Great Q from readers,
1. Obviously Light and Bright Spring share the same parent Season, but I wondered how Summer/ Winter manifest their influence on the palettes and on the people?
The Light Spring palette contains a Summer touch, which alters the True Spring colours by doing what Summer does … it cools, softens, and lightens them.
Under the wave of Winter’s wand, Bright Spring is overall darker and goes to a much darker endpoint (the lightest to darkest range is very wide, getting close but not fully to pure white and black), and is strongly pigmented. Its heat level is the same as Light-Spring, meaning on the warm edge of neutral, where neutral is halfway between warm and cool.
I can see you there reading, thinking, “Yes, yes, I know all that. But how much does Summer cool, soften, and lighten True Spring?”
It’s impossible to describe verbally and is best understood by seeing it. You can see some pretty good approximations by searching ‘Season palettes’ on Pinterest, my new favourite hangout. I bring my iPad to bed. I’m like Harry Potter under the covers with his magic wand long after he should have been asleep. Scanning those pictures to add to the two boards, Shopping for Your Season&Style and RealWoman Sex appeal, is addictive. Social media, ay? Once you find the right one, it owns you. Rachel, whom you’ll meet formally soon, is to personal line and shape analysis what I have been to personal colour analysis. We contribute to each item pinned from both perspectives. Very cool information, very cool way to shop.
The blue book over on the right, RTYNC, contains 28-colour layouts (also pretty good approximations) of the 12 groups to give you a sense of the jump in the colour dimensions from one group to the next. It also contains a lot more verbal description and analogy if you learn better that way.
How does Summer manifest in a Light Spring person? Even harder to nail down. The person does not usually have sharpness, which might mean in features (Julie Andrews’ nose and teeth) or character. See the woman wearing the pink dress in Polyvore 4? Could look about like that, though happier expression.
But where’s the line? What would you call sharp? Is teasing sharp because Lights have that? They can certainly have pointed chins, eyes, and teeth.
2. How do Summer and Winter’s presence come across in Bright Spring people?
Summer tends to create a person who is more aware and concerned of how others think and feel, but not always. Summer has great decency. In Winter, there may be less concern with saying what others want to hear and more emphasis on fairness, and that is decent too.
We could say that Summer contributes a pleasant, well-mannered character. Sounds watered down. Light Spring is by no means dilute. The person may be very talkative or quite spunky (as opposed to determined, more Autumn), which come in with Spring. That said, a Summer can talk, oh boy, as they work through ideas. They have plenty strong intentions, especially when they feel honour (not quite the same as Winter’s pride) lays in the balance.
As they learn the draping process, students are shown how to deliberately seek out the effects of the 4 True Seasons’ colours in the client’s face. Later, as the drape colours become more specific and the presence of certain Seasons may be much smaller, they remember those effects from the coarser level and can come back now and apply them on a finer scale. In the story that follows, how would Winter and Summer manifest in a person on a much finer scale (since, in 12 Season PCA, Light and Bright Spring contain a small amount of Summer and Winter, respectively – how small? Different in everyone. Some Light Springs have a lot of Summer, some much more Spring.)
Summer and Winter visit their friend, Dara*. Dara is trying a new Style in her clothing choices. Her husband, Ted*, has a successful sign-making business and they just built a new house. Winter sees the house and Dara’s clothes. She thinks, “Yeah, it’s a nice house. I might try those kinds of curtains. I’m not so sure of my Style type. I think I have more Yin and need rounder lines and more decoration. I’m being too minimalistic.” Winter goes home. She thinks and thinks and searches and thinks and studies pictures and makes her mother look at a thousand images on her phone (which the mother thinks all look the same but no way is she about to say so). Next time you see her, she’s added a silver chain. Had to take off the earrings and bracelet though, they were too much. Her clothes are about the same. You ask about her visit to Dara, “Her house is very nice. What else can I say? It’s her house, got nothing to do with me. I was impressed with her new clothing styles. She’s right about herself. I’m evolving my own style.” And you sit there thinking, “Is this a trick question?”
Summer calls you the day after the visit. “Dara’s house is so beautiful. She looked great, she always does. I hope she’ll be very happy there. Didn’t you feel so sad for her? (Winter is thinking, “Is this a trick question?”) Deep down, she despises that house. (Summer’s eyes are all big and round and teary, and she puts lots of feeling behind her words, especially despises.) Dara doesn’t enjoy it, she wishes they were back in the old house. All she can feel is Ted’s business taking him away from her all the time to pay for it. I’m just baking her some banana bread for the kids and taking her out to lunch later today.”
How does Winter manifest in Bright Spring? They hold themselves a little apart. Their feeling about the world and their place in it is more controlled. When Summer and you have a conversation, she’s nodding. She can hear how you feel. Winter is moving very little, conserving emotional output. Summer is using her hands. She is out of herself , thinking about she relates to you. She sent you the testimonials you asked for within a week of getting home :). From Winter, you’ll be waiting. She got home, went back right into own her head, and will think of you in terms of how you relate to her.
3. I heard the palettes are similar – do you see Light Spring as a lighter version of Bright at all?
They’re similar but just lightening Bright Spring won’t get you Light. Maybe fading Bright might do so with some complement and lightening it with some white. Light Spring is creamy, which gives it a frosted glass haze or milky glow that Bright Spring absolutely wouldn’t have. The Bright Spring windshield is crystal clear and the pigment concentration is dialed way up.
It’s like the difference between
Both warm-neutral to warm. The Bright (bottom) has icy colours. Light (top) doesn’t approach white. Note that neither image represents the whole palette nor what is possible with it.
4. Could they theoretically borrow any colours (even though this isn’t the best option)?
I’m glad that you asked this good question. I feel that I often answer Q wearing one of two hats and how are people expected to know which is on when?
You know how you fan out any swatch book and no colour is more or less than any other? Your attention is equally divided when the fan is opened up. They have equal visual energy. If you moved one of those Light Spring flowers into the Bright Spring bouquet, even if the colours were all pinks, it would get a little lost. You’d ignore it more. If that were the blouse, worn with a Bright Spring skirt, you’d be looking at the skirt.
If you lifted the butterfly onto the Light bouquet, it would be hard to see anything else. As when a Light wears a Bright’s lipstick. When palettes have a lot in common, as Light and Bright Spring, some colours will work well enough but others will be too prominent. The pinks might be quite comfortable and belonging but the yellows will jump out at you.
Wearing the first hat: In a theory situation, as the question states, such as during the training course, the answer is no. We learn how to place any colour, clothing, cosmetic, or any person, into one Season. The Q is, “Which 1 of the 12?”
#2 hat is worn when advising a woman shopping. She is using the system in another way. The only question she needs to work out is, “Me or Not Me?”
Each application is equally important. First, we learn the rules of the road and the driving laws. As drivers, we take shortcuts with a subconscious sense of where and when. The woman who understands her colour palette can discern which shortcuts are safe and logical and which will be unsuccessful. She’ll have a few fender benders along the way but at least she’s behind the wheel of her own car, taking herself where she decides to go.
Say you’re the woman shopping. Working through the compromises of the retail world might open up 5 more questions,
- How close in colour is good enough? What kind of person am I on this subject?
- How fast do I need to buy this item?
- Am I spending $50 or $500?
- Are the lines of the item so exceptional for me that I’m not passing it up on a little colour issue that will make hardly any difference. You can see examples of this on the Shopping for Your Style and Season board at Pinterest. (the link at the bottom of the R column on this page may take you there, but the website is having a mini nervous breakdown about weekly till it’s upgraded. The link is here too.)
- Do I think the colour might be Light Spring and I know I’m a Bright but I think it looks great in this composition?
- Is this an item that really could fit well into several Seasons, even according to uptight analysts like Christine? When I look at the Shopping for Your Season and Style board at Pinterest, most items are good in two or more groups. She must be wearing #2 hat. (You’re so right. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter. PCA is a life-transforming tool, like a driver’s license or a computer. I want that for you. Being too rigid means missing too many fantastic clothes.) In both hats, jewelry and makeup are definitely mobile in most cases. Many clothes too, if they’re not right up under the face or are in small real estate. Not every element needs to be perfect for the whole thing to harmonize very nicely. In many paintings, prints, and ensembles, the other colours help create the belonging.
Mostly Light Spring
Mostly Bright Spring
5. Some of the warm pinks/apricots look similar – how do I know if I’m looking at Light or Bright Spring when choosing these colours?
You can think colour correctness to death and still get it wrong. I do. We all have to compare it to something. You can compare it to anything, a cosmetic, another item of clothing, a painting, a cushion.
Women who own their own Luxury Drapes (or a closet that is colour accurate) can place the item among the good colours and see if it holds its own, is more, or not enough. They’re full-sized drapes so it’s easy to see colours balance and energize. The article about those drapes is being moved to its own post, it will reappear soon.
Because these 2 colour groups share so much, to choose between them will require forcing the extreme that the other won’t tolerate. Light Spring’s muting will be Bright Spring biggest complaint, while Light Spring will ricochet back the other way when she sees the darkness of Bright. So compare to black. It’s dark and saturated. The booties on the bottom next to the perfume – the peach must be Winter influenced to be energetically equal to white and black. The yellow jacket, the same. There’s enough peach in the peach and yellow in the yellow to balance a lightness extreme (white) and a darkness and saturation one (black). These may be Bright Winter outfits because the white and black are not in Bright Spring colours, but they’re useful to judge the balance.
Some colours matter more than others. The peach coat (lower image) might be a little weak but it’s workable. Gray is good at becoming what’s around it. Jeans adapt pretty well if their darkness level is the same as the overall for that Season and they’re just blue. Red and green are less cooperative. Sometimes, it depends on the viewer. Some people are very sensitive to yellow. I am to orange. These colours are either right or not right, but there’s not much you can do about that.
How about the coral dress that appears in both layouts? Where is it energetically more even in the composition? Compare it to the bouquets as well. Is it perfect in either? Is it workable in one, both, or none?
Light Spring was looking all dreamy and holiday till I inserted that green purse. Is that item helping the nice feelings or is it taking over? Is everything around it washed out and falling back? That’s what a Light Spring woman looks like wearing Bright colours. She fades and drops – or, looks older and tired, like the Light Spring clothes next to the purse that look something that doesn’t feel good…. washed too many times…dirty…dull? The green looks aggressive plus it’s all you can see.
Shopping for Bright Spring (Looking Normal)
Neutral colours (beige, taupe) could be matched a little more closely for Spring where they can be a little blah, but they’re still versatile. Where Summer and Autumn wear these colours flexibly, and Summer and Winter can share some grays, Spring colouring wears colour colours more easily than beige and gray (IMO). Also, when we wear our neutrals, they tend to be in large block items. To excite the composition, neutrals with yellow, not muted orange (=earthy). The beige sweater in 4 (and the pants with the orange top in 3), I have no idea where it harmonizes but it works OK. Next to the very shiny necklace, the sweater isn’t looking dingy, clumsy, or chunky the way an green-beige or camel Autumn colour could on this woman. Both versions of the tights are great. Add colour somewhere!
Again, use black to judge belonging colours. Light Spring loses energy even faster than next to the green purse. Bright Spring gets close enough to black and the colours can balance black without losing ground. The woman in the pink dresss in 4 can hold her own with the earrings but you sense some conflict. Before reading this, you thought, “Why’d she put those earrings with that dress?” Because now you get to feel it. There were a million worse choices, but still, this is not settled. I could have wasted paragraphs.
Black is quite useful in the Bright Spring wardrobe:
- to crisp edges of colour blocks, as the earrings with the mint blouse in 4,
- to outline shapes in a thin black line, as in a print or colourblock, which gives a cartoon appearance that is so right on Gamine body shapes,
- to darken the overall effect selectively without dulling, cooling, or darkening the colour blocks themselves,
- to add Winter’s formality,
- to slim this woman who can balance black, as the mint top and black skirt in 4, the colours are getting along fine, the black is a little strong but it doesn’t appear visually larger
Shopping Search engines are hugely helpful. Polyvore is great. A Light Summer asked recently where to find pants. At sites like Polyvore and Shopstyle, the retail world opens at your feet and it’s uncommon to find items sold out. They are a fantastic way to find your white items online. You want jeans that are a little on the green side? As a Light Spring, the answer is, “Sure do!” Give me 15 minutes. I’ll find you 5 pairs.
6. What do Light Spring colours look like on Bright Spring?
Weak. The way the creamy peach flower from the top photo would look next to the oranges in the bottom photo.
7. What does a Light Spring woman look like in Bright Spring clothes?
Forgettable. What happens to the Light Spring bouquet when the butterfly lands on it. Tired, like she’s having the life sucked out of her. All her sunshine glowing peaches and cream radiance is gone. Between her feet and the top of her head, all you see is clothes.
8. If I find an item that is very saturated and in the medium value range, which Seasons could be likely contenders? I keep getting stuck with colours like hot pink – thinking they look good due to being bright, but on closer inspection often too cool on me and don’t harmonize with the fan…
Very saturated could include the 3 Winter palettes and Bright Spring. True Spring doesn’t have hot pink.
9.a) The person who looks very wintery with dark hair and pale skin. What are the signs that she’s Bright Spring?
There are none other than how her skin reacts to the drapes. The women in the Polyvores could all be Bright Springs. Or some kind of Summer or Winter.
9. b) Should she do anything different with colours or combinations?
She probably sits closer to the cool side of her Bright Spring colouring, near the Bright Winter pigmentation. She many find that the cooler colours in cosmetics work better.
She should still wear the entire Bright Spring palette as clothing and jewelry. Those colours are all in her if the drapes measured her as Bright Spring.
I don’t get caught up on the contrast thing too much, I think it’s built into the palettes. Some women of this colouring may feel quite contrasting and prefer wider distance between lightest and darkest colours in their outfits. This woman may look (and feel) more Winter and use more jewel tones, icy lights, neutral colours, formality in apparel, and boldness in cosmetic application.
Here’s what I think about that coral dress from the top Polyvores. It is not beautiful in the Bright Spring group. The peach coat may not be perfect, nor the yellow shirt on the L side, but they don’t detract. The dress is dull and detracting. In the Light Spring composition, it feels better but it’s a light sink. Light should bounce out of a Light Spring palette like sunbeams, like Creamsicles. It should feel fresh, light, and happy. This dress is not what an apricot tulip would feel like. If you cover it up, the rest of the group gets better, so it’s detracting here too. Still a lovely dress. Might be just the photo, might be an Autumn colour, this is what PCA from photos is like. No idea where this item would fit and would need to try it IRL to be sure.
I seem to be in a groove of seeing so many Bright Winters lately that I figure I’m still supposed to write about it.
The reaction a person has to learning that their natural colouring falls into the Bright Winter group is either delight or despair. Seldom is there anything in between. The reason for most Season misgivings comes from misunderstanding the colours or the analysis process.
Some of the information below may be hard to imagine. It’s the only way I know to explain it. (Analyst who were trained by me will receive the discussion below soon in their Review Topics documents – and it will be even more technical.)
Here some come concerns Bright Winters may have:
Q: If I’m a Bright Winter, why do I look too blue in some of the Bright Winter drapes?
Short A: Because you’re warmer than the drape.
Long A: Depending on the person, this type of colouring is extremely finely adjusted and very sensitive to excessive darkness, redness, and or blueness. Some people handle the blue very well, almost as cool as True Winter can handle, but they become gaunt in black. Others can develop red spots in the cheeks, like a feverish face, in too much blue-red influence but they have no problem with darkness.
To match the exact coolness level of every Bright Winter, the analyst would need approximately 4 blue drapes. And then 4 reds, 4 greens. And then repeat that for all the possible tolerances to hue, value, and chroma of every person in all 12 Seasons. Not reasonable.
Also not necessary. The analyst with a comprehensive understanding of the analysis process is prepared to choose the Season because it’s better than the others, not necessarily it’s the best possible choice of this colour on this person. The client shouldn’t expect every Bright Winter drape to be perfection on every Bright Winter face. You find yourself inside your correct colour parameters. Sometimes, an analyst’s decision feels like a compromise and doesn’t make sense, but it’s still the best and correct decision of the comparison.
I am a Dark Winter.
I need makeup to wear black. Makes sense, black is only automatic on True Winter.
I can wear some medium and dark True Summer colour. Makes sense, True Summer is a little warmer and more muted than True Winter. So is Dark Winter.
True Spring colours clear my eyes better than True Autumn, if the two are being compared. Makes sense, Winter is looking for more clarity than Autumn provides.
I love and can wear Dark Autumn dark colours. Makes sense, I’m more warm and muted than many Dark Winters and darker colours are pretty easy on Dark Seasons.
None of that makes me a Spring, Summer, or Autumn.
If all people were exactly the same within one Season, then all the women of that Season could wear exactly the same lipsticks equally. Not the truth at all. My perfect lipstick colour is dull and disappearing on a cooler, clearer Dark Winter. There are ranges inside each Season. If the information clues were picked up along the analysis path, the right decision will be made at the end. The analyst doesn’t need to have my perfect Dark Winter blue drape in her set to know I am a Dark Winter. There might be versions of blue that I would wear a lot better than the blue drape she might have, but she learned my face, did her comparisons, knew what to look for and how to interpret it. A Season decision is a moving target until the very last comparison.
The Test Drapes are special. They’re measuring and comparing. Don’t look for home in them. Don’t expect to be finally and ultimately perfected. You need only be better than in any other. The same exquisite tolerance to colour parameters happens in all Seasons, but because Winter’s scale is so big and this colouring quite delicate, the disparity gets noticed more.
The public might not always understand. Don’t pay too much attention to the chat room group. They can’t know how it works because they’ve never been shown. All they see is the end result. One appendectomy can look like another if all you see are the people 3 weeks later. What happened in between may be wildly different. One person might never have had appendicitis in the first place. One might finally get rid of abdominal pain that’s haunted her for months. Another might be sure the surgeon made a mistake, but the fact is that sutures are more irritating to her tissues than the average while the surgical technique was exemplary. Her chat room group wouldn’t know any of that, but they’d make judgments and give opinions anyhow in an effort to support her.
clear water, close to white, more icy (Winter)
Q: Why is the bottom half of the face so darkened by black if I am Winter?
Short A: This is a WAY lighter Winter. Even True Winter isn’t all that dark. There are many blonde and light-brown haired True Winters with light eyes. Many.
Long A: Nothing applies to everybody. Some Bright Winters, even blonde haired, blue-eyed persons, are fine with darkness. Others who might be darker to look at will have a definite upper limit for darkness. Some can manage strong darkness in blue or green, but begin having detracting optical effects in the appearance at medium gray. Some are fine with shiny black, as long as True Winter blue is extracted, but are not good in matte black. Texture matters to a composition as much as line and colour do; therefore, texture matters in personal colour analysis (PCA).
The only more ghoulish Goth than Bright Winter would be the Light, True, and Bright Spring. All four types of natural colouring, or Season, or Tone, look light, bright, and clean. What about that sounds Goth? They conflict with the dark, depressing, serious Goth look – OTOH, maybe Goth are supposed to look compromised. Glowing and Goth doesn’t match. Bright Seasons are glowy. That’s how their skin reflects light. They look too healthy and vital for Gothness.
From the document that I send my clients:
Bright Winter epitomizes the sugar frosting of snow and sunlight. The innocent fairy tale character could wear shimmery violet-pink eyeshadow, blush, and lipgloss, adding even more crispness and show biz with near black eyeliner and big lashes.
Many Bright Winters are blonde and blue-eyed, with a feeling of girl-next-door, like the stereotypic Light Summer, except for the strong, clear, sparking eyes. Other lighter Bright Winters look Scandinavian/Nordic Ice Princess. Although some Bright Springs have the coolness that feels like royal distance, most are more informal, bubbly, chatty, rounded in their edges, and natural in their energy.
more pigment, more gray, closer to pastel (more Summer) – where does icy end and pastel begin?
Q: So Christine, you’re saying that all Brights can always take any level of saturation?
Short A: There is no Always, Must, Should, or Never in human colouring.
Long A: Textiles can be saturated beyond what you’d find in a human being. There are colours that will overwhelm even a Bright. I am saying that on a comparative scale of humans, Brights are most harmonized and flattered in the purest pigments.
icy grays made of B&W (Winter eyes)
Q: What if you said I’m a Bright Winter, which still I don’t believe BTW, and I look really dark?
Short A: Then you are a Bright Winter who looks dark.
Long A: In the colour analyst training course, my students and I spend our first morning proving to ourselves that our eyes are rather clueless about looking at paint chips and knowing their colour dimensions. I guess we could see which is lighter between 2 colours of equal saturation. Change the saturation setting of one paint chip and we lose it. We guess wrong. If we can’t guess a paint chip, how much harder must it be to gauge a human face just by looking. You need a way to measure, a.k.a. drapes.
You look dark, fine. Your most important colour attribute is still that your pigmentation is very clean and clear. You are more clear than you are dark, but no rule says you can’t be both to some degree. It’s knowing the amount of each one relative to the other that’s tricky.
pastel means more pigment + more gray (Summer eyes) – where’s the dividing line between icy and pastel? is there one?
Q: I read RTYNC and Bright Winter felt too zingy. I’m not electric and flashy.
Short A: You can’t see yourself. Compared to a range of other humans, your colouring feels more electric than a foggy day would. I was trying to make a comparison. Who do you know who looks foggy?
Long A: Ignore RTYNC (the blue book over in the right column). I can’t write the sequel because I created what the colour world needed least, 12 more stereotypes. Back then, I knew half what I know today. Maybe there’s another book taking shape that describes the real world better, the enormous variety, how people of the same Season can look incredibly different.
Why write about Seasons at all? Because it’s fun and interesting for us humans to look at one another and see all the possibilities. The stereotypes are like your horoscope. Kathryn Kalisz (founder of the Sci\ART system of PCA) also wrote about how people in the Seasons can look. I asked her once what Season someone was. She laughed and said in the most cheerful voice, “I have absolutely no idea! Until they’re in my chair.”
That book was only intended to help you see who you’re not, give a sense of how those colour energies made me feel so you could ask yourself the same thing, and give you 12 approximate palettes to make comparisons so you don’t have to own 12 swatch books. It got used too literally. The disclaimer at the front says that you will not be able to find yourself accurately, or at all. Should have been in big red print.
The Light Summer to Bright Winter Spectrum
This picture of Julianne Hough (said “huff”) came my way. It reminded me of a friend.
After thinking about it a bit, I realized that the face is like an exaggerated Reese Witherspoon.
Thing is, Julianne can do this. Is the dress wearing her? Is the makeup stronger than she is? By a lot or a little? If the hair were deeper, would she balance the other colours better? The balance is a little off but it’s hard to know what needs fixing and what doesn’t. Too many unpredictable variables. Just like draping a face. Reese were done like this, would the balance be off by less or by more?
Julianne looks to be in that girl-next-door Bright Winter to Light Summer spectrum. Except the eyes. Those eyes are crystal clear. Who knows what her natural hair colour is? From the gallery of images, I see that too yellow hair makes her face too yellow. Too light hair makes her face look puffed with flour. If you think of Bill Gates as average Light Summer colouring, those eyes would be wild in his face.
Reese seems to me a Light Summer. This makes sense. Winter is like an exaggerated Summer. The Warm Seasons are different. Autumn is not a continuation of Spring. It’s a whole different type of warmth. In a Season circle or progression, I would not Spring and Autumn side by side; I’d put them opposite one another.
the blue – too much pigment for icy; too pure pigment for pastel > probably not strong Winter or Summer ; we see this colour in Bright Spring eyes
Q: If Winter is an exaggerated Summer, why not have a Season in between? Like a continuation between Light Summer and Bright Winter, or True Summer and True Winter?
Short A: You’d get no new colours that weren’t already spoken for in one of the Seasons. I see the brilliance of the Sci\ART method of PCA, a genius that I am more in awe of with each client, as 12 stand alone groups. It makes their unique radiances strong and distinct. Smudging them into one another would dilute that and make analysis decisions much harder. Can a client blur them into each other? Absolutely.
Long A: Because real people don’t drape in between Summer and Winter to my eyes, though other analysts that I respect gigantically might not agree. A Soft Summer still looks better in Summer drapes, just a little weak. A Dark Winter still does better in Winter drapes overall if you know what to look for.
Also, making a cool Season overlap into a cool Season is in contradiction with the physics of light. That’s not how sunlight illuminates objects on our planet as interpreted by our eyes and brains.
Would the Bright Winter person look better True Winter’s drapes than True Summer’s drapes? Not always that easy. The light Bright Winter person’s face loves the lightness of Summer.
We can’t look at faces and know if they’re lighter than saturated, more cool than light, more saturated than warm, etc. Our eyes are not capable. We have to put a quantitative measuring system in between. Those are the drapes. Even then, in the early part of the analysis, all the features don’t behave the same way. That only happens at the end.
You will be wildly surprised at what your eyes will see happen with the drapes. The rug will get yanked out from under the feet of what you think Seasons have to look like. There are a lot of technical reasons for decision-making that Terry Wildfong and I train our students in carefully and thoroughly because we measure many markers at once in each face, with each new colour change.
The analyst evaluates many markers, related to line, colour, and texture, and makes a better-than choice. The markers will not be the same in every face. A Dark Winter man may wear Bright Winter saturation fairly well if his colouring is intense, but his face might look very oily. Another Dark Winter man will lose eye energy in Bright Winter drapes but the complexion reflects light much the same between the two. We take a lot of time to learn every face because each reacts to colour in a unique and individual way.
And it can still be very difficult. At this point in my career, although I retain near dismay for how complex a PCA can be, I’m usually pretty confident in my Season decision. I saw a woman recently. We went between Bright and Dark Winter. Back and forth, back and forth. Test Drapes, Luxury Drapes, makeup, back and forth, back and forth. In the end, I decided on Bright for a selection of reasons. Not just one reason. Many reasons, which I itemized in the documents I sent her. All the analyst can say sometimes is, “This is how I saw you today. And this why.”
Was I correct? I hope so. Was she so difficult because she was extraordinarily beautiful, like trying to make a child look bad? Was it because she was of darker complexion? I’ve invited her back to model for a training course because I need fresh eyes, a different day, and some outside opinions. Some puzzles are more enigmatic.
Sometimes, facial features are very tough to prioritize. We see good and bad things in 2 Seasons in most every comparison until we’re at or near the end. This is normal and expected.
many a Dark Season eye
Q: Which observation is most important?
Short A: Depends. Every face is different.
Long A: There’s no such thing as most important. Your eyes are not more important than your mouth. A jaundiced face isn’t more important than an unfocused face. It’s the totality of a face. The answer would be different for every client. Even a well-trained or very experienced analyst can be perplexed.
If a client is much more comfortable in one Season, the best decision might be to have them wear it for a while. Throw out nothing. Buy a gloss and a few inexpensive T-shirts. Adjust the hair colour. In a few months, have another draping.
Having just returned from a week in my native city (Montreal), I’m reminded of how much more grunge/tough-chic urban dwellers are compared to me. I live in the exact center of a clump of trees which grow in the exact center of 90 acres of corn.
The anonymity of city living may explain in part why all the grey and black. Perhaps also the multisensory assault and the need for some quiet somehow. Imagine if everyone were very colourful, or if they all had different coloured coats. It would be too much to take in. I don’t feel it in the small town where I live, but I sure love visiting cities. Montreal is a brilliant city with lots of character. Where you buy a screwdriver is beyond me. It’s all restaurants and bars.
I’m a Dark Winter in colouring. If human colouring were divided into 12 groups, or Seasons, mine would come from the Winter palette of jewel tones. To that, you’d add a few drops of crude oil to darken, dull, and warm slightly. The dull black of crude oil is what happens when Autumn’s deep rich gold mixes with sapphire and ruby. Picture the difference between the matte Batman black (Dark Winter) and the bluer and shinier vinyl record (True Winter).
For Dark Winter colouring, industrial/combat looks almost fall together. Though this won’t apply to all body types, the functionality, simplicity, toughness, masculinity all ring pretty true. I’m not a fan of all black but here, you have white, darker than usual blush (eleablake Accomplished, MAC Fever, this is no rosy cheek look), lipstick, and a ring the colour of blood. The lipstick is sheerly dark because this a natural/young/minimal look (Merle Norman Stolen Kisses).
Muscle tends to be easy for the 3 Autumn types of colouring, who do a cargo/military version. And Heaven knows if there are great boots for them to choose from.
It seems hardest to put this together for Spring. The heavy use of neutral colours always feels too drab on Spring, on whom I find colour is a better neutral than the traditional gray range. Even in their own grays, the excitement isn’t quite there. I still can’t visualize a Spring version that makes sense. I struggle with the toughness as well for True and Bright. Still, it just takes some adjusting. More colour, less metal and leather.
What about a Summer? Overall, this colouring is great in neutral colours and monochromatics. Some Light Summers are surprisingly edgy and G.I. Jane. They know it too but in trying to express it in Winter colours, the whole thing can come off too butch. Below, some adaptations.
Should be easy, she has the same relative darkness, dullness, and texture to True Summer as Dark Winter to True Winter.
She’ll do less distance between lightest and darkest, looks way better on Summer colouring.
Ombre and fade effects are nowhere better.
Wear the bracelets on the same hand.
Could do a mascara version of soft black for the boot.
Equestrian boot are too glamourous and Uggs make us walk too shuffly and mushy.
Denim is so ubiquitous that we barely register its colour unless it’s pretty saturated.
You can’t see the model in the Tshirt because she’s unlikely to be a Soft Summer so she’s disappearing.
Don’t buy the makeup on the Polyvore, I haven’t swatched any of it.
Anybody but especially the boy-body nerd > messenger bag.
Amazing in her teals.
Those earrings are lakes.
The eyeshadow is matte.
Anybody but especially the field hockey player > backpack or hobo.
True Summer is such a clean-water Season, it’s hard to make it look messy.
Cate Blanchett on the other side of the subway platform. With this wicked good haircut. In this clothing, I’d stare shamelessly.
But without the high-class natural makeup. There’s something too wholesome or healthy about it. I kept peach out of the blush and lip.
Eyeliner is important and you need one that allows you to wear a lot without closing down the eye size. Our makeup should be as much as us, not more. And not less, personal taste depending of course.
I’m completely attracted to biker jackets. Engineer boots too.
Bracelets on the same hand. Warm and cool together are good on Neutral Seasons.
The belt is bubbles.
She has double piercings in her ears.
The Spring in her makes her great in tye-dye. I picked watercolours of galaxy earrings today.
The blue beanie, because marled wools look terrific, because blue disappears on Summers, like a non-colour so it doesn’t really add another colour block.
Purse too saturated? Yup. Coat too something else? Probably. As if a woman wearing this is going to pass up a great purse because it colours outside the lines. Where we do and don’t draw our lines makes us more interesting.
Personal Shopper + Colour Analyst = VALUE
Shopping takes hours of planning and thinking. Which I enjoy more than I can say but seldom have the time. I know you don’t believe this, but many people have way more money than time. I meet them all the time. I get links to Theory suits and Burberry trenches to advise about, shopping bags full of Cle De Peau makeup to sort through, and offers of all-expense paid travel if I’ll go analyze colouring and take on the shopping thereafter.
Believe this too. It’s not because I’m good at it. All I have is the ability to choose colours that flatter because I can measure the person’s colouring, i.e.: I know their Season. That alone sets me apart from all the other stylists. I work from airport waiting lounges, Starbucks, shopping malls, wherever and whenever, with nothing but an iPad.
Sound like your path? Consider training as a colour analyst. Fashion advice without the ability to analyze colouring accurately will be like Hollywood, trendy and unpredictable. If you love shopping and can analyze colouring, you are a different commodity, higher in the value chain, even at the celebrity level.
Q: Why is learning Yoga like learning your colours?
A: Because it’s the same as learning anything.
It takes a Winter to make black look interesting, deep, meaningful.
Only a Summer’s colouring can take pastel yellow, and greenish yellow at that because how else can you make yellow cool but add blue, and have it look happily, generously, fully, softly, buttery yellow.
The drape colours and our clothing colours, they have an effect on us. We have an effect right back on them.
The heat of True Autumn doesn’t look too hot under that face, nor does it make her face too yellow. The gold, teal, and bittersweet look perfectly at home and she looks peaceful and honest, Autumn’s claims to fame. I so love these qualities in these people. There is nothing for neuroses to stick to. It just bounces back in the best way.
The Dark Seasons aren’t necessarily dark to look at. There’s lots of hair and eye variation, just like any other Season. What Dark means is that on them, dark looks normal. On other colourings, it would look too dark. My ‘normal lips’ lipstick is darker than you’d expect because as a Dark Winter, my colouring takes dark and turns it into right. Once we learn our own colouring, we control the retail world, a nice change from the other way round, which is how most folks live.
A Spring guy in Autumn colour tells the world, “Hi, I’m John and I’m a little angry all the time. Watch out, I piss off easy.” And yet, nothing of the sort is true, but no wonder nobody will give him leadership positions.
You walk into an office. Before you cross the carpet to shake his hand, the Autumn guy in Autumn colours has said to you, “I am THE guy who’s going to get you and your 8 cats out of a burning building.” And as you cross that carpet, you think, “Buddy, you are THE guy I want around to get me and Poochie out of the fire.” If he’d been wearing Summer colours, he looks lucky to get himself out, let alone Poochie and you.
Find the first edge of your Season. Settle, wait, and become. Grow back into your natural colouring.
Here’s a stereotype for you: the Bright Winter being told she’s a Light Summer. Happens often. Both are Neutral Seasons that have much in common in 12 Season personal colour analysis (PCA). Both add the same amount (small) of the same kind of heat (Spring). But we forget the differences between icy and pastel and can’t interpret them on a human face without right drapes. Bright Winter’s super concentrated blue looks normal on her, just blue, even more normal and balanced if it’s shiny. She looks reasonable in it. Reasonable, exciting, and could be taken perfectly seriously without being remembered only for what she wore.
Digression 1: about comments that Winters can’t be blonde-haired or beige-haired and blue-eyed because it lacks in contrast. It simply isn’t true. Please, come and watch a real analysis with accurate drapes. Please, at least be open to the possibility that there is another way. Once you see this person balance pitch black, or once you watch their presence fade, the lower half of the face weaken and recede, see the face appear dusted with white powder in Light Summer colour, the face become mottled and yellow in Summer whites, you begin to understand. PCA is about discovering your natural colours. If this light-appearing person harmonizes with pitch black and pure white, then they contain those pigments. Therefore, they contain the contrast of a Winter. The fact that this information can’t be discerned by staring at the complexity of a human face doesn’t make the information incorrect. It’s the part about knowing human pigmentation without measuring it that might need some revision.
Digression 2: I see things online about the relationships between Neutral Seasons that have a similar start point and add the same amount of the same kind of colour warmth/coolness. So, Dark Autumn and Bright Spring begin as pure warm Seasons (True Autumn and True Spring) and move one step into Winter. When they share colours, to my eye, it doesn’t work as well as the theoretical/conceptual argument would have you think. Keep the overall balance in mind. Try not to borrow from the other palette precisely, but rather from a space between it and yours. It’s not a bad idea at all, it’s quite clever. There is a relationship between these groups for sure, as there are many relationships between the groups of natural colouring, the Seasons. I find the Winter Neutral Seasons of Dark and Bright actually do better in True Summer than Soft or Light respectively. True Summer is just a little warm relative to Winter, has more clarity than Soft and more darkness than Light. The overall of True Summer looks closer to home on a Winter Neutral than Summer’s Neutrals do. In clothes or drapes, it’s the True Summer that looks better on Dark and Bright Winter, IMO.
On a Light Spring-coloured person, Soft Autumn colour looks bulky and chunky.
The reverse: an Autumn woman wearing Spring colour. Well, you know how tiny, dinky jewelry on a large-framed body can make the jewelry look smaller and the body bigger? The strength and substance of Autumn colouring forcibly placed Â next to Spring’s lightness and fun makes the face look more solid (I’m trying not to say masculine) and the colours immature and inexpensive. In her right colours, Autumn women project all the feminine beauty that Summer can in Summer colours. I mean, Autumn is Raquel Welch territory. There’s a reason that picture of her wearing a fur bikini was iconic. Wouldn’t have happened in Twiggy psychedelic daisies. Even at a tiny level, this effect takes place. A Soft Summer woman wearing True Summer colours looks a little more muscular or macho somehow.
On a Light Summer, the Bright Winter colour is the only thing you see. Even if it’s only one part of an outfit, it becomes either the only thing you notice or the only thing you don’t notice. Of course, there’s a middle ground, where a dark Soft Summer that’s a bit more saturated could be close-enough-is-good-enough on a Dark Winter.
What’s really good about these relationships is that they get the heat level correct. That’s absolutely huge. It’s amazing how just getting this one colour dimension right changes your whole appearance and the feeling of your appearance. In cool colour, you look grayed and a little cyanotic. The good news is that your transfusion is as easy as changing your shirt. In too warm colour, the skin is yellow, teeth yellow, eyes dull, bone structure is blunted and flat, all true whether it’s your hair, foundation, or clothing. It’s so hard to get cool foundation. All these makeup artists talked companies into yellowing foundation, but it’s way too much. Chanel, Merle Norman, some of the L’Oreal True Match, they make some decent cool choices. Cool foundation, especially Winter’s, is grayish in the bottle.
Some theoretical arguments don’t work well IRL. For instance, you could draw a line in colour space where 2 Seasons meet and there would be some shared coordinates, meaning colour dots belonging in either Season. No right or wrong, it depends on the system and the palette designer. I have never once seen the textile colour that belongs equally well in 2 groups, nor the person in 2 Seasons. This is partly why other PCA systems don’t cross-over well into our Sci\ART based system. Not only is their logic process different to arrive at the Season, but the colours often belong to more than 1 Season. In Sci\ART, at least my vision of it, every colour stands alone and every Season stands alone. That’s a very big deal as distinctions go. Our drapes don’t work with other systems, nor their drapes with ours. You can’t just say, “It’s all colour analysis, should be interchangeable.” Trust me, it ain’t. You’ll get yourself in a mess that will need some fixing. (more about this in the comments to the Career article, one back). I am absolutely not saying that one is righter or wronger because every system and every vision has its merits, just that they don’t mesh together.
We should be defined in our clothing, bringing out the best in each other. Our face should be in front of our clothes and distinct from them. A Bright Winter in True Spring colours is very close to greatness. Except that she is draining the colour from the fabric and backing it up from our awareness. The lower half of her face is disappearing into the garment so her presence is dissolving into her clothing. The face yellows and the drape is already yellow, like a big yellow circle of flatness. There’s no excitement. Another person or analyst might see that as harmony or as a glowing tan effect, but I don’t. Â A difference of opinion perhaps. It depends on your ideal of beauty. You might totally subscribe to Hollywood’s love of a solid yellow wall of hair. That’s great and fine, but I wouldn’t. We don’t all need to line up behind the same idea. There is no right and wrong here.
Summer’s skim milk white looks as cloudy as skim milk white is relative to Winter white, placed under a Winter face. They don’t belong together and push each other even further in opposite directions. They find the thing that makes them most different and widen a little adjustment into a chasm of unbelonging. Under a Summer face, her white looks like white. Just white.
Notice grouchiness, confusion, and doubt. “They don’t make anything in my colours.”
I ask students, “In that colour, how does the person look like he’s feeling?” We sense that he must be feeling in a way that he doesn’t at all. Bright Spring in Light Summer colours can look feeble and frail. Like, “Hi, I’m Ted and I’m exhausted.” No kidding he’s had trouble getting hired. His inner and outer energies come rushing back when he wears what he is. Vitality and health can be as simple as choosing a different T-shirt.
The Dark Winter in Soft Autumn colour announces, “Hi, I’m Ellen and I’m running out of gas. I’m checking out.” Change your shirt. Suddenly, your hair looks clean, more coloured, the skin is tight to the bones, all good. Suddenly, people are more interested in giving you money.
A Dark Autumn wearing Light Spring peach looks like a log cabin painted blossom pink. It’s irrational. A floating, disconnected head. This picture says, “I can’t make reasonable decisions about myself. How likely am I to make them about you?”
Colour analysis matters. Every person should have this information about themselves by the time they are 20. Like a social identity. Social competence has incalculable value in this world. Others decide this about us within about 10 seconds of seeing and greeting.
On a random clothing rack, Soft Summer colours are the grayest relative to all the other colours. The Winter colours are the boldest and darkest. Maybe our character tries to equalize itself, or find balance for the traits that are more extreme in us, so we reach for our opposite. Many a person with Summer’s type of natural colouring wants to project more push by wearing Winter colour. It backfires. Now, the only thing you can see between her nose and toes is the garment. By comparison to the clothing, the woman has faded away even more. Now she looksÂ muted, where in Summer colours, she would look fresh and gorgeous.
She stays with Winter. Hair colour that was fresh, natural, and lively gets is run down and washed out against the Winter background, so she tries a few hair colours. She tries darker eyeliner. But all those bold colours don’t tell the world, “I am audacious and adventurous.” because we can barely register the person at all, nevermind find them daring. The person who is meticulous, tolerant, perceptive, precise, and soft-hearted is telling the world,
“I am unplanned, indiscriminate, possibly abrupt, possibly intense, and possibly odd.”,
so, even before introduction, from the time it took them to get from the door to you, you think, “Note to Self: Prepare. This could go a lot of different ways.”
Ten minutes later, you think, “Wow. This is the nicest person ever. I could talk to them for a week. Didn’t see that coming.”
Once Summer pulls their own colours from the closet, the magic happens. Â The wavelengths synchronize instead of competing with and neutralizing each other. The whole picture unites. Those grayer colours aren’t gray at all on her.Â They’re fully energized, present, and focused, and so is she. Her hair is very colourful and enhancing.
Remember that you are safe. You already look way better than you used to. From here, it just gets better.
Bright on Bright = Normal
Bright colours donâ€™t look overly bright on Bright Seasons. It’s the rest of us on whom they are too strong and more than we are, a distracting challenge to our natural colouring. On non-Brights, the colours say, “Look at me!!! Look at me!!!! Forget about her up there. Look down here where all the action is!!!” We would look drained and erased, worn out from always competing with our clothing. Not so on the Bright colouring. They look normal.
A Bright Winter can drain colour from most any fabric, including Dark Autumn and Dark Winter. She can dull Dark Winter’s strong coral rose into looking like True or Soft Summer colour.Â Under her face, Dark Autumn’s fabulous, rich, full, bronzed raisin looks drab and plain, maybe even a little dirty. Which is how Autumn makeup looks on her face.
Even True Winter, one powerful set of colours, looks washed too many times on a Bright Winter. Plus heavy and blue. No excitement. The whole image drags down. Change the drape. The lights come on. The whole picture lifts up. The lines all focus and turn upwards instead of like melting ice cream.
Many Bright Seasons, Winter and Spring, have beige hair. They contain Spring, after all. They often feel the hair is mousy and blah. It sure is if they’re wearing muted colour. All the life goes out of it. Out comes the hair chemistry. If they’d just change their shirt, the hair would sparkle. Bright Season hair is never ever mousy in correct colour.
Trust. Just let gravity take you. The great clothes and cosmetics will start showing up just because you’ve asked them to. Give it your attention but don’t stress. Effortless effort.
A Bright Season in their own colours doesn’t look like a Hiliter marker or more noticeably coloured than anyone else. Her red just looks like normal red. On someone else, the shirt would walk into the room before she does. It’s only on a Bright that it wouldn’t behave that way.
She doesn’t need to shop for shiny purple or neon pink. She just wants to repeat certain colour properties to look normal. That’s what it takes for her to look like she really looks. Colour analysis will find you a pretty lipstick but it’s way more organic than that. It will find what you really look like, in colour, line, and texture. The feeling in the observer is, “Oh, is that what you really look like? I couldn’t see you before. You were distorted.”
You know how when people take off their glasses and you suddenly get a whole different picture and feeling? It’s like that. An artist could paint you with a thousand different facial expressions. The viewer would expect a thousand different women to own each face. Might as well broadcast the real one.
New Bright Seasons may experience disappointment bordering on fear. She has seen her colours on others and thought, “Oh, that’s just too much.” Yup, on them, it sure is. But the rest of us see those colours on you, not on your hanger or on everyone else in the room, the way you do. On you, we think, “Fine. Nothing to adjust to. Normal. Enough. Good. Interesting. Complete. Balanced. Clear. Healthy. Easy to look at. Nice eyes. That woman gets herself.”
She’s here for us to interact with. Otherwise, she’s partly invisible, a place where many of us feel so much safer and try hard to find a reason to justify staying. And oh, boy, when a PCA is pulling out of your hiding place before you’re ready, it’s panicky. Go with it. It serves nobody to play small.
We compensate in so many ways to disguise or adapt our personality, often without knowing it, often in response to demands of the environment, parenting, society, and all the other pressures coming in. In the never-ending journey toward self-knowledge, surprising examples of being untrue to oneself turn up.
Surrender to stillness. Don’t overthink it. Just be in it.
Easing into the Bright Seasons.
You don’t have to wear the test drapes. They’re just measuring you.
You are not head to toe poster paint as a Bright, or dishwater as a Soft, or maudlin if a Dark. I use words that separate the palette from all the others in the mind of a person considering all 12. I have neglected to clarify that solo on the right wearer will it not look as extreme as the description. It finally makes sense.
Combinations matter. Add zing, your way. Wear dark teal jeans, a peach blouse, and wind a shiny, Chinese silk, peacock-printed scarf round your neck. This is a very different Winter from the other two.
The heat matters to Bright Winter. She needs to add the sunny, the sunbeam. This colouring shadows easily in too-dark or too-blue. Bright Winter is close to Bright Spring. A person could design those colour palettes to be closer to True Winter or Bright Spring and still be within the realm of Bright Winter. Who’s to say either is righter or wronger? They need the heat in their colors.
She forgets that the saturation only means pure pigment. It does not mean vaudeville, hussy, burlesque, or Halloween clothing. Purity of pigment matters. Even in True Winter, a palette of pretty high saturation, her skin will dull to the exact degree that True Winter is dull relative to Bright Winter.
The overall picture is too dark. Bright Winter is significantly lighter than the other Winters. Although the darkness range is similar to that of True Winter, the global impression is definitely lighter. Many of these folks have medium beige hair and blue eyes. Even if hair and eyes are dark, there is a light-bright reflectivity in the skin. Too dark or too blue moves to gaunt very fast here. Black is not automatic at all. Very very unique type of Winter.
She’s got the colours right but the garment lines are too straight and serious, when she’s not linear in her body type. Natural shapes make stripes feel like jailhouse prints. If you’re very rounded in your outlines, you should be shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Straight lines don’t work with your curves, they over-accentuate them. Two differently shaped garments tell a different story, despite being identical in colour.
If your character is flighty and whimsical, banker’s stripes make you wonder if the analyst got your Season wrong because your spare and linear-thinking Bright Winter friend looks so good in them. Your analyst did fine. No two women of the same Season will wear it best in the same way. Your colours are when your clothing, cosmetic, and hair colour journey must begin, but it’s not where it ends.
Her makeup is too strong for her age. If you’re 20, wear sheerer and lighter. Feature definition looks like youth but adapt it for your age.
Her makeup is too dry and opaque. High pigment in transparent application is better.
Shine is better than matte. Satin and frost shine is better than dewy and wet shine if Winter, the reverse if Spring. Distinguish the two types of shine in your Â mind. They look different to the rest of us and tell a different story.
Fun matters. Wear something happy. A polka dot leopard pin. A black watch with a gold daisy motif in the face. Button-down classics drag the whole thing down.
Sweetness. These folks have a cute quality when they’re 70, like kids in an adult body. Add baby peach, yellow, candy colour, peppermint colours. Find colours that would taste good and a little sharp or a little acidic. (But not bitter/vinegar, which is better on Dark Autumn)
Ease in with bigger neutral blocks and smaller colour blocks at first. A Bright might look boring in too much neutral colour, maybe more so if a Natural body type. The 3 Springs are this way, but it extends to Bright Winter, who needs colour in a sharp way, and the Light Summer who is also flattered by colour in an analogous type of scheme (colours that are neighbours on a colour wheel).
Try the bright colours further from the centre in the beginning, as nail polish or a handbag.
Limit to smaller pieces for shine. A watchstrap. All Winter does well in some type and amount of shine.
Explore the lighter colours. I completely disagree with the hair colour myth that lighter hair colour looks younger on all women. I do agree that all colour, and light colour in clothing, looks younger than the Safe Black don’t-notice-me uniform. These can be hard to find and take practice to match. Learn to lay the open palette on the garment rather than matching one little square or dot to anything. That’s what you look like in that garment. Do the light colours of the palette look either wimpy and weak or too strong, sparkly, or separate relative to the garment? If they belong together, the two should just settle in.Â Great clothes are part of you, like a great rider and the horse are part of each other. Picture how it would look if horse and rider were out of stride. That’s how wrong colour feels.
Uplight with pale gold for Spring, in sharper lines if Winter, like NARS Albatross.
Our colour palette is where we begin. From that platform, we find our contrast level. the blonde haired blue eyed Bright Winter is a little more gradual, but still supports black mascara than the Asian Bright Winter.
Melt into a new friendship.
Live with it for a month. Then go back and try on the clothes and cosmetics you wore before. Do they still feel like home?
Just like feeling irritability in a pose, if you allow it quietly and calmly, it Â might flip to its opposite: Peace.
The term Soft Dramatic (SD) is one of 13 Image Identities from David Kibbe’s extraordinary book from 1987, Metamorphosis. If you can find yourself, it can be an astounding key to your best clothing line. Â I am so NOT a Kibbe expert. I’m certain that if he looked at my Polyvores, he’d think, “This isn’t what I meant at all.” Reader beware.
This question from J:
I’d like to add femininity to casual wear but sometimes I don’t know how. Mrs. Tuttle (of dressingyourtruth.com) has helped with that a little, so I know now that I like silver teardrop earrings, lace, cowl necks, and ruffled scarfs. How to add glamour into your everyday life/work? I used to want to appear as strong as possible. Now I have softened it down a bit, and, big surprise, no one ate me.
I think I have the most difficulties separating the True Summer from the Soft Summer in the range of beiges/taupes/browns and the range of corals/reds. Kind of the colors that we see as “warm” per se. Maybe also some of the greens, that are not actually blue greens, but more along the “grassier” or khaki side. The more unusual Summer colors, I guess.
By the time we’re working with neighbour Seasons in 12 Season colour analysis, and from the same parent Season, like True Summer and Soft Summer, finding words to help you distinguish them is not possible, at least not for me. They’re just too close if you look at them one swatch at a time. Trying to find your colours that way may be part of why PCA fizzled 40 years ago.Â Going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth from one colour dot in a swatch book to a piece of fabric Â will only make you irritable and the store staff even more so.
My best advice is to learn to look at your entire palette when you try to match a garment to it. Have a read of the article Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book.Â This is a total woman, head to toe, all the colours together all the time, big picture situation.
If you’re a precision person, as Summers often are, you’ll want to own both True and Soft Summer swatch books. Compare them both to a garment by laying them flat and fanned out on it. You’ll see which is best. Sometimes, it’s very hard, in which case, it just doesn’t matter enough for clothing. For drapes, that would be a fabric I’d never use. How can you test with it if both work? When you look at only one, one anything, your visual system is stuck. It’s like asking someone if this colour looks good on you. They’ll say Yes. What they should say is, “Compared to what? Show me two and I’ll LYK which one is best.” That’s how our biology is configured to get information from vision.
You’ll want to own Colour Books from different companies. The more ways you see and read about your colours, the more sense they will make and the more recognizable they’ll become. You’re looking to replicate a feeling, not a particular colour.
Also, to my eye, color not only flows from cool to warm but also from one color to the other. So, sometimes, I just don’t know, if, what I look at is a grey with a lot of purple in it or maybe a very greyed down purple?
We’re not comparing apples to apples in that question. Colour always flows from cool to warm. It’s built into the physics of how light strikes objects. It can’t be altered or argued. In the 12 Season sequence, the heat setting of one palette shifts to a warmer or cooler setting as you move along to the next Season.Â If the two purples you describe belong to True and Soft Summer, one will be warmer. If you paint them as two dots and let them run together, then the colours will indeed flow into one another, but the two ends and any given colour between them will only belong in one Tone’s palette, the one whose colour dimensions (heat, value, chroma) match those of the colour.
I get the feeling of coolness and freshness that you described. What I don’t understand here is the softness. Soft as opposed to True Winter, yes. But then, when I’m in a store, all those colors mixed up, that is not the feeling I get.
Regarding the image above, understanding ‘softness’ in your question to mean low saturation rather than draping fabric, and choosing apparel line and styles randomly just to demonstrate some colours:
Summer colours are on the left. They feel watery, misty, calm. Not heavy. Far from white. A little heathered.
Winter colours, on the right, feel more aggressive and intense. Â They have more green. More colour. They’re further from gray. It’s hard to tell though, because as colour darkens, or as one colour dimensions changes in any way, we find it tougher to judge the other two colour dimensions. The top one seems too close to white for a Summer and I don’t pick up heathering.
Neither one is at minimum or maximum saturation, because True Summer and True Winter are not. What matters most is that they’re cool. Even that’s hard to tell. Winter’s green can look warm, I suppose because the blue and yellow that made it came from Winter’s paintbox, where the yellow is intense.
What about the center column? I wouldn’t know if those are Winter or Summer any better than you would just by looking at them.Â I’d have to lay the palette on the garment and see if the two were equal or if one loses energy. You’ll see this happen. The Summer palette will dull if the fabric is Winter. The swatches will be much too strong and bold if the colour is Summer. You’ll be able to feel which one is at home for most fabrics. If you can’t, it would probably be fine. You might need to own the Winter Book. The more precise you want to be, the more precision tools you’ll need to acquire. True for carpenters, musicians, and colour matchers. Not a big thing. Probably costs less than two blouses. You won’t learn this by owning one Book. You’ll get it as soon as you own both.
Clothes in photographs are just like people in photographs. A little off. You can take a hundred pictures of the same person, same time, same place. They look different in each one. Can’t tell what’s true. In real time, our brain can adjust for that, like it does all the time with all the white we think we see that would not be pure white, were an artist to paint it. For survival, our brain has adapted to learn when to get visual information that means white, even if the colour isn’t white. We see many photos of women trying on clothes. When have you ever met anyone and had them look just like you expected? Never. If Mr Kibbe writes another book, I hope he puts in lots of group photos.
I do get a feeling of elegance. The same cheap sweater, that looked so funky and trendy in Autumn’s beige, managed to look somehow more expensive in the blue-grey. Seems elegant and calm to me and… nothing! There’s nothing added, no warmth, no “pop”. It just stays as it is. I used to judge that as boring and without personality. Now I’m open to see if one day it will show me that there actually is something. Maybe I just can’t see it yet.Â I wonder if what I’m asking for is a comparison of the visuals for the three Summers.
True Summer, like True Winter, isn’t an overly colour busy Season. In the Winter’s case, it’s because every colour is so much that one at a time is plenty. In the Summer case, there’s a tranquility, with none of the agitation that accompanies heat, whether smoke (Autumn) or sun (Spring). The softness of the colours means that they weave together more fluently than Winter. Even a hint of hectic or functional takes the feeling off track. Also no giggles, no sarcasm, no squirting (Spring), and no forcing, no pushing, no controlling (Winter). All is perfect andÂ all will be perfect. Not rugged, earthy, productive, or work-related (Autumn), no showboat, glitter, or anything synthetic (Bright).
A visual for True Summer: the Japanese Zen garden.
Peaceful, green, strong, by no means self-effacing, monochromatic, courteous, the penultimate of diplomacy and respect, meditative, reflective, cool but not dark, searching.
Soft Summer’s visual is heavier, more solid and substantial, a rock garden, a woodland. Light Summer’s has movement and lightness, a fountain.
Maybe also some jewelry advice. I do fine with the T2 lines for that, just not as huge as they present everything. But I find it very interesting, that they are all about teardrops and elongated s-curves, all very looong, while you mention the circle as the True Summer shape.
That circle shape came from my imagination. It is not a fact, it’s a blend of what I’ve read, seen, and thought about. There’s no more truth in it than if you said, “I think Summer’s shape is a pentagon.” There are no facts here and only a little logic. The left brain isn’t the one doing this. We’re not measuring anything. I could see spirals too for the true cool Seasons, though more in Winter since they begin and end in the deep center, which has True Winter written all over it. The trailing vine is definitely a good Summer shape. For many, their hair follows this line. Every Season could have many shapes. So could every body type. Some see triangles for Winter. I don’t feel it but I can see why they do. Spring is more triangly to me, though more the zigzag than the closed shape.
Jewelry shape and line is decided by body type. Its colour comes from your own natural colouring, your Season or Tone. A Dramatic Classic True Summer won’t look as good as she could wearing long necklaces or pearls. You’ll barely even see that jewelry on her. The hugeness of T2 jewelry at DYT could be really good fit for SD bodies (note that I have not looked at it).
I’d just love to see your perspective on Soft Dramatic True Summer. How does this combination of colors and lines and whatever else there is look to you?
It won’t match the Type 2 of Carol’s system. In each of those 4 types are way too many kinds of bodies.Â There is swirl, flow, and drape in Soft Dramatic but the scale is much bigger than what T2 says to me. This body is not mainstream and her presence isn’t safe.
I know this woman from my life. Â She is indeed a True Summer. She’s 5’9″, sleeps till noon, reads all day, is far more busty than hourglass. In fact, I have no idea what her body looks like below her bust. Couldn’t tell you if she’s curvy or not, no idea what her legs look like. I do know that she’s a knockout.
She cooks like Julia Child, drinks like a sailor, wears a splashy sarong skirts and big chunk diamonds in her ears to have her backyard bulldozed, and looks ridiculously like a plump and top-heavy Linda Evangelista. The sarong and diamond look is the only time I notice what she has on. She also favours mid-thigh tunic tops and straight Capris, which look pretty good as long as the print is a big, boozy Georgia O’Keefe vision.
Her right location is in a chaise longue beside a Vegas pool with a turban on her head, cigarette holder in hand, G&T on the go, watching the 18 year old pool boy at work. The picture absolutely needs up-there jewelry, exactly what Kibbe describes. Smooth, big, and $$$-looking. Andre, the masseur, is arriving later this afternoon.
These are casual clothes. It’s easy to fit this body in gowns and gigantic jewelry. What’s it look like at the parent-teacher interview?
Like colour, the whole point is to bring together the person and the clothing lines that bring out the absolute best in each other. Finding the style in any palette would be tough because it’s just so exaggerated. The women who would look great in it have no idea who they are, not unlike fuchsia blush. For the general population, the image seems meant for the stage, not the office. Get Noticed clothes are scary when the crowd all looks identical.
She has much less texture and more opulence than a Flamboyant Natural. She won’t wear wedges, the FN could. Same big frame, big hands. A movie star who comes into her own on the big screen, loses something on a TV, and looks almost ordinary on a smartphone. AÂ cocktail ring babe. Sunglasses and wide brim hats, earrings, necklace, rings, scarves. Drama, glamour. She can make the dainty, delicate, and simple disappear, not in the good way, like blue on Summer, which is so much part of them that it’s almost invisible, like their ultimate neutral, their perfect equal. Here, little stuff gets chewed up like it isn’t even there, the ultimate unequal.
Like all Summers, contrast outside her colour palette can disappear her. Stay inside your lightest to darkest range if possible, whoever you are.
The only way to get your clothes look like yours is to wear your own line. That’s when you look normal and fabulous, as opposed to normal. Your clothes look like ‘just clothes but wow clothes’, like Bright Winter blue sapphire satin looks like ‘just blue but wow blue’ only on that one type of natural colouring. These clothes are lusciously large scale. In this picture of Sophia Loren, it doesn’t seem as if she and her clothing bring out the best in each other. Nor this image. She’s Â not who we know her to be. The colours and lines next to her look as if she feels some way that she doesn’t at all. There’s no point telling the world that.
The True Summer colour analyzed palette is the opposite of exaggerated. I can see that it might be careful looking on this woman. Accessories and big shapes pull the whole thing in the right direction.
Discovered I could search ‘drape’ on Polyvore. That moved things along.
True Summer looks better in their greens and teals than their blues. Blue is too equal to their native wavelength. They’re like a blue aura inside a blue force field. Such a good fit that you can’t tease them apart. All their blue-greens are unbelievably enhancing. Like if you can find the right red lollipop red, it’s more incredible on True Spring than their yellow, maybe even more stunning than their nectarines just by the power of red.
For an Soft Dramatic, no casual outfit will ever be casual by other body types’ standards. The clothes look normal in a Vogue shoot, not a Food Court. This is not a Natural body. Turtlenecks, hoodies, shirts, the clothes much of the industry provides are not the ones that best flatter her. How to do casual? Would wear kitten heels when the men arrive to replace the front porch, but not high heels. Will not wear shoulder pads to the Farmer’s Market. Will wear flip-flops when hosting the Fun Day BBQ for the summer cottagers and their kids. Is going to wear jeans, fleece, and flats just because they feel good.
This article began from working with a Soft Summer who asked what the colour of her nude shoe would be.
I’m no more artistic or visionary or gifted with special colour acuity than you or anybody else. I’m just a guy who knows what I like to see and put those 12 Season palettes into 12 contexts. I don’t have a day of fashion education.Â I guess I’ve been amazed at how many could see it my way but part of me always wants to hold up her hands and say, “Wait a minute, who says I’m right?” Every time I show or say something, I hope everybody’s next thought is, “Yeah, fine, but give me a second. Do I agree with her?”
- The one with the star, either for Light or True Spring, would be nice on a strawberry blonde.
- For Bright Spring,Â Â the black would anchor them to the ground. The placement of it is elongated, as opposed to a crosswise bow or strap. Many are quite dark in appearance and would do well with a little black. Many others are lighter, more neutral, golden or beige overall and could wear their beige, quite like the shoe right under the words Light Spring in the row below.
- True Spring may be fair or darker than you’d expect, containing many golden greens, new coin gold, and peach-brown colours.
- The Light Spring…for them and the Light Summer, this is a fashion event that looks really good with their body and their colour-analyzed clothing.
- It’s all about the uninterrupted line. Peep toes are OK but keep the nail polish subtle.
- Few or no horizontal effects – cap toes, bows, stripes, ankle straps are only in if the shoe is fabulousness.
I’m nitpicky about perfection. For Winter, close enough is never good enough if they care about the subject at all. The idea of this article was to find that nude shoe for each type of natural colouring, or Season, or Tone, that does what fashion has taught us, which is to elongate the leg. As I got going with this article, I knew that I like to see a shell pinky beige shoe on Light Season women with light hair (Helen Mirren), just because it looks nice, not because her legs look any different. Besides the Light Spring and Summer, I’ve never thought flesh-coloured shoes looked so great, nor did it ever inspire any, “Why, what long legs you have!” sensations.
I donâ€™t believe most fashion rules. They don’t work as well as we’re led to believe. Like the idea of wearing one colour head to toe to look tall. You don’t. You might look great or like a short person in a mobster getup, but how tall you look is about the same as if you wore light or medium colour head to toe. Far as I can see, bisecting horizontal colour blocks do matter. Length of garments can make a difference, in that a shirt that ends below the rear end makes legs look shorter than one that ends at the hip bone – but the overall woman doesn’t look shorter. As David Kibbe said in a video recording of a session with a Gamine, “maybe you look taller if you’re standing in a room all by yourself”.Â Who’s ever seen a 5’2″ woman and thought, “Boy, I could have sworn you were 5’5″!!!!” Victoria Beckham looks good in darkness, but even in stilettos, she looks like a small, slim woman.
Colour and line are all about context. They only look a certain way depending on what’s beside them. Put a woman alone in a picture wearing a shoe of colour similar to her leg, angle the lens upwards a little, make sure the floor is the colour of the shoes, and maybe the leg looks longer. Out in the real world, pouf, gone. She looks like a normal woman with pale shoes or absent feet.
Another of my Star Trek analogies: you know the transporter beam? When the person’s molecules are still spinning around and they haven’t gelled and landed yet? That’s the feeling I get from light shoes on dark people, as if they haven’t quite arrived. It’s a “where’s the rest of you?” impression. Similar thing happens when dark people wear none or light lipstick. We see the hair, we see the eyes, but they have no mouth. It feels like the bottom half of their face is vanished or someone turned down the opacity, as if it’s not solid. You can actually create this magnificent effect by just Bright or True Winter in Summer colours. They have lots of eyes, they always do. The face drains, so the eyes seem even stronger by comparison. They say, “My eyes are too much.”, but the real deal is that their face isn’t enough. The lips fade into the skin, the jawline is hard to see, really, it’s like the bottom half of the face is gone.
- Mauve flesh tones are superb on Soft Summer.
- I think this image of Kate Middleton looks great. Very balanced.
- Stay inside your lightest to darkest range as much as you can. A too-light shoe can stick out like too-light highlights up at the other end.
- Thank you to D. who showed us two of the styles. You should see her buy a cocktail dress. Simply amazing what she finds out there.
Ask Your Kids
As a Winter, I tend to say no before I say yes. I’ve retrained myself to think, “Why no?” About the nude shoes, I asked my 18 and 19 year old daughters. They’re of an age to believe that the status quo is probably and usually wrong. They’re of a generation to reject dogma. They understand their own natural colouring (or Season, or Tone) and how it differs from others’. If you can do anything for your sons and daughters to give them identity and independence, never mind save them a fortune, have them know their colouring. Every person should know this about themselves by the time they’re 20. Their life will be different. I’ve analyzed 3 year olds. Their lives are different.
I asked them “Does wearing a nude shoe, in a colour similar to the skin, make you look like your legs are longer?”
It tookÂ #1 less than 3 seconds to say, “No, it makes you look like you have boxy clunky feet”.
- “Does it ever work? Say if the shoe is small with minimal platforms or stilettos or other weirdness that draws attention to the shoe?”
- “Maybe. I never think skin-coloured anything is anybody’s best choice.”
#2 said, equally instantly, “No. It looks like there’s something wrong with your feet or you have no feet.”
- “Does it ever work? What about those really neutral shoes JLo wears?”
- “Not that I can see. It doesn’t look like long legs or anything, if that’s what you’re after.”
- “How can you look like your legs are longer?”
- “By having long legs in the first place. ”
Let’s say Nude Shoe will mean the shoe you could wear with anything. The one that will be least obvious at the end of your leg. It will be neutrally coloured for your type of naturalÂ colouring. Lots of women appear to have the same skin colour. This nude shoe trick is like finding your foundation – which one will be hardest to see against the background of you?
-Â When you’re really close to the core colour, you don’t notice it on them. Like mulberry lips on Dark Winter, like blue anything on True Summer, like gold on Autumn. True Winter can disappear black so you can do things with black that would be more obvious on the other types of colouring. Autumn can disappear print, texture, and metallics that would be a distraction on someone else and would make you notice the shoe more because the person already appears to contain print, texture, and metallic. The shoe is just adding more of the same. That’s what the game is about. Adding more of what you already are. It looks calm, settled, belonging, and right.
-Â Pinky, peachy, and yellow-beige are Light Spring’s world. Soft Autumn doesn’t do beige, they’re too dark and muted. Beige looks wimpy unless it’s pretty dark. They have green-toned grays and many neutral browns.
- Dark Autumn is a lot. It has heat, darkness, strength, texture, metal, animal. They need a lot of shoe.
- Nude makeup is out of gas on Winters. I find flesh-toned shoes about the same.
- Here’s a Winter (Kim Kardashian) who owns some shoes. Look through the style gallery and decide for yourself which is the longest leg, the tallest woman, and the most holistic image. Look at the whole image, not just the feet. Another gallery of Kim’s shoes.
- Better to stay with their disappearing colour. Keep the lines plain, the detail small, and show lots of skin, like the width of the exposed skin in the True Winter pump, like the lace in the Bright Winter shoe. Since black disappears on True Winter, you can sneak in a crosswise strap.
- Bright Winter is decidedly lighter than the other Winters. They are also shiny. Shoes made of tin foil would blend right in.
- The snakeskin shoes for Dark Winter (which I sincerely hope are fake). They’re fabulous. Autumn’s texture and nod to nature, Winter’s slick and expensive.
- Victoria Beckham could be a Dark Winter. Here is that colouring in a light gray shoe. Look at the 4th image down, where she’s stepping down off a step. The colour above that is better, it looks more part of her.
-Â Bright Winter can disappear shine. It’s just amazing what they can suppress. Might even consider the word oppress. JK.Â I’ve seen them turn black-brown eyeliner into gray when you paint it on their hand. You can put them in gleaming royal blue satin and it’s just a blue blouse.
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. Thatâ€™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.Â 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. Â 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
- Â 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 :). Â 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; Â pure pigments, still happy, bright, and fun; Â 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 isÂ 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? Â 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, youâ€™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 Â 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 Â 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. Â 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. Â 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 doesnâ€™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?” Â 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,
Â Â I’ve been very happy with my Soft Summer colors and they’ve made a
huge difference overall. The issue is though, that my hair color is just so
much warmer than my palette that many of my neutrals don’t look that great.
I stopped coloring my hair a couple of years ago and it’s neutral medium
brown at the base and the lengths are quite warm, perhaps a light chestnut
color would be accurate with even lighter ends.Â This warm brown just
doesn’t look that wonderful with all the grayish-taupes which make up the
majority of my neutrals. As an interior designer I wouldn’t put these colors
next to each other, so it bothers me to do so when getting dressed.
According to old pics and my mother, this is my natural color. I had
forgotten that since I’ve been coloring my hair for over 30 years. I’m just
tired of trying to use toners and shampoos trying to cool it down.
I’ve been looking at other companies SS and Summer fans and found wonderful
browns in the CMAS Summer fan, and Lora Alexander’s (www.prettyyourworld.com) Soft Summer fan.
I was just curious about Sci-Art’s and your opinion about hair not being that
great with the palette since you cover it during the consultation.
Overall, I’ve discovered that I lean a bit warm within Soft Summer and I
really wish [the present palette] would give a wider range of neutral browns. I
own the Soft Autumn fan and I don’t need to go that warm, but just a bit
redder, rosier than my [present] fan.
Neutral to warm? Neutral to cool? Who knows? We’ll have to measure it somehow. That’s what the drapes do. Our eyes alone are not able without imposing some errors, because of how eyes and brains work. And because of the most misleading thing of all…assumptions.
Many of L’s comments could apply to all the Seasons fans. In any Tone, the likelihood of including even half the possible hair colours is less than 50/50 since hair colour is only moderately tied to Season. Why is that? My guess is that it’s because hair colour comes from melanin. Skin colour comes from melanin, hemoglobin, and carotene. Hair colours are an incomplete version of our truth, though what’s there is real and harmonized with us nonetheless. Just not detailed enough to do a PCA with. Hair also doesn’t change enough in response to colour to take accurate measurements. Skin tone does, therefore we use it to guide a colour analysis.
Soft Summer doesn’t tend to vary as widely as some but it certainly ranges in darkness, though it remains on the cool divide of neutrality. In all 12 Tones, eye colours seem to me to be more closely resembling the skin colours contained in the colour analyzed swatch palette, and yet they can appear very warm in persons of this Season. Test them and they still have the best energy in the cool-neutral Soft Summer drapes, not the warm-neutral Soft Autumn drapes. Why isn’t eye colour tightly linked to Season? Similar reasons to the hair, adding in the Rayleigh scattering that makes the sky blue, and other aspects of the physics and biology of an eyeball, such as how it’s pigmented, where its blood layer is located, how it reflects light because it’s in a water-based jelly, and many other factors.
Soft Summer eyes can be darker, lighter, warmer, cooler. As long you give them what they care about most: colours that are soft.
A warm-eyed Soft Summer must mean that though we see lots of warm colours of yellows, golds, and oranges in the eyes, these are present in their cool-neutral versions and are outnumbered by the greens, grays, and blues of Soft Summer. You would think the two Soft Seasons’ yellows and golds to be quite different until you try to harmonize a colour palette and realize how close they actually are.
Soft Summer is also a Season where the Neutral persons are often quite warm, on the 49/51 divide between the Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. An analyst needs to be on her toes and own a seriously good set of drapes. They say that our hair and eye colours are among our neutral colours but I agree it is so if you know the real colours of your eyes. If you match what you think you see, which is never what colour really is, you’ll go too warm for your skin and turn yourself a little dull and jaundiced.
Whoa now, that’s a Winter eye! Same colour family, cool-neutral hues, similar value level (lightness/darkness), but what’s different? That third colour dimension. And the type of heat, which appears more Spring-yellow than Autumn-gold. Whole different feeling.
How can True Winter or Light Summer be a redhead? Combine their yellow and their red, I would think. Every Season has both in their own versions. The hair tends not be orange, it’s redder than that. But both have yellows, nearly primary yellow in Winter’s case, which is why their green drape can look so yellow in some situations.
L. is colour savvy enough to sense the best solution, which is to move very slightly to a warmer place without losing the harmony. Soft Summer skin is happy to negotiate on warmth of hue as long as the colour stays soft and dusty, not intensely saturated. In my Sci\ART drapes, there are 3 drape colours, identical fabrics, that are used in 2 places. The Soft Summer and Dark Winter burgundy red test is the same. The Soft Summer face is not as flattered as it could be. The client notices that. Seeing the difference is a better learning opportunity than if I just babble on about colour dimensions, because the client sees that she needs to buy dark&dusty, not dark&densely pigmented, and that darkness is not her shopping challenge issue. Saturation is. It’s a strength of the drapes, not a weakness. Makes me now wonder if I should put a few ‘don’t go here or here’ among the Test and Luxury Drape sets that I assemble. But no, you saw those during your 12 Tone colour analysis session.
Ah, back to Soft Summer eyes, neutral but cool, and soft soft soft.
Only dyed hair is, or approaches, all one colour. Natural hair has many colours to make an overall tone. You might see one colour but the rest of us don’t. Â How it reflects light and shows its colours requires its true colours to reveal the correct tones. Soft Summer has a drop of gold in her hair, not yellow. She is not a great blonde. A True cool Season in even slightly warm clothing or makeup has yellowed, dingy colour. If it’s silver hair, it looks like smoker’s yellow-gray instead of their beautiful clean silvered gray. The foundation colour must be accurate, hard to find in today’s overly yellow base makeup selections.
Others don’t see the discrepancy in our hair as we ourselves might. We don’t see hair as an object of one colour like a wall or a pillow. You might not pair those objects but they’re not coloured with hemoglobin, carotene, and melanin. We sense that living things are Â not coloured in the same way as objects, and that man-made objects are Â not coloured in the same way as Nature’s inorganic objects. Despite the difference, we are able to find the harmonizing colours and the relationships between them, as us and our clothes.
We can bring colours into our harmony too. Because it’s applied to our face, makeup interacts with the pigments in the skin. A lipstick that swatches on paper as Light Summers might fall flat on some Light Summer and be lovely on some Light Springs. This is called Making The System Work For You. Clothes don’t change so much. No question, in the same way that the drapes have an effect on us and we have an effect right back on them, so do we change our clothing colours somewhat, just not to the extent of makeup because of how it’s used. A Bright Winter can change True Summer’s beautiful, cool yellow into a grayed piece of cloth that’s been washed too many times.
What kind of eye is this? Soft or saturated? Neutral? How Neutral? Spring’s yellow heat or Autumn’s gold? Of the 3 colour dimensions, which one matters above all? Â I have no idea. This is why I can’t look at photos and know Season. I have no comparisons and no ruler. All I can say is what I always do, whether I’m shown a photo or a real person in front of me: “Could be this or could be that.” If it’s a real person, I can say, “Where’s my drapes, lights, and gray background when I need ‘em?”
L. knows that I would never advise any woman to colour her hair ever. Her natural colour will always be her best colour. Sometimes we can decorate up a little and keep the balance, and that’s good too. My advice is to save herself the time and money and wear her natural hair. Once Â her hairs grays, she’ll only look better. Gray is what the Soft Summer does better than anybody because gray is inherently cool, as they are, and they start off with more of it in the natural colours that define them than the other colouring types.
If L.’s discerning eye prefers to warm a few of her clothing browns, excellent. She has to feel well in what she wears. There will be no repercussions as long as the harmony is maintained (more on that in Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book). There would be more substantial repercussions if she tried to alter her hair colour.
What about L.’s question about the colours present in the Sci\ART palettes? Without stirring up a nest of hornets that have finally gone to sleep, I’ll take a guess. Only a guess. Please don’t come after me on this, I have no valid opinion to offer so I won’t say much. I do not know what was in the head of the person who designed the palettes. I’ll take a shot: As I understand the history, at the time of her passing, Kathryn Kalisz was adjusting the Season palettes, as she probably did a few times over the years for different reasons. She deeply wanted people to feel comfort in their colours, but some of the feedback sometimes said that the colours were too much, probably more in the saturated Seasons. Part of the reason for the choices may have reflected this, though I doubt it was the bigger part of it in this particular instance.
There was (is) also the question of whether the Neutral Season colours should be closer to the parent Seasons, as Soft Summer to True Summer, or to the other Neutral with which they share the most important colour dimension, as Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. Is one right and one wrong? Does there need to be a hard rule? I would say No and No as long as the dimensions of each Season is respected, though I’d be thrilled to talk about it. Where does one cloud in colour space end and the next begin? Is there an overlap? How big is it, what’s the rule? How big should it be, different question? You have thousands of colours. Maybe one day, someone will make 4 Colour Books of swatches for each Tone, not just 1. Smart woman that L. is, she found other options that contained what she was looking for and she knew how to select those that applied to her.
This completes my long-winded way of saying that L. made great choices and decisions on her own Nothing I love better than a woman empowered to work through the many choices about her best self, in any context, and come out right. Discernment is a beautiful thing.
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.Â 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?”Â 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 unlikeÂ 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;Â 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 andÂ 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.Â 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. Â 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 earÂ 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 Â 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), Â 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.” Â 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 Â 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 Â 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 Â 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 Â 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, theÂ 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 Â 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 Â 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 Â 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 Â on it is a little cooler, it would be True Summer.
13 has yellow and more pigment, still hazy. It feels better in Light Summer.
14 is a little too saturated for Light Summer, it could be Light Spring.
15 is yellowed too much for Light Summer, looks like Light Spring.
16 is very close to white. One of the Winters get that.
17 Well, gosh, Light Spring? It’s a little too red for Light Summer and for Soft Autumn. Not dark enough for True Autumn, I don’t think. In Light and True Spring, those orchid purples appear. But it’s dusty. Maybe Light Summer is better. In making drapes, I’ve learned that there are very few, maybe zero, colours that nobody could wear. There are many, many colours out there that are not in the swatch books, but they don’t need to be. They only need to harmonize with the colour dimensions of that group. For a colour such as this one that I can’t place visually, I have to fan out the possible swatch books and lay them on the fabric to see which ones belong together. This probably simulates most online shopping situations. (Commentary on this colour edited Oct. 27/13)
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 Â 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 Â 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 Â 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 Â cow, who cares? There are 30 million worse blues you could wear.
37 Put the kettle on, dolls. It’s good.