Monday, 14 November 2016

Part Two Blue and Blue-ish Because of Course I Digress

Part Two is For Colour Nerds Like Me

Colour names are not used consistently and we have biases about warm or cool associations with colours but the actual definition of whether a blue is warm or cool is based on where it is on a colour wheel.  Blue that works it's way towards red, but before becoming purple, is cool blue because it is moving further away from yellow.  Blue moving towards yellow, before it becomes green, is warm blue.  And yet, the bright yellow- blue that we associate with ice and snow feels cold because of that association. Google the term 'icy blue' and you will see blues that are pale turquoise.  The deeper, purple-blues are often associated with royalty, opulence and the blueberries of summer and so we think of them as warmer.   Confusing!

For the purposes of wearing clothing, we are trying to coordinate the colours with the colours of ourselves because the appearance of skin is affected by colours near it.  Wearing blues that are closer to yellow if your skin is warm reflect flattering similar warm light onto your face.  If you are cool skinned  then the blue that is closer to red will reflect the right light onto your face.  People who are neutral leaning cool have the most blue options just as the warmer coloured people have more yellow/orange options.

Many of the blues recommended for Autumn don't immediately look warm.  The addition of gold mutes them as well as warming them so they have a soft, dulled look.  Blue doesn't really appear warm as we usually  understand it until it is pretty nearly green but it doesn't have to get that warmed up to work with the Autumn palette.  Both blue and purple almost seem to me to function as complimentary colours to the warm golden appearance of Autumn skin, and perhaps it's that fact which makes it work.  Complimentary colours enhance each other and thus blue and purple, in the best formulation, and still warmed slightly, should pop but in a flattering way when next to golden skin.  

The colours below were on Pinterest listed as Autumn Blues but I am skeptical and think some of them are Spring.  The deeper ones look like Autumn to me and I would probably wear 2,3,5 and 7.  It's difficult to tell out of context.  Colour is always relative.


Green-or Teal

The true definition of teal is a dark greenish-blue colour but most people also give the name to a colour that would better be described as bluish green.   It's a subtle enough distinction that I get eye rolling from some people when I make it about any of the non-primary colours.  To me, the first colour name is a descriptor and the second one is still the main colour.  So a greenish blue is a type of blue and a blueish green is a type of green and you may have to squint and scrunch up your eyes to notice a difference.  I used to argue with my ex-husband over whether the flower known as grape-hyacinth or muscari was blue or purple.  He called them purple and I just had to divorce him over it!  ( Terrible sense of humour, I have. )  A teal is also a type of duck and just to make things confusing there is a green-winged teal duck and a blue-winged teal duck.

When does teal become turquoise?  The lighter it gets the more it approaches what we call turquoise (which is short for bleu turquoise, which means Turkish blue)  When it is light and bright it is a Spring colour, the lighter and brighter warm season.   Green is a warmer colour than blue because green is made equally of yellow and blue, so even adding green to a blue is adding some warmth to it.  That's how I understand it.

We associate similar colours with warm seas and swimming pools as well as snow and ice warmth and coolness associations do not always match up with the idea that yellow is the warm colour direction on a colour wheel and blue is the cool direction.  It may be better to refer to colours not as warmer or cooler but simply bluer or yellower.

Purple-It's Kind of Blue

 The more red added to blue (or the more blue works its way around the colour wheel towards red) the more likely we are to call the colour we see purple.  Of course it works the other way around too.   I remember my childhood box of crayons had Red-Violet and Blue-Violet.  They were two of my favourites and were among the most quickly worn down crayons, requiring lots of the paper wrapper to be peeled off.

For reasons I am still learning, the purples recommended for True-Warm Autumn look very neutral and not as close to red as I would expect, given that they would need to be warm.  I know that it has something to do with the way the Autumn types have warm skin.  For Warm Autumn, the warmth comes from gold, and gold is yellow that is slightly muted with warm grey.  That's why the Warm Autumn palette colours are muted colours, though not as muted as the Soft Autumn palette, which is muted, lighter and just cooler enough to be more neutral than Warm Autumn.  Deep Autumn is again, more neutral than Warm Autumn, still mainly warm but as Soft Autumn is on the border with Summer's light and cool colours, Deep Autumn is on the border with Winter's cool and deep colours.  So Deep Autumn skin tone is warmed more with red-brown than with gold.  Thus most Deep Autumn palettes include some gorgeous red-purples.

Having said that, palette suggestions do vary somewhat between colour analysis companies and purple is included in some palettes and not others. However, palette swatches are not meant to be the only colours, but a sample that gives you the best guidance.  Thus I would hold my Warm Autumn swatch next to any given red purple and attempt to determine if the colour looks like it belongs with the others.  If it does, the theory goes, it should look like it belongs on me too.

My other theories include the idea that if true purple (equal mix of blue and red) is the direct opposite and compliment of yellow, perhaps in that sense it is flattering to yellow toned skin.  Also, if I think of the Autumn trio-Soft Autumn, Warm Autumn and Deep Autumn, the two more neutral Autumns have some form of red-purple, Soft Autumns is muted mauve and Deep Autumns is red-violet, so if Warm Autumn is in the middle of Soft Autumn and Deep Autumn, it's best purple might be in the middle of blue and red. 

Final theory of this post 
( but not my final theory ever because theories are what I do! )

Because I have always worn a lot of blue and probably at least half the time was unknowingly wearing warmer blues, I have received compliments in blue and could easily conclude blue is my best colour.   That would certainly lead me to think I am cool and not warm, just as I would have thought the opposite if I'd had experiences being complimented in yellow or orange.  I haven't though, because the number of times I've worn yellow or orange can be counted on one hand.

If you are rolling your eyes and asking why I am making this so complicated, the answer is simple.  I'm an INFJ-I need to understand.  Everything.


  1. very interesting posts!, I like particularly your approach to the tricky definition of colors and how they look different when paired with other colors.
    I always thought that teal was a dark turquoise, some kind of 'Winter turquoise', and I consider it as a neutral (yes, I believe that I could create my own set of neutrals!). It looks like a neutral in my book!, fabulous when paired with red or with purple.
    I'm a huge fan of Royal Purple, but not a lover of mauves and lilacs. I think that purple and violet are really tricky colors, as there's an amazing variety and sometimes they don't work together nicely!
    I love your writting!

    1. Purple and Teal are amazing on you, as are your reds. I would guess that your best colours are coming from the Deep Autumn palette. They are such rich and gorgeous colours! I love them! There is generally a good teal and a good purple for everyone but they can get to a point where we might call them mauve or turquoise for people with lighter and brighter colouring. Thanks for the lovely comment about my writing.

  2. Aha! Part the deux as we used to say in our weird family!
    It is confusing about warm and cool and how blue images seem to evoke the opposite.
    Cris and I were chatting about his colourblindness and what he could see of my clothing. We concluded we needed to use the terms bluer and yellower and yellowy blue or bluey yellow. xo Jazzy Jack

    1. I have been reading masses amounts of colour theory and articles of conflicting opinions about the relative warmth and coolness of colours. In the end, as you say, it is probably better to just say yellower or bluer but then there are those colours with no perceptible yellow, but red and blue. So redder and bluer. Both red and yellow warm up a colour according to most colour theory but the red does it more darkly. That's why the Deep Autumn colour palette has reddened colours and the Warm Autumn one has golden colours. So my agenda in looking for warm autumn colours is to look for those with gold in the mix (and not yellow because that is for Spring palettes). Purple is really confusing if I try to analyse why a certain purple would could or should work for Warm Autumn. I will just have to go with what I think looks right. :-)


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