Dressing The Essence of…Claire Danes

Here is an actress I greatly admire. Although she was a beautiful Juliet Capulet opposite diCaprio’s Romeo, when I really took notice and have loved her since was in Stage Beauty.

I have also come to understand that we express more than colour. We express line, pattern, and motion. You can’t just wear your colours, though no others on Earth could flatter you better. If the style does not respect your lines, patterns, and movements, harmony continues to elude.

That Dramatic True Summer was very worryingly difficult, so I’m trying an easier combination today, the Soft Autumn Natural. It came back to me that colour felt worryingly difficult in the beginning too. Having a real woman in mind gave me an endpoint I could envision and taught me how the Season colours work together to make a picture. With each woman whose colours I analyzed, I could write the articles and start seeing the similarities. I’ll have to learn Kibbe that way too. By holding Claire in my head, the need for length past the hip in a jacket becomes clear.

The Kibbe book is the only personal style book that I can get to work on me and others. Indulging my love of an adjective, it is comfortably organized, ergonomically specific, and reliably stratified. And reproducible! Using his system, five people should come up with the same style answer for a given person. Kibbe’s translation of a very abstract thought system is linear and logical.

I am an utter and untrained beginner. Follow none of my style advice or images. I am practicing.

I need to start with easy pictures and lists. If we set out discussing tempering chocolate, I will never produce a chocolate cake. If the idiosyncrasies of different analysts’ tastes come into the picture too early, I’ll get confused because I won’t be able to tell them apart from the basic truths that really do apply to me.

I also think his 13 types is complete and enough. It just takes time to figure out what he means by certain terms and descriptions and to get a sense of the relative differences between the groups. Like, what exactly is a straight skirt? Of the 3 types with small rounded facial bones, whose are the most small and round?

Soft Autumn Is

In 12 Season personal colour analysis, Season describes a type of natural colouring. In a Soft Autumn, all the colours that make up the body, skin, hair, eyes, maybe veins, teeth, inner lips and cheeks, and internal organs for all I know, are:

– muted, soft, heathery, so slightly calmed by a murmur of grey

– warmed quite a lot, as every colour appears in a late afternoon sun on a day with a little overcast

– fairly light to medium dark, no extremes like black and white

Looking at the person, you see the colours all at once like when the swatch book is fanned out. The feeling is affectionate, safe, restrained, sensitive, mellow, supple, and sympathetic. Words like strident belong somewhere else.

Kibbe’s Natural is the BFF, the buddy you hang out with and eat popcorn.

He also has a Flamboyant Natural, the modern version of Carly Simon. Miley Cyrus could be FN. With her bigger body, broader facial bones, smaller eyes, I wonder also about Andie McDowell (not a Soft Autumn).

And there is a Soft Natural category, smaller and often with adorable qualities. The Olsen twins?


– soft and round edged geometric shapes ; slight oversize/unstructured

– earthy materials, slightly chunky

– outline relaxed, straight, narrow, loose, soft tailored

– textured fabrics; glitz at night

– detail minimal, simple neckline, open neck, soft shoulder

– mostly separates, mixing pattern texture colour

– color pizzazz, break the rules mix n match, neutrals with texture


– circle, swirl, ornate, sharp, severe, fiddly

– sheer, clingy, flimsy, restrictive

– cropped, monochromatic

SA N Separates


Soft Autumn Natural Separates

Soft Autumn Natural Separates by christinems featuring a fringe skirt


SA Dresses



Double check:

– relaxed straight lines? yes, pretty good

– bold and direct? I think so, enough anyway.

The hard part: keeping colour zippy and colour combinations energized. I even consulted Kobayashi Color, Image, Scale, best colour combinations ever, and did not have much luck getting pink beige into any snappy colour combinations without losing my Soft Autumn vibe.

Like: that it feels tight in style, not just colour. I do not look at any item and think, Why in the world would that be there? These could all live in one woman’s closet.

The Hair Style

I quite like chin length hair on Claire. If the bob were not severe, keeping to the idea of rounded edges that are a little fluffed, perhaps this?

The Hair Colour

Highlights, bleach, or any kind of processing that is obvious will feel forced instead of being true to the feeling of naturalness that an N emanates.

Though Hollywood advice to Soft Autumns appears to be that blonde is necessary, it is never the best choice for the skin, whether she’s an N or not. The natural colour is usually medium-dark warm-ash brown. Very medium in colour. If the texture is also without body or definition, the hair feels left behind once the woman is dressed and made up. Consider a colour that is one shade lighter and a fair bit warmer than the natural colour.

JLo Lite, like what’s at the ends of the hair. Golden Blonde before anyone would call it red. (J Lo is probably a Dark Autumn.)
Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez Pictures

SA N Makeup

Natural means the no-makeup look, which can still require a good bit of makeup to achieve. The movie makeup and hair artists in the poster at the top did a pretty good job.

Try these and let us know what you think:

Bronzer: Urban Decay Baked

Blush: Mercier Rose Bloom

Eyeliner: Urban Decay Stash

Eyeshadows: NARS Portobello, Key Largo, Blondie

Lipstick: Givenchy gloss Delectable Brown

Which brings up the interesting question of what a SA Dramatic would wear.

Other SA Kibbegories

C. had a lovely idea, comparisons. Katrina did just that with a SA Romantic and it’s brilliantly good.


Soft Autumn Romantic



Here is Jen’s Romantic Soft Autumn. We know with colour that two women of the same Season will interpret their palettes very differently in the items they choose to buy, how they colour their hair, or wear their makeup. The same applies to Kibbegories. We still retain every bit of our individuality. Our creativity is simply more focused and our visual voice is so much more beautifully coherent.

Soft Autumn Romantic Style

If you did a Polyvore of another Kibbegory, please post links in the Comments. We’d love to see it.



28 thoughts on “Dressing The Essence of…Claire Danes”

  1. Glad you are moving into Color + Kibbe! The categories are tricky when it comes to interpreting Kibbe’s words sometimes. For instance (given you a critique from an N here), I find the wrap dresses potentially good but sometimes tricky. Compare the N-category wrap dress (upper section, 2nd from the right) with the red dress (third from the upper left). Notice the silhouette each has. I would feel more secure about pulling off the look of the red dress, with its definitely straight lines and blouson top than I would the other dress. This is because when wrapping, you have to check the silhouette the horizontal lines are creating. Even if you have a straight wrap cloth, the draping at the hips can create a rounded shape. Not that it can’t be done, but I always have to check the draping just in case.

    The camel dress second from the right in the bottom row might also fit a Classic. I sometimes look a bit constrained in straight dresses with a belt right at the waist…in fact, I might require more of a blouson effect to create the relaxed line needed. The dress to the left of that is similarly “iffy” because of the constraint in the shaping of the bodice plus the extra fullness in the skirt. Some N’s could probably get away with this better than others.

  2. Wow, I notice a lot more vibrancy and assymetry with my set up there. The one by Katrina gives me a better sense of the softness of colour and the romance of style. I’m still awaiting my Kibbe book so it’s all stabbing in the dark for now. But I have been working on some outfits for DC in light summer and here is a set of formal wear in that combo.


  3. I wonder what is the season of Ginnifer Goodwin, I would be grateful if someone could give me an idea.

  4. I haven’t seen the movies or other pictures of her, but based on this one, I’d wonder if she might be some sort of spring. I’m no expert but I’m wondering how you see SA rather than one of the springs.

  5. Denise, thank you so much. I have the same colouring as she does when her hair is not dyed black, even the same shape of the jaw. But I have not the faintest idea about my season-except that it has to exclude beige and golden brown- that is why I am so interested.

  6. Christine,

    I’m really enjoying your series of articles on Mr. Kibbe’s system plus Sci-Art Color. I’m enjoying everyone’s polyvores, and showing how two different people would interpret the same style/season combination is very interesting. Such a fascinating subject.

  7. Hi,
    I love reading your articles.
    Does curly hair fit into a certain season?

  8. Kat – are you a N? I’m driving along the New Jersey Turnpike and it strikes me that you resemble Melanie Griffith in the face and I think she’s SN. I do agree with you about the camel dress, now I look at it and wonder what I was thinking. I guess that’s how progress feels. When I chose the others, I was dressing my sister-in-law, a definite N to FN. She can do a wrap, I think. But can you say more about ‘checking the draping’ and the horizontal lines? I don’t understand that well enough.

    LP – I love that Polyvore. Many of your choices, I’ve saved in My Items. I think SC and L Sp are one of those easy combinations. My sister is a L Su SC and it just goes together. Here, the stores do seem to work with you.

    Jen – give 2 women the same salad recipe and they’ll create 2 quite different salads. I love that, like colour, there’s so much room for expression and that there’s a spectrum you work within. I spent 4 hours in Bloomingdale’s to buy one blouse and pair of earrings but I learned a lot. As a DC, my extreme on one end is a police uniform. On the other, it’s softer with elements of sharpness. This is true for every woman and style. So that was interesting. I also noticed that “sleek and angular” translates to different design in the imagination of different people, and that’s good too. Although I bought so little, the borders really felt like they were expanding, not contracting.

    Inge – not sure. First things I thought were ‘hazy eyes’ and that the beige and gold dress is too warm and her skin looks waxy, not fresh. Maybe Soft Summer?

    Gregg – I’m with you everything you said. We noticed in our facebook group that men are much easier to Kibbetype and that they definitely can look on or off. You think ‘isn’t every tie the same except for the colour?” but it’s not that way at all. And boy does it feel good to wear when it’s right. Hey, you’re a DC like me! I’m just a Kibbeginner but it’s a really good system. I give away stuff too. I buy stuff and walk out of the store still going yes, no, yes, no, no, yes. Whatever. The only guy getting everything right is the one not doing anything he doesn’t already know how to do.

    Denise – with any celebrity, I really don’t have a clue. The way I find Autumn celebs is to google ‘blonde celebrities’. The slightly off ones are the SA, quite off are the TA, and painful ones are the DA. Usually a Spring can look reasonable as a blonde, though a TSp might not, or might have to get very very corn-yellow to reach an intensity that matches her, as Michele Williams does.

    Tera – I don’t place curly hair in a Season. It does go with certain Kibtypes but I think there’s a distinction between types of curly – big and loopy versus tighter, sharper lines.

  9. Thank you, Christine. I do not know either. Well… Maybe I do not know what season I am (I live in Romania, so having a definite answer is out of question) but learn a lot about colours by following the discussions on this site, and make fewer mistakes. Maybe I do not pick the best colours, but at least they are not so bad and coordinated, and the overall result result is better. So, many thanks to you and all the others.

  10. I’m not sold on Kibbe at all. Personality is far, far more important to personal style than one’s bone structure and body type.

  11. Christine, yes, I finally realized I was a straight up N. My body doesn’t have enough of the curvature for many of the SN lines, but it’s very close. At my youngest, slimmest, I came out very much as an M body shape, which is midway between straight-ish and hourglass.

    Some of the other SN ladies reported the same. But then I realized that I am more tubular in build than the SN ladies I saw who had photos of themselves. This is why you can get two women with identical measurements and it will look different on them. Some women are built side-to-side and others are built more cylindrical. I definitely lose waistline sooner than SN ladies.

    As I gain, I put on weight in the face first and then tummy, shoulders and bust. Well, I really put it on evenly and take it off evenly, but those are the first places where it’s noticeable. Currently, I am a rectangle shape, so I figured out that when I am very thin, what I have is a rectangle with a collapse in the middle making my shelf hips more obvious.

    N is very tricky and it’s not completely straight or completely curved. It’s very close to a C, but of slightly more substantial build. I’ve been comparing notes with another lady of very similar build and both of us retain a straight up-and-down line, be it ever so gentle. Unlike an SN, I will not retain a chest when I lose. I’ll mostly look like a stick.

    There are a lot of small variations among N’s and I think your observation that some lean towards FN and some lean towards SN is correct. You may recall that one lady and I disagreed about Jennifer Aniston’s category. I still maintain that in spite of JA’s square face, her overall essence is N. She certainly doesn’t have the limbs or sweeping breadth of an FN nor does she have the quite curvature of an SN.

    There seems to be a lot of leeway among N’s and they can have an occasional feature off the N sometimes, but if it doesn’t upset the overall balance, it’s not a problem. There is a lot made over the faces of subjects apart from also the bodies and this seems to be throwing people off.

    About the horizontal lines. I have to be careful about either wraps or gathers that widen the upper hip. Here is an example in a French valance: http://deanfountain.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/101563178.jpg. The upper hip is not where I need tiers of folds and that’s the effect I must take care not to achieve with a wrap. In fact, I rather like a dropped waist wrap better.

  12. Oh I love this, I love this addition to just the colors!

    If you’re not so sick of it, I’d love to see what you’d do with a light summer Natural. Their colors don’t scream “natural” to me- but they do seem sporty and uncomplicated, a casual look. In fact, looking through a previous post on “looking serious” I found that most of the outfit you suggested seemed very natural to me.

    This is completely based on your work so I thought I’d share it:

    It’s a little more condensed than your original…. The sandals are stacked and not really “strappy” (there are straps, but they feel solid to me). The purple shirt I think would be better in a heavier material- and the coat would probably look better without the belt and just left open. The watch doesn’t scream natural to me, but it also doesn’t seem to be a problem either. (metals are fine, and it’s comfortably simple.)

  13. Hmm, the more I read your blog and analyze myself with different colors, I’m wondering if I am a SA and not LSp. The LSp colors I have been trying lately have been too bright and light, and have people asking me if I am sunburned. The SA palette really blends well with my complexion. It’s all in harmony.

    I really like this post, as I am decidedly an N body type, which lends itself so well to a SA palette. “Soft Yang” is the perfect descriptor. I’ve got broad shoulders (but not angular), narrow/flat hips. I also have squarish features–my hands and feet don’t even taper, which means buying comfortable shoes is a challenge!

    Before knowing my type, I always wondered why very feminine clothes just didn’t look right on me. I could never do puffed sleeves (although I think they are so cute!), because I look very strange in them. It’s like long, poofy shoulders with a little head in the middle! I actually do better with raglan sleeves, as set in sleeves often don’t even fit the breadth of my shoulders! I have always gravitated toward clothes with not a lot of waist definition–the pieces in your Polyvore have about as much definition as I need.

    It’s nice being an N because the clothes that fit this type are so readily available. I’ve been liking straight, knee length skirts so much more than the full, flouncy hippie skirts I used to wear. I do wish I could do “cute”, but wearing the clothes that look good on me is more important. Plus, my husband thinks I’m cute and that’s enough for me ^_^

  14. Glad to see Claire Danes identified as a Soft Autumn here. That makes so much sense to me. I’ve lately seen her as a light blonde and found she doesn’t look right at all. Her natural brown is so much more flattering to her. She looks wonderful in TEMPLE GRANDIN, where her hair is short and a natural looking soft brown. Danes is absolutely riveting in this movie, and looking like herself (which includes dressing as a Natural in that role) seems to intensify her performance as the extraordinary woman Temple Grandin.

  15. Dear Christine,

    First of all, thank you so much for the absolutely fab blog.
    Regarding Soft Autumn – I would like to draw attention to Olivia Wilde, the artist which I beleive has had so many mismatched with her type looks. Nobody, unlike for Drew Barrimore, brings up her natural softness and warmth.

  16. Anna – she’s interesting, I agree. Blonde hair is not good at all, and even copper looks too warm to me. Makes her skin look heavy and too yellow and her eyes faded. Where I find her skin has its best freshness is in her natural dark ash brown, but she seems to have more warmth than a pure cool Season. She makes me think of a Soft Summer whose hair is fairly dark.

  17. Hello all, I’m fairly new to seasonal color as well as kibbetypes. I have more reading on the Kibbes typing but having been a hairdresser specializing in color since 1988 I immediately grasped seasonal color. In fact in regards to hair color and makeup I kind of already “know” it you know what I mean> It took classes in color theory and years of experience but any good colorist can look at a woman’s eye, skin and natural hair color and know which colors will work and which won’t. A really good colorist will also advise even if a desired shade technically works there may be others that are better.
    My reason for commenting is sorry to disagree. I agree that Clair is an SA which I believe I am as well. Here’s the thing about SA’s. Hair color is almost always levels 4-6 naturally. All shades have a natural underlying pigment which is exposed when chemically treated. Levels 4 -6 is reddish orange . If going very warm with color fine.If not to counteract these undesirable tones you need to add blue green tones which are ash. Ash colors not horrible on SA’s are not the best fit. To get true pretty golden tones most times bleach is essential. You bleach to get rid of all the orange and brass then tone back in the pretty color(s) desired.
    This statement in particular is what worries me “Highlights bleach, or any kind of processing that is obvious will feel forced instead of being true to the feeling of naturalness that an N emanates.
    EVERYONE can wear highlights. It’s all about the correct tone and placement. Many SA”s who want golden blonde JLO color NEED bleach to get there.
    Women reading this may miss out on some ideal shades because they “want to avoid bleach and highlights”.
    I agree that many SA’s and N are too blonde. But highlights are bleach aren’t the culprit. Too many, too light , incorrect tone are. Incorrect base shade is sometimes a factor as well.
    If you must use a hair color absolute here more appropriate would be blonde should be no lighter than level 8 and leaning more golden than ash..

  18. I so appreciate this, Denise. I am in no way a colourist and know nothing about certain hair colours are achieved. The info you added above is really important. What I should have written, and applies to most of us, is that our hair should look like a possible extension of our faces. Not a distraction or a deterrent. I see so many women who drag their hair through a straightener and all it looks is forced, false, rigid, processed, not good. Same with highlights – done the right way by a colourist aware of the details you’ve explained, they can look superb. If the viewer can obviously see a departure from the woman’s natural appearance, the eye gets caught up trying to rationalize that or balance it or find some common ground between the woman and the effect. It’s that that I find unattractive, but I would guess you do too.

  19. I agree totally with your comment. In a season order SA’s are at the top of the list of enhancement from hair color. As I said earlier mediumness being the definer they smack dab in the middle of the color chart. Often a greyed light brown. The problem is with the mediumness being not much room before it’s not medium.

  20. Hi Christine,
    I just wanted to leave some Soft Autumn feedback :)

    In this article you suggest Laura Mercier Rose Bloom blush. I bought it and I’ve found that it’s too red and bright if that makes sense.

    I would love to hear if it works for other OFFICIALLY DRAPED soft autumns like me… rather than people just guessing their season :)

    I find the same with Lancome Rouge In Love 230M lipstick – that you suggest in another article – I bought it too – and it’s just too red and too bright.

    I’m wondering if both of these items would be everyday type colors for DA’s instead – because I find both overpowering. I would try to pull them off – but they weren’t right (for me).

    To date – Bobbi Brown Tawny blush is my go to blush color.

    What I’ve noticed is that Tawny actually brings out the natural color of my lips.

    That is starting to be a measuring tool for me.
    When I put on my makeup – my lips are the last step in my routine…. and if the blush competes or overpowers my natural lips or makes my lips look dull rather than healthy— then the I’ve figured out the blush doesn’t look right.

    I’m also starting to notice if I like a lip color by if it harmonizes with the color of my gums when I smile. I know not everyone can see their gums when they smile with their teeth showing… some don’t even smile with their teeth showing. LOL. But I can see if something is too cool or too saturated or warm with that trick. I’ll just see teeth – not gums – they blend with the lip color – regardless of how light or dark the shade is… it’s cool.

    I know that some soft autumns may have more pigmented lips that I do – or more vibrant gums than I do. LOL. So perhaps Rose Bloom and 230M work for others…..

    I’ve purchased things that I thought matched my fan —– but would put them on and take them off. We want to make things work —- but a review of a piece of makeup 2 months after you buy it is better than – Hey, I just came home with this and I think it’s gorgeous. Of course you do, you just paid money for it — but see if you wear it everyday or you find yourself reaching for other things and you’ll realize – maybe it wasn’t right at all.

    But just thought I would throw this info into the color conversation.

    I think SA can be tricky.

    AND I WOULD HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that Bobbi Brown Tawny is on your SA makeup list :) It’s just perfect. (for me) :)

    Still trying to find good SA eyeshadows…. everything seems to run ashy or true autumn… I know good stuff has to be out there.

  21. Katie, I found your comment interesting – mostly because at the Bobbi Brown counter they put me in Tawny – I love it and it is my best basic, though I sometimes wear brighter blushes depending on my clothes. So, what season am I?

    Well, that is tricky. I was draped in the ’80’s as a Spring (4 season CMB – “you have that clear look” she said), and on-line a few years ago as a SSu (“brights/fuschia seem to overwhelm you”), and then in person by Sci-Art as a DW (!) about 2 yrs ago. You can imagine my confusion! As I am 65 now and 50% grey, my formerly dark brown hair is now quite soft (but not silver) and I have less contrast for sure. With fair neutral skin and smoky teal eyes, I keep falling in between any seasons I consider.

    What shade and brand of foundation do you like? I have recently discovered Studio Gear (Linen) and quite like the sheer silky texture. I used to depend on Lancome but am branching out a bit to find some less expensive products.

    Thanks Christine for keeping this blog ever interesting. I’ve followed it for years now and if anything I am more interested in color than ever before. Especially how to adjust colors a bit for when we age – without losing the essence of our seasons.

  22. I recently had an interesting experience with CMB. I was typed by Nikki Bogardus as a Soft Autumn, which agreed with a previous typing by House of Colour (UK based).

    I had the chance to go and be a model for CMB trainees to practise on. Astonishingly, I was typed as Clear, Cool, Deep. Although they sat the models facing the windows, the session was done in a rented conference room under fluorescent lights, not a daylight lamp in sight. And we were in white capes, not grey, and hair colour was taken into consideration.

    The trainer actually said to me that I had “that Snow White look”. That’s a very superficial analysis – yes my skin is pale, always the palest shade of foundation, so my hair does appear dark by comparison but when I pick up my black cat, against his fur my hair looks mid brown. My eyes sometimes appear strikingly blue but it’s actually a soft, misty changeable blue-green-grey, as seen in the SA eye gallery here – not a clear blue at all.

    So CMB, IMHO, is to be avoided.

  23. I should add that I went to the CMB training not quite as a spy, but certainly out of interest to see how their analysis worked. I was already pretty confident that SciArt/12 Tone was the superior system, and this was totally confirmed by my experience. The trainer was one of their top analysts.

  24. Judi —
    I’ve had people at makeup counters put me in all sorts of nonsense so I can’t account for what them repeatedly putting Tawny on you to mean anything. If you bought Tawny and repeatedly choose to wear it (not out of habit but out of love) and think it makes you look healthy and youthful then perhaps you have a soft muted warm skintone.

    I have been mistaken for a spring and dark winter in photos. My eyes are warm and my hair used to be reeeeally warm. But my coloring has darkened over the years and now I have more contrast because my skin is very fair and my natural hair color is between a level 6-7 dark blonde. I used to have strawberry golden blonde hair – but now it’s 6-7 dark blonde bordering on light brown.

    My current favorite foundation is Urban Decay Skin Foundation in shade 1.0 – it’s very fair but warm toned — which is great because a lot of fair shades tend to be pink based.
    In their line – all cool shades end in .5 and all warm shades end in .0 — so it’s easy to see what works and what doesn’t.

    I think foundation for soft seasons can be challenging – as I think this might be the first foundation that has ever really matched me in 20 years of looking.

    Lindsay E.
    I was draped a Soft Autumn by Nikki as well. — but before that I was draped a Dark Winter by another Sci/Art analyst (who I would not recommend) in a very very dark room– as a Dark Winter — she also told me that I looked like snow white too. Which sure I do – if all the color is drained out of my face by dark winter drapes. In a dark room or low light – I look high contrast – my eyes look dark brown – even though I’ve been told that they are warm yellow/brown. Compared to how glowy I look in soft autumn colors – it’s no comparison which is the best look for me. Saturated lipstick makes my skin look pale –which I like pale – but it’s not a healthy pale. Ash based hair color looks awful on me. But straight warm true autumn is bad too.

    I always lean towards the palest foundation offered by a company — that does not make me a winter.

  25. Interesting, Katie!

    My latest good foundation find, which I’ve mentioned elsewhere on here, is Estee Lauder Doublewear, in 1N1 Ivory Nude 72 – palest shade, neutral tone. It’s quite covering, (necessary because I’ve been struggling with a skin reaction to prescribed drugs) and the range was recently extended to 30 shades

Leave a Reply

All mention of copyrighted terms and content from any book, website, or organization will be edited to include only the company name to avoid copyright violation on the part of 12 Blueprints. Thank you.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *