticia radiated power – perhaps that’s the part we’re not ready for.
It was she who said,
You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that.
Our credo: “Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc.” We gladly feast on those who would subdue us. Not just pretty words.
Winter is the gorgeous Goth, oxymoronic somehow. Some do it so well that their beauty is shocking, as deadly as Morticia. Friends and family may be uncomfortable because it’s just so believable, such a good extension of you, that you seem to be in costume when you’re not. They’re not sure what to think.
If you want to tone it down, wear the hair differently from Morticia, maybe in a sexy secret agent loose bun or a sporty teenager messy bun. Move the hair up, or add shorter, face-framing layers, or add bangs. Avoid black. Add sparkle here and there. Wear a very subtle complexion warming product like Givenchy Croisiere 1, Spring’s pale peach gold, adjusted to be invisible on your skin and set your makeup too. Wear peach-red gloss and blush, not blue-red.
Some folks don’t really remind of any character. I think of Nikki Bogardus of My Color Rx. And some don’t embody a story character but they certainly have some of those properties – a stunning and beautiful profile and impossibly long fingers that move like feathers, highly theatrical and romantic at once.
Jen is another expression of Bright Winter, quite beyond the naivete of Snow White. Design = Colour + Line. Fully half of a PCA session is concerned with the lines. This colouring can be painted into lines that are very adult, with a far-reaching wisdom, fully grown and ripe with experience, if you see where I’m going. Wear red. Wear velvet. Have a hairstyle that’s luscious. Where does supernatural meet sumptuous, as it does in Jennifer? Rhinestone. Black, but not industrial. Black, but not diesel black or office chair black, those are all Dark Winter. How do we make black yummy? Beading. Shine. Swirl effects. Lace. Big hair. A darkly luscious Marilyn Monroe.
You understand that I get carried away with words, right? And the image gets bigger than life because it’s fun to see where things will go. Don’t picture a red velvet leotard and a push up bra. Just saying, there are way more kinds of great women in the world than Sweet&Sunny.
Step into your own power. You saw that happen in our mirror when we analyzed your colouring. In Sweet&Sunny or Soft&Dreamy colours, you were literally not there. We couldn’t see you. You were not in the room. Be who you came here to be.
You can convey these pictures with one tiny item. It takes barely anything for the viewer to make a connection. Mary Kay Crystalline eyeshadow highlight, pure as the driven snow, and a mouth-watering accessory, a shiny pomegranate juice wallet. Voila. Not a high wire act.
2. When you wish you were anything else
The tough love section. And please believe me when I tell you that I do love you. For every one of you who is feeling exposed, who is trying something new, who can’t find that hiding place when it was right there yesterday, I have nothing but love and respect for what you’re trying to do.
When your colouring was analyzed, your conscious and subconscious minds got a wake up call they didn’t see coming. I get it. I was it.
I could have stayed there. Nothing bad would have happened. There is no pretty or ugly. There is no wrong or right. My face is not the same colour as my arms. You can see my Dad but my features are less focused. I know, you can see that for yourself.
Once we see a new way of thinking, we can choose to absorb it or reject it. Our call. Walk away from it if your heart and intuition say N.O.W.A.Y.
I looked at the Winter makeup and saw a clown. I could see nothing else. And being a Winter, I’m always right. Just ask me. Others might be right but I’m more right. I got compliments the first day, but No, Sir, That Is Not Me.
On the other hand, winters are hard on themselves and they are smart. Winters are good at living at the rules they set for others. They can separate emotion from the problem or the job. So do the job. It’s a sweater. Buy it cheap. If you were the analyst back then and I had been your client, what would you have said to me? Try it for a month. I did. Took me 5 days and then it couldn’t come fast enough. 4 years later, it’s still coming and it will for you too.
You do not have to be perfect. I know, words lost on Winters.
While you’re separating things, separate colours from styles. Every body type, fashion preference, weight issue or non-issue, age, and comfort zone exists in every type of colouring.
I was convinced I was a summer, maybe a soft summer. I had been analyzed as a summer in the past, and advised never to wear gold jewelry. I like foggy, misty colors. Pretty much my entire wardrobe is muted blues, violets, & greens, plus black & gray, which I thought complemented my gray (once ash blonde) hair & blue eyes. I’m not arguing with [the] evaluation — I agreed with her that my complexion evened out and livened up with the BW drapes — but I don’t like bright colors! Especially red. Reds and pinks make me queasy. Just looking at my BW color fan makes my head hurt. What to do? How to embrace an identity of Bright Winter and supposedly present my best self, when the only thing from your BW wisdom that resonates with me is a fondness for tailored, glamorous, nearly formal clothing?
Part of this is my fault. In describing these colours as highly pure and energized so you could distinguish them on a scale of every possible colour including the other Winters, people heard NEON and felt like STROBE.
Textile colour exceeds human saturation. You’re picturing an extreme and you’ve painted it head to toe.
In What It Takes To Look Normal, we talked about how strawberry red doesn’t look bling on you, it just looks like medium red. I’m not sure how many more tips I can come up with.
The best advice really is to try it for a little while.
“Well, you have to start. Do it for a month” is that in my case I’d have to throw out and replace just about everything I own — and everyone seems to agree that BW is hard to shop for!
That’s a Winter’s world. Be perfect or do nothing. Why is perfect necessary? Can we put it on hold for a year?
Everyone who learned their colouring replaced everything they own over about 2 years. It’s important to NOT throw anything out. Those items will be how you evaluate progress and make comparisons.
And “everyone” will only be as accurate as “everyone” ever is, which is to say barely. If you listened to “everyone” about other things in your life, you’d know what you did when you were 16 and heard the “everyone” voice for the first time. Live your own experience. Make one move. Wear one sparkling bracelet with one charm on it that has meaning to you and gives you energy. Your little intention that you will open your heart.
There is definitely a bright winter stereotype of vaudeville costumes. I’ve had a role in perpetuating that, probably a big role. The irony is that this is the only coloring that doesn’t look like a silver bullet in these colors.
We’re saying to choose pure pigmentation, nothing more. Dressing as The Flash isn’t the plan.
The colours looked brighter under the PCA lights. Those are seriously honest lights. They need to be. Same with O.R. lighting. The surgeon has to see the earliest signs of changes in colour of tissues. Some professions have brutal lighting but you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Regular lighting is indirect and bounces off all sorts of objects, which is why close enough is often good enough in foundation. Our brain adjusts a lot, like all the white we think we see that a painter would not paint white. We don’t need accuracy to survive so we didn’t evolve to see it on our own. To survive and reproduce, all evolution really cares about, we need to draw accurate information from our surroundings, which we do by being less absolute. We make correct approximations. Not good enough for a colour analyst.
If you love heathery colours, wear them. My teenagers get along splendidly well wearing what they like. If this is a good plan for you, PCA can save you money even here by suggesting you not buy anything too costly. The clearness of Bright Winter colouring will drain other colours, reducing them into a tired old item that’s been washed a lot. There is no way I know to make those colours interesting on you, if they get noticed at all. Put your cash someplace else.
Biggest part of helping someone is teaching them to help themselves.
Biggest part of helping yourself is answering this: What are you willing to do?
Let’s break it into steps. You decide if you’re willing.
1. Do nothing for a month. Not one thing. Let the whole PCA sit on the highest shelf in the pantry. Leave it there. If your Season grows legs and moves in the night or starts making chirping sounds and bugs you enough, doing something will become the path of least resistance. For now, your best decision is to stay where you are.
Action step: Give this (and your analyst) a chance. Change will be unsettling. The iChing said
“Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos.”
Deepak said something similar in the 7 Spiritual Laws of Success. I read one daily. Today, try #2 in the Law of Detachment.
2. Choices. You can choose to look for every reason why it won’t work. Dog trainers experience this day in, day out. My dog is different and not one of your 40 ideas will work. At the end of the day, the trainer’s hands are tied. Keep the dog you have. You made it be the way it is so part of you is already OK with that. Dogs and owners train each other, the dogs doing the massive majority of it.
Action step: Start small. Buy a wallet or nail polish. We still see it as part of you. Wear a sparkly something. I favour these at Macy’s. Simple, symmetrical, repeating, balanced, all good Winter words.
3. Don’t wear the makeup. Or any makeup. Half of women don’t and wouldn’t and don’t care.
Many women wouldn’t have a PCA at all simply because makeup is uncomfortable. Many wouldn’t be trained as analysts only because they’re uncertain about applying makeup on themselves, let alone others. Sell who you are. Women will think, “Someone like me. I’ll be comfortable with her.”
Many who would bring so much to this career hold back. They worry that they don’t wear makeup and won’t fit into an image industry. Think there’s no market sector that doesn’t wear makeup and still wants to look great? Lord.
Action step: Do it as a group. If I’m writing an article, I’ve gathered from the many emails that the audience must be wide. Here’s another market sector to open up. The New Bright Winter Support Group. Many reading this have figured out this colouring. They could offer the most valuable kind of help. What did you do? How did you think about it? How long did it take to get comfortable? What’s still hard and how are you managing it? Of the advice out there, what do you just ignore? Do you have a vision you’re moving towards in your choices?
4. Two sessions. If you live near the analyst and you know makeup is a problem, ask ahead if you can split the visit in two parts. PCA first, makeup in 2 months. Every analyst should be offering some kind of progress visit after a few months. If you’re hitting the brakes as we get to the end of the analysis, the makeup will go in one ear and out the other. You’ll be processing a thousand things and wanting to get out of there. If you want to sit in your car and weep, you should be free to go do that.
But don’t turn yourself into a victim, ay? In your life, you’ve gotten lots of advice you didn’t take. This can be the same. Here’s a Bright Winter thing: emotional vulnerability on a giant scale. Spring’s emotion and sweet optimism mixed with Winter where everything happens on a grand scale, and drama soon becomes melodrama. The emotional vulnerability is laid out over and over only to have it shot down. Hopelessness sets in. Rein all that back in. Get out of your life. Look down at yourself from a balcony.
Action step: Winter excels at big perspectives. Go there. “Instead of finding everything about my appearance that I don’t like, I guess I better find the things about me that I do like and notice those for a while. Have I being systematically brainwashing myself over the years? OK, so I can’t unlearn everything as fast as my PCA experience did, but I can take it slow and re-examine a lot of things.”
Energy flows along behind attention. Get conscious about where you’re putting yours because you are literally telling yourself the story of your life. From the balcony, what is the story of your life? “She is going to…”
5. Let’s try out some voices. See if you can recognize yours. There is no wrong or right.
Christine was right when she said that it’s easy to see the changes. I understand her writing better now but I like my clothes and I’m going to keep them. Interesting experience but I probably won’t do much with it.
I might try those colors but the people in my life won’t like me wearing them. When I told Christine that, she looked at me funny and said, “Who gives a shit?” but that’s just Christine and she’s kind of hard. She must have felt really strongly about this topic because it was the only time she swore. She said, “Stop abdicating your power and decide for yourself how you wear your hair and what clothes you choose. Let someone else control the little things, and while you were distracted, poof!, they’re controlling your big things.” Whatever. Might work for her but I care what my husband thinks and I want to look good for him. Good thing her husband is a True Winter, they probably deserve each other, imagine living in that house.
Okie dokie, something is going to have to change. I could see that in Summer colors, I looked like I was being prepped for surgery. In Autumn colors, my skin and eyes reflected light like a farm pickup truck that hasn’t seen rain in a month. I had pea soup skin. The lighter Springs weren’t so bad, but I looked like a horse that has its winter coat. Puffed. No sleek planes and angles. Wider and duller. Am I really going to spend the next 40 years of my life in clothes that tell other people that I’m not really here because I’m nervous about the color of a sweater? My 90 year-old self would kick my butt around the block.
I know that to get anywhere in life, you have to know where you start. PCA gave me that. I got handed my Owner’s Manual, or a chapter of it. I get to decide where and how to drive the car.
Now I need to picture where I’m going. A start place and a going towards place. Two points define a line. I now understand the space from here to there. It know it will get clearer once I start because that’s how life always works.
Action step: Celebrate that you can wear black quite well. Do you know what others would give? I mightn’t advise that you wear a turtleneck of it. Black is a little rough on Bright Winter, even though you’re a Winter. A colour that’s too cold and dark will need adjusting and it’s hard to make sunlit black.
A colour that’s too cold, even if the saturation and darkness levels are Bright Winter, will cause blue shadows and need adjusting, even though you’re a Winter. Some of my drapes might do that if you’re a little warmer than they are, though both you and they reside under the Bright Winter umbrella. That’s a common happening in Bright Winter colouring, male and female. Every human can’t hope to be equally represented in every way when there are only 12 categories.
Let’s be real. Every Winter will have black pants while they’re trying to figure stuff out (if they didn’t before) and so they should. Their colours go well with black.
6. Start with colours you already like. Periwinkle and turquoise are usually easy.
Move towards purer pigmentation. That’s all it is. Go top to bottom.
7. You like soft colours. You already like gray. Wear more. Rely heavily on neutral colours.
Action step: Little adjustments the next time you buy pants or decide which pants to keep.
The Winter lineup on the bottom.
Winter gray is made of black and white. Might look a touch blue or red.
Pink and purple gray are not so good. A red gray like the cords on the right side is better.
Blue gray is ok too if it’s close to white. Rainclouds and pigeon medium-blue-gray won’t be the best choice you can make.
Winter white pants are good.
Trade soft blue for more blue, 3rd from left.
The top center pants are not bad at all. They’re just very dark. I like dark clean gray better than black but it’s very dependent on the person. Some Bright Winters have beige hair and wear black exceptionally well, no problems of any sort even in a turtleneck.
8. Forget about contrast. Revisit it in a few months.
Action step: I’m going to build me an outfit on the internet.
Learn Polyvore. Learning your Season is much like learning software. You Google and YouTube about it. In the end, you figure it out by messing with it, getting some stuff wrong, remembering what worked, setting up new maps in your head till they are easy and automatic.
On the internet, it’s free. As many times as I need.
My pants are going to be gray. Already own those. I’m going to wear a light peach colored sweater. Peach is hardly ballistic. The wool will soften the look and the colours. I might go for mint too. Today, I give myself permission to buy anything I want. The only deal is, I can’t pick anything I would normally buy.
I’m going to wear a white blouse under it. Easy and pretty. I’m not even going to think about shiny fabric for a year.
Maybe it’s Christmas. I’m going to pin one sweet little Jingle Bell to my cardigan as a brooch. Maybe a sparkly angel. No other jewelry. Actually that doesn’t sound very hard.
Christine asked me to do her one favour. I can hear her voice. “Please, don’t buy a brown or black purse. Please. Anything else. Pick crystal gray. Doesn’t have to be fuchsia sequins. Just not functional.”
I hid the big colour inside a purse. That allover purple purse, we’ll just put it up there in the corner, top shelf of the pantry.
Saw some jewelry I had to have.
If I saw this on another woman, I can admit that I wouldn’t brace myself.
At first, I got many Soft Summer clients. I know what the lesson was. Learn from them to be a nicer version of yourself.
Lately, it’s Bright Winter. I still cannot figure out the lesson so we’ll be here for awhile.
Having just returned from a week in my native city (Montreal), I’m reminded of how much more grunge/tough-chic urban dwellers are compared to me. I live in the exact center of a clump of trees which grow in the exact center of 90 acres of corn.
The anonymity of city living may explain in part why all the grey and black. Perhaps also the multisensory assault and the need for some quiet somehow. Imagine if everyone were very colourful, or if they all had different coloured coats. It would be too much to take in. I don’t feel it in the small town where I live, but I sure love visiting cities. Montreal is a brilliant city with lots of character. Where you buy a screwdriver is beyond me. It’s all restaurants and bars.
I’m a Dark Winter in colouring. If human colouring were divided into 12 groups, or Seasons, mine would come from the Winter palette of jewel tones. To that, you’d add a few drops of crude oil to darken, dull, and warm slightly. The dull black of crude oil is what happens when Autumn’s deep rich gold mixes with sapphire and ruby. Picture the difference between the matte Batman black (Dark Winter) and the bluer and shinier vinyl record (True Winter).
For Dark Winter colouring, industrial/combat looks almost fall together. Though this won’t apply to all body types, the functionality, simplicity, toughness, masculinity all ring pretty true. I’m not a fan of all black but here, you have white, darker than usual blush (eleablake Accomplished, MAC Fever, this is no rosy cheek look), lipstick, and a ring the colour of blood. The lipstick is sheerly dark because this a natural/young/minimal look (Merle Norman Stolen Kisses).
Muscle tends to be easy for the 3 Autumn types of colouring, who do a cargo/military version. And Heaven knows if there are great boots for them to choose from.
It seems hardest to put this together for Spring. The heavy use of neutral colours always feels too drab on Spring, on whom I find colour is a better neutral than the traditional gray range. Even in their own grays, the excitement isn’t quite there. I still can’t visualize a Spring version that makes sense. I struggle with the toughness as well for True and Bright. Still, it just takes some adjusting. More colour, less metal and leather.
What about a Summer? Overall, this colouring is great in neutral colours and monochromatics. Some Light Summers are surprisingly edgy and G.I. Jane. They know it too but in trying to express it in Winter colours, the whole thing can come off too butch. Below, some adaptations.
Should be easy, she has the same relative darkness, dullness, and texture to True Summer as Dark Winter to True Winter.
She’ll do less distance between lightest and darkest, looks way better on Summer colouring.
Ombre and fade effects are nowhere better.
Wear the bracelets on the same hand.
Could do a mascara version of soft black for the boot.
Equestrian boot are too glamourous and Uggs make us walk too shuffly and mushy.
Denim is so ubiquitous that we barely register its colour unless it’s pretty saturated.
You can’t see the model in the Tshirt because she’s unlikely to be a Soft Summer so she’s disappearing.
Don’t buy the makeup on the Polyvore, I haven’t swatched any of it.
Anybody but especially the boy-body nerd > messenger bag.
Amazing in her teals.
Those earrings are lakes.
The eyeshadow is matte.
Anybody but especially the field hockey player > backpack or hobo.
True Summer is such a clean-water Season, it’s hard to make it look messy.
Cate Blanchett on the other side of the subway platform. With this wicked good haircut. In this clothing, I’d stare shamelessly.
But without the high-class natural makeup. There’s something too wholesome or healthy about it. I kept peach out of the blush and lip.
Eyeliner is important and you need one that allows you to wear a lot without closing down the eye size. Our makeup should be as much as us, not more. And not less, personal taste depending of course.
I’m completely attracted to biker jackets. Engineer boots too.
Bracelets on the same hand. Warm and cool together are good on Neutral Seasons.
The belt is bubbles.
She has double piercings in her ears.
The Spring in her makes her great in tye-dye. I picked watercolours of galaxy earrings today.
The blue beanie, because marled wools look terrific, because blue disappears on Summers, like a non-colour so it doesn’t really add another colour block.
Purse too saturated? Yup. Coat too something else? Probably. As if a woman wearing this is going to pass up a great purse because it colours outside the lines. Where we do and don’t draw our lines makes us more interesting.
Personal Shopper + Colour Analyst = VALUE
Shopping takes hours of planning and thinking. Which I enjoy more than I can say but seldom have the time. I know you don’t believe this, but many people have way more money than time. I meet them all the time. I get links to Theory suits and Burberry trenches to advise about, shopping bags full of Cle De Peau makeup to sort through, and offers of all-expense paid travel if I’ll go analyze colouring and take on the shopping thereafter.
Believe this too. It’s not because I’m good at it. All I have is the ability to choose colours that flatter because I can measure the person’s colouring, i.e.: I know their Season. That alone sets me apart from all the other stylists. I work from airport waiting lounges, Starbucks, shopping malls, wherever and whenever, with nothing but an iPad.
Sound like your path? Consider training as a colour analyst. Fashion advice without the ability to analyze colouring accurately will be like Hollywood, trendy and unpredictable. If you love shopping and can analyze colouring, you are a different commodity, higher in the value chain, even at the celebrity level.
Picture this: a search engine for your colour palette!
I believe that we are most beautiful when we wear the colours we already are. Knowing the precise colours of our own pigmentation, all the reds, greens, blues, yellows, and so on, that we were painted with is what a Personal Colour Analysis provides. Wearing the hues of your very own colouring really does make your life better than if you wear the colours that I am, or some other person, or both of us at once. You look better and you feel better Â to us when we look at you.
I want to solve the problems in PCA. One of them is that the user experience needs improving. Finding our colours in clothing should be far easier and faster than it is. No wonder so many people are stuck in black. It’s right there on all the racks. Locating one’s colours, let alone putting an outfit together, takes way, way too long.
If consumers had more available choice, they could make the colour decisions that they know are best for them. This would put some dollar pressure on the fashion industry to provide us with yet more of our colours. We would return less. We’d be happier. Win-win.
I’ve learned that giving a man or woman a swatch book containing their most exceptional colours and hoping they’ll find them at the mall or online is not enough. Part of the fix is education. Time is taken with clients, and even more time with students training to be colour analysts, to learn to harmonize solid and printed coloured fabrics to each Season. The public needs some teaching in how to do this.
The other part of the fix is making items easier to find. The Internet’s power is in its search capacities, most of which are free. The Internet should be working for you, not the other way around. The Internet itself should go around the web for you finding your accurate colours. That capacity to search is already in place.
I send clients newsletters containing items in their colours, with some discussion about why that garment would enhance them so well. This takes me hours and hours. If it’s May, I barely search for Dark Winter, it’s just so hard to find.
Enter Jeremy, the technology member of the team at The Dress Spot. When he got married two years ago, he couldn’t believe how hard it was for his fiancÃ©e to find slate blue bridesmaid dresses with capped sleeves. Right there with you, Jeremy. My friends and I are looking for 60 to 65 colours all the time.
He describes his passion as solving consumers’ issues with technology. The Dress Spot is dedicated to connecting your colours with real-world clothing quickly and accurately. Image analysis is used to determine an item’s true colour as exactly as possible. There are great filters for colours, design features, retailers, and price.
The colour filters are the most thrilling. Open the window linked above. See the colour fan at the upper left? Click it and watch it open up. Now click on one of the colour words across the top. This is about when I started getting excited and thinking “Finally. Finally.”
I picked a very bright green. No solid colour choices. I was offered 6 alternative choices! Looked at the choices, picked a Soft Autumn-looking brown. My choices were green-based, a colour which many Autumn browns contain, because the original colour was green. Found this dress. I mean, this is just lovely. Took me less than 5 seconds.
The dress is here at Nordstrom.
The colours are as accurate as possible. Comparisons are easy. The site is free.
What about Polyvore – a great, great site that we know and use a lot? It’s so gigantic that it’s difficult to actually buy from, and not highly colour-selective. Since fashion is based on crowd direction, the beauty of that community is in the sets that members can create.
I asked Jeremy 4 Q:
1. The alternative choices were impressive. How does the software pick alternatives? Does it keep to a certain hue and give options along the saturation axis? In the alternatives, value seems to remain pretty constant.
Jeremy: It simply moves to a closest color in the HSL space that has a dense pocket of in-stock dresses. Â So it will often keep the Value consistent and shift hues or lightness slightly. Â Usually one or the other, not both. Â I wouldn’t say it necessarily stays within the Season.
2. Once an item is sold out at the retailer, how does your site manage it?
J: We update our inventory twice a day to ensure that nothing is ever more than a few hours from live data. Â Additionally, most dresses on our site are sold by larger retailers who don’t go in and out of stock with any volatility. Â They’re pretty slow to go out of stock. Â I’d estimate at least 98% of our inventory is current at all times. Â We drop retailers who don’t update their inventory status frequently enough for our quality standard.
3. What about prints, of which I see a few, and solids?
J: Right now we support ‘multi-color’ vs. ‘solid’ (which you can toggle with the ‘multi-color’ checkbox under the other filters on the left). Â Multi-color basically means anything that isn’t a solid color. Â Things like stripe and specific pattern filters are new technology we’ll be rolling out in the next few months.
J: We have many formal dresses from Nordstrom et. al, but we’ll be adding Dessy (a leading bridesmaid dress manufacturer)Â next weekÂ and hopefully David’s Bridal soon (again, for their bridesmaid dresses). Â Bridal gowns, on the other hand, will likely not be included for a while. Â Bridal gown designers are particular about their dresses’ distribution and have strict agreements with their chosen distributors/retailers. Â That industry is very non-digital.
My suggestion was professional wear. I asked Jeremy if he foresaw a site that could analyze the colours of a skirt, and suggest shoes and a blouse based only on the colour matching skill of the software, skills that this site appears to already have in place anyhow. He said, “Hmm. That’s interesting.” Good start, ay?
Here’s a question for you, dear readers: What’s your most frustrating part of finding clothing in your palette colours? If your brother were a coding genius on sabbatical, looking for something to do, with no limits on what he could design, what kind of colour shopping app would you ask him to build?
If you played with the site, what impressed you or didn’t work so well? If you had Jeremy’s job, what’s the first thing you’d do?
Someone might say, “Could my Season colours be coded in specifically and grouped together?” I agree! It is high time you had access to that. I am so happy to tell you that it’s in the works.
You are a hugely intelligent and creative group. Please do help to shape The Dress Spot into a tool kit that is expressive of how consumers like yourself, with exact knowledge of their own colouring, could benefit even better from the online clothing purchase experience.
Excellent Q from a reader:
I’m a Bright Winter and have always felt that I had cool undertones to my skin but also have some freckles which makes it less obvious. Â When Prescriptives Cosmetics was in business, I tested as having Blue Red undertones and I used their foundation with cool undertones for years. Â I recently decided to try Bare Minerals foundation. Â Two different people who sell this brand have tested me as a Neutral undertone. Â This could make sense since I’m a neutral season but I’ve always known myself to have cool undertones. I have a little bit of a tan right now. Â I’m not trying to tan, but I play tennis outside and despite my sunscreen I get a bit of color. Â Would it be possible for me to seem like I have neutral undertones in the summer when I have some tan and then seem to have cool undertones again the rest of the year when I don’t have a tan? Â I’m just wondering if I should wear a neutral foundation in the summer and a cool foundation the rest of the year.
Your undertone is fixed and determined by your genetics, and is shared by all your colouring including your tan. Your Season doesn’t change with a tan, though you might have different colour preferences, for the higher contrast with the lighter choices, for instance. Many Bright Winters can find black too severe or their coolest colours too shadowing, and a tan might change those tolerances enough to feel more comfortable.
When you’re tanned and look warmer, the undertone might seem warmer. Whatever undertone means, it doesn’t mean ‘overall feeling and effect’. This is one of those “It looks warmer and feels like it should be warmer, so therefore it is warmer.” conclusions that are not necessarily sound.
Even pure cool Seasons can tan very golden looking. They look more yellow, but when their colours are tested, it’s still the same cool yellow their genetics always produced. They may have more melanin, which contributes red, brown, blue, and/or black, depending on the type of melanin, but it’s the same colour of melanin that it always was.
PCA determines where your inborn colours sit on 3 scales. Every colour, every body part. (In illness too? IDK, I’ve never draped a Before/After and don’t know anyone who has).
The heat scale. Warm/cool/neutral? Neutral on the cooler side, the warmer side, or 49/51 between fully warm and fully cool?
The saturation scale. How concentrated were the pigments that you were painted with? Very, or were they a little more dilute?
On the darkness scale, you don’t have a setting so much as a range. Do your inborn colours go all the way from white to black? Only 1 of the 12 does, the True Winter. I’m a Winter but don’t reach fully to pure white. Mine is a tiny bit dirty white. A woman might hug chalk to pewter. If she wears black mascara, it’s railroad tracks because it’s outside what her natural colouring can balance. If she over-lightens her hair highlights, it will never look natural or real because only processing could achieve that much lightness in her body.
The hair of a yellow haired Light Summer can seem very yellow. She’ll go online and get told she’s a Spring of some sort. A clerk will give her warm foundation. Wrong. Unless they measure it, how could they know that the yellow in her body comes from Light Summer’s less saturated and subtly cooler palette, not Spring’s?
A salesperson has no way of measuring people’s settings on the 3 Colour Scales. Even the most experienced colour analysts canâ€™t eyeball the settings.
Depending on how the line of products they’re selling is coloured,
(do they have access to foundations warmed by Spring yellow and Autumn gold separately? as we know, warm can include yellow, beige, peach, orange, gold, brown, etc.)
(are those bottles labeled cool/warm/neutral really so, and in the same way that a colour analyst means it?)
(is there consistency in the cosmetics industry regarding pigments and terminology? if not, one company will call you warm, the other will say neutral)
(is the salesperson highly discriminating, nitpicky, rigorous, fussy, and particular? these are the people you want; I’ve been foundation-analyzed by the head of training for North America for a huge company within the last 6 months, the result was not good)
…a cosmetics salesperson could separate cool/neutral/undertone by matching foundation. The same foundation colour is the best match on the same Seasons in 3 in 5 women of the same race. It’s just not rock solid.
Foundation is a mixture of your heat level, darkness level, inherent saturation, plus surface pigments. As Dark Winters (my assumption), Mrs. Obama and I have the same heat level, darkness range, and saturation of inborn pigments. She has more melanin but it’s the same colour as mine if we test it. She has more melanin in the outer layer and wears different foundation.
Big Disclaimer: I made up all of the above. That’s only how it makes sense to me. I do not know what undertone is or where it is. Is it a layer by itself that you could isolate and dissect out of the skin? I doubt it. Is it simply the difference in people’s hemoglobin? IDK. Is it just a mixture of all the body’s pigments, if you poured equal amounts together in a bowl and stirred, bluer in Summers, redder in Winters?Â Does it even have a colour or is just a gray that’s cool, warm, or neutral? I don’t know and am not aware of the scientific testing that offers proof. This is one of my remaining Big Questions in PCA.
I am pretty certain that what a makeup company means by cool-neutral-warm is different from a colour analyst meaning. One story is probably part of the other one but they don’t fully overlap. We’re all using the same words to mean different things and consumers can’t sort out the facts. Therefore, the Q above would also be a good one to ask a cosmetic pigment expert.
I do not change the heat level of my foundation in summer. I do use a product that sits darker in my own darkness range. Both products are cool neutral on a heat scale.
The answer to the reader’s Q is one of those It Depends. Theoretically, she has a cool-neutral skin undertone and will always wear that choice in foundation. However, depending on where she finds the best foundation match, it might be labeled otherwise.
Remember. I invent answers to these questions till I can live with calmly.
Now that students are being trained, some are finding that their earlier PCAs were not correct.
I analyzed a woman, *Ruth*, Â 2-3 years ago as a Soft Summer. As a part of her training recently (with the excellent Terry Wildfong), she found that she is in fact a Dark Winter.
I have had students myself and found them to be a different Season than previously thought.
It’s awkward for everyone. What is the right path?
Moving through, not away from
My question today is:
As a community of analysts and clients, how will be handle this? It’s going to keep happening for a little while.
Achieving consistency between our analysts is our biggest challenge. (Whether the public finds complete consistency between the palette and their own colouring is another matter, one I worry about less.) Yet, never for an instant would I consider another method.
Can we allow our stumbles to happen openly and comfortably so we can all learn?
At first, of course, the ego takes a little beating. Not a big thing. It’s healthy, not just for me but for everyone who emails me and thinks I’m somehow special or gifted when all I do is write more than everyone else. I’m just more visible. Like models and other meteorites, the idea that anyone is near-perfect sets up a standard that is untrue and destructive for those who think they should live up to it.
If we’re afraid of being wrong, we’re lost. In school and society, we’re taught that we should avoid mistakes but I completely disagree. They’re how we learn. That discomfort feeling is called Experience. There’s no other way to get it. We all have been and will be wrong and should move towards that heat, and then through it. Running away keeps us stuck with our feet like tree roots. I love trees almost as much as oceans but they can’t walk on this Earth. Humans can.
I tell my own students that the best thing that can happen to them as colour analysts is to have been wrong about their Season a few times. Identifying with our clients is how we support them fully. Once we’ve shopped with our Colour Books, we feel what she’s up against.
The analyst’s growth
. First, I get separation from my business. If every mistake feels so personal, I can’t manage it and grow from it. I just get caught up in feeling bruised and sorry for myself. Humiliation is fine and useful, because it’s the light side on the road to humility, a very blessed way to live.
. Get clarity onÂ what I care about. Not my image. Really don’t care about that. I very sincerely care about the Kathryn Kalisz-founded system of Personal Colour Analysis as a fantastic and unparalleled resource for empowering consumers. I care deeply about making your business wildly successful, whatever your definition of successful is, and seeing you having trouble holding in the joy you feel from putting yourself on this path of Personal Colour Analyst, even if you will be wrong sometimes. A wrong analysis hasn’t compromised what I care about. Easy to calm down.
.Â Search for curiosity. What can I learn? Why might this have happened that could give the client and I even more insight into her colouring? The first analyst didn’t just pluck a Season out of the air like a random mosquito swimming by. Terry said,
I don’t wish to see an analyst being referred to as getting an analysis wrong. I see it as analysts can come to different results, plain and simple, by interpreting differently, which leads them down a different path. I analyzed my husband as a True Spring, andÂ he is a BrightÂ Winter. I came to the first result for several reasons, which I have now corrected in my perception. Was I totally wrong? No, he is blended with Spring. Was there a better result? Yes.
The client’s growth
. I ask myself, “What is their work and what is mine in this situation?”Â Before getting all reactive, we both have to think, “What can I do to make this situation work better for you?” We can have a talk. We can re-drape you. Do I give refunds? I’ve never been asked, my clients are so elegant. Would I? I guess I’d do what would calm the person and let them feel validated. I’m not in this for the money and I never make decisions based on money. This absolutely does not set a precedent for other analysts but if someone wanted their cash back, I guess I’d return it, knowing that the communication between us would end right there. The whole “I spend $200, I deserve…” “For $2000, the least I expect…”, we hear it all the time. It’s a 2-dimensional view of the world that wants $$ more than knowledge so we don’t belong together. As a client, I wouldn’t ask for a refund. Lord knows we’ve gotten some sketchy makeup applications and massages we didn’t love and didn’t ask for refunds. Everyone is doing their best. Nobody set out to cheat anyone. Maybe the client should have got better informed beforehand.
. Find gratitude. Ruth brings a very beautiful intelligence to our profession. Her first reaction was to look for something to be grateful for. That’s an impressive being who understands that there’s a bigger plan in motion towards a greater place, and who is able to quietly place her trust in it. I’m often amazed at the assembly of remarkable personalities contained within our group. Ruth belongs among us and is most welcome.
The Biology of Sight
This again. It defines how we see so there’s no getting away from it. Terry reminded us,
I believe there are two major reasons why analysts can have conflicting results. Both reasons are found in The New Munsell Student Color SetÂ under the heading of Observer Metamerism:
1.Â Â Â Â Â No two people see color exactly the same. This is something that can never be altered. There will never be a set of drapes or even training that can ensure the same visual perception will be had by two different analysts.
2.Â Â Â Â Â Our visual perception of a color changes, based on what color was last viewed. Just making up this example: If you are comparing Blue #1 for TW and Blue #5 for TSu, the reactions you see in the mirror are made on that comparison. If I have Blue #1 for TW and Blue #3 for TSu (all technically correct), the reactions I see will be based on that comparison. If Sharon has Blue #2 for TW and Blue #4 for TSu, again technically correct, she could come to a different result.
The closest way two analysts can hopefully come to the same conclusion is to have every test drape exactly the same, which Christine and I have talked about. But even if every drape we make for every set is the same, problem #1 above still exists.
Everything can always change for the better. The Sci\ART system is, in my view, unequaled in its approach, its working instruments (the drapes), and in its accuracy at demonstrating your natural, inborn colours. I know the strengths of the draping system and they are beyond substantial.
The drapes I have from 4 years ago are not without a few drawbacks that I’ve learned over time and today, can factor into an analysis. The True Autumn yellow is extremely saturated, for instance. A Bright Spring could wear it. Was there a reason it was placed in that Season? The person who can answer isn’t here to ask.
Soft Summer and Dark Winter’s red drape is exactly the same piece of fabric. And there are only 3 drapes to test the 12 Tones, and they are not the same colours. I didn’t know it back then. Nonetheless, I should have picked up from the beginning, back in the 4 Seasons, that on Ruth, True Winter was better than True Summer.
Other analysts have other issues. Some are not confident in finding a Light Summer. Some always question some other Season.
It’s this knowledge that went into the drapes that Terry and I offer our students. Â And they will improve. We continue to gather positive and negative data and re-assess. We’re working on standardizing colours even more rigorously and giving you increasingly accurate comparisons. If you bought them, you know that I’ll keep working with you and continue sending additions/replacements until I can’t improve them any more. Which I hope will never happen.
Changing Colouring with Time
Most of us have settled into our Season by age 17.
My True Winter daughter was settled by age 4, maybe sooner (I didn’t formally test her but the eyes were fully black).
Terry’s daughter changed from Soft Summer to Dark Winter in her 20s !!, with a pregnancy in those years.
We darken several times in life, in our teens and our 30s.
We change in our 50s…do our colours really muted or do we just look different, less water, thicker outer layer of keratin…
I don’t believe that most people change Seasons, they just become a new painting from the same paint box. But clearly, some people do move to a new group of natural colouring parameters at various lifestages. Colouring is unpredictable.
The potential of a system can’t be maximized until we acknowledge its weak spots. Until truth is brought into light, it can’t be examined and raised higher. We gotta talk about this stuff with an intent to learn the why and how.
We don’t want to still be giving women different Seasons 5 years from now. Every analyst does it and if I admit freely that I did, maybe others will speak more comfortably about why they feel it happened in their case. Â Then we can get to work as a collaborative, non-judgmental team to fix the causes and leave them behind us.
We can’t be in denial and defense. If we go around like The Human Landmine: An Undetonated Incendiary Device when the imperfections of our process or tools are brought up, everyone will clam up. In 5 years, we’ll be right where we are today. Still strong, still smart, still fragmented.
We need ways to refresh our training with one another. Not re-accreditation for practicing analysts, but organized meetings where we can learn from the fact that every one of us does things differently.
We all have different drape acrobatics. Some analysts move to the Luxury Drapes very early in the process. Some analysts begin with the Red Drapes, before the 4 Test (True Seasons) and 12 Test (12 Tones) drapes. Both certainly correct from my POV. I can’t think of any logistic problem. So why do I begin with 4T? Because my eyes just aren’t ready to interpret the Reds that soon with a new face.Â I wasn’t trained that way. It’s not what I’m used to.
Somehow, these meetings needs to happen. They will help us technically and remind us to be generous with all practicing colour analysts, Sci\ART based and otherwise.
What will potential clients think?
I felt I was able to explain this to my sister because she knows something about PCA; she understands that Dark Winter and Soft Summer can have similar qualities. (It’s not as if I had been draped a True Spring!) … My biggest concern is sharing this with the people in my life who know very little about PCA — people I’ve had to convince that there’s something to this — friends, acquaintances, people at church, business contacts. I’m telling you, I have been an evangelist about this and I have a lot of women (and a number of men) very excited to have a PCA. I am trying to think of a concise way to explain this to them — a way that won’t undermine the validity of Sci\ART PCAÂ or require me to pull out a color clock at dinner.
Communicate the enthusiasm, learning, upgrading, and increasing sense of fulfillment and freedom. If someone chooses to think, “If they can’t get this right the first time then there can’t be anything to it.”, it demonstrates a closed mentality about everything in their life and you might not need them to visit you. What most people want is integrity, honesty, your very best effort, and to be seen and heard.
Whenever we’re learning about ourselves, our physical selves, our spiritual selves, we move forward in steps. If one doctor helps you lot and opens your eyes to a new treatment method but you don’t find full recognition on the first visit, do you never see them again and close themselves to that modality, or try again and see if there’s a way to build higher? For me, it would be decided by my faith in the method and in the person.
If you position yourself to your community as having renewed faith in the method, even despite a correction, it sends a message that the method must be really strong in your eyes or you’d have abandoned it.
I would trust the person with perspective much more than the one proclaiming only success. No medical test is foolproof, not even those that come back Positive or Negative as opposed to the Ranges and Trends types. A doctor who doesn’t know the limitations of a test is useless at interpreting its findings. The No Fail Guarantee is an uneducated assumption that folks sophisticated in a subject released awhile back.
I know the problems and I’d never consider any other process of Personal Colour Analysis. My belief system gets stronger because I have run into problems, given attention and effort to their repair, and acquired a more deeply layered frame of reference, always with room to improve.
Live the conviction that in error, we become stronger, just as surely that in giving, we receive. Both paradoxes, both true.
A few articles back, I mentioned how a True Winter impressed me so much by focusing what matters to her life into one word: fairness. I thought a lot about it and decided my word would be excellence. After a week, I didn’t feel I’d hit the target yet. Reflection, thinking, and asking found a more sincere and enduring word that holds everything I am and want to be: learn.
If things started out perfect, life would be monolithically boring, like a world without competition, flat, repetitious. That is seeing What Is while thinking What Is. Now, seeing what is and at the same time thinking how it could be more is the brain region that took 4 billion years to evolve. It’s what makes humans different.
When LEARN gets plugged into DREAM, possibility has no limits. We’d never have gotten the iPhone 2, 3, 4, 4S, 5, and 6. Starting out perfect is a tedium that makes my blood run cold. It goes so against something very fundamental about why I think humans are here. There’s nothing I do today, my doctor, my clothing designer, or my colour analyst, that I hope isn’t better tomorrow. Some folks might slot these ideas somewhere between irritating and corrupting and they’re not wrong and I’m not right. We just aren’t meant to be together.
Innovation and improvement are brainstorms come to life so we can touch them. The first time I saw a projection keyboard jump out of a phone, I was blown away.
Sorry, that was a tangent but I couldnâ€™t get stopped. It’s way up there in Topics I Care About. Kerry may be reading this thinking, “Will you please shut up about the meaning of life thing? You’re distracting the readers!”
Right, Kerry, you’re right. Back on topic. But listen, big congratulations for what you’ve done with your swatch books. Thank you for sharing your own growth as a colour analyst to teach us more. I hope to do the same over the years.
The Indigo Tones swatch plume palettes have been esthetically beautiful right from the start. How beautiful is actually quite surprising once you really see them. I wrote about them once before, here. Not only are they lovely to own, they are a highly diversified way of teaching us about our natural colouring. In my dictionary, natural colouring, Season, and Tone are synonyms for personal paintbox, my very own colour wheel, and the pigments that filled in the lines of me. (Don’t hold anyone else to my dictionary, OK?)
The colours are extremely Season-accurate. Each swatch is quite large. This was true in the previous Books.
For those of who see today and the status quo as nothing more or less than a starting point, the new palettes are outstanding. This is definitely not a lukewarm upgrade. All of them are more dense and rich in colour, some (on mine, purples and darks) more than others (where the higher colour intensity is less distinct). The production technology appears to have improved, but that may be just an impression from having more pure colour.
The more time I spend matching fabrics and cosmetics to Season, the more I’m realizing that matching a single swatch to a garment doesn’t work very well. A colour analyst may be able to do it faster with practice because she knows all 12 Seasons equally and is versatile with hue, value, and chroma, but I still shop with my swatch book and compare every purchase I care about. We all have human sight. We can’t tell if we can’t compare. We can’t judge one dimension, say, chroma, when another is extreme. Hard to call the real saturation of something that has low value (darkness), which is why so many Soft Summers get told they contain Winter – because by just looking, we can’t tell they’re dark and muted, not dark and intensely pigmented. Dark colours tend to seem more saturated even if they’re not. The only way to know is to compare their colouring to a known quantity like the drapes.
Personal Colour Analysis has to work for the Person part. You. Your colour-matching success is more likely by backing up a few steps and matching the entire swatch collection to the garment. The idea is detailed more in this article.
I don’t believe we can own too many Colour Books of swatches. The more slants, the more translations, the more tools we have to get our thinking right, the deeper our possession of it. I once talked about owning 2 Books from different companies. Today, I believe that if you could find 8 accurate ones, you should own all 8. Not a single colour would have to be repeated. Every colour system, every colour format, every new interpretation adds something. The less narrow the concept in our head, the more layered, accurate, and interesting the outcome.
You have many thousands of colours. Since you don’t want to carry a wallpaper catalog around when you shop, decisions have to taken about which colours to include. This is like an expansion set. About half of them are new colours, different enough from the original to be two separate colours. Â Those Dark Winter greens that so many clients are finding and enjoying are a great addition.
The balance for the creator is how to give women a wardrobe and a sense of their Season’s colours. If new colours are coming in, old ones have to be replaced. I have both Books because I didn’t want to lose any blues but I love all the extra reds. Some people hide in black. I hide in red.
Right now, I’m learning to recognize the lightest colours in the 3 Winter palettes. They’re complicated. I have a theoretical knowledge of them but finding them in fabric has been hit-and-miss. This rendition of those colours shows them to me in a different way that I can imagine better in clothing. I can picture it more easily hanging on a rack or a bolt of fabric.
The Dark Winter book was changed more significantly than some of the other books in terms of colors. Â While those more autumnish colors are part of the dark winter harmony I felt that they didn’t reflect the overall season best and searched for other threads that did. Â On every book I added some new threads but my main goal was really to reflect the essence of the season in a harmonious layout while providing the most variety in colors possible. So, it’s not going to be true that there are so many more colors in most cases – it’s a different and hopefully better representation of the seasonal tone harmony.
Thank you to Kerry Stich of Indigo Tones for these photographs and the permission to use them.
I will let Kerry talk to you about your own Season’s Book and other questions you may have. You can find her at www.indigotones.com
For someone who knows her colours, this is a gift she would simply adore. Adore and use. What more do we want from a gift?
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. Â 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.
This question from J:
I’d like to add femininity to casual wear but sometimes I don’t know how. Mrs. Tuttle (of dressingyourtruth.com) 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.Â 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 Â 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.Â 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.
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.Â 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.
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. Â 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.Â 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.
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.Â 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 andÂ 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.
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).
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.Â 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. Â 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?
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. AÂ 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.
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 Â 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.
Anyone who knows what personal colour analysis is, rather than what it was, lives with a growing sense of how well it works and how much it can improve your choices. The system divides human colouring into several groups, 12 in the one that I use. Since there are far more than 12 kinds of colouring once you get into the subdivisions, not every aspect of each group will apply equally to every person in it.
As you find your private garden and arrange the flowers and furniture to suit you, you ask some excellent questions. L sent me this,
Â Â I’ve been very happy with my Soft Summer colors and they’ve made a
huge difference overall. The issue is though, that my hair color is just so
much warmer than my palette that many of my neutrals don’t look that great.
I stopped coloring my hair a couple of years ago and it’s neutral medium
brown at the base and the lengths are quite warm, perhaps a light chestnut
color would be accurate with even lighter ends.Â This warm brown just
doesn’t look that wonderful with all the grayish-taupes which make up the
majority of my neutrals. As an interior designer I wouldn’t put these colors
next to each other, so it bothers me to do so when getting dressed.
According to old pics and my mother, this is my natural color. I had
forgotten that since I’ve been coloring my hair for over 30 years. I’m just
tired of trying to use toners and shampoos trying to cool it down.
I’ve been looking at other companies SS and Summer fans and found wonderful
browns in the CMAS Summer fan, and Lora Alexander’s (www.prettyyourworld.com) Soft Summer fan.
I was just curious about Sci-Art’s and your opinion about hair not being that
great with the palette since you cover it during the consultation.
Overall, I’ve discovered that I lean a bit warm within Soft Summer and I
really wish [the present palette] would give a wider range of neutral browns. I
own the Soft Autumn fan and I don’t need to go that warm, but just a bit
redder, rosier than my [present] fan.
Neutral to warm? Neutral to cool? Who knows? We’ll have to measure it somehow. That’s what the drapes do. Our eyes alone are not able without imposing some errors, because of how eyes and brains work. And because of the most misleading thing of all…assumptions.
Many of L’s comments could apply to all the Seasons fans. In any Tone, the likelihood of including even half the possible hair colours is less than 50/50 since hair colour is only moderately tied to Season. Why is that? My guess is that it’s because hair colour comes from melanin. Skin colour comes from melanin, hemoglobin, and carotene. Hair colours are an incomplete version of our truth, though what’s there is real and harmonized with us nonetheless. Just not detailed enough to do a PCA with. Hair also doesn’t change enough in response to colour to take accurate measurements. Skin tone does, therefore we use it to guide a colour analysis.
Soft Summer doesn’t tend to vary as widely as some but it certainly ranges in darkness, though it remains on the cool divide of neutrality. In all 12 Tones, eye colours seem to me to be more closely resembling the skin colours contained in the colour analyzed swatch palette, and yet they can appear very warm in persons of this Season. Test them and they still have the best energy in the cool-neutral Soft Summer drapes, not the warm-neutral Soft Autumn drapes. Why isn’t eye colour tightly linked to Season? Similar reasons to the hair, adding in the Rayleigh scattering that makes the sky blue, and other aspects of the physics and biology of an eyeball, such as how it’s pigmented, where its blood layer is located, how it reflects light because it’s in a water-based jelly, and many other factors.
Soft Summer eyes can be darker, lighter, warmer, cooler. As long you give them what they care about most: colours that are soft.
A warm-eyed Soft Summer must mean that though we see lots of warm colours of yellows, golds, and oranges in the eyes, these are present in their cool-neutral versions and are outnumbered by the greens, grays, and blues of Soft Summer. You would think the two Soft Seasons’ yellows and golds to be quite different until you try to harmonize a colour palette and realize how close they actually are.
Soft Summer is also a Season where the Neutral persons are often quite warm, on the 49/51 divide between the Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. An analyst needs to be on her toes and own a seriously good set of drapes. They say that our hair and eye colours are among our neutral colours but I agree it is so if you know the real colours of your eyes. If you match what you think you see, which is never what colour really is, you’ll go too warm for your skin and turn yourself a little dull and jaundiced.
Whoa now, that’s a Winter eye! Same colour family, cool-neutral hues, similar value level (lightness/darkness), but what’s different? That third colour dimension. And the type of heat, which appears more Spring-yellow than Autumn-gold. Whole different feeling.
How can True Winter or Light Summer be a redhead? Combine their yellow and their red, I would think. Every Season has both in their own versions. The hair tends not be orange, it’s redder than that. But both have yellows, nearly primary yellow in Winter’s case, which is why their green drape can look so yellow in some situations.
L. is colour savvy enough to sense the best solution, which is to move very slightly to a warmer place without losing the harmony. Soft Summer skin is happy to negotiate on warmth of hue as long as the colour stays soft and dusty, not intensely saturated. In my Sci\ART drapes, there are 3 drape colours, identical fabrics, that are used in 2 places. The Soft Summer and Dark Winter burgundy red test is the same. The Soft Summer face is not as flattered as it could be. The client notices that. Seeing the difference is a better learning opportunity than if I just babble on about colour dimensions, because the client sees that she needs to buy dark&dusty, not dark&densely pigmented, and that darkness is not her shopping challenge issue. Saturation is. It’s a strength of the drapes, not a weakness. Makes me now wonder if I should put a few ‘don’t go here or here’ among the Test and Luxury Drape sets that I assemble. But no, you saw those during your 12 Tone colour analysis session.
Ah, back to Soft Summer eyes, neutral but cool, and soft soft soft.
Only dyed hair is, or approaches, all one colour. Natural hair has many colours to make an overall tone. You might see one colour but the rest of us don’t. Â How it reflects light and shows its colours requires its true colours to reveal the correct tones. Soft Summer has a drop of gold in her hair, not yellow. She is not a great blonde. A True cool Season in even slightly warm clothing or makeup has yellowed, dingy colour. If it’s silver hair, it looks like smoker’s yellow-gray instead of their beautiful clean silvered gray. The foundation colour must be accurate, hard to find in today’s overly yellow base makeup selections.
Others don’t see the discrepancy in our hair as we ourselves might. We don’t see hair as an object of one colour like a wall or a pillow. You might not pair those objects but they’re not coloured with hemoglobin, carotene, and melanin. We sense that living things are Â not coloured in the same way as objects, and that man-made objects are Â not coloured in the same way as Nature’s inorganic objects. Despite the difference, we are able to find the harmonizing colours and the relationships between them, as us and our clothes.
We can bring colours into our harmony too. Because it’s applied to our face, makeup interacts with the pigments in the skin. A lipstick that swatches on paper as Light Summers might fall flat on some Light Summer and be lovely on some Light Springs. This is called Making The System Work For You. Clothes don’t change so much. No question, in the same way that the drapes have an effect on us and we have an effect right back on them, so do we change our clothing colours somewhat, just not to the extent of makeup because of how it’s used. A Bright Winter can change True Summer’s beautiful, cool yellow into a grayed piece of cloth that’s been washed too many times.
What kind of eye is this? Soft or saturated? Neutral? How Neutral? Spring’s yellow heat or Autumn’s gold? Of the 3 colour dimensions, which one matters above all? Â I have no idea. This is why I can’t look at photos and know Season. I have no comparisons and no ruler. All I can say is what I always do, whether I’m shown a photo or a real person in front of me: “Could be this or could be that.” If it’s a real person, I can say, “Where’s my drapes, lights, and gray background when I need ‘em?”
L. knows that I would never advise any woman to colour her hair ever. Her natural colour will always be her best colour. Sometimes we can decorate up a little and keep the balance, and that’s good too. My advice is to save herself the time and money and wear her natural hair. Once Â her hairs grays, she’ll only look better. Gray is what the Soft Summer does better than anybody because gray is inherently cool, as they are, and they start off with more of it in the natural colours that define them than the other colouring types.
If L.’s discerning eye prefers to warm a few of her clothing browns, excellent. She has to feel well in what she wears. There will be no repercussions as long as the harmony is maintained (more on that in Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book). There would be more substantial repercussions if she tried to alter her hair colour.
What about L.’s question about the colours present in the Sci\ART palettes? Without stirring up a nest of hornets that have finally gone to sleep, I’ll take a guess. Only a guess. Please don’t come after me on this, I have no valid opinion to offer so I won’t say much. I do not know what was in the head of the person who designed the palettes. I’ll take a shot: As I understand the history, at the time of her passing, Kathryn Kalisz was adjusting the Season palettes, as she probably did a few times over the years for different reasons. She deeply wanted people to feel comfort in their colours, but some of the feedback sometimes said that the colours were too much, probably more in the saturated Seasons. Part of the reason for the choices may have reflected this, though I doubt it was the bigger part of it in this particular instance.
There was (is) also the question of whether the Neutral Season colours should be closer to the parent Seasons, as Soft Summer to True Summer, or to the other Neutral with which they share the most important colour dimension, as Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. Is one right and one wrong? Does there need to be a hard rule? I would say No and No as long as the dimensions of each Season is respected, though I’d be thrilled to talk about it. Where does one cloud in colour space end and the next begin? Is there an overlap? How big is it, what’s the rule? How big should it be, different question? You have thousands of colours. Maybe one day, someone will make 4 Colour Books of swatches for each Tone, not just 1. Smart woman that L. is, she found other options that contained what she was looking for and she knew how to select those that applied to her.
This completes my long-winded way of saying that L. made great choices and decisions on her own Nothing I love better than a woman empowered to work through the many choices about her best self, in any context, and come out right. Discernment is a beautiful thing.
I wrote this back in The Emmas Are True Springs Part 2.
Besides covering grey, I canâ€™t think of a time when chemistry improves base hair colour from what Nature gives us. Thatâ€™s the colour we had at 25, before we darkened with maturity. Itâ€™s the most believable, flattering, low maintenance colour we can wear.
I don’t agree with the first sentence, or how I said it. I am thankful that it was pointed out to me. I still agree with the second sentence, having not been given better evidence to the contrary. Like this entire website, I await and welcome all evidence to the contrary of anything I write to help me find truth. Maybe that why Winters are so often colour analysts, because we’re so convinced about our own judgments. Not necessarily a good thing but very willing to change my mind.
Kate* saw two issues with my words:
1. Improvement? Says who?
2. 25? Why 25?
For some women, the result of a colour analysis doesn’t come as a big surprise. Â It didn’t for Kate. She had figured it out herself and just needed to join the ends on her entire palette by understanding what all of her colours and her colouring have in common. As all women with their natural hair colour, the road to wearing her colours and bringing the whole picture together will be shorter and easier.
When hair colour needs adjusting, as it did for me, the road gets longer. There’s this crazy thing going on where your brain can’t believe what your eyes just saw, you’re pretty sure you look like a clown in the makeup, being a Winter, you’re ignoring what everybody around you says, you know You best, and after all, your colourist is a colour expert, it can’t be, it can’t be, and yet, there is your phone in your hand with your finger dialing the hair salon before you’re out of the colour analyst’s driveway. Your colourist fits you in, miraculously gets the colour right the first time, but you can’t see that either yet, you’re questioning the whole deal now. Your husband is trying to help, he sees your Feng Shui is in a mess, but he can’t remember the words Feng Shui, he knows it’s not Shih Tzu because he said that one time and you laughed at him for days, so he tries again, “Don’t let your hair screw up your Shit Zing, you look gorgeous to me.”, and you want to drive your fingers into his eyes and rip off his nose. Useless, he’s just useless. You ask your friends even though you know there’s an element of performing for each other, which as a Winter, you resist, but such are life and compliments. They’re swept up in making you feel better, I could go on for pages because this does go on for months, do you send your analyst an email? will she be pissed? she might as well be because you sure are, so you see, it’s easier to start off with easy hair.
Meeting a Soft Summer who recognizes the perfection and specialness of her inherently dusty hair colour is always such a pleasure. This hair is as special as Bright Season hair in being misunderstood, under-appreciated, and difficult to get right from a bottle. Without that dusty quality in the hair, the harmony of the whole image is elusive. Kate’s hair had a few silver strands. Not only were they hard to see, once you did notice them, they absolutely added to the perfection of her own colouring, as if she’d reached a higher level of her colours, not just Lavender Smoke, but Lavender Silver Smoke.
Kate said to me,
It feels like everything you say flows organically/logically from the Sci/Art system, except these conclusions about grey/silver hair, and that your best base colour is when you were 25. Â I know you state in different ways that our nature-given colouring is never less than perfect, the genetic paint box is the same for skin, hair and eyes. That makes total sense to me â€“ but seems to be contradicted by a statement that the hair colour we had at 25 is the most perfect? How can that be? The genetic coding that determines our paint box also determines our hair silvering pattern/tone/rate, and as well, the softening of our skin colour as we age, no? So, provided our hair and we are healthy, and the colour is not artificially affected by chlorine/sun/ hot iron damage etc, would not our current natural hair colour at whatever age, truly be our most perfect hair colour for us?Â I think itâ€™s the casual/automatic assumption that covering grey is an improvement, as a fact, that is the most problematic for me. Â If we could see how young many people are when get silvers, we really would lose that association.
It’s important to me to be exact in the words I choose. In no way do I believe that covering gray is always:
A. More flattering – Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Many (like me) are not ready for partial gray because the white hair is obvious on the dark background. Transitions are not always easy. On lighter heads, the white hair virtually disappears and hair colour would gain the woman nothing.Â To my eye, it absolutely does look younger and more exciting to have the right hair colour on about half the women who colour. On the other half, no colour, even their own at 25, would look better on them than gray.
B. Necessary – My statement above, “Besides covering gray, I can’t think of a time when chemistry improves base hair colour from what Nature gave us…” should be followed by, “…if you don’t want gray”. In that case, chemical colour is an improvement on base hair colour, as in the case of me, because it’s getting me something I want. My situation is therefore improved, if not my hair’s colour.
Summers gray very easily. But nothing applies equally to all women, not even within a Season. Women need advice they can use because they’re going to colour their hair anyhow. I sure am, whether my natural hair colour is theoretically perfect for my genetic colouring or not. Â I lift my face with makeup and I’m going to lift my hair. I can fully agree that it should not matter to me, that I should welcome the gray, and that many real people gray quite early in life. But the fact is that I am not willing to put my money where my mouth is on that topic. I should be glad to have one lipstick when women in Africa don’t have food. Yes, but I don’t live in Africa. I buy a box of $5.99 colour and invest 20 minutes every few weeks. The payoff outweighs the inputs. If 3 hours and $120 every month were my only option, I’d rethink it, I promise you.
I may not be the right person to talk about the silvering of hair. There are topics about which Â I feel more strongly. On hair colour, whatever rings your bell as long as it’s a good colour for you. Â If I ever sound defensive, the women I’m (over)reacting for are those for whom silver hair, or silver in hair, would not be the best choice. Â For instance, the woman who had children in her 40s and is tired of being asked if she’s their grandmother. To her, leaving her hairÂ silver is someone else’s crusade. To the woman who had an illness after which her hair came back gray/silver, who felt that she’s missed a decade of her life in illness, silver hair makes her feel like she’s missed two. When life spins you too hard, hair colour, like tattoos, is a way of saying, “This one thing, this one part of my own flesh, I still control.”
Many of our choices are redirected from another problem. A cat is ticked at the stray that gets into the garbage Tuesday nights, so he attacks the other cat = redirected aggression.Â A person taking it out on you because they’re having a major Bad Hair Day has nothing to do with you. They’re redirecting aggression. A woman colouring her hair because illness stole part of her life isn’t making a social statement about Colour Is BetterYoungerPrettierSexier Than Silver. She’s trying to get back some time. Redirection of energy towards distant and seemingly disconnected outcomes consumes huge behaviour resources, the intention as much a mystery to the redirector as the redirectee. I guess this is what psychologists do all day. It’s not just appearance, it’s healing.
A colour analyst sees people closer to undisguised reality than many professions. You just never know someone else’s story. How much of it they want to share is their business but there is always a story, and often it’s a truly hard and heartbreaking one. Humans are vulnerable enough and carry around enough hurt. Sometimes laying the gray hair card on the table along with all the others is one card too many. I’m not defensive of my own hair colour, but the discussion does seem to spark some need to protect all these people I see. And yet, I know that nobody is even remotely attacking them. Quite the opposite.
There are online groups most of them are only too aware of their view of grey hair not too long ago, and besides, they just want women to do what makes them happy. The banding-together/sense of sisterhood comes about not because they think their way is best /only way, but rather because of the sense of being judged by society / many women who colour.
I try to speak to all sorts of women and I try to keep it real-world, no pretty or ugly, no right or wrong. I don’t judge or control your appearance, I just want you to choose from many options demanding equal time and money and be able to pick out those that will really help you.
Anna* is a True Summer in her late 30s with fine hair, a spot on her face that won’t go away, weight that won’t move despite all the work at the gym, trouble sleeping, a recent divorce, and a personal commitment to live up to her greatest potential. To run her company and appear in front of young women, to meet men, to feel like a powerful leader, she feels better with coloured hair. Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter, she looks younger, more vital, and much stronger. On that woman at that stage of her life, her life will not change for the better with thin, white hair. She’ll age visibly and she’ll age mentally. I wonder if hair can lose colour before skin. It’s only coloured by melanin, not hemoglobin or carotene. Anna’s skin is not a day over how our culture perceives 30.
June* is a True Summer with silver hair. It’s magnificent. She is magnificent with it. She’d be out of her mind to come near it with hair colour.
It’s a choice. I so often come back to this great, great question Darren asked: What is it that you want to communicate and to whom? That’s where your answer lies.
Georgette* is 18 with some early graying. Should she have the moral fiber to just wear her real hair colour, despite having heard “What a shame” once too many times, which is to say, once?Â 18 is shaky enough. If I were Mom and she wanted to colour it, I’d drive her to the store and help pick the colour.
No firm basis, except thinking it looks good on most women. Once dye came along, this 25 colour is often the last looked one that Â looked just right on most heads. It is a time when we are shown our custom-colour. Sure, our silver is our custom-colour as well, but now we circle back to the top. When women show me their grad photos, I love the colour I see. If I’m being asked for hair colour advice, I request the grad photo, and there are the hue, value, and chroma for your head. It is a specific and more interesting colour, not ‘medium to dark ash brown’. It’s a colour that stylists can use to get that woman right and happy, not wrong and even older looking.
Kate said so well, that
Any diminishing in vitality with silver hair is a perception in the eye of the beholder, driven by society. I get that many women feel differently from me, that it is a personal choice, that lots of women will colour and therefore direction on that is good, and I cherish that each woman has the choice… just so long as it’s not a choice driven by fear, to quote you about not using makeup.
To me, accuracy requires the word silver instead of grey, because each hair that loses pigment is silver/white/colourless, so the overall colour we see on the head depends on the colour(s) of the still-pigmented hairs, and % of silver. Society uses grey for everyone, but that is so not correct. I, for example will never be literally grey, as I donâ€™t have the black hair needed to add to the mix to make grey.
Q: I am curious what happens when silver sisters take off that grey cap at the end â€“ is there a sense that their hair doesnâ€™t belong, the same as many women with chemically-altered hair experience?
A: I wouldn’t say that silver haired women need to adjust after the cap comes off. They adjusted long ago. They’re just looking at a picture they’re used to. Even on True Autumns, the gray is stunning against the warmer clothes. Stunning and strong and interesting. I love these unexpected contrasts and comparisons. They are visually so inspiring.
Q: Once hair begins to silver, do the grays of the palette become better neutrals in clothing, even replacing black for those whose palette included it?
A: Depends on the person and the colour of gray. What colour are the eyes? What type of gray is the hair? A Dark Season with a strong iron gray hair and black eyes remains striking in black, with makeup that looks better than ever. Every feature is like a rhinestone. A Winter with a lighter, softer gray hair may find black too dark. She is more regal, yet still austere, in sharp gray, wearing black in smaller areas if her eyes appear black. At any age, black does define, refine, and outline the colouring and features of Winters, it’s part of how you came to be Winter in the first place, but the amount of it you wear will vary by the woman, even inside a Tone.
For the other groups of natural colouring (Seasons, Tones), for everybody, wearing your hair colour looks good. It looks organized and connected. Your clothing makes perfect sense on you. It feels good to look at. Wear more gray. Should it replace your taupes or beiges? Again, it depends. A Light Spring with creamy silver beige hair still look gorgeous in her ivory and milky peach beige.
In beauty, even within a Tone, there is no one-size-fits-all. If there were, it would mean that there are 12 types of women. Nope.
As you leave your personal colour analysis, you have a gorgeous little booklet that contains 65 colours that harmonize to perfection with the colours in you.
You head straight for your favourite clothing store. Within 10 minutes of being there, you notice that matching those swatches to real clothes isn’t quite so straightforward. Is close enough good enough? It wasn’t when you were sitting in front of the analyst’s mirror.
The harder you try to match those swatches to clothing, the harder it all gets. Maybe there’s another way to go about this. Forget about the little swatches. Look at the entire palette all at once. That’s how you look to others, all your blues, reds, yellows, browns, whites, all churned together at once.
One of the greatest gifts in my life, one that humbles me because I feel I did nothing to earn it, is the woman who trained me. Four years later and I’m still learning so much from her. She is an amazing colour analyst. Terry took a break from PCA. She’ll soon be seeing colour appointments and training again (in Western Michigan). You’ll meet her in an upcoming post. She showed me this most excellent way of appointing a colour to its Tone or Season.
>> Fan the Colour Book all out.
>> Lay it on the fabric.
>> Better yet, look around the store or your closet for two items in similar colours. Even once you get practice at this, without a comparison, our visual system just hangs there, thinking, “So? I’m waiting for your next move here.” Give it a comparison, any comparison, and it gets (gets both in the senses of ‘to understand’ and ‘to fetch’) what you want. We have no idea what a colour is anywhere, in a fabric, in an eye, or in a person’s face, how cool, how dark, how anything, until we compare it to something.Â Â 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.Â Why not? Because you have many blues. If the book included them all, there would be no space to show you your span of greens. Or reds.
>> Does the palette look like more than the fabric, as if the swatches are separating from the fabric, or the reverse, where the palette looks dull and easy to ignore on that fabric colour? They should bring out the best and the most in each other. The eye should feel rest and ease, aware of both palette and fabric equally and happily.
We’re looking at a True Autumn 12-Tone Colour Book (from www.truecolour.com.au) on Light Spring fabric. Even though neither the swatch nor fabric colours are exactly as they appear to an eye, you can see that the Autumn colours are rendering the fabric to might-as-well-not-even-be-there. Overpowering clothes do that to us. As you see, they are not bringing out the best in each other. The swatches are separate, pulling up off the fabric, not blending comfortably with it.
>> Look at the reds. Could you make some beautiful lipstick combinations?
These swatches come from the Light Spring book. Again, the fabric in the photo is far more grayed than it really is. Still, they belong. They feel good on the fabric. The lipsticks work, both warm and cool options. Did you feel yourself relax when your eyes moved from the upper photo to this one?
>> Find the oddest, most extreme colours for that Tone.Â Do they work well with the fabric colour or would you never wear them together? When the harmony is right, there are no unpleasant combinations.
>> Are the neutral beiges/whites/taupes/grays really enhanced or boring? Or changed in some way, like greeny?
These are Light Summer swatches on that Light Spring fabric. Me, I wouldn’t wear the mauve taupe with the yellow green fabric, and it’s way more yellow green in real life.
>> Look for the complementary colours to the fabric colour. The pairs should be downright exciting.
>> Make some colour schemes. Monochromatic, analogous, contrasting. It should be easy.
Light Summer swatches again on Light Spring fabric. Close but no bell ringing. Those greens aren’t great together. That’s not a monochromatic scheme that works.
Are you thinking, “There are no right or wrong answers here. How am I supposed to know if I got it right?” How very astute of you. In French, they say, “Les gouts et les couleurs, ca ne se discute pas.” It means, “There’s no accounting for tastes or colours. Let’s talk about something else. How about religion or politics?”
It means that you can’t be wrong. And from there, you will settle in and get better. If you know your Â Season and have a coordinated closet, practice seeing harmony Â 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.