Hot Weather Colour for Dark Winter

The lighter and brighter colours for Dark Winter are presented today.

Why call the Season Dark? It’s a source of confusion because it so easily gives rise to misinterpretation, almost forcing the idea of a certain appearance.

I’m certainly guilty of using formulas in writing to try to come up with word pictures. Most industries have those “It looks like…”  and “Most…” analogies to help students understand and to share experience.

“Dramatic body types look like a statue.” (my invention)

“Most dogs with slipped discs that can still wag their tail will walk again.”

Yes, of course, some don’t. What’s a teacher to do? People want the learning from real life stories, pictures, and questions, but not theirs, even though theirs are far better than anything I can come up with. We find ourselves speaking in terms of bell curves. There will always be those who fall outside them.

What Really Matters: Do not let stereotypes, formulas, or “You look like a…” anywhere near the analysis process itself.

For the Dark Season colouring, the idea exists that the person has to look dark. Not so. I don’t. I could never get those belief systems to work when I tried to apply them to real people.

That they have to wear all dark colours. No. They could and look better than other types of colouring but who’s going to do that every day and be the best version of themselves? After a week of it, people will start ignoring your clothes for always being the same.


Light colours for DA, DW, and TW


So why call them Dark?

It has to be called something. Dark, Bright, Light, etc, are historical terms in the PCA industry, dating back to I know not when or whom.

Should we change the word? No, I propose that we change the definition instead. Take the word Season. One could say that it’s outdated and not self-explanatory. Maybe, but it is recognizable in the natural world, short, spell-able, search-able, familiar, understandable (which does the public understand more correctly about a colour, ‘value’ or ‘darkness’?) and lots of other good things. We just need to take its meaning as ‘group of  natural colouring’. There won’t be one single perfect in every way terminology. Much more needs doing than re-inventing a wheel.

For Dark, Bright, etc., I make an argument in this way: I am of the belief that we cannot know which of the 3 dimensions of colour (light/dark, warm/cool, soft/bright) will matter the most on a person’s colouring merely by looking at them. There is no medium-medium-medium person. There will be 2 dimensions that are medium, or close, and 1 that will be more High/Low. Because we cannot judge the heat level or saturation of other people, we over-emphasize the importance of their darkness. Or else, we merge darkness level with saturation, since, when we imagine a saturated colour, we also tend to darken it. All persons must be draped, but even with excellent drapes, it can be difficult.

All of our faces are in perfect colour equilibrium by Nature. We see this perfectly tuned balance in every person and since nothing looks out of place, we assume that everything is medium. This is why folks are mystified when they’ve been analyzed as a Soft Summer and a Bright Winter. How could that be? Aren’t they opposites? Just because they lie opposite one another on a colour clock graphic doesn’t mean that they’re opposite. Those clocks are like a map.  Are Vancouver and Montreal opposite? Yes and no. Depends what the question is asking. Both cities are the same for being Canadian. Soft Summer and Bright Winter faces are the same for being as perfectly balanced as every face is.

Even speaking theoretically, they’re not opposite. In fact, they have some dimensions in opposition and some very similar when the colours are measured. Both are cool neutrals and both are medium-dark. That’s a big amount of similarity. Where they differ is saturation, the hardest one to judge. But you must know how to measure, and how to measure the 3 dimensions independently because that’s how they are set in our colouring. The 3 don’t go up or down together.

On a Dark Season, the High/Low is value of colour. On the Low value side, when a colour is darker, whether its warmth and brightness drift a little up and down doesn’t matter too much. The harmonic correlation remains quite agreeable as long as colour is dark. Value is the thing about them that is not medium.  In True Summer drapes, a Dark Winter can be truly weak until the colour becomes darker. Then the skin gets along. It finds a little muting that it likes, a trace of warmth (compared to True Winter) that feels right, and its beloved darkness. We see this again as we progress through the darkness levels of the Red Drapes. They never get too dark.

The opposite is true too. On the High value side, when a colour is light, it’s either right or the person is a washout.  It can be hard to read the lightest level of Red Drapes because the skin says, “Meh, meh, and meh.” since none of the colours belongs to Dark Winter in that set of drapes.  An analyst who knows how to read the Red Drapes, which are very different in their interpretation than the other drapes, gets along just fine.

Could a person be medium-high-high on the 3 colour scales? I’ve seen fabric would be close. Humans are not coloured with the same pigments as textiles so I don’t know if the same rules apply. Nature is a chemistry set of unlimited possibility and I’m certain that these people exist. I also do not  know if human pigment genetics must follow the rules of Munsell (or any) colour space, which are human constructs – but they’re human constructs about colour relationships where certain rules always apply. Blue does get darker as it gets more saturated.

Anyhow, I do know that in science and in PCA, how it looks is not data. If it were, the Earth would still be flat. We must measure something and know how to read our rulers.


Light colour for DW 1



A Dark Autumn asked,

I seem to always wear the colours from the light to center sections of  my fan. I don’t understand why the darkest of the Dark Autumn colors, especially the purples, seem to drain me.


Some suggestions:

If the dark colours being chosen are a bit too blue, which happens easily with purple, this will make shadows darker. We all have a native, normal shadow colour. If it’s distorted, as by making it too blue, the effect will not be flattering.

If the dark colours being chosen are less saturated than the lighter colours being worn, the darks might not be preferred, despite being a Dark Season. Depending on the person, Dark Autumn will not have the best quality of complexion in True Autumn saturation. With 2 dimensions (value and saturation) that can be on or off, the mix and match possibilities of what’s really the problem are bigger.

Lightness and clarity can appear to add some lift in many women, which is why so many of them get put into Spring. An untrained eye might see this and forget to take into account all the other factors.

Most of us tend to wear colours from the center of the fan. They’re easiest to be aware of. If your eyes are used to seeing you in these, they may have trouble making an objective assessment of darker colours.

If pre-PCA, you believed yourself to be a lighter Season, it may take time to become accustomed to the power of the darkness (no puns of any sort). Darkness resonates strongly here. It sends a special  message on this colouring more than any other. Amazing how long it takes to fully step into and claim our own power. We find all sorts of reasons why it shouldn’t be so.


Light Colour for DW 2


A Dark Winter asked,

I would love to see a post on using the cool, heavy, regal colors in a climate that’s melting with heat and humidity.


Dark Winter is like True Winter but a little warmer and duller, but not as much as if it were done in newsprint. To me, it looks more warmer than duller, but I’m no better at judging these little increments than anyone else.

There are a lot of neutrals in these Polyvores, because I like them on this colouring. I find them great in summer and to offset the ‘colour colours’, and far more interesting against summer backgrounds than winter backgrounds. The contrast between summertime and the “heavy and regal” is even more pronounced, which feels a little exciting.

Remember that we haven’t accessorized anything yet. Shoes, bags, jewelry can all add as much or as little colour as you like.

Many skirts and dresses. Colours and prints feel better here than in pants. I’m not a purple pants person, though anybody could be, especially a Gamine. White pants, ditto. Jacqueline Kennedy had white Capris that were good with her black T-shirt, huge glasses, and scarf.

The overall darkness level is up to you. My eyes prefer an overall medium to dark totality over an all light one. The coral dress in 4 below is as light as I’d go for an head to toe level (picture it on a B&W TV). The light pants and colour-blocked gray top in the bottom left of 4 is too light. The  model wears it well enough but I doubt that her native darkness level is that of Dark Winter. Nor do I think her inherent heat level is of the same type, level, or both, as Dark Winter.

When we train a colour analyst, the student learns to look at the image in the mirror in terms of 3 distinct dimensions. You could try this too. Don’t compare an person and their clothing and think in terms of Seasons. It’s way too convoluted. Think, “Would I adjust the darkness?”, “Does the warmth level feel like a match?”, and “How do I feel about the clarity?” as 3 separate questions.

The navy and dark brown in the 12-Tone palette are near black, fine colours but not a first choice in high humidity. I’m very partial to the dark tobacco colour as a neutral, even in hot weather, maybe because it’s jungly. Love it with yellow as the dress and the skort/tank set in 4 below.


Light Colour for DW3


How much colour?

Up to you.

The blue/yellow/pink dress at the bottom left of 5 feels pretty good. I’m not sure it would be DW but it could be.

The strapless blue dress on the left side may be True Winter. Some Dark Winters are a little cooler. The graying and darkness of the skirt section help, compared to the entire dress being made of the bodice fabric.

At the center top of 5, the sleeveless top with tie might be Soft Summer. It’s dark enough, but dark and dusty, whereas a Winter is dark and saturated. Won’t matter. Dark Winter skin has a lot in common with Soft Summer. The contrast in the skort is Winter or close enough, and the top will balance Winter accessories. Some Dark Winters are a little softer.


Light Colour for DW 4


For The Office

Below, a few work outfits. In warm climates, people can’t possibly wear all black to work to work, can they? If I lived in a warm place, I bet I’d wear more shine in fabric.

The flowered skirt is interesting. It shows how similar Dark Winter and True Summer are, but when an item goes to black, the True Summer person will lose energy. I pondered whether it was True Summer, in which case the black would be too strong next to the other colours, but I find it pretty well balanced. The black is in smaller areas – a nice way for the Darks and Brights to get black in their wardrobe without being overtaken by it.


Light Colour for DW 5




14 thoughts on “Hot Weather Colour for Dark Winter”

  1. Hooray! I love it. I hope everyone, analysts included, who still maintains the belief that a person must look dark to be a dark season will read this and ‘get it’.

  2. So it has to follow, doesn’t it, that you don’t need to look light to be a light season, soft to be a soft season, or clear/bright to be a bright season, warm to be a true warm or cool to be a true cool. Or neutral, to be a neutral! There is absolutely no clue whatsoever, at all, 100 percent non-existent, in a persons appearance as to what their colour setting levels might be. Is that correct?

  3. Thank you Christine! This is fabulous. So inspiring and I love the side-by-side comparisons with TW and DA. I love the dark hot pink especially, I would love to find something in that colour.

  4. Curious – what is the reasoning behind your “there are no medium-medium-medium people?”

    The polyvores are great. I’d love to see the same thing done for soft summer :)

  5. Jane, that is correct. You can only be 100% certain if you get a PCA; unless, of course, that PCA is wrong. Then you can get another PCA – or a dozen more, in a dozen different systems – and hope for the best.


  6. Denise, my understanding of what Christine is saying is that on those three colour parameters (dark/light, warm/cool, soft/bright), the Sci-Art PCA system has it that everybody is an extreme for ONE of the three, while being “middle of the scale” for the other two, ie medium. So in that way, nobody is “medium- medium – medium”.

    The adjective part of the season name – eg Bright Winter, Soft Autmun – tells you which of those three parameters is the extreme for that person, and also which end they are at (again, in terms of skin reaction, not to look at). The full season name tells you something about the rest, once you know the “clockface” with the 12 seasons: eg for the 8 neutrals, tells whether warm-neutral or cool-neutral, and whether on the sun or shadow side of the parent.

    Yes, love C’s polvyores! : )

  7. Yay!! Thank you thank you thank you for covering this. As a DW I have such a hard time dressing in the summer. I often look at the lighter and brighter swatches in the pallet and think “well, i should absolutely be able to wear any combination of these colors that suits my personality. I shouldn’t have to be all dark all the time; just darkER than other seasons.” thank you so much for this post!

  8. Jane,
    100% is a tough level to reach in the real world. For me, though, the clues are not what folks think they are or want them to be. We really cannot judge a person’s colour settings. Or any colour’s settings. If I put a colour in front of you and say “How dark is it?” or “Is it warm, cool, or neutral?”, there truly is only one correct answer: “Compared to what?”
    However, there can be signals like the relative intensity of the eyes in the face that can help suggest one of the 4 True Seasons. I look at people and wonder all the time, but the closest I ever try to get is “Which of the 4 Trues do they probably fall into?” And even then, I’m right about half the time. How skin will react to colour is very unpredictable. Colour analysts are surprised all the time during a draping. And so they should be.
    You’re right as well that you don’t need to look light to be Light, etc. People get too caught up in those words and attach too many meanings and rules to them.

    Good Q. I ask it to myself. I have no proof of it, but I’ve never seen one. I see True Summers who can handle a bit more saturation. I see fabric with True Spring heat and BW saturation, unknown if that would happen in a human. But in everyone, there is some setting that is medium, medium high, or medium low. The skin of every person seems to have some dimension where it will not compromise, and others where it will. I do believe that the Munsell colour representation is pretty accurate for human colouring and colour perception. We probably are coloured according to how we perceive colour, just as animals are. So a M-M-M person would have a very limited range of colours in their palette, and therefore in their body – but that doesn’t happen.

    Yup. And hopefully be brought closer to the truth every time. These are the folks who are generally very good at choosing correct colour for themselves, better than the folks who just got an answer the first time and never had to develop a sense of the others where they share some common ground.

    Only draping can pick it up. Which may be why all the real Winters who took the test from books always came out with some other answer. Nobody ever saw what their skin could really balance.

    Every palette is about 1/3 of each dark, light, and medium colours. How you wear them is up to you. If you’re very dark to look at, then all light choices (which are icy) doesn’t seem quite grounded or solid. An icy and a medium? Sure, especially in summer.

  9. Oh, very timely. You brushed against two questions that have been bouncing around in my head for a bit:
    One: Okay, Trues are extreme in their hues, warm or cool. Is an Autumn who can handle any more coolness than the TA fan automatically a neutral Autumn, or are there Trues who are *less* extreme in their hues? I guess you could apply this to any dimension – soft*er* Brights? Lights who can handle more darkness?

    Two: Does each palette occupy a unique hue range? Like, SSu and DW are both cool-neutrals. Is one warmer than the other? I know I got to see a comparison of LSu and BW fans recently, and I was surprised at how warm LSu looked. Does muting tend to warmth?

  10. Hi Christine, thank you for replying to my question. I understand what you’re saying about qualities being comparative. But I think there must be a balance somewhere between the “how dark is your hair”, “how warm is your hair”, “you’re an autumn” approach, and the “there are no generalities” approach. I do understand that the analyst has to clear their mind of prejudices before draping a client, but I would also think that if you find yourself winding up with a light spring in front of you whose eyes are darkest brown, as is her (natural) hair, you might be tempted to double check because her hair and eyes are not going to be reflected in the general palette. That’s what I would think. I’m not the analyst. But some of the results you see in various places on line seem “highly irregular”.

  11. Ally – great Q. Answering only from my own experience,

    – I have not seen True Seasons who can negotiate even slightly on the warm/cool scale
    – this appears to apply equally to the Softs, Lights, etc. in that their ranges are less limited; I don’t know if it’s harder to pin down precisely what will be included in these ranges than in warm and cool; when I think about the various hues in the Munsell charts, how does one decide which are considered 100% cool? Or is it all relative to every other colour in the system? I wish I knew these answers, they’re certainly good questions.
    – yes, muted colour seems warmer, it’s closer to the other side of the colour circle where the hues of opposite heat level live; this may be why T Su behaves warmer than TW, and also that to darken a colour, we could add blue or black, both of which cool as they darken

  12. I don’t think so, Ben. You’d need to look in the Analyst Directory tab. There are analysts in Southern TX if that helps.

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