It's been a while since I talked here about my Seasonal Color Analysis Quiz. But I used it myself just the other day. I was trying to determine the color season of a male friend of mine, but I didn't have my drapes with me, and I was stuck between a couple of seasons. On my phone, I went to my own quiz and took it on his behalf; lo and behold, the answer I came up with turned out to be correct.
I think my quiz is the most accurate quiz available online. Unlike most color analysis quizzes, this quiz doesn't depend on a person's hair, eye, or skin tone - since none of those factors can tell a person's season.
Instead, you'll be asked about colors that flatter or don't flatter the person in question.
The quiz is best used by you on a celebrity or a friend, but you can use it to determine your own season if you ask a friend to take it for you.
Two notes on the quiz:
1. I do not include color images in this quiz, and here's why: If I include a picture, the person taking the quiz will naturally answer Yes or No based on the picture, not on the color name. And I can't control how pictures appear on other people's monitors.
Someone taking the quiz for a True Spring might choose No for a picture of bright yellow-green if it doesn't appear as a True Spring bright yellow-green on her monitor. So a picture, I fear, might define the color too narrowly.
By contrast, any Springs, and many Winters, will probably get a Yes for the term "bright yellow-green," even though each quiz taker may have a slightly different mental image of that color, because the quiz-taker can picture some bright yellow-greens that flatter them.
2. Don't take my Yes/No paths as endorsements of particular colors for particular seasons. I have built the quiz based on how I think people may answer, not on what I think actually looks good on them.
For example, I wouldn't recommend any color called "hot pink" for a True Autumn, but a person can answer Yes for hot pink and still reach TA - because I'm guessing that some people will think their TA friend looks good in hot pink. (Because that TA friend probably looks good in some colors that are pretty similar to hot pink, because some of the TA colors are kind of similar to hot pink.)
A version of this post was first published in February of 2014.
When you read about personal color analysis, you'll often come across the term dominant trait.
We know - hopefully we know! - that color has three dimensions, and any given color can be described as being high or low in each of the three dimensions. So a color can be
- warm or cool in hue
- light or dark in value
- high or low in chroma (bright or soft)
The palettes of each of the 12 seasons are harmonious within themselves. Any given palette can be said to show a dominant trait in its colors.
The Dark Winter and Dark Autumn palettes, for example, are predominantly dark, or low in value. The Bright Spring and Bright Winter palettes are predominantly bright, or high in chroma.
Now, some writers will suggest that you can identify a person's season by identifying the dominant (and secondary) traits of that person's coloring. You see this a lot online. I call it the "dominant trait" method of color analysis.
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!
Departure from this idea is part of what separates the followers of Kathryn Kalisz's teachings from other thinkers in the world of color analysis.
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 Bright is not always obviously bright in personal coloring. A Dark is not always obviously dark. A Soft is not always obviously Soft. And so on.
A great example: Lupita Nyong'o.
If you're using the "dominant trait" method to determine Ms. Nyong'o's season, you will likely think something like this:
"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.
The dominant trait of Ms. Nyong'o's best colors is brightness.
Would you have looked at her face, hair, and eyes and called "brightness" the dominant trait of her personal coloring? Probably not easily.
(This is one big problem with the "dominant trait" method of determining season: it often results in women of color getting automatically, inaccurately slotted into Dark Autumn and Dark Winter.)
Avoid the "dominant trait" method of determining your own season. It may well lead you astray. Instead, focus on figuring out your best colors. You can do it. :-)
First published in March 2014.
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.
Each of the 12 seasonal color palettes, 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.
Light Summer and Light Spring palettes. Yikes! Which is which?
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. :-)
If you're having trouble diagnosing yourself, consider investing in color cards to drape yourself at home.
Originally published February 2013.
If you're like me, you're not satisfied to simply know what's true; you want to understand why it's true.
So maybe 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.
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.
But why is skin appearance the most important?
Because when we look at other people, we use skin appearance - not hair or eye appearance - as our primary way of evaluating health.
And health = beauty.
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, 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 white of bloodless skin;
the grey of dead skin.
The fact that there are so many ways that skin can look wrongly colored shows that skin color is crucial to our estimations of others' health -- and, therefore, of their beauty.
But 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.
First published February 2013.
The short answer is yes.
The more complicated answer is that not every single color in your palette will look good in every application.
For example, my Soft Autumn tan isn't great on me as a shirt, because that's the same color as my skin and it makes me look naked. (Generally, wearing tops or bottoms in the same color as your skin tone is a non-starter for daytime, because of the "nude" effect. Go a few shades lighter or darker.)
But my SA tan is great for me in makeup, and as an accent color.
My lightest pink isn't my best lippie, because it's lighter than my lips, but it's pretty as lingerie.
Consider, also, your style identity: certain hues make certain impressions, and you 'll want to make an impression that's consistent with your personal style.
For example, because I'm an Ethereal Natural, the majority of my wardrobe consists of Soft Autumn browns, blues, greens, gentle metallics, and dawn/dusk hues. I rarely wear my Soft Autumn pinks in large blocks because the impression they create is more girly than I am. (Though I love my pinks as lipsticks and blushes.) I almost never wear a large block of my Soft Autumn red, because the impression it makes is more aggressive than I am. (Though, again, I would wear it in makeup.)
A Soft Autumn with a lot of Ingenue would want to focus on those pinks. And a Soft Autumn with a lot of Dramatic would look great in big blocks of Soft Autumn red.
Check out your style type's Shopping Guide for more information about which colors from your seasonal palette to focus on.
And if you're not sure about your seasonal palette, consider trying the Home Draping Cards; a lot of women have found them helpful.
If you know your season, are there particular colors that you've found you can only wear in certain applications?
Or if you know your style type, are there particular colors that you've found best fit with your overall vibe?
Please share in the comments!
Originally published July 2017.
I think I know, but I'm not positive. Let me lay out my logic for you.
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.)
The makeup above looks Soft Summery. Its not bad, though that eyeliner is darker than she is. (That's true of almost every pic of almost every celeb, unfortunately.)
This makeup looks a bit pinker (cooler) than she is, to my eye. And, again, the eyeliner and mascara are darker than she is. I'm going to rule out the very coolest seasons, True Summer and True Winter.
This block of black color is unconnected to her relatively makeup-free face here. I'm ruling out seasons that can wear black, so we additionally lose Dark Autumn, Dark Winter, Bright Winter, and Bright Spring.
I do find this hair color flattering for her, though it's obviously not her natural color. (Look at the roots.) Few people can wear lightened hair convincingly, but True Springs, Light Springs and Light Summers tend to be able to pull it off pretty well. I'm going to put a star next to those seasons.
Do I love her in a cool, light pink lippie, though? I don't know. I would expect this to be great on a Light Summer, such as Gwyneth Paltrow:
But I don't see it harmonizing with Lawrence's skin. It looks a little too cool. That makes me think Light Summer is unlikely.
I'd expect a True Spring to look pretty darn good in this vivid red. Do I love this for her? Not sure. Any sense of harmony I'm getting may simply be because the red dress matches the red lips, not because either of them matches her skin.
That saturated red, which could very well be a True Spring red, is so much more powerful than JLaw's skin is.
If that's hard for you to see, try squinting, or unfocusing your eyes:
The red is dominating her. Not good.
This appears to be complete Soft Summer look, including the hair, and I just don't love this for her skin. This palette looks a little muddy on her, like there's a film over her. It looks like it's concealing her authentic self instead of revealing it.
Wow. I like this lippie for her, and this blush. And the eye's not bad, either. (Though maybe too warm? Again, there's a faint impression of a film having been laid over her, though a warm one this time... )
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.
This makeup looks warm and muted; I think it's Soft Autumn or True Autumn (second choice.) I like it for her.
Try to ignore the super-light hair here, and just notice the effect of the pumpkin-y orange. Is it making her glow? Is it resonating with her natural skin tone? Especially look at the effect of the orange on her chest, where she's probably wearing less makeup than on her face.
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.)
Could a Soft Autumn look authentic in this? I don't think so. Yet, I don't hate it here. And I don't hate the big block of light yellow next to her face (i.e., the dyed blonde hair.)
Is it possible Jennifer Lawrence is a Light Spring? Or is Soft Autumn correct? Or another season?
What do you think?
I'm pretty sure that, at $48, the 12 Season Home Draping Cards are the most affordable way to figure out your color season.
But for some of us, even that is a big chunk of change!
If that's you, I recommend trying the Six Season Home Draping Cards.
But how do you narrow yourself down to just six seasons?
Here's are a few techniques that work for many people:
Ask yourself, "Can I honestly wear both black and white?" If black and white truly don't overpower you, that narrows your seasons down to five: Dark Autumn, Dark Winter, True Winter, Bright Winter, and Bright Spring. If black and white are too intense for you, that leaves seven seasons; then you only have to rule out one more.
Are you sure about your undertone? If you are pretty sure your undertone is more warm than cool, that narrows you down to the six Autumn and Spring seasons. And if you're sure your undertone is more cool than warm, that narrows you down to the six Winter and Summer seasons.
If you're confident that you need very bright colors, pick Bright Spring and Bright Winter, plus the two seasons to either side: True Winter, Dark Winter, True Spring, and Light Spring.
If you're certain you need gentler colors, pick Soft Summer and Soft Autumn, plus the two seasons to either side: True Summer, Light Summer, True Autumn, and Dark Autumn.
I hope this helps!
Sometimes people ask me, "Is color analysis just for white people? Is it relevant for people of African descent or other people of color?"
The answer is that color analysis is absolutely relevant for POC. 12-tone color analysis is applicable to people of every skin tone, from very light to very dark
It's a sad fact that some websites and books about color analysis don't address people with very dark skin tones. But I'm striving to right that wrong here on my site. I'm also striving to correct some common misconceptions about color analysis for people with skin tones on the darker edge of the spectrum.
For example, despite what you may have heard, not all people of color are Winters.
In some systems, anyone with skin that's rather dark gets immediately shunted into the Dark Winter category.
And it is true that many people with very dark skin will need a high-contrast palette to look their best. Often, that will be a Winter palette.
But it won't always be Dark Winter -- and sometimes it won't be Winter at all.
Other palettes with high contrast, such as Bright Spring and Dark Autumn, are certainly possibilities for people who need a lot of contrast.
And many people of color have a gentler tone to their skin that is most flattered by muted colors.
Here, I have examples of African-Americans and other people of color who are Dark Autumns, Soft Autumns, True Autumns, Light Springs, Brights Springs, True Winters, and Bright Winters.
Your color season doesn't depend on what box you check on a census form!
Your color season depends entirely on which colors flatter your skin. That's it.
Don't know your season? Try at-home draping!
Figuring out the color season of a particular color in a store can be difficult.
When I'm trying to figure out a color's season, and I don't have swatchbooks in front of me, I try going through the three dimensions of color one at a time.
I ask myself "Is this bright or soft? Is it light or dark? Is it warm or cool?"
Sometimes I'm stuck on one of those questions, but answering the other two makes things start to become clear.
This is all harder to do with lights and neutrals, but in those cases I try imagining alternate versions:
"Could this be dirtier? (More greyed?) What would that look like?"
"Could this be purer? (Less greyed?) What would that look like?"
"Could it have more yellow? What would a more yellowed version of this look like?"
"Could it have more blue? What would a more blued version look like?"
Warm and cool -- yellow/orange-tinted or blue/pink-tinted, to be simplistic about it -- can be tough to decide until you've memorized a warm and cool version of each hue. Once you have those mental images, it becomes easier to determine temperature because you can compare a sample to those mental images.
For example, for brown I have memorized mental images of caramel, a warm brown, and cocoa, a cool brown. When I see a brown in a store, I can ask, "Is this closer to caramel or cocoa?"
For blue, I have memorized mental images of aqua (a yellowed blue) and periwinkle (a purpled blue).
I can analyze whites pretty easily without a swatchbook if I can first identify what the white is tinted with.
So, for example, if I figure out a white is blue-tinted, I can ask myself, "Is that drop of blue more aqua-ish or more periwinkle-ish?"
It's also a good idea to compare colors in a store to other nearby colors.
See the red in front of you: is it the brightest red in the store? Or is it "dirtier"-looking than many other reds? Does it seem to have more orange in it than other reds, or does it seem to have more violet?
Commercial products, like Coke cans, are great reference points for this kind of comparison because they are often purely saturated. If you're looking at a red that's as bright as a can of Coke, chanes are it's a Bright season red.
Having trouble making this decision? These two seasons are often confused -- probably because people in both seasons are flattered by warmer colors and can take a lot of saturation.
There are a few colors that will distinguish them, though.
If you're a Dark Autumn, you will look good in some light golden browns, while Bright Spring can't do any kind of brown. As a Dark Autumn, you'll also look good in dark rust red, while Bright Spring doesn't have anything close to that.
If you're a Bright Spring, you can wear a whole value range of fuchsias, from pretty deep to very light. (Dark Autumn has some coolish reds, but they're very dark -- more like wine.) As a Bright Spring, you can also wear a light, sunshiney yellow, while Dark Autumn's yellows are more like gold.
Still can't figure out your season? Try at-home draping.
Oh yes. Millions of brown-eyed Winters look bad in brown.
Part of the explanation is that our actual eye color is rarely what we call it. If you take a picture of yourself and use a color picker (like in MS Paint) to pick out your eye color, you'll discover this.
(For example, most people would say my eyes are green. But when I use a color picker, the color I get is always some variant of grey. My eyes just read as green in the context of my skin and my Soft Autumn colors.)
The other part of the explanation is that eyes aren't the key factor that determines our beauty; the key factor is the apparent health of our skin.
There's no use in wearing a color that makes your eyes pop if those eyes are "popping" out of an otherwise unlovely look. Case in point: here, too-dark hair and black jacket make True Spring Cameron Diaz's eyes stand out, but at the expense of her overall impression. The rest of her seems a little lost.
Don't match your eyes; match your skin. The right colors for your skin will always make your eyes look amazing -- and might reveal in them colors you never saw before. :-)
Try at-home draping!
Typically, your best colors make your features look clear and defined, right?
And colors that are too saturated can make features look a little blurry, right?
As they age, women sometimes gravitate to brighter colors precisely because of that effect -- the blurring of the features.
It's a bit like one of those soft filters sometimes used in filming older actresses -- like the one used on Sybil Shepherd on Moonlighting. (Here, "old" is relative! She was younger than I am now, I'm sure. But in Hollywood, it seems like "old" for women means "over 25.")
I don't necessarily recommend using brighter colors to create the Moonlighting effect. My aesthetic values authenticity above all
But when we know the effects of different color dimensions on our skin, we can use that knowledge to our advantage, if we like. Knowledge is power.
So if you do want to wash yourself out, for whatever reason, highly saturated colors are the way to go.
Actually, that's not how it works! Don't pay too much attention to systems that try to tell you otherwise.
Your hair color doesn't make a darn bit of difference in determining your season. A person with red hair might be found in any season, depending on her skin tone.
Here's a redheaded Light Spring:
A redheaded True Spring:
A redheaded True Autumn:
And I personally know a redheaded True Summer.
Redheads tend to have warm-toned skin, which puts them into Spring and Autumn categories. But it's theoretically possible that a person with genetically red hair could have Winter or Summer skin.
Unsure of your season? Try at-home draping cards.
I'm not always comfortable tooting my own horn, but this letter from a reader made me feel so proud of the work I do that I want to share it.
What she achieved is what I hope for all of you -- that you can use my tools and ideas to find your own authentic beauty. :-)
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About a year ago, I took a look in my closet and thought "What on earth is going on in here?" I owned nothing I liked, and nothing that suited me or my job. I decided that it was high time for me to "figure out my style." A bit of internet research and a free quiz or two later, I seemed to fit the profile of a Bright Winter Dramatic Classic. I had my doubts, but that sounded suitably corporate and bold. I attempted to dress as such. I spent a good bit of money on it, too. (Ugh.)
Except... it didn't feel right. So I tried messing around with Natural Dramatic... No. Soft Dramatic? Surely I had to be some kind of dramatic, since I'm tall and on the lean side. Every free quiz said that I had to be dramaticish. Fast forward to a few months later when someone snapped a picture of me. I had on a sharp black blazer, a severe platinum bob, and chunky jewelry. And I just looked lost in that outfit. I also looked old. Back to the internet I went, now a lot less confident in the entire style-analysis process.
I found your blog, Rachel, and each post seemed to click something into place. First up: dress for your face, you said. Well... yeah. That makes sense. Dramatic Classic clothes looked good on my body, but competed with my face. Then came your blog post about how ethereal elongation often gets mistaken for dramatic elongation. Light bulb moment for me. No wonder I look better in white linen than black pleather. I went on, using your explanation of color analysis and lipstick draping suggestions to find my right season (cool summer, so I wasn't that far off when I thought I was a winter). Armed with my 'right colors', I shocked my friends by dying my hair back to its original dark ash blonde. But then they all agreed it did look a lot better that way.
I then took the plunge and got your style ID calculator. I felt pretty nervous about it, since all those free calculators had pegged me so wrong. Now, in using it, I wasn't just pleasantly surprised. I was giddy.
First of all, I love the way it worked. It was a way to analyze myself against the clothes themselves - not against some standard set by the latest popular celebrities. I appreciated this, especially considering how so many celebs have had work done or are photoshopped or whatever. Further, I loved the lack of assumptions. Many other style calculators and blogs are western-centric, white-centric, and cis-gender-biased. Not only is that completely unhelpful and damaging for women who don't fit that stereotype, but it's not helpful for women who do. All my life I was told "Oh, well, you're tall and blonde, so you can wear anything." Only, I can't (and I'm not that blonde anyway) and I could never explain why I couldn't wear the 'in' clothes. I figured there must be something wrong with me - with my face and my body. But after using the style ID calculator, my view on that changed. There's nothing wrong with me. It was the clothes. Popular styles don't suit me at all - not when I was a kid and certainly not now. And without that knowledge, I didn't know how to describe what I needed.
I walked away from the calculator realizing that I am best flattered by a complicated blend of styles - and that's not only okay - it's awesome! I need something quite different from what's at the mall - something uniquely my own. I've since stopped shopping at my old haunts, and instead found ways to revamp my current clothes or order things from niche internet shops that I'd never even heard of before. My work wardrobe is slowly transforming from a dull, aging uniform into a blend of 'work appropriate' and my own quirky self. I love that.
Most of all, I've loved exploring your site. It's wonderful that you have a range of suggestions and insights for women of all body types, features, hair types and lengths, races, color seasons, and so on. This site didn't type me - it invited me to find myself.
So thank you, Rachel. You've made me feel a lot more beautiful. And that is, itself, beautiful.
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation." - Audre Lorde
When the world wants to diminish you or make you feel less-than, taking care of yourself is a revolutionary act.
When you feel good about how you look -- when you know you're showing the world who you truly are -- you are stronger.
I want to make self-care a little easier for you right now.
Today, I'm offering 20% off every single product.
Every Makeup List
Every Style Identity Calculator
Every Home Draping Cards set
All Seasonal Color Cards
Every Shopping Guide
Every Visual Style Guide
Every Fragrance Guide
Every What Not To Wear
Use promo code TAKECAREOFYOU20.
Take care of yourselves today, beautiful women.
Fill yourselves back up, so you can get back out there and do what needs doing.
Promo ends Sunday, 11/13/16.
1. It makes you feel better about yourself.
Your true physical self is very much part of who you are.
When you feel free to be your true physical self, you feel happy.
Mental health is in no small measure about feeling like we are free to be our true selves. Dressing as your true lines and colors is uplifting and freeing.
2. It gives you social power.
When other people can see that you look like yourself -- that you look how your natural lines and colors dictate you should look -- they unconsciously assumes that you are
a) highly self-aware, and
b) brave enough to be your natural self.
Both of those qualities -- self awareness and courage -- are impressive, even intimidating, to other people. And that gives you power in your social interactions.
Social interactions are largely about power; in almost any interaction, one person or the other has an upper hand.
Now, "power" isn't a bad word. Power doesn't mean hurting people. In fact, power is necessary to help people.
In order to parent effectively, to inspire, to lead, to change the world, you must be able to influence people. You must have power.
So you want power in your social interactions, always -- not to hurt or dominate, but to lead, teach, inspire.
And also just to get what you want, of course.
3. It helps you be a person of integrity.
Speaking of power: in social psych, I learned to define power as
the ability to influence others and to resist their influence on you.
That second part is interesting, right?
Consider a crying newborn: it's powerless, because although it has the power to affect others with its cries, it has no power to resist others' influence on it.
So, in order to have power, in addition to having influence, you must have integrity.
Integrity is about being whole, sound, undivided, the same through and through. Honesty. Consistency. Steadfastness.
A person of integrity -- a person firmly rooted in the truth of herself -- is easily able to resist others' influence on her.
Looking like yourself is about integrity.
When you dress yourself in a way that is visually consistent with the lines and colors nature gave you, you create a visual impression of integrity. This promotes the sense in the viewer that you are a person of integrity. And the viewer treats you as such.
And it promotes *your own* sense of yourself as a person of integrity, when you look in the mirror. Which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Bonus: as a person deeply rooted in the truth of your own colors and lines, you will be free of the fashion world's control over you.
I know I'm Ethereal Natural and a Soft Autumn; because of that, no magazine can ever convince me I should buy a crop top or a fuchsia lippie. I seek out the colors and lines that I know are right for me; I am completely unmoved by fads and trends.
Part of my mission is to bring DIY color analysis and style analysis to people who can't afford to pay "experts." Make today the day that you figure out your true colors and lines.
Let me back up a bit before I proceed: I believe every one of us is beautiful in exactly one of the 12 palettes of color identified by Kathryn Kalisz. I mostly believe this because I haven't yet failed to match a real-life person to a palette.
So, two big assumptions underlie this whole site: there is one right answer, and the right answer is knowable.
I also believe that experienced people with great eyes for color can pick the wrong answer sometimes. The analyst can get it wrong.
Things that might cause an analyst to make a mistake:
- Poor lighting.
- Dyed hair that isn't covered.
- Spray tans.
- Other colors in the room.
- The analyst's biases and assumptions.
- Your wishes and expectations., which the analyst senses.
So you've been analyzed, and perhaps now you're thinking the analyst got it wrong.
Reasons you might be thinking your season was diagnosed incorrectly:
1. It actually was diagnosed incorrectly.
That's the obvious reason, and it may be correct.
2. It's not the season you were hoping for.
3. You dislike closure.
4. The initial high from the analysis has worn off, and you think the absence of that feeling means your season is wrong.
5. You thought that when you found your correct season you'd finally feel right. You still don't feel right, so you assume your season must be wrong.
This last point, this is what I really want to write about. This is what I think often happens but is never discussed.
Perhaps this is your situation: Something feels wrong. Something's missing. You've felt that way for a long time.
And you've decided that when you know your correct season, you won't feel that way anymore.
Now you've been analyzed and told a season.
But you still feel wrong.
I want to suggest to you, as gently as I can, this:
Even if you're feeling this way, your analyst may be right about your coloring.
It may be that the feeling of wrongness is something that knowing your season can't erase.
Not to say that the analyst is always right. That's just impossible. Sometimes the analyst is wrong. That bears repeating.
What I'm saying instead is, don't assume that knowing your correct season will finally give you inner peace. It may not. (If only it did!)
And the lack of a feeling of peace is not conclusive evidence that the analyst got it wrong.
Sometimes, "trust your gut" is a great rule to follow. And sometimes it's not.
Hello, truly beautiful people. I hope you're well.
I'm excited to say that I've expanded my list of "lip drape" colors for each season. There are now ten lippies per season. Check it out!
I recommend that you try as many of the colors as you can. In your correct season, not every color will be your favorite, but all will be perfectly respectable and none will be bad.
If you already know your season, you may want to pick up a makeup list. It makes shopping for cosmetics a lot easier.
Good luck figuring out your season! :-)
Perhaps just one color from each season isn't enough to help you Brights sort yourselves out.
Perhaps it would be helpful to look at (people I believe are) real Bright Springs and Bright Winters, and notice what's different between the two groups?
Yes, people with any hair color and any eye color can be any season... but people within a certain season sometimes share a certain overall look.
I chose what I think are harmonious pictures of four Bright Springs and four Bright Winters. Let's compare.
Four women I believe are Bright Springs.
Look at these gals. Scroll down quickly and glance at the Bright Winters. Then scroll back up. See the difference in the skin?
These four women seem to have a golden quality to their skin. The depth of the skin tone varies; Rachel's is very fair with just a drop of yellow, while Selita's is a deep golden caramel. Yet there's a flattering (not sallow) yellow-gold-orange glow in each of these complexions.
Four women I believe are Bright Winters.
What I notice in these four women, compared to the Bright Springs, is the absence of warmth. It's almost a silvery-grey cast. No yellow, no gold. Yet they look balanced, not pasty or ashy. Lauren is almost porcelain; Alek's skin is deep cocoa brown. In both, there's a hint of cool pink or peach that may be added by blush. But no golden glow.
So: When Bright Springs look yellow-gold, it may seem right, not jaundiced. When Bright Winters lack warmth, it may seem healthy, not cadaverous.
What I suppose we're getting down to is the fundamental temperature difference of the seasons. Yes, Bright Spring has a touch of Winter, but it's still primarily warm. Bright Winter has a touch of Spring but it's still primarily cool.
I realize in this post I may sound like I'm contradicting what I normally say about seasonal analysis. But, to paraphrase myself from that post, there are patterns and tendencies in seasonal coloring. If you're trying to figure out your correct season, you'll use whatever means are available to you. In the case of choosing between Bright Winter and Bright Spring, it may help you to rely on some general truths about Bright skin.
If you're having trouble diagnosing yourself, consider investing in color cards to drape yourself at home.
You may also like:
Distinguishing Bright Winter From Bright Spring, Part I
Drape Yourself at Home
The two palettes are clearly different. Look at them side by side and there's no doubt. Bright Winter is darker, crisper, bluer; Bright Spring is livelier, cheerier, yellower.
But getting down to individual colors is tricky. There aren't many hues that are found only in one palette but not in the other. Both have pinks, yellows, greens, blues, purples... The differences are mainly in the temperature of the hues - cool or warm? - and it can be hard to convey those differences in a blog.
I will focus on just two colors, two that are inarguably distinct in hue - one from each palette.
First is Bright Spring's very saturated adobe orange. Think rust or pumpkin, but clear, not dull.
The Bright Spring palette has a few colors like this, and they're nothing like anything in Bright Winter's palette.
Here's Rose McGowan in such a color:
If you are lovely in some version of this warm, deep, but clear orange, you're more likely Bright Spring than Bright Winter.
The colors that most easily distinguish Bright Winter from Bright Spring, in my opinion, are its periwinkles. Periwinkle is purple-blue. Bright Winter's are like this:
Now, Bright Spring has several colors you might call purple.
Some are crayon purple; others are quite magenta-ish, almost red.
But none of them are purple-blue.
Here's Courtney Cox in a similar color:
If you suspect you're a Bright but aren't sure which one, compare these two colors. Make sure both versions are very saturated, not faded or grayed or dull.
For more help figuring out your season, see here. Good luck!
If I could wave my magic wand, everyone in the world would know the truth of their coloring.
Not everyone can afford to see a good color analyst, though. And many people who can afford it don't live near one.
Christine Scaman is busily training new analysts, thank goodness. I look forward to the day when there are thousands of analysts, all over the world.
In the meantime, we need a draping solution for those of you with no access to an analyst.
Toward that end, I've created the 12-Season Color Card Set.
You'll receive a red, a yellow, a green and a blue Benjamin Moore color sheet from each of the 12 seasons. That's 48 cards in total.
The great advantage of this set, I think, is that you can see yourself in a selection of a season's colors. A handful of seasons may be able to pull off a Bright Spring blue or green. But only a Bright Spring will be gorgeous in Bright Spring's blue and green and red and yellow all together.
Drape yourself in three or four colors at a time. Hold them under your chin and be photographed, or examine yourself in a mirror, or get your sweetheart's feedback. (I've noticed spouses and lovers are very good at identifying our best colors.)
Why not drape your whole family while you're at it? Knowing my husband's and children's seasons makes shopping so much easier for me.
The large color cards vary in size, from 4" by 8" to 8" by 8". Leave them as they are, or trim them down to make a uniform set.
When you place your order, I'll send you the list of color numbers and the season for each. The cards themselves will arrive in a few days.
Hoping (as always) that you too will find your true colors! :-)
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.
I had occasion not long ago to drape a bunch of teenagers and adults in a group. I had my drapes with me and we were all sitting around, not doing anything in particular. Mass draping ensued.
I was surprised to discover that coming to the right decision was easy with so many other eyes watching. You wouldn't think that would be the case, but it was. What worked and what didn't work was apparent much more quickly because lots of people noticed it. Several drape-ees, I was able to figure out ridiculously fast - like, in under five minutes.
Draping sure is easier when there's not much at stake. Most of these people didn't give a darn what their season was. So of course it was almost immediately obvious.
(I was reminded of Christine Scaman telling herself "Let this be easy." Because it's so expensive, and because we're all such unique, special snowflakes, we think discovering our season has to be really hard. But sometimes season is actually... easy.)
I saw several cases that were just what you'd predict: a couple of dark-skinned, dark-eyed Dark Winters; a pale, blonde Light Summer; a pale, blonde Light Spring (though the Light Spring's lightness was more intense, as if drawn in Crayons rather than painted in watercolors.)
The most interesting cases, of course, were the surprises.
One girl, a tall, thin, pale redhead, surprised the heck out of me when she turned out to be a Soft Autumn. I've been looking at her for two years and thinking she was a Dark Autumn. After draping her, I realized I'd perceived her as high-contrast because her lines are dramatic. But her coloring is not.
A dark-eyed young man with an olive complexion and brownish-black hair seemed likely to be a Winter. In fact, Soft Summer was best for him. His hair was close to Soft Summer's charcoal.
I was expecting a Korean-American friend to reveal herself as a True or Bright Winter, having seen her look great in saturated color and pretty good in black. She actually came out as a beautiful Bright Spring. Yet another case that gaves lie to the idea that only White women can be Springs.
I saw a handful of True Springs. In a couple of them, I noticed a phenomenon I'd seen before: their faces were quite ruddy, and the proper True Spring drapes toned that ruddiness down a good deal.
One friend who has medium brown hair that she highlights blonde (and I think wears pretty believably) came out as a Bright Winter. I'd suspected this for a while because she has strikingly dark, almost-black eyes combined with very fair skin that has a sort of opacity, as if she's wearing matte powder, that I associate with Winter. Even with blonde hair that doesn't look completely unnatural, she still pulls off super-bright colors. I hope that one day I'll get to see her in her natural hair color. (No pressure though, Friend!)
We took a picture of us side by side, both wearing the Elea Blake lip drape color for Bright Winter. It was hilarious how different it looked on the two of us. On her, perfectly natural. On me, clownish - sort of like this.
The best part of the day was finally figuring out the season of a special friend I'd mistyped about two years ago. Since that initial draping, I've been watching her in the Soft Summer colors I prescribed and experiencing a growing feeling that something was off. But I had personally observed how other drapes overwhelmed her, and I couldn't imagine what else she could be. Turns out, she is also a Bright Winter. What a relief to get it right! In the proper colors, she looked more alive than I'd seen her for a long time.
How did I mistake a Bright Winter for a Soft Summer? The most likely explanation is that I just totally screwed up. After all, what do I know?
Buuuut... she was also quite sick a couple of years ago, and has slowly regained her health since then. So maybe Soft Summer colors actually were her best when I draped her. Of course, I'd prefer this explanation. :-)
Or: "The only way to find out what colors look good on you is to find out what colors look good on you."
I've been thinking about the different approaches to personal color analysis.
I don't mean the different methods, exactly, but rather the different chains of logic.
One way of thinking about it goes like this:
You have [X] physical characteristics;
your season is [Y], and [Z] colors will flatter you best.
IRL, this might sound something like
"You have dark hair and eyes. Your skin appears neutral-cool. Therefore, your season is Deep Winter, and deep, neutral-cool, moderately bright colors will flatter you best."
Or it could sound like
"You have a bluish-grey cracked-glass pattern in your eye, with a yellow flare around the pupil; therefore your season is Light Summer..." etc., etc.
"You have an overall soft, muted appearance, and your skin appears more cool than warm, therefore you are a Soft Summer...." etc., etc.
This method of analysis is the one you encounter most frequently on the web. It assumes that observable physical characteristics can predict what colors look good on someone.
The other main method you encounter goes like this:
Testing different colors on your skin has shown that [Z] colors flatter you;
therefore, your season is [Y]
(and you may have [X] physical characteristics, which tend to occur in this season).
IRL, this might sound something like
"Deep, neutral-cool, moderately bright colors flatter you best. Therefore, your season is Deep Winter.
(Oh, and incidentally, you may have dark hair and eyes, with skin that looks neutral-cool, because that's what many Deep Winters look like.)"
Kathryn Kalisz, the late founder of Sci\Art and author of Understanding Your Color, seems to have been the first person to broadly disseminate this second approach.
I subscribe to this second way of thinking about personal color analysis. Here are the three main reasons I believe it's more accurate:
Reason 1. It's only logical that different human beings, who come in an infinite variety of coloring combinations, might seem to resemble each other closely but actually respond differently to color because of subtle individual differences in skin undertone that an observer can't perceive.
In other words, two people with hair, eyes and skin that seem to be the same might still be flattered by different colors, because of small differences in their coloring that the viewer can't tell just by looking at them.
Reason 2. Identifying a season through experimentation -- by actually testing different colors on a person -- is more scientific than identifying a season based on what a person's coloring supposedly should predict.
In other words, it's all well and good to say that you should be flattered by a certain set of colors, but that's theoretical. Let's make it empirical by actually testing the colors.
Reason 3. With my own eyes, I've seen many, many real-life examples of people whose observable characteristics couldn't have predicted their seasons.
For example, some of my colleagues include
I also know a red-haired, brown-eyed Cool Summer; a pale, teal-eyed Deep Autumn; a Light Spring with dark hazel eyes; a brunette Light Spring; a Light Summer with a reddish beard; and a Soft Summer with dark brown hair and dark reddish-brown skin.
As Christine Scaman of 12 Blueprints has written many times:
Any season can have any hair color and any eye color.
Are there patterns, tendencies, general truths in personal coloring?
For example, Bright Winters tend to have striking, "jewel-like" eyes, dark hair, and an overall "clear" look.
But if you're wondering whether you are a Bright Winter, it doesn't help you to know that 40 or 60 or 80 percent of people with your same physical traits are Bright Winters.
The question still remains: are you?
Draping is the only way to know for sure.
Good online analysis, that only considers the effect of colors on your skin, is the next-best option. Its accuracy varies from analyst to analyst.
Here are some other methods for narrowing your season down to a few contenders. All of them consider the effect of colors on your skin - nothing else.
P.S. Kalisz's excellent book is still available by special order from Suzanna Greif. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. IMHO, this book is essential reading for anyone wanting a good understanding of the science of personal color.
P.P.S. Analysts trained by Kalisz's company, Sci\Art, use the 2nd method I describe in this post; you can see a directory of Sci\Art-trained analysts at Christine Scaman's website.
(Sci\Art is now called Spectrafiles, btw.)