Wrong Colours Away From The Face

Whenever people cannot agree about something, it is usually because there must be many right answers. If there were only one right way, everyone would be doing it, not unlike dog ear cleaning methods. With appearance, much of the answer comes down to taste.

Business woman.


The question about wrong colour away from the face most often refers to black. As a general rule, wearing colours that are not in your palette creates conflict. When colours are in conflict, one will win. One will lose.

For any person with very light colouring or very low contrast, black is overpowering. It will win, meaning that in the contest between what is getting noticed, it will be the black. If black in on the top half, it gets noticed more and the person fades back and looks smaller. Even if it’s black mascara, it can look like railroad tracks on a face that doesn’t have black in its native colours. If the black garment is bottom half and gets bigger in our awareness than the rest of the body…let’s just say that I don’t need my bottom half looking any bigger.

I know a heavy set, blond-haired, blue-eyed man. He favors dark shirts and pants, presumably to look thinner. Because his body clothed in black takes over his face, his head seems to shrink by comparison. The illusion of a small head is very weak on a man, about as unflattering as having no chin or jaw. His body appears disproportionately large, even larger than it already is, because the eye is occupied with looking at the body all the time. The black pulls your gaze down from his face.

Business tie.

Cheating in black

Of the 12 Seasons in personal colour analysis, only 4 or 5 can balance black without disappearing in it. The 3 Winters are easy enough, though only the True Winter is automatic. The Dark Autumn and Bright Spring can manage black if they mix it with larger blocks of their better colours.

There are darker True Summers who are Wintery looking, but they do not wear the Winter dark drapes well. The young QE II is an example. They could wear black as pants and shoes, because their hair tones approach black. Their colouring is dramatic enough to balance that same effect in the colour black. They do not do so well in a black top, scoop-neck or not. Black looks too heavy, cold, dense, and solid.

Many of these women have thought of themselves as Winter for so long that they are comfortable in black. Once they see how old and tired they look in the solid colour, they quickly learn to adapt it with sheer fabrics, or by adding their cool roses and incredibly sophisticated neutrals. By softening the black with better colours and feminine details, it becomes a possibility.

Soft Summer is the darkest of the Summer group. They also can manage black, better if they are naturally on the darker side. Charcoal is still the better choice for the face and skin tone.

Better than black

I  agree with the convention that pants and shoes look best in the range of tones of the hair,  not going darker than the darkest tone in the hair. You have many tones in your hair when you study the range from lightest to darkest or warmest to coolest. You still have a lot of choice.

Among the very liberating features of a colour-analyzed wardrobe is the mix and match. Everything works with everything else.  Black gets in the way. Among colours that don’t meet its darkness and coldness, the black takes over. It looks aggressive and big. The rest of the attire, as beautiful and Season-perfect as it may be, will be ignored. Seems a shame. Rather than insisting on black, know your better-than. Charcoal, espresso, silver birch, steel blue, dark green, and many others are available and participate more happily to create a fully functional wardrobe.


Although black is often dominating, many Seasons tolerate a lot of darkness in ‘colour colours’. Navy and gray are especially accommodating. They get along among other Seasons’ colours even if they’re pretty close. They adapt better than black, look more creative, and are more flattering to the skin, hair, and cosmetics.



13 thoughts on “Wrong Colours Away From The Face”

  1. Christine, i have enjoyed your Greener Tea and now, your color site… good job! you are teaching me some things that will change my closet… hard to grasp, since I am older and want to look slimmer,too…so black has been a staple…

  2. I love this post! It’s great to see that although there are disagreements, it can prove that there is no wrong way to dress and makeup. But with that, it can also be more confusing. Especially if a person is like me and wants to know all he/she can about coloring and the ones that are perfect for him/her. And even how to use them in his/her wardrobe, as accessories to include nail color. I guess maybe I have to accept that there will never be a definitive source of colors right for a person?

  3. Hi, Samantha,

    I’ll agree with parts of your comment :), like “there is no wrong way to dress”, but I’ll modify it slightly to say “you can never argue about tastes and colours”. You have to decide what your sense of taste dictates to you.
    In medicine, people always want THE right answer. It’s very understandable because it makes everything so much simpler. That’s just not the reality. 10 doctors will handle the same problem in 10 different ways, all of them right. To another doctor, all 10 methods were the same in the end, just looked different from the outside. To the patient, they heard 10 different solutions, not 10 same solutions described in 10 different ways. Confusing? I would think!
    I will diverge on the point of “never be a definitive source of right colours”. I have yet to question the Sci\ART system as correctly analyzing everybody. Some people are fascinatingly complex. I saw a young woman today who was a True Summer, but with a trace of Soft Summer. We figured it out in the end but we had our work cut out to define it definitivey. She left entirely empowered about where to go with wardrobe, hair, and makeup. Now, how you use those definitive colours, that’s up to you…

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  4. Hi, Karen,
    Nice to see you here. Everyone hides in black. You’re not alone. It is easy to find and feels concealing. But that’s all it is. We can all do so much better. Let me know if you have any particular questions I can address in a post. Love to hear where people find confusion!

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  5. Christine, Thanks for your response!
    I am trying to apply the principles I am learning here—..
    I really enjoy the Jennifer Butler videos.

    Before i pose my question, I have a comment to make: Christine, you are so generous with your information, and that is sucha wonderful quality, I pray that you are rewarded in wonderful ways for sharing what you know so freely. I think about that a lot. I love justice and fairness and i believe firmly that you will recive some wonderfully RICH clients who want all your services!
    now to my question: it may be silly, but here it is: I have been called every color by all kinds of experts(!) except autumn. I am a blonde who turned darder blond as I aged., ash in my hair- coloring looks better.,but I have tried my “natural ” hair coloring and everyone agrees that I definitely need blonde highlights… I look better with blond streaks and dark on the scalp and dark streaks. mixed. My eyes are bluewith tiny flecks of both whilte and brown. the …the ring around the iris is dark gray. .I freckle easily and a tan is hard to achieve and keep. you can see blue veins in my skin.
    I think all that adds up to cool summer(doesn”t it?) two tones layered look better on me than just the straight color.

    here is the question: when I wear bright colors (even yellow), but especially bright red ,purple, bright blue, I get many compliments. all my supposedly “good for me” colors seem blah to me. and evidently, I look blah,too, because folks ask if if I feel well when I wear the softest summer colors,too. and I seem to prefer gold to silver.
    what’s wrong with this picture that I cannot see? thanks for the help. sincerely, karen

  6. As a wintery summer I have found that I can wear black – as you say, away from the face and softened with summer colours and accessories. I also find that black seems less overpowering in a matt finish. I am far more comfortable in black cotton, velvet or silk than in satin or or most synthetics.

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  7. I agree, Jane. Black is a very workable colour for this colouring group, done in a certain way. I see it with the lovely roses and off-whites, and it can be so feminine. It’s also so very much easier to find professional and formal clothing if you can wear black.

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  8. Something about the idea of “wearing one’s hair color” has been baffling me. I have determined with….90%? certainty that I’m a bright spring. (I finally found an analyst, but have to wait on travel plans for an official analysis.) I look terrible in brown. But my hair is brown. How do I wear my hair color and not look ill?

  9. Hair colour, like all of our colours, are matched to suit us and each other because they are created from the same pigments (variations of melanins, carotenes, hemoglobins) and pigment proportions..at least, that’s what I believe to be true. I haven’t measured it, don’t know how one could, but it makes logical sense to me. So your B Sp brown hair will be different from a S Su brown hair in that if you isolated every pigment, they’d be different, then mixed in varying proportions. So her brown will be dustier and yours clearer, yours made with more pinks and hers more blues. There are many ways of making apparently same or similar colours to our eye, especially brown which takes contribution from all 3 primaries.

  10. Christine, I have been thoroughly enjoying your very educational and informative color analysis blog! This post resonated with me especially as I am a Summer who is forced to wear all black for work. Though I have darker hair (medium ash brown), black “wears me”. I can tell because if I catch my reflection walking by a mirror in my peripheral vision for a second, all I can see are walking black clothes with a faded person in them (an effect that is also evident in pictures). Up close, black near my face also brings up shadows onto my face where normally there are none. The heaviness of the energy of black also wears me, as in it literally wears me out, and I can actually feel its draining effects physically. For someone who is not only a sensitive type but also who struggles with both chronic fatigue and anxiety, this is terrible. But until I can find a new job (I am in school, so that’s eventually going to be possible), I have to make it work. Normally I can wear black pants and/or shoes (soft and faded, if you please) without these unwanted visual and physical effects, but my workplace is very ‘upscale’ and they require a dressy, very strong and polished version of black. I would love to read a blog post written for those of us who cannot or shouldn’t wear black but who are forced to. I am also interested in any suggestions for dealing with this. I already wear my proper makeup and accessories, and can’t emphasize enough how much a properly-colored scarf helps(!), but that base of the required 90% black is just so undeniably, in-your-face, just ‘there’, so overtly strong that it cannot help itself but be that intrusive, and there is little to do about it. Thank you for your thoughts and once again for sharing this wonderful blog!

  11. Michelle, if the workplace dictates the black, then I think you’ve solved it yourself with cosmetics and accessories.I can’t think of one the idea. If the workplace does not dictate the black, then possibilities open up. A SSu would have grays so dark that worn by her, they would look like black or very near, like smoky black. One idea, if it is an option, might be to wear something with the black that is bright enough to take the viewer’s attention away from the black. Red is especially attention-getting and SSu has some absolutely beautiful reds.

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