True Winter Sans Drama and A Gentle Dark Autumn

A couple of things on my mind lately.

First, body lines and how they matter as much as colour (or almost :)) in a final image.

I send out a newsletter to my clients containing items from the retail world that show the colours of that Season, with talk of how it beautifies that particular group of natural colouring. With every new issue, I worry that women will see it as an endorsement of every item for every person. I feel responsible when I see a tall, stiff body dressed in draping clothes that just look floppy and clingy. I’m thinking that I need a new format. Body line is taken into big consideration when I shop for me. So should it be when I shop for you.

Second thing bugging me a bit. I wrote RTYNC 2 years ago (blue book, right column). There, I began understanding the language of the 12 Seasons (Seasons means types of colouring that humans can be organized into), and how all five senses are invoked in our perception of colour. The problem became that folks tried to fit themselves into those categories instead relying more on a complete and thorough draping process. If you’re a dramatic, intense Light Spring, then you are.

I’d hear, “I was draped as a True Winter but I’m not dramatic, so should I wear Summer colours? Maybe I’m not a Winter?” If you’re a Winter dressing as Summer, you look weak. Many Summers can take a fair bit of saturation, beyond the swatch books probably, but they are not Winters and nor are Winters Summers.


Softer True Winter

For example,

I guess my question is, how in the world can one come to terms with feeling, being and acting more like an autumn, but being draped as a True Winter??  I don’t feel like the dramatic that I am supposed to be as a winter.  I also have salt & pepper hair, so I feel like I am softer somehow and really wish there was a “soft winter” category. I do feel like with my graying hair, I have a softer look to me and am worried that I will look harsh with stronger make up.  What can you suggest for someone like me?  Is there anyway to wear softer winter colors without looking completely off?  I do wish there were more examples of gray haired winters out there.

Elizabeth Taylor (probably a Bright Winter).

Stacy London (probably True Winter).

Or Google “gray hair women” and see the many fantastic Pinterest collections, like this one.

The minute I or anyone else writes something about the Seasons, it becomes a pigeonhole that gets propagated all over the place. If you find your whole person as you know her, or as anyone else knows her, inside a book, you’re among the rare.

The drama with True Winter is a typecast. I have never seen one where it’s absent, but it’s not obvious. Some are fiercely loyal, will take the car to drive their friend to Emerg if her brother takes sick, stay up all night with the family, and create lots of conflict when you suggest that someone needed that car to get to work. They live in a body like Pink’s and wear off-the-shoulder sweaters and leggings and carry gym bags instead of purses, though they have a penchant for chandelier earrings.

Some are intensely dedicated promoters, requesting that you mail them boxes of your business cards because they’re giving them out like candy. They’re 65 and not interested in theater of any sort, prefer practical clothes and a little gloss and blush only, but they know what they like and don’t mind saying what a person might not want to hear. Winter is very brave. This one has the body of TV Mom. The face looks casual and kind, though the eyes look at things with intensity. She wears pearls and traditional femininity; nice classic suits for the office, small dangle earrings. Black, white, and red together are too bold for her taste.

Some can be very harsh except about their own needs, extreme, and a little revenge oriented. They will do a Beyonce lemon juice fast for a week and eat a whole ice cream cake on Saturday. Their drama is to exaggerate their social behaviour with friends as much as the intensity of their alone time, feeling pulled apart without both. Outward drama is expressed as No Limit eyeliner one day, and no makeup the next. Not interested in jewelry, it’s confining and fussy. Tall, lean, not a single cuddly element, they’re in running shorts or skintight jeans and muscle tanks with a black leather jacket. Wouldn’t wear pink of any sort, might consider purple (which is a type of drama in itself).

Drama gets grouped with flamboyance, exaggeration, and excess, creating fashion synonyms and crossovers that weren’t intended and will only apply to a few people. The word drama can take many forms. For many True Winters, their drama is of distance and silence. The meaning is more about the tension of extremes and absolutes. The drama is the simplicity, rather than turmoil, tragedy, tension, and crisis. Those are more hot-blooded. There may be scenes but they’re quick. When it’s over, it’s over.

Until we have some grasp of body line distinct from body colour, it is very easy to flow them into one another. A Natural True Winter and a Romantic True Winter will both feel uncomfortable with the cold, dramatic stereotype of their Season. Once they understand their best shapes in clothing and accessories quite independently of the colours, they easily accept the colours.


Winter Sans Drama 1


Many are not as dramatic looking as the Season has been made out to be. They are not very dark. True Winter is often very medium in appearance, average, regular, everyday faces. Once the drapes go on, their drama is in how absolute the skin’s reactions are to colour. For others, the drama will happen once everyone sees that strong fuchsia-violet lips and cheeks look completely at home and the face is suddenly not plain at all. It’s strong and clean. This is a hard face to describe because it won’t stand out at the mall. Liz Taylor, with the eye colour and delicacy in the face, was more likely a Bright Winter, a colouring that looks more exceptional out and about.

This is where the crossover into Autumn happens, especially in the old days. Dark eyes and hair, and you were a Winter. In both, words like strong, bold, practical, and determined, could apply, so personality quizzes got mixed up. Both can be passive-aggressive. Autumn usually has more compassion and less intensity, but not always. Too much history goes into shaping personality to figure out Season by character.

There is no Soft True Winter in the colour system that I practice. That just basically means True Summer. However, True Winter is not fully saturated. Next to Bright Winter, it looks quite soft, like True Summer in many colours. What this skin cares about more than saturation is coolness.

We need some clarity about the softness you’re looking for. Perhaps the colours are fine and we haven’t quite nailed down the problem yet. Softness can mean many things. In colour, it means dusty. That will set you back. Maybe you need True Winter colour with softer lines, textures, and prints – romance – Angora, cashmere, florals, swirls, and so on. Maybe you need to choose lighter colour and less darkness from the True Winter palette, especially once hair silvers. This is a lovely time to wear the icy lights. True Winter that’s not wearing those is not really being True Winter. They’re being a Dark Something.

Think of the drama more as colour minimalism, which your Autumn-y sensibility will appreciate. You already don’t buy pastels as a was-Autumn. You probably also like style simplicity without much decoration. That said, there are women of every Season who absolutely need high level adornment just to look normal, and so are there women who look better in sleek functionality in every Season.

With silver hair, I would think of wearing more grays than black. Aim for a lighter overall effect. Wear sheer cosmetics and the bold colours away from your face as purses and nail polish. Feel free to drop the saturation a bit but don’t wear pastels, whatever you do. Note that for many women, they wear black as well with silver hair, if not better than when the hair had colour. Iron gray looks gorgeous with black attire.

The floral cardi and pants are allover too dark. Add a light element near the face where it has more impact. Doesn’t have to be equal surface area, we still get it.

Keep distance between colours. Lights next to darks. Avoid too matchy (black shoes with berry dress feels better than all berry).


True Winter Sans Drama 2


What feels safe?

Don’t make too many noises about looking great in black and white while out in public. Wear them a lot and add only one other colour. If you look at everyone else, you’ll see that this is plenty dramatic.

Wear lots of gray.


What feels unsafe?

Colour in general? Keep it small and away from the body, like a purse. We still see it as part of you.

Icy colour? Buy a pyjama.

Fuchsia? Buy the next closest colour that feels better.

Metallic and shine? Ditto colour in general (above) or bypass them altogether.

Avant-garde style? Wear traditional. If you like pearls, just be very sure they’re not creamy if they go anywhere near your teeth.


A Gentle Dark Autumn

Writing about this Season thus far has seen words like tribal, equestrian, military, strong, menswear, business. True for some body types.

Here are some more:

Delicious fire, Aztec Chocolate Truffle brown, dark cocoa dusting, melt in your mouth center,

Plush velvet curtain red, you crush it in your hands over and over because it pushes back, sumptuous feeling,

Teal satin, liquid metals dripping off curves, sensual looking,

Whites of liqueurs, Bailey’s Irish Cream,

Cognac and Benedictine yellows and browns, opulent, expensive, reserved for the few,

Dark, hot Espresso, the heart beats faster, involuntary,

Nothing you can do, once it takes hold of your senses, Dark Autumn stimulates,

Until you’re damp, you don’t know Dark Autumn, whose power lies in overwhelming arousal.

Are you panting?

In life, always move towards the heat. Maybe it’s a little scary, but this heat tastes yummy and it feels gooooood. Rich fudge syrup, liquid gold and bronze, the glorious heat of Autumn…

With a bite. Winter’s darkness is less comfy. Chartreuse gets noticed. Chili and diamonds are an uncommon match.

There is nothing dilute about our relationship with these colours. They are not a gentle caress. We love them with intention.

We are most afraid of our light.

You don’t have to be perfect.

A little Soft Autumn (ruffle blouse lower R) will do no harm. It’s still warm-neutral of the right kind of heat (Autumn’s). If people could get their heat level right, that alone makes a gigantic difference in appearance.


A Gentler Dark Autumn 1



A Gentler Dark Autumn 2


Below, not giving up your white pearls? Why should you? You have enough Winter to wear them. Just do the same thing as you do to black -warm it up with the other things you add.  If the pearls are creamy, antique, or chocolate, even better.

Wear red (we feel red as warm).I know I’m pushing my luck with the  mixed prints in the center. I pick clothes that would impress me all to pieces if they walked in the room.

The gray boot too cool and blue? Sure is. Wear it around the city for a few days, it’ll be fine. If you find a colour nearer to elephant or asphalt gray, excellent. The shoes the model is wearing are fine too.


A Gentler Dark Autumn 3


These Polyvores are not body type specific. It’s not my specialty, and as with colour, even if you’re moderately closer to yourself, you are unbelievably better to look at. Compared to military or tribal, these fabrics drape more, lines are rounder, legs taper (softness and bootcut look odd together to me), and styles are more classic. Still Dark Autumn.

The point is that to create a beautiful, connected, rational, intelligent image with apparel, the lines take their shape from whatever yours are. Just like the colours.

Coming soon, by request, a more dramatic, yet still classic Soft Autumn. Autumn without texture? Summer without softness? Sure.



20 thoughts on “True Winter Sans Drama and A Gentle Dark Autumn”

  1. Very very interesting. Stereotypes are hardly helpful. Personally I do not feel that persons of a certain season share any traits apart from their colouring. Maybe it is me growing up among summers, who all seem super different, or perhaps something else. And not just personality traits, their physical traits too. My sister-in-law is wide-eyed, round soft face, classic summer. But the others have almond-shaped eyes and are every bit as much summer. I happen to have the square autumnal jaw, but my brother has an identical one and is a light summer. Generalisations CAN be very useful, to get a feel of the season one has identified oneself with, but generalisation should only ever come after the testing. Generalisation is a tool to understanding, not something to lend you an false identity.

  2. Great, and can’t wait for the more dramatic yet still classic Soft Autumn!! Your description of how the skin reacts to Dark Autumn colors in this article seems to show me that as much as I would like to be one, I don’t think I am.

  3. Mmmh, I like that you are talking about the non-stereotypes more. And I think the polyvores for DA are spot on.

    Your explanations are still over-doing the heat a little bit, though.
    That is actually part of my problem in identifying my colours. (I’m DA. ;)
    You make it sound as if the colours look so dramatic, and rich, like a hot, bubbling chocolate fountain, but when you compare them with TA, whoops, not so hot after all…
    (As an aside, chocolate is actually rather TA, not DA.)

    I find the neutral seasons (not just DA) harder to pin down. For me, it is easier to distinguish the colours, if there is the heat dimension that is absolute… Just move to hot, hot, hotter… the rest doesn’t matter (much). But what is fairly saturated, but not totally and careful! Not too soft either?
    With DA, darkness matters most, but if you think a colour is fine, just because it is dark… oh boy! Maybe it is so dark because of all that dust. Or it is just so much of that colour (like a picture with those wax pens), which makes it dark, but is actually just very, very saturated. And TW also has a dark blue (midnight? prussian? deep sea?). Dark can be dark and still awful.

    The borders are sometimes so thin: careful with the golden shirt, a bit too yellow and the heat type gets too sunny (Spring), dusty cocoa could get quickly too soft (Summer?) and regarding the velvet: have you noticed that velvet fabric works like a magnet for silver dust?

    I think of DA as grass stains and mud puddles, hearty dishes like wild boar in buttermilk, granny’s ruby ring, the black pearl, cognac and advocaat, and it is not just chili, add a dash of aubergine and pistachio. Bay and chestnut horses. Actually, apart from the greys, it seems every equine coat colour matches…
    I’m still working on the blues. The Smurfs? Underwater humpback whales?

    Thank you for mentioning, that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your right about that, the overall impression matters, and as long as that is right, you look like a million bucks anyway.
    Actually, playing with tension and contradiction, yet seeming to do that effortlessly, is what makes DA so magical. Or like the french say (and please pardon my school french): Je suis belle, et ca ne demande aucun effort.

    I’m going to stop rambling now.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Corinna, thanks for your descriptions of DA as you see it. I’ve thought I was TA since the 80’s, but now think either SA or DA, largely because TA seems too hot. I had a curry-yellow scarf that I thought would be perfect, except every time I put it on I felt feverish and blotchy and took it off. It seems to me that TA has the exotic spice market, not DA.

  5. I overdo all my explanations and everything else :)

    Whether I over-talked the heat or over-coloured it, certainly possible. The spice market as DA or TA – perhaps it’s just which spices? Nutmeg or clove? Sweet paprika or chili? The thing about DA is that it bites back. It’s never loose or languid or overly safe. It’s always memorable and ages magnificently, perhaps best of them all with that silvering hair next to the hot fudge heat. Amazing. In a completely romantic woman, you’ll see these Bambi eyes that reach right to your core. You’ll see the very natural, quiet, intelligent woman with waist length thick glossy hair. Not everyone is the souk, not everyone is exotic, but they are always hypnotic.

    You’re so right, Corinna, the lines are fine, the borders are complicated, and more so because we’re always juggling 3 colour dimensions. You heat THIS much, cool only THAT much, control the red, control the black, it’s very delicate and not something I can do in my head. Dark can be too blue, too red, too wrong in many ways. We need comparisons, measurements, and the rest of the group to welcome or reject the others in the group.

  6. I’m running into this just now, too – I’m a Winter, but I’m also a Classic (of some sort, jury is out) and superhigh contrast just isn’t the best thing in the whole world for me. How to be a Bright and still get a more blended, softer look? I like to wear icies with charcoal, or a mid-value color with its corresponding icy; it’s not low-contrast, but it’s not black and red either. Diamondy earrings are light and simple but their sparkle gives the feeling of brightest white, automatic contrast with dark hair without registering as a hard line. Rosy cheeks, a gloss with pure pigment but still quite sheer (does anyone put on lipstick for just being at home, or running to the grocery store?), a thin line of colored eyeliner rather than black. The palette really has a hard time going too low in contrast, it can serve you in whatever else you’re doing with your wardrobe.

  7. Your Q is one that probably needs to be answered in person from your actual appearance. To lower the contrast, you’d wear colours closer to one another if you saw the palette on a B&W TV. But this you know. You can soften it a lot with analogous colour schemes, wavy lines, and flowing fabrics. I had a TW student. We looked at a scarf, sheer, all blues and turquoises from her palette, serpentine lines, small floral elements, on her, it was shocking how instantly beautiful it was.

  8. Christine, I’m a little confused on Dark Autumn. What if you can’t do the cool colors in the fan such as red wine (they make me look sick) but the warm dark rich colors look beautiful. Does this mean I can’t be a DA? You did say that all of the colors in the fan will work if you truly belong in the season.

  9. Everybody has some colors that look better than others in their pallet. Some of the more difficult colors, maybe like chartreuse, could cause a person to think they look sick but I can’t imagine that the red wine would. It may be that the red wine is too red or blue and belongs to one of the winter seasons.

  10. @ Peri
    Red wine is on the border to Dark Winter: as autumn turns into winter, it gets colder, you’re beginning to freeze, you’re lips are turning blue and you are descending into the dark, dark winter… brrrrr
    Like Christine implied, it depends on the version of red wine. If you can see the blue, it is DW.
    You also said warm, dark and rich colours are great. How warm? A warm, dark and rich red from DA would be oxblood. Try that.
    Or you could be True Autumn. Those are really warm. And Dark. Astonishingly so.

    @ Christine
    Unusual colours like chartreuse are difficult, because they are, well, unusual. Like BW colours, you have to be brave to try it. Second-guessing happens quickly, if you do not like that colour or if it is socially or culturally weird.
    It’s easier with traditional colours like blue. Who doesn’t like blue?
    I wonder, how many of those self-diagnosing people think a colour suits them, when they really just try colours that they like or are used to?

  11. Corrina, to your question
    “I wonder, how many of those self-diagnosing people think a colour suits them, when they really just try colours that they like or are used to?”,
    I guess the answer is: Most of them, even if the really mean to be honest with themselves.
    This is the most difficult part.

  12. I’m with you, Inge and Corinna. I see it in front of me with many drapings. Whether it’s the colour that not comfortable, or ‘different’ is, there’s a reaction. I analyzed my sister with her eyes closed (she was exhausted and found the drapes hypnotic) and it was much easier. Analysts must never listen to the client, they’ll be thrown way off course or question their own assessments.

  13. Christine, I do not know where to put this: I like so much the new look of your blog!!!!

  14. @corinne Maybe unusual colours like chartreuse could be worn in smaller… portions. Just imagine a DA-sort-of-navy (old navy?) boucle blazer with chartreuse trimmings at the pockets and bronze buttons.This would meet the requirements of the most conservative people, I’d say.

  15. @inge
    I already do wear some chartreuse. I’ve been looking at my eyes again (hazel, red brown in the middle and forest green outside), that when the light hits them just so, the highlights are – who would have thought? – chartreuse!

    But the trimmings on a blazer are a good idea. I find that wearing two many colours at once is too busy for me. Unicoloured items are much better. But little details like the seams on a pair of jeans, that could work. Something to try out! Thanks for that idea!

  16. So, what about a romantic true winter? Kibbe says light and bright colors. No harsh contrast between top and bottom. how would you reconcile the two?

  17. I don’t try, Denise. It’s 2014. I take my colour advice from modern colour analysis that recognizes 12 groups of colouring. For me, Kibbe is so much like Kathryn Kalisz. Genius visionaries who make more sense of colour and line analysis than anyone else of their time. Years go by, new people come along, and their legacies are interpreted in modern settings with new tools and methods, staying true to the philosophy and the vision. I know Romantic Winters. My eyes like seeing them better with contrast. They still look plenty Romantic.

  18. Corinna: “I wonder, how many of those self-diagnosing people think a colour suits them, when they really just try colours that they like or are used to?”

    Well, I’m one of those ‘self-diagnosing people’, and at least for me, the biggest revelations definitely happen when you try a colour that you dislike and are *not* used to… Like recently happened to me with pumpkin orange, a colour I’ve always hated and stayed away from, but to my huge surprise it made my skin and eyes totally glow ;) (And I’m not the only one to note that effect.) So IMO, the most reliable results and/or conclusions come from those, not the colours one loves and is used to (like for me red, purple and pink).

  19. Great read about the TW. I’m deciding on my colour archetype alone due to living in the UK. I’ve narrowed it down considerably and TW is one of my likely choices. Interesting though that I too had wondered about the possibility of a soft version. I’m not a huge fan of black and white, finding them harsh (only my opinion) and so I wonder how much this feeling towards these colours has influenced my focus. I’m very good at talking myself in and out of things. Over analytical in other words. Maybe winter traits???

    I read your other TW article about your daughter, who had medium hair tone similar to what mine used to be (darkened with age and colour processing). That struck a cord with me as although my eyes are almost black, my hair was very mousy as a teenager too. This has swayed my elimination somewhat but I have tried to be mindful of your instructions to ignore hair colour.

    Your articles are so interesting and thoughtful.

  20. I absolutely love the way you write, Christine! Even if I wasn’t interested in color analysis (which I am), I would navigate over to your blog just to enjoy your writing style. The description of Dark Autumn here is jaw dropping. Thank you.

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