When Spring becomes Winter (wait, what?)

A few weeks ago, a friend revealed that her Spring colours no longer suited her. Yesterday, I draped her to find out exactly what was going on. Helena was first analysed in her 20s and now, over a decade later, she was finding that her warm, bright colours no longer worked.

Needless to say, I was fascinated. I had been taught that people simply don’t change seasons, that undertones don’t change in the course of a lifetime. We soften and desaturate as we age, so a move from, say, True Summer to Soft Summer isn’t impossible. But to change season completely? Not possible. So I was told…

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived. What I did know was that I believed her. I wondered if, quite logically, her colouring had softened and she had moved into Autumn. I wondered if she was on the edge of Spring now.

I noticed immediately that she looked good in the white cover cape. I began to drape her. The metallic silver drape was obviously better than the metallic gold. My brain tried to argue. How could that be so?

I started to compare Winter and Spring. It quickly became clear that her skin couldn’t tolerate any warmth. A logical assumption might be that, as she’d shifted from a warm season to a cool season, she might be on the warmer end of Winter (leaning towards Spring). But no! She was a True/Cool Winter who looked best in emerald green, fuchsia pink, electric blue and, shockingly, black. I did a double-take when I put the black drape on her – it is rare that even a Winter looks so in focus in the black drape (often, charcoal is better).

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I tested drapes from every other season, as I always do. Autumn made her skin look muddy, Summer made her whole face look grey. Even burgundy, a colour shared by Summer and Winter, was a bit too grey in comparison to Winter’s cool red.

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Autumn’s dark olive drape; not flattering on those with cool undertones

You might think that her initial analysis can’t have been right, but that was never my belief: firstly, she was analysed by a reputable company but secondly, and most importantly, she could see that those colours were perfect for her at the time. She saw the transformation herself, lived in those colours, received the compliments, felt good. Then, years later, those compliments stopped. Looking at herself in more recent photos, she can see something isn’t right. In her words, “Why didn’t someone tell me?”

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Helena in Winter’s fuschia drape; much better! Look at how sharp the edge of her irises are

As we worked through the drapes, I could see that the Spring colours were the least flattering on her. My mind was blown. She laughed: “I’ve been wearing the wrong colours for the last 10 years!” How disorientating it must be, to be so confident in your season only for it to change. But she knew something wasn’t right, even if that “wasn’t possible”.

I was told that, while our colouring might soften with age, we wouldn’t ever change season. To hop from a bright, warm season to a bright, cool season? Impossible. Looking back, I realise I should have questioned this claim. Where was the evidence? Were clients re-rated years later to see if they were indeed the same season?

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Winter’s emerald green – another fantastic colour on her

Helena is slap bang in the middle of Winter. She hadn’t softened in any way, she didn’t even lean towards Deep/Dark Winter. All traces of warmth had simply disappeared from her skin. On a big, fundamental level, her undertones had changed. But she hadn’t lost saturation. Not at all.

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Black has never looked this good!

Helena, used to wearing Spring’s bright colours, told me that Winter wasn’t a difficult transition. Although, as she had lived as a Spring for so many years, she was, in her words “absolutely back to square one.” She told me: “I could literally put my entire bedroom–wardrobe, drawers, makeup, jewellery–in a skip.” She told me that she found it “strangely disturbing” to realise, over the years, that her Spring colours no longer suited her. I completely understood.

This has to be the most interesting draping I’ve ever done, and the lessons from it will stay with me forever. When it comes to human colouring, anything is possible. Huge thanks to Helena for allowing me to use her photos for this post, and to Catherine for taking them.

Don’t know your season yet? I have some tips for you

You might not be at the point where you want a colour analysis session, but you have an interest in colour analysis. If you don’t know your season, what can you do? Here are six things you can try.

1. Switch up your mascara
Most people wear black mascara, and most people don’t look good in it. Try switching to navy or brown. When I say navy I don’t mean the electric blue mascara of the ’80s. Nope! Try the No7 Intense Volume navy mascara. Navy suits Winters, Summers and Springs. If you try it and don’t love it, try brown instead, which works for Springs, Autumns and the cool-neutral Summers. When I say brown I mean a proper brown, (not brown/black, which works best for Dark Winters and Dark Autumns).

If, when you apply your new mascara, you suddenly notice your eyes and not your eye makeup, you know you’re on the right track. I was astounded at how much of a difference it made to my face when I switched my black mascara to navy.

2. Embrace true red
True red suits everyone. No, really! Most people who come to me for a colour analysis session seem intimidated by red, and I do understand why. There’s no ignoring it.

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A true red t-shirt by Kettlewell Colours

Absolutely everyone looks amazing in it though (I’m really not exaggerating), especially when they’re wearing true red and have on a matching true red lippy. Buy an inexpensive true red scarf if you’re nervous, and whilst wearing it try a matching lippy when you’re next near a make-up counter. And, if you do that, send me a photo! I’d love to see how amazing you look. True red is my favourite colour because everyone looks good in it.

Why does true red suit everyone? Because it doesn’t contain blue or yellow, the two colours that, when added to a colour, change its temperature.

3. Fall in love with teal
Teal is another colour that suits everyone because it has (nigh on) equal amounts of yellow and blue in it. When I say teal, this is the colour I mean…

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The mid-cascade wrap in ‘Mallard’ by Kettlewell Colours

Kettlewell Colours call it ‘Mallard’. Buying a scarf in this colour would be a cheap way of trying it out. You can’t go wrong with teal. If you fancy being a bit daring, try a teal eyeliner (and report back ;-))!

4. Avoid black
I know it’s hard, I do. Black is everywhere. Having said that, navy is almost as easy to get hold of. Swapping black for navy will be a dramatic improvement for the vast majority of people.

5. Love your natural hair colour
If you don’t love your natural hair colour then you’re wearing the wrong colours. Even the most ‘mousy’ of hair will look beautiful when you’re getting your colours right.

If you’ve dyed your hair, notice how it makes your face look. Does the jet black hair make you look pale and washed out? Do you look a bit sickly in a warm, brassy blonde? Is it time to consider dying it back to your natural colour? Once you know your season, you can afford to be bold.

6. Wear your favourite colours
This one might surprise you, but here’s the thing: often, when people show up to a colour analysis session they say to me ‘Please don’t tell me I can’t wear X’. With the exception of black (which people generally love because it’s easy and considered sophisticated), when someone turns up with a favourite colour that they don’t want to be parted from, it ends up being in their palette, and one of their best colours, too. Our instincts are surprisingly good.

What doesn’t work
Trying to figure out whether you have cool or warm undertones from your foundation is almost certainly doomed to fail. Reading into your jewellery colour preference is too risky. I know plenty of Winters who love gold jewellery, and even more women who are wearing the wrong foundation colour.

 

 

 

The colours that get overlooked…

If you’re familiar with colour analysis and the four seasons, you probably immediately associate certain colours with certain seasons. Emerald green? That’ll be Winter. Rust? Must be Autumn. Lavender? Summer of course. Coral? Ah yes, Spring.

Each season has colours that you immediately think of when you think of that season. Even now when I look at my swatches (regardless of system; I actually have a few different Summer swatches) I see colours I’ve overlooked. As a Summer I have a lot of navy and purple and sea green in my wardrobe. I forget about the reds and the dusky pinks and I especially forget about the soft neutral sandy colour, the light rose brown and the duck egg blue. As a Deep Summer especially, it’s easy to overlook the lighter colours which can be so useful especially in patterns.

Here are (in my opinion) some of the ‘forgotten’ colours for each season, and why I think they’re useful.

Winter

The colour that always surprises me for this season when I stumble upon it in my drapes is the colour that Kettlewell Colours call ‘pebble’.

The Cora top in Pebble Grey (Kettlewell Colours)

It’s not a cool Winter silver grey as you might expect, but a pale cool stone colour. It’s actually a very interesting Winter neutral and I saw it used well in a jumper that my last Winter client turned up wearing, combined with purple and black. This obviously works well for blouses and shirts too and would be an interesting and less obvious choice for Winter accessories.

Winter’s icy pastels can get overlooked too, the icy pinks, blues and purples. They are useful for creating contrast when worn with the brighter, darker colours.

3/4 bolero in Iced Hyacinth (Kettlewell Colours)

The bolero worn with, say, a camisole in one of the bright cool Winter blues or purples, would look great especially if you were to add black into the mix. I could imagine a black necklace or choker working really well with that.

Summer

Brown is a colour typically associated with Autumn. It’s easy to forget that Summer has a brown too, for which I’m very grateful. I rely on it heavily for boots and handbags because I don’t really want grey or navy which are the other obvious neutrals I could use.

Summer’s cocoa brown

Summer has a very pale, cool yellow. I’ve yet to recommend it to someone as a colour they should buy an investment piece in, but actually it is very interesting and especially brilliant in a pattern.

Primrose yellow

Autumn

Autumn has a blue, a warm one. Blues aren’t typically associated with Autumn, but they sure are useful particularly for workwear where you want / need to carry a little more authority.

Kettlewell Colours top in Marine Blue

Autumn has a very bright, vibrant orange that you might on first glance assume belongs to Spring but it’s definitely an Autumn colour. It’s like Summer’s primrose yellow in that I’ve never recommended it to someone as a head-to-toe colour but it is useful for accessories and in prints.

This kingfisher’s chest is very reminiscent of Autumn ‘orange spice’

Spring

When we think of Spring we usually think of the bright, warm, splashy tropical colours; coral, warm reds, turquoise, warm bright greens such as apple and leaf green. Spring actually has a fair few lighter and more neutral colours such as cream, peach, and warm grey.

Salmon – a pale peach that isn’t as splashy as Spring’s usual colours

It’s easy to forget that the bright seasons have colours that aren’t typically ‘bright’ (pastels for Spring, icy pastels for Winter). I like Spring best when neutrals are paired with the bright, splashy colours. Too many brights and it can look a little overdone.

Spring is closely associated with tan but has a very useful chocolate brown too; a very useful neutral for bags, trousers and shoes.

Chocolate Ruched Crossover ¾ Sleeve (Kettlewell Colours)

More style experimentation

I visited Matalan a while back on the hunt for some more leggings (the search is endless, I swear), and couldn’t resist some more style experimentation. I took some photos… Are you ready for this? Brace yourselves…

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My head looks separate from my body here. Do you like the lovely coral heels that do absolutely nothing for my legs?
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Jessie J would rock that chain. Me? Not so much…
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MY EYES! There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Lily Allen would wear this outfit well I think.
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This isn’t how an ingénue does sexy… Nope! The black is completely dominating.

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that none of these outfits made it home. I showed these photos to friends recently, and their replies were not repeatable in polite company. One of my friends commented on the consistency of my style usually, so these clothes are a stark contrast to my usual Summer Ingénue Natural look. I imagine a Winter / Bright Spring Dramatic would look good in these. They are pretty much exactly what I shouldn’t be wearing; mostly Winter colours with a little Spring, Dramatic style, large scale, heels. For the sake of completeness and contrast, here’s what I usually wear if I’m going out to something that requires a smarter look…

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I can’t remember why I wore this now, but this is my version of ‘dressing up’.
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Sometimes I’ll swap the leggings and flats for navy tights and kitten heels if I need to go smarter. I do get a little bit scared sometimes when I realise I’m leaving the house dressed like a princess.
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Apologies for the headless shot! If I need to do “going out / clubbing” (not that I’m a big fan of clubs) then the cord hot pants come out, with a pretty blouse.

So there you have it! When I’m next out shopping, who knows, I might experiment some more 😉

Is colour analysis for me?

Excellent question. I’ll start by answering first who it ISN’T for.

It’s not for you if:

  • You are completely invested in the colours and make-up you already wear and you wouldn’t consider changing them. I hasten to add, this isn’t the same as having favourite colours and wanting to wear them regardless of the outcome. Chances are (as I’ve seen again and again), if there is a colour you particularly love it’s almost certainly in your palette (I’ve yet to see this NOT be the case). Even if your favourite colour isn’t in your final palette you can still wear it! Of course you can. These are very much guidelines, not rules. You can do as much or as little with the advice I give as you like. In addition, you don’t have to wear every colour in your palette if you don’t want to. As a Summer I have some beautiful shades of pink in my palette but I feel apprehensive about wearing them because it feels vulnerable to do so. That’s totally okay. You don’t have to love every colour, although chances are you’ll fall in love with them when you see what they do for you.
  • You’re going to give yourself a hard time afterwards if 100% of your wardrobe isn’t already compliant. (See previous comment about my advice being guidelines, not rules!) Self-compassion is where it all begins. Be kind to yourself.
  • You have plenty of money and enjoy shopping and the thrill of a new buy and don’t mind wearing something once and then getting rid of it. You’d rather buy something (even if it doesn’t particularly suit you) rather than return home empty-handed.
  • Keeping up with trends is uber-important and you don’t care whether what’s in suits you or not.
  • You don’t think your dyed hair really suits you, but you wouldn’t change it anyway. The problem with this is that even if you’re wearing all the right colours in your clothing, your hair will still throw the whole show off, and in quite a big way given it’s right next to your face all of the time.
  • You can’t think of how you could apply the information you’ll be given to your life. If you’re not interested in applying what you’ve learnt to your hair, make-up or clothing then there’s probably little point in you spending money on a colour analysis session.

It’s for you if:

  • You’re curious and ready to experiment with what you wear.
  • You enjoy shopping but you’d like to refine the process so you can see more quickly what might work for you.
  • You don’t enjoy shopping and you’d like to be quicker and more efficient at it.
  • You would quite like to dye your hair, but you want to be sure that the shade you choose suits you.
  • You’ve long since suspected that some colours suit you whilst others don’t but you don’t know why.
  • You feel like you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time.
  • You understand that despite the outcome of the colour analysis session, you are still free to wear your favourite dress / shoes / top even if it isn’t in your palette. I’m not the fashion / colour / style police!

I understand that some are apprehensive about having their colours done. I am very sincere and serious when I say I wouldn’t want to drape anyone who didn’t want it done with one exception – my husband – whom I bribed with beer and he was quite happy with this arrangement (turns out he was an Autumn as I suspected, and had been wearing and buying the right colours all along). If you’re still having trouble deciding, you might find my previous post, ‘The difficulty in explaining colour analysis’, useful.

Art for all seasons (again)

I discovered Art Finder very recently. As an art lover (albeit with depressingly-limited wall space) this was heaven to my eyes. Inevitably I found art for this post. So here we have ‘Art for every season‘, part 2.

Spring

The bright warm colours feel full of life. The bright blue of the Hyacinths is close to Spring’s warm cornflower blue.

I love not only the colours but how vibrant and splashy the Kingfisher looks. It’s reminiscent of Spring’s energy. If the four seasons mapped to the four elements, Spring would be air.

Summer

I love the wet look of this painting, how the colours blend into each other. If the four seasons mapped to the four elements, Summer would be water.

Perfect Summer colours, and the reflection on the water just blows me away.

Autumn

I love this so very very much for Autumn. The metallic finish, the texture, the redhead, the muted colours. Everything about it is perfect.

Such rich, golden colours. You get a real sense of warmth from this. If the four seasons mapped to the four elements, Autumn would be fire or earth (I can’t decide which!).

Winter

Perhaps a little obvious being black and white, but the sharpness of the lines and shapes is important too.

The electric blue is such a typically-associated Winter colour. You get a real sense of coolness looking at it. The diamonds on the dress lend welcome contrast.