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Summer Color Travels

I'm taking my Personal Color Analysis services to new locations this summer! 

I will be in:

  • Orlando, FL May 20-22 (possibly extending to the 23)
  • Denver, CO June 17-19
  • Undecided location! June 20-22. If you're looking for travel PCA and you're ready to book, weigh in with your location- I'll head to whichever city gets the most votes. I've heard murmurings of Seattle...

YSL Vinyl Cream Lip Stains

I have some non-makeup posts in the works, but in the meantime, I've swatched the Yves Saint Laurent Vinyl Cream Lip Stain line. These are fairly similar to the YSL Glossy Stain line, which my colleague Rachel swatched and reviewed.

First, a review-

Application: It took me about a week of regular use to master crisp lines with the spongy doe foot applicator. If you wear liquid lipstick regularly, you'll probably have an easier time than I did. You have to work quickly, because if you go back over the stain before it has set, the finish will become tacky and the color patchy. I found it was best to apply one coat, then wait a couple minutes and apply the second.

Finish: These are less, well, glossy than the Glossy Stains. "Vinyl" is a fairly accurate description, as the finish isn't ultra high-shine, but it isn't satin, either. They do have a creamier look than the glossy stains. The difference in texture is akin to the difference between berry juice (glossy stains) and melted ice cream (vinyl stains), but they aren't thick going onto the lips. If you gently blot the top coat after letting it set, you'll have a slightly more satin look, which I like.

Staying Power: Pretty incredible. These take about 10-15 minutes to fully set. If you apply and immediately reach for your coffee cup, there will be a crescent of lipstick on that coffee cup. This problem is easily solved by light blotting (I usually am fervently anti-blot, but for this formula, I'll change my registration to pro-blot). I find many lipsticks, even traditional formulas, do this within the first 15 minutes, or will come off on your coffee cup once and then be sufficiently blotted down by the cup, and stop transferring after that point. Anyway, I digress...

I recently put on two coats of 409 around 8 am, blotted very gently with a tissue, and headed to my studio for drapings. I talked a lot that day, drank two bottles of water (from a Camelbak spout, no less), ate two meals, and when I properly assessed my lipstick again around 7 pm, it had settled down to a beautiful rosy stain with no unevenness. This formula is my new go-to for days and situations when the last thing I want to worry about is reapplying my lipstick.

Other Comments: These do boast the standard YSL rose scent. I love it, but it may not be to everyone's taste. In any case, I don't think it lingers long. At $36 a pop, these are NOT cheap, and certainly a treat. I haven't used up a tube of lipstick since I was 13 and wearing a shimmery mauve Jane lipstick that was certainly not my season, so I'm not sure how long it takes one to go through a stain like this. Readers, feel free to chime in if you've ever used up a Glossy Stain or other liquid lipstick. I salute you.

Keep in mind the standard color disclaimer of differing monitors, etc. etc., and the fact that my photos turned out a bit muted.

The seasons as I see them-

401 Rouge Vinyle - I see this as a pretty classic Bright Winter red, like maraschino cherries. There's a lot of blue, and a lot of pink.

402 Rouge Remix - Bright Spring. Good middle of the road choice, which is not to say boring. Saturated pink coral, what's not to love?

403 Rose Happening - True Spring and Light Spring. True Spring doesn't always mean orange, and while Light Spring is delicate, it is also vivid. I find this kind of midrange warm pink often works on both seasons. (RIP, Bite Rose).

404 Nude Pulse - Light Spring, pretty shell pink.

405 Explicit Pink - True Winter, though True Summers who wear higher saturation well could try it, especially blotted. I don't see why it couldn't work on both. Very clear candy pink.

406 Orange Electro - Bright Spring and True Spring. Quite orange, and quite bright.

407 Carmin Session - I'm still dithering between Soft Autumn and Soft Summer for this one. It's an elegant, muted burgundy and I can picture it looking beautiful on both seasons. Worth a try for either.

408 Corial Neo-Pop - True Spring, very similar to 406 but slightly more muted.

409 on Dark Autumn, two coats, lightly blotted.

409 on Dark Autumn, two coats, lightly blotted.

409 Burgundy Vibes - Dark Winter, though Dark Autumns like myself who wear cooler berries well can try it. Really gorgeous rich burgundy.

410 Fuchsia Live - Bright Spring, very warm bright pink. Just stunning, a Marilyn Monroe kind of pink.

411 Rhythm Red - Also Bright Spring, a lot of orange to this red, like a strawberry daiquiri.

412 Rose Mix - Light Summer, a quintessential rose.

Bite Amuse Bouche

Bite Beauty, available only at Sephora, has quite the cult following. Recently they replaced their popular Luminous Creme Lipstick line with a new line, Amuse Bouche, featuring a highly expanded color range. I have swatched all of the lipsticks (at least, the ones that were released as of about two weeks ago) and placed them in the season or seasons where I think they will perform best in the real world. However, this line has quite a few lipsticks that I doubt will be very flattering on many women. For those colors, I have noted which seasons might give them a shot anyway.

Sugarcane- Soft Summer, if anyone, and I suspect only very, very low-contrast Soft Summers at that.

Souffle- Light Spring or Light Summer, perhaps, but this one definitely has the potential to appear chalky.

Meringue- Soft Autumn, but not a particularly exciting choice for them.

Honeycomb- Soft Autumn, but also not particularly exciting, it's kind of the color of boring dirt. SO MANY better Soft Autumn choices in the world.

Chai- Soft Autumn, nice one, browner side.

Molasses- True Autumn, this one reminds me a lot of Revlon's famous Toast of New York.

Verbena - Soft Autumn, a very pretty rosy terracotta at that. This shade and Estee Lauder's Rebellious Rose are probably my top Soft Autumn lipstick picks.

Sorbet- Light Spring and Light Summer could both try it, it's on the cooler side but quite light.

Fig- Light Spring, muted side

Gingersnap- Light Spring, True Spring can also give it a shot. It's fairly light but also quite orange.

Sweet Cream - Soft Autumn to me, distinctly muted compared to the spring Persimmon and Pickled Ginger. This is a nice choice.

Cotton Candy- True Summer, possibly Light. Very cool pink and not too saturated.

Gin Fizz- True Summer, purple-pink, I imagine this could read as a beautiful cool rose on many a True Summer (but probably chalky on Winters).

Spritzer- True Summer or Soft Summer if anyone, it is very purple and also very grey.

Kimchi- Bright Spring's elusive cooler pink, absolutely gorgeous. You should all run out and buy it right now.

Sangria- Standard Bright Winter fuchsia, which is to say, a nice color but probably one every BW already has in her lipstick wardrobe in spades.

Eggplant- Both True Cools. Depending on the woman, I could see it as a darker lip for True Summer or a more muted one for True Winter.

Pickled Ginger- I think all three Springs could give this one a shot. It reminds me of MAC Fusion Pink, which is Bright Spring, but it's also orange enough for True Spring I think, and light enough for Light Spring. Worth trying in Sephora at the very least.

Dragonfruit- True Winter, gorgeous purpley-pink.

Gazpacho- Bright Winter, warmish side, very nice.

Cayenne- Bright Spring and beautifully.

Persimmon- True Spring, extremely orange but bright. (True Springs, take note: I've noticed that whre lipstick is concerned, the word Persimmon is to TSp as Cherry is to BW).

Sour Cherry - Bright and True Winter depending on the woman. Looks exactly like the name, drop dead gorgeous.

Beetroot- Dark Winter, totally dreamy plum. I could see this working on some TWs as well as it is on the purple side.

Liquorice- Dark Winter. This reminds me a little bit of Revlon's Black Cherry, it's quite dark but probably too purple for most DAs.

Nori- Dark Autumn, but not my first choice, very brown.

Jam- True Winter, completely beautiful, similar to Estee Lauder's Insolent Plum.

Pepper- Soft Autumn, but fairly greyed, not their most exciting option.

Tannin- I think both Darks can wear this well, both Dark Winters who do well in the warmer side and Dark Autumns who look better in cooler reds than browned reds.

Radish- Bright and True Winter, might be too dark for some Brights but too bright for some Trues. Worth a shot as it's a lovely dark fuchsia.

Maple- Dark Autumn, similar to NARS Leslie - very pretty maple red.

Black Truffle- Nobody really, but Darks who crave drama could give it a shot.

How to Use Your Color Combo Strip

Every 12-tone swatchbook from True Colour Australia has a strip of color combinations (right before the strip telling you not to wash it, and whether you can wear gold or silver jewelry.) Clients unfailingly ask me about this strip, and usually, I bumble along and say something like, "It helps give you a jumping-off point for combining your colors. Think outside the box, it doesn't have to be pants-belt-shirt, it can be pants-shirt-lipstick, etc."

Until very recently, I wasn't a big fan of that combination strip. I rarely used it when harmonizing, preferring to spread out the entire fan and hide the "matching" colors. I didn't love a couple of the combinations. Excuses, excuses.

The real problem: my seasonal wardrobe was too limited for that strip to be any use to me. Before I could combine my colors in interesting and multifaceted ways, I had to actually possess those colors. So, with a rather pitiful working wardrobe, I fell back on my staple combos: Jeans + Colored Shirt. Jeans + Colored Tank + Colored Shirt. Jeans + Colored Shirt + Necklace. And the occasional very fancy Colored Dress.

Don't picture a giant walk-in closet of Dark Autumn glory: my wardrobe is still very small. The beauty of it is that every piece is carefully-chosen, well-harmonized, and (for the most part) high quality. Sure, I have $9 tank tops from Target like anybody else. But I've slowly and deliberately weeded out the "fine for now" items from my wardrobe, and suddenly I'm a kid in a candy store. I can wear anything I want! With anything else I want! And it will look awesome!

Recent 5-minute outfit example: Cognac Shoes + Chocolate Skirt + Olive Tank + Teal Blouse + Red Belt + Gold Earrings + Cognac Purse + Multicolored gemstone necklace bringing in mustard, teal, olive, red.

There was no science or artistic vision to bringing those colors together. It happened very naturally, pulling items from my closet as I was getting dressed. Looking at my Dark Autumn fan right now, I can move the strips around somewhat and put those colors next to one another and see how they look. And I can look at the color combination strip and see that the warmer Dark Autumn colors are not always paired with the warmer Dark Autumn colors. You can do that, absolutely. But the neutral seasons also look very interesting when the warmer and cooler colors are combined. If this gives you the shivers, you can try wearing your warmer-side clothing with cooler-side jewelry to start out, etc. The combination strips often do a good job of showing the warm/cool mix.

I've photographed a combination strip from each parent season, and created coordinating collages.

Top to bottom: Light Spring, Dark Autumn, True Summer, Bright Winter

Top to bottom: Light Spring, Dark Autumn, True Summer, Bright Winter

My Thoughts On 12 Blueprints Cosmetics

After a Personal Color Analysis, the very first thing most of my clients do is this:

They buy makeup.

They stop at the drugstore on the way home, or they wait for my makeup list to show up in their inbox so they can carefully craft a shopping list.

So when Christine Scaman announced the 12 Blueprints Cosmetics, I was pretty excited. My clients are generally more enthused to shop for makeup post-PCA than anything else, especially if they've spent their lives wanting to wear it but not knowing what to buy.


I was also extremely skeptical. I'm makeup picky. I want great colors, great pigment, great staying power, and great packaging. I had no interest in using, selling, or recommending makeup I didn't care for. I had the opportunity to play with Rachel's makeup when we traveled to Asheville together, and I was impressed. I went home and placed my own order.

Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't Guerlain we're talking about here. I'd put the quality ahead of MAC but below Estee Lauder, for example.

Here are my completely honest thoughts on the 12 Blueprints Cosmetics, divided by Color, Quality, Packaging, and the Bottom Line.

Color:

Surprise! The colors are top notch. There have been a couple duds, normal in the first stages of launching anything. A Light Spring lipstick was pulled because it looked like chalk on the lips, etc. Color is clearly the main draw here, and Christine hasn't disappointed. Some of these products are colors I've wanted to add to my studio kit for ages, but haven't been able to find easily, or haven't been able to find in formulas that are even remotely cost-effective. I'm particularly impressed with True Summer's Centre Stage and Supreme lipsticks in this regard. A lot of things swatch True Summer on paper but look like dust on a True Summer woman's lips, for example.

For my personal use, I'm 3 for 6 on the Dark Autumn lipstick options. Love two, like one, and the other three I would never purchase, simply because they aren't *my* most flattering lipsticks. I have seen my least favorites look fabulous on other Dark Autumns. Always remember: no two women within the same season will wear their makeup exactly the same.

Quality:

I'm a blush fiend and the blush is, simply put, pretty amazing, to the point where I'm annoyed there aren't as many Dark Autumn options as other seasons. They're extremely pigmented, extremely finely-milled, and extremely creamy, without being powdery. The color payoff is scary good and I find them easy to blend.

Lipsticks come in several finishes and the quality is somewhat variable, depending upon your personal lipstick preferences. Some of the matte lipsticks can be quite dry, while others are so creamy it's hard to believe they're matte. The creme finish is lovely and, well, creamy, same with the high gloss.

A few of the autumn lipsticks have a fabulous metallic quality that can be hard to find without winding up in glitter bomb territory. I'm especially smitten with the True Autumn choice of Flame here, for example.

As for staying power, the range goes from good to awesome. I wore True Brit recently from about 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and that's with eating, drinking, chatting, and probably biting my nails. It wasn't at full-strength that entire time, but nonetheless, I was impressed. I've had others wear off a little faster, but it just depends. In any case, they won't disappear quickly.

Lipsticks do have a slight scent, sort of a clean vanilla. I find them much more mellow than MAC, which smells way too sweet and ice cream-y to me. However, I don't have any extreme scent sensitivities.

Packaging:

The packaging is quite cute, actually, black with a nautilus motif.

Lipstick comes in a semi-matte bullet which bears a striking resemblance to the standard NARS lipstick packaging. The bullets are lightweight and streamlined, also similar to the standard NARS, with a nonmagnetic closure. They look perfectly adorable when you whip one out of your purse to reapply.

Blush comes in a little plastic pot with a clear screw top. The screw top is a touch aggravating if you're used to snap containers, but it doesn't mis-thread. My main issue is that it's quite bulky. The pot is similar in diameter to the Clinique Cheek Pop line, but a fair bit thicker with a slightly domed lid, and that makes storage bulkier than I'd like. I do appreciate that the top is clear, because I like to see my blush.

The Bottom Line:

Well, I'm selling these in my store, so clearly I'm a fan. If Christine were to throw in the towel today, I'd probably go order 5 bullets of True Brit and cry into my wine, because I love it so. However, I will absolutely continue to use other brands personally, as well as in my studio. I'll still be out swatching, I'll still be offering my custom makeup bags.

If you're really into the whole package of luxury cosmetics, these might not be what you're looking for. They're not intended to rival Tom Ford, no one's going to resell them on eBay for $50/pop, and the packaging isn't particularly thrilling.

If you're looking for tried and true seasonal colors, a nice, reliable formula, and a reasonable price point, you're in the right place. Mine have found a comfy spot in my mid- to high-end makeup stash.

Blush samples are still being reviewed for a couple seasons: Soft Summer, Soft Autumn, and True Autumn, and in the future I believe there will be brow products, eyeshadow trios, and lipgloss.

Keep in mind that seasonal sample bouquets are available, so you can try before you buy.

Art Stick Obsession

Last fall I discovered my favorite lipstick formula: Bobbi Brown Art Stick. I was in Sephora, minding my own business, and something called me over to the Bobbi Brown display. I bought the only Dark Autumn shade and rode off into the sunset with my beautiful new lipstick. Months later, I'm still obsessed.

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What I love about this product:

  • It looks classy. I love elegant packaging, no matter the price point. Most jumbo lip pencils come in cheap plastic tubes, even the pricey ones like Tarte. These are wooden and look like oversized colored pencils, only with lipstick. The cap is plastic.
  • Liner and lipstick in one. I usually use a clear lip liner, because I'm too lazy to match liners to lipstick (and let's be real, I don't need another product type to start stashing around here). But I always wind up correcting application mistakes with a lip brush. Art Sticks to the rescue: even when the point has worn down and become rounded, I can easily line my lips and then fill them in, no correcting required. If your lips are very thin, this may be more of a problem for you, but then again, it may not.
  • Liner and lipstick and...blush! I'm not that in to makeup multitaskers but these are so creamy and pigmented that I really like using them for blush. Just pat a little on and blend. No grease or stickiness whatsoever.
  • Pigmented, buildable color. Make no mistake, these are lipsticks! Not balms, not glosses, lipsticks. One pass is enough for opaque, beautifully colored lips, but you can easily build the color to be more dramatic.
  • Matte-to-satin texture. Bobbi Brown describes the finish as "creamy matte," which is pretty accurate. A light application will yield a semi-matte finish, while building the color delivers a satin finish with a very subtle sheen. Interestingly, I see some microshimmer in my swatches, but have never noticed any shimmer on my lips, just gorgeous color. Mark of a job well done.
  • Staying power. As long as I refrain from drinking anything within the first 15 minutes or so after application (a good guideline for any lip product), this formula sticks around for hours. Even after drinking from a Camelbak bottle, or eating (non-oily) food, this stuff stays! I frequently wear it when traveling or draping, as I don't have to worry about looking up to see the dreaded ring-around-the-mouth. The formula becomes very slightly drying around hour 5, which to me is no big deal. It fades very evenly, into a light "stain" which nevertheless can be easily cleaned off.
  • Price point. These are $26 each, which sounds like a lot, until you take into account that I've had mine since November, wear it multiple times per week, and have sharpened it only once. The pigmentation is no joke! They also come with their own jumbo sharpener. Just take care not to lose it, because as far as I know, the sharpener isn't sold separately. Nice excuse to buy a second color?

Truly, my only complaint is that I want Bobbi Brown to make more of them.

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Here are the colors as I see them:

Bright Raspberry- True Winter. Very cool, bright pink.

Cassis- Dark Autumn. Gorgeous berry, more red than brown. I have a backup, it's that good.

Cherrywood- Soft Summer. This particular color is much sheerer than the rest of the line, and I could see it working really well on both Dark seasons for a more natural look. Clinique's Black Honey is a bit redder.

Dusty Pink- Soft Autumn. I'm convinced that at least 1/3 of the world's makeup is Soft Autumn, but that doesn't stop most of it from being lackluster. This color, on the other hand, is worth picking up. (Note that the swatch of Dusty Pink above is inaccurate. For some reason it photographed much darker and cooler than it truly is.)

Electric Pink- Bright Spring. Similar in color to MAC Fusion Pink, but without the pearly finish (which can render it a bit neon sometimes).

Harlow Red- Bright Winter. Perfect bright maraschino cherry red!

Rose Brown- Soft Summer. It looks exactly like it sounds, a browned rose. Certainly not the most exciting Soft Summer option out there, but worth a try.

Sunset Orange- True Autumn, quite red and bright, but muted enough to look dirty on a spring face (got that?)

Bobbi's Spring 2015 Hot Collection features three limited edition shades:

Hot Berry- True Winter? This is the one LE shade I haven't swatched in person, but it sure looks True Winter from here.

Hot Pink- Bright Winter. Cool, hot pink!

Hot Orange- Bright Spring. Fabulous color, on the bridge between coral and orange.

When Birds Are Singing

The firefly festival is eagerly awaited all year in the Enchanted Garden. For then on this very special day, the best voices of the bird-world feed on tiny fireworks to embellish their voices and then gather to perform a single concert together. Their jubilant musical notes are inscribed in a syrup of figs and milk and preserved in tiny pots to be enjoyed all year round. Like this golden froth of musical syrup, WHEN BIRDS ARE SINGING... eye shadows are a time defying exotic enigma. This is plumage to adorn you in shades as deliciously mellow as soft silence that flows, or as brilliantly potent as jewelled notes. So addictive are these morsels that you’ll be causing your own kaleidoscopic ripples every time you wear them.

I'm a sucker for anything hinting at the otherworldly, so Rouge Bunny Rouge pretty much had me at "firefly festival." Everything about the brand speaks to incredible luxury and a fairy tale sensibility: two qualities that send my heart aflutter.

Rouge Bunny Rouge is a Russian brand, produced in Italy, with very few counters in the United States. Happily for me, Circe Swag in Louisville carries a large variety of RBR products, and I walked in ready to do some swatching.

I was immediately impressed with the range of colors, which are light years beyond the typical autumnal nudes--and only autumnal nudes--offered by many brands. The range is weighted toward satin and shimmer with only a few matte selections, but rest assured, these are not your chunky glitter nightclub shadows! Each shadow is finely milled and buttery--never chalky or powdery--and I haven't seen a speck of fallout. Most impressive for this color geek is how truly multidimensional the colors are. Like beautiful paintings, the longer you look, the more colors you see. In fact, the danger of trying them is that you may begin to look upon your old favorites with condescension. As I have.

Creasing hasn't been a problem for me with these shadows. I have somewhat oily lids and any shadow will crease on me without it. Fading is another story; many brands fade on me throughout the day even with said primer. These don't. When I remove my makeup at night, the colors are just as luscious as the moment I put them on. Every shadow is easy to blend and nicely pigmented. Top notch.

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Abyssinian Catbird

Of course, there's a teeny list of things not to like. I wish there were a few more matte shades, simply because these mattes are unlike any other mattes I've tried, with subtle color shifts usually reserved for satin or shimmer. That's a small quibble. My main criticism regards inconsistency in sizing and availability. For example:

  1. Refill pans are smaller and less expensive than individual pots. That's normal and great. However, about half of the shadows are currently unavailable in refill form. Only one matte shadow is currently available as a refill.
  2. A couple shades are sold as individual pans, not refills, because they aren't magnetized for the pans. They are also a couple dollars cheaper.
  3. Single pots come in two sizes (2g and 2.4g). Read carefully!

Flawless packaging design, however: duo keeper and single eyeshadow pot.

Clearly the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide, since I'm so obsessed that I may never use another eyeshadow brand again. Whimsical names, beautiful and flexible colors, gorgeous luxury packaging, what's not to love?

Here are the products I was able to swatch, with RBR's description in parentheses.

First, the mattes:

Stila Chinois on top (Winters) and RBR Papyrus Canary on the bottom (Autumns and Springs). Easy to see its warmth here.

Stila Chinois on top (Winters) and RBR Papyrus Canary on the bottom (Autumns and Springs). Easy to see its warmth here.

  • 42 Papyrus Canary (semi-opaque palest creamy beige) - Autumns and Springs. This is the one matte shade that comes in a refill pan.
  • 43 Chestnut-Napped Apalis (semi-opaque chestnut puree with a hint of cocoa dust) - Everything an Autumn ever needs. Use it all over the lid or as a contour, you can't go wrong.
  • 44 Grey Go-Away Lourie (semi-opaque smoky slate grey) - This grey is grey. Just grey. And that makes it very flexible. All three Winters will wear it well. Bright Spring can use it as a contour. Could be too cool for Dark Autumn but worth trying; the same goes for True and Soft Summer due to darkness.
  • 45 Blackpepper Jay (semi-opaque smoky black brown) - Dark Autumn and Dark Winter.
  • 71 Sweet Dust Seriema (semi-opaque cool dusty mauve taupe) - Soft Summers, you need this. You need it badly. Dark Winter is pretty in it, too.

L to R on my warm-neutral DA skin: Sweet Dust Seriema, Blackpepper Jay, Abyssinian Catbird, Bohemian Waxwing, Chestnut-Napped Apalis, Papyrus Canary, Unforgettable Oriole. I don't wear all of these personally.

And the rest:

Unforgettable Oriole

Unforgettable Oriole

  • 14 Unforgettable Oriole (delicate, metallic white gold) - Oh, an absolute Bright Winter dream! Lovely for Bright Spring, too.
  • 15 Abyssinian Catbird (metallic bronze with golden highlights) - Dark Autumns, buy this and thank me later (with more RBR eyeshadows, of course). One blog described it as "Think MAC Sumptuous Olive mating Woodwinked on crack." That's pretty darn accurate, a lovely olive bronze. True Autumn could wear it too.
  • 17 Delicate Hummingbird (cool, dusky sugar-frosted plum, iridescent with pink shimmer) - all three Summers, with a lighter hand for Light Summer due to the dusky quality. Really striking. It brings my Summer envy out of hibernation.
  • 27 Solstice Halcyon (semi-matte mauve beige) - Interesting color with a lot of pink in it. Soft Summer and Soft Autumn.
  • 64 Golden Rhea (iridescent pale gold, pure and simple) - all Springs and Soft Autumn. Very peachy yellow compared to Unforgettable Oriole. Beautiful.
  • 65 Olive Violetear (smoky olive with satin finish) - Hard to pin down, a beautiful warm greened grey. Soft Summer and Soft Autumn, certainly. True and Dark Autumn wear it well. Bright Spring and True Spring could give it a shot. Just an amazingly versatile color.
  • 66 Bohemian Waxwing (iridescent bronzed champagne) - This is a taupey rose gold. I had hopes that it would be similar to MAC's Woodwinked, but it's quite a bit lighter and cooler. All Autumns, but Soft Autumn will be especially lovely in it.
Blackpepper Jay

Blackpepper Jay

  • 67 Lilac Reef Curassow (pale lilac with iridescent effect) - All Summers. Gah. Stunning.
  • 68 Trumpeter Koel (dark lead-grey with lilac blue iridescence) - Soft Summer. Dark Winter could wear it well, too.
  • 69 Umber Firefinch (iridescent dark umber chocolate) - all Autumns. Since it's fairly dark, Soft Autumn would wear it as a contour.
  • 73 Snowy Egret (smoked palest gold iridescence) - Shines for Summers, but I could see True Winter in it, too. Very ethereal.
  • 74 Eclipse Eagle (dark brown-grey plum with platinum iridescence) - Absolutely MADE for Bright Winter. Similar to Merle Norman Storm in theory, but prettier and plummier. I think Dark Winter and Soft Summer could wear it very well too, as they do nicely in greyed plums.

There's a hefty handful of other lovely shades available on the Rouge Bunny Rouge website, including cherry blossom pink, apricot pink, peacock blue, silver moss, sterling silver, blackened silver charcoal, rich fern green, and others. Yes, I am drooling on my keyboard right now.

You can purchase RBR products online at Beautyhabit (U.S.-based) and Rouge Bunny Rouge. I've found their descriptions and swatches to be quite accurate. At the time of this writing, eyeshadow pots are $25, refills are $19, unmagnetized pans are $15, duo keepers are $12, and trio keepers are $18.

I've also swatched blush, mascara, glitter pigments, and highlighters, so look for that post in coming weeks.

Don't Drape to Confirm

Note: as I have received some (frankly very bizarre and aggressive) messages about this post, let me be very clear: I have had this topic in my queue for at least two months now. I had kid-free time this afternoon to finish it. It is not about anyone or any few in particular. The examples used are simply examples. I am not saying analysts are perfect or that I am perfect. If you see yourself in it, that's cool, I see myself in it, too.

---

"I'm positive I'm purely Cool."

"I know I'm clear, so it's just a matter of whether I'm Bright Winter or Bright Spring."

"I can't imagine being anything other than a True Autumn."

Famous last words, folks.

If I could give one piece of advice to people seeking a Personal Color Analysis, it would be this: do not seek a draping to confirm what you think you already know.

Some of my clients walk in the door thinking they're one season (whether they tell me what that season is or not) and walk out the door knowing they're that season. A great many more of them walk in the door thinking they're one season (again, whether they tell me what that season is or not) and walk out the door gripping a brave new palette in their hands.

My intent is never to invalidate a clients' feelings about her own coloring. However: it is nearly impossible to be objective about ourselves. I couldn't attempt to drape myself, even with the training, even with the drapes, even knowing what I already am! We get too stuck in the details, in the ideas we've stitched together about ourselves throughout our lives. My mom wears this color and I don't want to look anything like my mom. I always get compliments in this color. Ooh, this color makes me look tan! I'd never wear this. I look different under these lights. They must be off. My husband loves me in this color. Everyone online told me I was *obviously* warm! Where is this going? I want out.

I polled a small group of my fellow analysts recently and asked them whether they were right or wrong about their season pre-draping, with a third option for "wrong but in the ballpark" for those who were correct about their parent season or dimension. Here's what happened:

Yes indeed, even a group of aspiring color analysts, color-savvy people by nature, were living in the wrong seasons, or otherwise guessed ourselves as the wrong seasons.

We'd tried lipstick draping and peering at macro photos of our eyes. We'd tried selecting the palette that resonated with us. We'd tried draping ourselves in random household fabrics and asking Facebook groups for opinions. We'd tried closing our eyes and pinning the tail on the season.

These are people who knew quite a lot about different color systems, who had backgrounds in painting, dyeing, fashion design, interior design, cosmetics. People who score 0 on the Farnsworth Munsell Hue Test.

And still, we were wrong.

It had nothing to do with us, and everything to do with us. It's just too hard to be objective. Throw in simultaneous contrast, afterimage, inconsistencies in lighting and photography and computer monitors, the fact that the same lipstick will look different on 10 women of the same season, and you have yourself a hot mess.

Don't drape to confirm. Drape to discover.

The Sultry Soft Summer

Every season suffers from stereotyping, some more than others. True Winter is the Ice Queen, Light Spring is Easter pastels, Dark Autumn is a smoldering tigress, and Soft Summer, well...if there's one season I'm always reluctant to determine a client, it's Soft Summer. Because no matter how luminous, how stunning, how sexy a Soft Summer looks in her colors, she almost invariably thinks, "I will be forced to wear dusty mauve--and only dusty mauve--for the rest of my life."

In this series, it is my intent to showcase lesser-seen sides of the 12 seasons: the sunny True Winter, the bold Light Spring, the ethereal Dark Autumn. And where better to start than Soft Summer?

Show any online group a fairly muted, boring garment and ask them to determine its season. Nine times out of ten, they'll answer "Soft Summer." In reality, that garment may fall into another season. Soft Summer is the darkest of the Summer seasons, smoky and mysterious, but the colors are also quite vibrant.

However: a Soft Summer palette will look dusty when compared to a higher-chroma palette or garment. That's why it is so important to wear the colors that harmonize with your own coloring. Otherwise, you're the Soft Summer looking dusty in Bright Winter colors. Your clothing and makeup will walk in the room two days before you do. When you wear the colors that harmonize with your body, a mutual lifting-up occurs.

As an analyst, here's what goes through my mind when I think of Soft Summer:

Blackberry sherbet. Lamb's Ear. Crushed velvet. The evening sea rippling like dark ink against the shore. Lavender macarons. Charcoal tweed. Creamy white magnolia flowers, brushed with the barest whisper of pink. Grey wolves. Beaded ball gowns in shimmering taupe, raspberry, teal. Morning mist. Smoky tabbies. Men wearing navy linen. Sage. Dragonflies with iridescent wings. Slate. Venetian canals at twilight.

Sound boring? I didn't think so.

One of Soft Summer's biggest strengths is the unfettered potential for color combinations. Provided an outfit makes sense stylistically, you can cram as many Soft Summer colors into it as you like, without worrying that you'll look like there was an explosion in the Crayola Factory. This is a quality very particular to the Soft seasons. Other seasons can combine their colors well, of course, sometimes quite a few of them, but the Soft seasons are particularly enhanced by doing so.

Many thanks to the beautiful K. here, as well as her analyst Sharon Forsythe.

Many thanks to the beautiful K. here, as well as her analyst Sharon Forsythe.

Whether you've just been draped Soft Summer or you've been living in the season for a decade, here are some practical ways to infuse your appearance with some sultry appeal:

Many thanks to the stunning P. here, as well as her analyst Rachel Nachmias.

Many thanks to the stunning P. here, as well as her analyst Rachel Nachmias.

  • Back away from grey. Grey is easy for Summers to wear and can quickly overtake your closet. Take care to purchase other neutrals as well. Smoky navy, burgundy, and aubergine make lovely neutrals, just be careful not to move into too-saturated territory.
  • When you do purchase grey, look for unique color casts. For example, this men's sweater from Nordstrom. The charcoal heather has a green shift, which adds interest to your outfits. I see this a lot with grey and it usually works in a Soft Summer's favor.
  • Soft Summer is a Cool-Neutral season, but the key word is neutral; when selecting jewelry, consider rose gold in addition to silver-toned metals. Combining them in a single piece is even better as the warm and cool tones will play off of one another.
  • Look at the depth of the stones in K's necklace, above. Imperial Jasper is often found in the palette's colors, from dusky mauve to celadon. This piece is especially gorgeous.
  • If you wear makeup, try exploring the darker side of the palette. The lighter options are beautiful, but Soft Summers can go pretty smoky. For lipstick, try MAC Odyssey, Maybelline Bit of Berry, and Bite Beauty Lip Tint in Raspberry. Bare Minerals' The Indecent Proposal is a lovely blush. Don't forget the eyes: take a look at Laura Mercier Sable and Plum Smoke.
  • Don't live in monochrome. Combine those colors! My husband is a Soft Summer. A typical winter look for him includes grey corduroys, an eggplant undershirt, a raspberry and stone-checked dress shirt, and a burgundy or green-grey cardigan. All of the colors together create great synergy.

Here are some of my favorite Soft Summer resources:

For Pink-Skinned Dark Autumns

Edit February 2015: Only a couple months after originally writing this post, it seems my preferences have changed again! Proof that our learning never stagnates. I will have a new post of recommendations soon, I'm sure!

I learned the hard way that makeup doesn't make the season.

As my training approached, I knew intellectually that a Dark season won't necessarily look dark, a Light season won't necessarily look light, etc. That didn't stop me from being completely and totally shocked when I found myself--a woman who usually wears the lightest foundation available--leaving my first day of training as a Dark Autumn.

There was no arguing with the drapes: Spring was horrendous, Summer bland, Winter stark; True Autumn smeared the lens and Dark Winter dusted me with cornstarch. I landed squarely in the middle of Dark Autumn, pink overtones and all.

My palette was love at first sight, and clothing has been easy, but I've struggled with makeup. Yellow- or orange-based eyeshadow gives the impression that I've contracted pink eye. Even MAC Brulé, a neutral beige shadow that looks absolutely stunning with the DA palette, turns sallow on me. Blush is simple as long as I stay away from the browner shades, which turn my freckles to dirt splatter.

Lipstick has been my biggest hurdle. The first time I tried Revlon's Rum Raisin, a browner DA standby, I looked like I'd slathered my lips in mud. It's nice enough when applied with a lip brush, but not exactly magical. I methodically worked my way through Revlon, Maybelline, L'Oreal, MAC, Smashbox, Elea Blake, NARS, YSL, Dior, Chanel, Givenchy, and I kept striking out. Now, nine months in, I've finally started to get a handle on which cosmetics actually work on me, vs. which simply "should" work.

I have learned to follow some key rules when choosing makeup:

I feel utterly vain posting my car selfie, but I've come to accept that this is what my version of Dark Autumn looks like when it comes to makeup. The richness is there, it's still DA, but it's not the stereotype

I feel utterly vain posting my car selfie, but I've come to accept that this is what my version of Dark Autumn looks like when it comes to makeup. The richness is there, it's still DA, but it's not the stereotype

  • I'm a Dark Autumn. Trying to solve my makeup problem with another season's makeup simply doesn't work. It looks weird with my wardrobe, and it looks weird with my face. (Some colors do overlap, of course; I mean choosing colors that are clearly Soft Autumn, Dark Winter, etc.)
  • My overtone isn't particularly warm or golden. Instead, it's rather clear and pink. When choosing makeup, I keep that in mind and choose the clearer tones within the Dark Autumn palette. They're still rich and warm-neutral, but they resonate better with my overtone.

Dark Autumns facing this same dilemma, here's a short list of makeup I personally use and/or think are great choices. This list is by no means exhaustive, and (surprise) they may not all work for you.

The inimitable Woodwinked

The inimitable Woodwinked

 

 

Eyeshadow

  • MAC Blanc Type - nice neutral matte base that doesn't go yellow
  • MAC Copperplate - very unique color, matte grey taupe with hints of brown and violet, a mainstay in my collection
  • MAC Handwritten - dark matte reddened brown
  • MAC Woodwinked - I've searched high and low for a dupe but nothing compares to Woodwinked. I mean, for one, THAT NAME, but it's just the perfect antiqued bronze, creamy with a perfect sheen
  • Make Up For Ever M534 Oat - I use this as a base, lovely matte pink beige color (and MUFE's shadows are deliciously creamy)
  • Make Up For Ever S556 Taupe Grey - warmer and browner than Copperplate with a satin finish
  • NARS Coconut Grove - beautiful dark neutral brown
  • Smashbox Photo Op Trio in Screenshot - warm peach, bronze, and brown, not too yellow

Eyeliner

  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in 25L Matte Brown - my personal favorite, dark, neutral, matte
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in 2L Pearly Brown - slightly warmer bronzed brown
  • Urban Decay Demolition - dark cooler brown
  • Sephora Kohl Eyeliner in Mystic Purple
NARS Taos, MAC Ambering Rose (which was too orange and rusty on me), and Lancome Shimmer Tamarind

NARS Taos, MAC Ambering Rose (which was too orange and rusty on me), and Lancome Shimmer Tamarind

Blush

  • Elea Blake Social Butterfly - pinky RED orange! with shimmer!
  • Lancome Shimmer Tamarind - beautiful scorched red, so wonderful, worth every penny
  • NARS Taos - burnt rose with shimmer
  • Sephora Double Contouring Cream Blush in Rose Glow - very beautiful berry red without shimmer, I love this and was thrilled to find a cream blush for us. Warmer DWs can wear it too.

 

Clockwise from top: Smashbox Disco Rose gloss, NARS Afghan Red, Tarte Moody, and NARS Fire Down Below

Clockwise from top: Smashbox Disco Rose gloss, NARS Afghan Red, Tarte Moody, and NARS Fire Down Below

Lipstick

  • Burt's Bees Tinted Balm in Red Dahlia - super sheer, nice for a day at the beach or some such
  • Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Cassis - dark berry red, very buildable
  • Mary Kay True Dimensions lipstick in Spice 'N Nice - also a very nice berry
  • NARS Afghan Red - pink plum
  • NARS Fire Down Below - despite the horrible name, this is a gorgeous brighter DA red, and has ended my search for the perfect red
  • Smashbox Disco Rose lipgloss - muted neutral rose, too clear for DA on its own but nice as a top coat over lipstick.
  • Smashbox Fig - very similar to Afghan Red, but a touch more muted; DWs often like this one too
  • Tarte Moody - a crayon-style gloss with actual pigment! another gorgeous buildable berry

My PCA Philosophy

I believe that everyone is beautiful.

I used to scoff at people who said things like that. I'd roll my eyes so hard my head hurt. I'm not a touchy-feely-kumbaya kind of person. Compassionate, sure. Emotional, absolutely. But I was convinced that "everyone is beautiful" was some kind of special snowflake campaign, a pat on the head from the true beauties of the world (in whose company I did not consider myself).

I'm ashamed of that now, because I had no idea.

I had no idea that everyone's eyes were capable of glittering, the rind of the iris crisp and clear. Eye patterns? What's that? If you'd told me that an eye could contain spokes, webbing, or little stars, I'd have given you major side-eye. My awareness of eye color was limited to the information required for a driver's license: Blue, Green, Brown, maybe Hazel. I didn't know that an eye could resemble cracked aqua glass, or licorice nestled among moss.

This is the eye of my lovely friend Emily. Stunning.

This is the eye of my lovely friend Emily. Stunning.

I didn't know that hair color like dishwater blonde or mousy brown were mirages. I've seen ho-hum hair gain subtle highlights with the change of a drape. Hair that appears coated with baby powder against one drape is freshly-washed with the next. I dyed my own "dusty" hair red for years, trying to match the brightness level of my clothing. When I stopped dyeing it, I was shocked to find that it was, indeed, rich.

I grew up on a media diet of airbrushing and Photoshop. I had no idea that rosacea, vitiligo, freckles, birthmarks, crow's feet, and other "imperfections" were no more imperfections than the texture caused by hammering silver.  I'd always found crow's feet particularly adorable, but in my mind they were something I found appealing in spite of their flawed nature.

I bought into my generation's truths about beauty and measured my worth against them.

In 7th grade a boy told me I had a big nose, so I spent over a decade assuming I'd get a nose job one day. I had a big gap between my front teeth, so I stopped smiling with my mouth open. I decided my breasts were too small, so I decided to wear push-up bras forever.

My daughter Simone is 5. She's funny, empathetic, terrifyingly smart, and very pretty.

She has a gap between her teeth just like I do, and I think it's precious.

She tells me that she loves the gap between her teeth because it makes her look like me.

At a bookstore last weekend, Simone was coloring at a table with another little girl. I heard the little girl ask Simone if she had lost a tooth. Without looking up from her picture, Simone said, "No, I just have a space between my teeth." The little girl passed her the sequins.

I believe that everyone is beautiful.

When you're sitting in my studio, I'm not interested in changing the architecture of your face, giving you paler skin or an artificial tan, fitting you into a fashion mold, or insisting that you need makeup to look your best. Makeup can be fun--clearly my daughter thinks so too, since she's always asking to try on lipstick--but it's not necessary.

I believe that everyone is beautiful. Sometimes we just need help seeing it.

Sign Up for My Newsletter!

Today I'm introducing something fun and free!

You may have noticed the new dropdown box on the main page of my website. All you have to do is enter your email address* and you'll be on the list to receive my biweekly color analysis newsletter. My intention is for each newsletter to be useful for everyone, draped and undraped.

Each newsletter will feature:

  • A short informative article about color analysis
  • A Polyvore set encompassing all 12 seasons
  • Updates to my travel schedule and those of my colleagues
  • Link round-ups of my blog posts, Facebook client photos, and other interesting PCA articles and photos around the web

The first issue, launching on Tuesday, will feature:

  • How do you know when an item sings with harmony vs being "close"?
  • NARS eyeshadow duos for every season
  • My favorite eyeshadow application tutorials
  • And more!

 

Join my newsletter for exclusive color analysis updates!

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*Rest assured, you will not receive 3 emails per day, nor will I sell your email address or use it for other shady dealings. It will be used for color purposes only, and you are welcome to unsubscribe at any time.

How to Wear Your Colors

Have fun with them!

A common reaction to seeing a 12-tone swatchbook for the first time is one of dismay that you can only wear the 65 colors represented.

As I've addressed before, attempting to match individual palette colors to garments and cosmetics is an exercise in futility. With a little practice, looking for overall harmony with your palette is easier, more enjoyable, and more open-ended. That said, a few nights ago I found myself thinking about the strip of color combinations at the end of the 12-tone swatchbooks. Some people love them, some people hate them, some people ignore them. But I started contemplating the outfit color combinations possible with those mere 65 colors.

In an outfit with two colors, that's 2,080.

In an outfit with three colors, that's 43,680.

In an outfit with four colors, which can absolutely include accessories, that's 677,040.

My Soft Summer husband is greatly enjoying the ease of getting dressed every morning when everything in his wardrobe goes with everything else. Not only that, but he can layer five different colors in an outfit and look not only good, but interesting. Using your palette ensures that you will never exceed your natural contrast level.

As a Dark Autumn, I'm currently smitten with combinations like deep chocolate brown, molten amber, and burnt red, as well as warm plum, bottle green, and rich teal. The possibilities are endless.

What's your season, and what color combinations are you enjoying right now?

When Your Favorite Colors Aren't in Your Palette

I recently analyzed a man who looked at his swatchbook and happily announced that all of his favorite colors were present.

That's always the analyst's dream, that the client will walk out into the sunshine holding a palette they're madly in love with, feel great in, and can't wait to explore.

But sometimes, even when you understand and accept that you're a particular season, you find yourself thinking, "I have to go my whole life without hot pink?" or even, "Do I really have to wear these colors? I don't like these colors. My favorite colors are totally different. This sucks."

And yeah, it does kind of suck.

So what do you do? You want to look your best, but you're less than enthused about either giving up colors you love, or wearing colors you don't.

Many people, even those who aren't necessarily resistant to their palette, introduce their colors with small pieces, usually framing the face: a scarf, jewelry, lipstick, a tie. If you're a Bright season and you've been living in subdued colors, you might feel like you're a neon sign when wearing your palette head-to-toe. The rest of the world sees those colors as totally normal on you, but wearing them in small pops at first can help you transition.

If your favorite colors aren't too far away from your palette, go ahead and "cheat" with them for now. Over time, you'll likely prefer to appreciate your favorites from afar, on other people; eventually, your new palette might usurp your old favorite colors. We all love what we look and feel best in, right? I cheated frequently in the first months after my draping and felt pangs of sadness for my neighboring season's reds. I don't miss them at all now, probably because I'm vain and they made me look like a vampire.

My favorite solution for when you adore colors you look absolutely terrible in is to use them in your house. My bedroom looks like I went shopping with the Light Summer palette (I didn't). I love waking up to those colors every morning. My embarrassing collection of mugs and teacups spans every season, and when I started knitting (um, a week ago) I was thrilled to be able to knit things for friends and family who belong to a different color space than I do. I get to enjoy the colors, but someone else will be wearing them. It's a win/win.

Why Armchair Analysis Doesn't Work

Short answer: It's just plain inaccurate. If you happen to look like your season's stereotype, or like my daughter you have an amazingly intuitive sense of your best colors, maybe you get lucky. You pick a season (maybe based on some kind of ad hoc method) and you look great in it. But for most people, that's just not how it works.

Long answer: I took a chance on a handbag from ThredUP recently. (Great source for like-new clothing at reasonable prices, by the way!) In the photo, it looked like a rich Dark Autumn burgundy. In person, it was True Winter fuchsia.

That's pretty much how online analysis works, even if you're asking trained analysts. If you're asking Facebook, you're up a creek without a paddle.

In a series of photos taken on the same day, in the same lighting, with the same camera, in the same "neutral" outfit (just because you're wearing grey doesn't mean it's neutral grey) there will be variations in the appearance of your skin tone. How do we know how you really look, if we've only ever seen a photo? How do we know the True Winter green you're self-draping with is really True Winter? Unless you've harmonized it to all of the fans, we don't. And even if you have, and you've harmonized a green to every season, it's just not enough. Comparing a green from every season might tell you something, but it won't tell you everything. If you've had an in-person analysis, you know how many steps go into determining a person's season. Everything is checked and re-checked in a grey room with full-spectrum lighting.

Determining your season based on lipstick draping is another issue entirely. The first, and it's a big one, is that not every person of the same season will wear the same lipstick colors. One Soft Autumn's Holy Grail might be another Soft Autumn's Death Warmed Over. The second is that, like clothing, we can't interpret lipstick in isolation. In photos, how do we know what we're really seeing? How do we know which lipsticked version of you is the real you? As an analyst, even if I had someone in my studio trying on a lipstick from every season, I would never even hazard a guess.

Asking for opinions from internet friends is folly, because (and this sounds exceptionally rude in print, but I promise I'm not being snarky) most people just don't have any clue what they're talking about. Leaving aside the issues of photographic inaccuracy, people respond to the colors they like, colors they think fit your personality, colors they're familiar with seeing you in, colors that deliver drama but not harmony. It's not conscious. We all do it. I do it!

Even in person, I couldn't determine a person's season without draping. When I see a client in neutral-grey, I make a guess in my head, then set aside it aside and see where the drapes take us. Sometimes I'm right. Usually, I'm not. That's the beauty of the drapes. If you interpret them correctly, without shortcuts, without bias, they never lie. They're like the sunrise.

Fashionistas...and the rest of us

Some people look great in everything.

I've seen women pull off outfits that would make the rest of us look like we got dressed in our eccentric uncle's closet -- in the dark. I've seen women who can wear a full face of Bright Winter makeup equally as well as Dark Autumn or Soft Summer makeup. However:

It's a costume.

Harmony isn't the goal. The fashion statement is. You're supposed to focus on the neon pink lips, or the dusty mauve dress with tangerine pumps and jewelry.  The sought-for impression is not peace, taking in the person as a whole, but eye candy.

Look no further than Keiko Lynn. Go check out her blog, and come back in two days when you've finished drooling over her beautiful outfits, flawless makeup, and equally stylish boyfriend. I adore her, adore her blog, love what she does with color and line. But at the same time, I know that we don't live in the same world.

I don't know about you, but my wardrobe isn't stocked with fabulous vintage finds or unique pieces companies have gifted me. I have little kids, and doing my makeup every morning is difficult enough without trying to follow a tutorial for popsicle stained lips. And that's okay! One isn't inherently better than the other, but I suspect that most of us just aren't natural fashionistas. We want to look our best and simplify our routines without sacrificing our personal style.

Personally, I wanted to stop fighting with my body. I was tired of feeling frustrated when I looked terrible in the Color of the Year. I was tired of buying lipstick because "beauty experts" said it was perfect for fair-skinned women, only to put it on and immediately look like I was about to toss my cookies. With Personal Color Analysis, I feel like I'm holding a road map. I know how to shop with intention instead of following the trends. I know how to choose lipstick. I open my closet every morning and everything goes together. It's relaxing, and I look relaxing, too.

I'm having a Personal Image Analysis with Rachel Nachmias this month, and truthfully I could not be more excited. When I know both the colors and the styles that work with my body, I feel like I'll be ready to conquer the world! No more feeling bad about how I look or wishing I could wear palazzo pants. That's something we all need. We're perfect just the way we are.

Understanding Hue, Value, and Chroma

"Blue tends to the dissolution of colour. It is not completely lost, but it can touch the line of the very distant."

-Vicente Verdú

Understanding the Munsell system of Hue, Value, and Chroma is crucial to understanding Personal Color Analysis and how the 12 seasonal tones differ from one another. Whether you know it or not, you already use these attributes to describe color, and they're really very basic.

Hue distinguishes one color family from another: red from blue, green from yellow, purple from orange. We often use "color" as shorthand for "hue" (myself included) but they are two different things. Every color has its own formula of hue, value, and chroma. The only exceptions in the Munsell system are the neutral black, white, and grey. These have neither hue nor chroma, only value, which we'll get to in a minute.

Munsell's hues consist of red, yellow-red (orange), yellow, green-yellow, green, blue-green, blue, purple-blue, purple, and red-purple. They come full circle, and are based on visual perception (not color mixing, as in paint, dye, or even frosting.) Every color in the world will fall somewhere on the hue circle, but there are two other dimensions at play.

Value is how dark or light a color is, with a lower value pertaining to darker colors and a higher value pertaining to lighter colors. This dimension also refers to how much light reflects off a colored surface and how the light is reflected off that colored surface. Glossy colors, for example, reach lower values than matte colors do, but reflected light can obscure the color. Ever tried to look at a magazine advertisement in the sunlight?

Chroma refers to how intense or greyed a color is. Neon colors have extremely high chroma, whereas dusty colors have extremely low chroma. The larger a color's surface area is, the higher the chroma will be, which is why it's always suggested to test paint colors in a 2-foot square, rather than making decisions based on paint swatches. A yellow that looks soft and buttery on the swatch can quickly turn egg yolk yellow when applied to an entire room.

So How Does This Apply to PCA?

Very simply. Christine Scaman often talks about The Most Important Thing. While each season has its own sweet spot of HVC, one of these dimensions will be the most important. For the True seasons, it's either warmth (for True Spring and True Autumn) or coolness (for True Summer and True Winter). Our eyes perceive colors with a red or yellow content as warm, and colors with a blue content as cool. The True warm seasons have visibly yellowed greys, orange-y reds, and blues with red-purple undertones. The True cool seasons have reds, pinks, and purples with a strong blue presence.

For the Light and Dark seasons, the most important dimension is value. Light Spring and Light Summer have the highest (lightest) overall value in the range of palettes. While there are dark colors in the Light seasons, they are only dark within the confines of the palette. Toss one of Light Summer's dark colors into one of the Dark seasons and it will look light. Dark Autumn and Dark Winter have the lowest (darkest) overall value in the range of palettes. That deep richness is absolutely integral to the palette as a whole.

For the Soft and Bright seasons, the most important dimension is chroma. Soft Autumn and Soft Summer have the lowest chroma in the palettes. The colors are dusty, gentle, and soft overall. By contrast, Bright Spring and Winter are vivid, intense, and BRIGHT.

Always remember that the most important dimension is still just one part of the formula. For example, Soft Summer is cool-neutral in hue, medium in value, and low in chroma. Chroma alone doesn't tell the whole story. True Spring is warm in hue, medium in value, and medium-high in chroma. Hue alone doesn't tell the whole story. Dark Winter is cool-neutral in hue, low in value, and medium in chroma. Value alone doesn't tell the whole story.

One of my favorite things about the 12 tone system is that the palettes are mutually exclusive. Throw a Light Summer color into the True Summer palette and even though the individual colors might look close, it won't work. Your eyes won't rest. I actually run into this a lot when pinning images to my seasonal Pinterest boards. I pinned a beautiful photo the other day of a woman in an olive green dress holding a violin. I put it in Dark Autumn first, but it looked off. I moved it to Soft Autumn and left it there for about a day. The next time I looked, it still wasn't right. I moved it to True Autumn and it settled in comfortably, like an old friend.

Getting to Know Your Fan

For the purposes of this post I will be referring to the 12-Tone fans manufactured by True Colour Australia, as I believe them to be the most accurate and high-quality fans available on the market today. These are the fans my clients receive with their analysis. I am specifically discussing the Classic fans here.

"The palette is an intrinsic center from which you can radiate in beautiful and important expansions of yourself." -Christine Scaman

DSCF1163.jpg

First, the colors

Each palette contains 65 different colors, adjusted for your season's particular formula of Hue, Value, and Chroma. For example, a Soft Summer's colors will be Cool-Neutral in hue, medium in value, and low in chroma. There are no oranges, and very few yellows. On the other side of things, a Bright Spring's colors will be Warm-Neutral in hue, medium in value, and high in chroma. There are hot pinks and amber yellows.

It's a common misconception that these 65 colors are the only colors you can wear, and that you must match everything to a color on your fan. Not so! The palette is merely a representation of your season's color space. There are so many colors in the world, we could never collect them all to include in any fan you'd want to carry around with you. Instead, the colors on your fan represent your season's limits.

Say you're looking at a coral blouse in the store. Don't bother trying to match a particular square on your fan to the blouse. Maybe your season's neighbor has a coral that's very close to yours. No matter how good your eye is, it can be difficult to ascertain (particularly from a once-inch square) whether the blouse belongs to your season or its neighbor. Additionally, if you rely on only exact fan matches, you'll miss out on all of those colors that aren't represented on the fan. Instead, spread out your fan into a circle, with space between each strip. Flop your fan down on the blouse. If both fan and blouse look like they're part of the same entity, carry it to the cash register. If something about it just looks a little bit "off," you're probably looking at another season's color. Don't think about it too hard. If you have to agonize, it's probably not right.

Do not wear colors that are significantly darker or lighter than the palette. Harmony, harmony, harmony. If you are a Winter blend, you will have a strip or two of quite light colors. These are called "icy" colors, basically white with a drop of color, vs. pastels, which are color with a drop of white. These may go lighter than your palette, but make sure you are not also sacrificing strength of color.

The strip at the very back, with squares consisting of three colors each, is a jumping-off point for color combinations. Your mileage may vary, as everyone's taste is different.

The numbers

The short answer is that, no, these numbers probably won't be very useful to you. They have no greater meaning other than an identification system within an individual palette. For example, Elea Blake's makeup descriptions note fan matches when applicable.

The colors are organized according to the standard set by Kathryn Kalisz. The original Sci\ART fans had 63 colors and weren't numbered. On the 12-tone fans, two additional colors were added at 7.9 and 7.10, according to each season's particular needs.

The abbreviations

A = Accent.
FN = Fashion Neutral.

Again, your mileage may vary. Within my own wardrobe, I view these identifiers as completely useless, as I wear very few of the identified FNs. (Finding Dark Autumn grey is hard, y'all.) Maybe you think neutrals are the greatest thing ever and you only use colors marked FN for jewelry, scarves, etc. More power to you! Just don't get too hung up on the abbreviations. Wear your colors how you want to wear them.

Tonal Black

Every palette has a "tonal black." This is featured on the cover of the fan, along with a color that represents the season. True Winter, for example, is a pure blue-black, whereas Light Summer's is more grey than black, leaning toward steely blue. The Light Summer one makes me think of storm clouds moving in on a beach picnic. (Have I mentioned that I have major Light Summer envy? Actually, I have Every Season envy.)

Is there anything you've always wanted to know about your 12-tone fan? Ask away in comments and I will do my best to answer!

So You've Just Been Draped...Now What?

If my own experience is any indication, you're probably feeling excited, relieved, and maybe a little terrified right now.

Before you do anything else, sign into Pinterest and look at pin boards for your season. While looking at outfit collages and cosmetics seems more practical, I actually prefer looking at curated "mood boards" because I find them more evocative and memorable. For example, Edward Henry Potthast's At the Seashore calls, "Light Summer!" Monet's The Hunt whispers "Soft Autumn. Soft Autumn." You'll find a plate of luscious grapefruit for True Spring, a Victorian crowned pigeon for Dark Winter. It's easier to fix these scenes in your mind than an isolated lipstick color. While you look at Pinterest, spread out your fan next to you. Make the connection between the colors on your palette and the landscapes, rooms, paintings, outfits, foods that are evocative of the season. Take in the palette as a whole.

Which palette?

Which palette?

What if I'm unhappy with my colors? It happens. I had a client recently who suspected Soft Summer for herself, and sure enough, she was a Soft Summer. While she realized that the Soft Summer colors were best on her, she wanted to be surprised, and was a bit disappointed as a result. But every palette has romance, delicacy, strength, mystique. When the person is in harmony with the colors, everything falls into place. Soft Summer, for example, often seems to be the black sheep of the PCA community. The colors are derided as faded and boring. But on a Soft Summer, they're anything but. They're bold and striking and romantic and pretty. The person raises up the colors, and the colors raise up the person. It's a thing to behold. I draped a Bright Winter earlier in the week who made those luscious Light Summer pastels look dirty. So if you dislike your palette, give it time.

Next, you'll want to swatch your wardrobe. Don't overthink it. Take everything out of your closet and start swatching. Spread your palette into a circle so that there's space between each strip and flop the palette onto a blouse or pants. Think of the palette as your face. The colors on your fan and the clothing you're swatching should look like part of the same entity.

Put obvious fails in a trash bag and plan to sell, donate, or swap with friends within a week. You want those items out of your closet now and out of your house soon. At best, they'll be complicating your wardrobe decisions every morning. At worst, you'll find yourself wearing them again. Clear winners go back in the closet. How strict you are with the "Eh, these are okay" items depends on you. If your closet looks pretty bare, you may want to work with these items for now and compensate with makeup or a PaletteWin scarf. If you have plenty of great stuff already, or plan to undertake a large shopping trip, let them go.

Here's an easy one: which lipstick does the Dark Autumn woman wear?

Here's an easy one: which lipstick does the Dark Autumn woman wear?

Tackle your cosmetics. The right makeup makes a huge difference and can radically alter the shape of your face. Not to mention the color, of course. You can either swatch items on a piece of paper and hold the fan alongside, or hold the actual cosmetics alongside the swatch book and flip through. I often do both. Of course, nothing replaces trying them out, since everyone wears makeup differently, even within the same season. Toss or swap anything in your collection that's too warm, too cool, too light, too dark, too muted, too bright (you get the picture), not to mention items that are past their prime. Look at your foundation, too. Personally, I found myself with a tube of mascara after this step. Yikes.

Go shopping. You don't even have to buy anything. Just swatch everything that looks like it might work. Depending on your season and the time of year, there's a good chance most things won't. That's okay. If you're in doubt, leave it at the store. In the beginning, bring a makeup list with you when you shop for cosmetics. You're still learning the parameters of your colors, and it'll be less overwhelming if you start with an established list. I love going to Sephora for makeup because I can try before I buy, and their return policy is generous. Failing that, most drugstores will accept returns on opened cosmetics with a receipt. Don't be embarrassed to return stuff--it's no big deal.

Swatch everything. Just because. Over time you'll get a great feel for your particular color space. I still shop with my swatchbook, of course, but I've also gotten very good at identifying my colors in the wild. You will, too.

Ask your analyst if you're struggling. If something feels off, or you're just having a hard time grasping your palette, I can guarantee that your analyst will be happy to help.

 

 

On Color and Age

Sometimes, PCA seems like magic.

It's not, of course. We're simply analyzing optical effects. But it seems like magic. How can the right colors simultaneously make a person look more youthful and more mature?

During my training, I had the privilege of draping several older women. The goal was never to erase their age (long life is a gift!) but neither did we want them to look older than they actually were. Sometimes a drape can make a person look young, but if it's not the right color for them, it's a bland youth. You don't really see the face: the client might as well be made of wax, or sketched with a shaky hand. The same goes for drapes that can make a person look old. If it's not the right color for them, it's a tired and haggard look, not a distinguished one.

In their perfect colors, I saw these older women as they truly were: absolutely striking.

As you probably know from my introduction on Your Natural Design, or if you've seen me around on Facebook, I lived as a True Spring for several months before I was draped during my training. I thought the colors worked. I thought I looked young and fresh. In hindsight, I looked juvenile. Somehow I looked older, too, and not in a good way. Every wrinkle and blemish was accentuated.

In Dark Autumn clothing and makeup, I look more mature, like someone you might want to take seriously. I also look younger. The wrinkles I've gained from years of forgetting my sunglasses are no longer evident; I seem more awake. My eyes are clearer, and you focus on them.

It's almost like magic.