Ties for the Soft Summer Man

Working with men is one of the many pleasures that makes this colour analyst’s job even better. They are content to work with what is, both in their appearance and in their palette. The clothing choices are more limited. And I could look at ties all day long.

*Sam asked about his Soft Summer colours:

I am an [urban professional], which means I have to dress within fairly narrow (conservative) confines.  I have to wear a medium/dark suit in blue or grey (easy enough), and a light shirt (usually in blue or pink) with understated if any pattern, and a mid to dark tie.  Any tips on how to pull this look together as a soft summer, so that I don’t over-contrast but the suit, shirt and tie still pop (the pop seems like such an essential part of the look)?

Pop is a loaded word that can go two ways. The first way is desirable, where one colour can energize another without becoming a distraction. The energizing effect is 2-way, where we can see both colours equally and appreciate their contribution. Both are more together than they are apart.

Eyes are a special case because eyes are special. Their colour and sparkle should be the #1 focus for our attention. Every part of makeup and apparel plays a part to build them up. We want to look at the eyes without our gaze being distracted by or dropping to the lipstick or tie.

When a person’s colouring falls between two Seasons, this is one of my tests with the Luxury Drapes. In one Season, if my eye keeps dropping to the drapes and away from the person, it will not be my choice. The other one may feel too safe but that’s probably just because of the comparison. Every decision we make depends entirely on the comparison of the moment. Change the comparison; you usually change your decision about the very same colour. Especially on men, looking too juicy can reduce the power and nobility, though this applies less to Spring colouring (and Gamine archetypes, I would think).

The Fashion World meaning of pop usually refers to one item becoming prominent by muting the rest. Who has not heard the word at the makeup counter? In interior design, my recent student tells me, an accent is made to pop by muting or neutralizing the surrounding colours. This could be great in a room. On a person, it reads an unbalanced, not an association we want others to have about us. It is the makeup wearing the woman. It is the tie that walks in the room before the guy and does not leave when he does.

Keeping the colours we add in harmony with each other and with the person is how we energize the whole equally, creating impact with unity.

Sam knows all this. I asked him what pop means to him.

The question sprung from the combination I wore yesterday: A dark blue suit, a muted blue/white striped shirt and the perfect, soft pine green tie.  I liked the way my face (and especially my eyes) looked, but the clothes themselves didn’t feel quite right.  The green didn’t really define itself against the blue.  As you put it, they didn’t stand apart from one another (and, as a result of that, they didn’t create much visual impact as a group).  It feels like standing apart is what the suit/shirt/tie (and maybe any outfit) is all about.

So I went home and tried to figure out what to do differently, but solving the problem felt like a catch-22.  To get the pieces to stand apart seems to require increasing the contrast between them.  But increasing contrast seems to violate a fairly basic principle of soft-summer dressing (and my experience confirms the risk).  To top it all off, a lot of the palette is off-limits for work clothes (I’m not stuck in white shirts and black shoes, but I am stuck in dark blue or mid-grey suits and light shirts).

I know it’s not actually impossible, because sometimes I get it right (today’s mid-grey suit, soft white with tiny blue checks shirt, and dusty navy tie feels good though a little boringly monochromatic), but I don’t always know why. The question is how to a get the three basic pieces to stand apart from one another within the confines without violating my seasonal integrity or the tenets of moderately conservative men’s business dress.

About the first outfit Sam describes, we would have to see it, of course. What drifted through my head was that the white of the shirt was too white. Almost every pure white is too white under a Soft Summer face.


Soft Summer Ties Navy Blue



Panel A: Standard navy and charcoal. Formal enough, not black, great with the right white shirt. Tie 1 may be a little too shiny and saturated, risks the shirt white looking dusty or dirty. Tie 2 has a nice play of teal and mauve in the textile’s reflectivity, so effective with this person. Tie 3 is a tone on tone, also great with this person, plus looks like Summer in the shade, as does the person. Tie 5 is a conservative, traditional, regular pattern that won’t twinkle because the blue is muted.

In 12 Season colour analysis, Soft Summer describes a group of natural colouring in which the heat setting of every  colour that makes up this person – your teeth, your silver hair, your sunburn, your windburn, your freckles, your veins, the whites of your eyes, the entire person – contains warm and cool, but mostly cool. The colours are between chalk and charcoal in darkness. The colours are heathered and soft.

Under this face, pure white develops into glow and dominance for our attention the longer we look at it. With a blue stripe, the white might cool off even more and read silvery or alien. Silvery is great on a True Summer whose skin reflects light that way already, but the Soft colouring will dull in relation to moonlight. The relationship is the same as if our jewelry is brighter than us, we look duller by comparison. Alien white is how Winter white looks under Summer faces and how the Summer face looks in return. Picture Viggo Mortensen holding a flashlight under his chin.

Another possibility was the colour of the suit. A suit is a big block that the viewer sees in its entirety. If the blue is getting close to Winter saturation, which some Soft Summer blues certainly do, the tie won’t be able to hold up its magic. Especially so with the blue/white stripe in the shirt. One way for the tie to stand out is to keep the suit and shirt more muted.

Soft Summer has a definite saturation range. It is not nearly as wide as the value (light-dark) and hue (warm-cool) ranges. The sat level is lower than Winter, lower than True Summer, lower than the value and hue settings are. But there is still some movement. We have blue fabrics in the Luxury drapes that are very muted with very little blue pigment. We have others that contain more pigment, at the upper saturation limit for the Season. A Winter palette takes over. When people order their set of Personal Luxury Drapes, they often specify for one of each. (Drapes are only available for analysts until March/April.)


Soft Summer Ties Teals



Panel B: Tie 1 is a gorgeous colour on Soft Summer and a brightness many could balance easily. Ties 2 and 5 have texture. Tie 3 is an outstanding eye colour intensifier. Tie 6 combines gorgeous colours, the right red being exciting everywhere on everybody, in a traditional design that still looks work appropriate. A shirt in the colour of the flowers in 3 or lightest stripe in 6 would be good. Also, wear 6 with a white shirt (red, white, and blue is a good mix on Summers). More comments in the text. 


More ideas:

1. Value contrast (light to dark) is built into the palettes. It defines your lightest to darkest. Within that, wear any mixture you like. If a dusty navy suit and a soft pink shirt feel too contrasting, organize and calm the disparate feeling with a tie in the colour of the suit and shirt both. Men generally wear the highest darkness level of the palettes easily. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper might be a Soft Summer. Darkness is fine.

When Sam says that increasing contrast was unsuccessful for him, not to argue, but I need some convincing because I see too many in this Season dressed too medium in every possible way. Take still pictures of yourself in what you believe works and doesn’t. Hold them side-by-side. Give your eyes a comparison. Over and over, the look that a person in any Season is convinced they cannot do today is their new favourite in 3 months. Summers (and Classics?) are seldom in a hurry to change their mind or force the boundaries.

2. Colour contrast (how far apart are the colours on the colour circle) is among Soft Summer’s special unlimited gifts. Because the colours are quiet, the more are worn together, the happier my eyes get. Even large blocks of near-complements are fine, like a blue chino and a creamy-dusty yellow polo or an antique turquoise shirt and maroon sweater.

The more colour activity, the busier the look, the more heat we feel from activity, meaning warm Seasons do this better. The hush in Soft Summer adapts the overall to look strong, interesting, creative, and not hectic. Make clothing items pop, as in a mutually energizing effect, by colour contrast. If the shirt is blue, wear a bit of yellow in a blue tie. It’s eye catching. Your yellow is too quiet to cause any stir and easy to find in ties.

3. Saturation in Soft Summer colours may be stronger than we think. I have yet to meet one who dresses too brightly after they know. The Corporate colour palettes from True Colour Australia are worth owning.


Soft Summer Ties Effects



Panel C: Soft Summer Effects.

Tie 1: In the print, we see the rope, the knots, the grid, the spur. In the understated Summer way, they say, “I work in an office but I’d rather be on a boat or a horse.” If I were the date or the interviewer, I’d think, “He’s reliable but not a total square.” (thrill to me because I am) He knows his physical side, nice for the Yinner Summer man where boldness doesn’t read as real. We are used to women pretending with their appearance. Men look vain because we see through it right away anyhow, on everybody.  A man’s appearance is better very up front, when it says, “Let’s get to it.” Many great neutral colours to pick up in shirts.

Tie 2: The yellow rep tie. That could be great on Soft Summer. Soft Summer or Soft Autumn yellow? Picturing it with soft berry lips or terracotta, I pick the berry. I’m wondering what colour shirt. Soft navy could be very cool on the more Yang types.

Tie 3: The texture looks like rock and bark, both great associations on Soft Summer. Still a mauve gray, not Winter stainless steel or battleship. Good tone on tone early feelings of plaid. Any Autumn influenced colouring considers 3D depth very important to looking defined. The near and far of plaid is good but Autumn is but slight in this colouring. The Summer influences are still stronger. Nice with a pink or mauve shirt.

Tie 4: Smoked purple is so native to the person that it blends right in and almost disappears. Good colour for adding a small element of shine.

Tie 5: More texture with nice colours. Like pebbles, bark, rope, braid, all good in Soft Summer colours. Natural, not pixellated.

Tie 6: Wear that colour. Wear it a lot. We like looking at you in it.

4. Red is instant excitement because it picks up blood colours in the face. Humans are wired to react. The brown-reds of Soft Summer are effective in understated wardrobes. They read as the quiet elegant burgundies of a high end office, almost flesh tones.


Soft Summer Ties Reds



Panel D:  Ties 1 and 5 show cooler and warmer red options. Tie 2 is one of Soft Summer’s beautiful pinks, always elegant. As ever with a man wearing pink, even one single dot, everybody in the room saw it.  Can’t speak for the men but the women like it. Pink denotes power without aggression, which exerts a magnetic effect on women. Tie 3 shows the excitement of red in a colour balanced presentation so the red does not read as bold or in your face, which Summer Man never is. His Winter brother can have more to prove, especially if Yang in essence, and be more satisfied by the taste of revenge (his Winter sister too). He might as well wear blood red. It speaks the truth of him.

5. Know your whites, beiges, taupes, and grays. Soft Summer can wear chalk, vintage white, dust, and shadow. Beiges and taupes are united by a slight pink undertone. Since the shirt must be light, try more neutral tones as the picture below. Women’s blouses were sampled because Polyvore offers more choice. Get to know your yellow. It looks good. The background colours for Tie 1 in panel C is good, could even go a touch greener.

In Panel E below, Top 1 has a pink tinge on my screen that will pull it into Summer looks. Tops 2 and 7 are a bit lighter than the palette, but the muting and neutrality will participate well in the wardrobe, and they will be seen with the tie and jacket, not as a single large block. Top 3 is greenish, thinking about being Soft Autumn, could work well for the warm Soft Summers. Summer wants a pink-mauve look to its neutrals, as we see in Tops 5 and 10.  Tops 1, 4, and 9 are whites. About the colour of Top 6, if I have neglected to mention this, own it and put it near your face every chance you get.


Soft Summer Neutrals



6. Shine in the tie. A pearly or brushed metallic effect, not gleaming satin. Ties 4 and 5 in Panel C, where 4 is an easy, easy colour that almost needs the shine to have impact, so native is it to the person. Tie 5 dilutes the gleam effect with texture. Gray is another good neutral for shine, similar to women’s eyeshadow.

7. Use your cool to warm range and choose items from each side. Soft Summer people often look warmer than they are. Your warms and cools can bounce off each other in most interesting ways, just as they do in you. The purple silver smoke undertone will pull the whole thing together.

8. Pick up the tie in a pocket square.

9. Add texture as shown in panels B and C. Soft Summer colouring has more muscle than the other Summer groups as Autumn earthiness appears. Colours are more solid. Texture is a nice way to communicate this man’s strength and add variety to a monochromatic look.


Sam’s question had a part b):

Many ties I’m drawn to feature small scale patterns, made up of multiple, highly saturated colors that, from afar, combine to read as more muted.  Should I consider these colors as they appear from afar, or should I avoid them because something about the strong colors persists even as they combine to read as more muted.  I’ve tried to figure this out on my own, but I can’t seem to look with objective eyes once I know the tie is made of strong colors–I see it as too strong even though perhaps it’s not.

Go with the overall effect from a social distance, not the individual colours. Perhaps the ties in panels F and G are as big a print element as could fuse in the distance. In prints, colours definitely affect one another by the same simultaneous contrast that they do in faces and everywhere else.


Soft Summer Ties Contrast 1



Panel F: Some of the colours above, the navy background for instance, may be very pigmented. The overall picture is quieter. To me, this is a superb tie. The play of pink, blue, and purple say Summer to me. Your yellow, like your pink, is sophisticated and calm. This might not be it exactly but it’s close enough. It would work with many shirts. Too much is good about this item to avoid it. Seems too blended for a Winter man’s face.


Soft Summer Ties Contrast 2



Panel G: This is a purchase I would think twice about. The colours settle from a distance but not enough. The navy looks near black. The print looks graphic, digitized, like little TV sets. Maybe on a dark Dramatic Soft Summer, but I’d leave this item to the Winters. Of the 2 ties above, which would be most effective on a Winter like Robert Downey Jr?


My thanks to Sam for stepping forward and sending questions we can all learn from.

Rachel (the line and archetype expert, linked here to her new website in case anyone is having trouble finding her) and I have added Well Dressed Men, a Pinterest board for Sam and all the other men (and women) who are evolved and progressive enough to understand their clothing as an investment in themselves. Feel free to ask in the comments if there are examples of something you would like to see.




Signature/STYLE Coats Issue and Tips

The latest issues of the Signature/STYLE  newsletter were mailed out today.

For me, this project is so much more than an exercise in the acquisition of more stuff, though I’m all for smart, speedy acquisition. From the 9 items shown in any issue, even if none were available, I could quite easily go to stores and websites to find items for most any woman. My confidence level is growing as Rachel approves more of my choices, and this for a woman who knew nothing about style or how to apply it to herself two years ago. I really do like progress, especially the fast kind. It is truly thrilling, to say nothing of deeply liberating, to finally understand what I look good in, as if I finally own myself.

We very much want you to become self-directed, decisive, winning shoppers. To that end, we will add articles to the Signature/STYLE website that our subscribers can access by a special link. You will have noticed that certain colours and styles are sometimes suggested for one, two, or all three Seasons or IAs. In the present article, the title of one of the Featured boxes will link you to a post on how we prioritize these shopping decisions.

If you have questions, comments are open below the article. We would be happy to go into more depth than the newsletter format allows. We can cover general subjects, provide more information about certain items in your issue, hear ideas for future issues (the next one is looking like the often-requested My Perfect High Heel), or any other thoughts that occur to you for how we might help you become the greatest shoppers on the planet. One idea that strikes me (news to Rachel) is to add a few bonus links. Deciding which items to include and which must be left out is strenuous. We want you to see all of them, they’re just that good : ) Opening links and feeling a jolt of excitement makes any day better.

Items were selected from US and UK suppliers, by request, with many stores participating in global shipping and return.

You may find one or two items sold out, as you might with any magazine. Stores probably carry limited inventory of items that most shoppers would not have the confidence to buy, as they do with cosmetic colour choices. The lovely side is that when the links were verified in the past 24 hours, we noted that many prices are markedly reduced from the first visit. And reduced a lot!


If I could share some of what we have learned:

  1. Check your Junk and Spam folders first. If your issue did not arrive in any mailbox, email me (christine@12blueprints.com) and I can forward the latest issue.
  2. Stores change links for items unpredictably, and strangely often. If the link for the picture is not going to the item, go back to the newsletter in your email and hover the cursor over the picture. The link will show the store of origin. Go to the store site directly in a new tab or window and enter the product details in the search box, as “tahari shawl wrap”. If these details are not in the link and it’s just a bunch of numbers or code, search the item by “women coats” and then filter by colour, designer, or whatever information the picture provides.
  3. If items show unavailable, check the sale area, searching with the ideas above. Stores change the link when they move the item.
  4. If the item is still not to be found, search the product details from the link in Google, as “sjp manhattan coat”. Often, you will find it at other stores.
  5. If the link opens to a different colour, check the galleries for other options. Certain sites do not identify them by swatch, but rather in thumbnails beneath the main image or lower down the page.

If you have any other tips to share, please add them below.

Enjoy reading!

As a P.S., several of you have been asking about the quiz. This paraphrases an answer I gave recently to explain the situation:

The quiz is having technical difficulties. Although quite excellent, full of original content from the POV of how women see themselves and answer these sorts of questions, and an accurate guide to what you can cross off the list, … Rachel and I have decided not to delay the next issue for all the subscribers already paid and waiting for it while items are still in stores. We feel a greater weight of commitment to those already on board. I can’t give you an ETA but know that we are thinking about it and progress is happening. Computers, ay? They don’t often do exactly what we expect them to.


Looking Better than 10 Years Ago

I did a video  recently. In an ad lib way, I said, you can look better in your 50s than you did in your 40s.

I’d add to that, or than you have ever looked.

Which often gets me the eye roll.

Fair. Here we have two women wearing dots. Not fancy, at family events, kids holding cameras.

Late 40s.



Mid 50s.



The span is 5 years.

Define looking better. Does it mean…


Define looking younger.

Young Type 1: Smooth rounded edges in a face that is flatter and wider than adult faces. The dilemma is that baby fat only works on babies. On an adult, the look feels juvenile, pudgy or spongy, and childish. The person may look young in this sense, but does not look socially competent. Social competence is a huge and important point  that greatly influences how much trust and responsibility folks are willing to extend.

Young Type 2: Sharp angles, solid bones, and defined contours. This person is expected to be strong, resilient, and competent. The presence is bigger, richer, and more textured.

Some of both would be great.

I don’t believe in the expression, past her prime, though there is such a thing as looking it. I know 90 year olds who still look plenty prime, who are the most extraordinary person at the party.

In the top photo, the colour of the face makeup does not match the neck and arms. It is too dark and warm, the warmth having the effect of blunting the bones and placing a pea-soup overlay on the skin. The edges look a little dirty, maybe hairy around the mouth and jaw, 5 o’clock shadowy?

Long before you get onto fillers and complicated makeup designs to sculpt your face, change your shirt to a better colour and locate foundation that cleans up your skin. The visual difference in your bones is astounding, even if you’re 25.


One of my beliefs: The more skin you show, the less power you have. Certain kinds of skin delete power much faster. If you show one cm of cleavage, the man in the room is biologically distracted, if not compromised, in his ability to hear you. He has no choice but to sail with the wind of our hormones, as do we all. No good or bad, no wrong or right, but we need to be clear about what we want to achieve. Have you read The Male Brain?


I have learned that power isn’t everyone’s language. Very fair. The best use of power is to make other people happy. There are many ways of achieving that end besides power.

The balance of power.

The power of balance.

Men need to ask more questions.

Women need to ask less.

Define sexy.

Sexy Type 1: The modern media version, a sad surrender, the sort of backdoor disempowerment of women we all know that says, I’ll be whatever you want me to be. Available above all and yet predatory.

Sexy Type 2: The sexuality, of quality, taste, invitation, modernity, excitement, surprise, and unique identity. Self-determined and self-realizing.

Why do I keep using the word modern? Because it implies: state-of-the-art, leading-edge, prevailing, with-it, twenty-first-century. Its importance cannot be overstated in appearance because the alternative is: left-behind.

Modern means willingness to change, the opposite coming across as stuck back there somewhere. The winds of change never cease. An appearance that says, I can keep adjusting my sails, is part of my definition of Looking Better Than 10 Years Ago.

I think about how we could tell in ourselves. We can be hanging on to a style, such as Kate Gosselin hair. We can be hanging on to a belief such as, I like tailored clothes, I need coloured hair, I am warm in colouring, or all the other ideas we’re not willing to let go of easily. Most of the time, if they need us to shield them, they are not true today. The truth would sound as, less structure looks a million times better on you, that hair colour is all anyone can remember, and there is no evidence in your appearance or colour testing to support your warmth. Keep moving. Let stuff go. Don’t get stuck on the riverbank.

Sexuality between adults of equal power is about possibility.

Possibility might be my favourite word.

I know a woman going to be filmed. All anyone wanted to talk about was her makeup and being sure her face would not be washed out. Nobody cared about her message. They wanted her to look like a news anchorwoman, with the kilo of makeup it takes to balance that wall of hair.


Have you read Millroy the Magician by Paul Theroux?

Much brilliance. This for instance,

Health matters more than looks.


As joyful as it is creepy, about media, manipulation, cults, and the simple messages of everyday messiahs.

It has been said in a hundred places and ways that to know where we’re going, we must know where we came from, or else keep reliving the past. To make something better, we have to build on what exists already. Accusations and distortions abound, usually from those who have never tried to make anything. Sometimes, it’s the love folks have of throwing rocks at things that shine. Sometimes, a beautiful idea gets shut down because people feel the need to safeguard or preserve a belief. In protecting the wrong thing, meaning an idea that belongs in a past long gone, the rest of us are prevented from accessing something new and wonderful.

Ethan Hawke:

There’s such a pull toward mediocrity and for doing the same thing over and over again.

And Millroy is right about the food. If The North America Empire is spiraling downwards, it is my belief that the cause is chiefly due to its food choices. We are watching a slow self-poisoning process, of our minds and our bodies, in the midst of the greatest food supply in the history of the planet.

Tell me the book did not change the way you eat.


From those pictures,

the parts of a colour analysis that I love.

Where is there more Christine? In the older face, I would hope. We should and do enrich our souls as we move through life. Why on Earth wouldn’t the outside keep pace instead of retreating back the other way? In so many of their personal stories, women tell me these exact words,

I feel like my outside doesn’t match my inside and I don’t know what to do about it.

As a colour analyst, it’s a pretty special thing to give people back themselves. Here you go, may I return some more of you. You thought you lost it, but look in that mirror, it was here all along.

Which Christine will be seen and heard more clearly? When she speaks, which one is most likely to be listened to? Who will be seen when she walks into a store? A reunion?

Which one feels fully here? Which one is still coming down the hall so we can see and sense only parts of her?

Who do you know before she speaks? If those women were words, is one more  legible? Who can you read?

The weigh essentially the same, the top woman being 3 lbs heavier. Do they look it?

Which one is more bland?

Is one more dangerous?

I talk about how harmony means the woman and her apparel choices being more together than they would be apart.

I speak of colour energies that lock together so effortlessly, as if it were inevitable and could be no other way,

that each energy elevates the other, level after level, more colour, more line, more focus.

Which is the most unique person, the one nearest her only real obligation in this world, which is to find and share her absolute and pure self?

Younger is not better. More is. True is.

Up to you to decide which one looks better. What I can tell you is how each one of those women maintain their relationships. 10 years ago, the outside informed the inside to make weaker choices. In the 2-way traffic of who we are, what happens on one side happens on the other, like mirrors. As energetic beings, we sense this to be true in every person. When we see an outside that feels muffled or lessened, we extend that to our expectations of the inside. And yet, that’s how most people look.

I aim for your appearance to express your fullest potential as a human being for all to see.

I believe that the best beauty looks like it could have happened by itself. No work. No effort. No tension. No process. No distraction.

A Part and Apart

Another application of truth:

Once analysts have been working for a while, a question we hear is, How do I tell a client that she would look so much better if she would change the colour of her hair?

A difficult truth to hear. What would be your reaction if a person you had known for 2 hours said, It is no longer in your best interest to believe that your hair colour is enhancing to you.

Would it make any difference if she were a fair bit younger? Older? When would your defenses go up? I really believe that every demographic needs its own colour analysts. Young, mature, African-American, Hispanic, Asian. To really get it, you have to have lived it, or even better, be it.

I am asked for opinions and advice about a lot of hair colour, to the point of considering offering this service to women who have been accurately colour analyzed. Without that, our hands are tied because we cannot know the parameters of the colouring with which the new hair colour must accord. Maybe even not for payment but rather permission to show Before and Afters. I have seen some most impressive colour corrections lately by putting some images on Pinterest for a woman to take to her salon.

Women desperately need good hair colour advice. This is a service that colour analysts can provide with relative ease and accuracy with the type of data we collect as a routine part of the analysis process. The hair colour industry has no means of gathering this information. Finding women the right hair colour and lipstick feels like the biggest part of a colour analyst’s job sometimes.

I always send this warning:

I figure that if I ask someone a Q, I want to know what they really think without a whole lot of polite beating around the bush that is useless to me. I extend that same honesty when I am asked something as well. I’m not mean, but I’m direct and honest, as you maybe have seen from the Pin boards. If current hair colour is working against a woman, I’ll say so. After all, who else in her life will? Usually nobody.

Being liked, loved, approved of, or agreed with, do not motivate me. They won’t cause me to alter my behaviour or choices. Neither do money, compliments, safety, peace, fame, or recognition beat my drum. Achievement does. So do truth and doing things surpassingly well.

Do you know what beats your drum? The place where you are not neutral. You are reactive, so it becomes both a weakness and a strength. Among my many weaknesses, I’m a bit insensitive to those who need compliments, safety, emotion, and so on. OTOH,  you and me can have a conversation about anything, including your appearance, and you will know what I really think. This is useful to you because it could be what most people are thinking.

Where I live, the natural colours of most people are cool or cool-neutral. From what I hear about which colour analysis palettes need replacing most often, this is probably true of many places. Too much hair is coloured too warm, as is most foundation.

When the hair colour cannot be a part of you, when your natural colours can’t find a home for it, then it only has one other choice: to be apart from you. Hair that is apart is, by definition, a wig.

We could look at the idea that blonde hair is beautiful, a USA ideal where so much of our media comes from, Ms. Aniston, Swift, et. al. We could decide to see it out there on an island, and decide not to give that place energy any longer. Now, whatever someone says about the desirability of blonde hair will just be neutral information. You can consider how pertinent it is to you in an uncluttered way if it has no hold over you.

Forget about your childhood hair colour unless you have your childhood face. Baby hair only makes sense with baby skin.

In great makeup, we’re all wearing flesh tones. Our own! If more makeup advisors really understood what that means, there would be fewer women going around in other women’s flesh tones. Or nobody’s from what I can tell of certain lines of foundations and cosmetics.

I hope you have people in your life who would tell you if something you believe about your appearance is holding you back. And I hope that it is safe for them to do so.

Better Decisions

Have you read Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman?


Systems 1 and 2 could describe various approaches to PCA. Equally, the distinction could apply to how I teach it: R brain > L brain > Eyes, in that order. The rationality we believe to be true about ourselves is profoundly not. The more ways we play to the strengths of our brains, and trick its weaknesses into uncloaking, the better our final decisions. How humans make decisions preoccupies me because a colour analyst will make 50 to 100 decisions in a 3 hour session.

Don’t kid yourself. PCA is hard to do. Historically, it got put in the lineup with System 1 feel-good-be-pretty topics. As we all know, I don’t see it that way.

I loved the review at Amazon.com (in the book link above), that begins

The mind is a hilariously muddled compromise between incompatible modes of thought in this fascinating treatise by a giant in the field of decision research. Nobel-winning psychologist Kahneman (Attention and Effort) posits a brain governed by two clashing decision-making processes. The largely unconscious System 1, he contends, makes intuitive snap judgments based on emotion, memory, and hard-wired rules of thumb; the painfully conscious System 2 laboriously checks the facts and does the math, but is so “lazy” and distractible that it usually defers to System 1.

This article does a great discussion, includes an overview in an excellent table, and approaches ways of maximizing our ability to make sound decisions.

We could do PCA as System 1 < > System 2.

I sometimes wonder if more women do it partly because they have so many more L < > R brain connections than men.


Have you read The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery by don Miguel Ruiz and his son, don Jose Ruiz?


Read The Four Agreements first. This tiny and simply written book alerts us to when we are speaking in the voices of The Judge, The Victim, and the Tyrant. I looked for a new voice. I chose The Student.

From The Fifth Agreement, about skeptics, listeners, and messengers,

When you unlearn,…you begin by facing what you believe…You only have one tool to do this, and that tool is doubt.

Can you be untaught? Can we listen to words about ourselves without becoming activated? Is what we believe about what looks good on us so rock solid that it needs defending?

Or is it fluid and can shift and move around with no reactivity on our part?

I have respect for your story because I have respect for you, but I do not believe your story about you. To me, you are a show happening on a screen. The scene, the costumes, the lines can all be changed anytime. Like watching a performance, just as I am to you.

If I screened students for the training course, which I cannot imagine ever doing, I would probably ask one question? How easy is it for you to replace your learning?

I find students and clients who know nothing about the 4 Season systems easier in some ways. Not only do they not have to unlearn the 4 and their associated beliefs, they don’t have to sort through what to unlearn, what to keep, and when to keep it. Years into a 12 Season approach, they still crossover and compare, which is not all bad. There are strong plus and minus factors with the deeply embedded concepts that went with the 4.


Have you read the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny?


Because village mysteries are fun and Armand Gamache, Chief Homicide Inspector of the Surete du Quebec, can teach us all a thing or two about the grace of personal restraint, among the powers of age, and a mind that is always open, among the powers of youth.




Cosmetic Recs

When Cosmetic Recs Should Work and Don’t

Before we begin, please know that Terry posted an important article here about how to adapt your cosmetic colours with the changing face of maturity.

Her article here, suggested switches for a True Autumn where browns that once looked healthy and natural now feel flat and low energy.

Maturity is an important part of why correctly swatched makeup for a Season will not be right for you, which we’ll talk about in depth in this post.

Photo: doc...
Photo: doc…


Situation 1: Cosmetics that swatch into 1 Season but work well in >1 Season.

That’s how makeup works in the real world. And yet, I’ve said that any colour can be swatched best into 1 Season only, as can any product or person. This, I believe is true. A contradiction is floating around in there. It’s a question of context.

Sometimes, I say things that are just wrong. Once, it seems that I said Bright Winters are very similar to the YangRomantic (YangR) (Theatrical Romantic, TR) image type because both can be slender or narrow. That is plain nuts. Or it’s only true sometimes. I was confusing Spring-influenced facial architecture, which can be similar to YangR, with the real thing. I got told I was wrong, fixed my perceptions, and good. All 10 image archetypes (IA) exist in all 12 Seasons. It has been most interesting to see that the spread really is this wide in the newsletter subscriptions (Newsletter refers to Signature/STYLE in the right column.)

PS, if anyone knows where that piece of silliness about BW/YangR is located, please do tell me so I can delete it. While we’re at it, if you know where I said that Liz Taylor was a True Winter instead of Bright, please share that with me so I can disappear it. Always amazes me how little I knew a month ago. We start somewhere.

Sometimes, I say things that are correct without enough clarification. Thankfully, I get told that too. This is one of those times.

Here is when colours do not cross Seasons: in analysis situations. In that context, the question being answered is, In which of the 12 groups does the wavelength of this colour belong best, as measured by comparison in a variable-neutralized environment?

The context of one woman shopping for herself is quite different. Garments can often be worn very nicely by two or even three Seasons. You may have noticed that from the Pinterest boards or Signature/STYLE newsletter. One woman in a store is not placing an item into one of 12 groups the way a colour analyst does. The consumer’s question is, Will this colour be flattering to me or not? Different question.

Photo: mikehuntly
Photo: mikehuntly


It’s the difference between, Can I?, and, How can I? Our brains tend to be wired to see roadblocks when asked, Can I? I know I’m going off again but I’ve been thinking about this lately. It goes like this.

Ask a lawyer, Can I get a permit to work in the US? He’ll start in with all the reasons why it will be difficult, next to impossible really, not even worth your time to try.

Stop him and say, So sorry, may I change my question? The new question is, How can I get a permit to work in the US? You’ll get a whole new answer. The answer will sound more along the lines of, Well, you can try this or this or this.

The consumer is asking, How can I? She should frame it that way when asking her analyst about a beloved garment. Otherwise, the answer might focus too much on the Why not.

Many colours, in garments, jewelry, and cosmetics can be adapted to work for >1 Season. Terry wrote about why many cosmetic colours work very well in more than one Season, in this post so I will move on to another situation.

Photo: hopallong
Photo: hopallong


Situation 2. Correctly swatched cosmetics that do not work for the correctly analyzed woman.

Possible reasons:

1. They were incorrectly swatched after all. We should always be open to the possibility that we got it wrong the first time, which is why our colour analysts are taught to come at the question of your colouring from many different angles, comparisons, and perceptions. The recent article, Best Makeup Colours Light Spring, explains how I place cosmetics into a Season.

2. The eye and judgment of the person swatching. Revlon Colorstay lipstick in Finale is a fine Bright Winter choice, as is Cruise Collection for Bright Spring, for women looking for a sheer, everyday colour. They are quite good too for a Light Summer woman who wants a more lively colour on the lip. Both Seasons are neutral. The product is inside the value range for both, and not too blue or red for a Summer as many Winter colours can be.

3. The warmth or coolness of the product goes without saying. How about the warmth or coolness of the particular person? For instance, much of the makeup on the Soft Summer lists tends to be warmish. It will work well for many women, since it is common to tend warm in that type of colouring. It is also common to be in the center of the Season, and sometimes to be on the cooler, more saturated side, near True Summer. The warmer makeup will look thick or blunt, without the clean, rosy bloom of the berry colours that so flatter the cooler Soft Summers. However, cosmetics are very particular in how they react with personal pigmentation. Few conclusions can be drawn about how warm or cool you really are from lipstick observations.

Neutral Season women, those whose colouring is a blend of a warm and a cool True Season, generally have a warmth setting that works best. Not always, there is no always. Some can wear the full span very well. Others are extremely close to the dominant parent Season in their best lipstick, despite wearing the full range of the palette in clothing beautifully.

Photo: doc...
Photo: doc…


4. The amount and colour of personal pigmentation. Undoubtedly, this will influence how the cosmetic appears. Of the many Soft Summers I know, I have met less than five on whom the Test Drape yellow was among their three best colours. Quite rare.  On two of these women, eye colours and patterns are near identical. The perfect berry red lipstick on one woman came up a touch candy and artificial on the other. How a product will look on us is unpredictable. Like much about design, thinking our way to the answer will not work. We just have to try it, back up, and look.

5. The amount of contrast in the natural colouring. This is most helpful in deciding where to select colours from the woman’s native lightest to darkest range. A True Summer who looks Winterish, meaning her full gray scale is evident in her natural appearance creating fairly high contrast, looks great in a blouse in a pale pastel that is lighter than the swatch book, though still purely cool and muted. Summers never drape as well in the icy Winter colours, which often makes them look like they would glow in the dark if you turned out the lights. Pale mint green, like spearmint toothpaste, with that slight chalky feeling, can be fantastic.

This  higher-than-usual contrasting True Summer can also wear bigger jumps from skin to lip colour, wearing her darker tones in the daytime very easily. She wears a near-fuchsia blush well, as Avon mark Dollhouse, which will read as too sharp, pink, and candy on a more blended True Summer. Black remains conflicting, but darker-denim-blue eyeliners are fine. The less contrasting True Summer will do far better by staying in the middle ranges.

A less contrasting True Winter, one who doesn’t appear to go from black to white in her appearance although the drapes proved that she does, will choose cosmetics from her middle range too. I don’t get hung up on contrast in clothing because people wind up looking boring, but it comes into play in cosmetic choices.

6. Which colours look best together. A teal-eyed Dark Autumn will wear greige eyeshadows, not spiced browns, to look most settled with her eye colour. This point factors in with much more than eye colour. Consider how influential the colour of the surrounding skin and overtones might be. And then we get into ethnicities and the possible overtones there.

The extension is to foundation colour. Whether it is correct or not, it simply must affect how the rest of the cosmetics look since they sit on top of it and are encircled by it.

Evaluating lipstick without wearing any other makeup is kind of hard. Not impossible, and much easier if hair and clothing are correct, but there are trip wires along this path.

Be really careful drawing conclusions from lipstick draping. I mean, really careful. Lipstick is the least flexible product of all the cosmetics. Seasons are disqualified incorrectly too often just from lipstick draping. The creator of the lip colours used particular colours from a menu of 20 possibles, maybe more. The one in the kit might just not be the one that agrees with you.

Photo: Kaliyoda


7. Cosmetics change colour on the skin, or appear to, most often when they are not in harmony with our natural colours. Those colours that find a match with our own blend in. The rest seems to separate, sit on the surface, and imply that the entire product just changed colour. A woman who finds consistently that makeup turns orange might be consistently buying makeup that is too orange. This is personal opinion, with not a lick of research to back it up.

Colour change could also happen when colour and person are not in harmony based on personal chemistry. Skin pH, medication, and so on, about which I know nothing. I’d love to look at data, since I try not to accept something just because it sounds like it would be right or should be right…like I did in the point above :)

9. Texture or formula may not be a good match for your skin chemistry, though swatching was correct. The formula might be one that seems quite different on skin than paper or in the pan, as many cream to powder products are.

Photo: cempey
Photo: cempey


10. You’re taking lipliner into account, right? A Dark Winter can create a gorgeous dull, everyday red with Givenchy Rose Precieux over MAC Staunchly Stylish liner. She can increase the staying power and tone down the blueness of ELauder Double Wear Ruby by wearing it over MAC Brick liner. And so on. Nevermind this one. I know you’d factor that in.

11. Your hair is the correct colour for your skin or tied back when you decide about a product. It’s a thing for Soft Summer hair to often be too light, too ash, too yellow, the wrong kind of yellow, and other variations on the theme. Whichever is happening, the face is a little gone, as if there’s a layer of white dust over the face.

In every age group, this colouring is not easy with yellow blonde, unless Nature made her that way, which I have never seen. The only blonde she can be is one with dark roots, one at the salon every 3 weeks, one with far less feature definition and a fuzzy bland face that would be really hard to draw, a blonde with a yellowish cast to the skin (and eyes and teeth, because what happens to part of the face happens to the whole face), and a blonde whose hair never looks great with her clothes. There are better choices.

She does have a lightness that others see. In her best hair colour, she might be described as a blonde, but she is better as a taupe to medium ash of some value level near her own with a cool caramel highlight.

Makeup can’t help but be affected by hair, the hat we wear all day every day. The blonde-hair-blue-eyes ideal tends to be more prevalent in the US than with Canadian women, and boy, is it planted in there good. The hair industry fallacy that older women need lighter hair certainly applies in Canada though. An ongoing struggle for many Soft Summer women.

At maturity, she can certainly have light silver hair, quite sophisticated indeed. She will do better with more lipstick vibrancy, not less, so as not to look like a big gray circle. Summer wears silver in hair or anywhere else easily, requiring minimal wardrobe adjustments and the same extra spirit in makeup that heightens the presence of all colouring types after 50.

12. How long between swatching on paper and testing with the palette at home? Many products mute and get browner.

Photo: beer
Photo: beer


13. Which Season is being swatched? Many True and Soft Summers, in fact most in my opinion, can wear colour that is more saturated than many palettes indicate, both in garments and cosmetics.

14. What about how you want to look? Many a Dark Autumn prefers Soft or True Autumn lipsticks because she wants to look not-made-up.

15. How old are you? I’ve been thinking lately that children are hyperpigmented adults. Not necessarily different pigments than they will have as adults, although many do change in adolescence or early adulthood.

Often, children have settled into their Seasons before they are 10 years old. At the time of their draping, they are able to balance every aspect of their colours, full on darkness and saturation, and could easily go even higher. I see Bright Winter children on whom the drapes are gorgeous and could easily carry a lot more.

As we age, I believe at this moment (could change in the next moment) that our pigments remain the same, but reduce quantity or concentration. To take on a different colour, our melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin would have to mutate when we are 40 or something. I have not seen that, read about it, or believe it happens from what I see every day. The Season spread is the same regardless of age group.

Sometimes, overtone appears to change. Some say they look warmer or yellower. Because the skin changed, the person then says their eyes changed colour. Most likely, the eye colour appears different next to a new skin overtone . A close look at the iris pigments does not reveal any more warmth at all, in fact these are usually very cool to cool-neutral eyes.

Photo: kliverap
Photo: kliverap


16. Your own colour tastes. Many Winters, especially True and Bright, do not care for the gray eyeshadow choices. With the red-violet blush and cheeks that suit this colouring best, I prefer gray in eye makeup but there are certainly nice cool browns out there. Everybody’s makeup takes searching. Even in correct Season, women wear (and should wear) quite different makeup. The idea that everything on the list applies to everyone in the Season is untrue.


Comments from Our Analysts

We need to be less rigid. Swatching and stereotypes are a place to start.  Without defining our neighbourhood, we will wander all over the city forever, looking for home. The whole entire shopping mall cannot be home. Each one of us has a room in there somewhere that is uniquely ours, to which all this other information can lead.

Nothing is cut in stone. You work with your colour analyst to determine your personal best within the group that you belong with. Only she knows your skin’s particular reactivity to the warmth, darkness, and saturation ranges within your Season. She knows which hues you wear so easily, they could be a wardrobe neutral, extending to eyeglass frames and large items like coats.

I asked our analysts to join the conversation from their personal growing field of experience. Their contact information can be found in the Analyst Directory on my site or Terry’s, or will be added soon.

Each person is colored differently within the same season. Because of that, not ALL correct lipstick colors, just like drapes, will be great. Neutrals have more trouble than Trues, but they do too. Case in point…Christine and I both have worn Berry Kiss, a cool neutral plum from MaryKay. My lips are very dark purple, C’s are lighter. On C, the lipstick looks a nice bright plum-berry. On me, it looks plum-brown and a bit muddy. I don’t wear it anymore. So, if I were told Berry Kiss was a Dark Winter color and I looked muddy, I would think I wasn’t a DW. That’s the main reason you can’t lipstick drape to find season. People don’t take into consideration the fact that we are all unique, even though we are the same season. Terry Wildfong, Michigan

One of the things I love with makeup is that it informs about how you lean within your season, e.g.: warm vs cool (so vividly clear with my Light Summer mom and sister, where the blush that looked perfect on my sister looked muddy on my mom, i.e. was too warm for her so she may lean cool). Makeup also informs about higher or lower contrast (e.g.: I have had several Soft Summers who look great in the Dark Winter lippie Lancome Aubergine Velvet, but it is too much for me.) – Lisa Kelly, Ottawa, Ontario. (In the Analyst Directory on this site, soon to be formally introduced.)

Something that I’ve noticed with my clients with very fair skin is that they sometimes have less flexibility with how dark they can go with lipstick, and even with how light they can go too. As just one example of this, I think of my Bright Spring clients. Some of them have a skin tone that’s more medium as far as darkness, and I’ve noticed that these clients can pull off some of the lighter lipsticks that match their palette for a mod sort of look. However, my Bright Spring clients with a very fair skin tone can’t pull off that look very well, because the lightness of the lipstick is much too close to the lightness of their skin color. I’ve seen this principle of considering lightness/darkness in skin tone when choosing your best makeup over and over again, and there are many other factors that come into play too when finding your makeup sweet spot. Don’t be discouraged if the lipstick that looks perfect on your seasonal buddy isn’t your best. When this happens, think of it not as there being one less lipstick you can wear, but as being one step closer to understanding the unique space you occupy within your season. Amanda Roberts, California

As a light Bright Spring, I completely agree with Amanda, and about how dark I can go – not very. Also: having very dry lips, I have to start extremely bright & fairly light, because the lippie is going to dry on my lips, making it look darker. And of course, texture comes into it, too, in so many ways: different textures for different seasons, yes, but also more moisturising/glossy ones for dry lips, to prevent the darkening that will otherwise happen. IDK about clients in this respect – don’t see them long enough to see any changes in the lipstick colour, but we do discuss it and I am interested in women’s observations. Also, as an oily-skinned girl myself I’d like to have women remember that even if the foundation/powder are exact matches at first, oily skin turns some brands/textures yellow, orange or brownish in a few hours, so a change of brand may be the solution in some cases, not a different colour. Johanna Jarvinen, Finland

Makeup isn’t as straightforward as clothing because you’re mixing the colors with your own pigmentation. Especially with lipsticks, one’s own lip color really comes into play with how a particular lipstick will appear. There are also different ways that a client might like to wear their makeup. For example, a True Summer who wants a bit more of a dramatic shade may find she can use a mid-range color from Dark Winter. A shade that appears as a natural, everyday look on a Bright Spring can be a nice option for a Light Spring that wants a more vibrant lip. I tell clients that the color fan gives an excellent place to start with choosing makeup, but still requires some experimentation and, sometimes more importantly, shows you what to stay away from. Heather Noakes, California

I’ve learned that trying new makeup is akin to trying a new food: you can’t taste it once and decide you don’t like it. As a very fair Dark Autumn, I panicked when I arrived home from my training and saw all of that dark makeup! I went running toward the lightest, pinkest Dark Autumn colors I could find. Of course, as the months passed I tried the darker colors again, and they grew to be my favorites. But it took time and experimentation. Try warming too-cool colors with a golden gloss, or applying dark colors with a lip brush if you find that they’re applying too opaquely. It’s also very important to stick with your color space. Wearing eye makeup from your season with lips from a neighboring season is likely to look funky and unbalanced. Cate Linden, Kentucky

Always try before you buy. You might have found a lipstick, blush, eyeshadow or liner that looks exactly like some dots on your fan, or you have been told it suits your season perfectly. That does not in any way mean it will look the same on YOU. It all changes when it is on your face. Don’t rush. Try in store- it might look great at first glance but don’t buy it straight away. Walk around with it, look in a few different mirrors in different lights, take a Selfie if you are so inclined (but remember photos don’t always show the real colours), just let the makeup sit on you and get a feel for it. If you don’t buy it the same day it does not matter, order it the following week if you still want it, think about it a bit longer or come back another day. After all this is something you want to wear most days so its better to get it right than waste your money (talking from own experience here). I have been forcing myself to do so lately as although I should know better. I have so many ‘not just right’ pieces of cosmetics in my drawers. Another thing, sometimes it is better to shop without friends. They are subconsciously shopping for themselves, picking what they would like to get, or a look they like. Your friend might not always see you in an objective way. Also never forget that just because a colour is on your fan it does not automatically mean it will look great on your face. It does not in any way mean its the wrong season for you. For example, as a True Winter, there are many beautiful purples I would not be comfortable wearing as a blush, eyeshadow or lipstick, but would look fabulous worn in a scarf or as a pair of earrings. Margareta Palmquist-Whyte, Sweden (Soon to be added to Terry’s Analyst Directory.)

I like to swatch several lipstick colors on the inside of my client’s arm to test how those colors will interact with their particular skin tone, especially Neutral seasons. You can use this as a second step in choosing a lipstick, the first being swatching the colors on white paper to see whether they harmonize with your palette. Once you have three or four contenders, looking at them on your arm is a good way to narrow the field, or learn what you need to look for next: warmer or cooler? A bit darker/lighter? Yes our lips are pigmented differently from the insides of our arms, but they’re still our colors! We can learn how to make allowances for the way our lips are pigmented. Looking at colors on your arm might help you be a little more objective about the colors’ reactions with your skin tone. Swatching on your inside arm is also a good way to get a feel for a lipstick formula. Of course the more sheer, the more your lip pigments will affect the color. I learned to love arm swatching from Karla Sugar! And a word about Sales Associates: I’ve seen so many do arm swatching to demonstrate colors, but they draw the colors on their own arms! This is interesting but not ultimately helpful in determining what color does for YOU. Don’t be intimidated by SAs. Remember it’s their job to be helpful to you. Once you find a nice one, they are worth cultivating. You may even be able to teach them a thing or two about color, which could really benefit their sales abilities. You are becoming your own authority on color now. No need to succumb to fads. What freedom! Sharon Forsythe, Texas





Introducing The Signature/STYLE Newsletter

Fashion Forward

You sit down to go through your email today and find what appears to be a newsletter. You scroll down to find pictures of blouses in the colours and shapes that suit you better than any others could.

In this email, each image would include some commentary to help you understand why the particular colours and shapes are so flattering for you. Next time you shop, your eyes would be able to seek out those designs, or similar ones that follow the same formula.

In the open ocean of retail, you have a plan. You carry the thumbnail images in your head guiding what to choose, how to venture, and where to stop. While browsing, you recognize the items that you would have purchased a week ago, with a smile of relief for knowing your better choices today.

Three months later, another email will arrive to show you how to buy dress styles that are most becoming to your body in colours that look beautiful next to yours. Three months later, it will be winter coats. You would begin to see what the items have in common, noticing the consistencies that run through each of your newsletters. As you begin transforming your wardrobe, you might notice that your overall image becomes much clearer with even small adjustments when colours and lines work together.

Not only that, since the pictures are linked to the retail sites, you would gather a selection of stores and designers that could serve you best. More of your time, attention, and money would flow in directions that help you to truly look and feel better.

We women want to navigate a shopping mall successfully to look creative at the office and still appear professional. We desire to express health and happiness in our appearance and still be taken seriously at a party. We wish for an appearance that speaks of elegance and style whatever our personal definition of those might be, authentic to our unique selves rather than looking like everyone else.

Our clothes and jewelry can be extensions of that self, being true to our extrinsic colours, lines, and shapes, with the elements of intrinsic individuality that add excitement. Together, a woman and her apparel can bring out the absolute best in each other.

 Fashion Backward

All consumers need easy access to education and resources for shopping from a personal menu of Best Choices in the 21st Century shopping arena. Advice that is outdated, geared to flatter 20 year olds, either impossible to find or too common to suit more than a narrow percentage, is not helpful.

If the woman leaves the image consulting service looking costumed for a part in on Broadway, unpredictable and eccentric, old-fashioned in some odd way that was never a style in any era, or too mystified by the system to direct her own shopping decisions, she has not been served as well as possible.

The direction of fashion is presently in reverse.

The process of fashion begins with clothing manufacturers and media that apply colours or styles to every woman indiscriminately to sell as much as possible before the trend dies out. We see the rise and fall of certain colours and styles, which, in reality, are truly flattering to a very narrow group of people, those that sell magazines.

The wasted money is one problem. Our larger concern is the loss of self-esteem that accumulates over many years of feeling that we don’t fit into a mold. Though every body is perfectly proportioned, we can feel doubt about ourselves. In time, a belief settles in that wherever we differ from models and a mannequin is a flaw.

Nothing of the sort is remotely true. We are, each one of us, the mold that fashion should be retrofitted to.



Signature/STYLE is a cooperative project between Rachel Nachmias and I. We will go shopping with your colours and image type in mind, assembling a collage of your most becoming selections from everyday retailers into a newsletter that will arrive every three months. Items from the fashion world will be featured, explained, and linked to direct you to colours and styles that you wear better than any other colouring or body type.

To give you a sense of what to expect, for the past few months, we have pinned examples of the 12 Seasons’ colours in combination with the 10 image archetypes (IA) to the Shopping for Your Season and Style board at Pinterest. The pins were chosen mostly from runways and lookbooks. The Signature/STYLE newsletter will contain real items available for purchase from the stores many of us visit often.

There will be 20 different versions of Signature/STYLE, for the 20 possible Season and Archetype combinations. Each will focus on one of the 4 True Seasons, as Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and one of the 5 IAs, as Dramatic (D), Natural (N), Classic (C), Romantic (R), and Gamine (G), including its Yin and Yang variations (see Rachel’s’ recent article here explaining IA.

For every Season and Archetype pair, the Neutral Seasons and Ying/Yang variations of the IA will be presented in the same newsletter. This will allow you to compare your colours and lines with those of immediate neighbours to fine-tune your application of these concepts within your own palette and archetype.

A Light Summer woman whose IA is YangRomantic (YangR) will subscribe to the Summer/Romantic newsletters. In every issue, she will find her best self in clothing, along with comparisons to how her True and Soft Summer sisters would dress, and a YinRomantic’s adaptation of similar garments.

A Dark Autumn YangNatural will subscribe to Autumn/Natural.

A True Winter Dramatic will find her customized, personalized fashion review in the Winter/Dramatic issues.

We agree that appearance improves substantially by simply knowing which of the 4 True Season groups and 5 Archetype options is yours. Even if you know Summer of some kind and Natural, you will learn so much, shop with renewed confidence, dramatically elevate your wardrobe, and skyrocket your appearance.

The Layout


The issue will begin with an image like the one above, to feature a relevant article from our sites, a beautiful cosmetic product, or any other information that would have value to your Season and Style.

Following that will be the Product section, seen below, presenting nine garments with text describing the reasons for their inclusion. This example issue features sleeveless blouses for the True, Light, and Soft Summer woman of either YinGamine or YangGamine (YinG and YangG) archetypes, with explanations as to which woman wears the item best and why.


Each issue will have a theme. The first issue looks at warm weather and lightweight dresses. Another one might be about pant legs. Who wears straight leg? Who wears bootcut? How wide is the bootcut for each body type that wears it? What’s the best colour in jeans or your better-than-black for other occasions?

Next time, it might be bathing suits. Which style flatters your body best and inherently understands where and how to define your waist? A True Winter YinR might express herself slightly differently in colour and style than a Dark Winter YinR. We’ll show you how each woman wears her own design best.

One day, you will find beautiful dress styles that seem to know intuitively how you want your clothing to fit. There really are items in every fashion category that have been adjusted to minimize or eliminate the problems you find over and over with mass-market or trending styles.


The pictures from this example issue show the newsletter divided in sections. Of course, it will be merged into one piece when your email arrives. You can see the issue in its entirety here on the site itself.


Issues will arrive quarterly.   They will be responsive to all common computers, browsers, and mobile devices.

Cost is US$35.99 for 12 months (4 issues).

A one year commitment is required. Whenever you subscribe in a given year, you will receive all the issues from that year. Subscriptions begin 12 months from the sign-up date. The first issue includes Summer 2014 (now), Fall 2014, Winter 2014, and Spring 2015.

Sign up is done in this way. When you visit Signature/STYLE, you will see a Subscribe link at the top left corner of the screen. Once the page opens,  by clicking on the image of the newsletter, a box will open to select your Season and IA groups from two separate drop-down menus. Then click ADD TO CART. A box will open asking for the email address of the recipient. You can subscribe for as many versions as you wish at US$35.99 each.

Once you have completed your selections, click on the cart icon at the upper right. A payment screen will open asking for your payment information and email address. It looks similar to the PayPal screens, but this payment is equally secure and powered by Stripe. You can complete the order and be returned to Signature/STYLE. You will receive an order confirmation email.

The first issue will arrive within 48 hours of sign up, beginning with Sunday, August 17.

If you subscribe between issues, you receive the previous three issues from that year within two days. The remaining issues of the subscription are sent as soon as they are released.

Which Season? Which Archetype?

If Christine were to categorize herself 10 years ago, she would have incorrectly chosen Autumn and Natural. In truth, she is Winter and Classic. We understand how difficult it is to know ourselves. Books and online education only take you so far. Sometimes, you need expert help.

Your best bet is to begin with a correct and thorough personal colour analysis (PCA). You can find a directory of highly trained analysts working with the carefully calibrated 12 Blueprints drapes, here in the Directory on this site and at Your Natural Design here. This service cannot be performed accurately from photographs.

Rachel can do personal Image Analysis (PIA) accurately online. You can find that information here.

If you prefer to identify your IA without the full PIA service, you will find an updated and concise self-assessment quiz hosted on Rachel’s bestdressed.us site, available in September 2014. The quiz works astonishingly well for placing you in the correct category of the 5. Once you have a quiz result, you will be invited to download a free 8 page illustrated guide for your Image Archetype. On those pages, you will find archetype descriptions, apparel designs, garment examples, modern celebrity examples, imagery and inspiration to form an image of the woman you will dress.



You can email us at e.signature.style@gmail.com

The website is http://signature-style.squarespace.com


Determining colour accurately online is impossible for faces and quite challenging for clothing. As everyone knows who has shopped online, the colours in the images may be different than the real garment. Please do remember that if you purchase, items are returnable.

We have been surprised at how quickly stores are out of stock in various items. Should your item be no longer available when you receive your newsletter, take advantage of the learning opportunity. One day, that item will reappear and you won’t miss it.






Best Makeup Colours Bright Spring

The Great Courses description for Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist reads,

…we are all vulnerable to believing things without using logic or having proper evidence – and it doesn’t matter how educated or well read we are. Our brains seem to be hard-wired to have our beliefs come first and explanations for our beliefs second.

Cliches in colour analysis are becoming outdated. High time too since women have known them to be fallible since they first reached a wide audience 25 years ago. Brown eyes have to be Winter, Springs are light, Brights have some kind of alien eyes that you could pick out anywhere, Autumns have red hair, are beliefs that simply do not hold true when measured across groups of people.

Bright Spring colouring has contributed much to this worthwhile end. It is stereotype-proof. It cannot be pinned down to any mold, standard, or convention. This colouring can appear similar to Light Summer or Dark Autumn commonly,  True Winter, Bright Winter, Soft Summer, and True Summer often, and even True and Soft Autumn sometimes.


Soft Summer? Bright Spring is easily confused with Soft Summer? How could that be? Forget about the fact that they are across from each other on a map. Maps are an over-simplified, narrow angle lens on a complex physical entity. A map of a territory is a piece of paper, not mountains and rivers. A colour cycle is an idea, not a human face. Maps are little pictures of a few relationships among many. Not for a moment do they encompass an entire topic.

Clients often ask how colour analysts make the decisions that they do. Well, that would be like asking your doctor the same thing. Without training in the legal profession, or whatever field, nobody can understand the decision-making process. Colour analysis has been made to appear DIY in the past. Although a wild fallacy, it served the purpose of popularizing a product that improves lives.

We can read books and join online groups till the end of time. These will not provide the answers to how colour analysts make decisions. They are entertainments, albeit good ones. We need to be shown person to person. Maybe one day, we can meet for Colour Retreats in your city. We’ll show you exactly how and why it is done as it is without the commitment of becoming an analyst yourself. We can meet for a 6AM walk, eat kale twice a day, have my delightful 15 ingredient smoothie for lunch, have guest speakers to talk about women&money, women&relationships. Oh, the possibilities!

Back to Bright Spring and Soft Summer. Think about what the two Seasons have in common. Quite a lot, actually. Allow me to walk you through a client draping. She might turn out Bright Spring or Soft Summer but we don’t know which one.

In the first comparison, both Seasons find some things to like about black. The analyst cannot know what this is at the beginning. All they see is that both colourings improve somehow. At the end, we will understand that the Soft Summer wanted the darkness. Bright Spring wanted the saturation. For now, that level of explanation is not available to us. All we know is that if the woman had $1000 and could only buy one dress between Winter black and Autumn brown, we would give her the black.

Several steps on, we compare the True Seasons. Either person might look quite good in True Summer if the comparison of the moment is with True Winter. Spring and Summer enjoy the lightness and the delicacy. True Winter can look a little heavy and rugged. The decision the analyst, or anyone, makes about a colour is completely contingent on which comparison her eyes are being given in that moment. Change the comparison, a different decision is made about the very same drape, which is why it is so essential to compare in many combinations. If a few of the Summer drapes happen to be very light, almost icy light, and not too muted, Bright Spring skin will play along. Soft Summer will be happy too since she is a Summer after all.

The Red Drapes are next, one the products of the great genius of Kathryn Kalisz, founder of the Sci\ART system. Neutral it is, for both Seasons. Soft Summer is a cool-neutral, meaning that it is even easier to switch it with Bright Winter than the warm-neutral Bright Spring. Not only is Bright Winter a cooler neutral, the overall darkness level is fairly close to Soft Summer. Bright Winter is a light Winter. Bright Spring is a dark Spring. Soft Summer is a dark Summer. In both value and heat dimensions, they all run together around the edges.

The analyst has to separate these Seasons on the saturation dimension as she plans her drape comparisons. Now what if the Bright Winter person is not the most saturated or darkest ever? One of those people who could live life (and would prefer to live life) in Light Summer? I could name several. What if the client is a Soft Summer whose colouring is fairly close to True Summer, meaning more saturated and cooler than the stereotypic/average Soft? Have seen several of those too.

For all Seasons, the average is rare. The stereotype might be 1 in 10. The vast majority of people are the disclaimer. You probably are.

Now we are moving on to the 12 Seasons drapes. Sometimes, the answer is obvious but life is not that easy and neither is colour analysis. Skin reactions must be seen, not verbally described. Both persons can have a fair bit of yellow in the eyes and many blues and greens. Bright Spring is generally a colour-activated person but Soft Summer is hardly colourless. Every human face is in perfect balance in its colours and its features.

We know that Bright Spring colours are only too bright when worn by another Season, but look quite normal and balanced on a Bright Spring. We know that Soft Summer colours can seem faded when worn by another colouring, but read as very vibrant when worn by a Soft Summer. So do Soft Summer eyes look quite bright in a Soft Summer face.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to harmonize eye photos with the palettes. Nature colours a face in a harmony of Season colours, meaning that every face is normal, balanced, and vibrant. No living, healthy human wearing their natural colours has dull eyes.




Winter is here. Red is necessary. Barbie pink and nectarine are not red enough.

Sometimes, this woman looks quite True Spring, with a lot of yellow in  the hair and general lightness about her. The only surface clue to a hint of Winter might be a golden brown eye or a spoke of rust in an aqua eye. She will wear the more orange colours beautifully while the bluer pinks may be too cool. The reverse is true also, that the very cool looking (or cool testing, meaning very near Bright Winter) woman will wear the cool pinks and darker red-violets.

The lightest to darkest colour spread, meaning the gray scale or the value scale, spans almost to black and white. That spread should be present in the made up face to express my idea of great makeup: take what you are and make more of it. The size of the area is not important as long as the eye of the viewer can see them at the same time.

Eyeliners are quite dark but not black. Dark gray is good on everyone. Many in this Season have an intensely red-orange colour in hair and eyes, like dark carrot. For them, the Season dark brown is lovely as liner, as it is on Asian dark eyes.

A coloured liner reads well because the person is so colourful to look at. Just be sure to match the colour, as green, turquoise, or purple, very carefully to your Colour Book. These colours can look juvenile if they stand apart from the face because the natural colouring could not find a home for it.

For all 12 Seasons, your white is a beautiful brow bone highlight. Here, it is a clear yellowed white, as buttermilk. We all know my love of peachy pink on Brights. Pale gold could be great, or silvery pink.

How to swatch makeup to Season was described in the Light Spring article.


I will post some thoughts on the Makeup for Your Natural Colouring board at Pinterest.


Blush: Bare Escentuals Sweet Cheeks. Tarte Frisky. MAC Fleur Power, Pinch of Peach. Maybelline Dream Bouncy Hot Tamale. Nothing new and wonderful has crossed my path since these standbys.

Eyeshadow: Gosh Smoky Eyes #1 quad. EArden Graphite. Gosh Sand is a nice browbone highlight, warm pearly white. Gosh quad in Platinum has a good value range and could be used as is or to create many excellent colours.

Eyeliner: Clarins 04 Platinum. ELauder Graphite is darker, for those near Bright Winter. Gosh Hypnotic Grey is good, as is Raw Grey for the cooler, darker colouring.

Lipstick: Paulas Choice Strawberry Soda gloss. Becca Maraschino. Merle Norman Popsicle. Clarins Pink Fuchsia (might also be very good as a red option on True Spring) and Tropical Pink 19 as a warm pink.  Clinique stick Heftiest Hibiscus and Plushest Punch. Lancome RIL 163M appears in Light Summer’s post too, being quite saturated and of neutral heat, for those Bright Springs looking for a more natural lip. I showed a photo on the Pinterest board of how Barbie pink looks a little weak and flat. This colouring needs that pinch of red, which Gosh Lip Lacquer 900 could be used to add to other products.




Best Makeup Colours Light Spring

Every human colouring is magnificent. The gift of my days is the opportunity to truly look at human colouring and understand how to interpret it. It feels like giving the person back to themselves. The more I do this, the more rocked my world becomes.

Something in Light Spring renders me speechless. Like the good witch, they could float up off the ground at any moment in a swirl of sweet, sparkling dust. The colouring is so gentle, almost transparent, and yet they twinkle, move, and are full of life. A magic spell would not surprise, most often one that brings another person something they desire. The Summer wish to do good in the world is mixed with the absence of attachment or over thinking that is Spring. Spring is goodness, happiness, and smiles for their own sake. Wearing their own colours, the sun itself pours out of the iris of the eyes.


Most rewarding to me is having the woman say, I never thought my skin could look this good without foundation. Because this analysis can begin a little tough. For no particular reason beyond consistency, a session with me begins with a comparison between the black and brown (Winter and Autumn) drapes. On a Light Spring, they look worse and worser. Light Summer has some ability to manage black. Light Spring, not so. It looks and feels like punishment. The Autumn choice is no better on them.

We train analysts to identify effects that are both better and worse with every single drape. Recently, an excellent student could find nothing good in black or brown, not one single thing, so she most delicately chose to say nothing at all to the model. With a client, the analyst must find something to say as the client’s expecting eyes are looking back at her in the mirror. For the client, this is a regular day. This is the face she always sees in the mirror.

Spring skin is very definite in its sadness in Autumn colour. This observation over and over has convinced me that Spring/Autumn blends do not exist in human colouring. They might in human shopping, which is another story.

Interesting too that one might think that Light Spring and Soft Autumn people resemble one another since they share similar relationships to the other Seasons (warm-neutral, light side). In actual people and how the skin reacts to colour, it is the Light Summer and Soft Autumn that need care when draping. Light Summer has the darkness and softness of colour that are closer to Soft Autumn, the lightest, sunniest of the Autumn group.

As the draping process moves along, we begin to see their radiance light up the room. The more serious among us are reminded that life can be a piece of cake if only we would let it. I have analyzed this woman with allergies in full bloom, and yet she is a delight and a pleasure to everyone in the room just by being herself.



If we take fair to mean light, Light Spring really is the fairest of them all. Colours of almond milk, linen, light peach, and sand. Eyeshadow grays are less blue than in the Summers. Light browns appear. Another option, not shown, is a bit of green in the yellow or brown, as light khaki or golden greens. Not army green, more floaty than that.

Light Spring might be the rarest of them all too. Unlike Bright Winter, of which there are many, and which appears to be the case the world over. These clients are such a lovely surprise for a colour analyst because so many months go by in between.

Small shifts in darkness level are amplified on this colouring, where they would be near insignificant on another. Darkness is hard to control. Even in a tiny area, as black mascara, the lashes attract lots of attention, as aggressive. Enchanting got left behind long ago. As the lightest colouring, Light Spring women can achieve plenty of cosmetic impact by choosing from the lighter colours in the collection, though they certainly have relatively  darker options as does every Season.

Definition of features happens beautifully using lighter colours than one might think. Concealer is similar, where the ability of light colour to move visually forwards and upwards is used to create definition, contour, and contrast. Here, every colour is relatively light, even eyeliner. Milky golden sunbeams pour outwards from this being, the special magic of Light Spring, an effect that cosmetics ought never suppress.

Colour clarity is quite high in Spring, meaning that pigments are pure. Transparency is a form of clarity and happens to look great in makeup, allowing the reflectivity of light from the skin to come through. Literally as well, the eyes may be pale beach glass, whose way of intensifying in harmonious colour is to become more sparkling. Repeating that in cosmetic effect adds magic to magic, perfectly consistent and aligned. Sheer cosmetics also glisten without frost, in the same way that as the skin. Lastly, sheer cosmetics allow for a lightweight colour deposit. Feelings of weight and opacity turn the lights down on the most lit up face of all.

Sometimes, this person is very Summer looking and does better in the cooler, pinker lipstick and blush. At other times, she can be much yellower and the melon colours look lovely on the face. If the products are sheer, either could work well. Embrace light golden uplighters and lip gloss without going overboard. Light Spring is creamy and a little hazy, not metallic or hard.

She can be quite beige from the milkiness of the skin colours. A monochromatic cream, beige, and light brown makeup palette can be gorgeous, effortless, the ultimate natural face that Light Seasons actually do well at any age (and Winters at no age). There is a sweetness to that look that reminds us of fresh creamy flavours.

How to swatch makeup

Do it this way. Paint a 1 inch square of the cosmetic pretty heavily on a page of white paper, heavily enough that no white paper comes through. Make a big area, at least as big as the swatches in your book. Swipe it on there thick to pull every nuance out of the colour.

I prefer plain white paper to paper towel, but you might try both. The paper towel is harder to work with, tears more easily for one thing  and harder to write on. Colours do look different on it, more dimensional somehow. I have not compared the harmonizing results of cosmetics on paper towel and plain paper.

I seldom swatch gloss because it’s a transparent oily mess by the time I get it home to swatch in good light. Instead, I advice clients to look at several lipsticks on paper from the list I send them, choose a few they would like to try, and find a match in a gloss. Salespersons are usually quite good at this within their own product line.

You’re running a draping simulation, right? The swatch book is the face. There are your eyes, over here are the lips and cheeks, and so on. The cosmetic is the drape. One colour at a time and lots of it. Give me more than one colour to test at the same time and two things happen. My perceptions get muddled as the colours alter one another and the face itself. Second, I miss too much of the information that any single colour is trying to give me.

If there are several cosmetic patches on the page, cover them with white paper. You want to see only the colour swatch book and the product in question. Therefore, keep your swatches far enough apart on the same page to isolate them from neighbours or it will alter your perceptions and decisions.

Lay your swatch book above the cosmetic area. Anchor down the bottom strip with one hand. Looking across at both the colour and the swatches, flip the pages of the book past the makeup. Open the pages enough to see the entire strip.

Immediately, instantly, you should notice that both the cosmetic and the swatches become more colourful, cleaner, fresher, better defined by being next to one another. Both sets of colours should appear more vivid, interesting, energized, and nuanced. If either one drops back, seems duller, weaker, grayer, flatter, or less in any way, do not buy it. If your colour book swatches are circular, the edges of the dots become crisper, sharper, better defined.

The cosmetic and the swatches should be better and more together  they were apart.  That right there is what harmony looks like. Not evenly coloured skin or feature definition, those are just indicators of which there are hundreds more that a colour analyst evaluates during the entire draping. When the wavelengths are so synchronized that they lock together like magnets and sing at the top of their voices, that is harmony, or the best way I can define it today. That is your face surrounded by its own intrinsic colours. I can feel my heart rate speed up just typing it. When you see it, and everyone can see it and feel it once they are shown how, the room goes quiet. Truth, the ultimate silencer.

You get better, faster, and trust your judgment more with swatch book practice. See if any colours are uncomfortable with the cosmetic. If there are combinations that are awkward, something is off. Who cares what it is, leave the product behind. It is not you. The energies should feel even. If you’re ignoring one or the other, or they just don’t look pretty together, that is exactly will happen on the face.

Forget about perfect matches to the swatches, it is not necessary. When the strips with the colours most similar to the cosmetic go by, slow down. The cosmetic should look like a plausible extension of the strip, meaning that if one more dot or square were added, it could believably be the product.

When the colours of other cosmetics go by, slow down. If you’re swatching eyeshadow, slow down over the reds. Your eyeshadow wants to look gorgeous and united with your lips and blush, which are your blood, to be vampirishly explicit.

This process is equally effective with eyeliner, bronzer, any cosmetic you choose. Even mascara.


I will post some thoughts on the Makeup for Your Natural Colouring board at Pinterest.


Try before you buy.

Blush: Body Shop Marshmallow. Avon Mark Lovespell.  Dior Coral Cruise. Lancome French Ballerina. Shiseido RD1 trio could be good, though perhaps better for True Spring. Shiseido PK 304. Clinique Robust Rhubard Chubby Stick.

Eyeliner: PUR Polished Stone. A very warm leaning woman with yellow in the eyes and hair could try EArden Bronze, though it is probably most lovely on True Spring. Urban Decay Desperation could be good (try it, might be too dark on many), certainly your black substitute. Clinique Brown Sugar is neither too green or red, and Intense Truffle, a very interesting colour.

Eyeshadow: Favourite highlight ever, MAC Wisp. Aveda Aurora. Lancome Chic, Honeymoon, and Optic. Elizabeth Arden Bone, Sandstone, and Blonde. Shiseido BE213 trio includes what I mean by floaty khaki, feels light rather than heavy if you put it on a weight scale. Revlon 500 Addictive quad could be good, but could not be tested. Clinique Foxier. Estee Lauder Sepia Sand and Nude Fresco.

Lip: Aveda Peruvian Lily (could be good on Light Summer too but the product has more colour with Light Spring). Dior Lucky (cooler) and Cruise (warmer). Lancome Rekindle. Almay Color+Care gloss in Apricot Pucker and L’Oreal Everbloom may be too warm for some Lights and probably great on all True Springs. Almay Cantaloupe Creme is good, though light and sheer. L’Oreal 285 Pink Fever is a trace too cool for Light Spring and better overall for Light Summer but worth testing if on the cool side. Clinique Sugared Grapefruit. Estee Lauder Pink Voltage (Light Summer should try out Rose Envy).

For your darker colours, the red options, have a look at  Laura Mercier Mango. Tarte Watermelon, Poppy (Coral for True Spring).  KatVonD BonBon.

Bronzer: Mercier Matte Bronzer Light. Benefit Coralista, which could easily be the blush as well. Physicians Formula Glowing Nude Powder in Light looks promising, but I could not open the package to test it.




A New Look for 12B

We know the quote that says,

What if you only woke up tomorrow

With the things you thanked God for today?

Rick Beckman is always on my list. Rick has done the technical work on this website for  many years. He is brilliant and wonderful.  I hope that I thank him often enough.

He and I have put together pages that are clear, concise, and readable. Search results are so much cleaner and easier.  You also have the blog index under the About tab to help locate particular articles.

Those photos across the top are an ever-changing update of beautiful and interesting things. That feature alone hypnotizes me a little.

The new appearance may take a day or two to be fully updated on your computers. As with all things that get better, this is a work in progress that will evolve with feedback.

On my list of what I thank God for, you are there also. Without your visits, your comments, your inquisitive minds, and our shared love and passion for understanding human colouring, there would be no 12 Blueprints. Should anything not perform as expected, or if any feature could be added that would enhance or ease your use of this site, please leave a comment or email me at christine@12blueprints.com.  Every word you take the time to type means so much.




Best Makeup Colours Dark Autumn

Over the years, a series of posts appeared showing a graphic of the best makeup colours for certain groups of natural colouring, a term synonymous with Season. In the archives so far, you will find a post about best makeup colours for the 4 True Seasons, Soft Summer, Dark and Bright Winter. You can search them as http://12blueprints.com/best-makeup-colours-soft-summer/

July is a holiday month, a good time to finish the series. Today, Dark Autumn.


As a session begins, clients are seated and surrounded by the neutral gray of an accurate colour analysis. The moment I switch on the full spectrum lights, I look right at their eyes. If I see diffusions of dark yellow, cognac, rust, or dark mossy green, I wonder about Dark Autumn.

The skin of this woman contains a lot of colour. To make any impression, her cosmetics need muscle both in the strength of the pigments and in the density of their application. The Summer drapes look like they can’t hold up her head. The makeup, the same.

She is almost great in black. There will be a little something that excites. Appearance excitement is important. Brown will be more relaxing and feel more harmonious overall. She certainly has spice and darkness in the brown, both of which thrill on this colouring. Spanish coffee gets into your blood a little faster, right?

Your PCA result will be personalized to your particular colouring and draping reactions. For instance, in her later years, many a Dark Autumn woman moves closer to True Autumn. The most excitement is still in Dark Autumn. The lightest, most muted True Autumn colours and the darkest, coolest Dark Autumn colours are not perfect.

If you saw one of our group of analysts (see the 12B Analyst Directory), we will explain how to use the more challenging colours in compositions instead of putting them in large blocks under the face. You will know your own formula, how you excite. You might shop with both Colour Books. People at the office will be talking and you may wonder why. They will be saying good things. I have never met the Dark Autumn woman who has any idea of how remarkable and superb she looks. They all seem a little oblivious to it. Which is a good thing!

She has often avoided the makeup colours below because her clothing colours were too gentle. She was quite right. With soft colours in clothing, Dark Autumn makeup will seem too bold and strong. The problem is not the makeup. Once everything below the neck comes up to balance her head, the makeup will be stunning. To find that balance needed for take-off, we have to deconstruct the appearance, take you back to the beginning and rebuild you in your own colours.


And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

– T.S. Eliot



The makeup is not necessarily dark, though it is compared to Light Spring. Every Season has light colours, here as parsnip, lemongrass, asphalt, greige, goldenrod, barley gold, and many others. In our five years together, we have understood that Dark Seasons neither look dark nor wear only darkness. Nor do the Light Seasons look light, and so on. That’s one of those ideas that got taken too literally, without the continuous counterbalances of comparison and relative relationships that are the sine qua non of colour.



The Dark Autumn woman contains much glamour. She is mostly OK with being noticed, unlike her True Autumn sister who can only take so much being fussed over. Sofia Coppola is among my iconic Dark Autumns (remembering that I have no idea what her Season is till she is drape). Glamorous and exotic with no interest in taking that anywhere. Not a great blonde. Always dressed in black, white, and gray, which are not awful. Neither are they one little bit exciting, provocative, evocative, nothing. They are just there taking up space and better than the infant clothing that Light Spring would be. Her Autumn self will go this far on her looks and no further. She has things to do after all.

Whisky colours in the eyes. I split the Know Your Best Hair Colour board at Pinterest, adding a Makeup For Your Natural Colouring board. You can find some images of Sophia and other Dark Autumn ideas there.

All Neutral Season colouring has warmer and cooler versions of every colour, still within the saturation and value scale for the Season. The choice of brown flesh tones in blush and lip, red orange, or bronzed berry, is yours. Though I find black in eyeliner too harsh on anyone unless they are Halle Berry dark, have black eyes and brows, or the black is a Soft Black (meaning dark charcoal), this person does have Winter coolness. Just as their navy in clothing or a suit is a fantastic complement to the orange tones in skin, hair, and eyes, so is it a great eyeliner. The graphic does not include one but the list at the bottom does.

The heat feels more intense to me here than in Soft Autumn, perhaps because of the added darkness and presence of red as Winter arrives. We tend to feel red as heat. Wear bronzer as a contour. It looks good and is easy to find. Bone structure is always fantastic here. Why not take it further if your facial anatomy calls for it (Mariah Carey is not improved by carved edges. They are only weird. JLo is more feline, more powerful, more good stuff.) ?

Make the hair colour all it could be. Natural is always just fine. If you colour, be not wimpy. These colours are easy to find. Auburn and rich chestnut work if the base colour is as dark as Julia Roberts. Her natural base is probably dark ash brown. Adding auburn or using chemical colour to add gloss and body elevate her inborn way of looking expensive and delicious.

Many Dark Autumns have a near-black base colour or are lighter medium brown. In both cases, chemical colour will probably not be as enhancing or interesting as what you have on your own. Near black hair with these clothing colours is a furnace of presence and potential. Lighter hair colour is an amazement of improbability and surprise, as is blue teal or other light eye colours. The viewer feels a fascination of, What is happening there?

If we colour our hair, we all need to find the right one. All the clothes and makeup in the world will flop without it. Please ignore the myth that women need to go lighter as they get older. Nothing is true for everyone, but that one might actually apply to no Dark Autumn.

In the next article on Light Spring best  makeup colours, you will find an explanation of how to swatch makeup colours to Season.


I will post some thoughts on the Makeup for Your Natural Colouring board at Pinterest.



Try before you buy. 5 women in the same Season will look their best in 5 different lipsticks.

Blush: MAC Ambering Rose. NARS Taos. Lancome Shimmer Tamarind.

Eyeliner: MAC Coffee. Revlon Colorstay Navy. Urban Decay Corrupt (Demolition could be good for darker women and/or those closer to Dark Winter looking for a near black. Bourbon for lighter women, closer to True Autumn). Smashbox Sumatra is an interesting inky brown, and 3DGalaxy could be a good dark gray without being too dark.

Eyeshadow: Bobbi Brown Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, and Mahogany. Stila Twig. NARS Lola Lola. Clinique Portobello (light greige) is OK as a colour but the application properties are weak on this colouring compared to Urban Decay Tease. Aveda Copper Haze (could work well on a True Autumn also). Benefit Bronze Have More Fun.  MUFE #165 is a great basic greige. NARS Cordura  offers two good darks for smoking the eyes, a believable and successful effect on the Dark Seasons (Key Largo may work for those near True Autumn, but is probably best for True Autumn, and even better on True Spring.) Smashbox Screenshot is a nice trio. Lancome Burnt Sand.

Lipstick: Too Faced Sweet Maple. Chanel Rouge Vendome is a brighter orange red. Clarins Red Terra (awesome, dark side), Spicy Cinnamon (warmer, for those near True Autumn), Grenadine (nice mid berry), Cedar Red. Elizabeth Arden Wildberry (bit muted, closer to True Autumn). Laura Mercier Sienna for those nearer Dark Winter, though could be a great red on many Dark Autumn. Lancome Ruby Silk a mid-warm-red, not too dark, while Jezebel is a purple containing subtle metallic bronze effects. Smashbox Cognac could be a very good nude on many, where nude is not the same as Lip Eraser.

Bronzer: Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder Medium 2.





Introducing Colour Analyst Amanda Roberts (California)

I would have been so happy if our training with Amanda and her lovely fellow student had gone on for  weeks. Her aptitude for colour analysis is extremely high. In her person, she combines glamour, energy, optimism, perfectionism, targeted intelligence, and natural friendliness.

So strongly do I believe that waiting on a dream just pushes it further away that I align instantly with people who move to make dreams real despite obstacles. Amanda arrived here with her baby, Milo, and baby genius Mom, Phyllis. Every few hours, Milo and Phyllis would appear at the door so Milo could be fed. The course would not have been the same without them. I could write a page about how beautiful, grounded, supportive, and stabilizing Phyllis’ presence was for all of us in that week. Allow me to introduce these beautiful people whom I hold so dear. Here are Amanda’s beautiful Dark Autumn Mom and baby, Season yet unknown.


Before the course, I say to students that I hope they have been analyzed into several different Seasons. I hope that they have encountered great difficulties in getting the previous PCA to work for them. Only then can they be sensitive to the many kinds of support that will help their clients in those moments. By having traveled this road, Amanda brings the following to her client,

I definitely have a heart for anticipating those who are a bit unexpected in their palettes, and figuring out how to be of service to them. I want to make sure I also address apparent warmth/coolness/hue to their skin’s overtone, as well as anything notable about eye/hair color, and clarity/mutedness within their season… painting a unique masterpiece with each person in that season.

It is exciting when women of Amanda’s generation join the PCA industry. In bringing science-backed, evidence-based colour analysis to their communities, they become role models and advocates for modern methods, equipment, and belief systems that have taken giant strides forward, even in the past year.  From the moment we met and still today, one word resonates in my head about Amanda as a person and as a colour analyst: brilliant.



From Amanda,

Hi! I wish I could sit down with each one of you and chat over coffee or tea, but as we are such a geographically diverse group, this will have to do, right? Here’s my story of discovering my colors, and finding myself a certified color analyst in the process!

I was first introduced to the concept of four season color analysis through my mom’s Color Me Beautiful book, which I stumbled upon in elementary school. I felt an instant connection to the idea that different people should wear different colors, even as a kid, being a very visually sensitive person. My precocious young self determined that with my pinkish fair skin, light blue eyes, and blond hair, I had to be a Summer. I struggled with insecurities about my physical appearance as I fumbled through adolescence, as so many of us do, and I never felt like I had much “oomph” in the Summer colors that I tried to wear- but figured in my teenaged despondency that I was just a person without much pizzazz anyway.

During my later years of high school and increasingly throughout my time in college, I became more exploratory with what I wore, including with colors, and the color analysis concept gradually faded from my mind. As a college student, I loved going to local thrift stores and discount shops, stretching my meager income to come up with creative outfits for school, social events, and dates. I dyed my hair several times in tones from red to brown, and even to black, and probably had multiple outfits from each of the 12 seasons! I did notice that unfortunate things would happen to my skin when I wore extremely muted colors, so I learned to avoid those.

Fast-forward a few years- I’d gotten married to the love of my life, and had quit my full-time office job to stay home with our firstborn, and for some reason color analysis popped back into my head. Maybe I was needing to feel more centered while dealing with a child in the terrible twos! Google led me to Christine’s website, and I was intrigued to learn that the four season concept had been expanded into a twelve-tone system by some who found it a more accurate way to analyze human coloring. I read everything I could about what had been going on in color analysis during my many years of hiatus! I eventually became convinced that the 12 season approach, particularly the Sci Art method, made a lot of sense, offering a visual precision and objectivity that deeply appealed to me.


Here I am with my hubby and our sons. My husband is a True Winter, and he loves pictures in black and white- makes sense to those of us who are color geeks, right?

At that point, there were two things that I knew I needed to do. First, I needed to have a PCA to experience it for myself and figure out which season I was (I know many of you reading have felt that pull!). Second, I knew that it might be a possible career option for me, as I had long been interested in doing something professionally that required visual precision and artistry. My PCA appointment finally came, and my husband and I traveled a couple of hours together to a Sci Art analyst. I went into it guessing that I could be a Light Summer, but had the eye-opening experience of discovering that I was a Bright Winter. I left the appointment feeling convinced of the result, but also quite shocked! I was thrilled to finally know my colors, and found a lot of new clothing and makeup that felt great to wear, but I did hit a couple of speed-bumps in adjusting to my palette. As I shopped for new outfits, I found it difficult to get the visual balance right, being a somewhat light-haired and light-eyed person with a palette containing a lot of dark colors. I also felt off in many of the prints and garment lines that I would find in Bright Winter colors, which felt discouraging. Born out of this dilemma, I began looking into the concepts of body types and body lines, and began to suspect that therein was my answer. Around the same time, Christine began to post about color and body lines frequently on her blog, to my great delight! I saw Sci Art color analysis working so well for many people, and found the science behind it to be very sound, so I decided that I would look into training with Christine if she ever opened the opportunity, knowing she had the expertise to help me resolve my questions before sending me out to help people with theirs.

Lo and behold, I was six months pregnant with my second child when I heard that Christine was beginning to offer training. I treasure the memory of sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops with my husband, and opening my laptop in front of my already quite pregnant tummy to discover the news. He reached over and told me I had to do it- what a keeper! Along with my husband’s support, I received a lot of encouragement from family and friends as I made plans for my new venture. I think they were all relieved that I was finally doing something with color analysis, after a couple of years of talking their ears off about it! I decided to make the trip from my home in Southern California to Canada when my youngest son would be about six months old, and my mom agreed to come with me so I could bring the baby to training, which is one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.


On the plane!

Our unlikely trio made it safely to Canada in August 2013, and thus began one of the most intense but fulfilling weeks of my life. Although we as students had read an extensive training manual before arriving, nothing could compare to actually doing PCA’s with a woman who has dedicated a great deal of her time, energy, and notable intellect to becoming one of the world’s experts in this field. My fellow student and I learned to see for ourselves the subtle skin reactions and definition of facial features on which PCA hinges, while simultaneously developing our right-brained, gut reaction to the whole picture of the client in front of us. Not only were we acquiring the skill to get the season right, we also were experiencing the very human side of PCA, with each client bringing their own unique beauty and story to tell. I went into training suspecting that I might fall in love with this PCA thing, but I underestimated how deeply it would affect me to actually meet people and be a small part of their stories. I cling to the belief that humans have inherent dignity and worth, and here I was, learning a fascinating way to affirm that each person is worth something, just as they are. Sure, we are just talking about colors here, but if I know one thing about humans, it’s that we’re complicated. Sometimes an indirect approach can play a part in getting the message through to us that we really do matter.

Lest I leave you hanging, Christine did help me with my questions. I didn’t tell her the result of my first draping, and during my PCA with her, which also resulted in Bright Winter, I made sure I could embrace the result without a single doubt left in my mind. Christine provided a helpful objective voice not only in helping me see myself as a Bright Winter, but also by affirming my suspicions about my physical delicacy, curviness, and gentle appearance, which just couldn’t gel with a lot of my shopping finds. I started to accept that, for example, dark matte lipsticks and very linear patterns or shapes don’t make visual sense on me even when they match my palette, because of my body lines. Each of us has our own way to use the colors in our palette, and it will be as individual as our fingerprints, voice, and laugh.

Since I’ve been home, I have settled into how I fit in the Bright Winter palette with a great deal of enjoyment, and I am very passionate about helping my clients understand how they fit uniquely into their palettes too. To serve my color clients who desire greater understanding of their body lines and development of their personal style, I am currently building a stylist portfolio and can customize a style appointment upon request (in-person only). Keep your eyes out for my style blog featuring a 12 season approach to fashion- it’s in the works! I have seen almost 30 PCA clients since I was certified, and I am so thrilled to be able to offer color analysis in my community. I believe that this is a service that can benefit everyone, and I hope it becomes something as standard as getting a haircut! Self-knowledge is so powerful in both internal and external matters, and sometimes a gain on one of those sides of the equation affects the other side positively too. Being attuned to which colors enhance your unique personal power and attractiveness is a confidence boost that we all can use. Becoming a more informed and selective shopper with a wardrobe you love sure doesn’t hurt either!


Thank you so much for reading this. Being a part of the color community has been life-changing for me, and each one of you adds something special to the ongoing conversation of understanding our colors and ourselves. Thank you as well to my husband, family, and friends- I wouldn’t be writing any of this without the way you’ve cheered me on.

Here is some practical info for those who are in my area. My studio is located in my home in Southern California, convenient for clients in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego, as well as surrounding counties. My standard PCA appointment offers:

-a few opening questions from me about you and what brings you in as a client

-an intro to PCA and the color theory behind it

-a color analysis in the Sci Art method as taught by Christine Scaman, using official 12 Blueprints test drapes

-makeup application and tutorial for female clients, discussing colors as well as finish, and how to enhance your own unique features with your palette

-photo opportunity with drapes and color fan

-discussion of shopping with your color fan, including color harmonizing, swatching makeup, and how to determine if a pattern works with your palette

-conversation about any factors about your coloring that may influence your individual use of the palette

-time for questions- this is your opportunity to ask about anything from hair color, to the lipstick and dress you already bought for an upcoming event (I have had clients bring in items that they have burning questions about, which I welcome!)

-follow-up support with outfit ideas in your palette sent via Pinterest, as well as my continuing availability through email

My website is amandarobertscolor.com, and email is amandarobertscolor at gmail.com. My website also connects to my Pinterest and Instagram accounts for my business if you’d like to follow me. I have boards for each of the 12 seasons on Pinterest. I welcome your questions, and look forward to hearing from you if I can be of service in any way!




Science, beauty, truth. Transformational results.