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
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 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.
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.
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!