Archive of ‘Color’ category

What Do We Get Out of Color and Style Analysis?: Color

The other day, a friend of mine commented that it was the second time in our eight-year friendship that she had seen me wear lipstick. It’s true that I never used to wear lipstick, or if I did, the shade was so nude you wouldn’t even notice it. I would buy the pinks and reds generally recommended for fair-skinned blondes, but I would never wear them out of the house. When I did, I would get comments like, “Oh, you’re wearing LIPSTICK.” I didn’t understand how to choose lipstick that I would actually wear out of the house and feel comfortable in.

Same with colors in clothes in general. Most of my wardrobe was–and still is, since replacing an entire wardrobe takes time and money–black and gray. When it came to adding color to my wardrobe, I didn’t even know where to begin. How could I be sure that something would flatter me?

There were a lot of missteps along the way, and for a good reason. Most of what I’ve heard all my life is in line with the advice for Light Summer and Light Spring: turquoise, pinks, lighter colors. Nothing too dark. When I started looking at color analysis, I assumed that this was my fate. I resigned myself to bright and light spring colors.


But once I actually had a Light Spring fan in my hands, it was clear that it was bad. Really bad. It was a long process, but I found myself staring at Dark Autumn.

It didn’t seem to make much logical sense. How could my leading characteristic be darkness when I was so light to look at? But the colors worked, even notoriously difficult colors like yellow. Putting together Dark Autumn colors is easy and feels right. Dark Autumn lipsticks, even some that look very dark in the tube, look right on my face. I’ve gone from never wearing lipstick to having it often be the only makeup I’ll put on.


The colors in the Dark Autumn palette are so unexpected for my natural coloring that, although they are colors that I am drawn to and appeal to me, if I hadn’t come to Dark Autumn through color analysis, I never would have reached for them myself. It would never have occurred to me that this is the color family that suits me. You’ll never find a picture of someone with my coloring as a celebrity example of a Dark Autumn palette–although blonde hair with a lot of depth, eyes that are a deep mix of green/blue/gray with spots of yellow, and pale skin are fairly common among draped Dark Autumns in 12-season analysts’ portfolios.

What color analysis has enabled me to do is understand how to use color. I have a fairly strong background in art, so I know how to use color more generally, but I was at a loss at how to use it on myself. It freed me from literal my-lips-but-better colors and always selecting black or gray.

Seasonal analysis can seem quaint and old fashioned to those whose only reference is something like this video. But contemporary color analysis enables us to pinpoint exactly which colors flatter us and bring out our best selves. It enables us to select clothing and makeup with confidence, and more practically, it creates a wardrobe where everything coordinates perfectly.

Know your type in several systems but having trouble putting it all together? My workbook can help.

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Eight: Clearing Up Misconceptions

The names of the seasons can sometimes lead people in the wrong direction. The two seasons where I think this comes into play the most is the two “dark” seasons. It was difficult for me to claim Dark Autumn for myself without a lot of support from the online community–I felt kind of crazy, being as as light-to-look-at as I am and claiming this rich, dark season.

This is what people think Dark Autumn looks like:


But it can absolutely look like this.

I wouldn’t fit into the first image, and who knows if these women are even Dark Autumns at all. Out of the women and men I’ve seen who have gone to analysts and come back as Dark Autumns, you’ll find everyone from natural blondes to the darkest brunettes.

I do think that with the Light seasons, they do tend to look more like you imagine. The light-to-dark range in these palettes isn’t very dark, and you need to have a person who truly cannot handle a wide range of depth–this is especially true with Light Spring.



You can see how wide the range is for Dark Autumn and Dark Winter in comparison:


(These palettes are the Invent Your Image palettes.)

I was reminded by this the other day, when Color Harmony posted a blog post breaking down the Dark Autumn palette into groups–groups of color and then light/soft/dark/bright. (Blog post is in Russian, but you can run it through Google Translate.) Many seem to think that the only way the Dark Autumn palette can look in clothes is like this image from Sabira’s blog post, representing the dark colors in DA:


But this set is no less Dark Autumn than the one above:


What Dark Autumn colors seem to have in common to me, and what I can see in myself, despite my apparent lightness, is that it is like all of the colors just have a touch of Burnt Umber in them. The colors can be bright or even light, but there is always that touch of brown. When I got my prescription sunglasses with dark brown lenses this summer, my first thought was, “Whoa, the entire world is Dark Autumn when I look through these.”

The names of the seasons are just that, names, helpful ways to categorize the seasons. Sure, Dark Autumn and Dark Winter go deeper than other seasons. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only trick they have up their sleeves. (For a look at Dark Winter through new eyes, check out Rachel’s blog post on Dark Winter’s brightness.)

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Seven: Revisiting My “Zyla” Colors

A while back, I created a DIY Zyla palette for myself using the instructions in his book. Instead of using paint chips, I used my Dark Autumn palette, since I was already using that to guide my wardrobe. I found it easy to find my literal body colors on the palette, and my result looks like this, approximately (since the colors don’t render properly on the screen):


While I find that the top row is perfect as it is, the bottom row was giving me some trouble. I would never wear the Third Base. The Tranquil didn’t connect with me one way or the other. The Second Base is the only one I really liked.

I asked for feedback on my possible Archetype in the Zyla group. There was a general consensus that my most likely type was Gamine Autumn, with Mellow as the runner up. With the help of some very educated Zyla eyes, I realized that the ring around my iris connected more with dark gray, rather than the petrol blue I had assumed would work. I thought more about the colors in Dark Autumn I’ve been drawn to since I claimed it as my season.

Zyla palettes are rarely literal. Zyla is not looking for exact matches, per se, but evocative colors, I think. So he’ll give people a purple base, even though they don’t really have purple hair or eyes. With that in mind, I thought about how colors function on me, and came up with this.


Essence: 1.1 FN (unchanged)
Romantic: 2.8 A, 2.7 A, 6.2 A
Dramatic: 4.9 A, 4.8 A, 4.7 A, 4.6 A
Energy: 3.9 A, 2.8 A, 3.7 A
Tranquil: 5.3 A, 5.2 A, 5.1 A
First Base: 3.3 FN, 3.2 FN, 3.1 FN
Second Base: 6.10 FN, 6.9 A, 6.7 A
Third Base: 7.8 A, 7.7 A, 7.6 A

(Numbers correspond to the True Colour International Dark Autumn Classic fan)

These are the DA colors that have resonated with me the most, and the ones that have made their way into my wardrobe already. My favorite casual outfit this year has been a cropped sweatshirt in my lightest/brightest tranquil over a tunic tank top in my darkest 1st base with some lighter 1st base shades thrown in with jeans in the middle Second Base color. Yellow and purple may sound a bit garish, but I don’t think it reads that way on me at all–a good case for deep purple being a neutral for me.

I did have to sacrifice the base color I liked, but it can still act as an alternate. In this new version, with the addition of yellow and purple, I can see myself. It feels more like me. If you are going with a limited palette for wardrobe planning, it has to speak to you. If you’re looking to do the same with your own 12-season palette, I recommend starting with what you already own and love, and see if these colors don’t somehow fit into a framework like Zyla’s.

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Six: Looking at Soft Autumn

In response to a fairly recent post, I got a comment telling me check out seasons called Deep Autumn Soft and Soft Autumn Deep, which I believe are part of the 16-season system, a system used by Lora Alexander at Pretty Your World.

This system, despite having similar-sounding names, is an entirely different animal from the Sci\ART-based systems. For one, draping is not required. Season can be discerned through the harmony of body colors–eye color and hair color are definitely considered. This is the issue I’ve had with people annoying me by insisting that I’m summer that I wrote about in my last post in this series.

So anyway, I knew that I would not be either of these seasons anyway, because I would be far too light to qualify. But it did plant a little seed of doubt about Soft Autumn in my mind. Could I be Soft Autumn? It would seem more logical, sure. Right as I was pondering this, a Russian-language blog on color and style did a post breaking down the different colors in Soft Autumn. (You don’t need to know Russian or even use Google Translate to understand what I’m talking about in regard to this post, since the visuals accompanying the text make it pretty clear). The lights, neutrals, darks, and brights of Soft Autumn have been separated. This gives me a very different impression of what Soft Autumn looks like than what I normally think of it looking like, which is this:


Compared to other palettes, it has always seemed a bit dull to me. All of the colors seem watered down and a sort of murky green or coral. But it’s true that in order to appreciate a palette, you have to see the colors. You have to see them in a context other than square boxes of color lined up to represent a seasonal palette. You need to see the clothes. And in Color Harmony’s interpretations, the dark and the bright Soft Autumn colors look pretty good to me. They look like things I could wear easily.

But the neutrals and the lights… This is where it falls apart. My winter jacket, for instance, is a Soft Autumn olive green. Does it have awful effects on my skin? No. But does it do anything special for me? No again. Out of curiosity, I decided to how I’d do in a lighter Soft Autumn color. I have a coral towel that seems to be SA’s coral. So I draped myself with it, and immediately noticed redness around my nose. I do have some, but when I put on a Dark Autumn color, it’s not noticeable. In fact, in Dark Autumn, I usually just put on lipstick and don’t bother with anything else. I also saw some reflection around the sides of my face that I didn’t like. While seeing the Soft Autumn colors together like they are in the blog made it seem more logical as an option for me, somehow, real life showed me otherwise.

Sometimes you need doubt to really confirm something for yourself. And while I might see what happens if I swipe a few of SA’s brightest and darkest colors, I have again come to conclusion that DA is where I belong.

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Five: Dealing with Naysayers

One thing I try never to do is question someone else’s season or type designation unless it appears that something is really off, or they think they’re testing a certain type but it’s really another. Almost everyone in our little style and color community abides by this rule. This journey is a personal one, and even if people are in the wrong type or season, they usually discover it on their own eventually, and the information they get by discovering this themselves is usually very valuable.

But there is a certain clique that seems hell bent on questioning everyone’s seasonal designations and telling other people how wrong they are. Even if someone has been draped and has been living in a season successfully and happily, still they will consistently bring up their own point of view on someone’s season, a point of view they arrived at solely from snapshots and from arbitrary rules from a non-Sci\ART system. The trained analyst in another system was totally wrong, and the only true way is their own.

I had an experience with this over the weekend, and it really stuck in my craw. I dared to post a quick, taken-during-a-thunderstorm-on-my-iPhone snapshot of me in this lipstick for comparison purposes. On me, this lipstick does not look like a “warm, rusty brown” at all. It turns into a medium-deep red with some rose tones to it. It is my favorite red. Actual reds look clownish on me. Another person had posted a picture of themselves in this same lipstick, and on them it looked straight-up dark brown, so I just thought it was interesting that the same lipstick could look so different on different people.

But since the other person was a member of this clique, it brought out of the woodwork what can only be described as trolls. And all of these trolls felt the need to tell me that, although I was not seeking feedback on my season, that the fact that I turn dark lipsticks with brown in them less brown and lighter that I must be a summer.

I am sure that any actual summer who is reading this clicked on the link above and imagined themselves wearing that lipstick and shuddered.

Anyway, what we struck me is the sheer rudeness of it all. It takes a lot of nerve and a lot of, well, jerkiness to think that you can definitively contradict a stranger’s seasonal designation from a hastily snapped iPhone shot in poor lighting, and that arbitrary rules like “Dark Autumn lipsticks should be applied with at least three passes of the bullet” are real things that should apply to everyone in a season.

I understand that in systems in which Dark Autumn=dark person, I wouldn’t be a DA. I am a Dark Autumn in the way I understand the season, which is that the colors and makeup just seem to work for me and work better than all the other seasons I’ve tried. And it’s faintly ridiculous to tell someone who can wear a dark lipstick like Emotional and not look like they just walked out of a Hot Topic that they must be a summer because this dark lipstick looks too LIGHT on them. Yes, that’s just what I need, lighter makeup so it can look chalky or clownish on me.

Anyway, I fully believe that this journey is a deeply personal one, and that’s why this is the one behavior I can’t tolerate. Even though I understand that the leaps these people were making were not only in a different system, but illogical, it still planted that little seed of doubt in my mind. And that’s just annoying.

So yeah, this is one of those behaviors that will cause me to ban someone from a group or get into fights in the comments or ban someone from commenting on this blog. Unless someone asks for help, let them get there on their own.

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Four: DIYing a Zyla Palette

My views on color analysis have changed drastically over the past few months. I used to believe strongly that Sci\ART and Sci\ART-based systems were the absolute Truth when it comes to color analysis. Stuff based on energy or body colors, or even the 16-season system, rang false to me. I believed that the absolute best results possible could only be found in the accomplished hands of a trained Sci\ART analyst. I believed that anyone who did not go this route was doing themselves a disservice, that they would never unlock their true beauty.

But after spending a lot of time in the online color and style community, I’ve learned that Sci\ART is just one way of looking at it. Some people don’t like the look that the Sci\ART result gives. Some strongly prefer their Zyla or Beauty Valued or 16-color result, and their Sci\ART palette sits and gathers dust. Some get a draping result they don’t like or don’t agree with, and spend hundreds more dollars getting redraped or getting custom palettes in other systems.

As someone who hasn’t been draped, I’ve come to a place where I feel like getting draped isn’t something I need. I was reading a blog post by Light Marigold Spring today. This blogger has been draped in Sci\ART/12 Blueprints twice, has a Beauty Valued fan, had a Zyla consult, and has some other fans. Anyway, she made the point that it comes down to personal preference, and in the end, you just choose which approach and which result you like best. No one way of looking at coloring is more right than the other. No system is “more correct” than all the others.

My approach to my own colors has been haphazard at best, and would probably make a professional color analyst shudder. I’ve simply deduced, from trial and error, that some colors are really, really bad for me. Too light and bright I turn red. White makes me puffy and gives me a fuzzy beard. I need some darkness. These factors have led me to Dark Autumn.

Would I be draped Dark Autumn? Maybe, maybe not. But the very worst thing that happens to my skin in Dark Autumn is that the line between my chin and my neck fades a little, and if that’s the worst thing that happens to you in a season, you’re not doing too badly. I can look at my fan and pick out my body colors. It connects with me energetically–maybe Dressing Your Truth is on to something with colors and energy, rather than draping. I love the colors and feel like myself in them.

Another advantage to using a palette like this is that the colors all work together. So I can create a wardrobe where everything matches, and I don’t have to think about it. That was what kept me in black for the past ten years or so: I found color selection intimidating. Now I just look for the slightly burnt, rich, and slightly warm colors of Dark Autumn, and everything looks good together.

In the interest of minimalism, I got to thinking about capsule wardrobes and color. Zyla is a system where you get a series of colors to use in certain ways in order to achieve different aesthetic goals. I decided to take my Dark Autumn palette and use it to create a Zyla palette. As I mentioned, my body colors are found on the Dark Autumn palette, so pulling the correct colors was pretty easy. Of course, Zyla could potentially give me something totally different if I ever do see him. But I think this is a pretty good approximation. (I didn’t do metals or pastels because I don’t know how to choose them, and I feel like pastels are something I wouldn’t be able to use much anyway.)


The colors are not true to fan, obviously, but here is the list of what I used from the Classic True Colour International fan:
Essence: 1.1 FN
Romantic: 6.2 A
Dramatic: 4.9 A
Energy: 3.8 A
Tranquil: 2.5 A
1st Base: 5.10 FN
2nd Base: 3.5 FN
3rd Base: 2.3 A

Some of these colors, like my Energy color, are ones that I know are special on me. My Romantic is a great lipstick/blush color on me. I love the 2nd Base. And I managed to get these colors by following Zyla’s instructions, no cheating to get my favorites on there. (Although I think in my Dramatic “extension” I’ll give myself one of the purples!)

To me, my Dark Autumn palette is simply a way to make my life easier. I’m not seeking my absolute true beauty. Simply put, they seem to work and I like them, and that’s good enough for me.

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Three

Yesterday I received the first edition of Grace Morton’s The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance in the mail. The second edition from 1955 is available online, complete and completely free thanks to Cornell University. The one I have is slightly different; for instance, in the clothing personality chapter, Morton uses “masculine” and “feminine,” and the revised, posthumous 1955 edition uses “yin” and “yang.” Regardless of which edition you read, it’s a book filled with dense information about everything we care about: style, line, movement, color… It’s definitely a book I recommend either downloading from the Cornell site or picking up cheaply on Amazon. A lot of it is antiquated, such as the section on how your personal appearance should make you “marriageable,” and the fact that there is no information on coloring for women of color. The information it does have, however, is incredibly helpful, and echoes of her work can be found in everyone who came after her.

(This book also solidified my view that McJimsey is the one who came up with the “types” as such. There are a few more books from this era I want to obtain, but so far, I haven’t really found anything that predates her that uses Dramatic, Classic, Romantic, etc.)

A lot of the masculine/feminine (yin/yang) stuff basically repeats what we already know from Northrup. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing, since, as I said above, the material in this book is pretty dense, but from what I have read, what has interested me the most is the information about color. She groups people by hair color, and then hair color subgroups.

Obviously what interested me most is the section that applies to me, the blondes. She says that the best colors for blondes are blue-greens and violets, of both the red-violet and blue-violet variety. I find this true, for the most part–these are easy colors for me to wear, the ones I can steal from most palettes.

But I also found some kind of recognition for the thing that confuses me the most about my coloring:


This is the first thing I’ve found that says that some blondes do better in medium-to-dark value colors. Conventional wisdom gives blondes light pink lipsticks and puts them in light blue dresses. Getting the Light Spring palette was life-changing moment for me; the sheer terribleness of the colors on me turned everything I had always been told about color in relation to myself on its head. I’d never seen myself look so red and unhealthy. It took me a long time to figure out what was missing. It turned out to be darkness.

Darkness, for me, is magical. Even colors on the Dark Autumn palette that fall on the brighter side of things are hard for me to wear. I love Dark Autumn yellow, but if I wear it by itself, I lose some jawline definition. When I put on a lipstick described as “warm, rusty brown,” it loses all brown and looks like a nice, rosy pinkish-red. I used to gravitate toward spring colors in makeup. Now I understand why I’d look at myself in the mirror and wipe off my lipstick before I left the house. I didn’t even wear lipstick on a regular basis before this year because I had no idea what colors worked for me.

I’m a blonde, but I happen to need darkness to come alive–which is something the color world has seemed to kind of forgotten since 1942. Certainly beauty magazines and makeup companies have. It’s always nice to get a little confirmation about what you see in the mirror and in yourself.

Why I Haven’t Gotten Draped Yet


I’ve had this blog for nearly a year, and I’ve been involved for the color and style community for even longer. And yet I still haven’t gotten draped, and I don’t have an appointment scheduled.

My main reason for this is primarily financial. Going to an analyst requires getting an appointment, arranging travel, and then dropping a sum of money that, while it is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, especially considering how much money it saves you in the long run, is still a fair amount of money to spend at one time. The scenario where I have the money and the timing has lined up to make an appointment just hasn’t happened yet.

But the further along I am in my color and the style journey, the more trepidation arises.

The name of the blog comes from the idea that we have our natural parameters of what will look good on us (the “syntax,” as it were). So I feel pretty stupid that I have a hard time dealing with finding out what my color parameters are. But I do.

My own experimentation in the color world has taken me from Light Spring to Dark Autumn. Dark Autumn colors seem to not have any ill effects on my skin, I like the colors, and they suit my style and personality. I don’t have any of the redness that comes with lighter colors, and I don’t have the white fuzzy beard that shows up when I wear white. Overall, I’m satisfied with the Dark Autumn color space and find that it works for me.

But there is always the question that I don’t really know that Dark Autumn is my season, and if you read this post by Cate Linden, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that, chances are, it is not my actual season.

I recognize this. I could easily end up being something entirely different. I know I’d end up looking better, if Dark Autumn is indeed the wrong season for me, but a new season would still take some getting used to. Like many people, I don’t really like Soft colors. I know that they are beautiful and more colorful than they are given credit for. But I still have a mental roadblock. If I were draped and given a Soft season, it would be difficult for me to adjust to (and combine with Flamboyant Gamine!).

I know I need to get over it, though. Except in the case of a misdrape, even though it may take some time to mentally adjust, people who have been draped see a huge improvement in how they look and feel. I know this! I blog about it! But I’m still really scared to get a result that I don’t want.

Perhaps some of this is the prescriptive nature of some people’s attitude toward seasons, that there is no room to cheat. I like this post by Lisa K. Ford, where she tells you how to make your season work for you, and how to cheat effectively if you have to. Which brings me to something I think we sometimes lose sight of: the whole point of this color analysis and style typing business is to make you feel better about yourself and look healthier and more stylish. It is, in short, meant to make you happy. The point is not to get a gold star for following the rules exactly.

And I’m sure I could take a season and find a way to fake what it is I love so much about Dark Autumn, like I suggest people do with their Kibbe type. I would find the level of darkness that reads dark on me and make it work. But still, I know that the process is not the easiest one.

Have you had similar feelings in regard to finding out your own season? How have you dealt with it?

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Two


Since I wrote my last post, I have been experimenting with the Dark Autumn color space. I have amassed a collection of Dark Autumn lipsticks, some I already owned, some that were made possible by a killer sale on Lipstick Queen at my salon, and some I just splurged on. I also stumbled upon a sweater in the color I talked about in my last post, the draping card that looked really, really good with my skin.

Unfortunately, the beginning of spring is really the wrong time to begin exploring Dark Autumn. There is next to nothing in the stores, apart from what’s on the sale rack (where that sweater was). Now that I’ve received my fan, I’ll be able to go and seek out tops from the lighter side of the palette without fearing that I’ll mistakenly dip into another season. But of course, what I really want to find are pieces in Dark Autumn’s darks, the beautiful, better-than-black, yes-it’s-a-color-but-it’s-a-fashion-neutral colors.

If you are not familiar with the way True Colour swatch books are laid out, each swatch is labeled with either “A,” for “accent,” or “FN,” for “fashion neutral.” One of the interesting things about the DA swatch book is that so many of the colors are labeled “FN.” Coming from Bright Spring, where I felt like there weren’t very many, those extra darks that count as neutrals are very intriguing to me.

On the other hand, I feel like there is less variety in my makeup possibilities. The swatches in the photo above feel like a complete lipstick wardrobe to me. Any other lipsticks that I both like and fall into DA would feel like a repeat to me. Bright Spring, you have your pinks, your reds, your corals, maybe your oranges… But I may make discoveries yet. I eagerly await Cate Linden’s updated DA makeup post.

(And if you’re a DA and see a major gap, by all means, let me know!)

Also, DA is way brighter than people think it is. Just a little PSA. 🙂

Lastly, I’m not the biggest fan of Color Me Beautiful, but I was reading the men’s book today, and read some things that I had missed when I read the version for women:
1. CMB Autumns are more likely to sunburn than CMB Summers.
2. Ivory skin and ash blonde/dark golden blonde hair are all options for CMB autumns.
3. CMB Autumns can have turquoise eyes with a teal gray ring around the iris–which is exactly what I have.

So that’s interesting. Anyway, if you are a DA and have tips, please share.

Dark Autumn Blonde

Today I did the experiment I mentioned in this post. To review, I purchased Truth Is Beauty home draping cards for six season (Light Summer, Soft Summer, Soft Autumn, True Autumn, Dark Autumn, and True Spring) and took a picture of each season’s fan underneath my chin. But before I posted the pictures, I cropped the colors out, so all you saw was my face. Online color analysis has limitations no matter what, but I felt like this got rid of one of the major problems: people see what they want to see. If they like a color, that’ll influence their opinion. If they feel in their heart of hearts that you’re a Soft Summer, that’ll influence their opinion. This way, all they were looking at was the effect of the color on my skin, not the color itself.

When I posted the photos, the results came in quickly. The worst was Light Summer. The best was… Dark Autumn. And when I posted the individual colors of Dark Autumn (again not showing the color itself), the best color was this one:

The attractively named “Newt Green.” Definitely not a color you could imagine a Spring or Summer wearing.

I think this experiment was a successful one. People looked at what I wanted them to look at–skin effects–and not my hair and eye color. I’m not taking this to be the same as being draped Dark Autumn, but it’s enough to make me seriously consider it and want to experiment with it.

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