You are about to take a personal journey with Danish author, Anne-Cathrine Riebnitzsky. I know that many readers will find familiarity in her experiences and feelings. I am very grateful to Anne-Cathrine for discussing personal colour analysis from the one side that matters most: the client’s.
I self diagnosed as a Winter in the 90ies after reading the book “Colour Me Beautiful.” I was 15 or 16. There were only four seasons then. My internal feeling was that I was a Winter. I was a bit sorry that the beautiful strong colours of Spring couldn’t be mine as well, but in my heart I never had any real doubts. A Winter I was.
I followed the idea of Winter to the best of my ability but gradually swayed in other colour directions too. The years passed and I thought less about colours.
One day probably about 5 years ago, I tried on a beige item and noticed how my skin was completely even. Most people who knew just a bit about colour would often comment on my “warm green eyes” and I had begun to suspect that perhaps I was an Autumn instead. The beige colour had me puzzled … now I did not know what I know today. I was unable to see the whole picture. And moreover it turned out that I am one difficult woman to analyse.
This beige colour became the beginning of a long journey hunting for my true season. Here I discovered how much had happened to the world of colour analysis since the 90ies. I discovered Christine’s wonderful blog and many other sites. I became quite absorbed with colours as a new hobby.
Lesson no. 1: Even and “perfect” skin is not the same as your face looking like the colour you are wearing. Believe me – you will be misled if you go down this road. Even and perfect skin is something entirely different. It is you glowing in a way you had not foreseen, and unless you are fortunate enough to already know your colours you may actually never have seen this face before no matter how often you stare in the mirror.
The first analysis
I tried to analyse myself. That is really difficult to do. I finally flew to another European city to have an in person analysis. I was desperately hoping to be a Bright Spring. Those were the most beautiful colours to my eye at the time. Second would be Bright Winter. The worst would be Soft Summer because I couldn’t associate with the colours – though I actually owned numerous pieces that were soft.
The analyst was Sci/ART trained – this was the system that to my rather systematic mind made the most sense. There are multitudes of colours and many that suit us, but the whole measuring process is to my mind the key to opening the door of the vast house which is your season and which you will only feel at home in if you have in fact opened a house which is your house.
From the first four drapes it was clear that black and silver were best. There was no doubt I could wear black. This was something I had questioned myself, and I was glad to get this confirmed. We moved through the many drapes. I was difficult. Provoking a bad reaction to my skin is not easy. The warm drapes are the only ones were it is really easy to see. From there it is a slow game. We slowly exhausted the possibilities – almost all of them.
We actually ran out of time. But we agreed on Bright Spring – though one of the drapes was actually too strong and there was a reflection from the skin on my chin. I was happy with the result. And also quite aware that I had actually pushed for something which might not be the accurate truth. Unfortunately I had to fly back the next day and my analyst had an appointment so we were out of time.
Lesson no. 2: Make sure you have plenty of time for an analysis. Perhaps you are really easy. But perhaps you are not. It may take five hours. How long it takes is not important. Getting it right is important.
Lesson no. 3: Do not try to force your analyst or manipulate her. They are human beings too. Be accurate about this. Try to observe what really happens in the mirror – not what you would like to happen. Difficult, but necessary.
Correction by shopping
It so happened that I wore the Bright Spring colours quite well – however eventually my mistake caught up with me, as I bought a turquoise blouse which was an exact match to the fan – but which also shone off from the skin under my chin. Exactly as the one drape had done in the test.
I was back to square one somehow.
I flew to another European city to have my second test. Also by a Sci/ART analyst. I told the analyst in advance of my previous history. She sat me down and looked at the first four drapes. I could still wear black and silver equally well.
Here is the hard part for you: If you were an analyst and a client walked in and said that she had discovered she wasn’t a Bright Spring after all, where would you go? What would you assume?
This analysis moved forward speedily. Very fast – faster than I could understand – I was a Soft Summer. The season whose colours felt most wrong for me. But I had promised myself not to try to sway any analyst ever again. I had promised my self that whatever the outcome I would try it, live with it, and do my best to accept it.
The worst part of this analysis was that I didn’t see nor understand what the decisions were based upon. I couldn’t in any way see how those drapes enhanced me. Only the last two drapes could I see. The pine green was actually intensifying my eyes like it is supposed to. The dark blue did something to my hair.
The whole thing took less than two hours including makeup. Off I was and the analyst went on to the numerous other clients at hand that day. I went outside into a park and sat down and cried. I know it sounds ridiculous and that this would probably not happen to you. You would have walked straight back and told her to redo the whole thing. Well, I didn’t. I flew home and lived in Soft Summer for 18 straight months. I hated the colours. The compliments stopped. I felt kind of depressed. But I am a diligent person. I am a perfectionist and I actually do not care what I have to put myself through once I have decided upon something.
It was incredibly difficult for me to make an outfit work – though it is supposed to be easy in this season where the underlying grey combine all the colours. It was a struggle for me. I had the palette lying open on my desk to try to get to know and like the colours. I could get myself to like the darker colours, but the light ones didn’t mean anything to me.
Lesson no. 4: You should not have to struggle so hard! Some may be surprised by their palette. But really – if you have tried living in a season and it still feels wrong, then there is probably something wrong. Colours are energy. If you live in the wrong house it is going to feel complicated hard and wrong and probably depressing. I am not with the people who say that this is not exact science. Well – in a way it is. Colours can be measured quite accurately. And you should look more than just “kind, relaxed, well” – you should look remarkable.
Elea Blake makeup
I bought some of the make up for soft summer from Elea Blake – here I received the first confirmation, that Soft Summer might not be true after all. The darker choices in eye makeup were fine. But the skin make up was a puzzle. None of them worked. As in NONE. They all looked like something that had been smeared on top of my skin. They would not blend.
Knowing that Dark Winter and Soft Summer can sometimes share some colours I bought some small samples of DW makeup. Those worked a lot better. This new information rumbled in my mind.
Lesson no. 5: If you really are searching for your season and you truly cannot in anyway find the means to go and have a test, then see if you can narrow your options down. Write to Elea Blake and order the small samples of skin make-up. It could give you a good hint. I believe it is more accurate than lip draping. These products are very precisely composed. My personal belief is that at least 3 or 4 of the skin colours should suit you if you are in that particular season. I may be wrong, I am no expert – this is just my own personal experience.
Sitting next to a real Soft Summer
In the summer 2013, I participated in a congress for creative writers. I remember this moment distinctly. I was sitting next to a woman with silver hair and beautiful hazel eyes – quite like my own. She was the most stunning person in the room. We all looked at her from time to time. Never had any silver haired woman in her 50ies looked so beautiful. We were many young people – but none as beautiful as her. I knew she was a Soft Summer. She wore Soft Summer. She had never been analysed but she knew her colouring and she combined them in a way that could not possibly have made me look the least bit interesting. I remember the exquisite earrings in green and purple mother of pearl, her lilac blouse, the soft pink lip. That did it for me. I was no Soft Summer no matter how hard I tried.
On line analysis
During my whole journey I had two online tests where I sent a lot of photos – one said Bright Spring, one said True Summer bordering with Soft Summer. The latter was followed by a makeover done on a photo of my face. I strongly disliked the look of it. I had no idea who the woman on the photo was – I understand that the photo to begin with was me – but I couldn’t recognize the woman as me.
Today I look at the questionnaires that were designed to help those analysts make a decision. Well … let it suffice to say I cannot recommend it.
I gave up on the whole thing. I couldn’t work it out. It was a relief to put on a black T-shirt – both emotionally and physically. I believe most people actually can feel the effects of colours. Even hospitals use colours.
I went with what I felt, bought a Dark Winter fan and noticed a big improvement.
A small miracle
By chance I noticed that one of Christine’s newly trained analysts was a Dane. I had seen her name before and contacted her via Facebook. I warned her that I was difficult to test and that I didn’t know which way to go now. Except I probably was some kind of Winter. At least some kind of cool or cool-neutral season. Or perhaps I was something else. Probably not a warm.
We agreed on a date. Anette was eager yet admitted being a bit nervous since I would be one of her first real clients. She said I wouldn’t have to pay if we couldn’t figure it out – which was nice of her and took some pressure of, though admittedly by now my life had changed so much that the cost was less of a concern.
Anette had blocked the whole day for just my analysis. She said she was looking forward to learn too.
The draping began. I was fortunate enough to not have any trace of colour in my hair (I have always found it difficult to strike anything that would look natural).
The first four drapes showed what I already knew. I could wear black and wear it remarkably well. Warm colours were not so good. I actually felt unwell wearing those colours. We made due note of what bad effects looked like in my face.
I have many different colours in my eyes. I have dark hair. I balance a lot of dark and cool colours. We moved forward slowly. I had explained that it was vital for me to understand and see with my own eyes what was a good drape and what was a bad drape. We got rid of the warm seasons quickly. The obvious ones. Then we moved on. Anette kept saying – well, this is not bad, but I believe you can look a lot better. This hope carried us on and on and on.
The biggest surprise for me was that beyond the true warm seasons, my worst colours were from Light Spring and Light Summer. There were a couple of turquoises there that were so harsh and strong and “unbelonging” on me that it took me by surprise.
So what about Soft Summer then? Well this is actually not my worst season. I completely understand that I could be put in that season though it is very far from what I really am.
Once we finally moved into the 3 Winters we knew we had it. My eyes cleared. I did not know that the white in my eyes actually can become really white. I had not seen this for so long I thought it had disappeared with age. The bit of my hair that was visible shone with a depth that was really becoming. Winter it was. We just didn’t know which one. It was very difficult. I span a lot of colours. I span a lot of coolness.
By comparing all the blues we finally discovered that it was not Dark winter. I became slightly fussy around the chin. So more colour then. More intensity. Though DWs reds were beautiful on me.
In the end we settled with True Winter, but not entirely sure. We decided I would have to come back another day. We were both exhausted. It had taken about 5 hours.
I drove home excited. After all this was actually still a huge success for me. I was now down to two beautiful seasons which I both really liked and which also made me look more stunning than I had seen in years.
Lesson no. 6: There is no such equations as “I look terrible in Soft Summer ergo I must be a Bright Winter.” You worst is not necessarily straight across the wheel of seasons. It could be only a few seasons away.
Second visit – the final result
I lived in and with True Winter. Colours that are hard to find when shopping, so I didn’t find that much new stuff – but clear white was easy to find and really good. Black was good. I dyed some old faded jeans and some old dresses. I knew enough about material from reading Christine’s many articles and from intelligent people who comment those articles, to know that cotton and soft fluffy surfaces weren’t going to hit it right with a Winter – but the black jeans work well. I never really liked cotton much anyway – it is easy to wash, but there my interest stops. Cotton fades really fast compared to plastic, satin, silk and shiny leather.
Black mascara was good. Again I had really good help from the little samples from Elea Blake. Unfortunately I had only ordered True Winter – but still this helped. The samples of skin makeup and lipstick were a great help. I noticed that some of them turned me a little pale and “deadly grey” around my mouth. A sign that these colours might be a bit too cool. Anette wrote to say she had noticed a bit of quietness in the true winter drapes which she wasn’t sure was right. But then we had a few of the Bright Winter luxury drapes that we were not entirely sure about. Were they too much? Too warm? Anette and I wrote many emails back and forth.
Anette and I had not had time to get around to makeup during the draping session. For the next visit I decided to wear mascara and my usual eyeliner which is black. I know it may sound hard but black doesn’t look hard on me. It is the only colour that doesn’t turn the lower rim of my eyes red.
The makeup actually helped in this case. It also helped a lot that we were now down to two seasons – our eyes were fresh and ready. I was a Bright Winter as I had slowly come to suspect.
There may be many more Brights out there who like me actually do not look too bad in colours that are not theirs. They just do not look as smashing as they would in their true colours. I think the reason is that Bright can take so much colour – and therefore you would have to be severely off on more than one dimension to look really bad. But I also think that these are the seasons who more often than not look a lot less beautiful than they could.
Looking back I now understand why evening gowns always have been so easy for me. 1. I would never go to a big party without makeup (and makeup greatly enhance winters). 2. Gowns are often in bright colours and often in shiny material which is a real winner on me.
I am still adjusting. I am still feeling the energy of this season. But I have come home. I got to see with my own eyes what my season really is. I understood what I saw. I love the colours. I also now know that there are colours out there in the world which are brighter than any human colouring – but 99% of the time I have to focus on getting the colours bright and clear enough. I have come home.
I remember how Bright Spring always made me feel a bit exhausted – like the energy was a bit too high for me. I felt a bit serious and stern in True Winter. Bright Winter is wonderful. It is enhancing, asking me to be what I am and to not shrink back in fear. Bright Winter is asking me to be bold, to be me, to be all of me – and in doing so allowing others to be all of who they are.
Sometimes I am wearing an outfit that is not quite enough. Not enough sharpness of colour, not enough contrast. It feels a bit boring, a bit like “come on you can hit the mark, so be your best” – so I make adjustments. It is not at all difficult for me to combine these colours. Not at all. It comes naturally. Black pants and a blouse in a strong colour – easy! Lipstick, black mascara – easy.
I use the advice from the article about the makeup for Winters. I don’t fade or remove anything till eyes, lips, and blush are all there. I do my shopping carefully. I make a list of what I need and I do not compromise – not in colours, not in lines. It is not that hard really. It just takes a bit more patience than what is natural for me – but the effort is well worth it.