An adult who seems always to have a youthful or childlike quality, regardless of age, likely has a strong dose of Ingenue or Gamine.
Big eyes, a large forehead, a small nose, and a round or square face all help to create an impression of youthfulness.
One way to think about the seven style types is to think about the words we use to describe the type of beauty each identity embodies.
Which isn't to say Gamines aren't incredibly attractive. They are incredibly attractive. Women who have a "yang" or masculine quality to their beauty are no less attractive than their more "yin" counterparts. They only appear unlovely when they're placed in a clothing context that's more stereotypically feminine than they are.
You can see the boyish quality of a Gamine in the following ways:
Which isn't to say that Gamines need little detail. They look great with a lot of detail in the clothing -- pockets, buttons, cuffs, etc. But the jewelry is best when it's minimal. A lot of jewelry reads as feminine, and feminine context around a Gamine will make her look masculine.
The effect of clothing context on our apparent masculinity or femininity is analogous to the effect of color on our skin.
The apparent color of your skin changes, for better or worse, depending on what color is next to it. That's because of simultaneous contrast.
And the apparent qualities of your face and figure, including the apparent masculinity or femininity, change depending on the context that surrounds it.
If almost everything in the frame reads as boyish, then the viewer mainly notices what's not boyish - and so the Gamine's feminine qualities actually stand out more.
The more boyish the context, the more beautiful Gamines look.
Surround them with traditionally female decoration like long locks, ruffles, and lavish jewelry, and they become less lovely.
Romantics look great with the impression of cleavage, even if they're small-busted. (While some large-busted women, such as Gamines and Dramatics, look best with de-emphasized chests.)
Feminine beauty is defined by the curving line. Perhaps because a curved line is more visually complicated than a straight line, Ethereals and Romantics look great surrounded by a lot of detail. (While Naturals and Dramatics are unattractive in highly detailed contexts.) A Romantic looks gorgeous in ruffles, gathers, ruching, elaborate hair, and ornate jewelry.
Red roses symbolize romance and sexuality, and a Romantic woman is like a red rose: beautiful, delicate, detailed, and composed entirely of curving lines.
So you're a Romantic, but you don't want to be defined by your sexy appearance. As a woman, I completely get that.
But if you dress in a way that doesn't create an impression of softness, curves, and delicacy, the result will be that you look less dignified.
Honor your Romantic beauty by creating looks as feminine and sexy as you are. That reads as dignified and self-aware.
A version of this post was published in May 2015.
I recently binge-watched Dead to Me with my special someone, and I was happy to see Linda Cardellini in it. I liked her in Mad Men.
On Dead to Me, Cardellini's character is styled as a True or Dark Autumn. Her costume colors are consistently warm-toned and somewhat dark. Her makeup is browns, golds, and peaches, and her hair has warm caramel highlights.
But in a previous post about the actors on Mad Men, I typed Cardellini as a True Winter. I thought she was gorgeous on that show in very dark hair and Winter colors. I especially liked her in black and white, which is excellent on True Winters.
She's beautiful on both shows. But at least one of these shows is successfully presenting her in colors that aren't her best.
(An actor can look lovely in the wrong colors if her costume, hair, makeup, and lighting work together to create the false impression; see Light Summer Cate Blanchett passing as an Autumn in The Aviator. Notice how orange the lighting is! That's necessary to make a cool-toned actor like Blanchett look warm.)
To figure out actor Linda Cardellini's actual color season, we need to focus on real-life pictures of her. I like using pictures from premieres, because those pics are generally taken outdoors, with a lot of light.
First, we find pictures where Cardellini looks healthy and alive, not tired and not overly made-up. Then we try to identify the color season of her clothes and makeup in the flattering pics.
I think she looks really good here:
I really like her here in a cool-toned pink lippie and a black, white, and grey dress. That makes me think Winter.
Here she is again in black, but with warmer makeup and warmer hair. Are these pictures as good?
Here are more pics of Cardellini that I think are color harmonious. What do you think? Is she a Winter? If so, which one? If not, what do you think is her correct season?
I often find Summer celebs difficult to narrow down into subseasons - perhaps because the differences in the muted colors of Summer are harder to discern on a computer screen than the differences in the vivid colors of Spring or Winter.
But after a lot of thought, I eventually came to the conclusion that Kristen's a Soft Summer and Emily's a True Summer.
To my eye, both look obviously coolish, but not particularly saturated. Cool and muted is Summer.
But my first impression might be wrong. To determine season, we can't rely on what a person looks like; we have to examine how a person looks in certain colors. So I'll check the other seasons.
Could either woman be a Winter?
Well, both are clearly overwhelmed by black. That rules out all three Winters.
Hmm. I think both are meh in Autumn colors.
I've already seen that both women are overwhelmed by black, so Bright Spring's unlikely for either one. (Black alone is not a great look for Bright Spring, but it's not so much overwhelming as it is boring.)
How can I test Light Spring and True Spring? Hmm... Well, neither woman is a convincing blonde, to my eye. Most "blonde" True and Light Spring celebs are actually brunettes, but they do typically make convincing blondes. Yellow is Spring's soul color, so it makes sense that yellow hair would work on Springs.
Yellow hair is clearly not right for these two women, though.
But what kind of Summer - Light, Soft, or True?
I'm thinking Light Summer is unlikely for Emily, for the same reason I think Spring is unlikely: I don't find her a convincing blonde. Light Summers can often pull off blonde pretty well. Their palette contains many lovely light yellows, so this makes sense.
Again, Emily Blunt with blonde hair: not her best.
So, Soft or True for Emily perhaps?
In weighing these two seasons, I think about how Emily often wears super-bright colors that look a little but not a lot overwhelming. Here she is in some high-sat choices:
So, of Soft and True Summer, I think True Summer - the more saturated of the two seasons - is right for Emily Blunt.
With Kristen Stewart, one of the things I notice is that neutral-warm colors aren't awful on her.
So I suspect True Summer, which is purely cool, is unlikely for her.
I already decided that a big block of yellow next to Kristen's face was not her best, so that makes Light Summer seem unlikely as well.
Does Soft Summer make sense for her?
Well, Soft Summer's TMIT is softness or mutedness of color. Is Kristen awesome in very muted tones?
Let's see her against a Soft Summer palette.
This post originally appeared in January of 2014.
- warm or cool in hue
- light or dark in value
- high or low in chroma (bright or soft)
The thinking goes like this: you can look at a person's skin, hair and eyes, and judge whether her personal coloring is mainly dark, light, soft, bright, cool or warm. Once you figure this out, you immediately have her narrowed down to two seasons.
Unfortunately, personal color analysis doesn't work this way. If only it did!
Season can't reliably be determined by identifying the "dominant trait" in someone's appearance. It can only be determined by identifying the traits that characterize the best colors for that person.
A great example: Lupita Nyong'o.
"Her skin tone is quite dark. Her eyes are very dark. Her hair is very dark. 'Dark' must be her dominant trait; she must be a Dark Autumn or Dark Winter."
But that's not right!
Her best colors are not dark and rich. Instead, she's most fantastic in super-bright hues.
Would you have looked at her face, hair, and eyes and called "brightness" the dominant trait of her personal coloring? Probably not easily.
First published in March 2014.
I'm a huge fan of the George R.R. Martin book series and I can't stay away from the TV show either.
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.
The natural brown's so much better, isn't it? Just look at this. So real. So beautiful.
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.
Soft Summers, what do you think? Is Daenerys Targaryen one of you?
Try figuring out your own true colors at home.
This Indian model and actress is both incredibly beautiful and (to me) incredibly difficult to type. There's no agreement on the 'net, that's for sure. But after much study, I think I've figured it out. Here, I'll walk you through the process I used and share my conclusion.
But ethnicity doesn't determine season; it's based on how the skin reacts to color. So I'll keep the Autumns and Winters in mind, but not limit myself to them.
Let's look more closely at her.
I'm going to make a mental note that the eyes suggest Summer, but I know that any season can have any eye color. So I'm moving on to the next step: finding well-lit pics of Aishwarya in a variety of colors, and noticing what the colors that look most - and least - harmonious on her have in common.
I find it easiest to start with makeup. When does Aishwarya's face look natural and balanced, and when does it seem that color is just sitting on her face?
Most seasons have warmth or softness or both in them. But I’m tentatively ruling out Bright Winter. Very tentatively ruling out Cool (True) Winter and Bright Spring.
And maybe penciling a star next to the Autumns (soft & warm) and Soft Summer (soft with a smidge of warmth).
Nothing’s certain yet; let’s keep looking:
(And those silvery, icy jewels seem to have nothing in common with her.)
The most obvious thing I'm noticing at this point is that coolness and Aishwarya don’t mix. So, again, several seasons could be indicated, but I’m leaning farther away from the Winters, and starting to lean away from the Summers as well. Despite those eyes.
I'm feeling pretty sure she's a warm season. So the scientist in me says I must try to prove the null hypothesis:
Can I find her in makeup that looks both cool and natural?
Let's try more pics.
I'm looking closer at the makeup. The eyes look quite harmonious to me, and, well, I see warmth in the colors there. I see warmth in that nice, natural cheek too.
I start to notice that something's bugging me about that lip. I ask my gut: what’s wrong? My gut tells me: warm it up and darken it a smidge.
Yeah - I step back and look at the whole face again, and that lip is just too light and too pink for the rest of the face.
(Warm it, darken it… could Aishwarya be an Autumn? Hmm... maybe. Maybe. Nothing's impossible, despite the eyes.)
Let’s look at some more pics.
Apart from the requisite but totally silly super-black liner, this face looks natural as well.
And again, I see warmth in every part of the makeup.
At this point I think I’m prepared to commit myself to the idea that Aishwarya is a season known for warmth: Autumn or Spring.
Because I’ve also been noticing softness, I’m going farther now, and asking: do I see Autumn warmth specifically?
Are the flattering makeup colors that I’ve seen so far Autumn’s, and not Spring’s? That is, are they relatively muted and deep, rather than bright and light?
Now I’m looking back at every picture I’ve seen so far, and asking this question: does anything in any pic rule out Autumn? Have I seen her looking natural in a super-cool, super-light or super-bright color that no Autumn could possibly wear?
Well, I’m going to proceed with a tentative theory that she’s an Autumn, while staying open to evidence that might suggest any other season.
Are these colors consistent with Autumn? Yes - they're warm, soft, and deeper rather than lighter.
Are they completely inconsistent with another season?
Hard to say… I can imagine a Soft Summer or a Deep Winter possibly photographing this way, if the light was right.
I think I've exhausted the usefulness of makeup analysis. I have some ideas. Now I'm moving on to clothing colors, and noticing what doesn't look right.
My brain tells me she looks pale and harsh. My gut doesn’t tell me anything – it just cringes. Beautiful Aishwarya, where are you?
So this is a deep, cool color, and it’s not doing her any favors. Duly noted. Moving on…
I see Aishwarya. And I see the light, cool colors. But I don’t see anything joining them together.
Still thinking Autumn is likely. More colors:
I pick apart my reaction:
- OK, I definitely dislike the hue for her. It's not calling to anything in her skin. Too cool.
- And I’m finding the color brighter than Aishwarya herself. But, interestingly, not alarmingly so.
- And the value of the color – the depth of it, which is sort of medium-deep – actually seems pretty balanced for Aishwarya.
If yes, I can probably rule out Soft Autumn.
But Deep Autumn and Warm (True) Autumn are still in the running. Their colors are muted in the context of the full 12-season spectrum, but considered in themselves, they can read as rather bright.
Now that I think I'm closing in on an answer, I'm ready to look at this problem from another angle:
What are Aishwarya's best colors?
What pics show her in glorious, fantastically harmonious colors?
So... whose colors are these?
Warm (True) Autumn’s.
But she has those Summery eyes…
Yeah, I know.
But she’s Indian…
Anyway, here are the color seasons of several of the actors on Mad Men, as best I can tell.
Elisabeth Moss: True Summer
Jon Hamm: Dark Winter
January Jones: Light Spring
Jessica Pare: Bright Spring
I love how often she's costumed in her best colors. It's a joy to behold.
Linda Cardellini: True Winter
Although I know it will disappoint some people, I have to say that I can't accurately type Christina Hendricks. :-(
You might be thinking, "She's obviously a Bright, or a True Spring!" But don't let yourself get distracted by the colors she's costumed in as Joan -- they're generally very bright colors, but they're also brighter than she is.
Your best colors should let us see you; Joan's colors force us to just see lips, hair, and curves.
Which is probably the point.: the colors make her into a cartoon.
What do you think? Any ideas about Christina Hendricks' color season? Do you think I've missed the mark on any of the other characters? Let me know!
First off, when analyzing celebs' colors, I recommend using red carpet pics. They're taken under very bright lights and generally not Photoshopped or otherwise color-altered. So I'll look at a lot of those.
(Magazine editorial shoots are particularly unhelpful for color analysis; those are generally highly edited to create an artistic effect.)
If that's hard for you to see, try squinting, or unfocusing your eyes:
It can be tough to tell a lippie's true color when it's on someone's skin, because the underlying skin color affects the appearance of the lippie's color. But my best guess about this lippie is that it's Soft Autumn or True Autumn. It looks warm, somewhat muted, a little orange-y but not a lot.
I don't see the color making her skin look more alive. I'm willing to rule out True Autumn.
I think I've got it narrowed down to Soft Autumn and Light Spring. (Which are both warm and gentle, though in different ways; Light Spring is lighter and more vivid, while Soft Autumn is darker and more hushed. Easter colors vs. desert colors.)
I was feeling pretty sure about Soft Autumn, but look at this light warmish pink lippie and blush. (Ignore the inharmonious black liner.)
Is it possible Jennifer Lawrence is a Light Spring? Or is Soft Autumn correct? Or another season?
What do you think?
Ingenues look appropriate, not ridiculous, in girlish details such as small bows, tiny flowers, headbands, simple lockets, and puffed sleeves.
Ingenues often hear "pretty," "cute," "sweet," and "adorable." They're not perceived by strangers as intimidating, mysterious, tough, or intense.
This can be frustrating to an Ingenue with a more assertive, competitive, or no-nonsense personality.
If that's you, my advice is to take advantage of the element of surprise that your innocent appearance grants you. They won't see you coming. :-)
Let me start by being clear that feminine beauty is not the only type of beauty. Dramatics, Naturals, and Gamines all embody beauty that isn't traditionally feminine, but is powerful nonetheless. And Classics are beautiful with a femininity that is subtle and restrained.
Before continuing, I should also let you know that right after this paragraph is a picture of a sculpture of a naked woman. Art, as far as I'm concerned, but probably NSFW for some people.
Pause, pause, pause...
OK, let's dive in. :-)
Feminine Visual Beauty
When we look at another human, we perceive their physical characteristics and make a judgment about their gender almost instantaneously.
This is usually an unconscious process. When it's not unconscious and not immediate, it surprises us -- hence our fascination with androgynous people.
But we humans are exquisitely sensitive to them.
Which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: if an animal can't easily tell who's a potential mate, that animal might not pass on her genes.
For example, because narrow-seeming eyes are more characteristic of men than of women, they characterize the masculine (or "yang") style identities.
Because narrow chins are more characteristic of women than of men, they characterize the feminine (or "yin") style identities.
And so on.
The curving line.
But the type of curving line depends on the style identity. More on that soon.
Categorizing the visual feminine: Romantic is not the only type of feminine beauty.
Romantic does seem to be the variety of feminine beauty that men mainly notice -- which might explain why it's the only kind of visual feminine in some systems created by men.
Romantic, Ingenue, and Ethereal.
A woman without any amount of any of these would appear as a man, or completely androgynous.
But which is it?
- The Ingenue visually signals youthfulness and innocence. She looks natural with a sincere, full smile. You might instinctively describe her as girlish and pretty.
- The Romantic visually signals confidence, maturity, and sensuality. Though she's no more or less sexual than any other human, her resting face tends to read as a "come-hither" expression. You wouldn't hesitate to apply the word "sexy" to her.
- The Ethereal visually signals wisdom and detachment from the physical world. She looks like herself when she's gazing at a far-off point or smiling knowingly. You might think of her as beautiful, or just unusual-looking; she doesn't read as youthful or overtly sexy.
If it has occurred to you that these three types of visual femininity sound an awful lot like the faces of the Threefold Goddess -- Maiden, Mother, and Crone -- then all I can say is, great minds think alike.
My next posts will be more detailed individual explorations of Romantics, Ingenues, and Ethereals, in that order.
I know many of you are like
A fun way to gauge your relative amounts of masculine beauty (Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine) and feminine beauty (Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal) is to determine whether you'd be convincing in drag.
If you're a woman, could you pass as a man? If you're a man, could you pass as a woman?
Liev Schreiber, not so much. I'm thinking he's mostly Natural with some Classic and Gamine.
People whose style identity is purely Dramatic create an overall visual impression of dignity, intensity, and theatricality.
They may remind us of big cats, or birds of prey.
The physical features in a woman that tend to create this impression include:
- A narrow body that's tall (often over 5'8")
- Sharp-edged bone structure
- A long or narrow face
- Prominent cheekbones
- A long or prominent nose
- Tilted or feline eyes
- Close-set eyes
- Thin lips
- A sharp jawline
- Extreme, unexpected or vivid coloring
- Erect, dignified posture
- An aloof or intense manner
But don't get wrapped up in trying to figure out the style essence of each discrete body part.
In other words, it's not about whether or not your nose is Dramatic.
It's about whether your overall impression - the gestalt of your parts and manner - is unusual, intense, and even intimidating.
Dramatic energy is generally called "yang" energy. Belle Northrup originated this use in the 1930s, I suspect because she sensed women wouldn't want to identify with an energy described as "masculine."
But can we get real here and cut the euphemisms for a moment?
Dramatic women look masculine.
And they are stunning.
Dramatics look good in sharp-edged, man-tailored clothes because those clothes repeat the stunning masculine beauty of the physical appearance.
Now, Dramatic woman, this doesn't mean that your personality is masculine or theatrical or intense. The idea that appearance = personality is bull***.
Inside, you might be a wallflower, or a fairy princess, or a clown.
When there's a contrast between the truth of your exterior and the truth of your interior, the contradiction just makes getting to know you even more delightful.
* * * *
If you're a Dramatic, you probably look great with your hair pulled back severely from your incredible face.
If you're a Dramatic, you probably look great when you're not smiling.
If you're a Dramatic, we can probably see your cheekbones even when you're not smiling.
Pure Dramatics don't look innocent.
Pure Dramatics don't look traditionally sexy, though they are gorgeous. Their eyes don't say "Come hither;" they say "Watch out."
Pure Dramatics don't come across as approachable. (Though they might be the sweetest people you'll ever meet.)
Pure Dramatics are, by all accounts, rare. Please let me know if you can think of some.
If you're like me, you are accustomed to thinking about beautification as a process of adding things.
Add accessories, add makeup, add costume, add scenery, add hairstyle.
But Classics become more beautiful the more you remove.
Classic beauty exists in the seemingly perfect balance and symmetry of the form and features. In a Classic face, no one feature jumps out. The nose, eyes, mouth, chin, and forehead aren't remarkably large, or remarkably small, or noticeably close together, or noticeably far apart.
Imagine you're a schoolyard bully: what nickname could you make up for that face? If you can't think of anything, you're likely looking at a Classic.
That impression of perfection can only be created when the form and features are all we see.
Add details to the image, and the perfection becomes harder to discern. The Classic fades into the background. She becomes merely pretty, or even boring-looking.
The answer to a Classic is usually "No."
In your self-critical moments, you may have seen yourself as plain or boring.
But would you call this ring boring?
A solitaire diamond engagement ring is a good metaphor for a Classic. The jewel's perfection is front and center when the setting is simple.
As a Classic, your seeming perfection will blow people away, if you allow it to be seen by keeping all of your lines simple and controlled.
The clothes and hair that you put on are your portable context.
When you choose clothing and hair that are congruent with your physical self, your physical self makes visual sense.
That's our goal here: to present ourselves in a way that says "I am real. My existence makes sense."
When we surround our physical selves with incompatible context, our physical selves don't make sense.
And we're signaling to anyone who looks, "I deny the reality of me."
If you compress soft, bountiful flesh into hard, unyielding fabric forms, you deny the reality of that soft flesh. (So, Romantics, no tailored suits in stiff fabrics.)
If you bind wide, muscular frames with constricting styles, you deny the reality of those big muscles and bones. (So, Naturals, no pencil skirts.)
If you surround a face and form that's perfect in its balance and simplicity with extravagant and outsize detail, you deny the reality of the simple perfection. (So, Classics, don't gild the lily.)
Dramatic are exceptionally imposing.
Romantics are exceptionally sexy.
Ethereals are exceptionally otherworldly.
Gamines and Ingenues stand out because of their seemingly eternal youthfulness and their small stature.
And Classics are unusually symmetrical and balanced.
Naturals, by contrast, are mostly defined by what they are not.
They are not visually extreme in any regard. Not extremely imposing, not extremely small, not extremely sexy, not extremely alien.
Naturals are just that - humans in their typical, average, natural state.
If Naturals get a superlative, it has to be "most friendly-looking." Even Natural supermodels look nice!
- An "athletic" body: straight, strong, and wide-boned
- A toothy, friendly smile
- A wide jaw
- A nose that's large but blunt-edged, not sharp
- A long, blunt (not pointy) chin
- Close-set or small eyes
- Average to above-average height
Well, I did.
The ordinariness, the average-ness, is what makes them so appealing.
They feel familiar. We relate to them. We expect them to welcome us as fellow ordinary people.
But that's part of the fun, isn't it?
Natural or Dramatic?
To distinguish between a Dramatic and a Natural, you might ask, "Does this face look friendly or threatening?"
Natural or Classic?
An important difference between a Natural and a Classic is that Classics present an idealized version of the human average: moderate and balanced in every single dimension, without any asymmetry.
Naturals present the actual human average, which comes with asymmetries and lumps and bumps.
A test: Look at a person and imagine a cartoonist's caricature. If that's hard to do, you might be looking at a Classic. It's hard to caricature a Classic because nothing sticks out. But Naturals have plenty that sticks out.
- 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.
You should see Christine Scaman's excellent article on Spring skin finishes.
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'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.
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?
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.
Can she do Bright Spring's melons and peaches?
How about Bright Spring's lime greens?
What about Bright Spring's bright pinks?
How about Bright Spring's beautiful aqua?
I'm pretty convinced. I'm calling model Selita Ebanks a Bright Spring. :-)
Kenneth is obviously a Spring. His beloved NBC page jacket is totally not his color - too cool, too faded, too dark - but here's a shot of him with a great Springy purple on underneath it.
not shadowed and haggard.
Perhaps the page jacket is that awful-for Kennth navy because that's actually what NBC pages wear?
Kenneth is a sympathetic character who's often presented as the moral center of the show. So it makes sense that his customary rainbow-colored tie features many great Spring colors. It brings some life and health to his face.
This was a tough one for me, but I'm going to go with True Spring over Light Spring for Kenneth. In this post, I identify some of the factors that distinguish Light Spring from True Spring. In Kenneth's (or rather, actor Jack McBrayer's) case, I notice that pale, delicate colors can seem a bit underwhelming on him, while stronger, deeper shades seem more balanced.
True Spring's colors are the closest of any season to the Crayola 8-pack. They are the stereotypical rainbow. Perhaps the NBC bikini Kenneth knitted is better for him than for his Nana.
A reader, C.T., asks me what season I believe Adele is. She points out that Adele's always in black but it's clearly not her best color. I have to agree.
Certainly this recent look is not right for her. The woman is invisible; we only see the too-bright color.
too-black eyeliner and mascara that are sadly de rigeur in show business, her
lip and cheek are usually natural and not overdone.
Could she be a True Autunm? Hmm. These very warm colors look, to me, a tad stronger than she is.
Can you color analyze Lisa
Bonet, Zoe Kravitz and Rashida Jones?
What do you notice?
I think Debra Messing's a True Autumn. Could be wrong, but just take a look at this glorious color harmony, here:
This is what the right colors should do to you: they pick up the healthy flush, the color of life that's in your skin already, and make the other colors (undereye circles, shadows, blemishes, etc.) recede.
Being a celeb, she's probably wearing a pound of makeup, but she almost looks like she just came in from a jog. Her, only better.
Apparently the red hair is not her natural color. I suspect seeing her like this but with the natural brown would be even better - - more complex and positively enchanting. But she pulls this color off, IMHO.
When considering the sub-seasons, it can often be difficult to identify colors that clearly distinguish between them.
In the case of Light Spring vs. True (Warm) Spring, though, there are a few differences between the palettes that are relatively easy to articulate.
If you've narrowed yourself down to these two seasons, you might use the following examples to help determine where you fit. Which colors can you (or can't you) wear?
True Spring has no pinks to speak of. The closest it comes to pink is bright, fairly deep coral.
Light Spring, on the other hand, has several lovely, warmish, light-to-medium pinks and pinky-corals.
If you're a Light Spring, you may be able to wear a similar coral. But if you're a True Spring, you won't look well in that pink.
Light Spring's lightest yellows are bright, but light and delicate.
True Spring's yellows, even the lightest ones, are much more rich and buttery.
A Light Spring may be able to wear both yellows. But the lightest, most delicate yellow will only flatter a Light Spring.
True Spring's greens go surprisingly deep. Deeper even than this. Have I mentioned that this season can take a lot of color?
Light Spring, meanwhile, is ever delicate. Their greens don't go much deeper than this:
A True Spring can wear a similar light green, but a Light Spring won't tolerate the deep, saturated green.
As you consider these two seasons for yourself, keep these two ideas in mind:
- True Spring can take a lot of contrast and a lot of depth. Light Spring can't -- they're overwhelmed.
- Light Spring can go very, very delicate. True Spring can't -- they disappear.
And don't forget: your hair and eye color do not rule you out of either of these seasons. To my knowledge (and I research this stuff), only one woman mentioned in this post is a natural blonde. And it's dark blonde. :-)
1. They're all famous Springs.
Their Springiness may help these particular women be convincing blondes. But like most adult American women with blonde hair, their natural hair color is actually brown.
I bring this up because we deceive ourselves about blondeness, and in doing so we deceive ourselves about seasonal color.
We want to believe in blondeness. So we smile and nod when celebs claim they're "natural blondes" and we ignore the evidence in front of our eyes.
(I think celebs have all agreed to privately define "naturally blonde" as "blonde at birth" or "blonde during some period of my childhood." One's childhood hair color is not one's natural color if one is no longer a child.)
Articles like this one perpetuate this peculiar, false faith in the supposed natural blondeness of brown-haired celebs. It doesn't take a lot of research to determine that Angelina, Brittany, Gwyneth, etc. have been natural brunettes at least since adolescence, if not longer.
OK, so what? Why do I care?
Well, partly because belief in the myth of widespread natural blondeness perpetuates an idealization of light coloring that's hurtful to darker women, especially because the context is a society that already privileges Whiteness in so many ways.
Partly because of my nature: I'm an Enneagram 4. I want to reveal the truth.
And partly - and most pertinently, for this blog - because seeing all these supposedly blonde Spring and Summer celebs leads us to incorrectly believe that Springs and Summers - especially Light Springs and Summers, and Warm Springs - are typically blonde.
I personally know many brunettes whose path to discovering their true colors was made longer and more difficult because of a shared, mistaken belief that certain Spring and Summer seasons are blonde seasons.
There is no blonde season. Every season's average or typical representative is a natural brunette.
Statistically, it's inevitable that this be the case; with the vast majority of all human beings having naturally brown or black hair, a majority of even the most delicately-colored people will be brunette as well.
It's true that natural blondeness is not found infrequently in the seasons with lighter palettes, in particular Light Summer and Light Spring.
Might a quarter, or even a third, of adult Light Summers or Light Springs have blonde hair growing naturally from their heads? Perhaps. You can think of dozens of Light-season people as easily as I can. What proportion of them are blonde at age 30?
Surely not the majority of them. Probably not even half of them.
Let's revise our mental image of what these seasons look like. The caricatures just get in the way of seeing what's real. We know it's not about hair color anyway, so let's picture what it's really about. Look at the Light and Warm Springs and Light Summers that you know: what do you really see?
P.S. Blonde sisters, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm hating on you. You're beautiful and I love you. I just like to keep it real.
P.P.S. Scandinavians, I realize what I've written here might not reflect your reality. I know there is an unusual proportion of natural blondes in your little corner of the world. :-)
Here is a hair color scale I originally intended to use in the post above, to help make clear how I'm personally defining "blonde" and "brown."
In the end, it felt pedantic to include it - but now I think the failure to attempt to define terms just added to the general chaos. So for the record, this graphic reflects how I was conceptualizing these hair colors when I wrote the post. For me, it was essentially a question of hue: more yellow than brown = blonde, more brown than yellow = brunette.
From talking and listening to Winter women, particularly on the 12 Blueprints Facebook page, I've learned that deep, vivid Winter colors can take some getting used to.
It can be difficult for a newly identified Winter to see past the intensity of the color in a swatchbook and imagine how normal it will look on a Winter face. Even seeing the color on the lip, it can be hard for a Winter woman to take in how the color is balancing the rest of the face.
What will read as natural on you is a color you might not expect:
You know those cool, fairly bright, medium pinks in your swatchbook? The ones that look like Barbie cars? They look absolutely normal on a True Winter face.
Match the swatch; don't be afraid. In the tube it may seem very, very pink, but on your lip it will be natural.
Doesn't this look loads more normal?
(Probably it's True (Warm) Autumn's. Seems like all their best lippies are called Creamy Nude, Rosy Nude, Nude in the Afternoon, Nude at Breakfast, etc. A very sexy season, apparently.)
Consider this particular light, cool pink.
It might look natural on a Light Summer:
I'll start with the adorable Reese Witherspoon.
Despite how cute she is, it's hard to find pics of Reese in flattering colors; I get the feeling she's a Light Summer who's not comfortable with the perceived girliness and insubstantiality of the Light Summer palette.
Here's one of the only pics I could find showing her in a color that's Light Summery:
The gown she wore to the 2006 Oscars was also a natural color:
For most big events, unfortunately, Reese chooses colors more appropriate for a Winter. This year's Oscars was no exception.
(I won't nitpick right now about her artificially blonde hair. Though I oppose it on principle, she is, as a Light Summer, one of the few seasons who can convincingly fake blondisme.)
Things from the neck up are pretty harmonious, I think.
It's when we zoom out that things become less sweet.
And when you look back up at her face, what you see first is black eyeliner and white teeth. Your brain is connecting them to the black and white of the dress.
The result is that the black-circled eyes and the grinning mouth seem to leap out at us, detached from the rest of her face. Weird. Not lovely.
(The hair is also too one-dimensionally yellow for Light Summer, IMHO... but it's not a deal-killer. )
I think it's the eyes alone that prevent Gwyneth from achieving full Light Summer radiance. See her in the gown, which should flatter a Light Summer. You want to like it, but something's a tiny bit off.
I almost always find that Cate Blanchett beautifully presents her true colors. Her Oscars look this year, though, was widely criticized. What was right and what wasn't?
The face was perfect, I thought.
(And she declined the too-dark liner that's de rigeur on red carpets. Strong woman!)
So why all the criticism? I believe it was nothing more than the peculiar design of the dress.
The colors in the gown are actually darn good for her. The white is cool and a touch greyish; the darker areas of the crusty bits read as greyish-pink and greyish-purple; and the tiny bit of bright yellow is a nice Light Summer accent.
I suppose I'd better address Scarlett Johansson first and get it over with.
She's so very, very beautiful. Yet most of us looked better at our high school prom than Scarlett does here. Why, Scarlett? Why the weirdly orange eye? Why the violet lace? (And P.S. - Why the messy hair?)
Before we look at it, though, let's see Warm Spring Amy in a really good color, at the 2008 Oscars:
Notice that she can handle a fair bit of depth. Some Warm Spring colors do go that deep. Notice also that she needs vivid (highly saturated) color.
Now, to the dress in question. This blue is very close to one of Warm Spring's deep blues. And it's nice and vivid. So why isn't the effect here as magical? Why do we see the dress before we see Amy?
This is a very deep blue - as deep as Warm Spring's colors go. It's in the palette because it's the complement to one of Warm Springs beautiful oranges, but blue is a cool color. Coming right up to Amy's neck, it creates an effect of too much cool and deep. Yes, Warm Springs are flattered by contrast, but in this case the deep blue is more dominating than contrasting.
See how much more flattering a similar blue is when Amy balances it with a larger expanse of very light skin:
Let's look at a Spring who, in spite of artificially lightened hair and a too-dark eye, reads as very natural: Jennifer Lawrence.
Honestly, I'm not sure what Jennifer's exact season is. I never noticed her before the Oscars. I only know she's a Spring because she looks so perfectly balanced in this very warm, highly saturated color, and because the blonde hair doesn't look totally wrong on her. (Again, I won't nitpick, though I'm sure her true color would be more glorious.)
Is she Bright, maybe? I think not... Imagine this outrageous color going all the way up to her chin, like Amy Adams' gown. I don't think it would work. I think there's a limit to how much color this girl can take.
What other Springs and Summers got it right - or wrong?
Bright Spring Colors
Bright Winter Colors
Color Analysis Theory
Dark Autumn Colors
Dark Winter Colors
Figuring Out Your Season
Light Spring Colors
Light Summer Colors
Soft Autumn Colors
Soft Summer Colors
True Autumn Colors
True Spring Colors
True Summer Colors
True Winter Colors