Thursday, 14 July 2016

Living In Soft So Far

 Rambling Preamble
We all have our biases and individual perceptions about colour.  I am attracted to soft and muted colours, both the warm ones and the cool ones, and have always said I like colours that are slightly dirty looking.  My mother, likes only the obviously cool muted colours and would choose a purely cool but more saturated colour before she would choose a muted warm one.  She has an aversion to orange and most yellows and it's a reasonable instinct as those colours really do not suit her.  Although our colouring looks similar, I think it's possible that she is a Cool True Summer or that I am a more neutral version of Soft Summer whereas she is a very cool version of it.  She might be that newer  (and in some cases unacknowledged) category Deep Winter Soft.  She has always pulled off a darker lipstick than I can.  My son, I strongly suspect is a Soft Autumn. I pointed out a swatch of fabric to Mum recently,  I think it was a curtain or a table cloth, that was a lovely muted salmon colour.  I said to her that D could wear that colour and her response was a bit of a shudder.  Ugh.  I had to laugh.  On me the colour would look slightly off.  The seasonal palettes that are on either side of Soft Summer- True Summer and Soft Autumn-both have colours that are my second best, though there are more of them in the Soft Autumn palette because soft and muted is my most dominant feature, more so than cool.  I am cool neutral and can take a little bit of warmth.

My home is decorated in something closer to the Soft Autumn palette except my bedroom, which skews a little cooler in colouring though is still soft and muted.  I buy non-clothing items in Soft Autumn colours often and will likely dip into that palette for clothing as much as I think I can.  It can be tricky to mix purely warm and cool colours but it's easier when they are a bit more neutral and if they share another quality such as mutedness. 

 While I can wear the softest of the Cool Summer colours, I seem to be able to wear the coolest of the Soft Autumn colours and those are en even better option.  I have purchased two Soft Summer colour fans, and so far one has arrived.  I took it into my closet and made some comparisons and found most of what I have is Soft Summer, as I was beginning to instinctively choose it.  The point is not necessarily to match the clothing to the colour fans exactly nor is it to only wear the 60 or so colours you are given in a fan.  The fan is a guideline.  My Soft Summer fan points me towards cool-neutral and muted.  Comparisons are always necessary and not only do our personal biases get in the way of determining the warmth, coolness or saturation of a colour, so do the other colours we see it near.   This is what makes personal colouring important.  If I am soft and muted I will look insipid nest to a highly saturated colour.  So will my Soft Summer fan when placed next to more saturated colours.   A brightly coloured or deeply coloured person needs to wear colours that have equal brightness of depth.  But how do you tell?  Generally you tell by looking at colours side by side because these qualities can be relative.  Cool Summer and Light Summer are less saturated than Cool Winter and Bright Winter even though they are all cool colours.  

I think that I've already written about the various reasons why I could not sort out my own best colours.  There were several psychological obstacles but seeing ourselves clearly is often harder than seeing others clearly.  How often am I looking at myself?  Not often.  I like guessing other people's best seasons, but I don't do it by looking at their own colouring, which can be very deceptive, so much as by looking at which colours flatter and which don't and what the commonalities are.   I don't get the opportunity to observe myself in this way.

Thoughts on Soft Summer Swatches
The first of my Soft Summer palettes is from Unique To You and I like it because they are laminated fabric swatches on a ring which I can remove and play with.    And I cannot stop playing with them!

I tested them against some of my clothing and took photos but as always, colour accuracy is not perfect in a photo.  Comparing the same colour family is one method, and placing the entire colour fan on a garment to see if it looks like it belongs is another.  I also did with my scarves but have no photos.  It was interesting to find that the two scarves I felt uncertain about and tended not to wear were not a good fit with the palette.

The blue and green are perfect, the rose is more muted in reality than it looks in the photo. The exact shade isn't in this palette sample (though I have seen it in other brands) but I feel that it suits the palette ( especially in reality and not the photo).

I'm doing okay selecting blues.  Denim blues are in my palette and I definitely wear a lot of denim-usually a mid tone.  I don't like super dark or super faded.

I tested my whites (a sweater, a blouse and a tee shirt) and the sweater and blouse were suitable off white but the tee shirt is quite a bright, clean white, not in my palette.  Although the off whites might look dirty next to a pure white, they do not look dirty on me.  They look like white on me because they are the same kind of white you find (eyeballs and teeth) in my own colouring.

More than anything I just like spreading the colour swatches around and making colour groups.  It's like being in Kindergarten all over again! 

I separate the colours into colour families, I put all the dark, the lights and the mediums together, I made a mini palette of only neutrals, and I sometimes play around making colour combinations.  I'm mad about the yellow of this palette but it's a yellow I rarely see in stores.  It's a soft buttery yellow.  Delicious!

Sort of Digression but Mainly Still on Topic
My camera bleaches out yellow-which is one of the reasons I saw myself as purely cool. I cannot get a photo of this colour, which is quite frustrating as I am infatuated.  I want to show you all of the colour groups I make but there is no point.  Not because you will think I am insane, but because I cannot get photographic colour accuracy.

So I have borrowed a photo from Pinterest and Instagram.  This lovely woman is a Soft Summer and is wearing some of the drapes from her colour analysis.  On her the colours do not look dull.  See that pretty soft yellow?  Sigh.  Even in this photo it's a bit paler looking than my swatch but the difference is subtle and I am obsessed with it.


You would even look at that palette  and think some of those colours are bright.  They are.  They are brights for a Soft Summer.  But looking at this you might go away saying, okay this woman can wear hot pink and yet, you could easily select the wrong hot pink for her in the store, without a comparison to find the muted and soft version.  Some will overwhelm her, some will be too cool or too warm.  She won't look terrible in them but she may need more makeup or people may compliment her dress instead of her.

Back to Swatches
I've indicated that there will be some difference between the two palettes I've ordered, both called Soft Summer. 

 I have this one from Unique To You This picture is from their website and it's reasonably accurate. 

 And I have ordered this one from True Colour International in Australia.   It shows a wider range of pinks and some deeper yellows which almost seem a bit too much to me.   The fan above has a large quantity of blues and greens.  This fan below also seems to show some lighter versions of the colours which might be helpful.  The Soft Summer tones tend to be very medium in value and the Unique To You Fan has an overall medium feel to it.  The True Colour International fan appears to show more range from light to dark and I like the paint swatch style arrangement of colours.

There are definitely differences between companies though I am sticking to companies that claim to be using the Sci-Art colouring.  That allows for consistency.  A palette does not contain every possible colour you could wear or it would be unwieldy.  It's a sample, a range, and what each company chooses to include will vary.  Having more than one palette fan allows a bit more opportunity to learn all of the colour options.  Some fans are more manageable than others too, in terms of carrying in your purse when you go shopping.  The fan yet to arrive is the one I expect to be my portable fan.  The colours cannot be separated and moved around but are easily arranged for holding up to garments in the store.  The fan I have know, with the removable individual colour swatches would allow me to take just one colour with me if I wanted to match it.  I might do this if shopping specifically for something in red, off white, or the dark charcoal-navy colour that is my black.  They can also be good for finding makeup colours. 

I know, when shopping, that what I am looking for are cool-neutral ( maybe just a tiny bit warm) muted colours with low saturation.  Knowing that and finding that are not always the same thing.  The purpose of the fans is to make that easier.  Also, they give me colour swatches to play with and admire and I am someone who is happy doing that. 

General Interest:

One drawback to the laminated swatches is that the plastic can cause a glare or reflection making it difficult to read the colour.  I find myself angling it around in the light to get a better sense of it and photographing it accurately is a challenge.  This windowsill is the best light I could get.

The blues and greens really blend into each other, many of them seeming somewhere in the teal range.  Many of the blues are dark and greyed, sort of like denim or dusky navy and unless held in bright light, it is difficult to see how they differ. 

The two darkest colours are a wine and a grape-purple. The camera is cooling down the pinks a little and in reality there slightly more of a brown tint to them though they are not

I'm in love with these super pale neutrals.  The palest of them are being a bit bleached out in this photo.

Darker browns are either grey-brown, taupe or a pink/mauve brown.

This is a selection of what appear to me to be the brightest colours of the set.

I don't love the silver and gold samples provided but I get the point.  I can wear both, though silver is usually better and both are best antiqued.  Gold is especially best if antiqued or matte and not too yellow and the attempt to show that is with a black and gold speckled fabric swatch I find quite unappealing.  Rose gold isn't included though it is often recommended for Soft Summer as well.

Pros and Cons to this Swatch Set in Summary:


*Easy to  manipulate and play with-every individual colour could be carried separately
*Stay clean and protected
*Inexpensive compared to other swatches available to me
*I received it in the mail promptly


*The plastic coating is problematic for perceiving colour
*Many samples provided are so similar it seems other options could have been included instead
* If I play with them too much I will wear out the holes in the plastic where the ring is inserted-of course that will be my fault.  I usually leave them off the ring.


  1. Because of your expertise in colour, you can definitely pull off mixing colour palettes.
    I am almost getting interested enough to do this for myself!
    I too love soft buttery yellow and painted my loungeroom in a previous house and the hallway in this with it...called Banana, it turns more or less gold according to the light. Sometimes like butter, sometimes like cream.
    I also adore the icey colours in the Winter palette...almost white. I want to explore them further if I can ever find them!
    xo Jazzy Jack

    1. It's difficult to find the icy colours, and easy to confuse them with pastels if there is no way to make a comparison. I try to think, does this look like white with a pink tint? Then it's icy pink. Pastel pink is pink with a white tint. I tend to love the muted mustard yellows of the Soft Autumn palette and use those in my home often. Faded, dirty ochre! I love it! I think successful colour mixing happens when we borrow from related palettes. I can borrow other soft colours and they will look appropriate. Dark Winters sometimes dip into Dark Autumn and Bright Winters in Bright Spring. If you are a True Winter, purely cool, you can dip into the other Winters' coolest shades and into the darker shades of True Summer. I would guess that you are either Dark Winter or True Winter. XO

  2. It's funny, antique gold is probably my best gold too. And pewter type silver. But many soft summer colours are just ok to blah on me, especially the blues and yellows. (I am only bringing this up because I have quizzed soft summer plenty of times now!). It's interesteing that your Mom and son are a shade away but not dramatically different types. My Mom is cool, my Dad is warm, and I think I fall soemwhere in between. I like that you incorporate the colours into your decor, it makes sense, why would we want a house full of colours that do nothing for us?! White and its various shades seems like the trickiest colour in some ways. I like the idea of the samples but I need something bigger to hold up to my face I think at this stage.

    1. I think you can actually buy drapes, but at that point I'd be more inclined to just put my money towards a draping session. If you are a Dark Autumn, which is what I was sending you on Pinterest recently, you would be a neutral season (neither predominantly warm or cool but leaning slightly warm which explains why you look good in orange and antique gold) And the faded, muted colours of a soft season are not flattering on Dark Autumn. If you were a True Spring you would be definitely warm, and if you were Bright Spring you would suit light, bright, shiny very yellow gold. True Autumn would also definitely be warm and Soft Autumn we are ruling out because you don't suit faded looking colours. You might be Dark Winter but while Dark Winter does an intense yellow they don't do orange, which you told me suits you. Speaking of what family members are, I think my Dad is Dark Winter, which is actually also a sister season to Soft Summer. It's one step away from it's true season and it's neutral-cool. I used to choose a lot of Dark Winter colours, mistaking my need for less saturation or some kind of mutedness for a darkened version of the colours. I knew bright was wrong and pure pastel didn't quite work either. Sometimes we get there by gradually eliminating the options. I think it's the Sherlock Holmes method.

  3. What a thorough posting about this color theory. I love reading about color theory and how people use the information. Have you seen "Dressing your truth" by Carol Tuttle. She approaches the whole thing from a different angle. Maybe you might find her stuff interesting. If you do read it I think you are a type 2. I am a type 3. (Pushy). Anyways I always find your posts interesting even if I don't comment often.

    1. hi Adrienne, thanks for taking the time to comment! I have looked at the Dressing Your Truth stuff extensively as far as what is available free online. I have indeed identified myself as a type 2 and it is a really good fit for personality/energy as well as being a good fit for colour. I am a bit skeptical about how well it applies to everyone for colour though. The palettes seem to be Spring, Soft Summer, Autumn and Winter and that seems a bit limited to me. I also cannot accept that a person's natural colouring doesn't matter, and in the case of DYT that is what they claim. Putting on clothes is an act of putting the colour of clothing next to the colour of a person. The colours have to make sense together. Sarah, often in the DYT videos, is a type 3 (they say 3/2) and I don't think she suits the same colours that Carole does. I think the rich colours sometimes dominate her. Anyhow, thanks for suggesting it, I do still find it interesting and think there is something to it in terms of our energy and how that makes us come across. Have you figured out your secondary? I can't figure mine out. It seems it could be any of them. I am also very much into Myers Briggs Types. :-)

    2. yes I think my secondary is type 1. I am an animated person. Some might think that should be my dominant but I am not one to talk about "fun" like they say type ones does? I am a lets get to action and get things done type 3. Yes I totally agree with you that the coloring of Sarah does not match type 3. I like Myers Briggs Types too.


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