If you're into perfume, chances are you have checked out my fragrance guides. Each guide describes the best fragrances for your style type.
You may have wondered, though, whether you should be even more selective about your fragrance, coordinating it not just with your style type but with your color season.
Now, I do believe the interaction between color season and style ID is somewhat variable: for example, an Ethereal Gamine who is a Bright Winter might choose to manifest more Gamine (vivid primaries!) in her palette, while an Ethereal Gamine who is a Soft Summer might reflect more Ethereal (sunrise and sunset hues!) in her palette.
But I believe that, in general, your perfume profile is more useful if you keep it consistent with your style type, not your color season. My reasoning for this is as follows: your seasonal palette is already being strongly communicated to the eye of the viewer; color's the first thing we notice, right? So I feel an appropriate role for your fragrance is to reinforce the secondary message of the style type that's being communicated through your lines.
Having said that... If you own your style type's fragrance guide, and you really want to bring your color season into your fragrances, I'll list some specific fragrance notes you may consider looking for. Perhaps start with a fragrance family recommended for your style type, and search within that family for fragrances containing these notes.
To bring Bright Spring into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True/Warm Spring into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Light Spring into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Light Summer into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True/Cool Summer into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Soft Summer into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Soft Autumn into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True/Warm Autumn into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Dark Autumn into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Dark Winter into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True Winter into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Bright Winter into a fragrance, try adding:
For the essential fragrance notes and fragrance families recommended for your style type, check out your Fragrance Guide.
To search for fragrances by specific notes, try these sites:
The Perfumed Court
If you're not sure of your style type, try the Style ID Calculator, or consider a virtual style analysis. If you're not sure of your color season, try At-Home Draping Cards.
One of the variables that differ from style type to style type is the amount of detail that is most flattering to that type.
Some of us look beautiful with a ton of detail; some of us look beautiful in a minimalist context; and some of us can pull off both high-detail and low-detail looks.
But what does "amount of detail" actually mean?
The best way I have come up to explain "amount of detail" is this: Imagine that your image in the mirror is a pencil sketch. "Amount of detail" is the number of pencil strokes you'd need in order to accurately render that sketch.
A shift dress can be rendered with relatively few lines, while a dress with a sweetheart neckline, a pleated skirt, pleated sleeves, and sequins would require literally hundreds of pencil strokes.
A flat piece of fabric is extremely low-detail. As soon as you gather that fabric into pleats or drapes or ruching, the image becomes much more detailed. Not coincidentally, pleats, draping, and ruching read as feminine.
Detail always reads as feminine. I have a couple of theories about why this might be. One idea is that we view detail as feminine because detail holds the eye, and throughout history we have seen women, not men, as the sex that exists to be looked at. Another idea is that we associate detail with femaleness because a curving line is "busier" (more detailed) than a straight line, and the lines of female bodies, on average, curve more than the lines of male bodies. A third idea is that we associated a highly detailed ensemble with femininity because creating a highly detailed ensemble takes time and effort, and women, not men, are traditionally expected to put time and effort into their appearance.
Regardless of why it's so, a high level of detail adds femininity, and minimalism adds masculinity. Women whose style types are mostly androgynous/masculine will usually find that too much detail makes them look mannish. Women whose style types are mostly feminine will usually find they are less pretty in minimalist looks.
I'm an Ethereal Natural with tiny smidges of a few other essences. My feminine-masculine balance is about 60-40 in favor of feminine elements. If my fabrics are rough and my colors are restrained, I can handle quite a bit of detail, but if my fabrics and colors are already very feminine, I can easily get overwhelmed with detail, and end up looking mannish. My curly hair by itself adds a ton of detail (imagine making a pencil sketch of it!), so if I'm wearing my hair down I don't have a lot of room to add more detail. Most of my garment choices are pretty simple.
This sharply tailored suit could be drawn with very few pencil strokes. It's low-detail.
Alison Williams is stunning in it because her striking, masculine beauty calls for a very low amount of detail. (I think Williams is highly Dramatic.)
Jennifer Aniston is another celebrity who looks her best in very low-detail looks. She has a ton of Natural (which, along with Dramatic, is a masculine style type that asks for very little detail.)
See how much better Aniston is in the low-detail dress on the right than she is in the high-detail dress on the left. For a strongly Natural woman (like Aniston and myself), a low-detail context, which is masculine, actually makes her look more feminine.
Most off-the-rack fast fashion is low in detail. If you're a predominantly feminine style blend, shop for items with more detail built in, like pleats, complicated lapels, visible stitching, and a sheeny finish (which adds visual detail as a result of the play of reflected light.) If your clothes are simple and you need to add detail, the easiest way to go is to add highly detailed accessories: for example, profusely detailed earrings, necklace, and scarf.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 order sheets of color from all 12 seasons to try the seasons out in person.
As always, I hope this helps you find your correct season. :-)
This post first ran in April of 2013.
A few years ago, I had an idea to create a tool that would generate verbal descriptions of outfits for each of the style types.
Last April, I returned to that idea. I'm ready now to roll out the Infinite Outfit Generator for each of the 63 style types!
This is a great tool for you if you're a "word person" and you'd benefit from a written description of your best clothes.
Every time you refresh the page, you'll get new ideas for tops, bottoms, and dresses.
Here's a video of me using the Infinite Outfit Generator for Romantic-Dramatic-Gamine.
In the video, I use an on-screen keyboard to show the keyboard shortcut for repeatedly refreshing the page. But you'll just use your regular keyboard. :-)
You'll need a desktop or laptop computer and internet access to use this tool. Your purchase gives you access to the generator as a view-only document. You'll receive a link by email.
Take screenshots of your favorite outfit descriptions! There are hundreds of thousands of possible separates ideas, and (for most types) over a million distinct dress descriptions.
I'm offering each Infinite Outfit Generator for 11.99, but you can have it for 20% off if you buy it this week! Use coupon code INFINITE20OFF .
Click here to buy your Infinite Outfit Generator.
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Are you, or is someone you know, an app developer? I'd love to make the Infinite Outfit Generator into an app! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'd really like to give this business to a reader. :-)