Spring and Autumn Natural

The great thing about writing is that it forces you to pin down your beliefs and your reasons for them.

Paraphrasing a reader’s question:

I was reading about Bright Springs on your website and I was wondering if you could help me get an outfit visual on what natural means. I understand earthy, but natural is still confusing to me.

You have used natural in this context: True Spring; no bold lines, the blocks are distinct by colour divisions. Not misty, earthy, heavy, bold, geometric. Instead, Spring is energetic, hippie, fun, busy, buoyant, and natural (where natural is not the same as earthy).

 

What did I mean about Autumn and Spring being natural in their energy? What do they have in common in that way?

Every Season has associations in Nature. Summer is how water feels, of high importance to water-based life forms like us. Even in the depth of winter, Nature is extravagant. Snow on a tree branch is so much to see and think about, but the number of colours is small to the point that even black and white are colours in this context. Because of Summer’s cool haze and Winter’s cold stillness, although natural, the feeling is less animated.

What the two warm Seasons have in common is heat. Warmly coloured people wear a lot of colour well, as does the planet in warmer locations. Complementary colours, that have the ability to energize one another when worn side by side, is effective on everyone. The warmer the colouring, the closer the blocks would approach equal size. A holly bush, good Winter visual, is much more green than red. The red becomes highly effective in that context.

Natural implies that it would be seen usually in the natural world. Natural effects feel more organic, like food and flowers. The end of summer harvest and the Island Paradise depict Nature as home, security, familiar, nurturing, nourishment, warmth, shelter, and support, in ways that diamonds and sapphires do not.

The Bright Seasons wouldn’t make up an entire landscape the way that True Autumn (October harvest) and True Spring (tropical beach) would. In helping these persons understand how to dress, there is no easy landscape or imagery to refer to. A Dark Autumn could Google ‘Moroccan design interiors’ to get the colour effect  (thank you to Rachel for the idea). A Light Spring could look up ‘pastel interior design’, ‘fairy landscapes’, or ‘spring flowers’ and recreate the entire scene. Googling ‘bright colour interior design’ is quite good for ideas but you’d use it selectively to make an overall look.

As the Polyvore below shows, the Bright Seasons are basically pure pigment. Search ‘design-seed.com’ on Polyvore. Lovely palettes. Beautiful, imaginative ideas to maximize the flexibility of your colour swatches.

 

Design seed palette images

 

Once Winter appears, colour effects become more synthetic, which feels modern. They feel more forced, cooperating less with what’s around them. The paradox of Winter is to be modern and permanent at once, like a diamond. When Winter overtakes Autumn, in the Dark Winter, the rustic element is pretty well gone. Many of the colours look like candy when worn by an Autumn-coloured person. When Winter is in larger proportion than Spring, in the Bright Winter, well, it gets complicated.

This may explain why this colouring is such confusion to people, and can be a challenging analysis. During our last training course, we met 5 Bright Winters –

  • the Snow White
  • the exotic Indian Princess
  • the I’ve-always-been-told-I’m-a-Summer-but-it-doesn’t-feel-right
  • the blonde-blue-eyed Winter
  • the magic elf

There are a thousand more. Sydney Crosby colouring, for instance, with green-gold eyes. They drape better in Winter but their heat level approaches Bright Spring.

Since I need digressions, I’ll repeat something I said on facebook:

Season isn’t just an issue of how light or dark we look, as you know. There are darker Light Springs and very fair Bright Winters.

How warm or cool, how saturated or heathered, another human might be are very hard or impossible to judge.

So we give their light – dark level too much emphasis when we guess. This is part of why folks have so much trouble wrapping their heads around a light haired BW.

The other reason is that people are still looking for those ‘clear eyes’ that are supposed to jump out at you. BW does have a clear eye, but we can’t pick them out of a crowd because we’re not that good at judging it and they don’t look any more unusual than any other human. If you put their eyes into another Season’s face, you’d pick it up instantly.

There are many, many BW people out there. It’s not rare.

The Bright Spring colouring exists but not quite as often, at least not where I live, though still more common than the True Season colouring. I imagine the colours are occasional even when you’re standing on the Equator. A feather, a beak, in an otherwise colour-quiet body. These colours are extreme, at the limits of what colour could do in a terrestrial life form.

Bright Spring is a little special. The high purity of such plentiful colour tips it nearer man-made or magic. It’s more fantastic, more HDR photography, colour enhancement, the rare, delicate, and exceptional. How do you put such Bright colours in a print? The result is wildly energized, beyond most habitats. Colour-blocking is not natural. In Bright Spring colours, small print elements appear pixilated, also not natural.

Spring and Autumn Natural

Spring is juicy, light, sunny, clear, shiny, wet, and floaty. We should distinguish shiny as in dewy and wet (Spring), shiny as in frosty, hard, and cold (Winter), shiny as pearlescent (Summer), and shiny as in hot and metallic (Autumn). Raindrops, hearts, daisies, stars, starfish, seahorses and all baby and/or magic animals, clover (especially 4-leaf clover), belong to Spring.

Earthy is perfectly at home on Autumn colouring. Earthy to me means muted+orange. Basically, dull+warm. I ask everyone who reads this to remember that no colour is dull under the face with which it harmonizes. Same as there is no such thing as dull/mousy hair unless it’s placed next to unharmonizing colour.

Autumn is earthy, heavier, thicker, rich, drier, 3D, dense colour.  In the orange sweater game below, the natural the other won’t wear is shown. Autumn keeps company with wicker, tortoiseshell, and fossil.

Lava lamps, fireworks, starbursts, and video games, are unpredictable, fun, and random. Like cartoons, Spring’s is a flatter (2D) effect.

A chess board, the regularity of the pattern, the solid figures, the serious and predictable rules, the 3D shapes and movements, feel Autumn.

Horseshoes could go either way, having both good luck charm and equestrian about them.

This is a game I enjoy. Where is the orange sweater better? [Hint: There are as many correct answers as there are tastes and preferences reading this.]

Some fabrics are muting, like wool and tweed, but that doesn’t automatically mean Autumn. Neither Spring nor Autumn are fully saturated. The orange sweater seems Autumn-ish because it’s wool-ish, but it’s also an orange-pineapple ice cream colour. It’s not so bad on the Spring side.

Would changing the wooden buttons to clear, shiny glass matter? Sure. The watch isn’t natural, but it does live in the world of fruit salad. Food is natural. Jello and LifeSavers are less natural, more Bright Spring (as this watch could be, since the numerals are white, not ivory).

Toggles, tassels, and buckles are usually Autumn territory. But really, they belong better as Yang-side symbols of Classic clothing style, prep styles and the fox hunt rather than the Yin-er dinner party. Everyone can adapt anything. Winter makes them platinum. Spring changes them to coloured plastic.

I have said that I do not believe in the existence of a group of natural colouring that blends Spring and Autumn’s colour properties. Nobody drapes equally in True Autumn and True Spring. In fact, the other Season is often the worst choice on these people. They prefer Summer (where Spring is grateful for the lightness) or Winter (where Autumn can make sense of the darkness).

Draping is a time for technical perfection. That is a long way from shopping. If shopping is rigid, you’ll get tired and give up on something too good to pass up. Same as if you stay too hard on your budget, diet, or exercise program, you’ll burst and do something that will have you regretting. Knowing what matters more and making the most of it keeps you making the very best choices in a sustainable purchasing system.

 

Spring and Autumn Effects

 

Equal Energy Colour

Wearing Bright Season colours doesn’t mean that you’re a walking flag, just as the idea that Dark Season colouring wears only dark colours is not true. It means that of the 3 dimensions that every colour answers to (warm-cool, light-dark, muted-clear), the one thing about yours that isn’t medium is its purity of pigment.

Your colouring takes a Bright colour and makes it look normal, and you look normal in it. The other choice being, “It is a bit lifeless and you’re lifeless in it.”  A Dark person takes a dark colour and makes it look very normal with lots of colour and without getting shadowed by it. The other choice being “Is that black? Why, no, when it’s off your body, I can see that it’s quite purple. You’re changing it to look darker than it is. And it’s making you look like you’re standing in the shade. Weird.”

Energetically equal: You could lay the Bright Spring Colour Book on a Bright Spring item of clothing and have them be perfectly in balance, neither one dominating or disappearing. Therefore, they are in harmony.

The blue top could be True Spring, it’s not super intense blue, but the jump from light to dark in that outfit is more than you’d see on a True Spring. The white pants are too cool for True Spring. The overall darkness effect is still medium light, good on both True and Bright Spring, where True is a bit lighter.

 

Balancing Bright Spring

 

The items in the centre column can be inserted into Bright Spring outfits and the whole thing doesn’t fall apart.

Let’s put them into True Spring now.

 

Balancing True Spring

 

I don’t find the items balance so well. The top is too red and too blue. The jewelry is a little too bling. The clutch is hopeless.

Notice in True Spring that there are no bold lines. First, it’s harder to make a bold line when colours are gentle. Second, these colours won’t balance black, the boldest line of them all, in any quantity. The black just takes over. In small areas, Bright Spring can balance black quite easily.

That red leather jacket is interesting. I’m not sure where the real item would work. True Spring does have a red lollipop/fruit punch red. Leather tends to be heavy and thick on Spring, but in certain colours, such as light camel, it can work fine.

Who wears the dress?

Same exercise with dresses.

Animal prints are natural. But we can’t make assumptions about Season. Is the leopard print shiny gold better with the Autumn or Spring selection?  Is there one group where it seems too sparkly, separate, jingly, attention-getting, as Spring colour would on an Autumn person?

 

Spring and Autumn Colours

 

Just because the print is floral and fun doesn’t mean it’s Spring. Humans colours can fill in many different lines, so can prints. When we see that orange flowered dress among items that seem very True Spring – does it belong?

Does it matter as long as it provides heat? It does. The person will look quite different, and distinctly better in one.

We can’t stare or think our way to this answer.  You talk yourself into one and then into the other one. How will we figure it out? By measuring it using comparison, of course!!

Unless you have wavelenth-calibrated eyeballs, and I’ve never met anyone like that, you have to compare it. Lie the swatch book on it and see what happens. Put the dress among your Personal Luxury Drape collection.

Force the extremes. Some  of the Autumn dresses below contain black (Dark Autumn), which Spring colour will bounce right off of.

 

Spring or Autumn Choices

 

Where do the flowered dress and leopard print go? Not any easier, is it? If the leopard print is Bright Spring, it will be fine with a little black. Ditto the orange dress if it’s Autumn.

 

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9 thoughts on “Spring and Autumn Natural”

  1. Christine,
    This is a highly complex analysis that will take me several readings to absorb. What I find illuminating are the comparison photos and the idea that clothing items need to blend together in both color and line. Take the first photo with the orange jackets; the autumn jacket paired with brown pants and muted accessories blends, and the same for the spring outfit (although there is a bit too much bling for my taste). In the middle, the necklace and earrings seem more like spring while the watch is more autumn. To me, this points out the role of accessories to tie color and body line together. Your Pinterest photos of styles and body lines have been most helpful, and I’m glad to have an additional source for information.

  2. I’m sorry, but I find much of this quite offensive. It’s just chock full of stereotypes. Light Springs should google ‘fairy landscapes’ to inform their style? A mature woman working in corporate finance should do that? And an ‘exotic’ Indian princess? What is exotic about being Indian, unless you’re a Western Imperialist?

  3. I read this when you first posted it and had to put it aside for a while. Re-reading it, I just feel very confused. Trying to explain why, I hardly know where to start. The quick version is – at 60 years old and an introvert, I don’t feel comfortable in the shiny (the various forms of shine you describe made my head spin), head to toe high contrast clothes in these polyvores. Needing to have something neutral to work with and disliking grey and beige, I chose navy and bitter chocolate which seemed to be in my palette but which I never see in your examples. So maybe that’s a mistake, I hope not as it means a lot of $ down the drain. I really try hard to figure this out but just can’t seem to get it. The colour differences you describe here and on Pinterest are just not in my range of vision – I literally don’t see them. Maybe this all goes back to my PCA which I took mostly on faith as I didn’t have a strong sense of revelation there either. I’m not sure what to do now, I wish I felt sure about my PCA and how to use it but I don’t.

  4. Thanks to all of you quite sincerely for your comments. I see that I need to back off. I get caught up in technical decisions because that’s how I live with colour, but I must keep in mind that readers don’t (and don’t need to) see it or use it as I do. I also need to recognize my own ruts, since I believe that labels of how the Seasons should look is one of the most dangerous pitfalls for a colour analyst to make.

    CGH,

    I think you’re making brilliant decisions and thinking all the right things. First, how an analyst determines Season is completely different from how the client will use it, but I have overlapped the two, making it impossible for you to understand what you could take from it. My conclusion is the same as yours. None of them is terrible or great. They’re all ok. Every item is influencing every other item in colour and in line/shape. That is exactly how colours and lines behave.
    First, how colour appears is highly influenced by what’s around it. Second, we can perhaps rely more on our own sense of taste. If another person wore it and we would see it as attractive, then it’s perfectly fine. Getting stuck in too many rules means a loss of flexibility. Real world solutions must have flexibility, for taste, shape, budget, etc. I want PCA to work in people’s real lives. If it’s never anything more than a book of colour swatches, for me, there would be no point. I think of it as an endless collection of paintings I could create.

    Corinne,

    Thank you for letting me see my words from your perspective. I appreciate that. About the landscapes, it was to “inform of their colours”, not their style. I will go clarify that in the article. I find landscapes and interior design to be a good place to illustrate a colour collection without having a human face involved, so people can be a little more objective. The idea is to blur out the shapes and just see the colours – and then go recreate that effect using our own shapes. So, I ask for your help here. What can I use to show people a colour collection and language that will not be stereotypic, which I am more against than anyone? I’ve thought about food, but that’s an issue for people. I just don’t know what image will work.
    About the exotic Indian princess. This woman is a princess in her bearing, not her skin colour. She’d be an exotic (not a term I find offensive or stereotypic; for instance, I may be lots of things but exotic is not one of them, at least not to a North American, proving that I do have to free myself of Western perceptions) princess if she were green. Maybe all women should be seen as princesses, but I freely admit that I do not see myself as that painting. I said princess instead of queen to convey her very delicate bone structure, quite different from an Autumn-based face where bone and facial geometry are often more substantial than in Spring. I’ve analyzed numerous Indians and never seen that colouring combined with this incredible fragility of bone formation in the face and body.
    I am truly sorry to offend, I should have simply said Indian, whether that’s too defining of race or not, because the public does wonder if darker skin analyzes differently. I’m a fan of the new Star Trek movies for their life of possibility and exploring. Lieutenant’s Uhura’s roommate would be impish whether she were green, which she is, or not. Skin colour is irrelevant to anything. Interestingly, even to PCA. In our last course, the student was a Caucasian BW and her eyes saw this Indian woman’s skin react to colour exactly as her own white skin did. Truly remarkable.

    Laura,

    First, take out the shine. In the drapes, many have a shiny and matte side. Analysts are free to use whichever side they wish. For Test drapes, only in the Bright Seasons, they test with the shiny side because this person looks better in shine, while everyone else tends to be a little challenged by it. Doesn’t mean a Bright Season must wear shine ever.
    You are so right, we all need neutral colours. Navy and dark chocolate are fantastic choices, and we agree about gray and beige on Spring colouring. Just a matter of taste of course, but I see it as you do. Also, navy and dark chocolate, similar to gray and white (not so much beige), will work with what’s around them. As long as they’re close, they’re usually just fine.
    Many clients feel as you do, that they understand most of it but need a little help with the rest, depending on the level at which they want to live it. As with anything, the higher the level you want to attain, the more education you need. I encourage new analysts to offer 3 or 6 month visits with clients to answer follow up questions. The draping is just too big of an experience for most people to grasp and retain the first time. Women enjoy the second one so much more, if they want to see certain parts again. They can have the practical Q addressed after they’ve tried to do it on their own for a little while. Perhaps a talk with your analyst could clarify some points?
    Last thing that comes to mind is style type. A Gamine woman will wear much more colour at once than a Dramatic or Classic style type. These last will rely on more neutrals and fewer colour blocks. There are 10 style or body types and 13 Seasons. Illustrating all the combinations is beyond this blog’s ability or its intentions. This place is a colour lesson, but not every word and image applies equally to every style type, age, budget, profession, taste, etc. Take from it what applies to you, leave behind what you do now that feels better, maybe get an idea or two to try out. That’s all it needs to be.
    Sounds to me like you’re doing just fine. Nobody needs to be perfect. Perfect does not exist. Trust yourself and your own tastes. Internal approval counts for exponentially more than external approval.

  5. Christine,

    Thanks so much for your response. I was definitely feeling low when I wrote my comments. As you have guessed, I tend to be a perfectionist, also very goal oriented and feel like I’m failing if I don’t achieve the goal. Over the past year I’ve spent more time looking at clothes – online and in person – than the rest of my life put together! This has never been an area of strength for me, I’ve made many mistakes over the years so have a strong reaction when I feel I’m heading down that road again.

    Thank you for the good words about my neutral choices, I feel reassured. Today I’m feeling much better about using my colours after buying these
    http://www.softmoc.com/items/images/HEIDI%20DPU_XXX.jpg

    I love the idea of a follow up. Since you were my analyst :-) do you offer them?

    Laura

  6. As a Light Spring my own experience was that until I got over my problems with my colours (and I was VERY shocked and anti them at first, they are the colours of nightwear and the toddler wear departments – if I could get adult sized versions without designs of the clothing being sold for 3 year olds I’d be laughing, my swatch book would match the lot) I didn’t realise they were my problems and not the colours’ problems. I was the one who’d decided in my own mind that no one could possibly take those colours seriously and that adults shouldn’t wear them. Who makes these rules? Stuff that, coral, yellow and aqua make me feel great.

    So I am a business woman who does kitsch earrings frequently shaped like bananas, flowers or sweets, has yellow wellies and flowery boots and frequently delivers serious presentations in turquoise and coral pink, and yet I don’t by any means dress like a child. My logo is bright and in my colours. It does, weirdly, reflect far more of who I genuinely am than any attempts I made to dress as a typical professional, and I know from experience, the response I get from a room full of clients is significantly better and stronger if I go in the colours I feel good and myself and confident in than if I go dressed in a sober suit.

    Christine, it was your articles on Springs Children that really helped me get it and start experimenting and taking the risks not to go towards stereotypes but right away from them. I find those relational images so useful to think of. So fairy landscapes for me as Light Spring makes a whole lot of immediate sense and I understand the image. Cupcake shop would work too, and with the Light Spring palette it’s fact. That’s where the colour group is. Pastel interior designs, yup perfect. The Sci Art colours match your own inbuilt colours, they really are part of you and the challenge is authenticity. It took me a few years with the palette to realise dressing could be this much fun. :)

  7. Those boots are absolutely perfect. Of the 30 styles you could have chosen, these would be among the top 3. That’s all it is.

  8. This is a fun exercise! I’d be interested to hear where you would put the leopard and orange flower dresses. What gets me with the orange one is that the base color, the orange, feels more textured than glowy to me, which is how I think of autumn vs. spring (dried apricots, not apricot jelly), but the white flowers seem clearer and, obviously, lighter. What do you do with a multicolored item that’s half in your palette and half not?

    On that subject, does every item have a palette it fits best? In general, not just here. I wonder about some of the crazy color schemes out there, like the ones pairing very muted colors with pops of very bright, or with black – maybe for those whose personality/Kibbe does well with a little rule breaking? For that matter, does every color harmonize best with a single palette?

    And thanks for the ideas about interior decorating pics for color schemes. I’m planning some dyeing for fun, and looking for inspiration beyond black/white+red.

  9. It IS fun, I agree. I could spend hours doing it. It’s basically an exercise in feeling energy. The answer about those 2 dresses is that I do not know. I can see variables that might have them belong in a number of choices. And yes, every colour and every print (that I have tried) CAN be assigned to one Season best. You have to harmonize the entire fabric to the entire palette in filtered daylight or under Full Spec lights. I expect that there are completely unharmonious prints that I’ve never tried to apply to a Season because I’d never pick up that fabric in the first place. If it doesn’t feel good to me, I wouldn’t work with it.

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