Here is an excellent question from K, one that I am asked often for most Seasons as some variation of,
Should All My Colours Be Equally Good?
In K’s words,
My question relates to the darker and cooler colours of the Bright Spring palette. Bright Spring was clearly the hands-down winner in the draping, so I don’t doubt that. However, despite really enjoying wearing the lighter and brighter shades in the palette, the cooler and darker shades seem “heavy” or “draining” somehow – the lighter ones seem to reflect more light off my face and “brighten” me up more. The darker and cooler colours also feel too serious or something. I am on the warmer side, so perhaps this could account for it…
I wondered if the darker colours were only supposed to be used in smaller blocks, or intermixed with the lighter values, in order to brighten them up? Or, should all of the colours in the palette look equally good in a large block under the face?
I also feel better in warmer, sunnier makeup, again seems less serious/formal than the cooler shades. I have tried to wear some of the cooler fuchsias as lipsticks, and it feels overdone and constrained somehow (although I do recall your comment about winter makeup being like housepaint on spring, so perhaps even if it’s a swatch match, the heaviness of the pigment/texture could throw things off)…?
These are good questions with some answers that apply to all persons of any Tone. Each woman and her own natural appearance will refine other answers. There is no one-size-fits-all when there are only 12 groups.
My first thought when I read the Q was, too dark for what? From K’s question, I take it that she’s asking about wearing the darker colours in large area, as she says, rather than whether they’re too dark to wear at all because they fall outside her own darkness range as a person within that Season. The second option can’t be it because the drapes measured her value (light/dark) range. They measured her heat level (hue) and chroma too. The Season is the name given the hue/value/chroma settings that she is herself, or the best harmonic match.
Think of your palette colours as the paint puddles on an artist’s hand board. They are the colours you will use to make an abstract painting.
No rule tells the artist that she has to use equal areas of each colour. The size of the colour elements in the painting will vary widely unless your composition is intended as a tablecloth of equal sized blocks. That’s not wrong. It can still have interest, emotion, and mood. But most of us don’t dress as coloured checkerboards. It feels somehow limited in the mind, restricted instead of expansive, not expressive of who we are as individuals. Our clothing choices tell others our story. A checkerboard is like a spreadsheet of us rather than a picture of our beautiful spirit.
could be good on an Autumn; I owned a T-shirt like this once, it was great
Every colour in any painting has a presence regardless of its surface area. Without that one thin black line, it’s a different painting. You notice one tiny yellow sail on one tiny boat in a big blue ocean landscape. You notice a woman’s nail polish or a miniature diamond within seconds. Could be the little areas attract more of our attention because they take more effort to be noticed.
We are not one block of colour to look at. In the eyes of others, we are the entire colour palette, every colour, all at once, all the time. Fan the thing out. There. That’s what the rest of us see when we look at you. Extracting one colour and wearing it as a solid block doesn’t repeat any person perfectly. The colours that are most natural and instinctive will be the ones that work best alone in large blocks. Though everyone has maybe 10 that are fantastic, the best of the best might be
- the undertone colour or close to it, like yellow orange on True Spring, or mulberry on Dark Winter
- representing the primary colour dimension, like antique mauve and silver smoke on Soft Summer
- sometimes repeating an eye colour, like flame gold and hot, rich green on True Autumn
- sometimes exemplifying the feeling of the Season, like bright and energetic on Bright Spring, or blossom colours on Light Spring
- the complement to the core colour, as purples on the five Spring-influenced groups, or a combination, such as periwinkle on Light Summer, that holds the blue of Summer and the purple of Spring and is heartbreakingly lovely
- and sometimes it’s beautiful and I’m not sure why: True Summer in soft fuchsia, watermelon red, or rose petal, with dangly, swirly silver earrings is plain gorgeous.
True Spring; no bold lines, the blocks are distinct by colour divisions; not misty, earthy, heavy, bold, geometric; instead, this is energetic, hippie, fun, busy, buoyant, and natural (where natural is not the same as earthy)
On a Bright Spring, the pure, fresh, spanking new colours will absolutely look better in a single block under the face than the business suit colours, even better if they’re shiny. Of course, they do. It would be odd and worrying if they didn’t. Bright Spring is defined by brightness and a good measure of lightness. It is expected that those types of colours would be automatic and easy. Bright means bright by any connotation of the word, including light, upbeat, clear, and vivid. Bright means intelligent too . Revlon Colorburst gloss 046 in Sizzle contains everything I mean – clear, intense, purely pigmented, just enough red to have kick. Every Bright Spring I know would be great in it.
Light colours are extremely visually attractive on Light Seasons. That’s the whole thing about that type of colouring. Light means light as buoyant and airy too. When you see dark colours on a Dark Season, conversation hangs for a few seconds. The mind is preoccupied with seeing. The Most Important Thing, TMIT, is not just most important for technical reasons. It’s also very organic. A colour-analyzed appearance is appealing to our intellect and intuition equally. The right and left brain hemispheres are equally fulfilled. For a second, the satisfaction is so high that nobody talks, like the first spoonful of dessert or sip of your favorite coffee, where one sensory system is 99% engaged.
Bright Spring; as busy or quiet as you like; more dark colours and/or small areas of black contribute to an overall darkness level that is darker than True Spring; pure pigments, still happy, bright, and fun; the composition speaks of movement, the colour blocks remain quite distinct; modern, clean, and stylized, less natural than a field of daisies or a wheat sheaf, more energy than a lily pad
The darker colours of the Bright Spring palette will not turn the person yellow, pale, shadowed, or otherwise distorted as colours of other dimensions, found in the other 11 Seasons, did. Worn alone, their mood may be too somber for the natural appearance. The feeling we attach to neutral colours and dark colours has more gravity than do the light and bright colours. For this reason, Bright Season people tend to look better in the shiny version of their colours than the matte side of the drapes.
Bright Spring contains Winter and that presence is important. When Winter steps into the warm Seasons to create its four Neutral Seasons, its effects are less subtle than when Summer steps in. The cooling and darkening are more noticeable. You can tell in the person. They look more contrasting, though not necessarily dark. Some aspect of the appearance or character may be exaggerated, like strength of eye colour, the sharpness of the planes of the face, sweetness on a dark person or intensely goal-driven tendencies in a light person.
William Shatner was like a True Spring Captain Kirk. Willing to be childlike and funny, with rounded edges. You’d be safe if you met him at a party. Chris Pine is the Bright Spring version. Edgier, more aggression, more contrast in the colours of eyes and coolness in skin, and you’d know to lock up your daughters. Point is, Pine is missing something if he dresses too safe. He needs the cooler colours and the darker colours to activate the bright, fun colours. Otherwise, he’s a boringly inauthentic version of himself. This applies to every Bright Spring I’ve ever seen, and I’m certain that includes K. Wear the cools and darks. Choose small areas but don’t leave them out.
Bright Winter; Winter’s presence is darker, sharper, balanced, and less reachable; for all Brights, the light element is clear, large, and holds the prominent interest and mood; the lines express the teardrop shape of Spring; this woman has a logical reason to flip up her eyeliner at the outer corner
What about a Soft Summer woman in a long navy dress? Even if it’s her navy, the dustiness really needs to be completely obvious, it’s TMIT after all, or the full impression risks being darker than she is. Her body will seem small in comparison to her neck and shoulders. The navy may even start looking darker than it is. The whole picture is like a willow tree top on a black flagpole. Thinking, “Well, I can see it’s muted where the fabric is sheer…” is not near muted enough.
As an aside, I can’t talk without them, you should try shopping with me, that straight solid vertical line says Winter to me, for no logical reason. Winter always feels like solid, still equilibrium. Solid, but not earthy. A marble statue is solid but not earthy. A pharaoh is solid and a little earthy. Maybe that’s why I keep the pharaoh visual in my head when I put on Dark Winter and True Winter eyeliner. Geronimo, Chief Tecumseh, they’re earthy. A Grecian column is still, neither earthy nor energized. It just is. None of them makes sense with flipped up eyeliner.
Back to the navy dress, with a silver gray shawl, sure, could be fine, but if the colour really is the darkest option in the swatch book, this is not the most beautiful painting I could put under a Soft Summer-coloured head, no matter how light or dark her hair colour.
Soft Summer is about this dark to look at
About the colours you saw yourself in during the draping process, where some looked more captivating than others:
The Test Drapes are not intended to be colours you buy, at least not the drapes that the new colour analysts from the training course are receiving. They are intended to be a little, hm, obnoxious. Terry and I looked for a colours where the other contestant colour would not be worn well, if at all, by the same person. The analyst is trying to make a decision, not suggesting you’ll be wearing these colours. If you’ve draped real human beings, you’ve seen how challenging these decisions can be. The drape colours, and you have many in our Test Drapes, push the extremes so the analyst is most supported in making the correct choice.
Dark Winter choices; top, bold colour in a neutral background ; middle, warms and cools together; lower, more colour, use of undertone colour, small areas of intense heat, spans white to black
The Test Drapes also allow the client to see who they’re not. I can babble on about saturation till the cows are home and fed. When my client understands what to never, ever put down $ for again happens when she or he sees the colour in textile. She develops a broad understanding of what Winter colours really look like, what pastels really are, and what muted actually means. If the drape colours are focused on being oh, so pretty, they can end up too similar. Wrong decisions might slip in.
True Spring; use as many or few colours as you like; the effect is sunlit, warm, natural, alive, moving, changing, safe, joyful
The Luxury Drapes and your swatch book colours are not ponchos. They do not look equally perfect in equal space under your face, though other analysts might disagree or have a different definition of perfect. **They are equally wearable without warping the overall harmony.** That is how they’re special. They allow you to narrow down to 1 out 12 the colours in the store that you have to choose from. In fact, they contribute with gigantic importance to the final harmony.
Four to eight of the colours are magic. At your analysis, they might not be the same 4 to 8 as the next woman of your Tone, though once an analyst gets used to her drape set, they usually are quite reproducible. They could be different between Sci\ART analysts, all of whom have different drape sets, so any two analysts would name the exquisite and confirming colours differently, as would the women you chat with online. We can say that none of the colours detracts in any of the ways your face demonstrated in wrong colour during the analysis.
Light Spring; you can feel the blouse, the texture, the scent, the necklace, the highlights; how lovely to be in the world and look like this
We can’t wear head to toe magic colours. A painting in only magic colours is both mundane and insane with nothing to set off the magic. We literally need grounding, as in ground colours. The rest of the colours take part in dimensional compositions that create a scene. They set up the lighting, give the eye a place to rest so it can take in the actors and the action, arrange the music almost to the point where you can hear a single note throughout the composition. They match and support the plot.
Dark Autumn; small areas of black; no white; a parchment effect, a bronzed impression ; corners; bold elements without being a modern geometric; more natural than modern/synthetic (which is Bright)
Really, colour is only definable by wavelength. Nothing else.
Colour as we see it is a massive optical illusion.
We cannot even know the truth of a line until we see it in its real colour. The real shape of a face, for instance.
That’s why the room goes quiet when the colours and the person connect, when the magic snaps into place. Because we need a minute to absorb what our eyes see and admit that before, we never saw what we were looking at. It’s a “So this is what she really looks like.” moment. Somebody might laugh. In the brilliant Cluetrain Manifesto, David Weinberg said that laughter is the sound that knowledge makes when it is born. The lens just focused on that human being. Once the colours and the person are on the same wavelength (literally), the full force of their nature is brought into the light (literally).
Light Summer; quiet grace, the optimism of the flower, swirly, no black lines, more colour or less colour is up to you
Whether your colouring is lighter or darker matters some, depending more on what your eye likes to see if you were looking at a woman who looks like you, rather than any rules someone sets down. The overall darkness level of the painting is nice when it’s the same as yours.
Your inherent contrast level – how big is the colour jump between your own big colour blocks, eyes, skin, hair – matters a little, but I think people get too hung up on it, at the risk of looking like they wear the same thing every day. Your Colour Book is like a 16 lane highway. Narrowing yourself down too much is like only driving in the middle lane. I don’t see being too careful about this making much difference for the better. You probably look better and more interesting than you think you do, in more colours than you think. If you are more medium in overall contrast, then insert a medium block of any size. Spend time expanding yourself to use your colour-analysis swatches all the way to the ends of every strip. Get out of the middle lane and try an off-ramp. It will be good.
True Summer; says who, water has to be blue? It can be silver gray, hydrangea purple, light misty blue, and cloudy day dark gray, better at the same time.
The warmth or coolness of your position in your Season does not affect which colours look better in clothing that I’ve ever seen. I actually like when warms and cools are worn together by Neutral Season people. It looks interesting, imaginative, and artistic. It gets that “How did you know how to do that?” thing going.
Warm or cool side colouring within a Tone can play a role in cosmetics in some people. Cosmetics are less predictable because they sit on your face and mesh with your internal pigments to result in a mixed colour. The same lipstick doesn’t look identical on two women of the same Season. The Seasons are too broad for that.
This aspect of your colours needs a little experimenting and custom-choosing, one woman at a time. Your Season is your center of gravity, which doesn’t mean you can’t move around without tipping over. Women often start where they’re most comfortable. Within a year, they decide to try an old too-cool lipstick again before they give it away and wonder, “Why did I think this was so bad? Why was it planted in my head that it is dark and purple? It’s neither one.”
Soft Autumn paintings; more Autumn geometry on top, great boots, an excellent handbag, a warmer overall feeling; in both, beautiful use of texture; bottom, an interesting way to bring in blue, as a pendant on a necklace
I sometimes wonder if we look for too many rules. Is there a line where we want to be told every aspect of how to dress, or how we do anything, by someone else, so that we don’t have to take on any responsibility for it ourselves? I’m all for getting advice on hair colour and makeup from colour analysts and other advisors who have a critical approach to colour and our appearance.
But there’s a difference between asking, “What looks good ON me?” and “What looks good TO me?” I can talk lipstick into the ground. What I love way more is the woman who tuned me out awhile ago and is thinking, “What would MY eyes like to see?”
True Winter? No. Too safe. This is nowhere on True Winter.
True Winter? Still no. Too much outward energy. True Winter is the Earth, and often a person, turned inward. For many Winters, empathy is a learned quality. Pent up energy, surging outward, but still cold, is Bright Winter’s feeling.
True Winter. The whites are so white, they’re blue. The black is the pitch of night. The number of colours is 1, elevated and undeniable. The feeling is contained but not gentle. This energy form is hearing its own rhythm.
At what point we insert our own opinion differs for each of us and no answer is wrong. The women and men who read here are brilliant and very far from being doormats. The fashion industry has made easy prey of us all. I get confused too and ask my kids what looks good on me.
I just wonder if we women have gotten so used to being told what to do that we’ve learned to like it. It’s easy. It’s familiar. It’s the devil we know. It would tick everybody around us off royally if we announced that from now on, we will think, choose, decide, and undertake on our own. Problem is, it keeps us stuck in someone else’s vision.
For me, beauty exists when I recognize the natural world I live in. Maybe that’s why I don’t find a lot of little detail attractive on certain types of natural colouring. We don’t see small detail in the dark (Dark Autumn and Dark Winter). We don’t see intricate detail from a distance (the 3 Winters).
I would rather you have hair colour and makeup in opposition to every word I’ve ever written a million times over before you let someone else tell you what you think. Or worse, what you feel. My answers, anybody’s answers, to how you wear your colours can only take you so far because they are neither right or wrong. Ask yourself, “What feels good TO ME?” Only there can YOUR right answers be found.
Anyone who knows what personal colour analysis is, rather than what it was, lives with a growing sense of how well it works and how much it can improve your choices. The system divides human colouring into several groups, 12 in the one that I use. Since there are far more than 12 kinds of colouring once you get into the subdivisions, not every aspect of each group will apply equally to every person in it.
As you find your private garden and arrange the flowers and furniture to suit you, you ask some excellent questions. L sent me this,
I’ve been very happy with my Soft Summer colors and they’ve made a
huge difference overall. The issue is though, that my hair color is just so
much warmer than my palette that many of my neutrals don’t look that great.
I stopped coloring my hair a couple of years ago and it’s neutral medium
brown at the base and the lengths are quite warm, perhaps a light chestnut
color would be accurate with even lighter ends. This warm brown just
doesn’t look that wonderful with all the grayish-taupes which make up the
majority of my neutrals. As an interior designer I wouldn’t put these colors
next to each other, so it bothers me to do so when getting dressed.
According to old pics and my mother, this is my natural color. I had
forgotten that since I’ve been coloring my hair for over 30 years. I’m just
tired of trying to use toners and shampoos trying to cool it down.
I’ve been looking at other companies SS and Summer fans and found wonderful
browns in the CMAS Summer fan, and Lora Alexander’s (www.prettyyourworld.com) Soft Summer fan.
I was just curious about Sci-Art’s and your opinion about hair not being that
great with the palette since you cover it during the consultation.
Overall, I’ve discovered that I lean a bit warm within Soft Summer and I
really wish [the present palette] would give a wider range of neutral browns. I
own the Soft Autumn fan and I don’t need to go that warm, but just a bit
redder, rosier than my [present] fan.
Neutral to warm? Neutral to cool? Who knows? We’ll have to measure it somehow. That’s what the drapes do. Our eyes alone are not able without imposing some errors, because of how eyes and brains work. And because of the most misleading thing of all…assumptions.
Many of L’s comments could apply to all the Seasons fans. In any Tone, the likelihood of including even half the possible hair colours is less than 50/50 since hair colour is only moderately tied to Season. Why is that? My guess is that it’s because hair colour comes from melanin. Skin colour comes from melanin, hemoglobin, and carotene. Hair colours are an incomplete version of our truth, though what’s there is real and harmonized with us nonetheless. Just not detailed enough to do a PCA with. Hair also doesn’t change enough in response to colour to take accurate measurements. Skin tone does, therefore we use it to guide a colour analysis.
Soft Summer doesn’t tend to vary as widely as some but it certainly ranges in darkness, though it remains on the cool divide of neutrality. In all 12 Tones, eye colours seem to me to be more closely resembling the skin colours contained in the colour analyzed swatch palette, and yet they can appear very warm in persons of this Season. Test them and they still have the best energy in the cool-neutral Soft Summer drapes, not the warm-neutral Soft Autumn drapes. Why isn’t eye colour tightly linked to Season? Similar reasons to the hair, adding in the Rayleigh scattering that makes the sky blue, and other aspects of the physics and biology of an eyeball, such as how it’s pigmented, where its blood layer is located, how it reflects light because it’s in a water-based jelly, and many other factors.
Soft Summer eyes can be darker, lighter, warmer, cooler. As long you give them what they care about most: colours that are soft.
A warm-eyed Soft Summer must mean that though we see lots of warm colours of yellows, golds, and oranges in the eyes, these are present in their cool-neutral versions and are outnumbered by the greens, grays, and blues of Soft Summer. You would think the two Soft Seasons’ yellows and golds to be quite different until you try to harmonize a colour palette and realize how close they actually are.
Soft Summer is also a Season where the Neutral persons are often quite warm, on the 49/51 divide between the Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. An analyst needs to be on her toes and own a seriously good set of drapes. They say that our hair and eye colours are among our neutral colours but I agree it is so if you know the real colours of your eyes. If you match what you think you see, which is never what colour really is, you’ll go too warm for your skin and turn yourself a little dull and jaundiced.
Whoa now, that’s a Winter eye! Same colour family, cool-neutral hues, similar value level (lightness/darkness), but what’s different? That third colour dimension. And the type of heat, which appears more Spring-yellow than Autumn-gold. Whole different feeling.
How can True Winter or Light Summer be a redhead? Combine their yellow and their red, I would think. Every Season has both in their own versions. The hair tends not be orange, it’s redder than that. But both have yellows, nearly primary yellow in Winter’s case, which is why their green drape can look so yellow in some situations.
L. is colour savvy enough to sense the best solution, which is to move very slightly to a warmer place without losing the harmony. Soft Summer skin is happy to negotiate on warmth of hue as long as the colour stays soft and dusty, not intensely saturated. In my Sci\ART drapes, there are 3 drape colours, identical fabrics, that are used in 2 places. The Soft Summer and Dark Winter burgundy red test is the same. The Soft Summer face is not as flattered as it could be. The client notices that. Seeing the difference is a better learning opportunity than if I just babble on about colour dimensions, because the client sees that she needs to buy dark&dusty, not dark&densely pigmented, and that darkness is not her shopping challenge issue. Saturation is. It’s a strength of the drapes, not a weakness. Makes me now wonder if I should put a few ‘don’t go here or here’ among the Test and Luxury Drape sets that I assemble. But no, you saw those during your 12 Tone colour analysis session.
Ah, back to Soft Summer eyes, neutral but cool, and soft soft soft.
Only dyed hair is, or approaches, all one colour. Natural hair has many colours to make an overall tone. You might see one colour but the rest of us don’t. How it reflects light and shows its colours requires its true colours to reveal the correct tones. Soft Summer has a drop of gold in her hair, not yellow. She is not a great blonde. A True cool Season in even slightly warm clothing or makeup has yellowed, dingy colour. If it’s silver hair, it looks like smoker’s yellow-gray instead of their beautiful clean silvered gray. The foundation colour must be accurate, hard to find in today’s overly yellow base makeup selections.
Others don’t see the discrepancy in our hair as we ourselves might. We don’t see hair as an object of one colour like a wall or a pillow. You might not pair those objects but they’re not coloured with hemoglobin, carotene, and melanin. We sense that living things are not coloured in the same way as objects, and that man-made objects are not coloured in the same way as Nature’s inorganic objects. Despite the difference, we are able to find the harmonizing colours and the relationships between them, as us and our clothes.
We can bring colours into our harmony too. Because it’s applied to our face, makeup interacts with the pigments in the skin. A lipstick that swatches on paper as Light Summers might fall flat on some Light Summer and be lovely on some Light Springs. This is called Making The System Work For You. Clothes don’t change so much. No question, in the same way that the drapes have an effect on us and we have an effect right back on them, so do we change our clothing colours somewhat, just not to the extent of makeup because of how it’s used. A Bright Winter can change True Summer’s beautiful, cool yellow into a grayed piece of cloth that’s been washed too many times.
What kind of eye is this? Soft or saturated? Neutral? How Neutral? Spring’s yellow heat or Autumn’s gold? Of the 3 colour dimensions, which one matters above all? I have no idea. This is why I can’t look at photos and know Season. I have no comparisons and no ruler. All I can say is what I always do, whether I’m shown a photo or a real person in front of me: “Could be this or could be that.” If it’s a real person, I can say, “Where’s my drapes, lights, and gray background when I need ‘em?”
L. knows that I would never advise any woman to colour her hair ever. Her natural colour will always be her best colour. Sometimes we can decorate up a little and keep the balance, and that’s good too. My advice is to save herself the time and money and wear her natural hair. Once her hairs grays, she’ll only look better. Gray is what the Soft Summer does better than anybody because gray is inherently cool, as they are, and they start off with more of it in the natural colours that define them than the other colouring types.
If L.’s discerning eye prefers to warm a few of her clothing browns, excellent. She has to feel well in what she wears. There will be no repercussions as long as the harmony is maintained (more on that in Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book). There would be more substantial repercussions if she tried to alter her hair colour.
What about L.’s question about the colours present in the Sci\ART palettes? Without stirring up a nest of hornets that have finally gone to sleep, I’ll take a guess. Only a guess. Please don’t come after me on this, I have no valid opinion to offer so I won’t say much. I do not know what was in the head of the person who designed the palettes. I’ll take a shot: As I understand the history, at the time of her passing, Kathryn Kalisz was adjusting the Season palettes, as she probably did a few times over the years for different reasons. She deeply wanted people to feel comfort in their colours, but some of the feedback sometimes said that the colours were too much, probably more in the saturated Seasons. Part of the reason for the choices may have reflected this, though I doubt it was the bigger part of it in this particular instance.
There was (is) also the question of whether the Neutral Season colours should be closer to the parent Seasons, as Soft Summer to True Summer, or to the other Neutral with which they share the most important colour dimension, as Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. Is one right and one wrong? Does there need to be a hard rule? I would say No and No as long as the dimensions of each Season is respected, though I’d be thrilled to talk about it. Where does one cloud in colour space end and the next begin? Is there an overlap? How big is it, what’s the rule? How big should it be, different question? You have thousands of colours. Maybe one day, someone will make 4 Colour Books of swatches for each Tone, not just 1. Smart woman that L. is, she found other options that contained what she was looking for and she knew how to select those that applied to her.
This completes my long-winded way of saying that L. made great choices and decisions on her own Nothing I love better than a woman empowered to work through the many choices about her best self, in any context, and come out right. Discernment is a beautiful thing.
We have two themes in this article. One is to assemble outfits that are ‘off-Season’. It’s easy to find clothing in our 12 Tone palettes at certain times of year and near impossible at other times. The second is to introduce a new style voice, since I wonder if my outfits are a little repetitive.
My daughter, Ally, has more style in her little finger than I’ll find in my whole life. She’s Kibbe-innocent but can see whether lines match people instantly. Today’s Polyvores are from her perspective. I asked her to keep in mind that she’s dressing women of all ages, to which she replied, “No woman of any age needs to wear granny clothes and I’m not picking those.” Fair enough.
Ally’s also here to break a few rules. In her charming 17 year old way, she asked, “Why does anyone have to do what you say?” Point taken. Nobody does. You’ll find colours and styles you might not normally see.
Light Summer in December
True Summer in October
Any one piece may not be perfect. But the whole thing together works. As S., the student who arrives this week for the training course, so aptly pointed out, the word ‘match’ isn’t always appropriate. I use it too often. Whether your clothes match the swatches in your palettes, whether your lipstick matches your red belt, whether your sweater matches your hair – it doesn’t really matter so much. They need not be identical colours. They need only look like they live in the same harmonic field relative to the the whole composition.
The idea is to use colour to create a vision that is cohesive. All the elements are working together and with you. Everything has a good reason for being there. That’s how we look at paintings, landscapes, and other people. We don’t dissect the saturation of their blouse. So the vest above is on the dark side. So the pink backpack could be pinker. In the big picture, I’m not sure it would make an important difference. The parts are finding enough in common to stay together. Not unlike marriage, or any other relationship.
True Autumn in April
Yes, it really is this cold here in April.
It strikes me that we’re still just making Polyvores. This may answer part of our purpose, which is, how to wear muted, warm colours when everyone else looks like an Easter basket.
The other part of the question is, where do I go to find my colours in April when the stores are full of coloured candy floss?
- shop wider; I’ve actually begun buying things I find on Polyvore. As eBay is the world’s biggest yard sale, Polyvore is the world’s biggest shopping mall right in my house.
- buy online, always risky, but many allow free returns.
- shop all year round for all year round; within 6 months of your PCA, once it’s caught up with you, or you with it, you will keep most of your choices for years, and you’ll spend more per item because you’ll know it looks right and will work with the rest of your closet
True Winter in September (or March)
Any of us who knows both her colours and her body line finds shopping nearly as easy as it used to be. There’s no one-stop-shop any longer. We buy Christmas outfits in July, we are always looking. Other than True Winter and Soft Autumn, I don’t really dedicated stores for colours. Even for those groups, you’ve only got their (limited) design lines to select from.
By request, the Bright Spring Dramatic Classic
Dramatic Classic, where pouffy becomes maternity or Jack Sparrow. A rounded edge is Peter Pan.
What’s interesting here is that the Bright Seasons tend to have a lot of sweetness in the personality. I’ve heard them called pushovers but that comes from someone who’s only working from a traditional, narrow, male-based definition. Power wears many hats. These people are not mean, abrupt, rude, or rough. As the Bright Spring is a Spring, she will take things to heart. You can’t throw words around that you don’t mean. Being with her is an exercise in being happier and more gentle.
Dramatic Classic is not sweet in the traditional sense either. If anything, it’s a little sharp. If you began with the absolute average woman, DC isn’t closer to being the average child. It’s closer to being the absolute average man.
The intersection of the two is that Bright Spring’s colours and DC’s lines are both very clean. No extras, no gadgets, no fuzzy, no fluff. If you drew the outline, the edges would be sharp, no question where one thing ends and the next begins. Nothing fades into anything else. Absence of blur effect, noise reduction up.
I gave Ally a few colour words – lively, clean, same or opposite colours, a little bit of Winter, and the shape words – sleek, expensive, close, upside-down triangle or straight lines, and then just asked her to dress me. She didn’t read the book because we get too rigid about rules and end up in costumes. Her job was to pull together an overall effect.
Black is small, shiny, on the bottom half, with other elements that warm up the overall look. If black is in the top half, it takes up small surface area, it’s opened up like lace or pointelle, or there’s lots of skin.
Every item need not be sunny, there’s Winter here. But each vignette should say bright, alive, warm, crisp.
Something delicate really looks good. Crispness near the face looks good, it need not be especially yellow. Bulk with angularity looks clunky or spiky. Fine, thin crispness is good, like icicles.
Smooth, geometric, shiny, new, expensive – all work with the pearls, in a chunkier setting. The pearls are fine because the edges are defined, as feathers would not be. Those long dangling earrings, some DC’s might disappear them, but on a Bright Spring DC, they’d be great. The sharpness offsets the small size.
Hearts are an inverted triangle shape, as are teardrops, both great on Spring and DC.
The whole earring that sprays up – unless you know different stores than me, you’d never wear earrings. Chunky smooth pieces that sit close to the ear and have a solid presence on the ear lobe are good.
Mixed metals are good here when they’re shiny.
No platforms on shoes. Frankensteinish.
I normally would never wear a bow, but the asymmetric position of it is good. I like the design on that sweater, interesting with the blouse. One of those excellent combinations that nobody could do like Bright Spring.
I hope that you go to the site and make these images bigger. There are some really nice things here.
Every time I apply the 12 Tones of colours to a different medium, it’s like learning it all over again. Once you’ve learned to choose clothes, you figure makeup will be easy. Not so. It’s a whole new sorting experience. Students who come for the Analyst Training Course will bring a page of makeup swatches that we’ll classify to Season. We will also have a bag of fabrics and we’ll organize those. And they’ll think, “Does this ever get easier??” This is partly why I feel that those who are serious about their colours should own their swatches in more than one format.
Shopping in the Theoretical Universe
When one of the three colour dimensions (hue, value, chroma) changes in a colour, so do the other two. Maybe you’re looking at a green item and it seems a little less pure and more heathery than your swatches. You’re really not sure if it’s still in your Tone’s chroma range or not. Compare the item to your swatches based on something besides chroma.
Darkness level can be useful. If the Tone has definite upper value limits, like the Light Spring and True Spring (though really, they all do except the 3 Winters), this can exclude certain Bright Spring colours. The pastels of Summer have a fair bit of pigment, much more than the Winter icy light colours, so giving a light colour to Summer or Winter isn’t hard. The Winter ones are much closer to white.
Sometimes, the distinction isn’t so easy, especially between neighbour Neutral Seasons, meaning the 2 Softs, 2 Lights, 2 Darks, and 2 Brights. We have to go after what makes them most different. You have to get colour-specific because they’re too similar in terms of the 3 colour dimensions. Is one redder, greener, yellower, etc? Even with Trues and their 2 Neutral Seasons, it would be hard to distinguish True and Soft Summer by darkness. For some of the colours, the saturation difference doesn’t seem obvious, though it is there, because both are muted. True Summer is cooler, but ‘cooler’ is too generic. True Summer is bluer than Soft Summer. Even the blues are bluer.
Neighbouring Neutral Seasons are more accepting of one another’s colours without interfering with the overall harmony. They have the most important colour dimension in common – Light, Soft, Dark, or Brightness. They’re similar in value. The heat setting is close, one cooler, one warmer, which musn’t be discounted. One definitely looks better and one definitely looks worse, but there’s some willingness to compromise.
True cool Season palettes share no colours with their Neutral neighbours because the Neutrals contain a little heat, the one dimension where True cool Season skin won’t negotiate. There are definite detractions from appearance.
True warm Season palettes share no colours with their Neutral satellites because their Neutrals contain a little coolness, the one dimension where True warm Season skin won’t negotiate. The person doesn’t look as good in many little ways that, when added into a bigger picture, make a big difference.
So, why couldn’t the True cool Seasons share colours, like a True Spring wearing True Autumn colours, since they both respect the need for warmth? The theory seems sound enough – as long as the theory only recognizes this one single dimension, which isn’t how colour works. The result reminds me of one of Sherlock Holmes’ more famous quotes, from A Scandal in Bohemia,
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Any two True Seasons have only one colour dimension in common: heat (Spring and Autumn), high saturation (Winter and Spring), coolness (Winter and Summer), low saturation (Summer and Autumn), lightness (Summer and Spring), and darkness (Autumn and Winter) . In an analysis, a person who looks good in Autumn and Summer is probably enjoying the softness of the colours. It’s the only thing the two Seasons share. The fact is that they differ in the other two. All three have to be bull’s eye perfect for ultimate harmony. True Seasons do not share colours no matter how dark blue the True Summer’s eyes are or how blonde the True Winter.
Winter colours on Summer people stick out. It’s hard to see anything else. Summer colours on Winter people are weak. Maybe a couple of each could slide by but the whole thing isn’t right. It fascinates me to no end how the Sci\ART drape colours that Kathryn Kalisz assembled are not always exactly to be found among her swatches. And yet, the harmony with the Tone is unmistakable. I think of True Autumn’s famous schoolbus yellow, beloved by many who have been draped with it. It’s not exactly in the True Autumn swatches. You might even think it’s in the Bright Spring group. Lay all the fabrics out together and you’ll see that the colour belongs with True Autumn.
So many of Conan Doyle’s character’s quotes apply to PCA. From The Sign of Four,
I never guess. It is a shocking habit,- destructive to the logical faculty.
Colour analysts do not guess. You know or you don’t. If you’re not absolutely sure, don’t call it. Say the truth, “I don’t know.” Fine, we’ll figure it out some other way, but don’t bring in a mistake that will carry through the rest of the analysis. People send me photos and I say, “I do not know.” When I was in medical school listening for heart murmurs, the students would say “I think I hear a murmur.” And the Scottish professor who had seen it all or the genius woman who led the surgical department, they replied, “Pick one. Either you hear it or you don’t. Commit.” Colour analysis is not guesswork. It takes some confidence. You have to know when to open-mindedly yet politely ignore the client the way a doctor does with rambling medical histories and pages of internet self-diagnosis. It’s not that the ramble contains no value or truth, it’s just that given the facts of the patient’s condition (or colouring) and the facts of symptoms and illness (or colour classification), some of their conclusions cannot be correct. In our training, we will cultivate the strength of your convictions.
And from so many of the stories, the most immortal quote of all, for the I-look-just-like-my-Soft-Autumn-sister who drapes to be a True Winter:
“… and when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
The Neutral palettes will compromise on heat level as long as their important dimension is respected. Keep colour dark, and Dark Autumn skin says, “A trace cooler, a trace warmer, a trace more saturated, I’ll play along. Your total look won’t fall apart.” If colour goes light, Dark Autumn skin says, “Sister, get it right or you’re done like dinner.”
Keep colour light and Light Summer skin says,”Stick with the cooler of Light Spring’s colours and it won’t be a big deal. They’re all pretty light in the big picture of white to black. Yes, OK fine, Light Spring is a bit yellower, so don’t plant a big block of it right under your chin, but your harmony won’t self-destruct.” Once colour goes dark, Light Summer skin says “There will be no good choice. We won’t like anything we see in the mirror. You did pretty well in the True Summer drapes, arguably your closest runner-up, till they turned dark and we took a wrong turn.”
Back to the topic, choosing blue for True Spring. It’s kind of tricky because blue is inherently associated with coolness. Many have trouble with True Spring blue. I would guess that the difficulty arises between True and Bright Spring. The other Seasons’ blues are quite different. Is Bright Spring blue just bluer? Yes, partly, and as the amount of blue increases, so does the darkness. Other things change too. Red is arriving in Bright Spring. Yellow is moving out. Pigments are not being muted. They’re so pure, they’re almost synthetic. True Spring still looks from-nature, without the sense of the Brights’ “Whoa blue.”
By the time we add enough yellow to colours to create a True Spring group, the most yellowed colours of all, there’s not much blue or red among the swatches. They’ve turned into turquoise and coral. But True Spring does have some blue that harmonizes perfectly with the other colours. It’s very blue but not as blue as it could be (which would be closer to Bright Spring) and not very dark.
Bright Spring blues are not just more saturated than True Spring. They’re redder by the arrival of Winter (so purplish) or less yellow (so without a green or teal quality that True Spring’s darkest blue has) . When you compare them side by side, the individual colours in the palettes are not as similar as the whole palette appears to be. This is a hard call though, if you only look at one palette. So if there’s one palette where you get hung up, buy it. Make sure you know the difference. Learn to trust your eyes and your taste too. If the blue item doesn’t disrupt your beautiful harmony, then it will probably be just fine, especially if the colour block isn’t too big.
Shopping in The World As We Know It
Got all the talking out of my system. I’m scanning the Polyvore layouts looking for True Spring blue.
I want colour. As I look, I think ‘lots of blue, lots of blue’.
There should always be more colour than darkness to perceive in all of True Spring. More colour and a feeling of sunshine. Yellow sun shining down on blue would make it look a little green IF you compared the blue to a redder blue. It leans a little turquoise/teal, not red/violet, to harmonize with the rest of the composition, or palette.
Remember that colours on every monitor look different. We’ll think more about comparisons than absolute colours. I started this post about 10 times and kept changing everything till I only worked on it in the same two hour slot each day. Imagine how long that took.
1 looked pretty good, but too dark. It’s saturated, so must be Winter or Spring. Spring’s blues aren’t red. If anything, they’re greenish, presumably from all the yellow in them. Winter’s colours are redder. I’d put this in Bright Spring as their second-darkest blue.
2 is too hazy for True Spring. It’s too dark for Light Spring and a little too saturated (too much blue) for True Summer. It also has a green quality, meaning it must be heated with yellow or gold, which True Summer isn’t. It’s in between the warmer and cooler darkest blues of Light Summer.
3 is not saturated enough for a Spring. It’s also more pink-mauve. I’d put it in Light Summer.
4 is interesting. It’s reddish, making it look a little purple. Means Winter. Too light for Dark Winter. I’d see it between True and Bright, closer to Bright.
5 doesn’t have the slight greening of True Spring’s darkest blue. Looks to me like Bright Spring’s darkest blue. A true blue that is obviously no black.
6 is more saturated than 3 but not enough for True Spring. I see haziness. Must be Light Spring. Amazing how hard it is to gauge colour in different lighting, ay? And across different textiles.
7 is hard. Doesn’t seem red enough for True Winter. The saturation is very high, leaving the Brights and Dark Winter. It feels too saturated for Dark Winter. Not sure. Probably be alright for all 3 Winters. I’d need to see the item surrounded by gray under full spectrum lights to decide for sure.
8‘s shine is making it look lighter than it is. I could imagine Light Spring’s darkest blue. Looks like it could be bluer, like it’s not at full saturation. It’s not True Spring blues which lean to green, and not dark enough to be Bright Spring’s dark blues. Bright Spring dark blues are greenish or reddish. This is pinky, like Summer’s mauve undertone.
9 is heathered. It lives between Light Spring and Light Summer.
10 is a good contender. It could be Bright Spring too, better if it were a trace more violet. Bright Spring is a Neutral Season. Like all Neutral Seasons, they have warm and cool version of colours including blue. Bright Spring has a greener blue and a redder blue.
11 is nice, ay? makes me think of Japanese art, those blossoms on branches. The blue could be good for True Spring. The flowers that go to white and black moves the item into Bright Spring or Winter, but the blue doesn’t have the red-violet quality of Winter’s effect on blue.
12 has yellow and significant haze, so a Summer. It’s a sunny day, not a shady one, so Light Summer. But it’s too desaturated for Light Summer. Maybe it’s at the low end of that Tone. If we pretend the light on it is a little cooler, it would be True Summer.
13 has yellow and more pigment, still hazy. It feels better in Light Summer.
14 is a little too saturated for Light Summer, it could be Light Spring.
15 is yellowed too much for Light Summer, looks like Light Spring.
16 is very close to white. One of the Winters get that.
17 Well, gosh, Light Spring? It’s a little too red for Light Summer and a lot too red for Soft Autumn. Not dark enough for True Autumn. My gosh, are you feeling exhausted? In Light and True Spring, those orchid purples appear. But it’s dusty. Maybe Light Summer is better. I feel all tired out now. In the same way that there are lines of garments that make sense on nobody, I guess there are colours that are right in none of the 12 Tones. That colour is making me feel weird.
18 isn’t lots of blue. What I get first is dusty, then dark. Soft Summer. Thank you, goddess, easier one.
19 could be True Winter. It’s not at full max sat like 22 and it’s reddish. You’re not alone in finding this really hard and I have all 12 Colour Books.
20 True Spring, oh, please? Nope. Not greenish and a little too dusty. If I had to say, does it lean green or purple, I think, “Shoot (or a word with similar first sound), I don’t know.” I hold up the True Spring swatch book and the blouse turns pinkish. I see a marketing opportunity here. We could sell pieces of cool, neutral, and warm gray. You could hold your garment up to it and watch them change each other. This top looks like Light Spring.
21 is Soft Autumn, right? I’m not so sure. It’s a little too colourful and not dark enough. Amazing too how hard it is to judge one colour dimension when the other two aren’t constant, as in, how hard it is to tell which of two colours is lighter when their saturations are not the same. Soft Autumn is less saturated and more dark. Light Spring purple is more decided about itself, it’s is either bluer or redder. Light Summer? Yes, probably.
22 could be True Winter in the light areas, aggressively blued with definite black feelings. The saturation is so high that I think of a Bright Winter. Shopping in the real world is like searching for the lost world of Atlantis.
23 is True Summer. I pick up no heat, or hardly any. It goes a little darker than True Summer at the bottom and the top blue part is not quite as freshly cooled. Soft Summer would be fine here, though her blues are a touch warmer, and her lighter blue-gray is less blue. Whatever. We are going to have no clothes unless we cut ourselves a little slack.
24 could be True Spring quite well (or Light Spring). The aqua writing is too blue for True Spring (would be greener) and works better in Light Spring.
25 Stark white, high contrast stripes means there’s Winter in it. The blue is too blue for True Spring. The two Bright Seasons could manage this but they would want to add sunshine to the overall look. Too saturated for Dark Winter. Could be True Winter.
26 Light Spring. Groan. I have to believe this is getting easier. For True Spring, it would need a faint green tinge and no dusty quality. This has a red tinge. I know that because I held the True Spring book up to it and the item looked even redder. But I gotta say, it’s so close.
The other confusion might be with True Autumn, but there’s no problem here. True Autumn blue is redder (purpler, actually), duller, and darker. I figure the purple must come from making gold (Autumn) from the yellow primary, since gold is added to Autumn colours. Adding purple would mute and darken yellow. Then, adding gold (purpled yellow) to blue makes darker, muted, purply blue. True Spring’s darkest blue is not as dark as True Autumn’s, and it’s a little green (from all the yellow of Spring), not a little purple. Autumn mostly has teal and brick, what happened when all the gold was added to blue and red.
27 Enough fooling around or we’ll be here all night. 27 is good. I’m using 36 as my reference red-blue in this panel. 27 one leans green.
28 is one of those pieces that would keep me wondering why. Why does it look like a strapless dresss with an undershirt? That orange stripe would captivate my attention and I’d be stuck. Not everything has to make sense of course. Like my liking of yellow-beige stone with plum doors for a house. Just put it here randomly.
29 Bright Spring. Too light for True, and tending red. Plus, details are silver.
30 I can feel a tough one coming on. Too blue for True Autumn and Dark Autumn. Must be an Autumn, though, it feels muted and earthy. What’s too blue for Autumn and still muted? Summer is. This is too blue for Soft and True Summer. Wouldn’t be Light Summer, would it? It’s a trace dark, but as Sherlock says, once you’ve eliminated the probable… Honestly, it doesn’t feel altogether harmonizing with Light Summer’s freshness and it’s somewhat dark. How about Soft Autumn? It’s a little too blue, but it feels more belonging. Is that just the cut? If it were a sheer blouse or shiny taffeta, would I have an altogether different feeling? This textile reflects light in a way that mutes colour. One thing I hoped this post would illustrate: We post photos of ourselves in a Light Summer colour when we’re really in Soft Autumn. I get sent photos of a woman comparing Light Summer and Bright Winter, and the colours she’s wearing are off for both. Maybe by just a hair but it changes the whole skin reaction, just as it changes the perception of a garment. Photos and I don’t get along. My other point: sorting drape colours accurately is hell on wheels. Understandable why analysts have trouble agreeing.
31 is OK. A bit light and better by colour in Bright Spring. The lace is rough, which makes the saturation look lower, which would place it in True Spring.
32 Quite blue for a True Spring or True Autumn. Not enough chroma for the 3 Winters. Too saturated for a Summer blend. Dark Autumn?
33 Heart be still, it seems fine. Lots of blue, not too dark. Navy isn’t something I agonize over. I organize it in fairly dark and dusty (Summer, ease up on darkness for Lights), really dark and saturated (Winter), not dark and very blue (Spring, more dark for the Brights), and there are better choices (Autumn).
34 Thanks be to Jesus!!!, another good one.
35 is good. Lots of blue, not max blue, not too dark. How do I know it leans green? Because I’ve given myself a reference point, which is 36. In a store, do the same. Gather up a bunch of close colours. Your eye will sort them automatically.
36 is a red-blue. Would be True or Bright Winter. It on the darker side and not fully saturated, as True Winter is, but I can look at it again and think, “No, no, Christine, you ding-dong, the darkness is fine for Bright Winter. It just needs a trace more chroma.” Holy cow, who cares? There are 30 million worse blues you could wear.
37 Put the kettle on, dolls. It’s good.
The first draft of the Training Guide came back from my wonderful editor. Iryna, my equally wonderful book formatter, is waiting to start but I still have some work to do. I’ve been keeping my head down and not attending to posting articles and answering comments as I should. My apologies for that.
I should sound more excited because I am. I’m really looking forward to these training events – maybe especially the part where we put our feet up at the end of each day, have a glass of wine, and share some informal conversation. That and going across the street (from the hotel in London ON) to swatch makeup at Sephora. It’s going to be good.
I’m not going to talk much today. Many have asked for the 12 Colour Equations from the book, Return to Your Natural Colours (linked over in the right column) to be posted all in one place. Here, they be. Any that have appeared previously have a link to that article posted with the title. Explanations are in the articles and/or the book itself.
A reminder that these palettes went through Photoshop’s colour model, my computer, the servers, and your computer before you saw them. At each step, they changed a little. No two readers are seeing the same thing. Don’t use them to buy clothes or makeup. Use them as comparison with the eleven others. To choose your colours and know your true darkness range, use your 12 Tone swatch book. Nothing else is calibrated right.
Use them to notice how my taste prefers to see neutral colours used, the overall degree of colourfulness, the use of complementary colours (to each other and to the skin undertone), and the gradual or sharp flow between colours. The geometric figures make it hard to impossible to illustrate watercolour diffusions between colour blocks, so for that, you need to read the book or other sections of this website.
If you see light icy gray, feel free to sub in diamond and platinum, certainly neutrals for you. These also can be used in place of white to set the high contrast range with black.
Very purple, this Tone. Not much red, but a lot of pink, fuchsia, and purple. No. 5′s purple is also a near neutral colour for True Winter, more magnificent than black against the skin tone.
In the article Colour Equations Dark Winter.
Easy one. Shoot the sat up to 98-100%. Small areas of complementary colours. Something has to be happy, which means a little random (repetitive=predictable=work=Autumn)
, but not too happy. If it gets too happy, rein it in. Move it darker. Make the pattern repeating. Bright Winter is the “Life is a party. So, how come I’m not having fun?” paradox.
Something has to be delicate too. Add significant jewels profusely. Jewelry is your normal.
And shiny shoes and purses. Super shiny is also your normal.
The original is darker and more saturated in Photoshop. They lose when they’re uploaded. As dark as the belt inset in #1 feels right.
In the article Dark Autumn CE and Apparel.
In the article Light And True Spring Neutral Colours at the Office and CE.
True Spring is a (2 colour + 1 neutral) or (2 neutrals + 1 colour) look. Actually, that’s probably everyone’s best way to use neutrals, but when you wear the 2 colour, they can both be equally sized if you choose (others might use 1 large and 1 smaller block), and they can be complementary or at least quite different colours (others would wear colours of the same family or neighbours on the colour wheel). When you wear the 1 colour look, make it a bright one, not one of the gentler ones.
In the article Light And True Spring Neutral Colours at the Office and CE.
Not happy with that one, it uploaded at the very low end of the saturation possibility. The bigger problem is that it looks too warm. True Summer hinges on absolute coolness. Try again to give a better sense of the darkness and saturation levels. Darn, now Soft Summer looks too light. It’s all about comparison.
In the article Light Summer CE and Being Not Pale.
Also in the book RTYNC, I write an equation called Undertone Colour for each of the 12 Tones that describes how I see my version of the 12 undertones happening. The undertones are shown in the top right corner of the 12 colour layout pages. Below is a graphic that shows the colours I saw as the building blocks of those undertone equations.
To be really clear, I am not a colour mixing expert. This is only how I figure it in my head and much of it is probably incorrect. You gotta start somewhere. This colour chart is a good guide to the colours referenced.
Blue = French Ultramarine
Red = True Red to Alizarin Crimson
Blue = Cobalt Blue
Pink = Rose Madder Genuine looks right. In the photo below, I used Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue, and some yellow to make the colour at 6 o’clock, True Summer.
Gray = is gray really added? As a product of black in pigments, a single drop can take over a mixture. Is the muting of the Tone done with complements alone to preserve the blue-pink undertone? I don’t know. In the colour circle below, no black was used, even for the Winters.
Yellow – the daffodil, the buttercup.
Gold = Raw Sienna to Gold Ochre.
Practicing The Undertones
A year ago, when I was thinking about the Undertones for the book, I did this. The white page at the top gives you a white balance.
I have many watercolours. If I had one straight that felt right, I used it, though it could easily have been made from the neighbour colours.
True Winter: Winsor Violet + Ultramarine Blue.
Dark Winter: Crimson Lake + Sepia.
Bright Winter: Permanent Red + Cadmium Yellow.
True Summer: Cobalt Blue + Permanent Rose + Spring yellow.
Light Summer: Cerulean Blue.
Soft Summer: True Summer’s mixture + Sepia.
True Spring: A mixture of Cadmium Yellow, quite warm on its own + Lemon Yellow hue.
Light Spring: Permanent Rose + Spring yellow + trace of Cobalt Blue.
Bright Spring: Permanent Rose.
True Autumn: Burnt Sienna.
Soft Autumn: True Summer + Yellow Ochre. I like yellow ochre, it has a thickness and opacity that reminds of a strong Soft Autumn visual I have, which is fudge.
Dark Autumn: Brown Madder (and maybe some red or blue, I don’t recall)
I went to a meeting. As the women arrived, one woman distinguished herself immediately as a leader in any crowd. Her physical presence was noticed first because she was quite tall and strongly built. Her face was equally strong, in the colours of coffee, cream, and golden piecrust, with clove brown eyes. Wearing bronze eyeglass frames with copper glints, her only makeup a beautiful deep cinnamon lipstick, she was striking and beautiful.
She moved through the crowd with confidence. She had the business savvy to put in a plug for her company as smooth as could be. Her natural qualities of character were as manifest as her beauty. Her choices in clothing and jewelry, although of high taste and quality, were confusing.
Nobody is ever unattractive. Every woman is truly a beauty in her face and her heart and I can look straight in your eyes to say that. But there are better choices. Better ways to spend our money that look more truthful and less artificial. In a white dress with splashy flowers in primary colours, suddenly, the random blonde hits in her hair stood out as disorganized. The coloured glass bead necklace looked plastic because our energy modifies not only colour but also texture and everything else that comes near it.
In the white jacket, our needle skips into a groove of wondering about skin that’s seen too much sun. It’s uncomfortable now. We have thoughts we don’t want to have. During your colour analysis, we’re going to see what the drape colours do to your skin. We are equally going to observe what your own colours do right back to the drapes (and so to your clothes and jewelry choices). Next to our woman’s colouring, white ages her skin. She in turn alters simple white to become strident and look, well, a little cheap. Thoughts we don’t want to have.
We love this woman. It doesn’t feel right that we can’t settle in her presence but our visual system is on a roller coaster with too much to process. I’m always reminded of a light-coloured person wearing those Christmas sweaters in strong reds and greens with shiny ornaments appliquéd on the front. Like wearing garland. We’re feeling effort and distraction. Subconsciously, we’re scanning the room for somewhere easier to be. She is an Autumn, probably True Autumn, wearing colours and feelings made for another woman.
Where’s the balance? How can we know the way to enhancing what we are in a way that attracts people into our presence? By wearing the colours and lines that we are.
Soft Natural True Summer
One of our group wondered about a Polyvore using the True Summer palette, adapted for a Soft Natural body.
Classic bodies are people who are medium in their proportions, like me. Nothing really out of the ordinary, in the center of the National Standards charts. Natural bodies are similar, with a heavier bone structure and more muscular tendency. The other groups belong to those body shapes that strike you as ‘not average’. They are Dramatics (long and lean, Keira Knightley, or long and curvy, like Bond girls, Ursula Andress), Romantics (smaller curvy, like Adele) and Gamines (Mighty Mites). These are very loose versions of the 13 body types outlined in David Kibbe’s 1987 book, Metamorphosis. If you can find yourself, it is brilliantly good.
I am not brilliantly good at Kibbe’s interpretations. This is my take on SN. It won’t match anyone else’s.
Classics dress head-to-toe. Natural means separates.
No Croc, Brahmin, Python…Summer isn’t lizardy, futuristic, or obviously modernistic. Even on a Dramatic, they are more of a high breeding and ancestry group. Those other words are too cold and hard. They seem oily to me, moving into smarmy. Great on the right person though. We’re just looking for your normal. If you look like you’re wearing a costume, you’re in the wrong Kibbe and/or the wrong colours for you.
Choose coloured handbags. The choice in this item is endless. Gray or black ranges from sensible to serviceable to kind of depressing. Water colours, berry pinks, gorgeous blues, these are beautiful places to pick up the makeup colours. Trust me, we’ll see it, even in a fingernail. You would on someone else, right?
Summer skin is most beautiful when it’s smooth, silky, and dry. This colouring is not at its most beautiful glossy or frosty, slick or metallic, which boomerang us back to wet, cold, and hard.
True Summer skin’s way of handling light is the diffusion of moonlight. There, we can find no sun, no hardness, no glitz, no wetness. There’s no winking like fireflies (that’s Bright Spring), no sharp gleam of platinum (True Winter), no dew (Light Summer), not iron and lead (Dark Winter’s gray feelings), and on it goes. Moonlight is not blingy (that’s Bright Winter’s normal). Moonlight is very cool and very soft. In a morning sky, it’s a sheer cloud-white curtain moving in a breeze. At night, a cloak of pearly, silvery light.
Vision theory moment: Moonlight is a combined reflection of sunlight, starlight, and reflected earthlight. It is neither blue nor silvery. We have colour sensitive cone cells in the retina whose highest sensitivity is to yellow light. But when illumination levels are low, the cones fire less. We become almost colour blind. The very light-sensitive (but colour-insensitive) rods take over and they happen to create more impulses in response to blue and green wavelength light.
In the way of Summer skin to mirror the colours and textures it wears, it will shimmer in brushed silver. The way to iridescence in skin is in brushed shimmers in pink, lavender, or blue, since these are the notes found through the entire palette, including the grays. You look amazing. The shimmer is an even veil. Put a Winter in those colours and textures and you’re looking at the skin through a window that needs cleaning.
Even satined makeup requires caution. Satin on Summer skin can convert into cold and frosty because these colours are already so extremely cool and the complexion is delicate. On Winter skin, frost is just skin, in the same way that Winter’s so-white-it’s-blue white will be just-white on a Winter and aggressive-colour-under-oily-face on a Summer. Only you see your clothes on a hanger. The rest of us see them compared to your own colouring right under your face. Again, just looking for what looks like normal white on you.
Textile that mutes colour is effective. Not the stronger thicker textures of Autumn colours (and skin). This is the much softer side. Summer isn’t thick, straight, or hard. It’s swirly. Spring is sweet and scattered, moving towards pointy and buoyant. Summer is grounded. It sweeps like a porch swing, a branch in a breeze, the lines created when you pour liquid slowly into liquid. The Best Skin Finish on Summer Colouring: , dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. (Light, True, Soft )
Summer colours are light (compared to Autumn and Winter), cool, and soft. Summer surfaces look muted and lightweight (Spring, who goes from frothy to floating, is closer to weightless), with brushstrokes or a gently buffed texture. The softness is feathery. Fluffy is good. Downy is great. Good dreams have fleecy edges.
Shiny surfaces shift colour to appear lighter and brighter. That’s great on Spring but makes no sense with Summer’s colours. They don’t cooperate. Since those same colours exist in Summer skin, it won’t cooperate either. White feathers can be almost blue in moonlight but they’re never the colour of lightning (Winter).
The True Season Analysis
If you’re a True Summer, remember when the analyst saw that drape on you right at the beginning of the PCA and stopped for a minute? And changed drapes and went back to the silver, and kept going back to the silver without telling you why? She saw something. She didn’t move the drapes that way on your Bright Spring daughter.
Finally, she said, “I see today’s session is going to be a little different.” A True Season analysis is quite singular. In the True Summer silver drape, the face is perfect right from the start. Skin is evenly coloured. The eyes are so huge, you’ll think I’ve lost my marbles, I wonder if the colour analysts will recognize this, I am reminded of those glowy pearlescent white alien forms with great big eyes like from the Close Encounters movie. (Read the story – no accident that Spielberg put 6 year old ballerinas in those outfits. The man had a handle on Summer.) In some ways, with a True Season analysis, you begin at the end. Most remarkable, regardless of which of the 4 True Seasons you see.
More True Summer. They always look like this to me. The eyes are all you can see, the skin is so cool and quiet.
The Summer Skin Finishes
Integrating Summer into the Spring and Autumn we’ve already done,
Bright Spring: glass
True Spring: persimmon
Light Spring: petal
Light Summer: peach
True Summer: cotton
Soft Summer: flannel
Soft Autumn: suede
True Autumn: velvet
Dark Autumn: leather
>> paper to pearl
Use face powder. Translucent.
Use a foundation brush that makes the product a thin even layer. If I’ve applied your makeup, you know I’m selective in the extreme about where concealer goes and how foundation is applied. It’s fast and simple but there’s a way that I think works best.
What I don’t do for lack of time is follow with something I do on myself, and everyone could, which is to buff the skin a bit more. The Body Shop Extra Virgin Kabuki brush is my favorite (found it on beautypedia.com of course). It’s much too general to be the first foundation brush to my picky preference, but it leaves a superb buffed finish without moving the concealer and foundation from their zones.
The Shine Stopper at Paula’s Choice is very good. It works well on the T-zone.
The lips should look about like unpowdered, natural skin or just a bit shinier. Gloss = goop in a heartbeat. I’m not telling you to have powdery lips, just stay with reasonable, believable lip moisture, not a whole lot extra.
The colours of water are so important in True Summer – wear this type of jewelry, scarf, and movement near the face.
Navy mascara, soft not intense sapphire (Dior Icone Blue 268). Grey is hard to find, but the various Soft Blacks and Almost Blacks are fine. Black equals railroad tracks.
Stay with calm, fresh, gentle contrasts. Summer’s light colours are pastels, meaning more pigment than Winter’s light colours that are much closer to white. Avoid too much distance between lightest and darkest elements in hair, cosmetics, and clothes. Keep them closer together.
It’s quite important to settle in your mind how far from white your lightest colours are. Look at them and notice that it’s a long way to white from your coloured pastels for all three Summers. The eyeshadow highlight for Winter is some version of ice. On Summer, I use more colour under the brow bone, as muted (grayed) shell pink, where the amount of graying depends on the Season. True Summer might wear Merle Norman Ballerina, while Soft Summer could wear Merle Norman Mist.
Use eyeshadow instead of eyeliner or diffuse the liner well by applying shadow over it.
>> pearl to petal, as daisy, as butterfly wing. A little more fluff than Spring, a little more dry-down.
The True Summer section applies. There is more warmth here as a first warm weekend in May. Outdoor glows are great but controlled. A pale pink gold gloss or an uplight on the cheeks is plenty. You are a Summer, not a Spring, so restraint is needed. A May picnic isn’t the same as the beach in July. As a Neutral Cool colouring, remain cooler than warmer in everything you add. The Mineral Glow in Shimmer at e.l.f. is a nice choice without a lot of heat or a silly price.
On the Light Seasons, the lightest colour is plenty. The lightest application is plenty. The sheerest sheers will look so much younger. The blush by e.l.f. called Shy is one I love. It would set you back 2 whole dollars.
Face powder still applies. Use translucent, perhaps with a slight yellow tint.
Wondering what else to invest in at e.l.f.? Go to beautypedia.com. Click Search All Reviews. Choose Brand e.l.f. Cosmetics. Down in Skin type, click all the types. Down in Ratings, deselect all the boxes except Paula’s Pick on the left side. Why spend the same money and not get the best? Scan down the price column. Not bad. Now go back to the Search and select the Very Good box. 4 pages. Even better considering what’s coming next month.
The best makeup takes the lines and colours you already have and makes them more. It doesn’t work to superimpose someone else’s lines or colours on yours. Carol Tuttle of Dressing Your Truth taught us to consider the slant of a straight line drawn across outer – inner – inner – outer corners of our eyes. Position the outer corner of your eyeliner along that straight line.
The Spring stroke in Light Summer often places the outer corner higher than inner. Follow that. Don’t add cat eye effects unless you’re under 20, going to be in a music video, or are a Bright Winter Theatrical Romantic, and even then, it’s better in eyeglass frames than eyeliner.
Many True Summers have a very round eye, almost square. If the outer eye corner seems to pull downwards, then don’t extend the line at all, just keep it close to the rounded outer corner of the eye.
One of the many places to use concealer is to cover the red and/or downward crease at the outer corner of the eye. Blend the concealer up, not down. Everyone should do this. Nobody over 20 should use frost.
>> pearl to flannel
From our textures above, Soft Summer becomes more woven, drier, and thicker as we move deeper into Autumn. Cotton to waffle weave. Light Summer will wear L’Oreal Peony Pink lipstick, while Soft wears Spicy Pink.
Soft Summer is not the dustings of icing sugar or flour above. It’s a dusting of dust. Contour with powder 2 shades darker than foundation. It looks like believable sun without seeming dirty or yellow. Clinique Superpowder Double Face makeup in Matte Tawny 06 is an option. Your choice is still cooler than warm, like a foundation but a few shades deeper.
Use it as contour, as we began discussing in the Autumn article previously. That means in a 3 shape around the forehead, where the bone is most prominent, around the temple, under cheekbone so the blush can be blended above it and nearer the midline, and a little under the jaw. If the nose shape is not sharp, add second contour by beginning at the inner corner of the eye and go down the sides of the nose bridge, just off the midline, not down on the nostril. The deeper eyeshadow that goes above the crease is diffused away as it approaches the midline, at a level about where this second contour placement would go if extended under the eyebrow.
During the cosmetic colour section of your PCA, we focus on what right colour looks like on your skin. I really want you to see someone very new to you and also, that when cosmetic colour is correct, you can apply it and pack it on and apply more. It just melts into the skin. You can be a lot less careful than you’re used to with wrong colours. Some steps are left out for lack of time and small learning opportunity. Lipliner is one. I never use coloured lipliner anyway. I use a clear sealant to keep lipstick in place. Paula’s Choice makes a great one. The Lip Lock pencil at e.l.f. is another.
The cosmetic selections for Soft Summer are unlimited. You could fill pages and pages. At e.l.f., the Mineral Blush in Plum mixed with Pink or Joy to get the right darkness level, looks like it would be pretty.
For eyeshadow, look at the Endless Eyes Pro Mini in Everyday. You won’t use them all but for $5, it’s almost ridiculous.
On Summer, application is gentle and swirly. There are so sharp lines or edges.Diffuse one product into the next. The canvas is drier, using powder to ensure that products don’t catch and jump. If using cream products, apply them to the skin before the powder so they appear from within.
Recap: The skin is soft and dry, setting up gentleness and gradual muting. The features are blended into the skin with colours that create a soft flow or diffusion instead of sharp definition. As colours flow into each other as hazy mists, it feels difficult to tell where one feature ends and the next begins.
For Autumn: The skin is contoured, setting up lowlights. The features are defined from the skin by colours that are warm and velvety and the judicious use of metallic glints.
This was Spring: The skin is dewy, setting up highlights. The features are fresh, lively, distinguished from the skin by being very colourful, moist, and vibrant.
Answer: No. Never. They can appear to conflict until your colours are correctly analyzed.
I get 3 or 4 emails each month about this. So let’s talk about it, framed around pieces of conversations with real women. It’s the practical application of my digression in the earlier post, How To Match Foundation.
Palette and swatch in this post always refer to colours found within your particular group of colours in the 12 Tone system of colour analysis developed by Kathryn Kalisz. Some of the Tones or Seasons may have similar or identical names with other companies but if their origin isn’t Sci\ART, their colour collections are different. I don’t know how other organizations developed their palettes, what their colours are, or what the desired outcome of their PCA process is. It’s not my place to answer questions about them.
The eye photos in this post are just lovely pictures. They are not textbook examples of the words or the ideas.
If hair/eye colours are not in the palette
I am a Bright Spring with dark brown eyes, dark brown hair, and light skin.
Yes, Spring under Winter influence is often brown eyed, from a glowy topaz jewel yellow to black brown. Many persons of Asian and Celtic origin have this colouring of darkness in hair and eyes and lightness and brightness in skin.
Since this is predominantly Spring, not Winter, the person is sometimes not conspicuously contrasting, though they certainly can be. A brown eye with light skin or hair is fairly contrasting in itself. Sometimes, the Bright Spring eye is so light brown that it’s yellow, like a wolf. It’s quite a thing to see. Or to be, I would think.
not this, but notice the coat colours and the eye-coat harmony, animals are just like us,
The color of my veins, lips, and cheeks are all in my color swatches and flatter me. However, the brown in my eyes and my hair is not in my color swatches and does not flatter me when I wear clothes of that color. How can I wear brown as an eye and hair color but not anywhere else without looking washed out?
You’re wearing the colour you think you see, which is never what colour is. Here is one reason for why it’s harder to figure for some Tones.
There is variation in hair and eye colour in most Seasons, but nowhere more than True Winter and the Brights. I’m not sure of the answer from a genetic perspective. I don’t think anyone can answer the magic of how harmony happens in spite what our eyes think they see. Maybe the mysteries should remain mysteries.
The way I reason it is that we don’t know the exact pigments that make up our hair and eyes. If I showed you 20 brown eyes, could you pick out your own? Would you pick the same brown as your friends would choose? Would you pick the same browns, yellows, oranges, and other colours, that the drapes (consistent with the Sci\ART colour calibrations) identify within your colouring? Probably not, on any count. We do not know which colours make up our final colours until one is draped. If you knew and wore the ingredients that go into your total hair and eye colours, you’d be utterly flattered.
Bright Spring has many yellows, beer and clear cider colours. When they have dark hair, it’s usually root beer and black tea. It is never coffee, which only looks heavy and thick on a colouring that is as far from those as you can get. Lighter brown hair is herbal tea, not orangey-muted-gold, not velvety-dense-brown. It might look ash brown or medium brown but it isn’t. It is clear. While clear means high chroma, and transparency is not a quality by which we define colour (because colour can be bright or soft and still see-through), this hair is like coloured cellophane.
People with green, blue and grey eyes seem to always look great if they match their clothes to their irises.
I would not agree. Blue eyes will match blue drapes or blue clothes in any Season but the best match is only in one. It’s not even a difficult decision. Some aspects of a correct analysis are challenging for a woman to perceive on herself. Achieving the ultimate eye colour is usually easy.
The colour a woman has matched to her eyes all her life is never the best or correct one in my experience. She needs her Colour Book to direct her to her turquoise and only then will her eyes become all they could be. I see women hope they’re wearing their eye colour all the time and most cases, they’re barely in the ballpark.
Blue eyes under Spring influence (one of the 5 possible Seasons) are seldom blue. They’re turquoise, aqua, or cornflower (light blue with very little green, the cornflower being one of the few truly blue flowers, but to me, appears a little violet). It’s a beautiful thing when you find it.
Not just me but a lot of brown-eyed people can’t wear brown.
Quite right, many brown eyed people are Winters of some sort and have very little brown in their palette. And when they’re draped, darned if much of the brown in the eyes suddenly turns black and then they’re wearing their real eye colour at last.
Hair and eye colours as they appear are often not in the True Winter, Bright Winter, and Bright Spring palettes. I think the way it works is that the contributing base pigments are there but the mix isn’t.
You could say to me, “OK then, if I could take colours from my palette and mix them, are you saying that I could theoretically make my hair and eye colour from the swatches? ”
I think so but the truth is that I don’t know for sure if any and every mixture would still guarantee that the hue/value/chroma remain constant. If you mixed complements, you would mute the colour if either of the originals contained the complement of the other. You’d mute the resulting colour into a more muted Season.
To make clear green (say, Winter), you need a blue and a yellow without red, I would think. Could it be done? Winter colours contain red, but are there a blue and a yellow without red? I’m not enough of a colour mixer to know.
Thinking out loud now…To make clear orange (Spring), you’d need a red and a yellow that contain no blue. That seems possible, Spring colours are not blue-based, though some contain blue.
Clear violet – needs a blue that leans red and a red with some blue in it, neither of which contain the complement of violet, yellow. That could make a brilliantly clear violet, even a violent violet, if it’s necessary – sure it is, for Winters. How is that done for Spring where yellow appears in every colour? Haven’t figured that out yet.
Can I make amber or warm brown eyes with a True Winter palette? I think so. True Winter contains yellow, very saturated, a little blue without turning it green. It also contains the other primaries of red and blue. Three primaries make brown.
True Winter and the Bright Tones are intricate and unique types of colouring. Not inconsistent, just complex. Which is why I suggest they think twice before colouring their hair. I have never seen it be improved enough to balance the cost, time, and upkeep.
I can match clothes to the rim around my iris (which is sort of a dark periwinkle) and it is quite flattering but if I wear clothes that are the same brown as my irises I look washed out.
So it’s not the right brown that you’re wearing, it’s just the one you think you see as the amalgamation of all the many colours in your iris. Good call to notice that the rim of the iris is different and if you can match it, a superlative colour on every person.
How can brown-eyed people can be any Season, but only Autumns can look great wearing brown clothes and makeup?
There are a million versions of brown eyes. Brown eyes can be in any Season, but they won’t all be the same brown. Same with the 12 Tone palettes. Many Tones have brown choices but they’re not the same brown.
Nine in ten women only find out their real eye colour when they are draped. Those brown-eyed people you refer to in your question and the browns that you refer to looking great on Autumns… very unlikely the same brown.
Are cool hair and warm skin possible?
I was snow white blonde as a child, but am now a dark, ashy blonde. It’s a cool colour.
Dark ash blonde could be found on a cool, neutral, or warm person. Apparent hair colour isn’t tightly tied to the true heat level of your colouring, though your overall contributing colours and appearance are always 100% in harmony. Every person. The true heat level of your hair is perfectly consistent with the heat level of your skin and everything else.
We could take your dark, ash brown hair and place it next to five other dark, ashy heads. It would be interesting to see whose is cool, whose warm, and whose is neutral in between cool and warm. I would guess that your hair wouldn’t be the coolest if we compared it on a scale. It might be cool-ish, but that’s not Absolute Cool.
Because you know, Absolute Cool and Absolute Warm, they’re rare in human colouring. Kind of extreme. I haven’t seen a True Autumn or True Winter in ages. I see several Neutral Season versions of Autumn and Winter every month. The thing to wrap your head around is Neutral. What does it mean? What does it look like?
Just playing the odds, you are neither warm nor cool in skin and hair. If you’re like eight or nine people in ten, why wouldn’t you be, you’re a Neutral Season that might lean towards cool.
Whatever you are, cool, warm, or somewhere in between, the setting is the same in all your features. One genetic code governs your paintbox.
But I have medium light skin with golden undertones and no rosiness in the cheeks. All I see is yellow. Wouldn’t that be warm?
Colour analysis, which guides every colour decision you will make, isn’t about what you look like or appear to look like. Your natural colouring group, Tone, Season, is determined in the one way that can truthfully reveal it: how the colours in you react to other colours. Nobody can know their truthful colouring correctly without testing their own skin’s reactions against an organized and measured set of colours in a colour-neutral environment. If your colours react the way you expect them to, you would be that one person in 50 who knew ahead of time what was going to happen. That’s why it’s so hard to do from books and photos and impossible from verbal descriptions.
Your skin probably is light-medium. What colour your undertone is, or even whether it’s warm/cool/neutral, nobody knows till we test and measure it. Why am I so sure? Because nobody who comes to a colour analysis appointment is ever wearing their correct foundation – until we solve that question forever more and show you how to make the best choice.
If my hair is overly golden, my skin looks red. When it’s natural dark ashy color, highlighted with platinum, it looks tanned and alive. Just natural it is bland. Dark red wasn’t good. But when I went a more natural dark blonde with subtle red tones, I got many compliments. Dark golden blonde, more of a caramel, washes me out, as does all over light blonde with no contrasting darker pieces. Can someone have a seemingly warm complexion with cooler toned ash hair?
Actually it’s really common. Usual, in fact. Though there’s lots of good colour observation here, the description could occur in many of the 12 types of colouring. Sounds to me like you have cool-neutral skin with a little warmth, but placed next to wrong hair colour, it will look warmer than it really is. You may have a false yellow overtone, like many cool Neutral Seasons, and be interpreting that as your golden undertones and yellow warmth from the previous question.
Too yellow hair does make faces red, especially True and Soft Summer, I find. But then, there’s a disconnect in your comments. Dark ash with platinum sets up big distance between lightest and darkest, which I find looks right on nobody.
On Summer, their light/dark range isn’t this wide, since it goes from pastel to mid-dark, not icy light to very dark (which is Winter). And so it follows that their best highlight is not that far from the base colour, or else they look striped and severe.
On Winter, they do have this big light/dark range but putting it in the hair is only disruptive, breaking up their force. The randomness looks messy when placed on a colour language that is very far from random. Of course, nothing applies to everybody and you can’t generalize about hair colour across an entire Tone. Some Lights are not flattered by highlights either.
3/4 of women would say their natural hair colour is bland. Not remotely true but media has taught us that it is so they could sell us hair colour. The hair industry, ay? Their biggest problem is that they think they’re fine. Many women would not attest to that – the same ones who bought $40 a bottle of wrong foundation colour. Women love their colourist most of the time. We feel real friendship and loyalty. But regarding our faith that we really are wearing our very best hair colour? Not so sure. Hair is a trend-driven industry – highlights, lowlights, we’ve never tried copper, let’s go lighter. We only have one skin colour. It is illogical that we could be flattered by five hair colours. Become the expert of your own appearance.
Until you are wearing your best clothes and makeup, your natural hair colour will not appear as beautiful and perfect as it is – so I advise women after a PCA to make one trip to the salon to get the heat level set right and come closer to their natural colour. Then leave the hair for a few weeks and work on the clothes and makeup. Your eyes need time to readjust to the real original you and to absorb how your better colours affect your apparent hair colour by making it look perfect and ideal. Then you can really see your hair colour and you can go back to the salon, hopefully only one more time, and finish the fine tuning.
Also, once a woman has had many hair colours, she and those who have seen all those colours can’t make a solid judgment any longer. There’s just too much history swirling around. Someone outside your box needs to touch the reset button. I nominate your friendly neighbourhood colour analyst.
I am at a loss as to what color to dye my hair.
I’m at a loss too till your colours are accurately analyzed. You are like 98% of the real people in the real world who seem conflicting. You’re not. Nobody is. Everyone’s colours make complete sense.
Once we have your Tone understood, every single aspect of your colouring and the colour decisions to follow are consistent and coherent. It’s not even hard. Once we know the truth, each one of us is very logical and connected in our colouring.
But. Even knowing your Tone, I still couldn’t give blanket hair colour advice that would cover every woman equally well. Everyone makes her own darkness adjustment within a Tone. Not everyone is necessarily improved by departure from her natural hair as it grows out of her head. And for nobody is this more true than the Bright Seasons.
Art and Science
Not being able to explain a thing doesn’t make it not true.
C. said it so beautifully here,
…the science of light, the discovery that it is both particle and wave and how it behaves erratically when observed. So nature is evasive and we can not reduce everything in the world around us to neat mathematical equations
….artists working in isolation through history have been representing through symbol what scientists have been discovering in the lab at the same(ish) time and not even known it. Think of the cubists and surrealists relating back to Einstein’s new world of curved space and the theory of relativity, or the complex inherent patterns in Jackson Pollocks’ work reflecting a new understanding of the complex, previously overlooked patterns in nature.
It seems artists, at least revolutionary ones, had/have a deep unconscious understanding of the stuff of the universe and represent it through symbol before we have the words or the science to explain.
All of these threads…point in the same direction. Colour theory, it seems, is not about finding the best lipstick. It is recognizing we are made of the stuff of the stars and finding our place in the universe.
Still lunar and fluid like all Summer, still vaporous, but with a dimensional quality, like a silvery apparition, the hologram we discussed in Part 1. Soft Summer does not have a feeling of steps. What these fairly-light and fairly-dark colours do is flow smoothly.
“Can the Soft Summer archetype as you model it have a warmer embodiment?…mostly we’re compared to water spirits (which imagery I do love). I wonder if we could have a warmer side that’s maybe more of a mountain spirit? I do have warm-leaning eyes and some warmth in my hair, but yes, the SA drapes turn me yellow. Even so, gold, brass, copper, and rose gold are better on me than silver or pewter, which tend to just sit there on me.”
She makes an important point that applies to many Soft Summer. That warmer incarnation is certainly in my head, but maybe not always in my words and images. Something that comes up often for me is that I see many who are very borderline Soft Summer/Soft Autumn. They’re like the neutralest of the Neutrals, positioned almost even between those two Neutral Seasons. To see the eyes alone, you’ll pick the warmer Season for sure, except that the skin yellows with drapes. On these women, silver (not overly cold and shiny) and gold (not overly yellow and shiny) are about equal.
Soft Summer warms and solidifies significantly relative to True Summer imagery. In my book (over in the right column), we went from a lake to a forest. Hopefully, the Polyvores below portray that.
About shimmer, Paisley said,
As long as the iridescence doesn’t take the color too high, I think iridescent makeup is gorgeous on us. Also your makeup style depends on your Kibbe. Having been identified as a Romantic, I was relieved to read Kibbe’s recommendation that even daytime makeup should have some sparkle. I think very softly glowing making adds to the misty factor, as do finishing powders that are pearlescent. The point being to keep it soft-focus — it’s can’t go toward metallic in any way. But glowing and pearlescent is gorgeous on us, IMO.
And IMO, you’re exactly right, Paisley. I can not say it as well as a woman who lives it.
Seems to me that part of the shimmer, maybe all of it, is explained by the equiluminant property of this palette. Rendered in B&W, it would appear to be just a few shades of grey and much of the detail would disappear. Bring in colour and the combinations are pure melody. Everyone of the 12 Seasons soars depending on what you can do with it. For Soft Summer, it’s in the allure that happens when these colours are worn together on this type of colouring.
Why? Because vision in our brain operates on two parallel tracks. The colour system recognizes faces, objects, and details. The B&W system sees movement, depth, and position. In equiluminant compositions or outfits, the colorblind B&W track won’t quite be able to tell the location of the elements. But the colour track will see the elements well. This disconnect gives these compositions an unstable, shimmery, unearthly feeling. We talked about it in Part 1. Sorry for repeating, it is so amazing to me.
The SD body has presence. The horizontal shoulder line is substantial and the vertical line equally so. I am not a Kibbexpert, but narrow, petite, or slender wouldn’t be words I’d associate with Soft Dramatic. If someone picked those words for you over Amazonian, I’d have to wonder about another Image Identity. If you look at Images for Raquel Welch, she is luscious-yes, dumpling-no. Compared to other body types, these are a little burly. A lot of size, strength, and length in the upper and lower body.
Kibbe Soft Dramatic (SD)
- broad shoulders, a strong horizontal line
- a long bold sweeping vertical line
- drape, flow, light fabric ; soft plush – so far, great on Soft Summmer
- shiny fabric – for Soft Summer, this looks like the lustre of pearl and abalone shell ; go past it and your colouring will make the fabric shinier than it is and the fabric will make your face more muted
Many Summers ask if they look good in pearls. They absolutely do, taking into account your body’s geometry. Classics wear the classic strand(s) better than one big-huge piece. Dramatic bodies need big and geometric shapes to include the necessary angularity that balances who they already are.
We’ve talked about what looks like black and white on you in Black and White for 12 Seasons. Once you learn to manipulate what you wear to look like B&W or black&red or whatever on you without actually wearing those colours, you have cracked the code. You can achieve any look without ever venturing into unflattering colour by knowing how your own colouring exerts influence over what you wear. How do you do this? Wear your 12 Season Sci\ART palette. Job done.
Mr. K talks about bold and dramatic colour combinations. Great. Use your palette and go wild. Don’t compare your bold and dramatic to how Mr. Spock would get there.
Contrast levels are high here. First, it increases the drama and boldness. Second, I’ve rethought this whole contrast thing – 3! videos coming up about that in another post.
- Head to Toe.
- T with rounded edges, always the vertical and horizontal lines.
- Luxe and glamour.
- Colour repetition works well to give flow and continue a vertical line.
- Not stiff, tight, shapeless, sharp of drape.
- Lots of length. Strong geometrics with soft edges.
- If you don’t like the muted purples, don’t wear them as clothes. But they make darn good eyeshadow.
- Wear your hair colour on your feet.
Enlarged the jewelry to be big. With her size and the very generous amount of Yang, jewelry needs to be scaled way up or she’ll dial it down into a dime store trinket.
For the day of the week you go to the office, not the opera, there are shoes here that won’t punish your back and feet. The guys wouldn’t put up with that. Why should we?
Soft Summer Hair Colour
This came up on facebook but this is a good place to insert it. Whatever your Kibbe or Season,
When do highlights in the hair look right? When the distance between the lightest and darkest approximates that in the rest of the colouring (except if you’re a Winter (where contrast rules are unique and addressed in those 3! videos)). That’s how the hair can be a realistic extension of the head.
Summer’s light colours are pastels, more ‘colourful’ than Winter’s icy colours. Also, their darks don’t get extremely dark. So there is not a big distance between the lightest and darkest colours. Soft Summer begins from a darker base colour position than the other Summers. Applying the pastel concept, their highlight will be darker than the other Summers too. Message for colourist: don’t overbleach or add back toners that are too light.
Use a taupe highlight, like medium mushroon, for a tone on tone look. The colour is in your swatches. It is cooler than it is warm. But be careful. Someone sees warmth in the eye and the very neutrality of the skin and overestimates the warmth. Soft Summer is often getting coloured way too light and yellow so the face goes oily and yellow. This is not a butterscotch light, it’s taupe.
Also be careful again. That dusty quality in the hair is essential to bring the roses out of the skin. I mean, essential. Don’t stare at your hair colour and not see the whole like we do. Don’t compare your hair to anyone except other perfect Soft Summer hair, like Princess Kate. Would she look better with saturated hair? No way. Highlights? Absolutely not to me.
Start with a colour a couple of shades lighter than the base, usually a medium ash brown And be careful once again. Chemical colour is often very saturated and looks darker than expected, like saturated cosmetics do. So you might even go a few shades lighter than the base to compensate.
If you can keep 80% of the hair as totally unprocessed, much better to give the skin harmony and perfecting potential that chemistry so skillfully removes with chemical pigments. Make highlights filaments, not chunks.
How about this? Look at the before. Cooler than warm but not pure ash cool silvery brown. The highlights on the right side of your screen (not the model) are pretty good in the lower half of the hair. On the other side, the eye can get caught up on the too-light strands. Soft Summer’s total expression is Summer colours in shade. Still, those too light strands are at least cool beige, not platinum, not yellow or orange. The base is pretty darn good for a Soft Summer. I like it. (IDK if this model is a Soft Summer, it’s just about the hair).
The body types being referred to below come from David Kibbe’s excellent book on the subject, Metamorphosis (1987). For me this is the book that works, IF you can find yourself. It’s harder than you’d think. I am asked to offer it as part of PCA appts, which I’d gladly do if it could be objectified. As long as it’s just my opinion or Mr. Kibbe calls me to train with him, the client won’t get her ROI (return on investment).
Searching for the Soft Dramatic Body
She has a lush, exotic quality to her features. Angelina Jolie? Maybe if her head were on Sharon Stone’s body. This is where it becomes anyone’s opinion, but to me, her body is too small and compact, her expression is very open and giving and the features are too Yin. She’s not physcially big enough to embody Diva. Height does matter somewhat. This is an imposing physical presence that seems bigger than it is at any height. An SD woman commands her space.
If Phyllisha Rashad is Dramatic Classic (DC), SD is more physically Yang than that. Even a DC could drown in all the fabric draping of SD, or look that way even with the draping scaled down to her size, as if she’s wearing curtains.
I wonder if IRL, Angelina’s proportions would have that Hollywood quality of large head/small body that photograpshs well. JAniston has that too. Whitney Houston would be very close to SD and often dressed that way.
SD and Flamboyant Natural (FN) are close in my head. What separates them is the FN’s ability to still wear sweats and eat popcorn. The SD is not nearly as accessible or approachable. She has a more formal energy all the time. She doesn’t own sweats and can barely force herself into yoga wear, but she’s easy to imagine with a tennis racket, on a skateboard, running on the beach at 6am without makeup. Movement is key for the Naturals.
Naomi Campbell? Perhaps, but she seems very slender.
Linda Evangelista? Very possible.
Someone smart suggested Kate Winslet as a Soft Dramatic (and very possibly Soft Summer). That’s a great choice. Big body. Lush, large features with a lot of overall Yang energy, too much to assign her curviness to the Romantic or Soft Classic group.
Visual Processing and The Soft Summer Palette
Neurochemical information travels millions of pathways from retina to various centers in the brain. That’s just the beginning of how an image forms. Neuropsychology kicks in and modifies the retinal data to adjust for lighting, experience, and assumptions as the brain strives to make sense of what it sees, and of course, of surrounding colours.
We appreciate that seasonal or 12 Season colour analysis is based on simultaneous contrast, the fact that two colours side-by-side change one another in our perception. Soft Summer is a most spectacular Season but we can too easily focus on “those colours are dull” instead of what that very ‘dullness’ makes them capable of that no other can do.
For all three Summers, the ability of adjacent versions of the same hue but differing values to appear 3D, to advance and recede, is central to (my) understanding (of) those Seasons. On Summer colouring, monochromatic colour schemes lose their flatness and give the illusion of a rounded, touchable image. Why the Summers? Because they’re cool-colour (blue-based) colours, so when their value is made darker by adding dark grey or black, they remain blue and they do so across the light/dark band. They don’t turn green or purple. This works especially well with the True and Soft whose colours are muted, which our brains interpret as ‘far’, establishing a depth relationship.
Because of how edges are discerned at the level of the retina, we have more difficulty understanding edges. Monochromatics are even more challenging for discerning edges. They seem to move. They come and go and float around. With even the slight influence of Autumn in this Neutral Season Soft Summer colour collection, this 3D effect from contiguous monochromatics moves to a whole new level.
Over the Autumn palette’s span, which has influence in five different groups of natural colouring, the theme is dimensionality. It’s been called texture, strength, rope, weave, all expressing a similar notion of how this colour language speaks most clearly. Soft Summer steps up from the early 3D effect above that works so well on True Summer, to the phenomenon of the hologram. Still shimmery, more 3D.
With no good evidence, I’ve always seen the Soft Summer composition as lost edges, a figment of the imagination, impressions of depth that might just be apparitions, uncertainty about what is real, like the ghosts of shapes that move in and out of each other, whispered suggestion, signals you’re not sure you heard or saw, phantoms moving in and out of your perception. The colours made sense tome that way. Finally someone smarter than I am explained it to me: equiluminance.
Luminance means the intensity of emitted light from a surface. That’s not exactly the same as light/dark levels or value because the trunk of a birch tree in shade and one of its leaves in sun may emit similar light at that moment, but in some ways, our brain sees luminance as value. Equiluminance means equal value or light/dark level.
The brain uses its luminance pathways (gray scale, black to white, value) to inform us about position (Where). The chromatic pathways (colour) tells us what things are, their forms and shapes (What). Take away colour and we can’t discern what things are quite as well.
Without colour, the painting looks 2D by the loss of detail in depth. The examples above come from this great website where you’ll find many more great examples.
When colour transitions are gradual because they are of similar value, our colour perceptive brain pathways (or chromatic pathways) are activated but our luminance pathways are not. We feel a little unsure of shape, position, and motion. We have trouble placing forms and objects. In Soft Summer, where saturation is low and values are medium, the colour combinations are exquisite to the point of being supernatural because shapes seem less stable.
The Sci\ART palettes make all this that I talk about happen automatically. Those palettes put these visions in my head, not the other way around. You don’t have to do much other than wear your colours.
Apparel in Part 2. Next article, I promise.
Pure Season children of all ages are fabulous to analyze because the optical effects of the right and wrong colors are very pronounced. The skin is very absolute in its reactions to colours, so much so that I find it difficult for these Seasons to share the use of colours with neighbour Seasons.
For instance, a Soft Autumn who is very near True Autumn will still wear her perfecting and most harmonious Soft Autumn palette, but she might bring in a bit of metallic antique gold in a small area of eyeshadow just above the iris, which will find and accentuate the same colour in her eye. She could wear saddle coloured belts and boots if her peanut butter and light terracottas couldn’t be found. If the Soft Autumn is closer to her Soft Summer neighbor, on the cooler side, she might bring in flowing and feminine effects like pearls and soft plums in silky scarves, beautiful and a bit surprising among Soft Autumn’s warmer colours.
Be careful to keep the surface area small if you’re dabbling in a neighbour’s colours. Your most flattering palette won for a reason, actually many reasons. Soft Summer can have an appearance of tanned skin even when it’s not, and even more so when too-warm colours are placed near the skin, bringing in more yellow overtone, faint enough at this level to look like yet more tan. On the way home from the foundation counter, she risks having a too-yellow product in her bag. Dark Winter can have a very similar experience.
I never feel as good about a True Summer wearing any colour from the neighbouring Soft and Light Summers because the neighbours are warmed, and even a trace of warmth in colour will cause them to look yellow. TMIT for True Summer and True Winter declares zero tolerance when it comes to any kind of heat in colour. True Seasons are also fascinating people because their character is often in line with that associated with their Season. As the True Seasons blend with one another in the Neutral Seasons, personality traits become more mixed and less predictable.
I adore children above anything. I am in awe of how much is held in waiting, ready to unfold in those small bodies, like little cocoons. When people bring them to their vet appointment, it’s all I can do to pay attention to the animal. I love the faces below.
Are gentle. They can hold a small bird in their hands.
muted colouring, no black, a dreamy peaceful face
Have a lot of tiny toys with which they play intricate games - are you familiar with Polly Pocket (about which my Dark Winter brother said “Have you ever tried to find that stuff when it rolls under the fridge? It feels like snot.”). Their homes have beautiful details in every room, right down to the toilet paper holder. The season of miniaturization. Often look better in small jewelry than large and chunky.
Take pains to get every meticulous detail of a picture right. Even a picture the size of a window. They’ll draw, tiny line by tiny line, with a patience a Winter might spend her life searching for. Can spend hours finding microscopic snails in tidal pools with great hand-eye control when they spot one.
One activity at a time is plenty. Learn a music piece note by note. Do not need to be in constant motion. As a child, ask him to mince the herbs. As an adult, this is the cook who peels squash, who cooks the chickpeas for the hummus from scratch, who undertakes all 22 of the steps in making Matzoh Ball Soup.
Get frustrated with others. Can get so frustrated with their Winter sibling’s harshness and Spring sibling’s impracticality that they need time in their room alone to calm down. Like about 2-3 hours. Five kids on a trampoline is 3 and 3/4 too many.
who’s gentle? who’s rich and warm? who’s building? who’s playing a joke? who’s cool and composed? can you find dark&cool vs dark&warm?
Stubborn as a Dachsund. Very persistent till they get it right. Perseverance ranks at the top of the chart.
Don’t force their beliefs on others but don’t accept anyone else’s ideas either. Sweet, pleasant, calm stonewalls.
Good impulse control from an early age. The first to learn to shake hands when introduced to someone new. As grownups, still have a self-control that astounds.
Ask question after question after question. If a family rule is “No more questions after supper”, there are probably True Summer children in the home.
The most likely to keep your secret. Very discrete as adults.
soft, subtle (not dramatic and bold), rounded, gentle features and blended eye/skin/hair/brow colours; notice that all the colours are darkened to the same degree, keeping the contrast level between skin/hair/eyes/brows/lips low
Can be fusspots for cleanliness. Will not be thrilled to eat the birthday cake upon which five children blew out the candles, or even one other child. The mother may have brought a separate cake. Having a bottle of hand sanitizer clipped to your backpack should be a school rule.
If anyone will stay up till 3 AM cleaning the basement, it will be Light Summer. With Spring’s energy and Summer’s deep dislike for disorganized clutter, the crawlspace doesn’t stand a chance. Summer will not expect the world to share her needs and she won’t be miffed if you go to bed and leave her to it. She can’t sleep while the kitchen’s a mess.
the pure loveliness of Summer, a feeling of softened curves, moderate colour saturation in a sweet-tempered face
Light Summer likes to talk almost as much as a Spring, but she’ll tell the entire story, and (this part’s important) (really important), in order. Thorough is the word here. She will be easily hurt and irritated if her Autumn sister hijacks the topic to tell her side and interrupts the orderly sequence of her thoughts. For Light and True Summer, it has to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, not 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 6. Autumn and Winter have more 1,2, 9, 10 tendencies. True Summer will explore every conjugation of a verb, could have, might have, and every option and outcome.
the little guy on the ground, very typical hair colour too, the whole squishy energy bundle sings of True Summer; there is more fine motor skill in that single little pudgy finger than many grownups can know
Drawn to quality in clothing. Will notice stitching and buttons. Prefer comfort clothes inside their comfort zone. A True Summer friend who has allowed herself to over-indulge in her diet wears her ‘punishment pants’ for a day or two to get herself back in line. All they are is structured, stiff, and straight.
Ask a Summer “How do you feel about..?” Ask a Winter “What do you think about…?” Ask an Autumn “What’s the most efficient way to get this done?” And Spring, “What’s the fastest way to get this done so we can have a visit?”
Summer doesn’t like to live alone. Their sense of community, civic responsibility, and desire for domestic intimacy is strong. Winter fantasizes about living alone and takes more convincing to leave their computer.
already looks Soft Summer; beautiful tone-on-tone soft taupes in the hair
If True Summer’s indecisive, it’s because they want to do the rightest thing. If True Spring is, it’s because she wants every choice. Autumn decides fast to get it done. Winter didn’t see that there were more than two choices to begin with.
True Summers are wonderful teenagers. Their very high sense of personal integrity doesn’t let them fall into, or even be attracted by, that which doesn’t agree with their moral code. They can easily exclude peer pressure when they want to.
Don’t love changes in their routine. As a child, might have been very unhappy when forced to wear new clothes. Might even have been screeching “NOOOOOO” so loud after being put in a new snowsuit as a 2 year old that they got left in a snowbank by their Dark Winter mother when she went down the driveway to get the mail. Not that that would happen in my house, but you could hear the child loud and clear down a 1000 foot driveway. As a grownup, might be very happy married to a Spring who can get them to do things they wouldn’t normally do, especially on short notice, a sticking point for Summer.
In many a Soft Summer, this is what we see when we look in your eyes, or variations on this theme; click on the photo for info (or Google “Iris Apfel at yoox”) and make it your signature piece
As adults, they may still have high expectations of what others should tolerate or how they should behave. A tub of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream really does have 4 to 6 servings and it is not necessary to snarf down more than one’s share. Are willing to devote time and effort to getting others to meet their highest self, knowing that nobody feels good when they behave beneath themselves. Winter might not be quite so into your Karma because to them, it feels like an ambush intended to control that they won’t exert on you and don’t want you to exercise on them. If old people want to go ocean swimming alone, it’s their business.
Bring the natural gift of just knowing what it’s like to be the other guy, and caring enough to adjust their behaviour, what the world needs more of than anything. Every character trait is a double edged sword and empathy is no different. Winter keeps themselves apart and outside of situations. If no offense was intended by spoken words, they’re not likely to hear it. It’s not that Winter is cold/distant/remote, their feelings are just less accessible. Summer is so deeply disturbed by rudeness and so strongly empathic that they can substitute the intention of the spoken words as their own, as they would have felt had they spoken the same words, that is, very offended.
watch the greys and watch them change, many Summer colours here. John has great base hair colour for Summer. Think John’s a Winter? Look at him and Yoko. See the Winter? Fascinating features John has, the Meryl Streep type Summers face of which we see many.
Soft Summers, look at Body Shop 14 eye pencil, a mauve with lots of grey that will blend into your eye shadow, not look separate from it. If ever there was a type of natural colouring that could dispense with eyeliner and just use eyeshadow darkness levels to define the eyes, this is it. They create a more diffused effect than any lining product, a swirling watercolour of deep plums, pinks, and greys. Your saturation isn’t nil, it’s just less than the others. Lancome Purple Quartz is an excellent eyeliner, and their lipstick The New Pink may be very near your natural lip colour. Body Shop 49 lipstick is worth your time too at a nicer price.
Light Summer – Body Shop 148 and 55 are your warmer and cooler pinks in lipsticks. And MUFE HD4 blush will disappear into your face and allow the misty rainbow colours already there to take center stage. Lancome Rouge in Love 353M lipstick may be your lip colour or close, while 163M has beautiful presence without taking over your face. Lancome Optic eyeshadow is a lightly pinked light grey.
True Summer can look at Lauder Black Plum eyeliner, a great mid mauved grey till you tilt the page and see a lovely plum. Lancome Purple Darling is another lovely purple eyeliner that’s not too greyed, a mistake often made with True Summer cosmetic colours. I love Lancome Berry Rose 312 lipstick and Pink In The Limo (probably your lip colour or close).
A reminder that I will not be shipping the book, Return to Your Natural Colours, in the month of July. If you’re in the US, Kerry at Indigo Tones may have some copies. Otherwise, best to wait till August.