Uniform Dressing for 12 Seasons

My thanks to J. whose question inspired this post.

J: I appreciate your blog a lot and would love to see you do a post on “uniform” ideas for the different seasons.  “Uniform dressing” is pretty popular right now (see for example http://www.racked.com/2014/11/20/7567861/uniform-dressing

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/) but it seems that most people’s ideas about uniforms are black and white (good for winters, but not for a cool summer like me).  I’d love to read your take on something like this!

C: Is this idea is to create each Season’s consistent, best neutral background, and change the accessories as desired? The background might be what reads as B&W on each colouring, or might be something else if that looks better? Or do we stick with the B&W equivalent as the background, for this post to have most value to women’s understanding of ‘uniform dressing’?

J’s reply, in which I am now fully on board:

J: I think that the idea behind uniform dressing (especially since it is usually done for work) is to create a versatile outfit (meaning that it is appropriate for almost any work-related situation) that conveys authority.   Authority is especially important for women, more so than for men.  Also, a certain lack of fussiness with clothing while still maintaining a sense of what is appropriate hits that sweet spot of “I know how to dress for my job, but I’m so busy doing great work I don’t have time to pay a lot of attention to creating a new outfit every day.”  These are the reasons that I think black and white are usually appealing for this kind of uniform dressing– black, especially, is thought to be always appropriate and authoritative but somehow still creative and artistic (read: entrepreneurial)!  It is interesting to note that people in caring professions (nurses, counselors– note: traditionally feminine kind of roles) don’t often develop their own personal uniform.  For these folks, either a uniform is given (and pastels are understood to be not only completely okay but preferred!) or not thought of.  I really think that a lot of this comes down to managing gendered expectations and thinking through what it means to be “feminine” or “masculine”.  Uniforms in themselves, especially personal uniforms, communicate a certain “male” approach to dressing– this can be strategic for women to use sometimes in certain settings.

C: Brilliant explanation. This is getting more and more attractive as a post, your words placing it suddenly among my top translation interests for dressing: the story we tell others.

 

Uniform Dressing 1 Cool Whites

 

 

I asked a man what he thought of women wearing the same clothing, or clothing theme, to work every day. He said,

“Finally, someone got onto it.”

He has a point. It is not our responsibility to produce a fashion parade at work.

Women would notice and judge. Great work wear gets brownie points with women because that’s who sees it and cares. Men might notice but won’t judge because they dress this way anyhow. Is there a man alive who would say, I think she wore that skirt to last year’s annual meeting? Therefore, they also don’t hand over any authority or admiration for how organized we are.

Otoh, Uniform Dressing could devolve into an escape hatch that spells visual boredom for the rest of us. Boredom reads as unimaginative, not a good signal to send anywhere. I admit that if I worked with a woman who showed up in the same outfit every day, I would think,

“You have no idea what to wear and you’re tired of trying to figure it out. I know some super good shortcuts. I can connect you with some really good people. I’m here for the asking.”

In a web Search of Uniform Dressing, I kept running into the phrase “staring at my closet wondering what to wear”. Why? Two years after PCA&PIA, you have so much good stuff, the choice is only hard because you look great in any of it. I keep entire outfits in Ziplocs, accessories and all, flip them in and out of suitcases like Frisbees. Speed and organization are everything with me. The “Staring at my closet…” line would put in my head,

“You have no clean clothes. You haven’t done laundry in a week and don’t plan on doing any for another week.”

After the Search, my overall take on Uniform Dressing was,

“You’re walking by the chance to tell me so much more about yourself (and give me reasons to give you more money).”

Not giving up yet. There is definite merit to the idea.

Despite its apparent simplicity, successful uniform dressing is not a decision to take lightly. For both men and women, the uniform should have a great deal of planning assigned to it, much more so than if the outfit changed every day, which would be less of a declaration. In the reverse psychology of humans, a uniform actually draws more attention to itself.

Colours were once necessary for our survival and still influence every human able to see them. Warm and sweet to look at, a Spring coloured person dressed in Autumn colours look like she’s wearing furniture. She looks either child-like or conflicted. In many cases, close enough is still 1000% better than we used to look. Arriving into your main Season palette is a huge wardrobe step forward. Even with similar colours, Spring wearing Autumn khaki can look like she’s going paintballing – which could work on certain Natural archetypes in certain job situations.

Warm and strong to look at, Autumn coloured people wearing Spring coloured clothes look dressed from the kids’ department, and more mannish. The clothing is a tilt-a-whirl that reads ditzy or frivolous, the absolute last thing you want to express at work. When I analyze colouring, I’m looking for the colours that allow the face to be calm and steady. I can’t think of any job where one would choose a different expression.

Work clothes do what we wish our business card would. Your appearance is telling me what you’re selling me. None of us have any choice about this. Until I decide if I’m buying your story or your product, I’m looking for visual backup. Personal opinion, Casual Fridays are a mistake, or an opportunity few seem to take.

Have we not all been on websites that sounded interesting till we spotted the person? Leveraging that first five seconds impression is a bigger deal-breaker than a business card, a logo, a business name, and all sorts of other things that are glanced at, put in a contact file, and generally forgotten.

White seems the most obvious choice for daily wear, to minimize reaction to clothing. I can’t talk about all-black. It is too uninspiring to consider on anyone. All-black is a clothing cop-out, the equivalent of clothing for camouflage. All-black is as dated as Generic Corporate Formula wear, which I do not believe any workplace requires. We look like bulky, frazzled women under the control of outside influences. Never compromise your You-ness, it’s the best thing you got.

I like looking at alpha-female clothes, not that this style is necessary in every job situation. If you’ve made it, who cares? Nana Mouskouri can wear any glasses she wants, giant beetles if she feels like it. The minute she opens her mouth, she transports the room to wherever she chooses. For those of us still striving, don’t give anybody a reason to eye roll when you’re not there.

I’ll be sticking with separates, though many would prefer a dress, perfectly fine. Pants or skirts need not be shown with white tops because let’s be honest, Winter will buy black, Autumn will be in dark brown, Summer in gray, and Spring…Spring neutrals are not so easily found but they do exist. Yellow-green grays are Spring’s, in comparison to Autumn’s which have less obvious clear yellow content. Let me show you some grays, as approximately as this medium permits.

 

Uniform Dressing 3 Grays in Season Groups

 

 

Not sure about Season with neutral colours? Scrunch up the fabric and look down in the folds, in daylight if possible. Lighting makes an enormous difference because it’s light that makes colour in the first place. If too much yellow is going in, too much yellow is coming out, amplified if the fabric is shiny. The feeling of a strong yellow (not necessarily a lot of it though), along with shine of fabric, moves many colours into the 5 Winter groups, for instance the bottom right blouse.

Winning Uniform Dressing is a new challenge. You’ve decided to go for it. OK, I’m with you. We are not at work to be Friended or Liked, agreed with, supported, or loved. Shared maybe. With my usual emphasis on clarity of purpose, we are there to be hired, re-hired, and referred. Those are the reasons, the only reasons, for the wardrobe.

Once hired, then we can do good in the world. Being hired is the playing field by which we have opportunity to share our gifts, enrich the lives of others, and give back more than we take. Being hired is the ticket to the training ground on which we grow inside and innovate outside.

Knowing your white might be the biggest payoff to having your colouring analyzed if you happen to be an Autumn, on whom wearing white every day is a series of unfortunate events – therefore the absence of white-white in the Warm Whites panel below. Want a good way to tell Dark Autumn from Dark Winter colouring? White. Pick beige or gray instead. In stores, that’s 7 beiges in 10. When Autumn gets her colours right, no colouring conveys capable strength better. She looks like she can take on anything, gorgeous and fearless.

PCA is a big payoff for Springs. Life is so much better when she knows her ivory and cream because she will put down money for a lot of it. Spring manages the lightness of white better than Autumn but she is certainly not at her best. She is not given many beiges and grays by stores. She could wear a small number of Autumn beiges, like the turtleneck marked *1 in the Warm Whites group, but why? Ivory quite literally illuminates her from within. Her pores go away, the skin is smooth as cream, the eyes sparkle.  It is easy to find. If you scrunch up her whites and look in the folds, imagining what colour the fabric would be if you concentrated it more, you would see versions of peach and egg yolk, as the blouse top row centre.

See the *2 shirt in the Warm Whites board? Might be fine in either row.  It has a very slight pink tinge that puts Soft Summer thoughts in my head too. I couldn’t place this one without having it in hand.

 

Uniform Dressing 2 Warm Whites

 

 

Then you decide you’ve had it to here with your dry cleaning bill, collars now tattooed with permanent makeup, and the steady stream of packages containing your-white shirts arriving at your door.

Here is what I would do. Keep changing the story. Pick a theme and develop it over 2 years. Co-workers would be looking at the door every morning to see what you’re wearing today. Keep people engaged. Among the top 3, the only 3, things I care about if I’m hiring is imagination – tell that story too.

Clearly, the uniform theme is getting shaky, but the colours are still neutral-based. I’ve grouped Neutral Seasons with their True Seasons throughout this post, where each Neutral Season could choose a colour scheme to repeat every day. Dark Autumn might go with gray/rust/teal or caramel/brown/black, having it in different garments and designs. How tight you want it is your choice. You can tell that I’m dressing different body types. For yourself, image archetype would remain consistent in every style.

Uniform Dressing 4 Warm Prints

 

 

Why more colour in the Warms compared to the Cool Prints coming later? Because the heat of the colouring looks so good with a lot of colour activity, the whole Circle of Life thing, ‘The sun rolling high through the sapphire sky…’ The music heats up, ‘Far too much to take in here…more to do than can ever be done.” Warm colouring is not a Zen Garden (Summer) or a Fjord (Winter) to look at.

Can we move away from white? High maintenance and a waiter feel. If I had to pick one colour family that is spectacular on every colouring when it’s right, I’d choose blue-green. Green can be gross, oh boy, yes it can, but its greatness can be hard to beat.

Green is the complement to the colour of blood. When we choose the right green for our own reds, others’ awareness of our human presence is sharp, heightened, sounding the “I am here.” signal. Plentiful in stores for all Seasons, blue-green is also hard to beat in professional situations as the colours of Nature and money. It is appropriate and civilized. Below, with the odd could-not-resist, like periwinkle for Spring.

 

Uniform Dressing 5 Blue Greens

 

 

Patience was my magic word for the first 6 months of this year. It switched to Perspective back around May. Some general ideas about what the rest of us will tire of seeing each day:

  1. The same print, design, or picture. Like a screen that’s frozen, anyone under 70 will open a new window in 5 seconds or less. Unless it’s black, in which case the eye is desperate for something to do.

If you insist on black, transform it to be interesting. Eyes like something fun to do. When eyes are happily busy, their person is receptive and ready to listen. When the appearance just gets better the longer you look, as colour-analyzed appearances do, there’s no incentive to stop looking. If anything, the viewer thinks, “I see that investing time in you is rewarding. What else you got?”

Once again, the changing story, this time in cool colours.

 

Uniform Dressing 6 Cool Prints

 

 

  1. Take care with lace or ruffles, however Yin you are or which designer is on the label. Grownup ruffles or lace could be ok, but nothing that says, “I can wear this because I’m a girl.” Sounds too much like, “I can wear this because I’m having a hormone day.” As if we need help from ourselves to be written off as emotionally loose, besides which nobody knows or cares. If you only ever see women clients, managed bows and decorations are fine. If you’re a grief counselor, different decisions are needed. We want, “I know what suits me. If I can make good decisions for me, I can make them for you. Let’s get to work.”
  2. Statement anything. If you need a signature item, keep it contained, like a bracelet or ring. Don’t let it anywhere near your face, especially as eyeglasses where we have no choice but to keep negotiating with them when we are trying to reach you, unless eccentricity is part of the game plan. Signature pieces often overshoot or undershoot. Frankly, I think Jackie O. could have done much more with her pearls. Don’t give people a reason to giggle. Getting taken seriously is hard enough and been a long time coming.
  3. Logos, however Bright you are, even if it’s Prada. They take attention away from the job. The viewer goes off task and on outfit. Women might notice, men won’t care, and labels don’t get us hired more.
  4. What looks cute on you, however Gamine you are. The client walking in, seeing a woman sitting behind the desk, doesn’t know or care how she looked a year ago or anything about archetypes and colours. She wants a problem solved, right now, today. Clients can only compare us to the world at large in that moment they decide to hand over trust and responsibility. Every archetype has great work outfits to look like competent adults.
  5. No tight. Fitted is fine, but no clingy. Naturals, wear your size so the rest of us can breathe.
  6. No cleavage, however Romantic or YinDramatic you are, never ever, not 1 mm, nevermind what somebody said in a fashion book. Cleavage is for the bar, the beach, the stage, or, like the ultimate graphic T, maybe a picnic or shopping day if you’re under 25. An inverse relationship exists between skin and power. I’m just here to keep it real so here I go: Men are hard wired in what might be Nature’s built-in self-destruct button. As it says so nicely in SuperFreakonomics, [Men want more sex than they can get for free, since the beginning of time, everywhere in the world.] This will not change. Even women are distracted. Take the bull’s eye off your body. Let’s get to work.
  7. Caution about yellow. Many people have a high awareness of it, even disturbance from it.

 

Work is self control as much as crowd control. In that sense, Uniform Dressing fits the bill.

 

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Lipsticks for Naturals in 12 Seasons

Naturals has two meanings in this post: Natural image archetypes (IA) or to achieve a no-makeup, natural look.

I enjoyed this article about the psychology of fitness clothing, in a bigger picture of how our clothing choices inform others about who we are. Those choices are informing us as well. Like haircuts with a shape that works with our head, clothes that are built for our body help us sit up a little straighter. “Enclothed cognition” applies to makeup too.

The point is made of not changing too much, too fast. That new hair colour or lipstick might be fabulous but not only are we not yet ready to see it, we are not ready to be it. In the early days after learning your Season, I often want to advise the client to do nothing for a week or a month except absorb the label, the palette, and the online resources that will gradually unlock a world of meaning for her.

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We can create our own futures on our own terms with patience and clarity about what we want. The future being where I live, this question helps me gauge my appearance on days when it matters:

What conversations do I want to be having tomorrow, with whom, and regarding what? Am I dressed for that? Am I behaving for that? Exercising for that? Reading for that? Would I choose or hire me to represent the me that I truly know myself to be? Would they even be close?

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There’s one other question to ask: What am I willing to do?

Naturals can feel love/hate about makeup. They don’t like the clutter to carry around, the stuff on their face that closes them in, the added steps to getting ready, and the implication that we’re not good enough as we are. These are all valid reactions that nobody would disagree with.

Every woman who wears makeup had to get over all that or stay exactly where she is today. Saying, “I want to look put together but I don’t want to do anything any different.” cannot happen. There is no right or wrong, just clarity about what you want and are willing to do.

Have you read Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth? In the most conversational voice, with very honest emotion, and the sympathy possible from one who’s been there, Roth talks about eating as a means of deflecting other problems. Among the very real advice is that same question: What are you willing to do?

Appearance is the visual language of potential and potency. Others pick up on it like they pick up on posture. Great makeup, which ranges from subtle to strong, signals possibility. I react differently when I sit across the table from a professional woman, or any woman, wearing good makeup and one wearing no makeup, far more influential than what her clothing cost.

If I drew my life on a timeline, many of the important sightings of what I could expect from myself were coincident with appearance changes that brought my real self into view. Those were the breakthrough times. Once I could see myself clearly, I finally knew what I could do. Presumably from the reaction, others see it to, indeed long before I ever did. Our ultimate and truest self is like a little person sitting at the centre of one of those maze games that has multiple entry points, of which appearance is most definitely one.

This article at Quartz is about ‘vanity capital’, what we spend on looks and how to measure it.  If you hear that the appearance industry (including PCA) is alive and well, you would not be wrong. The POV leans to a definition of appearance as a form of showing off, also not wrong, qualifying that by saying showing off is not utterly superficial.

Appearance choices are symbolic (the wedding ring). They are a language that speaks to other members of our species. They also speak back to us, as “self-actualization through self-improvement and self-focus”. A new generation of colour analyst exists in the world today, women who instinctively know all of this. They seek the training because they are already aware that enabling this deeper connection with self through colour is fundamentally what they want to share.

Whether you want makeup or not is up to you. Make your choices for the right reasons.  I do not lie, ever, not to you, and I’m even harder on me.  Humans convince themselves too easily that they don’t want or like a thing when raw honesty would admit that the thing is simply intimidating. Don’t wonder or wish about makeup. It is too easy to make this one come true. There are so many of us here to help you.

When I begin a colour analysis, I reassure the client that she has only two tasks. The first is the most important: To pretend that she doesn’t know the woman in the mirror. No doubt the woman carries around beliefs about her appearance as all women do, but we don’t know what they are any more than we know the beliefs of the woman walking past the window.  A degree of detachment makes for a good colour analyst. Just see what you see. Then decide, this one or that one? Who do you want others to meet when they shake your hand? Of which face could you expect what you want to achieve in this day, in this year?

(The second task is to remember that it’s all a bit of an illusion, a trick of light and our visual systems, albeit real and powerful illusion that we can use to our advantage or disadvantage, another choice.)

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The Bright Season Natural

We were inspired to write this for the Bright Season woman who feels better in a Natural look. Rachel is posting today with clothing suggestions and tips for The Winter Natural, The Natural Winter. For the makeup, we thought we might offer natural look for the women of all 12 Seasons.

Whom are we meeting?

Between the Bright Season and the Natural archetype, she feels enough conflict to disown one or the other.

She knows she doesn’t want to look like it’s cleaning day but explicitly does want to look safe. That is her good and conscious choice. She has sidestepped the makeup by wearing sheer colours but they don’t have the effect she wants. Next Q: What does safe look like to you?

The client’s job is to tell the analyst what she does want. Part of the information gathering before the PCA begins, after she has described where the problems lie, is to understand, “What is your vision for yourself?” We can’t know what you want unless you tell us. Since ‘vision of yourself’ is too big and abstract, bring a picture of the look you want to achieve today. Saying what we want is the hardest thing but it matters. Others will almost always guess wrong if we give them no other option.

I asked Rachel this woman’s vision for herself.

“She might be a hippie or want to be seen that way, effectively. Someone who is really conscientious, not interested in status, the rat race, etc. Drives a jeep from the late 90s. Grows her own vegetables and has a chicken coop. She wants to feel confident in how she looks, without changing those other things about her that are really important to her. She will wear makeup but is not willing to have it be noticeable. Is there a way not to worry about her recognizing herself? Is it possible to find cosmetics for the Bright Season woman that still have her feeling like herself?”

Just because she drives a Jeep does not imply that she doesn’t have sophistication. She may be highly educated, widely read, the aunt that the nieces and nephews in the family go to for advice, serve at the women’s shelter twice a week, and hike in the Andes every year. She is strong, accomplished, and generous. The face she would like to speak for her is a little more defined, a little more cleaned up, without anyone knowing she’s wearing makeup.

Eye makeup is a breeze. Eye liner and mascara, gray and black if you are a Bright Season. The mascara part if easy to find. Eye liner is a little harder but your analyst can suggest one or knows where to ask. If you have time for eyebrows, good. It will help you. Just do it every day. Don’t negotiate with yourself any more than you negotiate about whether you feel like brushing your teeth. In 2 weeks, you’ll feel odd if you leave that step out.

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Makeup Colours and Online Recs

Spring at any level can be the person who thinks best outside the box. Thinking inside the box is a strain. Rules can frustrate them, causing them to feel trapped or the need to oppose something. It’s the rule they’re resisting, not the subject that the rule is addressing. To insinuate that Winter-influenced faces look better with makeup or that more of it looks healthier with age sounds like a rule.

Here is where the natural tendency to refuse to go along with anything that feels like a box is a huge advantage. When it comes to online makeup lists, deploy it at full strength.

As Terry says, outward appearances in any Seasons lie on a bell curve. You have the medium people who look like the descriptions, wear makeup and clothing quite predictably, and are easy to imagine reacting to colour as their PCA result suggests. Thing is, the curve is tall and skinny in the center. Then, it stays wide and flat for ages before coming back to the baseline and transitioning into the next Season.

More than half of the people in any Season are out at the sides. They don’t look like the middle group, though they do respond to colour in the same way – because that’s what PCA is. Nevermind about what you look like just standing there, it won’t connect you with the visual transformation possible. Colour analysis is a reaction in real time. Switching the colour under a face is like stretching an elastic and letting go. Something happens in 5 seconds or less. That something is the event that the analyst interprets to know your Season, your group of the 12 natural colouring categories. The reaction remains once the 5 seconds are up but our visual system adapts to it. You get the read when the colours switch.

When it comes to makeup, not even women in the center of the curve react predictably – which is why using cosmetic to determine Season can be pointless.

Maybe that’s too inclusive and too vague. Rephrase: Using 12 Blueprints cosmetics to determine Season is a waste of time. The colours were selected all along the bell curve. There is no colour that suits every person. For some women, not one of the colours for their Season is striking. For others, they all are. Most women will find something gorgeous in the group, but certainly not all of them. There is no cosmetic, no analyst’s drape, hair colour, or anything else that is the very best on every woman in any Season. As a reality check, hoping for that is either wishful thinking or willful blindness, not sure which.

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Small Gives, Big Gets

Much of this could apply to the young Bright Season also.

Tinted moisturizer is as hard to put on as sunscreen, feels no different on the face, and makes a world of difference, youth, and health for the skin. Self-adjusting sheer foundation (eg, Almay Smart Shade) and BB creams can be great too.

Draw in enough eyebrows so they do something. This is beyond easy. You will not look fake if you ask your colour analyst to help you.

Allow one pretty thing just because you are a girl.

Rustic is not how Brights do Natural. Not in makeup colours, not in jewelry. If it reads Cheyenne, Marlboro, Santa Fe, etc., your money could be better spent. This is Rachel’s department and I comment only according to my taste, but no matter how N you are, you do not look like the log cabin. What would you hang on the wall of a beach house? What colours would you paint the walls? What is the furniture made of? Are there rugs?

Charcoal eyeliner, waterproof so it doesn’t smear during the day. The industry makes many of these. Your analyst can help or she can ask one of the makeup geniuses in our group, who can pull this information from the top shelf of their brains in a split second.

Black mascara with a normal application, not Mega Venus Lashes or Deep Space Black.

Lipstick in sheer colours. Will you need to reapply? Yes. Annoying. Try a matte colour with a balm over top. Modern formulations are remarkably stay-put and comfortable.

Don’t get talked into hair colour. It is usually not great on Brights, especially over 40. Your own hair is so much better, unparalleled once it lies against your new clothing colours. Hair colour is costly to fix and not easy to grow out.

A little bronzer, especially on Bright Spring is lovely on Natural faces. This purchase does need care and education, so for sure, have your analyst connect you with the right product. Autumn bronzer will be dipping your makeup brush in dirt. Many Brights can do without, for instance an Asian face, a pink/blue/silver- looking Bright Spring, or the very fair Scandinavian face.

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MLBB

Finding My Lips But Better is essentially solving the same puzzle that faces the Natural woman who wants a minimal lip look.

All colourings, even Softs, even Natural Softs, need life in their lips. Nude lips, beige lips, gray lips, what for? They might be pretty enough as a swatch on canvas, a Pin of an 18-year-old face, or a magazine ad treated to the miracle that is Photoshop, engineered for you to notice the lipstick and nothing else. These have nothing to do with the rest of us.

How often do you stare at lips except in pictures? Never. We defocus more than that to take in a whole head. For an effective mouth, or mouth colour, we want to look in the eyes and have the mouth in our awareness. The mouth brings balance, shape, and definition to the entire bottom half of the head. The lower half of the face can’t balance the top half or do much of anything if it’s floating around in space. It also gives more substance and grounding to the words that come out of the mouth.

Without lips, if the viewer perceives a blank space in that area, it can look almost like a skeleton head when we smile and there are no lips. Put lips on the face the same as you put eyebrows on the face. Missing features are weird. Picture a face with one eye or no nose. Weird.

The MLBB recs here were not chosen to be naked or lip erasers. They were chosen to be where you begin and it’s up from here.

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Winter is Red

Of the ideas below, you might say, “Well gosh, these were supposed to be my lips but better. This colour you’ve given me is a lot redder or darker. Why do the other Seasons have colours that are nice and calm?”

Winter makeup is far from where the face begins, one of the many big distances that this group will travel with cosmetics. If makeup colour is wimpy, the natural pigmentation will turn it clear, or worse, gray. Red and violet are still your lips. The Season result confirms that those pigments are there.

Many Naturals feel comfortable adding one makeup item, usually lip colour or eyeliner. That can be fine for any of the 3 Summers, Springs, and Autumns. For the 3 Winter groups, the face risks losing balance. Even at the MLBB level, each addition can seem a lot more than the bare face until the additions are balanced.

The payoff is that a Winter woman does that Winter thing. The TV goes from the fuzzy B&W you had in college to what you watch today. Mom and friends are a little quieter when they see it, being emotionally invested in their previous image of you as a component of their image of themselves. The Natural thinks they’re staring at the makeup and pulls her baseball hat down lower till she can get the makeup washed off.

Without makeup, winter skin can seem quite bland. It may be a little gray or green-gray. The face doesn’t seem to have much energy or activity compared to the lively, sparkly, glowing, rosy, pretty Spring and Summer faces that just ran out to pick up milk and eggs. There is little or no natural blush in the cheek. The whole face can be quite red, an excessive flush, a red that only calms once the person wears Winter colours. The eye colour can be so much that the rest of the face might as well not be there, or nothing much till the right colours surround it. The natural pigmentation in the skin dulls other-Season clothing so the overall effect is even drabber. Natural lip colour can be almost the same as skin or so strong that lip products need a definite pigment deposit to just look normal. Then she applies the right makeup. And the ground shifts.

Dark Seasons can take dark cosmetic colour and seem to lighten it. They can take a medium colour that could make a lovely blouse and candy-fy it to become Miami Beach Coral. If they draw their normal&natural lipstick on a paper for you, you look up at their lips and say, “Really? That’s what you’re wearing? It looks so much darker on the paper!”

True Winter and True Summer lipsticks exist on a continuum. There is movement between them. The True Springs and Autumns are totally different in cosmetics, except perhaps the odd brown eyeliner. Autumns wear baked, tan, coppery, brick, and brown tones. Awful on all 5 Spring colourings, like smearing curry paste on the mouth. Fresh fruit juicy mixtures of peach, coral, orange, and clear red are the answer for Spring.

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Products

DO NOT BUY WITHOUT TRYING. THERE IS TOO MUCH VARIABILITY AMONG WOMEN IN ONE SEASON TO PREDICT THE OUTCOME OF ANY MAKEUP TRIAL. I KNOW YOU’RE TIRED OF READING THIS BUT I STILL GET EMAILS ABOUT ONLINE RECS NOT WORKING. BESIDES, I HAVE NOT SEEN MOST OF THESE ON ONE LIVING BEING.

1. Gray lips look dead and concealer lips look like chalk, or greasy chalk, dry and wet papier mache,  if gloss is added. Summer lip colours might look a little greyish next to Winter colours, but so what, it’s not a Winter face that’s going to wear them. When seen next to their palette or person, they become highly colourful and very energized. For instance Lancôme Rose des Cygnes for Soft Summer, Bare Minerals Raise the Bar, Or Bare Escentuals Pop of Passion in Lip Oil-Balm in Rose Pop (may also work on True Summer).

While Soft Summer is flattered by some darkness, there is a definite upper limit. They are  Summers, after all and one of the hallmarks of that group is light, as in light-cool-soft. Lightness is the thing they have in common with Spring. For Soft Summer, picture holding the True Summer colours in the shade. What happens? Colours would darken, and importantly, they would mute. The reds would not look as red. The blues would be less blue.

That combination of darkening and losing some pigment concentration towards the gray scale is what Soft Summer wears so beautifully. Some Soft Summers wear darkness fairly easily, and some at fairly high saturation, just as there are some fabric colours that are a little beyond the Soft Summer palette in darkness and saturation. What made them not-Winter was that Winter colours drained the fabric and noticeably took over. If the line is really fine, the fabric is often given to Winter because I’d rather see the woman than her shirt. If it’s that hard to tell, does it really matter IRL, enough to pass up the purchase? No. For most Soft Summers, the end of the palette is the darkness max and requires that the colour be noticeably muted.

2. For any lipstick in any Season, if you have a colour that you feel works well but is too heavy or opaque, ask the sales staff to match it in a sheer stick or gloss. They are surprisingly good at it. Stay towards the middle of your palette – but stay with the palette as much as possible. For Bright Spring, get a sample of Dior Fireworks. Also look at Bare Escentuals Oil-Balm in Pink Pop. Don’t wear Light Spring lipstick if possible, which looks weak, why spend money for that, or use it as an entry point and graduate to your own level asap.

3. Play with the similarities between Seasons. Neither True Winter or True Summer should spend any valuable time searching for a beige, brown, or skin coloured lipstick. Your MLBB is a version of violet because your lip colour is violet. Both Seasons could wear Urban Decay Sheer Lady FLower, and also Obsessed for True and Light Summer. Bare Escentuals Plumberry Pop is worth looking at for any Winter and True Summer. The 12 Blueprints Cosmetics have just been intro’d through your colour analysts. For True Summer, Transcending is the one light one, Supreme the deeper one.

As scary as it looks on paper, red can disappear into Winter coloured faces. True Winter looking for a healthy, red lip that isn’t jumping red could try Lancome 335 Framboise Etoile.

True Summer looking for a healthy soft red lip? Lancome Lip Lover 353 Rose Gracieuse (different name in US, this is it in Canada), also a pretty cool coral for Light Summer. She’s purple and violet, this girl, not nearly red as Winter is.

4. The Light Spring can wear versions of beige very nicely, as Lancome Lip Lover Beige Adage. YSL Rouge Pur Couture 7 is a nice peach beige for Light Spring, where 9 is a beauty of a colour for True and Light Spring. Dior 750 Rock and Roll for both Light Seasons. Buxom Mistress is quiet beige pink for Light Spring. Bare Escentuals Peach Pop is pretty.

5. True Spring has a lot of natural-ness about its colours and its feeling, related to a healthy, young, growing planet. With all the yellow, they do peach and golden beiges beautifully. Dior New Look is pink peach also for Light Spring, and 643 Dior Diablotine is a subdued earthier peach beige for True Spring. NARS Niagara (and the bit redder Mercier Mango) is a natural orange, not a jellybean factory, still with the fresh energy a True Spring coloured person needs for vitality. Cover it with a golden gloss. For Springs, YSL Gloss Volupte 1. Bare Escentuals Tangerine Pop too.

6. Bright Winter is like Bright Spring in that the more colour she wears, the better she looks. I asked Rachel‘s advice since nobody I know embraces the BW lipstick spectrum so well. YSL Tint in Oil #5 is a good barely-there colour. Lancome Shine Lover 120 is also worth looking at.

7. Try colours from the lighter Neutral Season, choosing the darker ones if you’re Winter side borrowing from the Summer side, or lighter if v.v. After knowing my Season, it took me years to get out of darker Soft Autumn colours into my better home of warm Dark Winter red. Do I kick myself? Yes, a bit. When your colour analyst pushes you to wear your own Season colours, she is trying to save you time and money that you will want back later. Bright Spring might look at Urban Decay Sheer Streak, (sheer or not) which could work as a darker option on Light Spring.

8. Dark Seasons need to go pretty dark to have a mouth that balances eyes and hair. In the same way that jewelry that is light can be hard to see on them, whereas dark jewelry sits up beautifully, so can they wear darker lipstick than anyone else without having it look too dark. Sheer formulas feel more at home. Both Dark Seasons might love NARS Gypsy.

This colouring also wears opacity well – and wet shine less well, so if you feel dark and opaque colour make your lips look smaller, choose a bit less dark and metallic instead of a lot less dark and wet . Browns that are red enough to not look like dirt or food on Dark Autumn could be Urban Decay Rapture (both sheer or not), Fiend, and Manic. Dark Autumn, it’s 12 Blueprints Volcano.

Dark Winter can try UD Manic and Lancome Jolie Rosalie, a less saturated version of Smashbox Fig. Dark Seasons don’t really have much use for gloss. It can look oily because the skin doesn’t reflect light in that way. Shine via metallic flows better into the face. A very good natural mouth that lasts can be achieved by applying a lip, even a matte one, blot, reapply, blot.

My eyes see red as Winter’s neutral lip, a difference with Dark Autumn who wears browner flesh-tones well. 12 Blueprints True Brit is quite safe as warm, smoky reds go, my personal favourite. Saw a photo of it on analyst Cate Linden, a Dark Autumn. Swoon-beautiful in that very chic, Parisian way where lips look normal and always have.

Try a slightly lower intensity of your Season. Maybe the heat level and darkness are pretty good, you don’t want transparency or a wet look, but you would like to drop the intensity a bit. Dark Autumn could try Bare Minerals Get Ready (a new colour at Sephora in Canada).

9. Soft Autumn. Hourglass Fawn. Bare Minerals Speak Your Mind. Lancôme Rose Rendezvous. Bare Escentuals Nude Pop. Perhaps the easiest makeup shopping Season of all.

10. True Autumn. Bite Heather. NARS Toledo. An antique gold gloss makes everything look like a golden sunset. Sephora She Sparkles, maybe for evening, not on its own. Glitter lips feel disco to Naturals. Locate a sample of 12 Blueprints Grown Up (analyst list in the article introducing the makeup, linked just above the crocuses).

11. Light Summer: 12Blueprints Flowergirl. Bang on. If you’re searching for a heartbreakingly beautiful red, try 12 Blueprints. Come Dancing.

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Since it was a Bright Spring woman who inspired these posts, she has a couple of extras. When Bright Spring is ready to up her game, look at Hourglass Muse. When she is ready to up it even more, Marc Jacobs So Sofia is waiting.

Remember that photo of yourself that you brought to show your colour analyst? Copy it and stick it on every flat surface in your world. We move towards what we see and think about. Inside of a month, it will become your new normal. Whether you are wearing lipstick or not, you will always be able to recognize yourself.

 

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How PCA Has Changed

Those of us who read here have had the experience of saying the word Season pertaining to appearance and hearing, “Season?? That’s over, isn’t it?”

Of course, we know that Season is no more over than looking good or behaving well are over. What might be out of date is the database that person is working from.

Those of us with enough years under our belt have also heard, “Season?? What, like the time of year??” from a young, utterly blank face.

My reply often includes the statement, “It’s not what it used to be.”

Recently, a clever friend asked, “How did it used to be?”

Well, now that you ask…

Used to be, you’d be told a Season, maybe with drapes or maybe not, might take 20 minutes or 2 hours, maybe some makeup applied, and given a swatch book. Away you went to work out how to use it, and best of luck to you.

There is no industry or discipline on Earth that believes or practices what it did 10 years ago, let alone 30. Let alone 2, because it amazes me how much keeps changing. People bring their ideas and innovations every day. That’s a beautiful thing.

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I asked my colleague, fellow trainer, and co-drape creator, Terry Wildfong in Michigan for some background.

  1. When did you begin doing colour analysis?

1983 is when I began learning. In 1993, I began doing it for business.

A friend of mine who purchased the Color Me Beautiful book by Carole Jackson introduced me to color analysis and then had our colors done by CMB. I was so intrigued that I purchased the swatches for the other three seasons to compare them. In 1994, I studied through Color Me a Season by Bernice Kentner and began seeing clients.

Back in the four seasons, it was easier and simpler to do a PCA. I had only 8 drapes for each season and only four places they could go. If the client wasn’t a True (as we now call it and were relatively easy to determine), I had to put the client in the best season; namely, a color that didn’t yellow them too much or gray them too much.

I had a Summer who couldn’t wear the pinks, browns, and many other colors of that season, but I placed her in Summer because it was the best fit. I now understand she is a Soft Summer.

  1. Why did you train with Kathryn (Kalisz, Founder of Sci\ART)? That was in 2005, right? What convinced you?

After I found Kathryn’s website in 2004, I called her to discuss her system. We visited briefly, and I ordered her book. By reading Understanding Your Color, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. Not only learning about neutral seasons, but also the “science” of it all. None of the color systems I was familiar with explained how and why an analysis works…through science and human vision.

The science and knowledge of the neutral seasons made so much sense that I purchased all the drapes and equipment to begin again that same year.

I saw the great results and believed so much in the system that during my second visit with Kathryn when she mentioned she was looking for trainers, I was the first to jump in line in 2006. I couldn’t believe there could be another color system that was so right, so complete, so systematic, and so sensible. I still believe that to this day.

  1. How did you find the transition from 4 to 12 Seasons?

Not as easy as I would have thought with nearly 10 years of draping experience. In the prior systems, I had to place clients in one of four seasons. In order to do this, you needed to “clear the complexion.” What that meant at the time was if a client turned sallow yellow or red in one set of drapes, meaning the drapes were too warm, they were either Winter or Summer, depending on which set of those drapes were best. The warm seasons were overpowering for many clients because they were too warm, but warmer clients looked ghostly in the cool drapes, so one of the warm seasons they became.

I thought I could just purchase the drapes and everything would fall into place. Problem was…I really had no idea how to “see” the neutrals. I didn’t know what I was looking for. So I flew to see Kathryn in Connecticut twice in the Spring of 2005 for help.

  1. Are there additions or developments that you hope to see?

I would love to have professional cosmetologists get involved, either as analysts or consultants. Currently, Cosmetology and PCA don’t speak the same language. Getting the right hair color can be crucial to complete a client’s seasonal look.

I would call where we are now as being “Beyond Sci\ART,” meaning that Kathryn gave us the neutrals, the science, and the method that is the most innovative system to date. We would not change the basis of her method. As with all ideas, products, other knowledge, eventually there are areas to make improvements. I think Kathryn may have made some of the changes we did, had she been with us longer.

The system and method is still as Kathryn taught using all the steps and drapes. We’ve made two great changes so far. One was adding more drapes to the 12 Test sets, from three to six, for more in-depth comparisons. Another was moving from 12 to 16 Red Test drapes. By having all eight neutral seasons represented in the Red Test, it gives us more opportunity to fine-tune heat level.

The cost of training and materials has increased. When PCA was less expensive, many people thought it would be fun to be an analyst. Many people have trained over the years, but very few are still in business today. I believe that due to the higher cost of education and the dedication it takes for such rigorous training and client satisfaction, the students we are now training are more serious than ever before, seeing it as a business, not just a hobby. The curriculum we now teach is significantly more substantial and relevant than it’s ever been. I believe this is attracting more serious, competent students.

  1. What has changed for our clients?

In color analysis of the past, and even with Sci\ART, the client’s season was found, they were given a cosmetic makeover, and were handed their color fan. There wasn’t any talk of how to use it. “Here are the colors, go find how you wish to use them,” was pretty much all that was given. That was it. You were on your own.

In every system, there are more colors for each season than are on the color fans, but no one talked about how to find them. Kathryn said to see what harmonizes, but nothing specific of what that meant. Over some years, I developed a way to find those colors. I didn’t really realize it at the time though. “Harmonizing” the color fan is the best way to do this. Our students are taught how to do this so they can, in turn, teach their clients.

Many of our analysts now give clients documents about their season, their draping, and links to various on-line sources, even putting together client-specific Pinterest boards and Polyvore. There are cosmetic lists that can be shared. Some analysts even put together specific lists for their clients. Often, analysts have different levels of aftercare to keep in touch with the client to make sure they are happy and comfortable in their season.

The client receives so much more information and attention than ever, but they still must actively learn how to wear their palette.

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Comparing Sci\ART and 12 Blueprints Drapes

I hear noises about the 12 Blueprints drapes being somehow inferior to Sci\ART’s. I can only speak of my own drape sets. For those, it’s the other way round.

And still, the Sci\ART drapes represented the best system for colour analysis that existed. My car is different than 5 years ago. Computers coming off the line are different the one I bought 6 months ago. If the industry is alive, learning, and growing, it is changing.

We are often asked the differences between the two products. If people are forced to guess, they might come up with the wrong answer. Let me explain the differences.

Let me also emphasize that done correctly with Sci/ART or 12 Blueprints drapes, the analysis will result in the same Season in 19 people out of 20. Like when your computer’s operating system upgrades, right? 19 files out of 20 are unchanged. That last one is better too, once you get past the irritation and use it for a while.

I would have no problem going back to my original Sci\ART drapes. I still teach with the original Red Test colours for the first draping model or two. Every analyst must learn her own drapes. Which are cooler in their position? Which are more saturated in that Season? Which are similar to another distant Season? Thinking that every set will hit the dead center of every dimension of every Season is unrealistic. Colour is a fluid entity.

In my original drape sets, purchased in May 2009, 2 or 3 colours were duplicated between Seasons over the approx. 80 testing drapes, and a few more, maybe 6, among the 180 Luxury drapes. Why would drapes have been placed in Seasons that seemed to have different colour dimensions?

When Terry and I began creating drapes, we examined these colours carefully to understand Kathryn’s reason for using the same colour in various places. I absolutely do not believe that it was any sort of accident. Her choice was intentional, coming from knowledge that I did not have. Some colours seemed to harmonize partially with the Season they were in, and partially elsewhere. Terry and I discussed this at length.

Terry had seen this years before with her own drape sets and once asked Kathryn about it. From Terry,

Kathryn saw colors as warm, cool, and neutral. She didn’t discuss warm neutrals and cool neutrals, per se; but the seasonal palettes were created that way. To put a somewhat dark, blue drape in both Dark Winter and Soft Summer, she would explain that they are both neutrals, somewhat muted by Autumn, and in the darker value range of Soft Summer and medium-dark value range of Dark Winter. So it could work for either season. If a cranberry color was found both in Dark Autumn and Dark Winter sets, the explanation was that both seasons are Dark and Neutral. This may have been her way of showing the ranges within the seasons..to help understand that some people who are Soft Summer can wear their colors darker than other SSu people, etc.

Without Kathryn to ask, and without her magnificent instinct and knowledge, we had to be more by the book when creating our own colour collections. Experience being a great teacher, our drapes do and will continue to improve. The idea of laying the entire book on the fabric was Terry’s invention, one that has been literally revolutionary for the way in which our trainers, analysts, and clients work with their palettes.

In the original sets, as Terry has mentioned, each of the 12 Seasons was represented with three drapes per Season, sometimes the same colour three ways in one Season, and almost never the same colours between Seasons. Today, we have six repeating colour families represented in all 12 Seasons. Until you’ve done the shopping, you have no sense of how difficult it is to find colours in fabric that are 100% exclusive to Season. Don’t misunderstand; we wouldn’t trade the experience. Our skill as colour analysts has increased by creating drapes in ways that we could not have imagined. Every time any of us sees colour in a new way, we learn.

The 12 Blueprints drapes harmonize with Kathryn’s original palettes as well as the True Colour Australia palettes, created by Amelia Butler, the accuracy of which we respect. Maintaining the highest precision as the span of the drapes increases, and staying true to Kathryn’s system because it is so effective, are our primary concern. In this, I am sure that Amelia would agree.

The testing instrument is now calibrated. We can prove what we believe. We can reproduce results. Science is just asking for sound proof for an idea. We have a test for which everyone who runs the test gets the same answer with some practice. This has always been true between the Sci\ART, TCA, and 12 Blueprints methods. Terry and I did not alter the draping system. It worked fine the way it was. We clarified the distinctions between Seasons.

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Redefining the business model

We continue to move away from stereotypic appearances when the client walks in the door. Stereotypes, like photographs, have a place, which we now understand and accommodate. Eye and hair colour are emphasized less than years ago. I can analyze you just as well with your eyes closed and hair covered, maybe even better.

Terry pointed out that the power of social media to for the analyst to educate and support clients post-PCA has been transformative. Clients have lists of cosmetics with which to go shopping. The resource store is almost exhaustive. To alleviate that, we now have our own 12 Season-customized line of cosmetics. The entire community can share with one another every day. The feeling has been one of being on a great ride together, pulling one another along, celebrating the joys, being amazed when new truths come to light, recognizing that knowledge gives choice and freedom, and picking our neighbour up if need be.

It brings me such delight to meet women who have become colour analysts themselves, enthusiastic business owners who love talking shop. In every age group from their 20s to their 70s, women have become their own boss while doing what they care about. They don’t punch a clock or go out on snow days. They have access to a system that is proven to work. The science is so good that I can tell you what makeup to buy and your best hair colour from your results. Empowerment at this level thrills me because, though I hope it never comes to this, women might just save the world. We save our families every day and we are saving this life-changing profession.

Those folks who dismiss Seasons as antiquated and cough dramatically when they hear the current price of the service are forgetting something that I learned as a veterinarian. From whichever hospital you picked up your dog, you did not know what the animal had experienced from the beginning to the end of its stay, for a neuter, or even a grooming. Clients could not compare services between hospitals, though they tried hard to do so, because they did not know what took place between “Your pet’s name?” and “Bye, Furbie!”

Comparing the prices of today with yesteryear fails to recognize the vast progress in the inputs and the outputs. Thank you to Rachel, for sharing this post that expresses it so well.

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Photo Credit: Sonja Mason.

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Colour Analysis for Brand Creation

This branding colour quiz advised me to use pink as the main colour for my business/website/logo.

Which pink?

Every pink? Any pink?

Pink and what else?

The answer is so easy, it’s scary. One of the pinks in you, of course! A human being is already a brand, with an inherent visual design of lines and colours. For Brand U to become Brand Inc. is a simple extension of what we already are.

This matters. People will create and associate images with colours on our websites just as much as our personal apparel. When you are your business, people see and hear your product every time you walk in a room. They buy your story almost instantly when all the inputs are perfectly lined up.

For a corporation, let the meaning of the product guide the branding. For a solo business, it is simply not enough to say “Red means this…” and “Blue means that….”. Which of the million reds do you pick?

When the business is U, what U believe in and talk about, what U look like, what U deliver, the colours that speak for U can’t be any red or orange. They should be Ur red and orange. If there ever were anything that should be so 100% U, it should be Ur brand.

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 Christine and Tracy, Vancouver Beach, December 2014

We took a week in Vancouver back in December to help my friend and financial advisor, Tracy Theemes, brand a new company. Tracy is the co-owner of Sophia Financial with Kamal Basra. Many of you know Tracy from an earlier post, Personal Colour Analyst as Successful Career.

Among the great offerings of colour analysis is a menu of 60+ colours that required huge expertise in colour harmony to assemble, dropped right into your hands. Every colour is balanced with every other. The combinations are so innovative and personally guided that nobody can figure out the formula. Nice trick to have up your sleeve. The fact that it all lives in you to begin with is the fairy dust.

From Bev Pomeroy, who coordinated the design of the new site:

I used the color analysis and the descriptive language that came along with it for Tracy’s website and the first iteration from the web designer was remarkably close to what Tracy was looking for.  I am finding it super interesting to see how your color analysis methods translate into a person’s brand design and brand inc.  And I am curious how others may be able to leverage the same method.

Would you be able to explain to me how a client would go through the process of having their color analysis from you or someone within your team?  I think we can use it as a brand creation tool with a lot of success.

I also think you could market your company more as brand/image consultancy versus color analysis / fashion / make up support.  I see how it has enhanced every aspect of Tracy’s business development.  It could do that for so many women business owners.

As you know, people are now trying to find their true self, being more holistic, organic…and what better way to market 12 Blueprints than by marketing it as a holistic, organic approach to becoming your true and natural brand?  It can be integrated into someone’s offline world in the form of clothing, makeup, hair and we have just demo’d with Tracy, 12 Blueprints color analysis can also be integrated into someone’s online world…from logo design, web design and even the energy/essence someone evokes with their online persona through video, FB, social media etc.

Bev Pomeroy

YWCA Vancouver Women of Distinction Award Winner 2011 (Innovation and Technology)

Vancouver’s Top 40 Under Forty Winner 2009

Stevie Award Top Canadian Entrepreneur Finalist 2009

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The video below is also here at YouTube.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman information is here.

Lisa Eldridge’s facial massage video is here on YouTube.

I am weaving back and forth because I am cold. I was telling Tracy how the continuous cold has caused me to give up. Just plain give up, sit inside hoping for heat, wearing my snow pants in the house, and watching  Netflix. To which she replied, “Germination takes many forms.” See, now that’s what I call a friend.

So I change into warmer clothes to consider meaning in appearance. The video is also here at YouTube.

You can find Sacred Contracts by Carolyn Myss here at the iTunes store (and lots of other places).

I neglected to mention a great book on archetypes and branding, The Hero and The Outlaw, by Mark and Pearson, here at amazon.com.

Your website colours come from inside you. How you use them is where the advice comes in. Smashing Magazine is always awesome on site design. This post on colour theory for web designers is a good  and well illustrated tutorial.

 

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28 Clues That Our Look Wanted An Upgrade

Announcements before we begin

1. Please notice the updating column on the left. Colour Analyst training course dates are posted for 2015. These dates are moderately adjustable, within a few days at the most. Adding more courses is possible but not likely, one reason being that there are just over 10 sets of Test Drapes available for 2015, to divide between my students and Terry’s (Terry’s course info is on her website at Your Natural Design).  They will be reserved for students with confirmed course bookings, first deposit, first drapes. I do not guarantee any more Test drapes this year, nor do I discount the possibility.

2. After many requests, Toronto is getting an opportunity for high level colour analysis. Lisa Kelly will bring her Ottawa-based business to To. for a few days, Luxury drapes and all. Dates and contact under Colour Travels.

3. Also under Colour Travels, Heather Noakes has added many dates and destinations for PCA appointments.

4. Re: my trip to Vancouver to train and see PCA appointments. Unfortunately, the location did not work out. However, the interest in teaching, modelling, and private PCA sessions was significantly higher than I anticipated. This says to me that somewhere in the future, I must make this happen. It won’t be in May, but hopefully within the next year. Please do send an email if you’re interested. It will go in my Van. file and I’ll be in touch once something is confirmed.

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OK. Business out the way. Let’s start. This post was fun, funny, and easy to put together.

As every woman who has given birth knows, there is something about reliving traumatic moments that helps us to heal. Psychologists, past life regressions, dream therapy, and so importantly, professional parties, all offer us opportunities to revisit the difficult times instead of suppressing them till they morph into some other undesirable thing.

Colour analysts are regular women too. We look back at our pre-colour-analyzed selves with the same incredulity, the same, “What was I thinking??” that our clients do. Maybe the traumatic part is looking back and wondering how in all the world we missed these clues.

We thought we would share with you a compilation of our favourite personal stories and memories. That way, if one day, you can come to one of our parties, and we hope you do, you will already be in on the jokes when we retell our own stories yet again.

To this day, about myself, I try to imagine what image, information, or influence could have brought the upgrade at 25 instead of 45. High on the list of Top 3 Comments Colour Analysts Hear is, “If only I had known sooner.” When I write Confessions of a Colour Analyst, I’ll put that list in the Appendix.

From me, Jorunn in Norway, Margareta in Sweden, Johanna in Finland, Ksenia in Moscow, Sharon in Texas, and Lisa Kelly (email to lisa@DNAmycolours.com) in Ottawa. (For contact info for Ksenia, email me to christine@12blueprints.com. For Margareta’s contact, email Terry at terry@yournaturaldesign.com.)

What does it say when 6 women came up with 25+ ideas with less than 10 minutes thinking? That common things are common, for one.

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What We Missed

1. You go into the bathroom to apply makeup. When you come out 30 minutes later, you are asked, “Why do you do all that? You don’t look one bit different.”

2. Your photos remind people of movie stars of the 80s and 90s. 
Angie Dickinson, for instance.

3. To our recollection, no words had been said about how healthy we look in the past year. Or ever.

4. Come to think of it, your hairstylist did choose that colour.

5. You and more than one of your friends use the same cosmetic colour. Any cosmetic. Or, you and your under-20 daughter share more than one cosmetic colour or application technique.

6. We were 99% sure our foundation or hair colour was the best choice. Turns out that seed of doubt was a good thing. It gave us room to move.

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7. It crossed my mind that I wanted the next 10 years to look different from the last 10. What in the world I could do to make that happen was nowhere to be found. This is similar to, I go into the makeup store with money in my pocket, stare at aisle after aisle of cosmetics, and have no idea what to buy. My conclusion: The old ways don’t work anymore. It’s time for something new. But what????

8. It strikes you that Bill Gates with silver hair looks sexier than he ever has. We knew he had it in him. And if he can do it, oh boy, so can we.

9. Black liquid eyeliner.

10. Your clothes don’t generally make you happy or feel good, they are just items to wear. You figure that for some people, that is the way it is. Some people must be meant to put their energy into other things than clothes. (Happy ending: Then you discover that there are clothes that feel like they were made just to be on you.)

11. Naming any of your lipsticks Pablum would be a fair representation of their colour.

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12. Our blush, lipstick, and the reds in our clothes are totally different. They could never have grown on the same tree.

13. You have given up on makeup altogether. Though you say it is because you believe in the natural look, it is really because you are are unable to find anything you like on you.

14. When asked about your look, you say, “I don’t have A look. I just look.” Either we had no Look or it was a magazine-driven Look. (The happy ending is always within reach:  We knew about connecting elements of an outfit together. The next level was learning to connect them to us.)

15. Your husband is better at buying clothes that get positive responses, or any reaction at all, than you are. He actually offers child-minding time for you to go out and buy something. If you had your choice, you would wear a Skidoo suit.

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16. You constantly get complimented on just one part of your makeup, the eyes, the lipstick, the brows.

17. You have 5 or more eyeshadows, pencils, or lipsticks that are the exact same color.

‬ This one applied to several of us.

18. I wear the same makeup for every occasion and with every piece of clothing.
‬
 And have done so for as long as I can recall.

19. I had been continuously hunting on eBay for a certain product that had been discontinued years ago just because I could not do without it.‬

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20. You have your makeup bag full of nearly-same lipstick colours. Between 5 and 10 of them rattle at the bottom of your purse all the time. Not one of them makes you smile at yourself in the mirror.

21. When you choose foundation or bronzer to give a warm glow or because everyone around you does, conformity having the gravitational pull of a singularity.

22. When after years of trying, I still cannot find a single coral lipstick that suits me. (Happy ending: I can stop looking. Turns out it was plum all along.)

23. When people can’t stop looking at your flamboyant hair colour, next to which your face looks like blancmange, and you never bother wearing makeup because it looks unnatural, and anyway, your hair is the only thing you care about.

SunshineHouse6

 

24. I saw warm, earthy, rustic colours as ‘natural’ and insisted that they look good on me, on everyone, because of that.

25. I worried that wearing more colour looks too young….so I wore less. Alternatively, you wear less makeup now that you’re older so nobody thinks you’re trying too hard, but when you look at yourself, you feel tired. The question I wanted somebody to answer: How does a woman know her just-right face?

26. You haven’t been shopping in 15 years because you’re waiting till you lose weight. Or, you are buying only the cheapest stuff because who cares what you wear when you’re overweight? Even though you see women your size or bigger looking great, it doesn’t change your attitude. (With a happy ending: Since having discovered my colors, everything has changed. Believe me, I shop. )

27. Besides black, there is no colour I felt calm and comfortable in, let alone good or gorgeous.

28. I was unrecognizable from my photos as a 25 year old.

SunshineHouse8

 

What We Learned

We never had to be perfect. We still don’t. Sacrificing the better, the good, or the great in the name of the perfect is self-sabotage.

We need to give ourselves time to learn anything  new, even about ourselves. Learning done right is a journey that never ends, whether our PCA was a week, a year, or a decade ago.

There is no rule about PCA that says we have to feel trapped in doing it All Day, Every Day. Failure simply does not exist. Every woman can look gorgeous when she wants to look gorgeous. And she can do it on her terms.

 

——

Many thanks to my sister, Sonja, for the photographs. These images were taken at Windhorse Farm, an incredibly beautiful natural setting in Nova Scotia, Canada. A summer camp for kids to explore, learn, and connect with Nature takes place here, at Sunshine House.

Nature Connections Camp_2015

 

—–

12 Seasons of Gowns for Brides and Mothers

The dress, the family, the memories, the money!

Today, Jorunn Hernes (whom you met in the article here ) and I are adding to the many resources available for colour-analyzed women and men. Last time, we created catalogs showing colours of blue jeans for the 12 Seasons. Bridal is another subject that belongs in our reference library. For today’s post, Jorunn and I switched our Seasons. She created galleries of the most becoming whites and dresses for Summer and Autumn. I am shopping for Winter and Spring.

Colour analysis extends easily to a male audience inside and outside the wedding context as the best white for work and dress shirts, tie and cummerbund colours, and the most original gift ever for the groomsmen! They can compare their Season colour palettes over cocktails.

Of course not! No man in a group would ever do that. A man who knows something about colour would, however, proudly impress you  with his insightful outfit and people observations the next day. Men like colour and they like having an educated understanding of it.

Harmonizing white to a Season takes a little practice, as does analyzing a face in various whites. Doing the same job from online images is more difficult still. Because white is weird. It reflects all or most colours (wavelengths of light) back out. The nuances and balances in those reflections determine Season fellowship.

To make things just a little harder, the relationships between colour and light is intricate. If a light source is too yellow, a colour will look yellower. We all know this from how things look at 9AM compared to 3PM. How about the reverse? If an object could reflect more yellow-group wavelengths than were in the light source to begin with, the object’s colour will not read accurately or consistently. The only wavelengths that can be reflected out of an object (to form a colour perception in a human brain) are among the ones that went in in the first place. True of all colours, more noticeable with white.

You may be surprised with some of the Season placements. We agree with you. On a different day, or time of day, we might have put the dresses elsewhere also. With wedding dresses, the viewer accounts for how unusual it is to wear a column of white. The idea is as much to keep you out of the wrong garden as in the right one.

Regarding dresses from Kleinfeld’s: When you click on a dress to look at it again on their website, the system might take you to a totally different dress. Often, the dresses are part of a gallery and you can find the one you want among the thumbnails beneath.

We try to keep the number of items for each Season about even. I confess to surrendering shamelessly to Light Spring wedding dress overload. For once, this was the easiest Season to find clothing for. Surprisingly, it took more time to populate the True Winter catalog than any other, still easy since we’re dealing in white. By the time I clicked Publish, all I could think was, “Somebody, please stop me from adding one more dress.”

The links for the Winter and Spring catalogs:

If the bride is a Winter: here or below.

http://hueandstripe.com/catalog/112H&SuJRn

If the bride is a Spring: here or below.

http://hueandstripe.com/catalog/112H&SiuoB

If the bride/groom’s mother is a Spring: here or below.

http://hueandstripe.com/catalog/112H&Sh53g

If the bride/groom’s mother is a Winter: here or below.

http://hueandstripe.com/catalog/112H&Sx2Lt

The links for Jorunn’s beautiful Autumn and Summer catalogs can be found in her post here or below.

http://fargeporten.no/2015/03/bridal-whites-and-dresses-for-the-mothers/

Because flowers are too pretty to resist, in honour of this post, we added flower crowns for the Seasons to Jorunn’s Pinterest board, Bridal Flowers for the 12 Seasons.

 

—–

Is Christine A Summer?

This topic comes up often. I thought it would be fun and instructive to try it out. We will see three videos of me in Light Summer, Soft Summer, and Dark Winter.

All three were filmed on the same computer, same background, identical lighting and location, within 30 minutes of each other. I wear a small amount of the same foundation. For each, I am wearing cosmetics in the middle of the darkness range for the Seasons.

My purpose is not to prove that I am Winter-based in my colouring. That’s asking too much of this medium. Many of our analysts (and clients) have met me in person and even analyzed me. You’ll have to ask them how they see my Season and appearance. They know that complete truth and nothing but the truth is what I send out and what I like to get back.

Here I am in full and strongly applied Light Summer makeup. IDK about you but all I see are eyes and no face. Could I be a Light Summer who needs to wear the darker colours to show up? That can’t be right, can it? How am I supposed to use that palette?

As Light Summer, at YouTube here or below:


—–

As a Soft Summer. Nevermind what I look like, I am certain that the yellow drape does not look on me as it did on Kaarin in her analyst intro post. It is the identical piece of fabric.

We are starting to finally see this person.

Does she look older? Is that a bad thing? All optical effects are a trade-off. A colour analyst could take any redness out of a face, though she would have to jaundice or drain the face to do so.  We can erase a face to look younger, in that bland, flat, undefined definition of young (rather than the strong, healthy definition).

I prefer to say that the best you is the real you. Surely, the best you cannot be the fake you. If some age lines are part of the real you, great. Wearing our correct colours, the viewer’s attention is on the intensity of the eyes and definition of features. Age effects become less noticeable because the overall picture contains so much more information.

As Soft Summer at YouTube here or below:


—–

In Dark Winter,

The video is here at YouTube if it doesn’t play for you below:

Does the yellow drape make the face yellow? Looks a bit that way.

Maybe it’s not that person’s perfect yellow.

Maybe yellow needs some management, as it often does on cooler colouring.

Could be that the lighting in the video is hardly ideal for knowing what is really occurring in reaction to the colour.

Or that the version of Dark Winter that I present is too intense and needs some toning down with my inherent warmth, saturation, age, and other parameters, to suit your visual preferences. Easy to do.

None of which disqualifies Dark Winter. Colour analysts in our group (Analyst Directory in the tabs across the top) work with you to adjust the Season to who you are inside it.

 

—–

Jeans for 12 Seasons

Here is a post that many have asked to see. If there were three items that are owned by the greatest number of people, jeans would have to be in there.

What better way to pass the time when my dearest province of P.E.I. looks like this? See the little banana piece of land just SW of centre? It’s disappearing under the snow! Though I hear that Boston might be even more so. From the CBC Prince Edward Island Facebook page,

Photo: CBC Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Photo: CBC Prince Edward Island, Canada.

We think jeans match everything. Colour analyst Jorunn Hernes (of Fargeporten in Norway) and I collaborated for these collections of jeans. I assembled Autumn and Summer, Jorunn took care of Winter and Spring selections, and then we discussed each other’s choices. The learning is incredible when you work with someone. You see the very same world in a whole new way.

We found that jeans absolutely don’t match everything, just as white, black, gray, and navy don’t. Some choices were clearly better than others. Like any garment, any given pair of jeans truly contributed best and were an enhancing choice with one or two palettes only. They looked somewhere along the ho-hum, hilarious, and hideous spectrum with the other ten colour collections.

The catalogs contain items grouped under the main Season, and then subdivided into three as the True and the two Neutrals.

As you peruse the catalogs, the comments will indicate items that sometimes belong in other Seasons. Some of these were inserted intentionally to offer comparison. For others, we were uncertain ourselves. We took a guess at where we thought they would land. Then, we did some measuring (with the palettes) and surrounding colours, and changed our minds. We left them there to share our decision process with you so that we can all learn together. It doesn’t seem to matter how long a person has worked with colour, we cannot recall its properties or predict its behaviour nearly as accurately as we think.

Items sell out near instantly, literally within a few days. The colour lesson will not go away. The pictures and catalogs are permanent on Hue and Stripe. If a banner across the item says Sold Out, just float your cursor over it.

Thank you to the reader who suggested this. We learn more by using an idea or testing a hypothesis than rolling it round in our heads. Everyone who has created colour vision boards has had the same invaluable experience. I learned a ton. For me, it doesn’t get better than that.

Jorunn will publish her article, How We Really Dress, today on her site. There, you will find the links for the Winter and Spring catalogs.

The link to the Summer catalog is here.

The link to the Autumn catalog is here.

Considering that jeans can cost $200 a pair and that 3 of the 4 catalogs fall short of your best appearance and most interactive closet, please do keep an eye on the Colour Travels section in the left column. New locations are added often. Notice that Jorunn, co-author of this Jeans series, is travelling in March. Also, Oregon, southern Florida, Texas, and Louisiana are enjoying colour analysis opportunities in March.

Image analysis is in Florida and North Carolina in March and April, respectively. Wow, these analysts are becoming a force – one that will pour its heart into finding you beautiful lipstick and one fantastic pair of jeans.

 

—–

Introducing Colour Analyst Kaarin Huffman (North Carolina)

When colour analysts open new website accounts, our industry gets grouped with Fashion&Beauty. Those applications are relevant, equating in my mind to the golden plating on the surface. It is right that it be there, to catch the attention and please the eye. Icing is the first thing we eat, that silent moment of the first taste. The deeper layers, the stories, the journeys, the cakes that are the substance beneath the icing, are as varied as humanity. Colour analysis is about so much more than shopping, very much at the leading edge of my thoughts these days.

In the magic and mystery of Nature, the pairing between the outside and the inside is always deliberate and beyond improvement. And yet, we go off track without knowing how or when, how to get back on our path, or where to find advice in which to place the faith needed to get through vulnerable moments.

Time with a person who understands that change is priceless in influencing the success of our own lives is a gift for me. When that person can apply both structure and empathy to shape our fears in a constructive way, the experience becomes profound and productive, the substance that grounds the gold-plated expressive part. Equally inspiring is meeting a woman who sees innately that colour analysis offers infinite self-expression, the boundaries serving as guideposts to the highest eloquence about who we are. When I don’t have to explain or demonstrate that part, the conversations happen at a different level.

I wish Kaarin lived next door so that I could sit at her kitchen table and take on the change conversations. You will meet a thorough and patient listener. Despite the very short time during which students meet the draping models, I admired how quickly they felt seen and supported, and how Kaarin was able to modify her conversations in accordance with their particular language or learning style. Kaarin’s perspective will surprise, empower, and innovate her clients’ lives, as well as our entire industry. May this be only the beginning of the far-reaching visions.

Kaarin1

The website will soon be live, at which time, the links and other information will be added to the Analyst Directory. Until then, you can reach Kaarin by email at kaarin.huffman@gmail.com.

From Kaarin,

I’ve always admired great works of art and music, dreaming that I have those talents of expression hidden somewhere deep within, yet to be realized.  I’ve always admired people who seem naturally comfortable in their own skin and make others feel good too, wondering how they manage to know themselves and radiate it so well.

I’ve spent my career working in corporate and consulting roles where change has been a big part of the picture.  My true belief, after years of experience and observation, is that a desired change can be only realized when made on a personal level and connected with a deeply held belief or truth.

What does this have to do with color and image?

Throughout my life, my color and style choices have been influenced by trends, well-meaning friends and family, off-hand comments, retail associates and assimilation to readily available style advice about what everyone woman should wear (LBD anyone?).  Some hits and many missed opportunities.  I finally reached a point where I was no longer interested in making investments in clothing and cosmetics that offered more of the same.  My PCA journey begins here.

Kaarin2

I began researching information on personal coloring, reaching back in my mind to the time when my mother was analyzed as a “Summer”.  Because my coloring does not resemble my mother’s and I’ve received a dizzying array of comments about what I look good in over time, I really had no idea where I would place in any color system, or even that a system would be useful and modern in its approach.  I also held a belief that people shouldn’t be limited by a set of colors in a book – that the need to be unique and creative outweighed conformity.

I was motivated enough for a change to do an online self-analysis on my coloring, deciding that I was soft and warm.  This had to be correct because my eyes, while blue, also contain a fair amount of gold and brown spots.  Plus, I love soft warm colors and feel at home in them.  I lived into this belief, spending money and time on a palette viewed via my computer screen.

There was enough doubt in my assumption for me to revisit my conclusion, thankfully.  I scheduled my own PCA and embarked on a journey of discovery.  The process and outcome revealed a side of me that had long been shaded and tweaked, I am cool and soft.  The one thing I was not prepared to be was cool – at least in my coloring.  My self-image was built around something else entirely.  But once I saw the beauty and vitality looking back at me in the mirror, I was convinced.  And I have not looked back.  Wardrobe and cosmetic updates, check. Simplified shopping and decision-making, check. Using my palette as unlimited creative self-expression, check.  Ease in my own skin, check.

Kaarin5

As a PCA Consultant, I’m guided in my work by my awe in the power and beauty of nature, our emotional need to connect with and be respected by others, and the vital need for truth and purpose in our lives.  I continue to be surprised by the outcomes of the PCA process, even with those whom I’ve known over the course of their lives.  To unlock beauty and potential is a timeless and powerful thing.

With Kaarin Huffman Color, I serve as the starting point for women and men who are ready to uncover and shape their authentic image through personal color, a transformative journey.

Kaarin Huffman Color is based in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.  Travel dates tba for locations in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Western regions of the US.

Email: kaarin.huffman@gmail.com

—–

We have one last photo to show you. Kaarin has the distinction of looking more beautiful in the Soft Summer yellow drape than I have seen. As uncommon as it is for a Summer to count yellow among her very best colours, finding the right yellow, your yellow, is possible for all of us.

Kaarin4

 

—–

Dark Winter Landscapes

The days might be gettin’ longer but the snow’s a’gettin higher. Updating you on the ongoing saga of the recliners on the lawn:

Recliners

My world looks like the surface of the next planet out. A good time to write about Winter.

Wintertime

Fair Warning

Not one word on this website, about personality or anything else, applies to every member of any group. Not even half, and character least of all.

As we know, I have tremendous respect for Bernice Kentner, founder of Color Me a Season. Back in the 80s, this is the person who I think had colour analysis well figured out, given the colour technology of the age. In her writing, she has apologized for sounding hard on Autumn personalities. Allow me to channel a hero and apologize for how I portray Winter.

Photo: Krappweis
Photo: Krappweis

Dark Season does not mean dark everything. If it snowed last night, it is probably not Autumn.

A Winter Overview

Let me tell you something about us Winters: We are more fragile than we look. Everyone else is as fragile as they look, or less. That’s the difference, you see.

The strategy that I learned from Summers about managing Winters and coming through intact: Let’em win. They calm right down.

Another thing I learned from Summers. How to smile patiently and politely despite not believing a word you are hearing. A little glaze in the eyes helps put the scene behind a screen, in a box. How worked up can you get over what is on a TV? So when you let the Winter win, plant a Summer smile on your face and invoke what my kids say, at once meaningful and meaningless: “I dunno. It’s like whatever, right?”

Who cares who wins, except the Winter? And they do care. At least the conversation will be over and you get to move on. Winters lack the contentment of Summers, the short attention span of Springs, and the ability to get busy of Autumns, none of whom are hauling Winter’s Worry Buggy behind them. Winter women worry. The men, not so much.

Careful though, when you wear that Summer smile, or get bored with drama and wander away like a Spring, or go back to your To Do list like an Autumn. A Winter is a clever creature. They can feel when you’re playing games or not engaging.

Photo: nazreth
Photo: nazreth

Some beautiful neutral colours in this image.

I have at times wondered if the Neutral Seasons align more closely with their neighbour Neutral but cannot see it that way. The strong Neutral blends of a True Season are closer in almost every way to the parent Season than the other Neutral. Dark Winter is nearer True Winter than it is to Dark Autumn, even the warm or muted ones.

About the Winter colouring in general,

Even the most neighbourly Winter (does that even happen?) can block a part of themselves off and never let you near it. Cozy and casual never seem to apply. Some of this person is remote and not easily reached. They will let you see what they want under their control.

We are all a balance of positive and negative. We need our vulnerabilities as much as our strengths. Our constructive emotions are the flip side of our destructive ones. They are of equal importance. Winter just happens to draw from the far ends of the branches.

Red-violet is the core and undertone colour of this person. Red wavelengths are way at the bottom of the spectral range of human vision. Red feels hot, heavy, dense, and solid, the Root Chakra, our connection with Earth. Violet is way at the high end, our connection to pure energy, the Crown Chakra. Violet is near weightless, the cosmic colour of spirituality that can be our link to the divine.

Winter’s gray scale reaches fully, or microns away, from pitch and pure, black and white at the extremes of human light and dark vision. The archetypical associations with colours – the Mystery, Chaos, and Death of black together with the Purity, Peace, and Rebirth of white.

Now, I ask you. What hope does this soul have of being balanced?

Photo: Rapunzel55
Photo: Rapunzel55

The little bit of heat is very important in any cool-neutral Season. The image loses power if the beak is lemon or ice yellow. Beautiful browns and whites. Still not playing games.

Winter is a Season of extreme opposition. I can appear motionless on the outside, frozen equanimity. The inside is being scrubbed with a bottlebrush. Ask my significant other.

As steady as they might appear, the inside is on the way up or on the way down at warp speed.

I love you, I hate you.

I am so mad that it is perfectly reasonable for me to gut you and leave you bleeding. Five minutes pass. Wanna go shopping?

Rabid anger and the depths of despair. Either your suggestion is perfect or nothing about it is right, not one single thing. I’m gonna make you pay. If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me.

Drama. You are 100% on my side and support every word I say or you are letting me down, you said you were behind me, now what am I supposed to do???????

What, you still like me? The relief! The joy! Wanna go shopping?

Reactive? One comment and we’re off the handle, the emails are flying. Have you seen the T-shirt? Anxiety Girl! Able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound. Winter is calmer when they have (imaginary, of course) control over the future.

The deepest thinkers and the biggest babies.

They say Winters have natural glamour. I disagree that they start with more than anybody else. Unless colouring or lines are piercing in darkness or sharpness, Winter gets out of bed with an everyday face, moving to a shocking level of contrast, colour, and intensity once the makeup is on. The biggest transformations. The more they wear (in their own colours of course, is that not why we’re here?), the better they look.

Every single Winter is this way? No!! Some are so soft spoken, you can barely hear them. Some joke and laugh, love everybody and everyone loves them, able to get along with anybody. These are often married to Seasons other than Winter.

Photo: malina
Photo: malina

A touch of rustic matters to Dark Winter, not to the point that water melts. That scarf could be one heck of a lipstick, warm side.

Winter is said to be analytic and dissecting because that’s how it comes out of their mouth. Where it begins is usually more intuitive. They are internally guided. As analytically painful and scrutinizing as they can be, this person runs on instinct, which is why they don’t believe anybody as much as themselves. Their gut tells them not to.

They can be self-important, preferring a moment in the spotlight to discretion or the annoying distraction of what it feels like to be the other guy. Consequences? Who cares? Whether their behaviour causes others to get along with them, to go away, push back in exhaustion, or push back in anger, it doesn’t really matter. Take your pick. Flip a coin.

Summers are concerned with making the world better. They will listen and adapt in as many gray zones as it takes, if it means peace all around. You can say something negative and they say, “Oh, how interesting, let me think about that.”

Critique a Winter. Watch the sound and lights. The world is Right and Wrong. Good and Evil. They attack because they feel they’ve been attacked.

Summer is usually calming to be around. They can be ornery or prickly, especially the Softs, and even that is not common at all. Spring will follow negativity with a joke. Autumn is biking or baking. They never feel fierce. You don’t feel a need to protect yourself.

Among my more exciting emails are the ones that tear me to shreds, sent by a woman insisting that she is a Summer. It would be rare as a hornless unicorn for a Summer to ever send such a letter. I hear about the big stirs in the colour groups. Will you all send me a dollar if I guess the main Season of the mastermind?

 

Photo: FurLined
Photo: FurLined

When one thing means everything, you have entered the Winter realm. One colour. One shape. One reaction. One emotion. Still a natural picture, this is One Tree, not One Ferris Wheel.

Photo: ingras
Photo: ingras

Warmer and busier. More Autumn. The repetitive element of marching along and visual near/far feels like Autumn energy to me. The solid vertical lines feel like Winter, not by any logical process. The  image is about the many, not The One. 

Structured around a reader’s Q&A to keep me on track:

How does a Dark Winter energy differ from a Dark Autumn?

Dark Autumn is more relaxing to be with. Even the Yangest Gamine will be inviting you into her home, feeding you, baking cookies while she visits. She might have some mighty snappy comments, which she will balance with funny faces and voices.

Autumns are not intentionally cruel. Like Doberman dogs, they are smart, sensible, and calm. Armed, yes, dangerous, yes, and willing to deploy, but only with fair provocation. As the Seasons add red (Winter), the oppositions become more extreme. Red signifies both love and rage, bleeding and healing.

Winter can be intentionally cruel. Not in the name of cruelty, more like “I’ll show them how it feels.” What drives them is fairness. You did this to me, I will do it to you. It’s only fair. The knife goes in and gets an extra twist and you know it and I know it. I have spent 55 years being it.

And yet, they live the Golden Rule. That whole Do Unto Others, it’s kind of meaningless except for the big stuff, you know? Best to unlearn it. If I treated others the way I want to be treated, I would get hate mail. Except for the big stuff, as I said. Took me a long time to stop assuming that others want what I want.

Photo: rolve
Photo: rolve

Rich red and warm black. As good as it gets on this colouring.

Bonus tip for Getting Along With Winter: Flatter them. Winter is a proud entity. Start every conversation in this way. It will be heard as respect. They will be on your side from the start. The outcome will bias in your favour. Others will wonder how you did it.

 

How does Dark Winter differ from what applies to every Winter?

Every Neutral Season is a mix of seemingly impossible opposites. The Light Seasons combine the energetic forward movement of Spring (yellow) with the introspective, receding contemplation of Summer (blue). Light Summer is in the world to share the indescribable sparkle of life in its most delicate earthly form. Light Spring somehow elevates the sparkle of life to a place of transcendence, and yet the colours move towards us even more as the yellow infusion rises.

Dark Winter is a mixture of earth and history (Autumn) and candy and the future (Winter). Not only is the person complicated, so is dyeing clothes in the colours apparently. Finding truly Dark Winter clothing besides black and burgundy is not so easy. She is dressing as a True Winter much of the time. Cosmetics are pretty easy for her so she can balance things out.

Dark Winter develops Autumn’s productivity gene to Ruthless Productivity. She is getting it done, whatever it takes. Some are more caught up in their looks than others but when there’s a job they want done, it moves up to #1, never mind about the lipstick.

 

How would you feel in the presence of a Dark Winter? 

Me myself? Kind of like when people from the same town meet in faraway airports. There’s recognition for sure. I get where their head is, what is likely to motivate them, and what I don’t have to pretend to be. The conversation starts up as between people who have met a few times. The groundwork has been laid. I can be who I am without feeling that I need to soften anything or make space for anything. I like working with Dark Winter because our level of focus, intensity, and speed are about the same.

How do others feel in the presence of Dark Winter? I couldn’t say :)

Imposing sometimes. A woman I know, E, is around 65. Swirling, thick, shoulder-length, iron gray hair pinned back, striking facial geometry, cherry chocolate lips, the most refined character. Even silent, she might as well be the only person in the room so magnetic is her personal power. Hand her a scepter, balance a big crown on her head, and the picture is ready to take. In the past, I compared Dark Winter to the Tzarina with E. in my mind’s eye.

Easy and undemanding at times. Another woman I love, L. An optimistic Winter, she doesn’t think of every reason why something won’t work. She loves to laugh, is socially relaxed, and is not married to a Winter.

Kindness personified in some people. M. is a Winter who acts like a Summer. Her soul radiates faith, love, patience, and empathy.

 

Is there an energetic difference between a Dark Winter who leans toward Dark Autumn and a Dark Winter who leans toward True Winter?

Yes. Getting subtle now. The Autumn one goes better with the flow. As even as Winter looks on the surface, there is a storm beneath. Stuff gets to them. They worry, they store it, they obsess, they can make molehills into mountains. The more Winter, the less “Meh.”

Autumn has a high level of physical energy. She can live in her own world as Winter does, but without all the intensity, though Dark Autumn can be getting up there. As a dear and respected colleague said of Autumn, “They sure do get shit done.”

 

What kind of careers would put a Dark Winter in their element?

I’m not able to answer this because of much variability not related to colouring. With the capacity to lead and produce coupled to the unparalleled ability to get in their own way that Winter has, she can do absolutely anything or absolutely nothing.

 

Are there certain facial features unique to, or commonly seen in Dark Winters?

With every colouring, there are two or three that are seen often. The Sandra Bullock/Jackie Onassis/Ellen Page/Selena Gomez/Bianca Jagger pattern of strong jaws and a dark overall look is very common, but there are many others.

There is a certain face of a dialed-up Autumn with a sharper intensity in a background that feels medium. IDK any celebrities. Maybe she looks like me in certain ways.

Sometimes long faces, perky or baby faces…the same variability as in other Seasons.

 

Is there a song or kind of music that captures the essence of Dark Winter energy?

In the spirit of being to opposite to what we are trying so hard to prove about ourselves, perhaps the song speaks of learning to release, to neither force nor struggle, of an abandon she can only dream of.

Nobody is an island though Dark Winter thinks she might be happier that way. A little Autumn grit in a song about the humanity we all share. Put your money down. You bet she can get shit done. Just not alone.

 

 

What kind of dance captures the essence of how a Dark Winter moves through life?

For the life of me, I am not seeing anything. Could it be that they don’t dance? Workaholic that I am, all my dancing happens at my computer. I meditate about releasing and relaxing but am not capable of it.

 

Does Dark Winter come at the beginning of the winter season or the end?

At the beginning. It is the transition from Autumn. Seasons don’t flow from Winter to Autumn in Nature.

If we detach the symbolic associations, which I can hardly deny are strong for me,  the illumination of objects by light and the portion of colour space occupied by Dark Winter are continuums that flow in both directions.

Colour is simply a relationship. No, colour is a wavelength. Our perception of the wavelength is via relationships. Our perception of anything visual is simply a relationship called contrast. Humans do not see white writing on white backgrounds.

 

What is Dark Winter’s gift? What is it here to contribute to the world?

Focus. Once she locks on to a target, spacetime folds a little tighter.

A Soft Autumn can have a strength of purpose that beats anybody. What Dark Winter tends to have more is the ability to exclude everything else from her radar. It’s like asking any member of the staff at Sephora to match a lipstick colour for you. Off they go, like heat-seeking missiles, till they have it. Don’t interrupt them while they search. Their aim is not to nurture, it is to achieve.

 

Is a Dark Winter just darkness personified or is that darkness a safe place to nurture and bring forth the light within others, within the self and from within the earth?

Wow, now that’s my kind of question.

Defining what darkness is in the first place is not so easy. Media, folklore, and even art, have attached all sorts of myths to darkness, as has the history of PCA. Children instinctively seem to make the bad guy dark – or is that learned? Is fear of the dark learned? Seems it would be instinctive at least in part. Take one look at the wolf and the moon image higher up.

All that the Dark Seasons do at the end of the day is make darkness visually normal, appearing as it really is, not blacker or duller. The associations that made darkness into something more fall away. Darkness is just darkness, a normal variant of pigment on this planet, of light and life on Earth.

Small shifts towards darkness are absorbed, not amplified, with no particular upper limit. The reverse is true of the Light Seasons, where small shifts towards darkness are magnified into something that needs managing. With a Soft, small shifts towards higher saturation looks bigger than they would on anybody else, which is why their muted colour can appear so full of life and energy on them. With a True cool colouring, the smallest movement towards more heat and they appear totally altered, distorted, and slightly insane. True cool colouring deals with warmth differently.

 

What kind of clothing does a Dark Winter tend to favor? I know there could be any variety of archetypes within the season, but for instance, you mentioned that True Autumns prefer simple, practical clothing so they can focus on what needs to be done. Is there a similar generality about Dark Winters?

Simplicity is true of many Winters. They hate to be wrong with a capital H. Since they can be sure of black, it becomes the uniform.

As I learn more about Image Archetype (IA), I see people drawing as much authentic self-expression from that inner knowledge as colour. If she knows her IA, she will dress accordingly. Those who are magnificent in a lot of decoration are still that way.

Certain Season adjustments probably apply to all IAs, for instance the use of more graphic, abstract florals and symmetry than a Spring of the same IA would be most attractive in.

If she is not aware of her innate shapes and lines, Dark Winter is no different from anyone else. Her clothing choices will be influenced by what is in her life.

 

What kind of jewelry captures the essence of a Dark Winter, regardless of archetype?

Strong, rich colour of a deep reflectivity. When other colour systems called this colouring Deep Winter, it wasn’t an accident. Autumn has a richness of colour that is greatly defined by being profound. When you see an Autumn eye in correct colour, the impression is of a kaleidoscopic tunnel that you could travel down forever.

Winter cools the stones, cools the setting more, and adds shine.

In which jewelry box does it live?

Photo: ams9w3
Photo: ams9w3

 

heart-shaped-diamond-on-jewelry-box-1437012-m
Photo: obdg

What kind of flower, bird, animal, tree has Dark Winter energy?

Flower flower flower…it is red. Dark Winter is outstanding in red. Not roses entirely, needs more substance. Some aspects of poinsettia but not quite, maybe if the pot is in a silver and gold wrapper. Quite possibly a lily of some sort, dark red with a golden throat. Single and strong without the lushness of Amaryllis. That sort of hedonism lives on the Spring side. Maybe like this.

The eagle or hawk. Locked on to a target.

The wolf. The panther. Is there such a thing as a friendly Grim? From my veterinary days, people are far more afraid of black dogs than any other, even taking precedence over breed (except perhaps Newfoundland dogs that are judged by all to be much more friendly than they necessarily are). The mythology of black.

A tree. Never thought about a tree. Wait, yes, I have. A Christmas tree. Sticking with that. An evergreen, nighttime, jeweled ornaments, a resinous scent.

Photo: mommytoo
Photo: mommytoo

A log cabin that definitely has electricity, coloured foil, and plastic-wrapped candy.

Photo: lhmeetme
Photo: lhmeetme

While other Dark Winters are going this way, less tree, more candy.

I don’t know if you did a post on the Dark Winter child or not, but if not I’d also like to know how that child differs from children of other seasons.

It varies enormously with the child, the strength of the family imprint, the siblings, and so on. Children are not defined enough, even if they have settled into their colouring early. Mine were their Seasons when they were 5 years old but the characters were still changing a lot till they were about 14.

My guess is that this is about average. Winters change enormously in colouring and character in adolescence, and even sometimes in early adulthood.

 

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