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seasonal color analysis: why some colors look bad on you

Seasonal color analysis

You know purple washes you out, or that orange makes you look ill. You get upset in changing rooms because nothing suits you. Experimenting, you deduced your colors, never understanding the underlying logic. Finally: red looks good on you! But burgundy looks terrible! Why? Or rather, what does this have to do with seasons? Well, everything!

Seasonal Color Analysis, as it is known, is the study of a person’s coloring. This complex theory has two basic underlying ideas: contrast and undertone. People are categorized into four seasons depending on whether their skin undertone is warm (golden/yellow) or cool (blue/pink), and whether or not there is high contrast between the color of their skin, hair and eyes. The file attachment includes a table to understand your season!

Winters, Summers, and Autumns

12 Season Analysis further subcategorizes each season into 3 dominant characteristics. For example, Winters are always cool, bright and deep, but each Winter may be predominantly one of the three (see the same table). Bright and soft indicate how contrasting your features are, whereas light or deep suggests the darkness of your coloring. If you can’t understand if you're undertone, identifying your dominant characteristic first can help. For example, if you’re predominantly soft then you’re either a Summer or an Autumn – from there, if you can figure out your undertone, you have your season. 16 Season Analysis adds a “True” subcategory to each season, which is when a person exhibits all three seasonal characteristics homogeneously.

The differences between subcategories are subtle, but just understanding your season is a great start. Got it? Bingo! The internet is full of color palettes for each of the seasons and their subgroups.

Ideally, your clothes should mimic your coloring. For example, cool toned people suit cool reds, like burgundy, whereas warm toned people benefit from orange reds. If there’s natural contrast between your features, you should extend that contrast to your clothes, like through high contrast patterns. Subgroups of the same season have minimally different palettes, but the idea remains the same.

I adopt this theory in my life by keeping my palette on hand while shopping. If, like me, you end up with clothes you never wear (or you can’t try things on in person), this is a fast and easy way to predict what will suit you better.

If you’ve figured out your season and subgroup, you can conveniently “borrow” colors from your neighboring season! You’ll easily find it depending on your subgroup, as every dominant characteristic belongs to just two seasons. The other season is your neighbor! For example, if you’re Winter Bright, you can carefully borrow colors from Spring Bright, ideally just the cooler tones, as Winter is a cool toned season.

How to do it yourself

Overall this is just a little taste of the world that’s out there, and while Seasonal Color Analysis is not a science, it’s a great place to start, and a good way to train the eye. And while coloring is only half the story (shapes are important too), I hope this is a good start to help you build the wardrobe of your dreams!

This document is a very helpful companion with tables and images that perfectly represent and simplify the subjects of this blog post, including a very powerful example!

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