In this article, I discuss how I came up with my color system and why I don’t use 12-season or 16-season color analysis. My color system is a little different and I want to tell you more about it and why I went in this direction.
To be honest, writing this article is something I have been shying away from for a while now. It seems like ‘seasonal color analysis’ has kind of become a passe’ term and that some analysts are trying to stay away from. I wasn’t sure if anyone would even get my views on the subject or maybe it would be too complicated… But then I started getting questions so I decided that more of an explanation is needed.
How Did Color Analysis Get So Complicated?
Color analysis is something that has evolved over the past few decades and in my opinion has gotten way too complicated and veered off from its original roots. There are some newer color systems out there that have up to 28 seasonal color types. Yes, 28! That is a lot.
These expanded seasons were designed to take into account the wide variation of people’s coloring. Not a bad thing per se, but is it really necessary? If you go with the 4-season color analysis from the 1970s and 1980s then yes. However, those palettes were not totally correct, to begin with, and therein lies the problem.
Taking Things Too Far or Not Far Enough
A large majority of the colors in the original 4-season color palettes were correct, but they were missing a few colors and the color theory behind them was a bit skewed. They made it seem like someone with cool coloring, is all 100% cool (blue undertone) and if your coloring is warm then you don’t contain any inherent coolness, whatsoever. The parameters were just too narrow.
While the colors in the original 4-season color palettes did work fairly well for a lot of women and men they didn’t work for everyone. In more recent years the seasons have been expanded to accommodate the fact that not everyone has the “typical” coloring for their seasonal color types, and therefore are able to wear more colors than what is in the 4-season palettes.
Again, not a bad thing. However, then it got into blending seasons and that some people can only wear dark colors or light colors, some people are 100% bright and some are 100% soft or warm or cool, etc. And this is when I really started to question the current systems.
This led me to revisit the basic principals of color theory and go back to basics.
Color Theory and Color in Nature
If you look at nature you will see a wide array of colors coexisting in perfect harmony. You will see warm colors next to cool colors. Some are bright and others are a bit softer. You will also see a combination of light and dark.
Would you say these warm colors and cool colors clash or that the light colors are overpowered by the darker colors and therefore shouldn’t be near each other? No, of course not. So, why is it any different for us? Aren’t our physical bodies part of nature? You bet they are.
It’s All About Light
All color is derived from light or rather light waves bouncing off of objects and reflecting a certain wavelength, that our eye perceives as having a specific tone or hue or combination of hues. All colors come from light and exist in harmony together. In nature, these colors are not divided up by warm and cool. Mother Nature doesn’t sit there and say – “Okay, this half of this field of wildflowers should only be warm colors, and this other half should only be cool colors. At no point should these colors be combined or near each other!”
So, why is that in personal color analysis, someone somewhere, decided that the color wheel should be divided up so that some people only get certain colors? Then on top of that too much gray and brown was added to the colors (especially in the Summer and Autumn palettes).
This doesn’t actually follow real color theory, or what is observable in nature. For more great examples of the many varied color combinations found in nature, feel free to check out my Pinterest Board on this.
How I Discovered My Color System
After working with my clients and observing people on the street and looking at lots and lots of pictures of fashion models wearing all sorts of colors I started to see a pattern. I noticed that certain shades of orange or yellow-green looked good on someone with cool skin.
That certain dark colors looked good on people with very light coloring Someone with deep coloring looked great in light colors. I just kept seeing too many examples of men and women wearing colors that they supposedly couldn’t wear.
Why was this? And who decided that someone with light hair, skin, and eyes look best in only light to medium colors or that Summers and Winters can’t wear orange? Or that someone with bright coloring has to only stick with bright colors? Or if you have dark hair, dark eyes, and a deeper skin tone you can only wear dark colors?
It’s All About Natural Colors
Our bodies contain all of the colors in the rainbow in varying degrees and combinations. We are all a combination of warm and cool, bright and soft. Yes some people have very deep coloring and some have very light, but the majority are somewhere in the middle. Even so, is being all dark or all light really that important when it comes to the clothing colors you wear?
I have found that wearing the colors that contain the correct undertone for your natural coloring is what is most important and that we look best when we wear color as it is designed in nature – a combination of warm and cool, bright and soft, and light with dark.
But Why Seasons?
Color varies throughout the year as the light changes from season to season. Our natural coloring also reflects the colors found in these seasons. We all fit into one of the four seasons. The four seasons also contain some version of all 12 colors from the color wheel!
If you remove one or more of those colors then that creates an unbalanced color palette that won’t work for everyone within that seasonal category. This is why you probably felt like you were missing out on something or were even analyzed as the wrong season in the past.
This is also why sister seasons or blended seasons (a mixture of Summer and Autumn or Spring and Winter) are not the answer and just complicate things. You just need your version of all 12 colors from the color that exists within your season (Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn).
True Seasonal Color Analysis
When I designed my palettes I took all the colors I could find for each seasonal color type in the existing palettes that are on the market today, and then researched whether or not I could find those colors in nature. Did they actually exist and how accurate were they?
I kinda felt like this guy… Hee hee. 🙂
Most of the classic colors do exist in nature and were a pretty good match. I then researched what other colors also existed in each season that were not included but that correspond with the 12 colors on the color wheel. I used those colors to complete each color palette.
The next step in my process was to take a look at whether or not these colors actually looked good on a real live person. Does apricot-orange or ripe peach look good on a Summer? Can a Winter really wear tangerine? Can someone with light coloring wear the darker and more intense colors from their seasonal color palette?
Yes, yes, and yes! But don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself below…
Discovering Your Best Colors
This is a Summer wearing a soft burnt orange or ripe peach color. It’s softer and a tad redder or rosier than the burnt orange found in Autumn.
This Summer looks beautiful in cherry red. Yes, it is a deep red, but she can wear it and it is not too strong for her lighter coloring.
And here is Kendall Jenner, who is a Winter, wearing a beautiful deep but bright golden orange.
Here is another beautiful Winter rocking a tangerine orange outfit. This is a brighter more intense orange with a little more red in it than the oranges found in the Autumn and Spring palettes.
For me, personal color analysis is about finding your best shades of the colors from the rainbow. This is why my motto is – discover your rainbow of colors, and it’s also why I have included pictures from nature for each color in the palettes.
Just like we should know where our food comes from, it’s important to also know where our colors come from. I didn’t just make up these colors or pull them out of thin air. They are all true colors from nature.
Can You Only Wear 12 Colors?
The palettes I have created contain more than just 12 colors. They contain around 65 colors, but if you really look at them they are all some variation of the 12 main colors. Some are lighter, some are darker, some are brighter or a blend. We like options so that’s what I designed my palettes around while trying to avoid being too redundant.
What About Contrast Level?
I do look at contrast level when conducting a color analysis however it is not the most important or determining factor. Your skin tone and which colors harmonize with it is what determines your season. Hair color, eye color, and contrast level are all secondary.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you have the same exact coloring as someone else does within your season. The colors from your palette will look good on and will enhance your natural coloring just maybe in a different way.
For example, a brown-eyed Spring with red hair and medium peach skin is going to look slightly different in poppy orange than a blue-eyed, blonde-haired Spring with really pale skin. This doesn’t mean they both can’t wear this color, they can. It will just bring out their own natural undertones in different ways.
They don’t each need their own special seasonal category. They can both wear all of the colors from the Spring palette and look equally as great. Different contrast levels exist in all seasons.
It’s totally up to you as far as how you want to wear your colors and which colors you choose to wear at all. If you want to stick with a certain set of colors within your palette then go for it!
A Little Bit More on Contrast…
I will say that the contrast level does become important when it comes to your makeup. Specifically, when it comes to cheek colors. A lower contrast woman (fair-skinned) will look better in lower contrast shades of blush than a woman with higher contrast (deeper skin).
This is why I designed makeup guides that take this into consideration.
In my palettes, you will discover some new colors that you didn’t know you could wear as well as some old favorites you probably didn’t think you could. What are you waiting for? Discover your best colors now! 🙂