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… View Article

An In Depth Look at Seasonal Color Analysis

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:

See how perfectly the colors in this outfit work together? The skirt, top, and even ring work well. And the black is a nice neutral with it.

See how perfectly the colors in this outfit work together? The skirt, top, and even ring work well. And the black is a nice neutral with it.

This color work so perfectly with her skin tone, and I love how the blazer, skirt, and clutch work together color-wise.

This color work so perfectly with her skin tone, and I love how the blazer, skirt, and clutch work together color-wise.

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:

The picture on the left is so much brighter and younger looking than its twin on the right and the only difference is the color swatches beneath.

The picture on the left is so much brighter and younger looking than its twin on the right and the only difference is the color swatches beneath.

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!

The Links

First, for those who just want to get to the helpful links, here they are:

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):

best-colors

And here is a palette made from colors picked directly from these outfits:

Best colors on me.

Best colors on me.

For comparison, here’s a Bright/Clear Spring color palette I found in my searches:

clear-spring

Pretty similar, right?

Finally, for self edification, I put together a group of clips from the worst colors I’ve worn on this blog:

Ick.

Ick.

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.

In Summary

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? :)

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17 Comments and Pingbacks for An In Depth Look at Seasonal Color Analysis.

  1. I stumbled upon this while google searching because I can’t find my season! The photo comparison you did with best and worst colors was so eye opening! (I could tell that you would be some for of “spring” from your pictures.) I think it is harder to do these tests on yourself than on someone else.. Thank you for all the helpful website links. Hopefully I can make out where I fit in. ( My natural hair is a mixture of dark ash blonde, very muted strawberry blonde but also natural light blonde streaks) my eyes are a mixture of blue, grey and green. my skin is so pale I’m not sure if it even has a tone! Hopefully one day I will find my season! :)

    Tammy on May 19, 2015   /   Reply
  2. Nice story! I’m also a clear spring (just realized) that used to wear a lot of drab colors because of my ‘warm undertone’. But intuitively I’d already chosen quite a bit of clear spring colors. If they were on the cool side, I’d think: what a pity I can’t wear them, they look pretty nice. Now I’ve regained confidence and will wear my spring colors to the fullest!

    Julia on June 30, 2015   /   Reply
  3. Hi,

    Good job pinning down on Spring’ however’ I feel you might be a true spring as opposed to bright spring. Hot pink and black are not for you but the other bright colors look fabulous!!!

    kathy on September 1, 2015   /   Reply
    • Wow! You look like Blake Lively, you must have been told this before. ;) She is definitely a Spring and you are too. In the photos, you look more like True/Warm Spring to me, but I know people look different in person…I just love seasonal coloring! I just discovered that I’m a Light Spring recently and it has changed my whole outlook on clothes. I don’t like the term “light spring” though…I like “Late Spring” I’m not actually that light compared to the other Springs, I’m the darkest skinned Spring. I don’t have the yellow pale skin of Clears, not the light skin of Warm (like you), I have a dusky shadow to my yellow based skin and lots of Warm pink overtones because of the Summer influence. :)

      erin on February 14, 2016   /   Reply
  4. I believe I have found my color season finally! It was between deep autumn and bright spring. I’m high contrast,with bright pale skin, and dark hair and eyes. I have olive skin that has yellow undertones. The give away is that the browns and muted colors that look great on deep autumns look just OK on me and nothing special, and some wash me out terribly. I realized I can take those bight vibrant colors of clear spring, and for once I look better in makeup and not worse!

    I believe you have nailed your season as spring, but you do not have enough contrast to be a clear. If you put a photo of your face in black and white, you will see there is a softness and less contrast. It will look more grey over all and not sharp black and white. Those super bright colors aren’t harmonizing with you. A great example is the green dress on the bottom right. Your eye sees the dress and you are lost. Where as the muted blue dress on the bottom left, brings out the beauty of your coloring and doesn’t steal focus. You look like a true spring to me. :)

    Krystal on March 24, 2016   /   Reply
    • I’m glad you found your season, Krystal! It can be a real journey, sometimes, to figure it out. I hear what you’re saying about the bright versus true spring for me, but I think it might be a matter of preference at some point. I prefer the way I look in bright colors, especially with my hair blonde now. Thanks for the input!

      Joules on March 30, 2016   /   Reply
  5. I agree that you are a bright spring. Your ‘worst colours’ seem autumn, that explains a lot. They’re too muted and greyed. True or brigh spring? You can handle the typical bright spring pinks very well, so definitely bright. I can’t handle those that well and I’m a true spring. Beware thought that even for a bright spring all black is too harsh. Use it as a contrast for other colours.

    linda on April 27, 2016   /   Reply
  6. What a fun, stylish post! I’m a confirmed (SciART draped) Bright Winter with ashy dark brown hair, blue-green eyes, and very pale cool-neutral olive skin. I look more like the stereotypical BW than most with the high contrast between hair and skin/eyes, but one eye-opening thing for me since joining a confirmed BW group is that most don’t have the Liv Tyler-esque hair/skin/eye combo. I was floored when my tanned honey-blonde daughter (although with eerily identical eyes to mine) was draped BW; I thought she was a Summer of some sort, and it turns out that True Summer was her 2nd best (whereas True Winter was my 2nd best). The analyst said she’s more dark-sensitive than BW. Where I can tolerate a lot of black, she has to limit it.

    Suzanne on June 3, 2016   /   Reply
  7. To be honest, you can only get an accurate diagnosis from draping in person, trying truth is beauty drapes are close second, and then you need a friend versed in colour, preferably with art training, to help you. Guessing from your
    Own colouring or even worse, photos, is just asking for wrong results. How the colours reflect on your skin, with hair and own clothes covered is only way to tell. Save money by not buying clothes and stuff for a while and get it done by an expert. I was proved wrong,even with art training, to inaccurate to do on yourself or without proper draping, sorry folks!

    Trisha on February 27, 2017   /   Reply
  8. I’m a male who had some color considerations when my ex gf insisted I ask a personal shopper to get me out of black, white, and Navy. I fought the dark Titian blonde hair for years by darkening it to dark brown. I finally agreed with my fiancée to stop darkening, and lightened gradually, each time making sure that were red undertones. When I was darker, I wore clear winter and bright spring. But going back to sandy red, has made me look years younger. And she is happy to be dating a ginger who looks great on clear spring.

    Jay on September 26, 2017   /   Reply
  9. I think you look good in the browns. And you have a lot of red in your hair, especially noticeable in the sunny pictures.

    Julie on May 7, 2018   /   Reply
  10. Hi Joules, thanks for taking the time to write this post with so much detail, it’s really helpful. My personal philosophy for worn-colour is that person should always be seen first, not the colour of clothes, and that the colour of clothes should energise our appearance not drain or dominate. Our system of colour classification is slightly different in that we use the elements of air, fire, aether, earth and water but the groups of colours are similar.
    Your element appears to be fire – a group of bright colours which convey high energy and a party spirit! Our app is free to download on iPhone and iPad so you can see the colours there. I hope this is helpful?!

    KAREN FINLAYSON on May 11, 2018   /   Reply