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Soft Summer Landscapes

Soft Summer Landscapes

access_time 2011/11/10 account_circle chat_bubble_outline 70 Comments
Such a pleasant and sensible personality. I adore these people. Like any relationship, those who live with them may have plenty to deal with, but true to Summer’s politeness, the rest of us have it easy. There is a great equilibrium in this person, equal opportunity analytical and emotional processors and completely adaptable to your personal preference.

Autumn’s determination is coming on board. Settled by Summer’s consideration for others, it feels more like stability. Ask a Winter what they think. Ask a Summer how they feel. This person gladly answers to both, easily exploring both worlds, allowing them to flow in and out of one another, calm and safe, without the need to erect or protect boundaries between them.

The darkest of the Summers, Soft Summer does not look like a light person. They look like Kate Middleton and Angelina Jolie, like Christy Turlington and Fergie. Their very mediumness makes it strangely easy to mistakenly place them in almost any Season. And that’s Part 2.

This is the group that feels dusky to me. Many appear to have a natural tan year round.

Ellen Pompeo soft summer

Telegraph Interview by Steve Marsi at TV Fanatic

The Soft Seasons are surely the least demanding. These are the days when the heat and humidity of summer have passed recently enough to still feel them. The air is cool enough that clothes don’t stick and faces don’t shine.

Being outdoors is the relief it was intended to be, the easing that comes with simply being in our Nature home and the restoration that is undeniable when we make time for it. We come from earth and are balanced and completed by intimacy with it. In Soft Summer, Nature is the shelter, support, and contentment of the bed of moss under the canopy of pine branches.

Foggy summer forest

The choice of where we direct our attention is ours for a change. In a cloud, edges are shadowy, they vanish and reappear continuously. Lines can wave, surfaces can shimmer.

In a composition, such as an outfit, there’s an undercurrent of grey that unites the elements and provides visual continuity. Prints blur from a distance, like tricks of the light. No big transitions between colour elements exist so objects blend into one another gradually, as hallucinations, being inside a dream, a watercolour mirage.

Sound is muffled, the air is velvety, and secluded tranquility enfolds us. Like Soft Autumn, Soft Summer’s colours are all giving and no taking. In clothes and makeup, colour pops don’t belong here. Stay inside the palette and keep colour subliminally gradual. Soft Summer is not explicit.

If you had to pick a highlight, would yellow really be the one that feels best? By comparison, the taupe feels good. It feels like it belongs (because it does).

rainy landscape with stripes for highlights


There needs to be darkness somewhere, not a lot, just a touch. Very light isn’t what she looks like. Isn’t natural hair colour the best? If ever a Season should emanate cool un-complication, it is this one.

The dress in the image below is a lovely example of colour that is dark and still soft. Many Soft Summers are disappointed to learn that black is not becoming, and when they see this option, they are relieved.

Christy Turlington soft summer

Photo: Splash News.

Less eyelet and lace than True Summer, though she can wear bits of both, and a little more bulk. Still Summer sheer but a bit straighter though not yet sturdy. Still quite ladylike, though she doesn’t really emphasize that part of herself. Pearls and cameos certainly work, in the rosy, fleshy browns of the inside of red grapes.

Her song, being around her, can feel like this (sorry, couldn’t embed it). That slowed-down, soothing way she moves, the softness of the way she moves her mouth and the sounds she makes, those are very characteristic of Soft Seasons. Ever heard Jennifer Aniston interviewed? Lots of soft oo and mm sounds. Angelina Jolie is similar. She’s quiet, controlled, unhurried, loving but forthright, more reserved than Spring spunky.

More colours apart than True Summer, ie: less monochromatic. Not all over the map but introducing some variety absolutely works. The combinations in this Season are particularly amazing to me. Hold these colours together in your head till you see them clearly: antique turquoise with grey pearl; dove grey and cocoa rose; sage and stormcloud blue ; pewter and softest rose. Feels good, doesn’t it?


70 Thoughts on Soft Summer Landscapes

  • Jessica

    Thank you for this analysis. It is so spot-on! I’m a Soft Summer, and some of my favorite products are Maybelline Shine Sensational Lip Gloss in Tempting Toffee (a brownish-pink that thankfully does not pull orange) and NYX Lip Pencil in 831 Mauve (my Soft Summer answer to the M.A.C. Spice lip pencil.) In an older post on Soft Summers you mentioned Clinique’s eyeliner in Smoky Brown, and it is beautiful as well. I’m having a hard time finding a suitable blush color in a matte formula, though. So many have shimmer, and I just don’t care for that look on myself. I’d love suggestions! 🙂

  • Anna

    MAC Syrup lipstick has already been mentioned, but wanted to add that it makes a wonderful cream blush. Its mauvey tone is much closer to my natural blush color than any pink or berry cream blush I’ve tried. For powder blush, Benefit Dandelion is pink with slight mauvey undertones. Strangely, some people find it too shimmery, but I find it matte. Maybe it’s the particular package I have? MAC Strada blush is a matte greyed pink; it’s a wonderful contour color for those of us who look terrible in bronzer and pink-browns. Clinique Iced Lotus blush is a violet-pink; it’s definitely an evening blush because of its shimmer and deeper color, but it’s basically an amplified version of Syrup/Dandelion, and you do need stronger blush in darker lighting. Clinique Quickliner in Blue-Gray gives my eyes just the right amount of definition, and looks more natural than brown eyeliner. For those in Europe, Manhattan cosmetics makes a wonderful (and cheap!) medium blue-gray mascara. Korres also does a medium greenish-gray mascara, but it’s often out of stock. Bourjois Stretch eyeshadow in Brun Nylon is not really brown, but a sheer cool-toned taupe with a very slight sheen that won’t overwhelm SS’s. I love MAC Vex for an inner-eye highlight, as long as I use a light hand. It looks like it belongs on my face, unlike the frosty pinks/golds/whites that makeup artists usually recommend. Stila Natalie lipstick was the only somewhat intense lipcolor I’ve ever found that didn’t overwhelm my face, but sadly, it’s been discontinued. Bobbi Brown Plum Berry and Cover Girl Edgy are apparently good dupes for it, but I haven’t tried them.

  • Anna

    Just wanted to add, I know that shimmer is not recommended for SS’s, but I have deep-set eyes, so a touch of shimmer on my lids brings out my eyes.

  • Nynd

    I’m so flabbergasted and thrilled and astounded that I don’t know where to start. Bless you, Christine ,and thank you, thank you, thank you. You show us someone better in the mirror than we ever see for ourselves. Genuflections.

    Ooh, the Polyvore: I wants teh Donna Karan wrap dress and teh taupe boots and teh shoes and stuffs and willya-look-at-all-that-teal???? Ooh, yes, we wants it, we does.

    (Am intriged by the swallow ring. Before I clicked on it, I was sort of hoping it was a Special Operations Exercutive issue tooled-up bluebird of happiness with biplane wings and gin miniatures stowed in the undercarriage, but it’s not, it’s a very clever mask motif, and I love the wit of it. Dame Vera Lynn would approve, am sure.)

  • Paisley

    Makeup that works for me with everything in the palette:

    Bobbi Brown’s Cool Beige foundation, Bone and Cement eye shadows, Sepia Ink liner on the top lid, and just a light smudge of Black Plum under the bottom lashes
    Black mascara, 1 coat
    MAC Copperplate for brow powder
    MAC Brit Wit blush
    Lip balm of any kind

    I like Granite Ink liner with Estee Lauder More Than Mascara navy mascara, too, for a lean toward cool.

    For evening makeup, I love Dior’s Lifting Gray palette. It’s sparkly, but not frost, more dimensional, and very sheer, not like it looks in the pan. The palette includes a perfect taupe liner/brow color. Probably a little against the rules, but … I can’t resist Dior gray with taupe liner. Dior Londres lipstick, yeah.

    The most perfect eye shadow color I’ve ever had is the long discontinued Sea Glass, by Aromaleigh, described as a greyed lavender taupe matte. It looks like a little pot of dust. It paired beautifully with a pale off yellow called Oyster. Have a Google. If you find anything that looks like that, it’s worth a try.


  • Ashley

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU a million. My gratitude is all yours. This post made me feel beautiful. 🙂

    Quiet and strong CAN be just as beautiful as loud and glamorous. Thank you for showing me that as a soft summer I have my own beauty, too!

  • Kathryn

    It’s amazing how well you captured the strongest aspects of my personality and the way I feel about my favorite weather! I’m a Bobbi Brown woman now–they matched my coloring to a tee: Lipstick is “Brownie” and lippie with SPH is “Desert Rose”. Eyeshadows for everyday face are “Grey” and “Slate”. Blush is “Sand Pink”, though I have to apply it lightly than a darker SS might. This is the best look I have EVER had. Thanks so much for everything!

  • inge

    Thank you so much, Christine!!!!

  • Helen

    Oh beautiful. Really beautiful, the words and the pictures, so evocative and sensory. I particularly like the stripes of colour in the picture, it’s so possible to see exactly what you mean when you say your eye relaxes when you see the taupe against those colours. Gorgeous images, it’s relaxing just reading it. I’m now jealous of all soft summers, who wouldn’t want to be one reading this! Thank you for posting another in this series, every one of them has been a delight to read.

  • Nynd

    “Look for the layer of good old house dust.” This is very validating, this is. This is how you get that soft-summer feel regardless of what you’re starting with, and I really am terribly pleased to realise that I’ve been unconsciously decorating in my season for YEARS. It’s not sloppy housekeeping, it’s cultivating patina, whereas dusting ruins the ambience and effaces the gentle and subtle efforts of time, and I will being having absolutely no truck with this unnatural activity henceforth.

    Just love the word and photo imagery. There’s a locally iconic photo by Peter Dombrovskis called “Rock Island Bend, Franklin* River”, and these pictures have that same mist-over-substantial feel. That taupe bar – symmetry and superimposition and stark geometry is everything SSu is not, but it doesn’t poke you in the eye like the others do.

    Love it, in case we haven’t mentioned this.

    (* Yep, Christine, THAT Franklin, he of the doomed north-west passage expedition.)

  • Paisley

    I love that the ladies pictured are all wearing a subtle lip color.

  • Kirsten

    This article about Soft Summer is so enlightening. It’s not my season, but for a long time I wasn’t sure what kind of Summer I was because I didn’t seem to fit any of the Dominant Characteristic types. (I could tell for sure I’m not dark, bright, or warm.) Because you’ve shown how beautiful Soft Summer can be, I realize I can never be transformed into that kind of beauty, but I can certainly enjoy it in people blessed with that coloring.

  • Isabella

    Well, I am a TSp but I lived undercover for many years as basically a Soft Summer (indeed, on the surface my coloring appears much like these ladies’) and my go-to lipstick was Nars’ “Dolce Vita,” so I’m just throwin’ that out there.

  • Denise

    Lovely, lovely writing. So evocative and thoughtful. I’m one of those soft summers whose mediumness makes almost any season seem believable. Indeed I’ve been analyzed as and experimented with several. And I’ve identified myself as several in the comments sections of Christine’s writings (sigh, a little embarrassed). In my latest experiments with dark winter, i saw that those colors look good but harden my features a bit, especially around the eys, and I’m currently living as soft summer.

    Christine, in another place you said you were rethinking Clinique All heart lipstick. It looks to me as a match for one of the darker and warmer of the SS reds. I’d love to know what you think. It sure works for me.

  • Kristina

    Clinique Shy is the best lip color!!

    Speaking of Soft Summers, Katie Holmes looked amazing in a marshmallow white dress and soft makeup on Letterman the other night:

  • Denise

    I forgot my main question! Christine, do you mean that 75% of the colors in the fan are cool and 25% are warm? Or do you mean that each color in the fan is neutral to the measure of 75% cool and 25% warm? The second is how it looks to me, but I’m wondering. . . .

    • Christine Scaman

      I’m truly happy that you found associations here that struck a familiar chord.

      Right, the second, with some variation. All 8 Neutral Seasons have cool and warm versions of their colours, so some will be more weighted to warm, others cool. You can see that when you spread out the fan. Wearing the cools and warms together just looks so good. After all, that’s how Nature painted you.
      Interesting Q about AllHeart. It could probably fit a few. It’s just a bit too brown for Bright Spring, just a bit too clear for Dark Winter. I expect it would match S Su swatches, so then it depends on the woman herself and whether she loves it or not. There are a few colours that will match 2 Seasons, especially if those Seasons have common elements, like Mercier Dry Rose for S Su and DW. Isabella’s Dolce Vita is another great example, especially good because it’s fairly sheer (with that one, I see more brown (as DW) over grey (S Su’s better look), but I can certainly see how it could adapt). TW and T Su have some shared colours as well. B Sp and S Su haven’t much in common, but if the lipstick feels right to you, a lot about it could be fine.

  • Cathy

    The strips of colors over the landscape really are a great tool to immediately sense what would be out of harmony. The photos support your words beautifully. It must take you so much time to find these photos which are not only a delight to see but support your concepts. I was categorized once as a Soft Summer (I think I am a True or Cool) but knew it wasn’t right as my complexion is pale and pink with the lilac lip tones and some of the really soft tones weren’t right–too washed out and I lost the “glow” and aliveness. But all of these “essays” help to zero in and let us appreciate the beauty in all of the various blueprints. Thank you so much, Christine.

  • Kathryn

    Just happened to be reading about someone else who got her season wrong for a long time as I did…. SS is, indeed, difficult to assess sometimes. After testing the warm/cool thing for so long, I thought I was LSp and now I see why I ended up in that category at first. When I was younger, I was quite colorless and people often said to me, “My, you are very fair…” Now that I’m older, my skin tone is closer to a typical light SS tone now probably because of the years of living in a sunny climate and baking, etc. Not what one normally hears for SS. I never saw the softness in my eye color either–was it because the colors I was wearing made them seem harder?

    Of all the colors I never took seriously, SS was the last season on the radar. Plus my mother told me I looked terrible in grey….of all things! The right grey is one of my very best! Not until I realized that something needed adjusting in the LSp values did I begin to realize that something was off. I could see all the other “off” neutral seasons…but still not SS–not until the 12 Blueprint ladies helped me figure it out. One wonders how one could miss the obvious for so long… And I still can’t see that I am “dusky”–I looked it up in the dictionary and it means “dark”–I am emphatically not dark. A better word for the lightest SS’s would be “dusty”. Yes…I am light-medium overall, of low contrast, and dusty–if that makes sense. “Dusky” always eliminated me.

  • Anna

    Dusky eliminates me as well. I like the idea of “dusty”.

  • Melinda

    I use to think I might be a SS as well so to find out I was a TA was quite a surprise. I rebelled against orange when I was younger because my older sister, trying to tease me, told me that my favorite color was orange. I would have none of that. No one tells me what color or things I like! I think I was five or six at the time. I had avoided orange ever since. I can be a bit determined when I set my mind to something. lol

    Now though, after wearing my TA colors and reading this article, I can see how many of these colors made me look a bit pale and brought out some weird coloring in my skin. (I would guess that was due to the lack of warmth.) Now my skin looks like summer all the time in my TA colors. That whole “bronze” undertone Christine really applies and I could never see it in the SS colors.

    I still admire the SS colors and landscape though. They are so soft and feminine. It seems to me that there is such soft elegance and something about a SS person that you feel you can trust.

    Beautifully done Christine. Once again, you do not disappoint!

  • Melinda

    I should correct that my skin doesn’t look like ‘summer’ it looks warm like it has a glow to it. Any way….

  • Denise


    Thanks for your thoughtful response. BTW I have pictured in my mind Vivianne and Nimue as soft summers. Darker and lighter respectively. So, a soft summer would drive a pewter or grayed silver Avalon!

    This article helped me get a handle on how to wear SS colors for my particular coloring. Warm + cool, and light + dark for sure. Thank you so much!

  • Darlene

    I have a question for the SS on here. I have often thought that I have what I term a, “Chameleon personality”. I change to be whatever the group is lacking. This has irritated me as I could never pin myself down as one way or the other. Leader in one group and supporter in a different group. Is this just me or is this typical of SS?

  • Natalie

    Eyebrows: Bare Minerals brow color in “Dark Blonde” (BEST FIND EVER. This is the ONLY brow color I’ve ever found ash enough to fill in my brows without looking like I did). Actually it looks just like the color of Christy Turlington’s brows in the pic above.

    Eyeshadow: Bobbi Brown: “Cement” (light-medium grey) and “Heather” (dusty purple). When I put Cement on my whole lid, it makes me sigh with relief, because all my facial coloring comes together. Then Heather in the crease. Both shadows are matte.
    Eyeliner: Laura Geller Eye Rimz baked shadow in “Plum like it hot” (there are copper swirls in this, but they aren’t noticeable). What comes off on your brush is a unique darkish neutral color that looks just right.

    *This exact combo of eye makeup, along with brown mascara, makes teal eyes look really special while blending perfectly with SS skin.* I’m have darker hair, so I was surprised to find that brown mascara works for me. You really can see it, and it just “plays nicer” with SS makeup than black.

    Lips: Some sort of purplish lip liner underneath MAC Plushglass gloss in “Wildly Lush” (GIVE THIS ONE A CHANCE. It looks weird in the tube – goes on nude and shiny, but that changes after just a minute. What you get is healthy looking lips and the perfect color for you. Kind of like the Christy Turlington picture. It also blends the lip liner).

  • Danielle

    Thank you so much for this lovely post. I had a custom color analysis a few months ago. I really like the colors, but without being placed into a “season,” it is sometimes hard to figure out how the colors should work together and what the overall look should be. I have gone back and forth with whether the colors are more soft autumn or soft summer. I bought the elea blake lip drape to try to decide. I like the soft summer color (Connect the Dots) better than the Soft Autumn color. I get stuck though when I try other Soft Summer recommendations. MAC syrup does not work well on me. I have dark hair and maybe it is just too light? My question is whether MAC syrup seems work on most soft summers, regardless of how dark they are?

  • Melanie Spencer


    I just wanted to say I think this article is so inspired. I’m presently on a journey trying to identify my season and I wondered whether you have any tips/clues or tests to identify whether soft summer maybe the right season for me as I felt that I identified with a lot of what you’ve written in terms of the soft summer personality.

    A number of years ago I decided I was autumn based on the old 4 season approach however looking over the photos the clothes and the makeup just don’t look quite right. I thought that because I had medium brown hair and my skin had a yellowish tinge that I must be warm however after reading a few suggestions I recently compared my colouring to that of a pumpkin to check out the 3 autumn possibilities and I noticed I was actually quite pink in comparison. That said I always thought I looked awful in pink but looking back over the photos the pinks were not the dusty pinks of soft summer so it’s got me wondering. I checked out the silver / gold test and found that both look ok providing they are quite dull rather than shiny so I’m thinking that the soft seasons are a definate possibility. In sunlight my hair does have some red highlights so this has thrown me a little as I don’t know whether that indicates more warmth however the hair near the roots is much flatter in colour. Aside from this my eyes are a teal colour with a circle around the pupil that is the colour of a cigar if this offers any suggestions that maybe helpful.

    I would be very keen to hear of any suggestions that I could try to explore the soft summer option further.

    Thanks so much for your articles they are really fascinating, you make every season sound so beautiful!

  • Nynd

    Christine, could you talk a little about the floral top on the far left? This, along with the Hugo Boss bamboo skirt, is more contrasty than I’d wear, with the former looking more wintery and the later just a little grey-based, to my eye, though the colour bars look right. The caveat and qualifier is that I’m Ellen Pompeo in respect of natural contrast level and not Kate Middleton, and it’s understood that you have to try to embrace a diverse end-user populace when you’re putting these together. (We also realise that sometimes Polyvore choices have to approximate what’s actually in the mind’s eye, and sometimes one can’t even get close. SSu’s dusty chartreuses, for example, are hard to find anywhere, and non-existent on Polyvore, at least last time I looked (HOURS, I spent, what a time-suck that was!), and yet they are so successful on when we do find them, pace a lost and sadly lamented scarf I once had. And there’s no substituting a brighter or clearer yellow or more olivine tone, or the point is lost.)

  • Sarabeth

    I think I’m a Soft Summer (follow ‘s extensive website) and have to admit I am bummed out… While it IS true that I am naturally drawn to grays, teals, and fuschia’s- but I love their vibrancy! the SS’s palette feels so… BLAND. Where is the drama??

    My personality is not all “let’s have tea in England,” it’s more- “let’s hit up five different museums in an hour!” (I dunno- energetically into culture??). I’m a high-energy thinker, not a muser… (or maybe just a neurotic muser.) I think fast, I talk fast.

    Could it be that I misdiagnosed myself? Should I dye my hair darker so I can wear some pumped-up colors (go more into Winter?) I’m having problems using the gold vs. silver test to determine warm vs cool skintone- however, I simply LOATHE olives, burnt oranges, and browns, which should be its own indicator, right?

  • Sarabeth

    PS- I’m also a larger person, and I feel having monochromatic, mostly-neutral outfits not only washes my coloring out, but turns me into one neutral-looking lump! What’s a plus-sized girl to do without being able to go into blacks? I also love high-contrast, graphic patterns… So sad 🙁

  • Kristina

    Danielle– I don’t like MAC Syrup, either. It’s too pink on me.

  • Audrey

    Thank you Christine for a beautiful and accurate description! I’ve always felt like a bridge between two worlds (emotion/intellect, light/dark, etc).

    Make up Selections: I agree that Bobbi Brown “cement” eyeshadow does something that no other “highlight” color has done for me. Christine, it matches exactly the top left color in your “Best Soft Summer Make up” post. Also, BB “Ash” eyeshadow which is a perfect ash eyebrow color (a little darker than Bare Minerals “Dark Blonde”).

    Lipstick: Trish McEvoy sheer lipstick in “Florence”. It looks like it will be too bright but the sheerness saves it. A good color for dressing up in the summertime. I can also wear Bobbi Brown “Italian Rose” although I think it leans more toward Soft Autumn.

    Finally, I became an Elea Blake fan because I had never found a blush that worked before hers (Fussbudget shade). The first day I wore it, three people commented on how healthy and even my *skin* looked (not that they liked my blush).

    BTW, I’m a *slightly* darker SS, not like Kate Middleton but a little darker than Ellen Pompeo

    • Christine Scaman

      Thank you for the ideas. Heather is gorgeous as you say. Cement is a terrific colour too. I wonder if it might be great on some and a bit yellowed for others…I liked Grey very well. For Soft Summer, Bobbi Brown is a hard all-round one to beat.

      I like Syrup hugely on Soft Summers under, say, 30, where lip definition is still very good. It may depend a bit on the darkness of the woman and her own preferences and how she’s used to seeing herself. After 40, I agree that Syrup isn’t enough to look polished and sophisticated.

      Your colour perceptions and descriptions are very accurate (love the cigar analogy). There’s just so much variability among members of a Season that I cannot even do Season from a photo, let alone the best descriptions ever. It’s easier for women who fit into the ‘average’ look, but even there, it’s a boobytrap because there are so few averages. The ‘average’ True Summer can be a real-life Bright Spring and vice versa. I think most women are very surprised when they learn what they really are.

      You mean the floral T-shirt. I called that cool-enough white, maybe the coolest colour in oatmeal, which I see as good on SSu, and a taupe flower. The contrast level, as you say, more for some than others. I don’t use contrast levels to identify Season. I think it’s one of those unmeasurables that just adds to confusion. Everybody would be a little different and it gets all muddy. My short rule is ‘repeat what you look like’. Kate Middleton has more distance between her lightest and darkest inherent colours and she’d look good. Ellen Pompeo’s transitions are barely there so she could sure wear the lightest and darkest from the Colour Book (since it does all the thinking in terms of your best darkness levels), but she might insert a medium darkness block to keep the flow between colours more gradual. Is that what you meant?
      You’re not alone on the dusty chartreuse. I have seen it exactly once.

      Can you rely on your character, whether your opinion of it or others’ (which will be different)? Nope.
      Rely on your reaction to the palettes? God, no. Everybody has to adjust somehow.
      What you like and what looks good (or not good) on you are quite different. Not one of us can see ourselves as others do.
      Answer: get an objective and independent (not your family or friends) assessment from someone with a calibrated set of tools (drapes) who doesn’t care what Season you want to be 🙂
      Part of loving your Season is knowing for a fact that it enhances everything about you. You can learn to love anything that you know for a fact has that power.

      Bridge between two worlds… that’s lovely. And perhaps one of those spookily accurate self-descriptions. I agree Italian Rose leans SA, but then it sounds as if you do as well.

  • Cynthia Masri

    Hi Christine, love your landscape pieces and cannot wait to order the book. I was analyzed as a light summer however I identify more with soft summer… serious, more work; less play. Also many of light summer’s brights turn my skin a funky warm color. Does soft summer go beyond medium because burgandy is a dark color right?

    Perhaps I was misdiagnosed.

    • Christine Scaman

      Don’t use personality as any kind of guide for Season, not one iota. ONLY think about what the colours that perfected your skin have in common. That ‘funky warm colour’, I guess I’d have to see it, but it shouldn’t happen. If this wasn’t a Sci\ART analysis, then I don’t know what the colours that company included in Light Summer are. They all vary a bit.
      Your question “does S Su go beyond medium…” – medium what? medium darkness, do you mean? Then, yes, it does go to a medium-dark in pewter, soft pine, and those cool burgundies. Just not all the way to black and never very strongly saturated.

  • Nynd

    Cynthia – the poster-woman for light summer, in my mind, is Cate Blanchett.

    In addition to being an astonishingly gifted actress, she has also, with her husband, ressurected, greened and fiscally turned around the ailing Sydney Theatre Company.

    Nothing frivolous about Cate’s roles or her achievements. Gravitas and chops in spades,. and radiant in light summer colours.

    Christine: yep, that’s what I meant – good to have the boundaries stretched a little. Thanks for thinking aloud that bit more, as always.

  • Ashley

    I’m still working out the depth/contrast issue myself. Being more on the medium side, is it normal for me to need to “ground” my lighter-to-medium colors with a darker piece? For example, I have a lovely medium plum cardigan that looks fairly bland on its own or with my raincloud scarf. It’s better with a dark grey tank top underneath. However, I can wear deeper grey tops by themselves.

  • Kathryn

    @ Danielle — someone recommended MAC “Syrup” to me, too. It looked okay but lacked oomph. I found that Bobbi Brown’s “Brownie” or even “Desert Rose” were much better (and I’m not really what you would consider “dark”).

    I’ve become a huge Bobbi Brown fan of late and would recommend going there and having them match you to their colors. They match you to a shade or two deeper than your natural shade and it will work well with whatever season you fall into. They tend to put you in a neutral of what’s already in the skin tone even if they aren’t consciously trying to accomplish a “seasonal” analysis.

    A BB eye shadow that several of the Soft Summer ladies seem to like is “Cement”. I think it’s a sort of warm greige, not unlike a number of their beige neutral colors. For me it was a bit too light and my best two colors turned out to be “Grey” and “Slate”.

    You’ll have to experiment to be sure you are satisfied with the depth and contrast levels. All of us wear similar shades but at different strengths and combinations. When you get it right, it’ll be your own signature look. Good luck!

  • Kathryn

    Epiphany this morning! Was reading David Zyla’s archetypes again (“Dusky Summer”) and suddenly realized that the word “dusky” does not refer to the woman. It refers to the woman’s best colors. Well, that puts everything into perspective.

  • ruth edwards

    Hi Sarabeth,
    I’m quite drawn to drama too. Like the idea of the “colour pop” accessory, saw an ad for karen millen with mid lavender leather jkt, aubergine silk scarf, then green (dark emerald snakeskin effect) bag. model prob a size zero lol. may be a way to do colour/ drama without it eclipsing our features/ colouring. Not quite the spirit of soft summer, perhaps, but allows touch of drama without complexion mangling brights framing the face 🙂 do you like metallics?

    Christine, you have tapped the essence of my colour-soul with this piece…thank you so much.

    • Christine Scaman


      A metallic thread maybe. Not really though. You end up looking at the sparkle and the woman just got grayer, and therefore receded in the way that background colours are always grayed. I like luster. Like a pearl. Not shine, shimmer, twinkle. Just luster. Softness.


      Interesting you find so many are soft in your country. I would have guessed Spring (but that’s probably Poland) and Winter. In Canada, I see many many Softs.

  • Karen

    This is just fantastic. I knew I was a summer since the eighties, but only recently became certain that I’m a soft. Ellen Pompeo is my colortwin. I even have the same grey eyes with a little olive. She seems to know her pallette as she she wear the right colors most of the time.
    I’m lucky the colors are easy to find in Scandinavia, including the infamous chartreuse. I believe a very big fraction of us are softs.
    And this is the third time I have come back to stare at the collage. Amazing.

  • janette morrison

    @ Danielle….. I like MAC syrup on me 🙂 I was analysed as a summer in the UK’s House of Colour system but am having a sci/art draping in a few weeks in London so am hoping I will be a soft summer as I feel at home in Christine’s descriptions of SSu x

  • ruth edwards

    Hi, Christine,
    I mean like dulled pewter or something, bit of lustre, not star trek metallics-yux!!
    Happy New Year!

  • Janine

    I have had 50 + years of trial and much error with colour until I discovered that I am a Soft Summer. I already knew that mid-dark greys looked good on me as well as dusty teal, dusty pink, that elusive dusty chartreuse, not white, not black etc etc. and no great contrasts… all!

    I have never been colour typed but don’t feel I need to formally know now having found the Soft Summer landscape which identifies me to a T. Even many of the make-up suggestions I already use and they hardly appear as make-up.

    I have finally ‘arrived’ and feel totally comfortable. Shopping is easy – it’s colour first, always first before style and fit. I am no longer considering the fashion colours in clothing or make-up. I am supremely happy in my own little corner of the seasons and feel comfortable, elegant and not self conscious for the first time, probably ever.

    I’m just wondering how many Soft Summers are INFJ’s? This will probably be coincidental but there does seem to be a hint at this personality type in your writing Christine.

    I love thinking – fog, haze and dust with a little mud!

    • Christine Scaman


      Pewter is perfect, in suits, jewelry. I have seen a photo of a Soft Summer woman recently in a dark pewter blazer with a subtle sheen, perhaps the best rendition of S Su colour and makeup I have ever seen.


      The ladies on facebook were asking a similar question lately. If I had time, I’d do a survey of the types and the Seasons. I’m certain there would be similar MB personalities for each Season, maybe not one but several of a type (like Supervisors and Idealists in the Summers, Rationals in the Winters).

  • Cindy

    Christine, this is one of your best. The visuals of nature photographs next to the clothing for the season connect your beautiful descriptions like putting together a 1000 piece puzzle! Not to sound greedy, but you mentioned that this is Part 1. When can we see Part 2? Thanks for the hard work that oviously went into this.

  • Christine Scaman


    I’ve been wondering why I keep getting requests for Part 2 of this article. I never knew what people were meaning till I went back and read it. You mean at the beginning where I refer to the reasons why I see so many Soft Summers? I just meant that the reasons are in 2 parts. The first is that they don’t have any problem seeing themselves, accepting new colours, or appropriating a new version of themselves. Part 2 is that they’re so medium that they seem to fit into many Seasons. Is that what you (and everyone else) were referring to?

  • Cindy

    Christine, I re-read the article and could see what you meant this time. Thanks for straightening that out! Guess I wasn’t alone.

  • Emily H.

    Thank you so much for your beautiful insights and instruction. I have finally found my season- Soft Summer. I have the gray blue eyes, the low overall contrast and the naturally ash/mousy hair. I look best in dusty pinks, teals, and grayed out colors. Because my skin tone is neutral leaning warm, I had recently been going more for peach and slightly warmer makeup tones thinking I was more “warm” than cool. I knew enough not to go dramatic with the colors, though. (I have a degree in painting, so it isn’t like color theory is a foreign concept). The warmer stuff honestly isn’t too bad, but it lacks the magic. Yesterday when I did my face in mauves and blue grays, it was like my face just lit up. I feel gorgeous! It feels so right and oddly freeing. You have changed my life.

    Now I realize my hair color is not quite right and have to figure out how to tell my colorist that I want to go ashier with the color… The good news is that outside of the blacks, my wardrobe is already almost all SS! I guess my intuitive color sense is pretty good after all. It will be hard to leave the black behind, but I can do it.

    FYI, Alima Pure (a mineral makeup line) has some gorgeous matte and pearluster eyeshadow colors that are perfect for SS. Very dusty! They have a very nice website.

  • Kylie

    I found these lovely pictures (of a soft summer cabbage!) on a blog today while looking for “glaucous blue”. Don’t know about the rest of the SS ladies, but I’d be more inclined to wear the cabbage than eat it. 🙂

    On a completely different topic … I noted some reference to personality earlier in this thread, which happens to be one of my very strongest areas of personal interest (I prefer the Enneagram to Myers-Briggs but know a reasonable amount about the latter, too).

    Based on introspection alone, I’d not really expect to find much meaningful correlation between personal colouring and personality. (I’m an ENTP 8w7, and while I might be a little ‘softer’ than most Enneagram Type 8s and have worked a little harder on developing my tertiary ‘Feeling’ than most Rational ENTPs, I still think you’d have to look long and hard before finding much relationship between that and my soft summer colouring.) However, since the plural of anecdote is *not* data, it’s absolutely possible that there is a good correlation between the two and that I am, once again, just a statistically insignificant outlier. 😀

    That said, I can give an anecdote that you might find amusing, Christine: my husband is an INTJ Dark Winter. Like you.

    • Christine Scaman


      Love the cabbages. They remind me of a comment from Mary Steele about the young Angelina Jolie’s photo on facebook, “dusted with cocoa powder”, for Soft Summer. These are with icing sugar.

      The plural of anecdote is not data. Now that’s outstandingly good.

      I’m not familiar with Enneagrams. What I notice about MB is that it doesn’t define how you seem to other people, it defines how you react, meaning what types of data 🙂 matter to you to guide a reaction to a stimulus or event.
      The Season personality thing is probably in some other part(s) of the brain. I find it in how one interacts with others, how one presents oneself…maybe social types of behaviours?
      I’m not a psychologist but the two character descriptions appear to me to be concerned with very different aspects of behaviour. Could you agree?
      I bet there are many I’s in the Winter group. I bet there are many E’s in the Summers that have the same last 3 letters as many Winters.

  • Kylie

    Hi Christine,

    The anecdote-data observation is NT humour, through and through. 😀

    I agree that the Enneagram and MBTI deal with different aspects of personality, and I also agree with your interpretation of MB as being concerned with “what types of data matter to you” … on the way in (perception), during processing, and then on the way out again (communication style)! I usually think of MB style as the cognitive filters we use to deal with information, and the Enneagram as our motivations and cognitive and emotional habits. The Enneagram doesn’t actually seek to define how we come across to other people, either, but the energy of our ‘type’ does frequently impact others so can nonetheless frequently flavour the impression we make on them. (If you’re interested, I see definite similarities of description between the following core seasons and Enneagram energy stereotypes: Autumn and 8, 6; Winter and 1, 4, 5; Spring and 7, 3; Summer and 2, 9.)

    As you suggest, yes, I suppose season could at least partially describe how we interact with others, present ourselves, etc. I relate to a few of the aspects of SS you’ve talked about, and if I look at those in addition to the Enneagram and MBTI, I see a fuller picture than I do without it. Internally, finding a balance between TS’s code of conduct and love of precision on the one hand and Autumn’s determination and pragmatism on the other is often an interesting exercise, for example. And in line with other comments you’ve made about SS … I don’t see myself as very pink or light (favourite colours were always the darker ocean and storm colours – teal, steel blue, sea green, heavy grey – with a bit of burgundy here and there) … my stepfather reckons I sound like a deeper-voiced Alison Krauss … and the examples of people commenting on (a) me being soothing/comforting to be around and (b) my ability to switch easily from logic to emotion and back again (or even more confusingly for some people, doing both at once) are legion. A pattern is there, if you look at it from the right angle, particularly if you ignore the #1 Wintery aspect of me needing to control things and the #2 one of me feeling a gravitational pull towards logo-lessness and non-futzy lines in clothing, makeup, jewellery, interior design and so forth. (Cameos, floral patterns and antique-y things feel all wrong to me. They’re pretty from a distance and I agree that they fit nicely with the SS palette, but they still don’t belong in *my* less girly, less traditional, dirty-earthier and heavier space. I’m more stormy ocean and driftwood than filigree and flowers. That said, I am even more so the opposite of my opposites – those for whom TMIT is brightness. Glitter and spark and neon and buzzyness and cuteness are not me at all. If I really had to choose, I’d wear the cameo.)

    But I digress, and you wrote something that’s roused my curiosity. When you talk about a comparative preponderence of Is and Es in Winter and Summer, respectively, are you referring to cognitive processing preferences or appearance to others? And what patterns would you expect to see in the Spring and Autumn seasons?

    • Christine Scaman

      I’m not nearly as versed in the MB. I can’t even remember the 4 letter codes, I keep referring to the names given to them on the Keirsey website. As I look through them I can see that no generalizations can be made. Overall, Summers seem idealistic to me and Supervisor-like. Many Winter feelings among Composers, Inspectors, and Masterminds. Dark Autumn feels more Fieldmarshall. But as the photo examples of each show, there’s no real tying it to Season.

  • Elizabeth Pearl

    A question for Christine or any soft summers out there….is it possible for SSu to have been a toe head as a child? I know that any season can have any hair color, but sometimes I feel like I may be too light for the SSu color pallete and yet not clear enough for LSu. I don’t feel as deep-dusky as the celeb examples, so I wonder if there are any “lighter” versions?

    • Christine Scaman

      Any Season, any hair colour. Absolutely, white blond is possible in childhood, and for T Su too. Ellen Pompeo/ JAniston seem lighter S Su. Other side of this, L Su isn’t that clear, still a fair bit of Summer’s haze there. Could you be T Su?

  • Amanda Brown

    I found a nail polish color perfect for Soft Summers. It is “Demure Vixen” by Essie.

    When painted-on, the color looks like a heavily greyed mauve-lavendar. It’s beautiful!

  • Natalie

    Now that it’s been winter for a good while, my makeup colors have had to change. My skin is at its ruddiest and palest, so it’s especially important for me to be strict about using only SS colors. In warmer months my coloring naturally looks healthier, so I can play with muted pinks and purples, but in the winter, these colors make my eyes and nose look red.

    Here’s what makes me look healthy again:

    no foundation — it’s nearly impossible for me to find a color that matches when my face is so many different colors (dark circles, ruddy cheeks and nose, practically see through eyelids. Yes. It’s lovely.) What DOES work is Loreal True Match concealer in “N 1-2-3”. I just put it where needed. Some days that’s just the eyes and nose; some days it needs to be squiggled and blended on the cheeks too. This might not sound like enough coverage, but I find that it is. Also good if you have freckles, so you don’t get that in-freckle-denial look that foundation often gives.

    eyeshadow: MAC paint pot in “painterly” all over, then Revlon Colorstay quad in “11 Sultry Smoke”. This was recommended to me when I was analyzed. The lightest color has no pink at all, so it calms my whole eye area.

    brows: another good find in this dept. is NYX eyebrow cake powder in “Taupe/Ash”

    blush: Maybelline Fit Me in “medium mauve”. This is matte and soft.

    All this calms everything down and brings back the healthy, even, soft summer look — even though it’s cold and flu season.

  • Anna

    Just thought I would link this article that shows Kate Middleton’s style from a perspective of color. Don’t know whether she is a soft or a true summer, but she certainly seems to be drawn to the soft summer palette. It’s interesting that she’s been criticised for wearing “drab” colors. I guess people see what they want to see. If soft summer’s palette is considered drab by today’s fashion standards, then people will overlook how flattering it can be on the right person. To me, she looks much better in muted colors than in bright red, cobalt blue, and strongly contrasted combinations like black and white.

  • ithinklikeme

    Is it possible for someone to be a Soft Summer if their natural flush is vibrant strawberries n cream, like Tarte’s Natural Beauty blush?

    • Christine Scaman

      The question is too complicated, IThink. There are too many levels of possibility, especially how was the real colour of the natural flush tested? Many Summers have a high natural flush in the cheek. Winter is less this way, but a Bright Winter can more often. I guess the general answer is yes, certainly it is possible.

  • Ithinklikeme

    Thanks, Christine. Bring recently draped as a SSu, I’m having trouble reconciling the muted colors of makeup with my face, which has lips of saturated pigment, & cheeks that flush to a vibrant shade of warm pink. I’ve always been of the mind that our natural blushing color is the best color we can wear in a blush. It seems like the makeup actually subtracts color that already exists in my face. I think I look better with no makeup at all rather than such muted shades. I appreciate the response!

  • Leona

    I was analyzed as a ss when I was younger. I now have pretty much white hair. Does this change my soft summer color palette at all?

    • Christine Scaman

      Not usually, Leona. Our Season stays the same for the majority of people, though how we use the colour palette may change as hair colour, taste, and fashion change over the years.

  • Elizabeth

    “She is Vivianne and Nimue, ruling priestess, Lady of the Lake, loving and seducing Merlin, and granting Arthur Excalibur. She is a moon goddess and the caretaker of Arthur’s dead body on its journey to Avalon. A Camry?? What am I talking about? She lives in a land of chivalrous knights and drifting mists. She drives a Phantom Silver Ghost, of course.”

    I want to be this! So much more interesting that Cool Summer!

  • Cassandra

    This is a lovely post that made me feel proud of being Soft Summer. I also was hard to identify. I have very pale, rosy skin; bright, pale blue eyes; and dark golden blonde hair. My coloring gives me an ethereal look. On paper, I sound like a Light season, but the colors washed me out. I would look like a zombie in platinum blonde. I never even considered being a Soft, thinking they were too tan for me.

    Plus, I think there is a natural bias away from the less exciting palettes of greys and blues on a computer screen. Online, we all want to be Bright Spring. In real life though… Seeing those colors in the context of beautiful misty vistas and dimly lit forests really changed my perspective and helped me embrace it. Dreamy and dusky and natural.

  • Stephanie Næblerød

    Wonderful article , still centers me 7 years later. For that long I have hoped to be a soft summer (because of this post), and last year a color analysis finally confirmed it 🙂
    My absolute favorite lipstick is Lipfinity in Essentially Violet by Max Factor. It stays for many hours and is an exact match to one of the mauves in the Soft summer fan.
    Greetings from Denmark 🙂

  • Carol

    Loved this article, both for its deeper understanding of SSu color and for its appreciation of the SSu essence. Softness + Strength. Yes. When I clicked on the song you had selected for SSu I teared up. Allison Krauss’ version of “Down to the River” is one of my favorites.

  • Mary Ellen

    Christine, you write so beautifully! I am so proud to be a Soft Summer, and I thought I was a Bright Spring until your new consultant, Michelle, draped me. I am so much better in the softer colors; and yes, Mac’s Syrup lipstick is good for me because I am fair. I also like Mac’s New York Apple. Even mypersonality matches the SSU because I am sensitive and quiet but strong in many ways. This is all so much fun!!!

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