The Importance of Finding Your Season
During my hiatus from fashion blogging I’ve been spending quite a bit of time pondering this question: what makes a great fashion blogger great? I follow quite a few fashion blogs, but only a handful consistently publish posts that really strike a chord with me. For the rest, regularly something is just off about their look. To tease out the difference, I first went through my favorite fashion blog of them all, 9to5Chic. Ahn’s blog was the first one I truly fell in love with. Even if I didn’t like the cut of the pieces in each outfit or the style, I always somehow still felt moved by the outfit regardless.
I went through Ahn’s entire blog, pinning the outfits I particularly liked to my Inspiration board on Pinterest, and one of the things that struck me about all of her outfits that I liked the most was that they followed a consistent color pattern that looked great on her. I liked that both the colors in each outfit looked great with her overall skin tone, hair color, and lip color and that the colors in each outfit looked good together. It really helped each outfit to look cohesive. Here are some examples:
Realizing I was on to something, I began to search for resources on finding what colors would work best for me. Along the way, I found a few more images that showed me how important finding the right color is, and particularly, finding the right seasonal color. I thought that this post highlighting the differences of the right colors on certain celebrities hit the nail on the head, and this image of Scarlett Johansen floored me:
Hopefully I’ve been fairly convincing on the import of color when it comes to getting your wardrobe just right. The rest of this post is going to be devoted my research on my own personal seasonal color. I’m hoping it can be used as a learning tool for others just starting out with this. Onward!
First, for those who just want to get to the helpful links, here they are:
- College Fashion’s guide to finding your season
- Chic Fashionista’s quiz on finding your season
- Cardigan Empire’s Season Guides
- Truth is Beauty’s What Season Are You
My Search for a Season
I began just with a simple Google search for tests to determine your seasonal color. Their were, of course, more than dozens–some more helpful than others. I’ll only reference the ones I found most interesting and helpful. The first I landed on was CollegeFashion.net’s How to Find Your Perfect Colors. I’ve been a College Fashion reader since, well, college, so I dove in. Their test was based on the same updated model of the seasonal color analysis that came out in the 80s (in the book Color Me Beautiful) that most everyone uses, with slight variations. The original idea was that people could be divided into four seasonal groups. That idea has since been updated to give each group three sub groups. The names of these sub groups differ from one place to the next, but generally they’re based on sub characteristics that a person might have within each season.
Back to College Fashion, their first big split put me in the Summer/Winter category, since I look terrible in browns (particularly medium warm ones). I figured I looked better in pale colors that ultra dark ones, and that made me a summer. Looking at the swatches and descriptions, I figured a light summer most matched me. I ended my search there after bookmarking the .jpg of colors that would like nice on me.
But the thought stuck with me that summer colors are supposed to look like those seen through the haze of a summer day. They can be dusty, and not terribly bright. Black was supposed to look terrible on summers. I decided to do more research. It turned out that most light summers are natural blonds–pale and delicate. I may be pale, but I’m a natural medium brunette. And black looks pretty good on me. And pale, dusty, muted colors look pretty mediocre on me.
So, still using the College Fashion model, I decided I must be a Winter. The only Winter category I really fit into was a Clear Winter. I felt better with this than with the Summer selection simply because I liked the colors better. I like brights; I hate dusty blah-zay colors. But still I felt like I hadn’t gotten it right. I started doing other quizes just to see if I could find something better. I liked The Chic Fashionista’s quiz quite a bit–it still landed me in winter. Cardigan Empire had lots of good resources including a quiz and nice page on each seasonal type.
Everything I looked at ended up leading me to clear winter and yet as I sat staring at the faces of Liv Tyler and Zooey Deschanel I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t right. My hair is not that dark and my skin is not that white. Lots of really dark, jewel tones leave me looking too heavy. I wasn’t happy. I was beginning to think that the whole seasonal color thing was bunk and that I should just go back to randomly picking colors that I sort of liked off the rack.
And then I stumbled upon Truth is Beauty, a website devoted almost exclusively to color analysis. I skipped her expensive swatches and lip stick methods and went straight for the questions on what colors look best and worst. My answers to these questions pointed me in the direction of Bright Spring, or Winter transitioning into spring (also known as Clear Spring). To add to the convincing, she specifically mentions that Bright Springs often get mis-classified as winters because we can be somewhat hard to place. Beauty and Elegance confirms this in an article about brunettes being misclassified.
I suddenly felt at home! Google searches turned up celebrities that looked like me. I thought of my favorite colors on myself and they fit in the palette. I was happy. Sometimes I feel like fashion and beauty are too shrouded in mystery, and when I start to decode them into variables I can understand and manipulate I get excited.
To verify my findings, I decided to do an analysis of my new Bright/Clear Spring palette against which colors I thought looked best on me from previous outfit posts. Here are clips taken from the outfits that I think suited me best color-wise (sorry it’s so huge):
And here is a palette made from colors picked directly from these outfits:
For comparison, here’s a Bright/Clear Spring color palette I found in my searches:
Pretty similar, right?
Finally, for self edification, I put together a group of clips from the worst colors I’ve worn on this blog:
Note how absolutely abysmal the pink button-down I’m wearing in the upper left is. It totally washes me out. Similarly, the all-dusty-pastels dress I wore last spring makes my skin look just dead. The browns are more subtly wrong. It’s hard to discern why they don’t work at first, but I think it’s that they clash horribly with my hair and are too warm overall. As a Bright Spring I need contrast that matches the contrast between my skin, eyes, and hair. Brown is way too medium.
And the pictures on the bottom are just a tour of terrible greens. The dress on the far left washes me out so totally that I almost disappear (which is a damn shame because the cut of that dress is great). Remind me never to wear army green again, like I am in the next picture. It sucks the life right out of me. The golden olive color in the next picture makes me look sickly, and the brown color and pale dusty shoulders of the final dress have me running to put it in the donation bin.
Whew. So my worst colors confirm my Bright/Clear Spring identity. The worst colors for my season are medium browns and dusty, pale colors.
My current plan, as I ramp back up toward putting together outfit posts again, is to use Pinterest to piece together outfits that work with my new-found palette. I’m pretty excited about the changes this could bring to my wardrobe.
My two bits of advice after doing this research are:
1. Choosing the right colors for your wardrobe is definitely important. (Duh.)
2. Make sure you spend some time finding your right color. Do multiple quizzes, look at outfits you like on yourself, and make sure you’ve got the right season before you commit to it.
If you’ve got questions I’d love to hear them! What season are you? :)