What’s The Real Number of Seasons?
May 7, 2012 by Christine Scaman
With the introduction of recent 16 Season personal colour analysis systems, this question keeps appearing in my Inbox:
Are there 12? 16? 44? Google? The ultimate system is the one that places each person in their own Season, since the variations are infinite. For me, a PCA system should be widely available, offer reproducible results (meaning 2 analysts would come up with near-identical colours for the client, regardless of the heading they’re given), with swatches that the woman understands visually and rationally so she can see and think her way to buying the best items.
I like having clear-cut divisions in the colour dimensions between each group, which is do-able when the number of groups is lower. The span will include people who seem to look very different in each group, but every colour will be right for every member of the respective groups. The congruity between the colours in the person and what they wear is measured to be very high as long as the drape and swatch colours are scientifically consistent – because the genetics of human skin pigmentation is quite consistent. Could it be whittled down more? Sure. Much as you want.
Even already at 12 Seasons, the colours can be supremely hard to tell apart between related Seasons – at least, they are for me, appreciating that I am neither authority nor expert and never will be. I am a student trying to understand something complex, nothing more. Many have more sensitive colour vision than I have. How do people like me tell each swatch apart when the number of groups gets even higher than 12? I don’t. I can’t. What happens is that colours get shared between groups, or that’s what my eyes register. So in a 28 Season system, a “darker Soft Summer”, like Katie Holmes, would presumably move a bit into Winter territory or borrow a few real Winter colours, since her colouring gives the impression of blurring the Summer/Winter line a bit.
Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t – and that’s if a shopper can tell the difference between her Season, her Season with a touch of Winter, or her Season actually wearing Winter. Caution is needed. A person of Soft Summer colouring would look overwhelmed by her clothes or tired in the saturation of Winter, either grays or colours, as Katie can in too dark hair and makeup. So it’s the job of the analyst and the analysis system to get clients crystal clear on which colours to wear or avoid.
High colour saturation. Looks great, I think.
Katie Holmes Pictures
We know right away the photo below is more real. Her essential dustiness feels right. They had to up-colour her eyes for the picture above to look balanced. Works in the digital world, not the real one.
And then there’s being clear on which colour goes with which Season. This is muted to be Winter’s green, probably through sheerness and texture of fabric, though the black added to the green is Winterish – makes it an interesting choice for a Summer woman with more than usual darkness, but awfully hard to pin down Season. There’s too much crossover. She balances it pretty well, though her eyes are fading a bit. Lighter eyeliner and more lip colour could help.
Katie Holmes Pictures
I don’t disagree that there are darkness/heat/saturation ranges in each type of colouring group. Of course there are. With fewer Seasons (and carefully calibrated palettes), no colour is a mistake. With movement between Seasons, some could be. A very astute and colour-perceptive Soft Summer knew that even within her highly accurate palette in the photo below (from True Colour Australia), some colours were better on her. She used paint chips (Pittsburgh Paints) to further subdivide her palette to create her very own colour constellation. (with big thanks to Kathryn for permission to use the photo)
How many Seasons a PCA system has would have no influence over my choice as a client. Really don’t care. I put that on the “Paying Attention To The Wrong Things” bus. What would matter to me is:
1. When the analysis is done, what do I know, what do I have, and how successfully can I use it? First, how accurately prepared is my shopping palette – the reverse of that being, how likely am I to make shopping mistakes?
2. What knowledge about my colouring did the analyst share and teach and demonstrate? Doesn’t matter so much if she can tell the difference, though I sure hope she could…but can I tell the difference at least a little, or do I know for sure why she chose what she did? Otherwise, I’ll be haunted by uncertainty forever more.
No analyst, from any system, wants women saying “I was typed an Autumn twice, a Winter once, an Autumn flowing Summer…” You know the rest. That should never happen again.
The analysis process and the colours of the drapes and palettes need to be standardized and correct, every woman, every analysis. If
one analyst is using full spectrum lights in a neutral gray room,
one is using sunlight in a greeny tan hotel room,
one doesn’t mind if you wear makeup,
one is swirling drapes around in a busy hair salon and takes 20 minutes to pronounce a Season,
one has an unlimited number of drapes,
one has 4 sets of drapes that she mix-and-matches,
is it even remotely possible that women will understand their colouring and be given the same palettes to shop with? As long as the presence of one colour changes the way surrounding colours appear, and it does, then you have to be careful where and how you do this or have super-calibrated eyeballs. Not saying you must have those lights and the grey room. In one of my travel locations, I use overcast-day lighting. It has no colour effect on the person’s face and it works really well. Any non-neutrally coloured items in the room are covered with gray dropcloths.
We want emp. Hold on. Where do I get off presuming to speak for the group? Never would I do that. I’m the late arrival still getting caught up. Still, an outsider looking in might see a dedicated and creative assembly who have more in common than not, and also maybe a few holes, the patching of which might move the entire profession forwards. Dell, HP, and Sun don’t have to merge but they do have to follow similar rules about components and conditions to get computers to work as consumers expect. And then, everybody owns a computer, everybody knows their best colours. Fragmented as we are, mass appeal is unlikely. Not enough mass faith.
I dream of an empowered woman saying “I was analyzed by Light Interior Colours. My main colour family is Golden Autumn Light but my colouring found better agreement when a bit of Dark Pewter Light was added in. I get that Soft Copper Light colours look too pasty and bland, even though Mom was always stuffing them through dressing room doors. I took her with me so she could see this for herself.”
And her colleague responding, “That dark chestnut hair you have now took 10 years off you. I’m proud of you for having the stamina to follow through. It’s hard at first, I know. I saw Joan at Skylight Colours 10 years ago. They call my colouring Dark Chocolate Winter. Wow, I love your swatch book, the vinyl is a good idea. Look at that, you got 82 colours and I got 42, and they seem close but they’re not. I hear you about the Mom thing. Mine, even at 50, she could wear jeans with rhinestone studs on the back pockets. She was always putting me in neon colours. Shopping for summer clothes was the absolute worst. I dreaded it for years. Loved Back to School though. I finally get it.”
My other issue is one of taste, where right and wrong don’t exist. I have to assume that all analysts look for the same changes in the face, but some may prioritize differently because of their training (which I don’t understand, jaundiced and shadowed never look good, do they?, guess I need to take their training) and some may just plain think certain things look good that I wouldn’t. The photos that many analysis systems suggest are attractive are those where I see these women almost at their worst. My eye doesn’t see a blonde Victoria Beckham as the most beautiful the woman could be. To look at, all I feel is uncomfortable and wondering what she spends on this. And these are retouched magazine photos! How do real women stand a chance?
Victoria Beckham Pictures
Think about this: Which Victoria gives you get a feeling of oneness?
David Beckham and Victoria Beckham Pictures
If you say “Wait a minute, I think she’s an awesome blonde. It’s fun to change things up.”, that’s quite fine. Many analysts would work with you to enjoy hair and cosmetic colours that are distant from your inborn ones. Totally OK.
Me when I still believed that hair should be lightened as we age and that blonde flatters everyone:
A later me, hopefully with hair that looks more fluent and flattering with my truths. Not my best, but it feels closer to real&right.
I believe that finding and holding one’s center is an essential practice when we’re tempted by wrong destinations and straying feels so easy. With a solid center, our roots might feel a little tug when the wind blows, but we won’t keep changing our position. We can sense that grounding in others, and they in us, based largely in how we look.
As you know from my book, or maybe from looking at your friends, when we look processed to a place too far from how we were meant to look or could possibly look naturally, I don’t see or feel beauty. That’s a woman who has taken her own melody so far out of tune that the parts don’t fit together anymore. What feels good and strong to look at and be around is unity.
If you didn’t read the quote in the lower L of the middle Katie photo, be sure to do so.