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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.