What It Takes To Look Normal (Living Up to Bright Winter)


Q: Why is learning Yoga like learning your colours?

A: Because it’s the same as learning anything.

It takes a Winter to make black look interesting, deep, meaningful.

Only a Summer’s colouring can take pastel yellow, and greenish yellow at that because how else can you make yellow cool but add blue, and have it look happily, generously, fully, softly, buttery yellow.

The drape colours and our clothing colours, they have an effect on us. We have an effect right back on them.

The heat of True Autumn doesn’t look too hot under that face, nor does it make her face too yellow. The gold, teal, and bittersweet look perfectly at home and she looks peaceful and honest, Autumn’s claims to fame. I so love these qualities in these people. There is nothing for neuroses to stick to. It just bounces back in the best way.

The Dark Seasons aren’t necessarily dark to look at. There’s lots of hair and eye variation, just like any other Season. What Dark means is that on them, dark looks normal. On other colourings, it would look too dark. My normal lips lipstick is darker than you’d expect because as a Dark Winter, my colouring takes dark and turns it into right. Once we learn our own colouring, we control the retail world, a nice change from the other way round, which is how most folks live.

A Spring guy in Autumn colour tells the world, “Hi, I’m John and I’m a little angry all the time. Watch out, I piss off easy.” And yet, nothing of the sort is true, but no wonder nobody will give him leadership positions.

You walk into an office. Before you cross the carpet to shake his hand, the Autumn guy in Autumn colours has said to you, “I am THE guy who’s going to get you and your 8 cats out of a burning building.” And as you cross that carpet, you think, “Buddy, you are THE guy I want around to get me and Poochie out of the fire.” If he’d been wearing Summer colours, he looks lucky to get himself out, let alone Poochie and you.

Find the first edge of your Season. Settle, wait, and become. Grow back into your natural colouring.

Photo: knife18
Photo: knife18


Here’s a stereotype for you: the Bright Winter being told she’s a Light Summer. Happens often. Both are Neutral Seasons that have much in common in 12 Season personal colour analysis (PCA). Both add the same amount (small) of the same kind of heat (Spring). But we forget the differences between icy and pastel and can’t interpret them on a human face without right drapes. Bright Winter’s super concentrated blue looks normal on her, just blue, even more normal and balanced if it’s shiny. She looks reasonable in it. Reasonable, exciting, and could be taken perfectly seriously without being remembered only for what she wore.

Digression 1: about comments that Winters can’t be blonde-haired or beige-haired and blue-eyed because it lacks in contrast. It simply isn’t true. Please, come and watch a real analysis with accurate drapes. Please, at least be open to the possibility that there is another way. Once you see this person balance pitch black, or once you watch their presence fade, the lower half of the face weaken and recede, see the face appear dusted with white powder in Light Summer colour, the face become mottled and yellow in Summer whites, you begin to understand. PCA is about discovering your natural colours. If this light-appearing person harmonizes with pitch black and pure white, then they contain those pigments. Therefore, they contain the contrast of a Winter. The fact that this information can’t be discerned by staring at the complexity of a human face doesn’t make the information incorrect. It’s the part about knowing human pigmentation without measuring it that might need some revision.

Digression 2: I see things online about the relationships between Neutral Seasons that have a similar start point and add the same amount of the same kind of colour warmth/coolness. So, Dark Autumn and Bright Spring begin as pure warm Seasons (True Autumn and True Spring) and move one step into Winter. When they share colours, to my eye, it doesn’t work as well as the theoretical/conceptual argument would have you think. Keep the overall balance in mind. Try not to borrow from the other palette precisely, but rather from a space between it and yours. It’s not a bad idea at all, it’s quite clever. There is a relationship between these groups for sure, as there are many relationships between the groups of natural colouring, the Seasons. I find the Winter Neutral Seasons of Dark and Bright actually do better in True Summer than Soft or Light respectively. True Summer is just a little warm relative to Winter, has more clarity than Soft and more darkness than Light. The overall of True Summer looks closer to home on a Winter Neutral than Summer’s Neutrals do. In clothes or drapes, it’s the True Summer that looks better on Dark and Bright Winter, IMO.

On a Light Spring-coloured person, Soft Autumn colour looks bulky and chunky.

The reverse: an Autumn woman wearing Spring colour. Well, you know how tiny, dinky jewelry on a large-framed body can make the jewelry look smaller and the body bigger? The strength and substance of Autumn colouring forcibly placed next to Spring’s lightness and fun makes the face look more solid (I’m trying not to say masculine) and the colours immature and inexpensive. In her right colours, Autumn women project all the feminine beauty that Summer can in Summer colours. I mean, Autumn is Raquel Welch territory. There’s a reason that picture of her wearing a fur bikini was iconic. Wouldn’t have happened in Twiggy psychedelic daisies. Even at a tiny level, this effect takes place. A Soft Summer woman wearing True Summer colours looks a little more muscular or macho somehow.

On a Light Summer, the Bright Winter colour is the only thing you see. Even if it’s only one part of an outfit, it becomes either the only thing you notice or the only thing you don’t notice. Of course, there’s a middle ground, where a dark Soft Summer that’s a bit more saturated could be close-enough-is-good-enough on a Dark Winter.

What’s really good about these relationships is that they get the heat level correct. That’s absolutely huge. It’s amazing how just getting this one colour dimension right changes your whole appearance and the feeling of your appearance. In cool colour, you look grayed and a little cyanotic. The good news is that your transfusion is as easy as changing your shirt. In too warm colour, the skin is yellow, teeth yellow, eyes dull, bone structure is blunted and flat, all true whether it’s your hair, foundation, or clothing. It’s so hard to get cool foundation. All these makeup artists talked companies into yellowing foundation, but it’s way too much. Chanel, Merle Norman, some of the L’Oreal True Match, they make some decent cool choices. Cool foundation, especially Winter’s, is grayish in the bottle.

Some theoretical arguments don’t work well IRL. For instance, you could draw a line in colour space where 2 Seasons meet and there would be some shared coordinates, meaning colour dots belonging in either Season. No right or wrong, it depends on the system and the palette designer. I have never once seen the textile colour that belongs equally well in 2 groups, nor the person in 2 Seasons. This is partly why other PCA systems don’t cross-over well into our Sci\ART based system. Not only is their logic process different to arrive at the Season, but the colours often belong to more than 1 Season.

In Sci\ART, at least my vision of it, every colour stands alone and every Season stands alone. That’s a very big deal as distinctions go. Our drapes don’t work with other systems, nor their drapes with ours. You can’t just say, It’s all colour analysis, should be interchangeable. Trust me, it ain’t. You’ll get yourself in a mess that will need some fixing. (more about this in the comments to the Career article, one back). I am absolutely not saying that one is righter or wronger because every system and every vision has its merits, just that they don’t mesh together.

We should be defined in our clothing, bringing out the best in each other. Our face should be in front of our clothes and distinct from them. A Bright Winter in True Spring colours is very close to greatness. Except that she is draining the colour from the fabric and backing it up from our awareness. The lower half of her face is disappearing into the garment so her presence is dissolving into her clothing. The face yellows and the drape is already yellow, like a big yellow circle of flatness. There’s no excitement. Another person or analyst might see that as harmony or as a glowing tan effect, but I don’t. A difference of opinion perhaps. It depends on your ideal of beauty. You might totally subscribe to Hollywood’s love of a solid yellow wall of hair. That’s great and fine, but I wouldn’t. We don’t all need to line up behind the same idea. There is no right and wrong here.

Summer’s skim milk white looks as cloudy as skim milk white is relative to Winter white, placed under a Winter face. They don’t belong together and push each other even further in opposite directions. They find the thing that makes them most different and widen a little adjustment into a chasm of unbelonging. Under a Summer face, her white looks like white. Just white.

Notice grouchiness, confusion, and doubt. “They don’t make anything in my colours.”

In training, I ask students, In that colour, how does the person look like he’s feeling? We sense that he must be feeling in a way that he doesn’t at all. Bright Spring in Light Summer colours can look feeble and frail. Like, “Hi, I’m Ted and I’m exhausted.” No kidding he’s had trouble getting hired. His inner and outer energies come rushing back when he wears what he is. Vitality and health can be as simple as choosing a different T-shirt.

Photo:  martini
Photo: martini


The Dark Winter in Soft Autumn colour announces, “Hi, I’m Ellen and I’m running out of gas. I’m checking out.” Change your shirt. Suddenly, your hair looks clean, more coloured, the skin is tight to the bones, all good. Suddenly, people are more interested in giving you money.

A Dark Autumn wearing Light Spring peach looks like a log cabin painted blossom pink. It’s irrational. A floating, disconnected head. This picture says, I can’t make reasonable decisions about myself. How likely am I to make them about you?

Colour analysis matters. Every person should have this information about themselves by the time they are 20. Like a social identity. Social competence has incalculable value in this world. Others decide this about us within about 10 seconds of seeing and greeting.

On a random clothing rack, Soft Summer colours are the grayest relative to all the other colours. The Winter colours are the boldest and darkest. Maybe our character tries to equalize itself, or find balance for the traits that are more extreme in us, so we reach for our opposite. Many a person with Summer’s type of natural colouring wants to project more push by wearing Winter colour. It backfires. Now, the only thing you can see between her nose and toes is the garment. By comparison to the clothing, the woman has faded away even more. Now she looks muted, where in Summer colours, she would look fresh and gorgeous.

She stays with Winter. Hair colour that was fresh, natural, and lively gets is run down and washed out against the Winter background, so she tries a few hair colours. She tries darker eyeliner. But all those bold colours don’t tell the world, “I am audacious and adventurous.” because we can barely register the person at all, nevermind find them daring. The person who is meticulous, tolerant, perceptive, precise, and soft-hearted is telling the world,

“I am unplanned, indiscriminate, possibly abrupt, possibly intense, and possibly odd.”,

so, even before introduction, from the time it took them to get from the door to you, you think, “Note to Self: Prepare. This could go a lot of different ways.”

Ten minutes later, you think, “Wow. This is the nicest person ever. I could talk to them for a week. Didn’t see that coming.”

Once Summer pulls their own colours from the closet, the magic happens. The wavelengths synchronize instead of competing with and neutralizing each other. The whole picture unites. Those grayer colours aren’t gray at all on her. They’re fully energized, present, and focused, and so is she. Her hair is very colourful and enhancing.

Remember that you are safe. You already look way better than you used to. From here, it just gets better.

Photo: GeoDum
Photo: GeoDum


Bright on Bright = Normal

Bright colours do not look overly bright on Bright Seasons. It’s the rest of us on whom they are too strong and more than we are, a distracting challenge to our natural colouring. On non-Brights, the colours say, “Look at me!!! Look at me!!!! Forget about her up there. Look down here where all the action is!!!” We would look drained and erased, worn out from always competing with our clothing. Not so on the Bright colouring. They look normal.

A Bright Winter can drain colour from most any fabric, including Dark Autumn and Dark Winter. She can dull Dark Winter’s strong coral rose into looking like True or Soft Summer colour. Under her face, Dark Autumn’s fabulous, rich, full, bronzed raisin looks drab and plain, maybe even a little dirty. Which is how Autumn makeup looks on her face.

Even True Winter, one powerful set of colours, looks washed too many times on a Bright Winter. Plus heavy and blue. No excitement. The whole image drags down. Change the drape. The lights come on. The whole picture lifts up. The lines all focus and turn upwards instead of like melting ice cream.

Many Bright Seasons, Winter and Spring, have beige hair. They contain Spring, after all. They often feel the hair is mousy and blah. It sure is if they’re wearing muted colour. All the life goes out of it. Out comes the hair chemistry. If they’d just change their shirt, the hair would sparkle. Bright Season hair is never ever mousy in correct colour.

Trust. Just let gravity take you. The great clothes and cosmetics will start showing up just because you’ve asked them to. Give it your attention but don’t stress. Effortless effort.

A Bright Season in their own colours doesn’t look like a Hiliter marker or more noticeably coloured than anyone else. Her red just looks like normal red. On someone else, the shirt would walk into the room before she does. It’s only on a Bright that it wouldn’t behave that way.

She doesn’t need to shop for shiny purple or neon pink. She just wants to repeat certain colour properties to look normal. That’s what it takes for her to look like she really looks. Colour analysis will find you a pretty lipstick but it’s way more organic than that. It will find what you really look like, in colour, line, and texture. The feeling in the observer is, Oh, is that what you really look like? I couldn’t see you before. You were distorted.

You know how when people take off their glasses and you suddenly get a whole different picture and feeling? It’s like that. An artist could paint you with a thousand different facial expressions. The viewer would expect a thousand different women to own each face. Might as well broadcast the real one.

New Bright Seasons may experience disappointment bordering on fear. She has seen her colours on others and thought, Oh, that’s just too much. Yup, on them, it sure is. But the rest of us see those colours on you, not on your hanger or on everyone else in the room, the way you do. On you, we think, Fine. Nothing to adjust to. Normal. Enough. Good. Interesting. Complete. Balanced. Clear. Healthy. Easy to look at. Nice eyes. That woman gets herself.

She’s here for us to interact with. Otherwise, she’s partly invisible, a place where many of us feel so much safer and try hard to find a reason to justify staying. And oh, boy, when a PCA is pulling out of your hiding place before you’re ready, it’s panicky. Go with it. It serves nobody to play small.

We compensate in so many ways to disguise or adapt our personality, often without knowing it, often in response to demands of the environment, parenting, society, and all the other pressures coming in. In the never-ending journey toward self-knowledge, surprising examples of being untrue to oneself turn up.

Surrender to stillness. Don’t overthink it. Just be in it.

Photo: fygar
Photo: fygar



Easing into the Bright Seasons.

You don’t have to wear the test drapes. They’re just measuring you.

You are not head to toe poster paint as a Bright, or dishwater as a Soft, or maudlin if a Dark. I use words that separate the palette from all the others in the mind of a person considering all 12. I have neglected to clarify that solo on the right wearer will it not look as extreme as the description. It finally makes sense.

Combinations matter. Add zing, your way. Wear dark teal jeans, a peach blouse, and wind a shiny, Chinese silk, peacock-printed scarf round your neck. This is a very different Winter from the other two.

The heat matters to Bright Winter. She needs to add the sunny, the sunbeam. This colouring shadows easily in too-dark or too-blue. Bright Winter is close to Bright Spring. A person could design those colour palettes to be closer to True Winter or Bright Spring and still be within the realm of Bright Winter. Who’s to say either is righter or wronger? They need the heat in their colors.

She forgets that the saturation only means pure pigment. It does not mean vaudeville, hussy, burlesque, or Halloween clothing. Purity of pigment matters. Even in True Winter, a palette of pretty high saturation, her skin will dull to the exact degree that True Winter is dull relative to Bright Winter.

The overall picture is too dark. Bright Winter is significantly lighter than the other Winters. Although the darkness range is similar to that of True Winter, the global impression is definitely lighter. Many of these folks have medium beige hair and blue eyes. Even if hair and eyes are dark, there is a light-bright reflectivity in the skin. Too dark or too blue moves to gaunt very fast here. Black is not automatic at all. Very very unique type of Winter.

She’s got the colours right but the garment lines are too straight and serious, when she’s not linear in her body type. Natural shapes make stripes feel like jailhouse prints. If you’re very rounded in your outlines, you should be shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Straight lines don’t work with your curves, they over-accentuate them. Two differently shaped garments tell a different story, despite being identical in colour.

If your character is flighty and whimsical, banker’s stripes make you wonder if the analyst got your Season wrong because your spare and linear-thinking Bright Winter friend looks so good in them. Your analyst did fine. No two women of the same Season will wear it best in the same way. Your colours are when your clothing, cosmetic, and hair colour journey must begin, but it’s not where it ends.

Her makeup is too strong for her age. If you’re 20, wear sheerer and lighter. Feature definition looks like youth but adapt it for your age.

Her makeup is too dry and opaque. High pigment in transparent application is better.

Shine is better than matte. Satin and frost shine is better than dewy and wet shine if Winter, the reverse if Spring. Distinguish the two types of shine in your mind. They look different to the rest of us and tell a different story.

Fun matters. Wear something happy. A polka dot leopard pin. A black watch with a gold daisy motif in the face. Button-down classics drag the whole thing down.

Sweetness. These folks have a cute quality when they’re 70, like kids in an adult body. Add baby peach, yellow, candy colour, peppermint colours. Find colours that would taste good and a little sharp or a little acidic. (But not bitter/vinegar, which is better on Dark Autumn)

Ease in with bigger neutral blocks and smaller colour blocks at first. A Bright might look boring in too much neutral colour, maybe more so if a Natural body type. The 3 Springs are this way, but it extends to Bright Winter, who needs colour in a sharp way, and the Light Summer who is also flattered by colour in an analogous type of scheme (colours that are neighbours on a colour wheel).

Try the bright colours further from the centre in the beginning, as nail polish or a handbag.

Limit to smaller pieces for shine. A watchstrap. All Winter does well in some type and amount of shine.

Explore the lighter colours. I completely disagree with the hair colour myth that lighter hair colour looks younger on all women. I do agree that all colour, and light colour in clothing, looks younger than the Safe Black don’t-notice-me uniform. These can be hard to find and take practice to match. Learn to lay the open palette on the garment rather than matching one little square or dot to anything. That’s what you look like in that garment. Do the light colours of the palette look either wimpy and weak or too strong, sparkly, or separate relative to the garment? If they belong together, the two should just settle in.  Great clothes are part of you, like a great rider and the horse are part of each other. Picture how it would look if horse and rider were out of stride. That’s how wrong colour feels.

Uplight with pale gold for Spring, in sharper lines if Winter, like NARS Albatross.

Our colour palette is where we begin. From that platform, we find our contrast level. the blonde haired blue eyed Bright Winter is a little more gradual, but still supports black mascara than the Asian Bright Winter.

Melt into a new friendship.

Photo: duchessa
Photo: duchessa


Live with it for a month. Then go back and try on the clothes and cosmetics you wore before. Do they still feel like home?

Just like feeling irritability in a pose, if you allow it quietly and calmly, it might flip to its opposite: Peace.




39 thoughts on “What It Takes To Look Normal (Living Up to Bright Winter)”

  1. Great article as always. I am a Sci-Art draped BW and strongly agree with most of your points. I am so happy that you wrote about how TS is a better choice for BW (not necessarily great, just better) than LS or SS (almost horrible IMO).
    During my draping the initial silver drape was by far better than the black, so my analyst kept coming back to TS summers, and they did not look bad at all! It was very disconcerting actually. The entire draping I was worried, worried to the point that I could not enjoy most of the process. I was convinced that I am a winter and could not imagine being a non-winter. Also, my entire wardrobe at the time consisted of black tops and jeans (with a few bright colored things for summer). Black was easy and good. Without black I wouldn’t know what to wear.
    But once the analyst decided I am a BW and put me in great BW makeup and the luxury drapes – it was an entirely different story. For the very first time in my life I thought I was beautiful, almost breathtakingly beautiful if I may say so myself. I had tears in my eyes. Non of the drapes looked too bright or too shiny. Just perfect! I would wear every single one of them to any occasion. If I only could find them, that is.
    This brings me to my main struggle after PCA: Finding the right colored clothes. Makeup was easy, I owned very little to start with (2 shadows, one blush, 2 lipsticks) and all of it was wrong, mostly soft summer colors. Threw out all of them. A bright blush and a sheer bright lipstick and I was done. But clothing is a different story. I do not want to wear black anymore. I LOVE a bright red, for example, but in the two years since my PCA I have not found a good red yet (OK, only one swimsuit, but it covers only so much ground). Almost the same with blue or green or bright violet.
    Your advice of wearing high end workout wear for brights is brilliant when it comes to color. I have a hot pink workout top and a bright violet workout jacket, for example, and they look fantastic. Not only are they the right color, but the sheen of the lycra fabric makes them perfect. But then, I don’t want to wear workout stuff for daily life. Although the other day I found myself seriously contemplating whether I should give up my preconceived style ideas and embrace lululemon, nike and co. Black yoga pants, bright tops and jackets. I wonder what first impression people would conceive of a women who looks like she’s on her way to the gym her entire life? Sigh.

  2. Christine, do you think when people are draped it is easier for them to see the physical effects you point out to them, or emotional ones? That is, ‘this colour creates more shadows around your jawline’ or ‘this colour makes you look tired and drained’.

    In ‘The Vision Revolution’ by Mark Changizi, the author argues that human trichromatic vision is evolved specifically to see small changes in skin colour, which occur because of changes in blood concentration and oxygenation, and which are vital to us because they give us information about other people’s emotional and physical states.

    One of the things artists have to learn is to interrupt the neurological process whereby vision is turned into a representation of the outside world – they have to learn to draw what their eyes see rather than what their minds know to be there – which is difficult because we are not used to, or evolved to, interrupt those neurological pathways. I wonder if colour analysis is similar? Our neurological pathways from seeing skin colour to conclusions about someone’s feelings or health are so automatic, that maybe the trick of interrupting that pathway at the point where we can say detailed things about colour effects is as hard as accurately drawing depth in a picture?

  3. Irem – have you tried Lands End? They often have good BW colours in their knitwear and tops – I haven’t bought anything this season as I picked up quite a few pieces last season, but there are a number of promising for BW shades – purple sapphire, laurel blossom, emerald isle, grass green, aqua green, punch, red apple.

    I have also found Uniqlo to be good for BW colours.

  4. Grace – thank you so much for your suggestions. Never shopped those two retailers before! Off I go to explore.

  5. Christine, thanks so much for this article. I’ve been reading you avidly since summer, when I discovered that you and Sci/Art existed. I’m in Europe and far away from draping possibilities as far as I know, but have believed that I’m an autumn since the 80’s. I never liked that conclusion really (now I think that the hottest colors overpower me), and have spent the last few years in black, off-white and various warm browns since re-entering the work force. Occasionally I try out true spring/bright spring colors too, but it never seems quite right. Now I’ve been wondering if I’m a soft or dark autumn. My skin looks very pale and drained in light blue or light grey, and light golden-bronze in what I think are my better colors. The thing is, I have dark brown eyes but hair that looks golden-blondish (now with long, interesting streaks of grey which I would hate to cover). Soft autumn colors make me feel even and powered all over. Something definitely happens to my skin, but I don’t like it – it’s like [forgive the analogy] thick even makeup on a corpse – no life or shadows. So I think maybe [and hope against hope, I guess] that I might be a dark autumn. Dark olive green, charcoal, and oxblood feel good, seem great on me, to me at the moment, as well as orchids, purples, teals and some turquoises. So you see that this article you just wrote speaks to many of my current questions.

    Thanks for listening to my true confessions – I’ll be here reading, deliberating, and probably commenting from time to time.

  6. “Chanel, Merle Norman, some of the L’Oreal True Match, they make some decent cool choices. Cool foundation, especially Winter’s, is grayish in the bottle.”

    Thank you! Foundation is a huge problem for me. Foundations with the correct undertone (usually the first or second lightest shade) are almost always too white, and the ones with the correct “depth” are always too yellow or peach. A pale grey-rose-beige seems about right, but so few lines make that color. Right now I like Neutrogena’s mineral sheers in Natural Ivory, which has no peach tones. (At least the powder doesn’t — I only wear powder foundation.) C2 and C3 in Loreal’s True Match are good too for truly cool foundations that aren’t too light, but I’m not a fan of the formula. I wish MAC would bright back the single “W” shades, which had grey-rose undertones with no orange. I’ve given up on MAC, as least as far as foundation goes.

    But speaking of MAC, I’ve been wanting to ask you what you think of their Fever blush for a fair-skinned DW? I can go quite deep with blush — lighter ones just sit on my face anyway — and my natural flush color is pretty dark to begin with. Right now I’m cheating autumn and using Pinch Me, but it pulls a little orange.

  7. Linda, this has been my experience of trying to find a palette by using different items of clothing etc: how can I know that the soft autumn top that makes me look good and the soft autumn top that makes me look like the bones in my face are growing as we speak, are both soft autumn tops? How can I distinguish between a true spring turquoise, a winter turquoise, etc etc, without a swatch to go by. Every season has some kind of turquoise. So I can go, these colours suit me, I must be this, then look at all the palettes on the internet and see that those colours occur in most of them. Springs darkest golden brown might be a middle of the range autumn golden brown, just because I look good in it, which whole palette does it belong to? Can’t tell. Can’t assemble whole palettes.

  8. Christine, you talk about bright winter differently than any color writer/blogger I’ve read. On the sites I’ve looked at, bright winter looks like Wonder Woman (with the exceptions of Alek Wek and that one picture of Eddie Murphy’s ex-girlfriend): black hair, blue eyes, white skin. Period. The way another writer talks about it, they pretty much have to have black or the darkest brown hair and super-light eyes to have the highest level of contrast and balance out all those super-saturated colors. But a) you don’t say highest contrast, you say same amount of contrast as TW with different values, and b) you have medium-haired BW real women as examples! I’m sure you’ve noticed this, and I’d love to hear – is there anything more to it than just “how the skin reacts to color is the only thing that matters”? (honest reason for asking, not just theoretical: I’m a medium-haired woman myself and am holding out hope that I’m allowed to be the season I feel most at home with. Personal color is so emotional!).

    A related question to the last bit: I hear what Jane says about self-draping in colors you have around your house, and with the amount of precision you talk about in palettes it does sound impossible. And, having tried it, it is extremely frustrating. But I have a hard time believing that the only draping that matters is done by a professional with professional drapes – I don’t want to know my colors just so an analyst can approve of how I dress myself, since no one else is going to be judging so closely. I don’t think you think that’s the goal, I just can’t reconcile that level of precision with the reality of my closet and the clothes available to me. I want to look good to myself and to others, and that means wearing the colors I can find. If I can’t tell which set of colors looks good on me judging by what I have, why does it matter if I shop with a palette in my hand, because the colors in the store are going to be approximations anyway? Is it a matter of the combinations of colors? Makeup I can see being big, but not all. I would love to hear your thoughts, or point me toward an article.

    Thank you so much for the material you’re putting out here.

  9. Ally, I got draped yesterday, no sci/art in my country but by an analyst that I trust, and I have been a huge skeptic. If you get draped, do it for yourself. For me, it just clarified what to avoid in clothing and what to look for, and I saw why to avoid what to avoid etc, because you do see it in the mirror. I turned out to be the equivalent of a summer. Saw WHY warm colours do not work. And why cool but highly saturated colours don’t work. I think trying to figure it out for yourself is as educational as it is frustrating, some of us are more stubborn than others. I’ve been researching this stuff on the internet and in stores for about a year now, without knuckling under! Now I’m just glad to know.

  10. I think I’m starting to understand the seasons better, but am still not quite sure. I have a hard time trying to pick up on observations such as fading facial features, overpowering of clothing, etc., although one thing I have noticed is that most of the colours I was wearing were totally off! I was told by an esthetician years ago that I’m a summer, but not based on her own observations, but rather by her asking me whether I look good in black or not. Likely not a good esthetician…I assumed I looked terrible in black because I’m fair skinned, and I went for powdery pastel blues and warm neutrals instead. I wondered why I always looked a bit blah in these colours. I also wondered why public washroom mirrors usually make me look so drained and yucky – because they’re usually painted insipid beiges and such, and being surrounded with that (on top of my poorly chosen clothing) just sucked the brightness out of me.
    So then I found out about this. I started “draping” with various garments and asked my fiancé for help too. Sure enough, pure white looks great, as does hot pink, true violet, icy colours, emerald green, blue red, cool coral, and so on….and black is great! But navy blue is only ok unless it’s bright. Really cool dark purples and blues are also meh – too cold. But aqua – stellar. Rich violet – awesome. Royal blue – excellent, the brighter the better. But then I get stumped. I go and buy some makeup in colours within the clear range. Bright matte pink and it’s yucky. I gloss it up and it’s better, but still not as nice as that sheer maraschino colour that looks so wonderful. And the greys around the eyes scare me a bit since I’m used to brown. I think I could use some pro advice! But I haven’t got a clue where to find someone really qualified.
    Anyway, tanks for your article – it helps to clear some things up, even though I’m still a bit lost…

  11. Kathy – sorry, forgot to mention about Fever, I’ll be in a mall a few times this month. I’ve put it on my testing list.

    Ally – great Q, really great. You’re quite right that choosing colours that only an analyst would approve of is pointless. Others probably think you look just fine and no doubt you do. They don’t think, “Your pores look larger and your skin oilier and more blotchy today than it did yesterday.” If you stood Ally In Her Own Colours and Ally Wearing Off Colours side by side, others would certainly be able to pick the healthiest, youngest, ‘most’ you but nobody ever sees us that way. They do not need to be especially colour perceptive to pick this up. It’s very clear, much more on others than ourselves. While some certainly can remember us from day to day, and the more often they see you, the more they register “good today” or “not there today”, we live in a world where most folks send out no coherent or intuitively expressive colour message of any sort. Most folks, whether they’re dressed in safe or crazy, are saying nothing about who they really are. They’re saying ‘usual’. Maybe they have one perfect item but it’s neutralized by the rest of the outfit that’s sending out entirely different signals. Watching someone else’s analysis can be more eye-opening than watching our own because you begin to appreciate how big the space is between how we see ourselves and how others see us. And how much we are affected by how others look. We are empathic and hugely sentient beings, with all five senses very coordinated. I see the world symbolically and intuitively, which are not at all the same as superstitiously, but I think we all do if we’d let ourselves.

    I wouldn’t say the colours are impossible to find. You do have to retrain your shopping eye but that’s just time and practice. In the beginning, I hear “they don’t make clothes in my colours” often, but that settles after some directed shopping and learning not to see clothing in other people’s colours. Colours in stores are not approximations. Even if they don’t match the fan precisely, there are many colours that are very harmonic with your own colouring, your analyst can help you find those. My drapes don’t match the fans exactly but are still very much synchronized with the swatches and Seasons. We all have many, many colours. Some Seasons and times of year are harder to shop for, that’s true. You become a more discriminating, educated, and highly selective consumer. Highly selective consumers of anything buy more deliberately but they still buy. Buying food with my sister in law can take ages, but the meal is unlike any other.

    Combinations are part of it, albeit the easy part. The 12 Tone swatch book does the thinking for you. You’re handed your light to dark range, your complementary colours, etc. It’s just your own pigments represented one at a time, rather than all together as they are when we look at you.

    For me, colour is much deeper than how others feel about our appearance. Getting your hair colour right matters a lot, but I’m still adjusting mine. Women with right hair colour look smarter. Makeup that actually says something and doesn’t revert to ‘safe’ helps us look imaginative, which matters to me. If I were hiring someone, this would be among the top 3 factors I’d decide by.

    It goes deeper still. By our appearance, we tell others our story without words. And they hear it loud and clear. If you walk into an office and a woman sits behind the desk, you’ve placed some feelings and thoughts about her just by looking. The glasses she chose, the colour of nail polish, the outfit, the shoes, you register it all and give it some meaning. A different woman would give you a different feeling. One day, you might walk in and see a new woman and think, “Whoa, now. Here’s something my eyes haven’t taken in before. I want to keep looking at this. It feels good. I want to figure it out. She doesn’t even wear makeup. Oh, some lip gloss. Why are those glasses so right, so much like she is, so belonging on her face? She looks so happy and content and light. I would love to feel the way she looks.”

    Deeper still. There’s a personal freedom in telling others our real story. Tuttle, Zyla, many others, have recognized that in being very authentic about our real self, our truest and highest self, we find ourselves closer to our real purpose. We allow others that level of honesty about themselves and in our interactions with them, we find them moving into that space, with surprising relief, even gratitude. Communication with everyone including ourselves moves to a higher, clearer plane. That’s what knowing and showing your real colours is about for me.

    The distance between close enough, good enough, excellent, and perfect is up to you. Well, as you say, it’s up to store inventory too, but at the space between excellent and perfect. Stores do allow you more than close enough and good enough. Others are quite able to feel a difference in each step and so are you.

    As Kat has found, even if you’re very colour perceptive, it still does take a draping with accurate drapes to get you beyond close enough.

    And Jane is right. You may make many good observations but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to organize that knowledge into a data set and results you can use when shopping without an analysis.

    Thanks to all of you. I love these conversations.

  12. I was draped BW by one of your students, Sharon Forsythe, in August. I was lucky enough to find a couple of perfect fan matches to the BW golden yellow and lime green at Coldwater Creek, in their double lace tank tops.

    Yesterday I went by TJMaxx, to return some stuff that didn’t work. I tried on several things, and it was revealing to drape myself with the golden yellow CWC top, then pull it off to see the top I was trying on underneath – even though I was under store lights, the changes were obvious to me.

    So if someone finds something that is an exact fan match, they can compare it to the clothes they’re considering in this way, to get closer to the proper colors.

    There’s a story behind one of the tops I’d returned: when I picked it out, I thought it was BW 5.1/5.2 (I’d left my fan at home), but when I compared it, I realized that it was neither. On a lark I pulled out my DW fan (I thought I was a DW for some months), and it was an *exact* match for DW 5.3! I guess I’d already trained my eye for DW, because I was sure that it was in my palette. Time for a re-training. When I’m out shopping, I’m *immediately* drawn to the deepest DW colors – I love them so, and they are so easy to find! – but now, 6 weeks later, I’m starting to see brights first.

    As far as TS being a better choice for BW – oooh, not for me. The silver was my worst drape by far, and gold was the best, even though I went a bit yellow. Sharon told me that my runner-up season was BSp, and the more I work with BW makeup and colors, the more I believe her. I was terrified of the 5.1-5.3 colors at first, but now I find that they are among my best…. I guess I have more spring in me than I realized! I’m using a much lighter touch with my makeup, too – I was overdoing it, trying to balance the dark colors that I love – and going for more transparent as well. I’m finding that the darkest BW colors aren’t my best colors – I just bought a t-shirt in a perfect fan match to 6.8, and it does shadow my face a bit.

    After years of thinking I was an 80s Winter (and having my natural hair change from dark blond/med. brown to multi values of silver), it’s a relief to bring in a bit of spring warmth into my wardrobe. I’d been warming it, but more in the direction of autumn.

    A friend of mine, R C, is training with you now. I cannot wait to hear all about it from her – as well as what season she drapes as! Too exciting!

  13. I think that i’m a bright winter but my skin, eyes and hair are dark. The bright winter’s colors are those which suits me the best in my opinion. Do you thing is possible ?

  14. Stella, since any of the 12 is possible, BW most certainly is a contender. No question about that, especially if the colours resonate with you. People of many ethnicities are BW in their colouring.

  15. Thank you so much for your answer and for all the other answers you gave through this blog !

    I am French so I don’t understand all the articles. But I read them with a lot of pleasure!


  16. Christine, thank you so much for this article. I have been draped several times and I have been told I was either a spring or a light summer, but none of those colors really worked well for me. I always just seem to disappear, even in the darkest most saturated tones for those seasons. I have beige blonde hair, very fair skin that tends to pink and blue eyes with a dark gray almost black ring around the iris. I would have never considered BW because of my light coloring so I stuck with the invisibility of the lighter colors. Recently I purchased a few tops in brighter, more cooler and saturated colors, but they had just a bit of a warmer cast. I glowed and suddenly sheer bright lipstick colors looked good on me too! My best mascara color is also black. I cannot go as warm as Bsp, but BW seems to give me a gorgeous glow. My skin looks clear and smooth and my eyes seem to sparkle, and depending on the color I am wearing, look to be a dark blue.

  17. I was a teen in the eighties and was analyzed an Autumn because I had “reddish hair” with dark brown freckles but I never liked those Autumn colors. I was always drawn instinctively to blues, purples and pinks. I actually have medium brown hair color with some golden tones in it but it definitely is on the cooler side.

    The Hawaiian Sun where I grew up would lighten it in tone sometimes even to a light blonde with gold tones. I found out that most people’s hair lightens to orange tones in the sun from a hairdresser years ago. He was the first to tell me I was a cool tone girl. He would do full highlight weaves in my hair with ash toned lighteners. The color was amazing.

    My skin looked amazing too not the ruddy color I would get when I had the sun bleached hair. My skin is a cool pink tone that leans toward neutral. My wrist veins when out in the sun are a medium blue with a slight green hue. My outer veins are purple. Being a quarter Native American I tan after I burn but I always have a reddish tone in my tan.

    I have medium bright green star burst eyes with greyish blue green toward the outside with a dark gray-green lining and gold flecks near the pupil but they are green directly next to the pupil. I have been told that my eyes are the first thing someone sees when the look at me. I don’t think they are quite emerald but they are mostly cool toned yet bright.

    I have come to the conclusion that I am a Bright Winter. I look good in blues and the other colors in the BW palette. I have noticed that when I try to wear the Bright Spring colors I look more ruddy. I have also noticed when I wear Cool Winter colors I look kind of grey in the cheeks. I looked at Soft Summer but those colors make me look really drab. I also look good in black I have been told . I did notice when I swatched brown then black that I had a sheen come over my face with the black. The apples of my cheeks were literally glowing and my skin was very clear. I also have that same sheen on my cheeks when I wear cobalt blue and bright purple.

    If you would be so kind, I was hoping to get some insight as to what your opinion might be based on my writing. Thanks for your time?

  18. Michelle, BW seems reasonable enough, but the honest and true answer is that I don’t know. You could send me a book of photos, eye closeups, and a 10 page verbal description, and I would not know. It doesn’t work that way. The only way it does work is when a real human set of eyes watches a reaction take place when a colour changes, and then assimilates these observations over multiple, calibrated changes in a structured logic tree. If there is another way, I have not seen it. I, and many others, wish we could offer any kind of valid opinion from words and pictures. Just not the case.

  19. Christine thank you so much for your response. I know I probably should have an updated professional analysis done. Do you know of anybody in Central or South Florida? I tested my fiance about colors. He was a bit overwhelmed with all of them. He does say that the brights especially the blues, purples and pinks suit me best. He also liked me in greys and black over browns. I think I have it figured out but I would love to get analyzed by a professional.

    My Chanel Make Up consultant Dennis (he is the district supervisor) changed my whole make up palette around in December from, as he put it, my “face being muddied by browns” to garnet, purple, grey and black for my eyeliners/mascaras. Also from browns to garnets, greys, pinks and purples for my shadows. For lips he changed me up to brighter pinks, berries and a smashing starwberry red. He has been a great help as well. It cost me some money and took some getting used to for me but my face is so much clearer now that he did that. People say I Iook more alive.

    I also had my hair washed with a medium cool brown to get some of the sun bleached orange tone out from last summer and my skin looks better too. I still have a little gold in it but it is more subdued like my natural color.

    If you would send me any referrals for an analyist it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  20. Sorry to say that we have no analysts trained in Florida at this time. Hoping one day : )

  21. Okay. Thank you. How would one go about being trained? I am an artist and color is my thing. I could possibly do something like this.

  22. Christine I just found the page on training. I will have to discuss with my fiance.

  23. Excellent, Michelle. If you’re in the US, be sure to look at Terry Wildfong at yournaturaldesign.com – outstanding trainer, in Michigan.

    If in Australia, you’re looking for Amelia Butler, google True Colour International (formerly True Colour Australia).

  24. Thank you for this great article!
    Could you tell me more about the mascara colours?
    I guess I’m a bright winter and I’m asian.
    What colour would be better?

  25. Jade, I’d go with very black, even blue-black. I don’t talk about colour-colours for eye makeup, but any colour from your palette would work.

  26. It’s funny, I spent years thinking I was a TSu because I looked “mousy” in pretty much everything. All the things you say here about the Summer person trying to look sharper or tougher applied to me as well…I kept trying to make Winter work, but it always felt heavy and unhappy.

    When I got draped, I was one of those very obvious, no-comparison-with-any-other-season Bright Winters who tended to “disappear” in everything but my own colors. But I could have worn those drapes as head-to-toe garments, some of them, especially the blues, greens, and magentas. It was astonishing!

  27. DC, very intriguing that you felt Winter was too heavy and unhappy, and yet you turned out to be a Winter!

    I’ve myself never felt that way about Winter, quite the contrary, but the usual “precondition” of having dark hair and/or eyes automatically shut me out, or seemed to before finding Sci/Art. I now consider DW most likely for me, especially freed from the dark hair & eyes requirement (though for a while I considered DA too, but it’s the cooler colours that give my face most definition).

    From the article: “I find the Winter Neutral Seasons of Dark and Bright actually do better in True Summer than Soft or Light respectively. ” – This is also very intriguing, as indeed TSu is (slightly) better for me than the other Summers. :)

  28. Melina–Yes, I was extremely surprised, but thrilled. I think I got mixed up because “Winter,” in my mind, meant True Winter, and strangely enough that’s a palette that really doesn’t work on me. I was closer to BSp than TW, and closer still to DW, if that makes any sense. That was about nine months ago, and now that I’m used to finding my own colors, nothing else even come close to working as well as BW. Basically, I’m now a firm believer in “pay for the real draping already…” I was afraid of the expense, but probably spent more money trying to figure it out (and getting nowhere) than I did for the actual draping. OTOH, I was lucky that my colors were so obvious–some people are harder to pin down–and that I happened to live half an hour from a color analyst!

  29. Yes, you are indeed lucky, DC :) Though in my case, I could never justify the expense unless I suddenly strike it rich (not likely ;)), and also, I do find the journey in figuring it out myself actually very enjoyable and interesting :) (Like they say, it’s not always about the destination but the journey.) Though the one drawback of that is publicly declaring myself one or other season, and then after a while living to regret it *blush*… ;D Like just above, I said I consider DW most likely, but now I’m not at all sure anymore, quite the contrary; well, at least I’ve narrowed it down to somewhere between DW and TA (that’s already quite good, I think ;)), and now I’m once again veering towards the warmer end of the spectrum… (Being flattered by e.g. golden olive, pumpkin and golden yellow makes anything else than an Autumn seem unlikely, I guess…? Something I finally had to admit.)

  30. Wait!!! Baby peach is a BW color? There is no peach on my BW fan that I see. Can u give an example? Thanks:)

  31. Lots of colours are possible for every Season. The palette designer has to make choices. If one is added, one has to go. If you picture icy light peach, you’d be about right. Make it very near white and a lot more pink than apricot/peach/orange. Take the iced pink the palette, add one drop of yellow and you’d be about there.

  32. Melina–no idea if this will help, but of the things I discovered on my own, these were the most/least reliable in the end:

    MOST: (1) The silver/gold test. I’m a neutral season (and even lean a bit warm for a BW), but silver was clearly and consistently better on me than gold.
    (2) Taking a bunch of pictures of myself outdoors in natural lighting draped in various fabrics (using garments, blankets, and fabrics I owned as “drapes”). I was looking at all the wrong ends of the spectrum and didn’t know which colors were which palette anyway, but on a whim picked up a brilliant violet fabric swatch and tried it on. I couldn’t believe my eyes and assumed the camera was playing tricks.
    (3) The yellow teeth test. This may be a cool season thing, but even the slightest excess of heat makes my teeth yellow, whereas my own colors do not. Too bad, because I was hoping I could sneak BSp.
    (4) Noticing my very worst colors: Soft Autumn. (Soooo sad!!) They’re exactly the opposite of what I need–muted and warm rather than clear and cool.
    (5) The whole “I’m muted, therefore Summer” thing: unbeknownst to me, that was a huge clue that what I needed was *brightness.* So if your assumptions about your season are based on how you look “in everything” (e.g., I look yellow, I must be a Spring; I look pale, must be a Light), consider the possibility that what you need is LESS of that same quality, not more. For some people it goes the other way, but it’s worth considering both.

    LEAST: Paper paint swatches (I’d pegged myself as a Light Spring!); cosmetics test (BW was garish, though a neutral BSp was better–results too random to be helpful); the black/gold/brown/silver drape test (I didn’t look great in any of them, but silver was best, not black as it should have been, probably because I had a very metallic bright silver and a dull black); online photos (too many variables); personal preference (I wanted Autumn, which was clearly out, but wishfully allowed myself to think Soft Summer for quite some time); advice of relatives (my mother still thinks I’m a Summer).

    Of course all of these might be of different effectiveness for you…I would generalize by saying “go with what you SEE, not what you expect.” And if something takes you by surprise, write it down! It may be a clue to assumptions that are blinding you to what’s really going on. Good luck!

  33. DC, thanks for such a detailed message! Most of the things you suggested I’ve already tried and tested, that’s how I’ve arrived at being somewhere in the TA-DW spectrum :) (Dark Autumn now seems most likely .) But I’ll comment on them in detail:

    1) The silver/gold test: gold is definitely better for me, though silver isn’t bad either; that would seem to point to being a neutral, i.e. probably DA, not TA (as I thought for a long while).

    (2 & 3 – as to photos, I’ve totally discounted them for evaluating as I’ve noticed they never show colours (or most other things) as they *really* are; and the teeth thing must be a cool season one, as I haven’t noticed colours having an effect on them ;))

    4) My very worst season seems to be Light Summer – light & cool = bad! (That again points to DA!) Soft seasons are not doing any favours to me either.

    5) Oh yes, this hurdle I’ve passed long ago ;) By my looks alone, I’d be firmly placed in Soft Summer (by those books and websites that go by the Dominant trait theory), but I know that’s definitely not me. Finding out you don’t need to look dark to be a Dark season, among other things, was such a revelation…

    And the things you found least helpful – personal preference for me would be Winter, or then a Winter-Spring blend, but I’ve come to admit that’s unfortunately not me ;) Isn’t it funny how you wanted Autumn but you’re actually Winter, and for me it’s the other way round! ;)
    Lipstick draping I’ve done to exhaustion, not a problem though really as I love lipstick ;) Very intriguing that you found BW lipsticks garish on you, even though you are a BW! Because I have indeed found many DA recommended lipsticks to be too dark/garish/brown to me… (OTOH, the 12blueprints ones seem good, but havent had a chance to try those ;))
    TA lipsticks, on the other hand, are mostly not garish or dark, another fact that lead me to believe I’m TA… but neither are they often doing much for me, which I guess the right lipsticks should! One thing I’ve found is that my lip products need enough red to be good, one way or another (but not bright red or too dark).
    (Btw, I just found the perfect lipliner for me the other day, maybe I’ll post that in a DA makeup thread… ;))

    And there have been several things that have taken me by total surprise – pumpkin orange, golden yellow and olive, for example, colours I used to hate, but which I now see make me glow and are in such a harmony with my skin :)

  34. Melina–Wow, you sound like an Autumn, all right! The lipstick thing is just hit-or-miss because the variations are sooo numerous and even a slightly “off” color will be more wrong on the face than elsewhere…I will say I’ve had good luck with the 12BP lipstick my analyst used at my draping, as well as just a sheer gold lipliner because I have a very youthful face. The teeth-whitening thing is a giveaway that I’ve found a good color. Mostly, I think the garish effect had to do with me not being used to wearing *any* lipstick (so BW was very much of a change) and then wearing only bright-bright lipstick without any other cosmetics. I’m still happy to have my list of lipsticks now that I know my season, but I wouldn’t use them for diagnostic purposes beforehand.

  35. I’m pretty sure I’m a BSp but live too far away from any CA in my area to get an official draping done. I know it doesn’t matter but I have med brown hair with gold/red natural highlights-never coloured and light brown/greenish eyes. I receive tons of compliments on my hot pink, violet, turquoise, apple green, light med and dark peachy corals, scarlet reds clothes that i wear. Navy and grey are my best neutrals.

    My problem is lipstick, I just cant find the 2-3 shades to suit me. I’ve searched Pinterest for ideas and Revlon Coralberry comes up time and again for BSp so I bought it. I’m wearing it right now and every once in a while i check the mirror. The longer i look at it, the more its disappearing into my lips. That happens with almost all my lipsticks, they look ok at first but then they are gone after less than 30 mins!!! At this point I look like ‘m wearing just a faded stain of the Coralberry even though I just applied it and it looked bright at first. My lips are med-dark pigmented and except for really matte red or too dark lips which wear me rather than I wear them, lipstick always disappears. What am I doing wrong? Can someone give me some ideas?

    The one other lipstick that i tried recently is Maybelline Rose Rush because its very pigmented medium tone, i thought would be a MLBB colour, but someone asked me why i was wearing Orange lipstick!! and not in a complimentary tone. So now I’m afraid of it….i actually thought it looked good for once.
    I’d appreciate any comments to give me a direction to go in for lippies.

  36. The two thoughts that come to mind, A, are that you need long-wearing lipsticks and that you are not as warm as you may think. I think your first step, before investing in a pile of less-than-best lipstick is to get your Season sorted out with an accurate draping. I’m not sure where you are located but analysts are being added all the time. If ever you travel to a city with an analyst, have the Season confirmed. Then you’ll know you’re experimenting in the right territory.

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