For those here for the first time, in 12 Seasons personal colour analysis, Soft Autumn is the type of natural colouring or Season that is mostly governed by Autumn’s personal colour palette, with a small but important influence from Summer.
In the previous Soft Autumn Landscapes, we thought about how perfectly Kristin’s photos of Belgian scenes depicted Soft Autumn’s palettes and colour language. How does this translate in your appearance? How do you take the beauty of how you already are and elevate it, level by level, by repeating it in perfect harmony with the original?
Very muted means nothing bold, cold, hard, sharp, super-shiny, super-sleek, super-anything, severe, or strict. White and black, both extremes, are outsiders. I hope Kristin will forgive me if I show you white and black on SA using her photos. Does your eye anything else? All the good, easy feelings go away and you feel the tension of being expected to deal with the white dot and come up with a reaction.
Though I always expect to feel more tension with black on this colouring, since SA is the light side of the Autumn group, I’m actually more uncomfortable with white. Perhaps that’s because Autumn in general goes to a medium-dark place. More so, stark white feels a bit painful because the inherently muted colouring makes the white absolutely sparkle so I feel I have to squint or look down.
What’s worse, to balance the clanging, insistent white, the person just gets grayer. When you force two things together that don’t belong, they both seem to go further in the bad direction. Something has to give to keep the balance. The white glows more and the person mutes more. On a Winter person, they can subdue that white to be just white, not phosphorescent-where-are-my-sunglasses-I-can’t-see-the-woman white.
Colour schemes are not necessarily analogous or monochromatic, but rather depict easy, easy transitions. The very low saturation (meaning high degree of grayness) unites the colours, enabling the gorgeously unrestricted flow for the eye from one visual element to the next. Without extremes of light and dark, contrast is low.
I like feminine and masculine combinations a lot in this and Soft Summer. When magazines put lacy tops with denim jackets, I always see it best in the Softs. Summer is inherently female. Autumn is not really masculine, but they sure can pull off a suit and carry a briefcase. There is often a squaring of jaw and a straightening of brow, which is why they look so good with square handbags and jackets.
I like complements on this group too. With the simultaneous warm and cool presence of Neutral Seasons, you often see a blue-ish eye and orange-ish hair.
The coral sleeveless top: The beading is not in high contrast to the top and it’s muted, not sparkly. Peanut shells (a big SA visual for me, in texture, strength, fibers, and colour) do not sparkle. Brown is not too hot, quite grey, and not extremely dark, so Nutella brown. The fabric drapes a bit (Summer grace) but has some structure (Autumn substance). It’s not gauze. We’re aiming for a medium overall darkness effect.
The leopard cardigan: It’s quiet, not a Hawaiian print, geometric, or outright floral. You’re not wearing the whole animal, which would smother SA in the drama. Muted animal prints work well to convey the strength and texture that so defines the Season, but this is controlled and cooled, very neutral. I’d add a more substantial belt to add strength through natural texture (Autumn).
The twinset: The jeans are browned. The peach brown tank is browned, nothing candy or blossom about it, which would be Spring. Summer brings femininity and flowers are great, but not a profusion of blooms. The octagonal shapes remind of flowers, but with more structure and rigidity. On a Spring, this would look like, I don’t know, a medieval church? Too ordered, which on them proceeds to, > recurring > mechanical > heavy > clunk. A Dark Autumn can take medieval weight all the way to heavy, leaded stained glass and just look better.
Brown cardi: There are vines (Summer) in an earthy (Autumn) colour. To balance the waviness, the skirt has more sustenance, more grounding and squaring. These bodies tend to be more squared than rounded, though some have very womanly Summer bodies.
The blue top and the grey Bermudas: A reminder that all Neutral Seasons have cool and warm versions of every colour, of the importance of neutrals, and a segue into the next section.
To see an evening look, Soft Autumn Darkness Adjustments shows some choices.
Ashley asked for us to talk about the boundaries of Soft Autumn blue. Blue is inherently cool and has more options in the cool Seasons. By the time SA rolls around, Summer is leaving us and taking its signature blue with it. Once the warmth of Autumn gold or Spring yellow start mixing in, blues turn quickly to teals and then greens. A small amount of gold makes a warm, muted blue. When Summer blue and Autumn orange mix, colours mute more by the effect of complements. When we get to True Autumn, Summer’s blue is gone so some of the graying by mixing complementary colour lifts and colours are clearing again.
SA’s should look at Territory Ahead. Very Mesa, desert, glowing clothing. It’s not necessary to look like an ad for Frye boots, but there are some great building blocks here. Susan pointed us to this skirt. The tone-on-tone adds interest and the flowers are brought in as texture (Autumn) rather than floral bouquets. There are some great blue options there too.
In the picture below:
Across the top, SA blues. On the left, that’s about as light as blue (or any colour) gets. The darkness range really hugs the medium section of the scale.
Across the bottom from L to R,
– the blue tyedye long dress is Soft Summer, still foggy but distinctly cooler, a little fresher
– the purple dress is too pink-red, Autumn really isn’t a pink person in the ballet pink sense; with Summer blue leaving, they have few purples till Winter red reappears in Dark Autumn, the ochre yellow base of the Season complements purple, so what they have is very muted
– the one next to the right (so 3rd from L) is better
– the last from L, blue with embroidery and gathers on right side seam is probably darker than my Colour Book shows, but I wouldn’t mind it, it has the required dullness and neutrality (at least in the photo) ; I would not go darker, depending a bit on the darkness level of the woman
Not hot and not dark, which go to bloodshot and obvious too easily. As quiet as the colours are, they are very medium in darkness. From the blue selection above, you can see that the range of darkness for colours isn’t wide. The same goes with makeup.
Eyeliner: Nutella again. Lauder Softsmudge Brown is good. Rimmel Sable is warmer and works on some, too red on others.
On some Seasons, strong dividing lines between colour elements look right. That’s not the case on the Softs Seasons because that is exactly opposite to how Nature made them. Smoke the liner with a little eyeshadow over top if you like, to enlarge and define more in a diffused, blurred line sort of way. Darkening the line might backfire and just close in and take over the eye.
Lipstick: Bobbi Brown makes about 9 good lipsticks, as Rose, Soft Rose, Tulle Rose, Italian Rose (darker).
Again, not too orange, this isn’t True Autumn heat yet. Still a fair bit of pink. Like the roofs in the top photo, there is also a fair brown element. I start with the terracotta flower pot visual and adjust the colour to suit the individual woman from there.
At Aveda, looking for some boundaries, I wondered about not pinker, more saturated, or darker than Aveda Wild Plum or Lychee Luxe (bit sparkly, be careful of that in makeup, same discussion as with white above; matte is your best buddy). Their Rayflower could be a flesh tone. Any SAs who try these out, I’d love some feedback.
Also, Rimmel Heather Shimmer or Revlon Colorburst Soft Rose. I like definite colour. If it’s too skin tone, the lips disappear into the face, which works better if you’re under 20. The really light lips look best on the Light Season faces (same discussion as black above).
Eyeshadow: Aveda’s Gobi Sands eyeshadow and Clinique Double Date. These colours are not that hot. The stones and wood above the white dot in the photo at the top are right. As a Neutral Season, there is a warmer palette too, as MAC Soba.
Blush: Aveda Peach Lights looks like a contender (all feedback welcome). MAC Buff (bit pinker) and Clinique Mocha Pink are good too.
A Park in Paris
An inspiring closing note that another Susan shared with me for you to enjoy (and on behalf of all of us, I thank her). This is the Parc Luxembourg in Paris. How you feel sitting on one of those benches, surrounded by those colours and textures, that light and temperature, that’s how looking at Soft Autumn should feel. Could you feel yourself relax? Listen to those feelings. They’re real.