aesthetic (n): a philosophical theory or idea of what is beautiful.
I believe most of us, men and women, want to be beautiful.
Beauty, though, is in the eye of the beholder. What's beautiful in one place or time, or in one individual's mind, isn't beautiful in another.
For example, the aesthetic of editorial fashion photography tends to value what's unnatural or startling. Models in these kinds of photos are typically styled in a way that disguises or exaggerates, rather than reveals, the natural colors and shapes of their bodies.
Most of us who read these magazines understand this aesthetic and can appreciate the images within that context. (Though the men in our lives are apt to peer over our shoulders and exclaim "Is that supposed to be pretty?")
Goth culture has its own aesthetic, which prizes a dramatic, unnatural, high-contrast look that's simultaneously romantic and disturbing.
Seasonal color analysis, by comparison, sees beauty in what looks authentic, balanced and harmonious.
Everything fits. Natural, balanced, gorgeous.
Seasonal color analysis is just one idea of what is beautiful. It's not the only one.
That bears repeating: seasonal color analysis is not the only answer to the question "What is beautiful?"
It's my answer, and it may be yours. But in the end it's still just one aesthetic.
(And not everyone even wants to be beautiful, right? Some people couldn't care less, and I'm fine with that and so should everyone else be. Some people just want to look like everyone else. I won't judge that.)
There's safety in numbers.
Personal color analysis is for women and men who want to be beautiful, and who see beauty in what's deeply real.
It's for people who want to be strongly present as themselves in their lives.
Oprah, who I think is a Dark Autumn. So good at being fully present in her colors.
Not all of the colors in your correct seasonal palette will be your absolute favorites.
Depending on your depth of coloring, your level of contrast, and the specific colors of your body, some will be more useful to you than others, and in different ways.
A dark-skinned Winter, for example, might use black as an accent, while a fair-skinned Winter might wear it in large blocks.
But no color in your palette will be awful on you. The colors in your palette are all harmonious with each other, and if it's your proper palette, they'll all be harmonious with you too.
So for those of you still searching for your season, I give you colors that are seasonal deal-breakers.
If the given color absolutely doesn't work for you, the deal's off. Move this season to the end of the list.
You can't use this list to identify your single best season. But you can use it to rule seasons out.
If you can't rock hot pink, rule out Bright Spring.
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Bright Spring has a handful of pinks in this general vicinity. You may not associate pink with Spring. But moving Spring reds toward Winter means making them both darker and brighter. Reds that are both deep and very bright are purple-reds. So in Bright Spring, we find hot pinks.
If you think you're a Spring but hot pink is no good for you, True Spring may be your home.
If you're not fabulous in lime green, rule out Bright Winter.
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Taking True Winter's greens lighter and brighter, all the way into Bright Winter, moves them toward yellow. One of the results is a sort of fluorescent lime. On Bright Winters, this color is amazing. It contrasts beautifully with both very dark and very light skin.
If this color's not right for you, but you think you're a Winter, try Dark Winter next.
If you can't wear clear lemon yellow, rule out True Winter.
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Be careful applying this one. I'm not talking about a golden yellow, or a pastel yellow, or a yellow-orange. True Winter's few yellows don't show a bit of brown or orange or grey. They're the pure, clear complements of TW's vivid sapphire blues.
If you need a more moderated yellow that's still vivid, try Dark Winter.
If you don't look great in mint green, rule out True Summer.
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A handful of the seasons have some sort of mint. True Summer's is not a pure, saturated mint that's close to aqua. Instead it's a delicate and slightly hazy mint. It's lovely with a delicate fuchsia lip.
If this feels all wrong to you, perhaps vivid mint is beter? You might be a Winter.
If you wouldn't call your good yellow "goldenrod," rule out Dark Winter.
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Dark Winter yellows are tricky. They're not clear and pure like True Winter's. They're not blindingly bright. They're just slightly warmed, a little rich - but not Autumn rich. Penelope Cruz is lovely here in what looks like one of Dark Winter's elusive yellows.
If you need your yellows purer, try one of the other Winters. And if you need a more delicate yellow, try one of the Summers.
If you can't wear this medium warmed violet, rule out Dark Autumn.
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This Dark Autumn color always surprises me. Call it orchid or begonia perhaps. It's not a color I would label Dark Autumn if I saw it in a pile of a hundred other colors. Yet it's gorgeous with the intense dark olives and vivid teals of the season.
Dark Autumn Natalie Portman's been photographed in three or four dresses in something like this color. They're all great on her. If it's not great on you, perhaps try True Autumn or Bright Spring.
If a light olive-khaki is not a good neutral for you, rule out Light Spring.
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Was it Christine Scaman who said Light Spring colors are popsicle colors? It's true. But every season has neutrals, of course. This unusual Light Spring color is like your usual khaki, but with a suggestion of green and gold. On a Light Spring, it may pick up tones in the eye or hair.
If this color's a no-go on you, perhaps look at Light Summer instead.
If you're not flattered by light pinky coral, rule out Light Summer.
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Light Summer doesn't get very warm, but in the pinks it does go as far as a pinky coral. It's a bit pinker than what you see here, but still warmish. On a Light Summer it picks up healthy color in the face.
If you think you're a Summer but can't wear this light, delicate, warm tone, look at True Summer.
If you're not beautiful in bright blue, rule out True Spring.
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True Spring's colors are Crayola colors. You can see them in this picture of Nicole Kidman: blue dress, yellow hair, red-orange lips. In these simple primaries, True Spring is gorgeous.
If you struggle to articulate the names of your best colors, they're not True Spring's. You might consider Summer or Autumn.
If rich burgundy isn't gorgeous on you, rule out True Autumn.
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True Autumn has a few beautiful burgundies that go beautifully with the rich greens and oranges of the season. You can see all those colors here, in Noa Tishby's face.
Those burgundies make good lippies too.
If this burgundy overwhelms you, try something from Soft Autumn.
If you're not lovely in cocoa brown, rule out Soft Summer
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This is not a warm golden brown or a milk chocolate brown. If you're a Summer, none of those browns will work for you. Browns are generally bad for Summers, as a rule. But if you're a Soft Summer, you will be lovely in cocoa brown. It's a brown that looks both slightly greyed and slightly purpled. It may pick up tones in your hair.
If this color just isn't right for you, try True Summer next.
If you can't do dusty medium blue, you're not a Soft Autumn.
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This blue feels both rich and muted, and quite medium - neiher purpley nor greenish. I's similar to the color you get if you Google "French blue."
Though it's a subtle color, on Soft Autumn skin it's just as powerful as it needs to be. Notice how rich it looks on Natascha McElhone.
If you need a blue that's much richer than this, you might try a Winter or a Spring.
* * *
For any of these seasons, Google the season's name in quotes to see images of the palette. Images that say "Sci/Art" are usually quite accurate. Or, for a few dollars, order sheets of color from a particular season
to try it out in person.
As always, I hope this helps you find your correct season. :-)
The third season of Game of Thrones premieres tonight!
I'm a huge fan of the George R.R. Martin book series and I can't stay away from the TV show either.
(Though as a principled INFJ - or killjoy feminist, you decide - I do have some issues with the way both Martin and HBO handle race and gender. Ah, well, if I only watched TV that wasn't racist or sexist, I'd be watching nothing. Wait a minute - I do watch almost nothing. Gar. Anyway, back to GoT...)
So, Emilia Clarke. You've been wondering too, right?
I love Daenerys. But that white-blonde Targaryen hair is so not her. Her coloring's not delicate like that. It makes her seem ghostly.
So probably no Light Spring or Light Summer here.
The natural brown's so much better, isn't it? Just look at this. So real. So beautiful.
The black blazer isn't quite the thing, though. Much darker than she is. Ixnay on any palette that contains black. (That's all three Winters, Dark Autumn and Bright Spring.)
Just to belabor the point: NOT a Winter.
My very first thought about her was Soft Summer. My first thought is often wrong, but in this case I think it may have been correct.
These Summery colors are not at all bad, but don't they need to be just a little deeper and warmer? Emilia's skin is a tad richer than these hues.
This is fantastic. Is that one of Soft Summer's teals? It looks like it could be.
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This one. That bright warmish pink is lovely on her, and so is the light lip. On the left, the lip is too dark while the white washes out her skin.
This one. The neutral fuchsia is better than the dirty-looking brown.
This one. The pink may be a little too bright but not a lot. Her skin's lighter here, but as porcelain, not unhealthy pallor.
This one. A lighter lip is better than darker on her. And the orange is better than the cool indigo. (Though I think the orange is warmer than she is, and perhaps is orangifying her skin a bit.)
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This one, by far. Again, a light lip is better. But bright is better for the clothes. I love her against that golden background.
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This one. What a beautiful neutral green, with a pretty light pink lip. On the left, pure black with a strong red lip diminishes her.
- Her best colors are bright, and not too dark.
- Her best makeup is not too heavy and not too dark.
- I think her best colors are warmer rather than cooler. But not all the way warm.
I am pretty sure she's a Bright. I'm going with Bright Spring over Bright Winter.
Here, a warm, light lip is lovely. The peachy cheeks are pretty darn good, perhaps a hair too warm. The melon color on the side is connecting to her skin. The eyeliner is the only jarring note; it's too cool. Look at those gorgeous eyes! Don't you want to set them free from that eyeliner? You should
see Christine Scaman's excellent article
on Spring skin finishes.
This might be the easiest way yet to determine your season at home.
For $24, you'll receive 24 color sheets.
24 reds, pinks, oranges and
red-browns; two from each season.
send you the list explaining which sheet corresponds to which season.
Photograph yourself in natural light, with each color card under your chin.
No makeup, hair back, neutral background.
Then review the photos. Get friends' opinions.
When you've determined which colors are
the very best for you, e-mail me for the key explaining which color corresponds
to each season.
Compare it to your own notes.
Your best season may not come out in the top two - human judgment is imperfect - but
if you're discerning, both colors should be close to the top.
Color cards are 6"x 9" or 8"x8".http://www.truth-is-beauty.com/new---drape-yourself.html
I've often thought about this brave and beautiful woman's coloring. I had her up on my "Soft Summer Celebrities" page for a while, but later took her down because I started to doubt that diagnosis. I'm undertaking a closer study of her coloring.
As I often do, I use makeup to narrow down Ashley's season. When it comes to celebs, using clothing colors is often unhelpful, because the effects of the colors on the face are obscured by the makeup.
This light, muted, neutral lip seems nice on her. Her best natural lip is going to be lighter rather than darker, I think.
The cheek seems neutral and muted as well. Perhaps my initial conclusion of Soft Summer was correct?
Let's try to prove the null hypothesis: Do we see her looking harmonious in some other seasons' colors?
This light purple eyeshadow seems too light and bright for her face. Tentative no to Springs and Winters. (Perhaps Dark Winter's still on the table though?)
I think I'd like this lip very much if it were a little lighter. It's hard to know for sure, but that looks like it could be an Autumn lip, or perhaps Soft Summer.
Yikes! Talk about a color dragging down the viewer's eye.
So we can perhaps rule out Dark Winter? This color might be too saturated even for them -- but it wouldn't have the Joker-like effect that it does on Ashley.
Ouch. Far too bright and far too warm for the rest of the face. I don't think Bright or True (Warm) Spring is likely; this might not be a perfect lip for either of those seasons, but it wouldn't look so completely wrong.
Here's a lighter pink with more shine. The whole face is pretty shiny, actually. I'd imagine this possibly looking nice on a Light season, perhaps someone with a more delicate complexion. Here, it feels a little off... as if the real Ashley is hidden behind the light, shiny stuff. Tentative no to Light Summer.
That's a really purply lip. And very cool pink cheeks.
Seeing her in too-cool color, I'm skeptical about True Summer and True Winter.
I was confused about my own reaction to this pic at first. I knew it didn't feel right, but I couldn't put my finger on why. On the one hand, the colors all seem to be working together. Then I realized: her whole face looks , well, kind of brownish-orange.
It's as if the MUA painted the entire face with the same too-warm color. So the effect is harmonious at first glance, but the harmony is within the makeup - not between the makeup and the skin.
On a True (Warm) Autumn, these colors would seem to emanate from the face instead of sitting on top of it.
I think I'm back to Soft Summer or Soft Autumn.
I'll try to find pics of her in colors exclusive to each of the Softs: perhaps dusty purple or soft fuchsia for Soft Summer. Maybe muted mustard or a warm brown for Soft Autumn.
That's awful darn good, isn't it? I think it's Soft Summer. It's not Soft Autumn.
This, I don't love so much.
It's hard to find pics of Ashley in Soft Autumn colors. This could be True Autumn and not Soft, but the blended effect of the fabric makes me think a Soft Autumn could pull it off. It matches Ashley's lipgloss, but I think it gives her skin a faint greenish cast.
I'm back to my original thought: I think Ashley Judd is a Soft Summer.
What do you think?
I hoard data like a squirrel with nuts.
You could painstakingly gather recommendations from 12 Blueprints, Luminosity, discussion boards, and your own swatching... but if you want to save yourself that trouble, just buy my lists.
Each list has at least 100 products matched to your seasonal palette. I've been keeping these lists for almost four years, and I update them regularly.
Both high-end brands like Chanel and drugstore brands like Revlon are represented.
Most products are lippies, but blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara matches are included too.
Some products are discontinued; those are typically available on eBay. Most products are still in stores.
If you're stuck between seasons, buy two lists and try out products from both.
If you already know your season, this list will be invaluable. You can confidently order products online without having to test them.
Buy a list of palette-matched makeup here.
Each seasonal palette, taken as a whole, is unique.
But if you compare color-by-color, some individual colors in neighbor palettes can look so similar to each other as to be almost indistinguishable.
Light Spring and Light Summer, for example, have several pinks, yellows, blues and purples that look an awful lot alike.
If you have narrowed yourself down to these two seasons, knowing a few colors that are inarguably unique to each palette can help you make a final decision.
Here are 6 colors, 3 from each season, that don't resemble anything in the sister season's palette.
1. Light Summer has a greyed wine neutral that looks something like this:
Nothing in Light Spring even remotely resembles this. If you're flattered by this color, rule out Light Spring.
2. Light Summer also has blueish greys, such as this one:
On a Light Summer, this color may harmonize with subtle tones in the eyes or hair. On a Light Spring, this color may create an unhealthy pallor in the face or emphasize undereye circles.
Light Spring's greys are more yellowed. (For a quick side-by-side comparison of warm and cool greys, check out this great Wikipedia image
3. Many of Light Summer and Light Spring's pinks and reds may seem to overlap. So we look at the extremes. Light Summer's raspberries get this blued:
Light Spring won't go that cool.
4. If we go to the extreme of warmth within Light Spring's pinks and peaches, we'll find light oranges:
A color like this may pick up delicate tones in a Light Spring's cheeks, but seem to turn a Light Summer's skin uniformly orangey or muddy.
5. Light Spring has a cheerful greenish gold that's not the least bit Summery. It looks like this:
This is a color many Light Springs have in their hair or eyes. There's nothing close to it in the Light Summer palette.
6. Light Summer's greens are neutral to blue-green. Some Light Summer blue-greens can be hard to tell apart from Light Spring aquas. But only Light Spring green goes the other temperature direction, into yellow-green:
Clear yellow-green is an especially fussy color. Not many people are fantastic in it. If you are, and you know you're Light Something, now you know you're Light Spring.
I hope comparing these six colors helps you Lights find yourselves. Let me know how it works. :-)
You've heard it before: it's the effect of color on your skin
that ultimately matters. Your eyes and hair are along for the ride.
I learned this truth from the writings of Kathryn Kalisz and Christine Scaman
, and from my personal
Colors that seem to "go with" your hair aren't doing you any good if that hair is framing dirty-looking or shadowed skin. Colors that seem to make your eyes pop aren't helping if those eyes are popping out of a washed-out face.
Why is the skin appearance of prime importance?
I think it's because, when viewing others, we use skin appearance - not hair or eye appearance - as our primary way of evaluating health.
The human animal seeks to maintain life and avoid death. To the human animal, health reads as beautiful because health is life.
When you look at other people, you instantly and unconsciously evaluate their health, and you do it in large part using the appearance of their skin. If the skin looks right, the rest seems right too.
Healthy looking skin = life = beauty.
Baby skin is the ideal of skin beauty because babies are new life.
And when we judge the health of another's skin, I think the most salient feature to that judgment is its color.
Think about all the ways we use the language of color to describe the appearance of ill health in the skin. We speak of the yellow of jaundiced skin; the green of nauseated skin; the blue of frozen or oxygen-deprived skin; the purple of bruised skin; the red of burned or abraded skin; the pallor of bloodless skin; the grey of dead skin.
The fact that there are so many ways that skin can look wrongly colored shows the prime importance of skin color to our estimations of others' health - and, therefore, of their beauty.
Now, color is not objective.
Color is context.
For example, is salmon pink or orange?
Here, I'd call it pink.
Here, it looks closer to orange.
The color of your skin is subjective too.
Depending on what colors you place next to your own face, you can easily make the natural healthy color of your skin look too cool, too warm, too dark, too light, or too vivid - or disappear altogether.
This looks unlovely because it looks unhealthy.
When you know your the natural palette of your body
, and put the colors of that palette next to your skin, your skin 's healthy color emerges. You look beautiful because you look healthy.
While searching the interwebs for other stuff in the last few days, I stumbled across photos of a beautiful woman I hadn't heard of before. She's a model named Selita Ebanks. Her season stumped me. So I started looking through pics of her, trying to solve the mystery.
As I look at pics of her, or any celeb, I'm thinking "No... no... yes... no..." and trying to figure out what the yeses have in common.
No. The black seems blah, not balancing. It's not bringing her to life. And that lippy is too dark. It's jumping out of the pic at me. Would a Winter look this obviously wrong in these colors? Tentative no to Winter.
No. This whole summery getup is too cool. The eye shadow is just sitting on her eyes. OK, I'm thinking she's not a Summer.
No to this lip - too dark and muddy. She's perhaps not an Autumn.
No and yes. I love
the peach colors on her face. But, again, the all-black seems blah on her. It's connecting to her eyes, but I feel that she could be much more special than this. Hmm, that sounds like something I've said about the Brights. Could she be a Bright Spring?
Can she do Bright Spring's melons and peaches?
Here, I think certainly yes. Mentally erase the too-cool earring and I believe we have glorious harmony.
How about Bright Spring's lime greens?
I think she's gorgeous in these colors. (Minus the necklace.) So I say yes.
What about Bright Spring's bright pinks?
I think this pink is fantastic for her skin. The contrast of the black background adds to the effect.
How about Bright Spring's beautiful aqua?
I find this a very telling photo because the makeup here is comparably minimal, yet I don't see the bright color overwhelming her. (I'm mentally erasing the very light pink lip.)
I'm pretty convinced. I'm calling model Selita Ebanks a Bright Spring. :-)