Colour Shopping Online: Light Summer

For the technique of opening the palette to harmonize colours into Seasons, full credit goes to colour analyst and Sci\ART trainer, Terry Wildfong. The method works equally well with fabric, cosmetic, jewelry, and any other item that you want to place into the best colour environment, the one where the palette and the item will bring out the best in each other. The palette stands in for the person of the same natural colouring.

Items purchased online should be easy to return. Expectations of perfect accuracy from pictures on screens may be overreaching. If your preference or the purpose of the garment requires it to be perfectly in Season, shop in person.

The general question when I shop online is, “Does this item share enough in its colour properties to be worn extremely well by a person of this colouring, and will they allow the item to look excellent in return?”

Readers had some questions that we can talk about first.

  1. Do I use special lighting?

For harmonizing colours, I always work between 10AM and 4PM with indirect daylight (no sunlight) on the screen. I use a Macbook Pro that is about 3 years old. Some monitors add a definite colour cast that you’d want to be aware of and perhaps use a different device.

There is a full spectrum lamp on the screen. This is a 23W bulb with a 100W equivalency. It does not emit huge light. I buy mine from LifeLite in Canada. It fits into a standard fixture. The bulbs used for PCA are larger and emit more light.  Full Spectrum Solutions in the USA is a good source, or many others, I would think.

The CRI is 96. The CRT is 5800K. A CRI over 5000 and a CRI over 90 are desirable. Both numbers should be specified on the box.

Many energy saving bulbs emit an oddly coloured light. Many full spec bulbs don’t have the specifications on the box and the light is often too yellow or not balanced. Colour is light. The wavelengths of light entering the object greatly influence those that will come back out.

White is the most difficult colour to place in Seasons, IRL or online, because it reflects so many wavelengths including the lighting itself. Black is also challenging for the similar reason that it reflects so few colours and they can be quite subtle.

  1. Does photography change colours?

Undoubtedly yes. The photographic effects are unpredictable, with no average effect that could be expected from every image within the same store, or across different stores.

For the most part, I evaluate the colour on the screen without assumptions such as, “It’s probably not that warm and goes into this cooler Season.” For every item on every site, I start from the beginning using the image as it is presented. I do compare the colour to as many other things in the image as possible, which we will see later in this post.

Certain sites have a tendency to present colours that are slightly muted relative to what comes in the mail, LLBean and JCrew as possible examples, but it is variable. I have had this experience with Nordstrom and Macy’s also.

No site that presents higher saturation comes to mind but it certainly happens with certain items or textile pigments. I see it in online client images with drapes whose colours I know, or in my own videos, where human, textile, and cosmetic pigments are translated differently.

There may be variability between camera sensors and software. Some seem to average the colours in the image. If the drape is very warm in colour, the rest of the colours are cooled, or vice versa. This seems to happen more with iPhones and some digital cameras, and less (or less noticeably) in fashion photography. I am not sure how to get around it. I have played with white balances till I got tired of getting no satisfactory or predictable result.

Some sites are extremely irregular between thumbnails and larger image, or larger image and video. ASOS is an example. The video often shows an item that is less saturated than the pictures. When picture, video, and thumbnails are all different, it’s impossible to tell. I usually go by the video.

  1. How does shine affect Season or images?

The colour of the highlight is dependent on the light source, often causing the item to appear lighter and warmer.

The smoothness of the shine may contain helpful clues. The smoother the shine, the whiter the highlight, the more likely to move into Winter. If the shine is grainy or pebbled, meaning that the surface is uneven, the highlight tends to be more muted but this is not consistent. If the highlight is grayish or not very different in colour from the textile, the shine is more characteristic of Summer and Autumn- influenced colour.

  1. How do you use colour clues in the model?

Everybody everywhere understands colour by comparing it to something.

A model is helpful. I try to establish relationships and rationality. If her shoes are clearly Autumn, discordant clothing is probably not Autumn. This goes beyond my taste to what humans generally (but not always) agree on. Few people would pair whisky brown with candy pink or dusty grape.

Whether her hair is dyed or not doesn’t matter, it’s just a colour block. Same with lipstick, it’s just a colour block. Yellow hair is more likely Spring-side but many golds are redder, heavier, and actually work better with Autumn. True red lips are probably Winter-influenced. I don’t get more specific than that.

The model is also good for general assumptions. If the model has black eyes and hair, we can be fairly comfortable that she belongs to one of the 5 groups with Winter-influence. I think in terms of more than and less than relationships than her Season. If a model is medium in her colouring and her head is receding while the clothing is coming forward, it is probably brighter than she is.

Plants, furniture, shoes, brick walls, or any other comparison opportunity are useful.

If the item is pictured with nothing else in the image, I go to #5.

  1. Can I make outfits?

Some of our clients desire perfect Season accuracy for every purchase. Others are pleased when they can sidestep unflattering colour purchases, aiming for the general sense of their Season group. I fall in between, looking for colours that can form very good relationships with me and with my wardrobe, cosmetics, and hair colour. I have a thing about clothing and hair colour because so often, they are truly uncomfortable together and nobody ever seems to notice, and I wonder why not.

Holding the palette to the screen, I consider the palette as a whole first. The very moment that the palette is placed up in front of the screen, keep awareness of where your attention goes. Look for roughly equal attention between garment and palette. If you’re ignoring one, or if one feels too insistent, it might be a problem.

Be patient. It takes practice to sense where your attention is. Your subconscious mind knows. You just have to pull the information forward into your conscious awareness.

Sometimes changing what is in front of our eyes shifts the attention but the colours might work well enough. The chemistry of the retina might just feel momentarily shaken up and our decision-making ability is temporarily suspended. This is similar to putting on makeup, especially for Winters. The lipstick or eyeshadow seems like a lot at first. Instead of removing it, it is best to go do something else that does not involve mirrors. When we return, we wonder what the issue was.

As in PCA with a person, if you are not sure about a decision, then you don’t know yet. Both choices remain viable, whether it be both Seasons in an analysis or the garment on the screen with the palette. Keep going.

Spread the arms of the palettes far enough apart to see the garment colour between them. If you can focus on the palette, and then focus on the garment, and think, “OK, this could work. At least they are not pushing each other apart. I can see both at once and find the picture pleasing.”, next, divide the palette into sections. Trying to evaluate an entire palette at once may be like trying to evaluate all the drape colours together at the same time. For me, there is too much information to manage.

First, the neutrals. Are they staying the same? Does the white look fresh and clean? Do grays look about the same as they appeared away from the screen? Can a white shirt/gray pants outfit be easily assembled? If anything takes on a green, yellow, or red cast, so will the face. Could you image the neutral colours as eyeliner and eyeshadow with that garment?

Next, the reds. These are the native reds in cheeks and lips, and the lipstick and blush colours. Could you insert the garment colour into one of the strips and nobody would know the difference? Would you pair the colours in an outfit? Would you wear this blush under those eyes?

Green seems to have two choices in life, to be great or gross. Look at the green strip on its own. This strip may also contain some of the more unique colours to that Season. Is the effect together pleasing or at least convincing?

The yellows. Consider each colour area separately. Has the lightest colour all but disappeared? Is the darkest colour somehow unpleasant? Does one of the middle colours suddenly look as if it doesn’t belong, as if the strip has broken up somehow?


A reader had the good suggestion of using pins on Pinterest. Links to merchandise can be unpredictably here one day, gone the next. For now, I’ll put the pins in the Shopping for Your Season and Style board. If this process works and we do more, I can put the pins in their own board for ease of finding in the future.

For now, as I’m sure you’ve thought of, open the two windows side by side to follow along. If that doesn’t work well, we can do something else next time.

  1. Light aqua dress, mauve background.


The link to the pin is here.

Thought process:

Spring side, no recognizable Autumn.

Light or Bright Seasons possible, both have these types of colours.

The dress is very bright relative to the wall. They are not forming any great relationships or agreements. One might say that the dress is easier to see against the wall but the wall is not enhanced in any way. The wall is Summery, so the dress probably has little or no Summer.

A gain at the expense of another colour in the composition is inconsistent with my idea of harmony. For harmony to be satisfied, the whole must be agreeable. The wall, dress, and shoes from this picture, placed in the same landscape, would be a fantasy, not a solid, capable, believable world. The wall and the dress are not improving one another. It is difficult if not uncomfortable to look at both simultaneously, like a world with the wrong-coloured sky. My conclusion is that the dress and wall are different Seasons.

The shoes are Autumn or Spring or have some of both. They are not doing anything much, neither balancing the head, elongating the leg, or clashing significantly.

Next, I hold the palette to the dress with the arms of the palette spread far enough apart to see the dress through them. If I look at the dress, the Light Summer palette fades. I am almost ignoring it. I can see that certain properties are shared but not enough to feel like they making one another better. The lipsticks have little energy unless she wore only the darker choices, which is a possibility. We would have to see it but I wonder if the lipstick would look weirdly dark or weak or somehow not luscious above this dress.

The longer I look at it, the more the dress is taking on neon characteristics, and this is in dim lighting. The dress is more than most things in the image. I’m starting to think Bright. Worn by a Light Summer woman, the dress will become even brighter and she will become “the woman in that blue dress.”

At this point, I would skip on to the next item.

2. Woman with wavy blonde hair, silver medallion pendant, white distressed jeans, and aqua tunic top.

>Maybe but for sure be able to return it.

The link to the pin is here.

Why the top could be (or work with) Light Summer:

It is more muted than the jeans, which we can be fairly certain are Winter. Therefore the blouse is not likely Winter, or not strongly Winter. Even Dark Winter turquoise would probably balance white better, but she could probably wear it, being the muted Winter. I suspect that Bright Spring would also be too saturated but True Spring is possible.

The yellow component in the top is strong but this may be because of the lighting and time of day, or a Spring colour.  Light Summer has colours like that in the palette and she could wear it well enough but it does seem strong next to the palette colours. I would love to go to the store and find that it is more muted and less yellow than the picture.

It is cooler than the hair colour, which seems Spring like, but dyed  yellow hair can often be difficult in any palette so I don’t use it. The yellow green grass and leaves look Spring coloured, and  the blouse seems reasonable enough.

The model offers me no clues.

I don’t think the neutrals of Light Summer are ideal.

The pendant seems fine but turquoise would allow for cool and warm.

The clutch is somehow not being noticed but that could be the jeans. No conclusion.

The Autumn-like shoes do not seem to share a lot with  the top.

3.  Woman with coral dress with bow at waist and upswept hairstyle.


The link to the pin is here.

I love this colour on Light Summer. My eyes are tuned to look for it.

I do not know her Season but her eyes and eye makeup contain darkness that is causing me to lose the dress. If one thing is enhanced at the expense of the other, something is off. The dress and the woman are not making one another better but neither are they a lot worse. They are just there.

Her head has become mostly eyes, which is taking the idea of eyes as the focal point too far. The idea is not to vanish half the face, or the person’s presence, or spend money on clothing for which the best thing you could say is, “It’s just there.”

Eyes need a face to be anchored in. The building blocks in the image of a person need to stack up: hair, eyes and upper half of face, lower half of face, upper half of body, lower half of body. That is the level-upon-level of positive reinforcement that PCA offers those who have their formula (Season).

The lipstick could be lovely on Light Summer but I’m losing it with these eyes.  A face, head, and person are visually balanced when hair, eyes, and lips have similar impact. (Silver and white hair have plenty of impact). These eyes override the face and garment. The eyeliner and the eyes are competing for my attention and I have trouble moving on.

Not sure about the shoe colour but the bow seems to work. It matches, which is fine although not necessarily what we look for. You could find a similar colour in four or five palettes that looks like it matches. Colour matching is not what PCA is.

No conclusions to be drawn from the hair colour.

The fabric texture is good for Light Summer. They look super in it.

4. Same woman as 3 with more lips and dress. 

>Close call but no.

The link to the pin is here.

This colour for Light Summer may be too heavy but if I were shopping, I’d try it. It may be different off the model. Something is making her skin greener than it probably is and the same may be happening to the dress.

It’s hard to make sense of it with the aquas and greens of the palette, which begin looking frivolous or childish when in truth, they are stunning and vibrant on a Light Summer. Greens are excellent for getting a sense of what could be rational together.

I added this pin to show another version of the previous woman. Although not claiming that this is perfect, and this dress might be Light Summer too, she seems to have more presence than in the previous dress. I can look at her eyes and be aware of what she is wearing. The eyes are supported in a solid face, not a blurred or fluffy-edged face. The lips are doing something. Her hair has richer pigmentation. If it takes darker colour for her to show up, maybe she is a darker Season than Light Summer.

I do not believe for a second that anybody wears only the dark colours in Light Summer, and is still a Light Summer. They might be darker-looking Light Summer compared to some imaginary average but they are the whole Season. The palettes are adjusted for that colouring’s colour ranges and we can mix and match fairly freely within ours. If Light Summer wants to wear her darker green and navy blue, go ahead. It could be great.

Kathryn Kalisz’s Sci\ART palettes are correct. Not rigid, but correct for all person of whatever race, age, or gender. If you can only wear half of one of the palettes to show up, I would be looking for another palette. Other PCA systems will beg to differ on this point and that’s perfectly OK. I welcome all new ideas and ways of seeing things.

5. Long one-shoulder shimmery dark turquoise. 


The link to the pin is here.

With some explanation:


6. So-cute child’s dress with yellow bow at waist.

> Yes.

The link to the pin is here.

The colour is soft but gives no feeling of shade or smoke as Soft Summer would.

A faint peach or buttery quality appears in the bow and skirt which is great on Light Summer, in makeup also. Many in this Season wear the warmth beautifully, right up to the edge of Light Spring.

Looking through the strips of the palette, the colour works nicely. The darker choices are fine and the dress holds up to them. The lighter colours do not become weak. The palette has energy and the dress colour has energy.

Holding up the strip with the yellows, it makes great sense.

The bodice may be a bit cool but it does not have any significant brightness. Maybe it’s a bit lemony but True Summer will have difficulty with the warmth of the waistband. Light Summer will do fine with a bit of brightness.

The white is softened, not stark. The glitter is delicate.

The gray and muted silver of the model form are fine and balance well.

Light Summer could use this item to her advantage. Perhaps other Seasons could as well. The colour analyst may be required to place an item into a single Season. A Light Summer client only needs to know if an item could work in her favour or if she is better leaving it at the store.

















Leaning in Your Season

The idea for today’s post comes from a group of questions that readers and clients have asked. Thank You for sharing your observations. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to clarify my vision of personal colour analysis (PCA).  I hope that clients will understand and celebrate their colouring more fully, and that prospective students may find it easier to select the training systems and PCA communities that are right for them.

The phrase, leaning in your Season, may have different meanings depending on the situation and who said it. Usually, it refers to a person whose colouring harmonizes with their primary Season and reasonably well with some of the colours of the group next door, leading to the conclusion that they lean into that neighbour Season. It might also be taken to mean that they lean into some of the neighbour Season’s properties, as, “I’m a Dark Winter that leans cool.”

We haven’t done a long post for a while so we’ll delve into this subject. No pictures or it will be 20 pages long instead of 10. This may be the longest one ever,  divided into 10 Q&A.

As point of clarification: How well the next-door Season works from a technical perspective and how often you might dip into its colours to find clothing in stores are two separate topics. Makeup is different again and will have its own question.

Since this website doesn’t touch on how PCA is actually performed, which is a whole other iceberg, I will try to keep it as practical as I can and still answer the questions, given my inclination to over-theorize with anyone willing to listen.

 The Order of Colour

Seasons follow the order shown in the image below. The order is not a human construct. It is based on how light behaves.

Leaning into immediate next-door neighbour Seasons is what most of this post addresses. It does not relate to any particular dimension of colour, as warm or cool, or more or less saturated. Separating the dimensions from one another is in the realm of the trained professional colour analyst, though clients often gain a sense of their ranges in time. We’ll be talking about wearing another Season fairly well in general terms.

Leaning into Seasons across the circle will not be relevant. To me, it doesn’t happen because it does not work on many levels. Here are two:

First, theoretically, crossing the circle would be the effect of believing and saying that, “I believe that the order of colours in rainbows is flexible and random.” If you take that stand, it follows that colour positions in colour wheels is interchangeable, since its ROYGBIV order comes from rainbows. If that is your belief, it’s fine but we will digress on most every aspect of PCA.

Second, in real life, people don’t drape that way. The Spring side and the Autumn side look odd in a million ways in each other’s colours, with the amount and location of the oddness depending greatly on the particular individual being draped.

Nobody crosses the circle to find a Season of partial harmony. I don’t invent things. I just describe what I see. I never see a person who drapes almost as well except in immediate neighbours. Depending on how an analyst prioritizes observations, she might disagree with this and we might or might not arrive at the same Season result.

This post is about using immediate neighbour Season palettes.

 Reader Questions

  1. Is it really possible for one season (let’s say Dark Winter) to have different sections for people who “lean” a certain way?

Say, those who are more “smoky” in appearance, those who are more “intense”/more saturated (which can lead one to thinking BW), and those who are more “warm”/Autumn?

Answering the second question first, yes. Many different natural presentations are possible in any of the 12 Seasons. People can look different in the same Season.

The first part of the question can have a short answer, which is: anything is possible in how Season colour collections are sectioned from the field of all possible colours, but it is not necessary to subdivide any of them and would make little sense because,

a)  Although the people look different, they reacted to the drape colours in the same technical ways. That’s how they got put in that Season. The drapes span the Season; they do not sit dead center (more on drape colour choices below). They are looking to pick up all the clues in all the possible natural colouring. In Dark Winter, colours will span jewel tones, muting textures, warmer to cooler, and other variations. Every drape in the set is taken into account when the sets are assembled. Variety of textiles is highly useful (more on drape fabrics coming up).

b) Kathryn Kalisz (founder of the Sci\ART system of colour analysis) got the Season parameters right. They do not need changing. When I say genius, I mean it as an understatement. Her vision has proven itself in real life over and over and over. It takes a long time and many faces to fully appreciate how well her Seasons allow for the nuance of facial expression, unique colours, facial geometry, the magic of colour combination, and the energetic extension of what we see to what we feel.

This is partly why the drapes span the Seasons as she devised them. They are right to all six senses. The more I do PCA, the more I see, the more I would resist changing what she created. The boundaries could be moved, and sure, they would relocate who goes into which Season, but I believe that a lot more would be lost than how people look. She understood the psychology of colour, including human, with an incredibly fine degree of tuning. Or, to always look at questions and solutions from many angles, am I becoming more and more attached to what I learned first? Lots of things are possible. I have awareness of the possibility and still believe that the mountain of evidence in favour of her Seasons keeps getting higher.

Regardless of natural appearance, every Dark Winter looks most fully expressed and harmonized when they wear the Season as is, and the same for the other Seasons also. Everyone might not have the same colour in the same place in their appearance, but the paintbox that coloured in their lines is the same and therefore, they react to drapes the same way. Every person might not wear every colour in the same item, location, area, or combination, but they still belong to Dark Winter. Colouring is balanced between eyes, skin, and hair, and in the totality of our appearance.

Even the most saturated Dark Winter benefits from something in that Season that True Winter did not provide, or something was lost, altered, or distorted in the neighbour palette. True of every member of every Season or they wouldn’t have been that Season.


  1. Does anybody fit perfectly in the middle of their Season?

Yes, if middle is defined as draping decisions with very little contest from the neighbour Seasons.

Other people drape adequately in some of the neighbour colours, usually 1 to 3  of the 6 used in the Test Drapes. The final Season decision may go back and forth between Dark and True Winter or Dark Winter and Dark Autumn. This depends greatly on how the analyst reads drapes and which colours she has in her sets (more on drape colours coming).

If the contest between Dark and True Winter was very challenging, someone might decide they lean into that Season. This may be technically true or possible, since, on the circle diagram, I think of Dark Winter as 1030 to 1130. Leaning need not apply to how they dress unless retail gives them no other choice, which is absolutely true sometimes, and no big deal at all.

As I have learned more about colours, drapes, PCA, and how clients apply information, I try not to talk of leaning or make sure that the client appreciates that their entire Season is way-way-way more important, beautiful, and communicative than anything about leaning. They shop and look better and enjoy their Season more when they don’t hear about this, or its relevance is minimized.

The language is mostly technical as the analyst works through, “Is the person at 1115 or 1145?” Suppose we said one day, “Gosh, it’s so hard to distinguish the Winters. Maybe if we moved the Winter drapes further apart, it might be easier.” Suddenly, people would start leaning the other way.

When we read about things, we can envision bigger swings than were intended. Picture tiny, tiny shifts. To the client, this makes no difference unless they live in a place where retail supplies colours in all 12 Seasons, which they don’t even if they live in Manhattan. Nobody does. A Dark Winter will still come out as Dark Winter.

Clients will certainly wear some colours from a few related groups, and the wardrobe interactions will be beautiful even if the colours are not be the absolute best version of that colour. True Winters may disagree but everything need not be 100% to work extremely well. In fact, it never is. If the colours share 80% of their attributes, you’re in a great place. Dark Winter and True Winter share a great big piece of territory. Light Summer and True Spring darker turquoise could be worn by either group and the surrounding colours will find all the things they share and make a home and a context for them.

Many Dark Winters wear some Soft and True Summer, maybe a blue from Bright Spring or a darker coral from Light Spring. They are content and look way the heck better than if they’d bought all the other stuff at the store that day. Their Season educated them as to which other colours would cooperate. Their colour analyst taught them how to tell.


  1. If I did wear some of the neighbour Season adequately, even though I am clearly my one Season, does that mean I should shop for those colours, or avoid the opposite side of my own Season?

In no way does draping decently in a neighbour Season mean wearing only half of the correct Season palette. You are an entire Season.

Folks often think that more Seasons might make things easier, not unlike asking for more drapes. The reverse will happen. They will end up having more information to manage, more difficulty in analyzing clients, more interruptions in fabric and product continuity,  more categories that apply to fewer and fewer people, more confusing disctinctions between groups, and more challenge telling colours apart among Seasons. Everything will cost more time and more money with little added benefit.

I might be convinced of 50:50 combo palettes between two Seasons, or palettes with only half a Season, if I had ever seen one single person who would benefit from it *in a technical situation*, but that never happens.

Even Seasons with the widest natural presentations do not need to be split up. More groups means more blur for everyone, including the client’s final appearance. When Kathryn Kalisz devised the Sci\ART Seasons, she got them right. Sure, a bit of variability is fine, unavoidable depending on inks, materials, the palette designer, the number of colours, but not a great deal.

I am not a believer in narrowing down our palette. If the drapes found black, white, and primary colours, then they did. If you are a Soft Season, darkness somewhere is good such that your total look averages to medium or medium dark. The palettes are already adjusted to be the right darkness, warmth, and saturation. You don’t need to think about this too much except maybe with combinations that most people figure out instinctively anyhow.

Don’t follow every suggestion every day. Nobody needs to look the same all the time. Everybody should wear all their colours.


  1. How do you (Christine) apply your Season (Dark Winter)?

I believe that presentation matters, more at some times than others. The same piece of jewelry can be received in a brown paper bag or a beautiful box that shows the piece at its most beautiful. It’s the same food if you have to eat it with your fingers or at a lovely place setting. Human decoration is like that. Presentation makes a difference to how we are perceived and received, in the short and long term.

Clothing, like draping, is about fit, style, price….it never comes down to just one thing. If I held out for only Dark Winter colours in my closet, I’d own very few clothes or spend all my time shopping. I wear a mix of True Winter, Dark Winter, and the cooler and darker colours of Dark Autumn. I look Autumn-ish, and would not likely be mistaken for a True Winter though I test better in many of those colours than in Dark Autumn.

I have made happy peace with how I want my colours and my appearance to serve my life, my closet, and me. Season is a place to relax, explore, and enjoy the miracles that are colour, life, and humanity. It is not a place to feel constrained or anxious about missing the boat, which is one choice when striving for perfection, the other being to do nothing. Anxiety over not being perfect or not doing anything means continuous struggle, which I consciously move away from. I put a lot of thought, time, and effort into the creation of a peaceful life in which I gave back more than I took, which I do not say from some lofty ideal but because that’s when life seems most willing to work with me.

The great thing about knowing your Season is how shockingly better you look at every level of practice. Fairly close was how I decided to use my palette. There’s nothing bad about being 80%, and at 80% of our palette, there is no wrong, or barely enough to matter. At 80%, I was like, “You mean, this is it?? I do this and I’m good??” Picture me doing the gesture of shaking water off my hands.

I don’t get too caught up in repeating natural contrast, for example. I prefer variety in appearance, exploring many possibilities for many different benefits. To my personal taste, it is over-thought and something about the look becomes predictable or uniform. You may feel otherwise and enjoy the tighter framework. That’s perfectly fine.

By Nature, I am eclectic in how I navigate life; maybe that’s the wrong word. Send me into a store asking me to come back with something red, and I’ll come back with everything except red.

Some folks want to be perfectly in Season all day everyday; excellent. Some will want to be Cordon Bleu chefs, master tailors, and the most perfectly controlled diabetics possible. That will entail more education, practice, and experiments that a perfectionist might see as fails while someone else might consider a big success.

I fully get that we cannot know how good we could be at something until we use the best materials. The standard of colour accuracy for which we aim with the drapes is light years and several galaxies beyond what I apply to my own shopping. I also believe that there are as many right ways to wear a Season as people wearing it. However you choose to wear yours, I’ll see you there.

Also, I trust the process. The more ways in which I see it applied, the more I know it works. I’m not about to outthink it or reinvent the world’s best-working wheel. The palettes are amazing out of the box.

If Christine is going to talk about Christine, you know we’re going to go on a trip. Please don’t read the next section unless you really love abstractions.

Bottom line answer to the leaning topic: Wear all your colours. Use them to paint the most detailed world of You that you possibly can. If you tested decently in one of the neighbours, wear some of those too (you’re going to have to anyhow).

For me, one purpose of knowing Season is the freedom and exploration of a space that is mine for a reason. If I were a colouring app, I would make Planet Me generous and gorgeous with new colours every day. Instead of seeing Season as discrete spots of colours or a test with Yes/No answers, I imagine it as a maze, a web, a fantastic piece of software, an intricately, exquisitely, mysteriously interrelated, interwoven world of similar energies. I picture connections between our colours and those of our attire, like conversations between colours flying back and forth, how our world would look if Google’s activity suddenly became visible. Each energy (colour) that is left out leaves a gap, a drop in the curve, a hole in the canvas, a slowing down of the velocity, and an assumption that we understand levels of human perception that in truth, we barely grasp. A Dark Winter wearing an area of burnt orange because there are dark yellows and oranges in the eyes look cool to me, outside the box, someone like me who thinks about what could be. Like all human communication, Season is a means of finding people who are like us.

Way off track. I really am very normal to meet, very medium and pragmatic. At least I think I am. I mean, I’m Canaydian, ay?  I know all this sound a little crazy but I can tell from your Pinterest boards that you feel it the same as I do.  I just write down what I see.

All I’m saying is, don’t impose limits that may be more real inside your logical mind than the other parts of your  mind or anyone else’s mind.

Reeling it back in. OK, I’m good. Next Q.


  1. What percentage of colors can one expect to be their “best” within their Season?

Sometimes, folks take best colours to mean that the entire palette will be their most striking colours. In the sense that the palette shows you the best colours to wear out of the field of every possible colour, this is true, but not necessarily that every colour will be equally amazing.

Is that just common sense? I’m not sure. I think people sometimes confuse the purpose of knowing their Season. But you did specify “within the Season”. You already appreciate that a Season is a whole system of colours that are grouped together because they are able to form strong relationships. This looks good to the viewer on conscious and subconscious levels.

Within a Season, I’m never sure of what ‘best colours’ means. Dividing up the answer:

a) I want to be sure that I’m answering the question that was intended. Please add to the comments if I don’t. How were the ‘best colours’ chosen?

By the analyst at the time of the draping, or some other way? Since the meaning is usually of colours that were great at the draping, I’ll speak in that context.

b) When the person who declared those colours your best leaves the room, are they still the best?

Depends who you ask.

The client? Which client? The one who wanted every Season except the one they are, or the one who already suspected their Season and loves every colour? The one who has had it in her head for 20 years that she can’t wear yellow because some aunt said something, way back when?

The client’s family? The least objective people possible, and probably the most invested in keeping the relationship exactly the way it has always been.

The client’s friend who came to the appointment? The one who wanted to be that Season herself, or the other friend who loves anything coral?

The analyst? Which analyst? The one who loves orange but seems to magnify it (me, who does not enjoy testing with orange), even if the client is a warm Season? The one who can feel colour viscerally and has tears running down her face for 8 out of 10 colours? The analyst who sees faces better than features, or the one who connects with features more than entire faces?

Christine? She would answer that, of the 20-25 drapes in each Season (counting Test and Luxury, more on that below), maybe 5 to 8 are breathtaking, but Christine also has preferences, aversions, and idiosyncrasies particular to her experiences.

Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of working with humans, not machines. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

c) When the person who declared those colours your best saw you in roughly 1-5 examples of each hue family, and only met you an hour ago, are they the final word on your best?

Keep in mind that in any Season’s set of Test Drapes, the client is only seen in 1 version of each of 6 colours in the drapes that she has. Every set has 1 of each white, yellow, green, blue, and red.

Test Drapes are not selected to be the most beautiful colours that the Seasons can wear. Although many are gorgeous, their purpose is to represent the Season’s colour dimensions for that hue as exclusively as possible related to the stage of the analysis process in which they will be used (meaning, what is the purpose of the drape, what will it be compared to, and what is the decision that we are trying to make at that point in the analysis.)

Everything is a balance. We want the Test Drapes to be very beautiful on most clients who wear them. Suppose that the analyst  sees many Bright Winters, and that many of them happen to test better in True Winter than Bright Spring. The analyst will request that her Bright Winter colours be a tiny bit cool, especially for colours that Winters don’t always wear easily in large blocks, such as yellow.  So now the Bright Winters love their yellow. The other side of the see-saw is that it is technically more difficult to separate the 3 Winters than it is to separate a Bright Winter from a Bright Spring. If the Bright Winter drape colours are close to True Winter, the analyst’s job has now become more difficult. Of course, there are 6 drapes in each set so it will never be a single drape tiebreaker decision. I’m just pointing out that there are no simple decisions. There are many angles for every choice to consider.

Test Drapes colours are not identical between analysts. Neither are they calibrated to be at the exact center of every Season; they span the range of the Season. Even if all 6 colours were right in the middle of the Season, every client won’t be so there is no point in putting energy into that. The consumer’s experience will not improve as much as it could be by directing attention into other areas.

Even if I wanted to achieve it, fabric availability where I live at the present time does not permit exact mid-Season drapes or identical drape sets. I once thought I wanted that, now filed under God’s Greatest Gifts (Are Unanswered Prayers). Even if every colour were identical from set to set, analyst to analyst, and year to year, the fact will remain that every analyst would not read them the same way, so there is no value in creating that. The consumer’s experience will not improve…

Using identical fabrics over and over means that new, more beautiful, more evocative, better calibrated, and challenging colours could not be brought in. The reason we know about texture, shine, Season parameters, and so many other things, is because we kept bringing in new colours. The rewards of this expansion have been so great that we are not about to stop. When Terry and I shop for fabrics, we are always on the lookout for the better and best colours. Terry Wildfong is my highly respected colleague and trainer in the USA.

Many colour analysts own Test Drapes only, which is perfectly fine but will limit how many colour variations she and the client will see. If we add the Luxury drapes, the client has now been seen in more colours, say 3 to 5 of each colour family. Is that enough exposure to decide what best is? What if the set didn’t have the lightest, or the coolest, or that client’s very best green?

Sometimes Season is a tough call and we’ll include the Luxury Drapes in the final decision, looking for the most complete and effective wardrobe and most harmonizing colours with the natural unaltered appearance. The decision among the people in the room is usually unanimous. However, I seldom notice consensus on which are the best individual colours or best combinations. So that’s interesting.


  1. How important is it to always wear my best colours?

It makes a huge difference to always wear your Season, or as close as you can, if that’s what ‘best colours’ means.

It is not important in the slightest to wear a narrowed version of our Season palette. Do we only listen to our 10 favourite songs or eat our 10 favourite foods? Or is the world richer, better, more complex and fantastic because we have the contrast of variety?

Season is a place to explore the fullness and complexity of self-expression, and the many possible faces of individuality. Who wants to see the people they know wearing their fabulous colours all the time? Like an overplayed song, they don’t seem so fabulous after a while. A language with 10 words is incapable of nearly what a 60-word dictionary can express.

Wearing only the best of the best looks boring to me, like presenting a quarter of a person. The reality of humans is of contrasts between our light and our shadow, and a million other things. Showing only our light is a little boring, unconvincing, repetitive, and artificial. There is so much more to a warm, breathing, learning, trying, growing, feeling, and sensing human being.

Wearing only our so-called best may transfer too much power to the opinions of others. Maybe it would be better to ask, “In which colours do I feel best?” Speaking only for myself, I pay attention to being exactly the same person whether I can (figuratively) hear applause or not. Otherwise, I cannot know who I am. Perceiving ourselves through the eyes of others has tremendous value. It changed my life story. Like everything, it needs to be balanced or it becomes difficult to trust our own voice, and eventually, to hear it at all. Other people’s voices can be quite insistent.

I appreciate that trusting one’s own voice takes time but try to move towards it. You will attain a level of freedom, self-reliance, and release from the opinions of others that will be worth the effort. In the end, the person with the final word on your best colours will be you. Your PCA is a form on introduction to that person.


  1. Is it better to think some colors will be phenomenal, others mostly passable?

Given the inherent variability in the meaning of phenomenal and passable (see #2 above), yes, some colours are phenomenal. The rare colour is that way on almost every person in a Season.

Other phenoms relate to individual pigmentation, as one example. Coppery carrot on Bright Springs with those colours in the hair and eyes is as silencing as truth always is, and not so much on Bright Springs based on a pink and blue or yellow and turquoise pattern.

Gray might be less exciting on some Season or persons than others, but every world needs its support structures. Even a rainforest has brown, gray, white, beige, and so on. How believable would a world without foundations be? Who would trust it?

Everyone should wear every colour in his or her palette. They might not wear them the same way, which the analyst helps each client sort out at the time of the appointment. The client also decides where they feel best expressed. Some want a closet of 6 colours, some 60. The client needs time to choose where they feel best, which is not something the colour analyst might ever know. The beautiful thing about Season is that every choice is right, and oh boy, does that free up a lot of time and money.


  1. This in mind, could it be generally a good idea to buy sister season fans? Or to buy fans by other companies in addition to TCA? Or buy corporate?


Sent from my iPhone


The more ways we see something, the better we understand it.

The more ways we see how someone else sees or does something, the better we understand how we wish to see or do it.


9. Does makeup choice lean warm or cool? 

Yes, in many women, it does. None of this post refers to makeup, which is influenced by many other factors than clothing. Its application directly next to the over- and undertones of the face, skin chemistry, reactions with nuance of particular skin and eye colours and  foundation, and inherent pigmentation of lips and skin are some of them.

If lipstick turns orange, one possibility is that the person is a cooler Season, but I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. They might be a little cooler inside the same Season. Makeup takes some experimenting. Makeup lists are extensive enough that women can try a few choices and find their level. Some will wear the full range of warm and cool colours inside the Season, but not usually with the same flexibility or flattery as with clothing.

Warm and cool options refers to Neutral Seasons (those between 2 True Seasons). The final decision depends on how the woman  wants to appear, clothing, occasion, and so on.  Her decision is also influenced by how she is accustomed to seeing herself. It takes time to see ourselves in a new way.

For True Seasons, who are fully cool or warm, the decision often comes down to the lightness or darkness of the cosmetic choice. Again, every woman will play with a few options as she assembles her cosmetic wardrobe.


10. Is it possible to be a pink-skinned DW? Does every season have pink-overtone and yellow-overtone persons?

Every Season has various presentations. In the same way that most every Season can have a version of many eye and hair colours, so can they have various skin tones.

Human colouring is often balanced on the surface, especially in the Neutral Seasons, though we are all coloured in equilibrium. A Light Spring with warm yellow green eyes will have pinker skin or more ash hair. Or at least the skin and hair look cooler, remembering that we are seeing them compared to those eyes. If the eyes suddenly switched to blue, the very same skin might seem warmer to us.

There was a question about whether hazel eyes could appear in any Season. Depends on what you call hazel, but if you mean greenish brown, then yes, though far more in some groups than others. My ideas of hazel doesn’t commonly appear in the True cool Seasons or on the Spring side, but I would never exclude any Season possibility based on that. In Light or True Summer, I’d be checking and rechecking, but in both, I can think of clients whose eyes might be called hazel. Light Spring looks more green-yellow than green-brown.

Some schools believe that the balance in our colours, whether warm and cool colours or complements depending on the words we want to use, happens between the overtone and undertone. I don’t know if that’s true because I have seen no data. Theories about how things appear or should be are not usually how they are.

I have no idea if undertone is located in a discrete biological layer, or whether people have different colours of hemoglobin, or whatever it may be. Although I don’t believe either of these is correct, and have my own theory (which I will keep private), we don’t need to know. The improvement in people’s presentation is staggering without this knowledge.

It doesn’t matter about some things. You can think an industry should have itself down to one right answer, until you think of your own profession. As an insider, you know that there are questions. This is normal and will always be so. Yet, your industry does lots of good. Medicine doesn’t have all the answers but few among us would wish it to disappear from our lives

One right answer to how to wear a Season sounds great except that the reality of it would be dry and alienate or exclude too many people. I believe that any problem can have many excellent solutions. Give an artist a paint palette with your 60 colours; a new painting every day for years to come. One Right Answer gets in the way of the fabulous possibilities that are waiting for us.

Wear your whole Season. Wear some of the neighbour Season if it makes sense for you. Breathe freely. Shopping Hell is almost at an end.





Getting Ready to Be A Colour Analyst: Commitment

This is Part 6 of 7.

Previous videos in this series:

Getting Ready to Be A Colour Analyst: Invitation

Getting Ready: Possibility

Getting Ready: Concerns

Getting Ready: Creation

Getting Ready: Decision



Thank you to S. for the beautiful header photo of Spring, the ultimate metaphor for hope and renewal.



Please No Colours for Winters

The last in the Please No Posts.

I was asked, “Don’t you just wear whatever you want?” Such a good question.

We could eat whatever we want, decorate our house however we choose, and invest our money however we want. We know that those will not be our best choices.

We look to other sources for help and guidance. To choose our best colours, the source is a colour analyst.

Please keep in mind that these are my opinions. They represent what my eye finds elegant and flattering,  or unbecoming. Everyone can and should have their opinion when it comes to taste.

The previous posts:

Please No, Springs  is here.

Please No, Summers is here.

Please No, Autumns is here.

Should the video below not play, you can watch it here on YouTube.




The Colours

Bright Winter

  1. Light Summer aqua. Eyes and no face. Not even much eyes come to think of it. Not much of anything relative to what is there.
  2. Soft Autumn rose. Truly fuzzed up face.
  3. Generic burgundy. Functional.

Beauty colour: Blue periwinkle.


True Winter

  1. Some kind of Soft and True Autumn fusion peach beige. The ultimate in go back upstairs.
  2. True Summer green on True Winter. Better on some True Winters than others. Also, True Summer green only gets a bit lighter than this. Give a Winter green that is much more something – light, dark, saturated.
  3. Faded denim. On any of the 5 Winter blends. It looks too weird to classify as casual.

Beauty colour: Pomegranate juice.


Dark Winter

  1. Soft Summer cool soft rose. How can it be so gorgeous on them and such a washout on Dark Winter. Aren’t they similar Seasons? Technical similarities with some crossover in the darker colours may be a better way to think of it.
  2. True Autumn beige. I once thought I was an Autumn who knew what suited her. Mmmm-hmmmm.
  3. Light Spring pink. Considering the presence this person can emanate, why doll clothes?

Beauty colour: Dark green. The colour and the person are one and the same, like a walking magic show.



Please No Colours for Springs

Previous posts in the series are linked in the titles:

Please No Colours for Summers 

Please No Colours for Autumns


About the Colours, L to R 

They come from my memory. None is matched to any particular colour in any palette.

Light Spring: 

True Autumn-ish camel, too red, too dark.

Potting soil brown. Gorgeous on some. Light Spring needs sky colours in the early morning in some place with incredible sunrises.

Dark Autumn teal. Teal and turquoise are good are a lot of people, colours with more latitude than many others. I didn’t use black because I’d be letting myself off too easy, nothing is worse. So I chose a colour that contains black in a hue that is really not good on everybody.

The beauty colour: light periwinkle. They look like a person sitting on a cloud.


True Spring

Soft Summer orchid, or any of those cool muted purples. It just hangs there and does nothing. Under this face, the picture is sad as in weepy.

Summer denim type colours with a little Autumn feel. Many of these folks think they’re Summers. They see lightness and blue in the eyes. The stereotypic beach blonde True Spring might only exist with yellow hair dye and some other stuff – which they wear well.

White because it’s a ubiquitous colour that everyone owns and many see as matching anything. For warm Seasons, the choice of white is so important.

The beauty colour: warm vanilla white because I see a version in a drape and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful in its simple perfection. For me, PCA is so much about the truth being the best answer there is, about not needing to live in the overdone effects around us, that quiet is more healing than noise, a lot around that.


Bright Spring

Army surplus green. Most people own this. The skin and eyes cloud in and we never see what the appearance is capable of becoming.

Light Summer-y pink, because so many in this group expect to be Light Summer. Sometimes, they look that way until compared to the actual colours.

True Autumn-y orange. They may see this in their eyes or hair at times. For me, a Spring’s least attractive Season is often not Winter or Summer, it’s Autumn, which is why I buy in 100% to the Sci\ART premise that the two cool or two warm Seasons do not overlap. They might wear the odd one of each other’s colours but in testing scenarios, there is a definite Better Than for both.

The beauty colour: warm bright pink. Regardless of the natural presentation, women or men, they are amazing. You want to ask them to not talk for a few minutes so you can just look.




Getting Ready To Be A Colour Analyst: Concerns

Every decision-making process involves weighing two or more sides of a possibility. In this third video,  we hear what present-day colour analysts were considering at this step in their journeys.

Part 1 in an invitation for you to think about what is possible.

Part 2 explains the early beginnings of how I and others were slowly moving from picturing ourselves in a new future to imagining how we might participate in the reality.

So far, including today’s video, none of us has committed. We are at the next in a series of lenses through which we view a possible future and make choices.


The Blueness of True Summer and A 1-2-3 Idea

Until I accepted how blue True Summer colouring is, finding lip and blush colours was never very successful. Once I got my head around, “Oh, that much blue!!” the colours that look like rose petals next to that skin started showing up.

The True Summers already knew about it in clothing, since 7 in 10 items in their closet were blue. For cosmetics, they learned along with me, previously veering off towards choices that were too warm out of habit, ending up with mud cheeks instead of petals.

Above, from the Blueprints cosmetics line. I’ve been loving Flash Bulb for True Summer, a sheer blue-violet as you can see. True Summer wears blue-violet like they were born for it. Indeed they were, just as True Winter was born to wear red and red-violet. Life is easier when we do what we were born to do.  Flash Bulb is divine on its own, very rose petal pink-red, not blue lips at all. It almost disappears and puts a completely comfortable and belonging mouth on the face. Centre Stage is good but a bit light for some, to my taste. It’s also a little dry which is good because it stays for hours and doesn’t move. A touch of Flash Bulb over the top and the result is SO divine in appearance and wearability. I want lipstick till noon.  Same idea with the blushes on the left. I love Watered Silk but love it more swirled with Blue Fuchsia. Angel Wings is there as another comparison, a colour any Summer could use depending on her pigmentation, what she might be mixing with, etc.    Although many lipsticks turn blue on me inside my Dark Winter home base, I always thought Revlon Crush shouldn’t. I had a brainwave that it might be better for True Summer but as you see (lower right corner) it is probably too red, clear, and dominating to a whole True Summer face. I am a Darkness-Warmth-Saturation type of Dark Winter. I still use the 100% total entire palette for clothes, plus Dark Autumn and True Winter depending on the item, and the warm or neutral parts of Dark Winter in cosmetics. Read on, I hope it will tie together :)

The next part is procedural. As a client, you don’t have to read or know one word of it. Some readers enjoy it but as a person who just wants to know how to dress your one self, this information can make your use of PCA sound much more complex than it is. Your one colouring is oh-so-easy to shop for, way easier than the whole entire mall where you shop now if you don’t know your Season.

For those who like technical detail, here we go.

In light of The Undoing Project, the latest book by admired writer Michael Lewis, I’ve been reading about the field of behavioural economics, Wiki here. It has to do with how humans make decisions in situations of risk. Heuristics and framing are a trap in PCA decisions just like financial ones.

As an example, I find stereotypic appearance almost dangerous when it comes to identifying Season. The concept is Caucasian-based and too incomplete considering the variability in human colouring. Among many, one other problem is that relying on stereotypes, like relying too much on theory, assumes that we understand all there is to know about human colouring, which I don’t believe we do. I believe that the system should have space reserved for individuality on many levels.

Where stereotypic appearance is more useful might be in judging which of the cosmetic possibilities inside a Season are likely to look best. This is especially true if you’re a Neutral Season. An Autumn-looking Soft Summer generally does better in the warmer choices, and a Summer-looking one in the cooler cosmetic colours.

It applies for True Seasons too. Blue-eyed True Winters tend to look lovely in fuchsia cosmetic choices. Those with black-brown eyes and hair do well in reds, but this is variable depending in part on how olive or alabaster the skin colours are. With a blonde haired blue-eyed True Summer, I would try cool corals and lighter pastels from her palette first, before handing her True Summer’s darker options. Those darker options would be next to go on though because you can’t predict how makeup will work till you put it on the face and look. Any cosmetic could work in several Seasons, especially if it is sheer, or neutral coloured in the case of eyeshadows.

This selection process is for cosmetics only. They are painted right on the face. The proximity to native pigments in the skin makes colour reactions more apparent. They will be seen against a background of various complexions, next to various eye and hair colours. People get too plugged into the cooler and warmer side of their Season in attire, which is not to their advantage. My advice is to wear every colour in clothing but adjust how you wear it based on your draping reactions, personal taste, image archetype, and the garment or item itself.

The idea of leaning warm or cool in one’s Season might be an impression from the PCA. The number of drapes you see yourself in at the analysis is too limited to arrive at these blanket statements. Even if the analyst has the beautiful Luxury drapes, she will only have a few drapes to represent any given colour. As a technical impression, it may hold some truth. As a practical guide, it is too restricting for clothing but holds some truth for makeup. My advice is to stay very open-minded about incorporating all palette colours into wardrobe, and try all sorts of makeup in your Season and some other Seasons too before accepting or rejecting anything.

The top is Lavender gloss from the Blueprints line. I love this colour for its blueness,  its orchid colour that works nicely on Winters too who want to tone down certain lipsticks, and that it has this toothpaste quality that is so good on True Summer. Chalky colour really suits them. On its own, it is more pale and muted (grey) than my idea of a healthy mouth and face but you will (and should) have your own ideas. The gloss with Centre Stage is superb and stunning and magnificent  The blue eyeshadow is the accent colour for this Season, an excellent blue that is not too dark, equally (barely) greenish and reddish, and never competes with the natural blue of the eye. Let your eyes feast on the pink and blue next to each other. Feels good, ay?

Coming back to the importance of individuality within Season, and hoping not to confuse readers, personal expression can swing too far. Boundaries can be helpful to keep us from tipping off the edge. The Season palette is a starting point that is true. From there, you can make as many paintings as an artist could if handed that selection of paints.

I fully appreciate that in our strengths lies our weakness. That’s just how the world works though I seriously wish it weren’t so. Some might say that Seasons, or 12 Seasons, are too simplified given all the possible translations. Sure, they are. But in simplicity lies truth. In complexity, truth can be lost in detail. Given the choices of systems, I pick the one with the true starting place from which to create. I will use that as a trusted baseline for the decorations I will add. The question then becomes how to play safely in the everyday traffic of getting dressed well.

Although a person is only one Season in their colouring, we can still wear colours from other palettes, often two or three of them that are not necessarily neighbours. Various analysts have blogged about this so I won’t here, except to say that we could ‘lean’ into two or three Seasons, at which point this language has become counter-productive because the Season borders get blurred. We might lean into certain colours but not entire Seasons. We seem to need a new way of thinking about it.

I tipped the paper to give a different view. I was trying to show this sweetest pink-violet reflectivity in the navy, very lovely with the undertone of a similar colour in this woman’s natural colouring. You’re not missing anything, the camera is  not picking it up. Oh, photography.

A measure of a PCA’s system success is how well its clients use the information to empower better shopping and wardrobe decisions. I have been wondering if a better way to describe individuality within Season is with a 1-2-3 concept. When I think of Seasons, I actually am thinking of colour dimensions (hue, value, chroma) primarily. Our analysts are taught how to think in those terms as well. Ideas like this one come from conversations among our whole community. Everyone brings their own genius to the table. Good things happen. I am grateful for it. I am also grateful for all the other PCA companies whose way of seeing things instructs us. Others have recognized very similar effects to this 1-2-3 concept. Our differences might just be in how the information is framed and implemented by the analysts and the clients. As Amanda Roberts, our analyst in California, summed it up:

The concept is really about very slight differences in how people might use the palette. Maybe just, this lipstick a shade lighter than this one is a bit better for this woman with lighter hair than this one with darker hair in the same season. But who knows, it could be the opposite, and we don’t really even know until we try.

Inside a given Season, let’s say Bright Spring, everyone has clarity of colour (high saturation) as the colour dimension that is set way high on the dial, the dimension that really wants to be satisfied for them to look best. The other two dimensions (light/dark or value, and warm/cool or hue) are nearer the medium setting and more tolerant of fluctuation. Of those two medium dimensions, one can be more important in some members of the Season and the other with other members.

Let me break that down some more. First, as we know, Bright Springs need clarity. Clarity of colour defines and unites their colour harmony more than any other aspect of colour. That group of people stands up.

Of those standing, one person might have value (as lightness, because Spring is light, bright, and warm) as a bigger deal than hue (as warm or cool) in their use of the palette. They are still Bright Spring. The more colour chroma they wear, the better they look. Their workshop is the same palette as any other Bright Spring. On the workbench (inside the palette), they have more tolerance when colour is light. They might bear resemblance to Light Summers or True Springs. The warm to cool span of the palette is not an issue, no detracting optical effects of any sort occur, as long as colour is #1: high saturation, and #2: light in value. Her dimension order might go Sat-Value-Hue as her personal 1-2-3. She can wear the lighter warm corals and cool light blue-greens equally well. Once colour gets to the darker end, she might do better in warm or cool. She might be fine in dark warm green-blue but dark cool true blue might be severe. She will have both in her closet but only one as a turtleneck.

Another of the standing up people is a Bright Spring who might go sat-hue-value. As long as colour is warm, he has wide flexibility in lightness or darkness. He can wear yellow green and the darker orange and warm green just fine. Once colour is cool, he may do better in light or dark, always inside the Bright Spring palette. M&Ms blue might be great but the darker cooler blue may be better as pants than a winter coat.

Our analysts are clear on how to assess this level of detail, although we discuss it as customizing palettes for individual clients. We want to avoid losing folks in technicality that doesn’t serve them or watching our clients narrow down their palettes based on too little data and reject colours they should totally be wearing.

An example from another Season:

One Soft Summers’s parameters are Sat-Value-Hue. Summer is generally soft, light, and cool, and the 1-2-3 draw from those. I can’t think of a Soft Summer (or a Bright Spring from the previous example) who has wider latitude in darks than lights, but they probably exist.

Low colour saturation is the foremost thing that establishes a relationship between her colours, allowing them to interact in ensembles. The second thing for this woman is to be lighter side in the Season. Colour can go as warm or cool as it likes in this second building block as long as it is not from the darkest swatches of her palette. Once colour hovers near the dark extreme, she might do the dark burgundy but not the dark blue-purple.

Other Soft Summers are Sat-Hue-Value. First thing needed for their colours to communicate with one another and to the world is to be soft. The next block narrows down all the Soft Summer colours to recognize that as long as they are from the warm to neutral swatches of this cool-neutral palette, they can wear any lightness to darkness level with no issue. Once they get distinctly cooler in the cool-neutral palette, they might not want to buy a turtleneck or lipstick in some of the darker or lighter colours, depending on their unique colour reactivity, but they for sure ought to seek out those colours in prints and accessories. Everything talks to everything else without having to be equal sized or in the same location.

Do some people have a 1-2-2 reading? Yes, where 2 is either relaxed in both dimensions or more rigid in both dimensions.

I’d like to repeat what Amanda said about slight differences. The jumps are not big between these variations of a Season, not even in cosmetics.

I hope that I haven’t confused everybody. These are just my impressions. It’s ok to disagree. Different perspectives enrich us, much preferred to a monoculture of the mind as someone said so eloquently (and whom I would gladly credit but have forgotten where I heard it). There is plenty of room for many definitions of beauty. We love hearing how the world looks through your eyes.

Picture break from my daughter in New Zealand, a country that appears to have nothing wrong with it except that cherries are $32 a pound.

Skip this next part if you’re not into the technical stuff. To confuse things with jargon a little bit more, I’d like to separate the idea of contrast from the 1-2-3. To keep these ideas together on this site, I will put that section here. From the new edition of the analyst training manual:

You may hear or read about people being dominant in value contrast or colour contrast. The sentence can be divided in two parts. In the first part, I am not a follower of the dominant and secondary terminology in PCA because it implies that we can know the order of importance of a person’s 3 colour dimensions by looking at them. Humans are not visually or mentally set up to get the right answer often enough, my own opinion. We are not good at predicting inherent and most harmonious value and colour contrast by looking at someone.

In the second part, the ideas of value and colour contrast do apply. Value contrast means light-dark separation. Winters have higher value contrast. Colour contrast means how far apart are colours around the colour wheel, and from there, how close to complementary do colour pairs become in attire.

IMO, warmer Seasons look better in higher colour contrast. It expresses visual energy. They are more colourful to look at. Springs have higher apparent colour contrast and/or wear it better. Autumns can wear both value and colour contrast at a higher level, meaning colours are further apart on the value scale and around the colour wheel. Summers have both or neither at a lower level, meaning closer together on the value scale and in more adjacent locations around the colour wheel (analogous) instead of opposite (complementary).

If these were rules, people would look the same every day. Within any Season, repeating how we appear is a good idea but may be overplayed by clients to the point that they extinguish too much individuality and interest from their appearance. They do better when they use their entire palette in various ways. My point is that we cannot know which type of contrast is dominant by looking at someone. Know their Season first, and then play with value and colour contrast. These are real enough but they come after knowing the Season by testing.

The 1-2-3 idea applies in any Season. The most important dimension is whatever the Season is and takes the #1 position. Of the other two dimensions that are set nearer the middle, one might matter more to any given individual. You could have Winters, Autumns, Summers, and Springs all of whom share value in the 2 position (except the Lights and Darks where it’s #1), but who would not wear value or colour contrast the same way.

London, Ontario just got about 8 inches of snow. As I contemplate how much I care about living in Canada, I leave you with another picture of New Zealand, a most incredible country.






Please No Colours for Autumns

Having your colouring analyzed is easy. You sit in a chair and I pass fabrics in different colours under your face. I’ll explain how to decide what is really working. We’ll decide together. We will follow a map, we’ll have a plan, and in about 2 hours, we will have the answer. The person you will have found at the end is you.

You won’t believe all the different ways you can look, and probably do look. You will leave knowing what to never buy again. You will know why not. For your next shopping trip, you go in armed with a list of Better Than choices. Who cares if this yellow blouse or that purple jacket is showing the world a less-than-best you? I’ll give you 20 better options to look for.

The first post in this series was Please No Colours for Summers. The comments to that post were excellent. There and here too, the colours in the diagram are those that I see often where I live. They’re not intended to be the worst possible or second best or follow any ranking system. For instance, the yellow in the True Autumn row below. Autumns tend to be comfortable in yellow but not being sure what to buy, they figure yellow is yellow and end up with something that looks wimpy instead of their Santa Fe sunset look.

First, because you know I have to talk about colour if I see an opening, some thoughts about compliments, one of my favourite reverse psychologies where, “I love your shirt.” means, “I think your shirt would look great on me.”

And photographs, which is a question I am asked often. Funny , my accountant keeps asking the same question, “Are you quite sure you can’t do this from pictures???”

One reader asked if I see any browns as worse for True Autumn than black. That’s kind of a challenge, like telling a massage therapist nothing hurts today :) Spring has some light beiges that are flat on True Autumn. The pink browns of the Summers do nothing that helps this person in any way. Black isn’t so impossible on True Autumn because it’s dark. They can manage it in a leopard spot or a piping.

Black is a lot tougher on Soft Autumn, in fact it could have gone into the grid below. The person is shorter, heavier, and boxier. That’s just the way it is. But nobody is ever stuck. If a place or occasion demands black, a warmed soft black is not that hard to find. Nobody will know the difference, though you might be asked if you got taller.



The Colours

Soft Autumn

  1. Royal blue or sapphire:  Dominant to the point that the wearer could be a mannequin.
  2. True or Light Summer pink, powder pink, icy pink, pastel pink: None of them look like the woman’s own clothing. The sense is of attire borrowed from a teenager.
  3. Winter fuchsia: Too much red for a softy yellow and green person. Just picture it with the light brick lipstick that actually does look gorgeous.

Beauty colour: Soft medium-dark turquoise. Stunning. Stunning. Repeats the colours in those who have similar blue-greens in the eyes to Soft Summer.


True Autumn

  1. True Spring daffodil yellow: Warm Seasons should wear yellow, among their best appearance. But not this yellow.
  2. True Summer muted cool blue: Add 15 years presto. It’s a crazy thing to see but it never fails to happen.
  3. Spring lime: The viewer has no idea where to look. We sometimes see ourselves as very medium and figure that wearing something bright will brighten up the whole picture but the item only brightens itself. We can only become more bland by comparison to a colour much brighter than our own.

Beauty colour: Spicy brown with a shimmer. A screen that you never want to change.


Dark Autumn

  1. White: Add age, subtract health. There in no way to wear this, just as there is no way to adapt black for Light Spring.
  2. Bright Season fuchsia: I don’t know why. Better than on Soft Autumn, but looks like candy.
  3. Summer pastels: the complexion goes grey and flat. The lightest of the Dark Autumn colours might resemble pastels but nobody would put them together in an outfit.

Beauty colour: That rich amazing red. Many have dark red in the eyes, which is amazing. For others, this colour complements the green. Own the lipstick or the tie. You may not know how great you look but the rest of us do.



Science, beauty, truth. Transformational results.