Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Which Summer Am I? Colour Analysis Part 2

Of course I couldn't cover it all in that one post.  Within each of the four seasons, there are sub-categories that are usually similar across different systems though there are also colour analysis systems which have dispensed with the seasonal labels which are limited in the sense that people around the world do not make the same associations of colours and seasons.  The Season names do have the advantage of being simple, instead of calling a category what it is such as Light-Warm-Muted.  Some systems assign archetypal names or choose from an assortment of descriptive words like Elegant, Sophisticated, Dramatic.  Every naming system has its imperfections.

So, I decided that my colouring is pretty obviously cool and that the Winter option was too intense.  Working with coolness as my most obvious characteristic, I then had to look at the options within the Winter and Summer categories.  There are generally three or four, depending on which system you are working with.  Some analysts claim that twelve categories are enough and everyone finds a home within them and others say no, 16-18 are required to fine tune it.  I think it gets a bit nit-picky at that point.  The purpose of a palette is not to go shopping and find exact colour matches but to find harmony. If you actually own a colour swatch fan you hold it up to a garment you are considering and look to see not if the colour is actually represented there but if the colour of your chosen garment looks like it belongs in the set.  You are matching qualities and the fan helps you to see the qualities.

I can go into the store and know that I am looking for cool, medium-value, slightly greyed, less saturated colours with a blue base and still have some difficulty discerning those colours without something to compare them too.  If I come home with a cool pink I am probably fine, but if I am seeking to avoid mistakenly choosing something slightly too warm or slightly too bright, which I may find myself not wanting to wear or having difficulty making work with my other garments, then I have possibly wasted my money.  For me, the mistakes tend to come from choosing something too warm or too saturated (dark/bright).

A blog written by Personal Colour Analyst Christine Scaman, called http://www.12blueprints.com/ is one I enjoy browsing for insights into colour.

Here she shows some different blues, with subtle differences in saturation or coolness.  Blue is generally a cool colour.  I usually look at least okay in just about any blue but some are better on me than others.  People with very warm skin who don't easily wear blue, do better when yellow is added to it and it becomes brighter, almost turquoise.  The first four blue circles are for cool seasons, the top two being True Summer and the middle two True Winter.  The bottom two are for True Spring.  The differences are subtle and the differences between Summer and Winter are largely of saturation.  The Summer colours have a greyed look, a muted look next to the Winter ones.  They could also be made with a paintbrush more loaded with water in proportion to the pure hue from the paint tube. 


Primary blue hue is cool.  To make blue slightly warm yellow must be added but too much yellow and you arrive at green.  That is what makes blue the trickiest colour for very warm toned people and the colour easiest to wear for cool toned people.  I avoid yellow, although technically a very very cool (greenish) pale yellow should work for me.  I find that particular colour very difficult to find and not one of my best anyhow.  For warm toned people it is difficult to go wrong with yellow, though certainly the more red in it prior to its becoming orange, the better it is for them.  Orange also does not work for me and reds must have a bit of blue in them.

Green is often a challenge for me since it is inherently blue and yellow combined.  I have to make sure I don't get a green with too much yellow or it doesn't really flatter me.  (When I say 'doesn't really flatter' I probably mean 'makes me look ill')

Here is a good graphic to compare warm and cool greens.  It seems obvious when you see them side by side but without context it can be more challenging and it certainly is for me because liking of the colours can get in the way of truly seeing them. 


Even more challenging for me than determining warm green from cool though, is seeing the difference between more saturated greens and less saturated or slightly greyed greens.  It shows up more readily in comparison.  To me every single one of the greens above looks bright except perhaps the two warm-dark ones.  Bright is a relative term, but when looking for 'less bright' something to compare it to is required.  If I put on any of those four greens on the right they will look fine because they are all cool, which is my dominant quality but I have established that 'less saturated' is better for me.  More heavily saturated colours don't harmonise with my own colouring.

So I ruled out the Winter palette called True Winter, but there are actually at least two other Winter options.  If True Winter is too intense for me, it's not hard to imagine that Deep/Dark Winter colours would also be.  But what about the palette of lighter, brighter ones?  Let's check.  Oh oh-confusing because they are all cool so they look pretty good.

The top right palette is Dark/Deep Winter and the bottom one is Clear/Bright Winter.  The darkest shades of both palettes are like darker versions of me. Not wrong or bad, but they compete with me.  Without makeup I can look pale and faded in them.  The icy colours on the bottom seem pretty good.  I have those colours in me.  But icy colours are white with a little bit of colour, whereas pastels (Summer palette) are colours with a white tint.  Which is better for me?

My opinion is that while it's close, the medium value of the Summer palette matches better than the higher contrast values (very light and very bright) of the Clear Winter palette.  Will the Clear Winter palette work for me?  Somewhat.  But I also know that in reality I feel overwhelmed by the bright versions of these colours and a little washed out in the icy ones.  So now it is my quality of mediumness that becomes important.

That mediumness rules out Winter palettes so I turn to examine all of the Summer palettes.   I am using True/Cool Summer as my comparison and the reason is that the other two Summer palettes, called Light Summer and Soft Summer, vary slightly from True Summer in that they are just slightly warmer and I suspect coolness is my dominant quality.  First I will compare True Summer with Light Summer, also a soft, cool and light palette but with a subtle yellow-brightness to it.

This is trickier and I did not do my analysis using only the palettes from this source.  These particular palettes work best for my collages but here are some other sample palettes to compare True Summer with Light Summer. I've flipped them on their side as I think that makes it easier to compare them. These images are to illustrate the differences between the Summer palettes.

 Now you can see how there is a bright sunniness to Light Summer, more yellow involved in it.  Some of these colours would suit me fine, but the corals and yellows wouldn't and the palette needs to work together.  I don't suit colours that get as warm as some of the colours from the Light Summer palette.  Light Summer people also suite gold jewelry more than I do.  They are just that much more neutral in their colouring, or not as obviously cool.  In real life testing, it also seems that some of the Light Summer colours get a little too bright for me.  I suspect that is the yellowness again, literally like more sunlight than I can handle.

The other Summer palette is Soft Summer.  This one is also slightly warmer than True Summer and very muted.  Every colour has a sort of smokey veil over it, though it seems a very slightly warm smoke. 

Some systems take Soft Summer and divide it into light and deep versions.  That may or may not be pointless.

Okay, so although we are sick of my face by now, this is what I did next.  I wore the palettes.

If you are familiar with Red Dwarf you know what I am thinking about every time I look at this photo of myself.  Hello, Holly.

I narrowed it down to two contenders.  I ruled out Light Summer as too sunny, bright, warm overall and had troubles deciding between Soft Summer and Cool/True Summer. If your brain is not totally addled by now, you might remember that Clear/Bright Winter was almost a contender as was True Winter.  Those two are more directly related to True/Cool Summer than they are to Soft Summer.  I am very attracted to muted colours and so I am quite attracted to Soft Summer, but then I remember that True/Cool Summer is quite soft and muted compared with Winter.  It's all relative and context is key. 

My dominant quality is cool, followed by lightness and softness which are all features of Summer, the lightness and softness ruling out Winter.  Coolness trumps all so that rules out the slightly warmer other Summer palettes.

I bought myself a colour palette fan for True/Cool Summer and I am excited to receive it in the mail and play with it.  I can't wait to take it into stores with me and look like a colour nerd holding it up to the clothing.  Yes, I could just go in with the mantra cool, medium, slightly less saturated, but I've already been doing that and it isn't foolproof.  Having a colour swatch fan gives me a reference point and if you know anything about Myers Briggs personality measures you will know that as an INFJ I NEED to get things right, as accurate as possible, to know as much as I possibly can about anything I am interested in.  I already know that if a colour doesn't feel right to me I am agitated by it.  The colour swatch fan is a measuring stick for colour, a method to help me get it right before I pay for it and bring it home only to discover it is more saturated than I thought it was and glares like a beacon inside my closet.  We don't want that!


The collages cut off some of the palette images but the full image is found at these links. 

Deep Winter palette in collage here

Bright/Clear Winter palette in collage here

True Summer palette in collage here

Sideways Soft Summer palette here

Sideways Cool/True Summer palette here

Sideways Light Summer palette here


  1. Oh Shawna, I am well and truly mind boggled, and you seem a clear cut case with your cool toned everything! I definitely see clear winter looks great on you, but also the softer summer shades. I will b honest and say I do not think the paler summer shades bring out the vibrancy of your colouring. The mid/bright tones look better on you to my eye. The intensity thing seems key as you say.

    I am going to re-read and check out your links and PONDER. I'm 41 years old and I am determined to figure this out too! Re-visiting the quizzes and sites I keep getting muted/soft summer, BUT also sometimes light Autumn. The greens are what throw me, because I genuinely think I look as good in khaki as I do in grass green. And orange, which isn't supposed to work with summer? Although people always told me I looked good in orange when I was younger the older I've gotten the less convinced I am. I do look good in fuschia/magenta but NOT baby pink. Just about the only colour where I can do true bright. Generally I am definitely a muted colour person though which is something (I think!). Agh, it's so complex! Thanks for writing these posts, I look forward to seeing your swatches!

  2. Phew! No wonder your body is tired, your brain takes all the energy!
    I agree with your conclusion. Although I do like the warmer corals and think they can be nice on a lot of people.
    I agree I am a Winter but can't be bothered going any further with it. I often feel restricted by the concept and want to play. i use scarves in my colours to allow me to wear other colours on the rest of me. But I do wear gold jewellery sometimes even though it's not the best for me.
    I think expressing creativity, enjoying drape, feeling comfortable and enjoying textures and the feel of a garment often trump colour in my mind. But I did overdye a yellowy orange jumper with dark brown to deepen the colour for me. Even I could admit it wasn't right.
    Fascinating how the very colours that suit me best would swamp you. I also can wear the very pale icey tones of Winter.
    Lovely to have this colour chat. Wish we were closer to do it in person!
    Xo Jazzy Jack

  3. Interesting ! It was really nice to know how to identify cool and warm colors... I thought I was Autumn ,and then I discovered that I was Soft Summer.
    I enjoyed this ,but I'm not so into colors. It's difficult !
    I read that Summers don't have yellowish tones in the hair (highlight) ,but I have ,and I'm cool toned for sure.
    So ,can my hair be warm and skin cool ?
    Nice to meet an INFJ. I'm an INTJ.

    1. Hi Jennifer, I don't know if you've read anything else on my blog but I've moved on past the Summer seasons and put myself in Autumn. LOL True summes don't have yellowish tones but Soft Summers do. So do Light Summers. Your skin tone is what matters most, hair and eyes can be anything although there are looks that are typical for each season. Try exploring the blog 12 blueprints. There is lots of information there and the blogger is also an INTJ. :-) She's an expert in colour analysis. I'm just messily exploring. Thanks for reading and commenting.https://12blueprints.com/


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