City Looks for The 3 Summers

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).


City Look Dark Winter


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.

Soft Summer

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.


City Look Soft Summer



True Summer

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.


City Look for True Summer


Light Summer

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.


City Look Light Summer


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.



18 thoughts on “City Looks for The 3 Summers”

  1. Thanks for another interesting article. This turned out to be quite topical too, as I’ve been trying to figure out how bright spring does city/office attire! It’s interesting you also struggled to visualize this look for spring – happy colour just doesn’t seem to fit the urban aesthetic. Interesting to see the different looks for the seasons!

  2. Great post as usual. I live in a European city and am leaning toward Soft Autumn again (away from Dark), but no peaches; mostly the dusty, smoky neutrals. So the Soft Summer version here is close to what I’m striving for. I bought a pair of taupe suede boots similar to Isabella Marant Dicker boots [but a fraction of the price] and they’re inspirational in their urban softness.

    I am thinking that “Soft” Autumn is really Stone and Brick Autumn.

  3. As a Bright Spring, I’m still struggling to put together my look, the biggest challenge is still the neutrals. As you’ve noticed, it’s difficult coming up with a city look….and I do live in Toronto so need to work with that fact. I’m almost ready to throw in the towel and return to black pants….sigh.

  4. A very enjoyable read, as always! The timing is interesting to me too, as it recently came up in a conversation. My mother and I were looking at faux leather jackets–black, cement gray, and rose brown. The question was whether someone can look lethal and serious in a jacket that wasn’t black. My mom, who is a Cool Summer, put on the cement gray jacket and it looked STUNNING. Stunning, like a scary, I’m-getting-out-of-your-way-right-now kind of way. She looked much more powerful and lethal in the cement gray jacket than in the black jacket.

    Your Light Summer outfit is interesting, but the collection of style lines doesn’t seem harmonious. The biker jacket seems very Dramatic. But the belt, chain bracelet, and earrings do not. What was the intention when you put it together? Were you combining a city look with the personality traits of Light Summers? Would someone who was attracted to a biker jacket wear heart-shaped earrings? Or a bubble belt? You’ve said before that season and personality have nothing to do with each other. If so, can you separate the shapes that are supposed to go with Light Summer from the colors, to make a totally LSu city look?

  5. Jennifer, it depends so much on the person… :-)
    I’d wear the nice grey jacket -with a floral skirt, and the bracelet.

  6. Laura, if I were a Bright Spring, I’d wear navy, stainless steel, stone, and occasional black. Many B Sp even prefer navy eyeliner to gray. Good thing about many neutral colours is that they can be bought online because they have a good tendency to adapt to the rest of the outfit as long as they’re close.

    Jennifer – The L Su is the biggest rule breaker. When I do these, I have a particular woman in my head whom I’ve met. This one isn’t rule-bound in any way. Besides her colouring, no other aspect of her follows the stereotypic images and associations. She buys what she likes and stretches her limits. She would wear heart earrings and a biker jacket. She might be 22, might even carry a rhinestone covered phone case and a Hello Kitty change purse. She might be 43 and wear army/camo styles. I do need to point this out though: there are more true L Su choices than the ones above. Insofar as Kibbe and DYT, they’re not my world or expertise. I’d collaborate with those folks in a heartbeat but they’ll do a better job of illustrating their philosophies than I ever could. I don’t hold on to those paradigms at all. It’s not my place. Besides, 90% of my clients know their colours but not their body type, though many have tried to figure it out and given up. In your last Q, by “can you…”, do you mean “would you make that outfit” or “is it possible to make such an outfit”?

  7. Another informative post.  I agree very much that a stylist who has color knowledge and shopping ability would be highly prized, as those in the fashion industry who understand personal color analysis and incorporate it in their work seem to be the exception, not the rule, in my opinion.

    It seems to me that most people who design a line, whether it be clothing, interiors, make up, etc., invariably design for their own coloring and features. (They will also design around the selected colors of the year, which may or may not be right for any particular individual.) I can pretty much tell by looking at a clothing line or a make up line or home goods what the PCA season of the designer is, even if they don’t know it themselves, as we are all drawn naturally to some degree toward what is right for us. For me the trick has been finding a designer who is a summer themselves, as they are more likely to provide a product or pull an item that is right for me, also a summer.

    So yes your skill of putting together looks for the various seasons other than your own is one that would absolutely be highly in demand.

    Always appreciative of your posts for Summers, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before it can be very difficult out in retail to find well priced and cute items. Easy for winters, hard for us who are looking for the more muted, cool tones.  Always an inspiration :-)

  8. Laura, totally relate to your struggles with bsp. It can be so hard to find the colors – so often things are too muted or too dark. Anyone have any tips for identifying bsp colours when buying online at all? Might try this as no luck in the stores currently

  9. Christine, a while back on your facebook page you featured a link to a twitter feed about horoscope personality traits and made a couple comments about seasons, horoscopes, and people’s personality traits. I cant find that link to the horoscope info anymore, can you repost it.
    Thanks, it is fun to make connections between temperament, seasons, etc etc

  10. I love this one! Summers are often stereotyped as needing to wear soft, flowery, watercolor type clothing, so I appreciate these “harder” city looks that are more associated with Winter colors. I’d wear almost everything off the LSu look (that sweater thing is not my fav) and I think the TSu look is amazing.

  11. Jacie, sorry I am late seeing this. Sometimes comments go to another folder. If the blog software sees two comments coming in from the same author at a time, it will also be diverted to spam which may help some of the women having conversations understand why their comments are not showing up immediately.

    I believe the link to that Twitter feed was

  12. I LOVE that Light Summer eyeliner! Definitely next on my list. I also really like the mascara, but $47 is an awful lot. Not that I can’t make a trip to Sephora, but do you have any other blue mascara suggestions?

  13. Christine, to add to the thoughts above, it seems to me that all of the Summers can wear looks where their palettes flow into each other (or am I mistaken?). Ebb and flow seems part and parcel to being any kind of Summer.

    Agree with Jasmine above that designers often design (unconsciously?) for themselves. (Think Vera Wang and Coco Chanel.) Or they design with a particular model in mind (think Givenchy).

  14. I would say that, Kathryn. For me, the hotter the colouring, the more activated the color appearance, the more colour contrast makes sense (distance of colours apart on the wheel), to the point where in True Warms, full complements in even or near-even sized blocks looks great. That said, because T Su and S Su colours are so quiet, they can wear a fair bit of colour contrast and it all just sounds like quiet music. T Su being cooler would start looking busy for my taste, but another might think red and green are fine together if they’re her versions.

  15. Christine, by “can you…”, I meant “would you make that outfit”. I don’t need you to do it now though, since color and line are becoming clearer in my mind. Thank you for another interesting article.

  16. I love the light summer one!!! I would love to see more like this!!! I had kind of been hoping to find a light summer rockstar to take cues from. I think I am a Lsu but I’ve been wearing a lot of black for a long time, and I don’t want to look like a butterfly or something.

  17. I am loving this website! However, I don’t think “butch” and “boy-bod” should be used with negative connotations attached—there are lots of sexy and flattering styles/body shapes out there. :)

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