4. March 2017

Colour seasons part 2: The 12-Season-System (and the 16-Season-System!)

And here we are with more details than the 4-season-system could give to us! Are you ready to level up to the colour professionals? 😉

We started with the 4-Season-System “recently”, I meand, when my nauseousness was still at bay, but now I managed to finish this article here too.

Thank you!

Your comments under the first article were really helpful to point out difficulties and I want to answer some common questions and typical misunderstandings first. Most of the time they exist because of different use of words.

clear/bright colours

Clear colours are the colours of spring and winter, they are bright, with fullsaturation, no mute. Many people mistake them with rich, heavy colours, which are more the dark colours of summer and autumn types.

winter vs. dark summer colours

This is directly realated to the point above. This is the most common mistaking, also because many people still believe that a dark and cool colour is automatically a winter colour. No. It depends on the muted or clear appearance.

I look good in black, I am a winter!

Sorry, but no this is no criteria, because black is just a very, very popular and accepted colour. Don’t use it for colour typing when you are a newbie. But anyways: if you love black, wear it. Colours are meant to make you feel like the way you want to feel and when black is your choice, go for it. But this has nothing to do with colour seasons. Me too I love black and have some pieces in my wardrobe which I will definitely keep, autumn type or not. But I know how to combine them to avoid that they make me look too hard and worn.

Berrytones and teal/turquoise is flattering on me, which season am I?

These colours are flattering in different shades for almost all colour seasons as they can appear both bright or muted and are of neutral warmth. Don’t use them for draping for colour analysis first hand, as they don’t tell you a lot about your season. Better drape with the very typical colours and the no-gos. Also read below “friendly colours”.

I am a redhead, can I be a summer or a winter??

For summer, definitely yes. For winters, I think so too, but in fact I have no example here for you (let me know if you have one!). In fact it is no typical redhead phenomenon that the own natural haircolour is not the best match to the colour season which totally depends on the skintones. But for redheads the effect normally is very visible. Many  redheads have a cool skintone with very rosy so even pinkish cheeks, especially when they flush or get nervous. This can lead to the typical mismatch of piggy pink face and strawberryblonde orange hair. Other common mismatches are for example very ahsy haircolours to an also ashy skin, also some darkblondes look strange on slightly olive toned skin. This automatically leads to the conclusion that nature does not always find the perfect harmony. Because… why should it? We all know that there are also very different proportions in bodyshape, some asymmetries and flaws. It is totally human to be no perfect match of lengths, volumes, textures and colours. But for colours it is really easy to adjust a lot with just picking the right colours for clothes (and make-up if you like). I love the colour seasons as they balance in a way which does not change the body itself.

Let’s start with the 12-Season-System!

For draping you can now check not always to aspects simultanously (like warm and muted for autumn), but only one aspect:

Warm: generally warm colours no matter if they are light or dark, bright or muted
Cool: generally cool colours no matter if they are light or dark, bright or muted
Soft: generally muted colours no matter if they are light or dark, warm or cool
Bright: generally bright colours no matter if they are light or dark, warm or cool
Light: generally light  colours no matter if they are bright or muted, warm or cool
Dark: generally dark colours no matter if they are bright or muted, warm or cool

Like this you find out in which regions of the 12 seasons you can double check the neighbour seasons.

Bright Spring

The brightes spring. As brightness is dominant this warm season can borrow from the bright winter palette, especially the not toally cool cyan colours.

True/Warm Spring

The warmest spring, so no cyan here except for some greens. Bright as all springs but brightness is not as important for this season as for the bright spring. As warmth is dominant, this season might borrow colours from the warm autumn, especially the richest colours.

Light Spring

The whites and most pastel spring, the not-winter-season with the heighest white tolerance if not full acceptance. Lightness is dominant so it can borrow from the light summer palette, especially the less cyan more pinkish shades.

Light Summer

The other light season, so it can borrow from the light spring palette especially the not too yellow shades. But the light summer has another twin season, so please read below also the paragraph about the soft summer light (16-season-system), which is super close, but slightly more muted.

True/Cool Summer

The bluest/coolest summer, often mistaken with the cool winter, especially the darker, richer blue shades. But summer is muted, winter is bright.

Soft Summer

As we are now in the range of the softs I highly recommand reading the paragraphs about the 16-season-system, as it relys on the softs. Soft summer is the most muted of the summer palette. It looks very pastelly especially the lighter version. But for the 12-season-system lightness and darkness is not relevant. Important are muted, cool colours.

Soft Autumn

My colour season! 😀 Like the soft summer this season is basically muted but warm here. Also lightness and darkness are not relevant in the 12-season-system, but for many these aspects are crucial, therefore hold on until I fully introduce the 16-season-system.

True/Warm Autumn

The warmest autumn with mostly rich but basically very yellowish colours. As mentioned before this season can borrow from the warm spring and of course also from its direkt neighbours, the other autumns.

Deep/Dark Autumn

The darkest autumn, the non-winter-season with the highest tolerance for black, but more a warm black, you know like brownisch black hair vs blueish black hair. It is very close to the soft autumn dark, so keep on reading.

Deep/Dark Winter

The darkest winter if not to say the blackest winter. The other cool winter colours are more accessoires here. White is a match but use sparingly as it is too light (as yellow, wich additonally is too warm), so this palette is rather limited. But still this season is very present as all bright seasons of winter and spring are.

True/Cool Winter

The coolest winter, so the bluest of them. Royal blue is its home, white can be combined better than in the dark winter, as lightness is not so importamt but yellow is still out as is is way too warm, though bright.

Bright/Clear Winter

Surprise, this winter is the clichee winter, at least for me. It is the real snowwhite winter. This winter is the brightest and therefore with the highest tolerance for even green, white or yellow whivh already lean over to the bright spring from the beginning.

Nice for all – except for the Softs?

Well the softs are special as they are the seasons with the greatest range of colour shades as they can use all colour aspects: yellow, magenta, cyan and black and all lightnesses. Therefore we can or even must 😉 subdive them even more.

Soft Summer “True”

The classical soft summer from the 12-season-system, lightness and darkness do not matter.

Soft Summer Light

Still a soft summer but with dominant light colours, a very pastel look, similar to the light summer, but more muted. But really they look like twins at first and also at second glance.

Soft Summer Dark

Here darkness is dominant, still muted and cool, the darkest of all summers. A huge difference to the soft summer light.

Soft Autumn “True”

The classical soft autumn from the 12 season system, lightness and darkness don’t matter.

Soft Autumn Light

The lightest of all autumns often mistaken with the light spring even though you can see they look very differntly, when you compare them.

Soft Autumn Dark

A huge difference to the other soft autumns but as darkness is dominant very close to the dark autumn on first and also second glance. I am asoft autumn dark/dark autumn, tolerating the blushed pinks and berrytones from lighter palettes too, but no light greens or yellows, these have to be dark.

And here we are: The 16-Season-System!

So we see the 12-season-system works for almost all, but the softs need a bit more details. As here in germany the softs re rather comon it is useful to give the 16-season-sytem a try, even though you might already noticed it: I think 14 seasons would have been enough as light summer and soft summer light as well as dark autumn nd soft autumn dark are so super close together.

Contrast please!

Contrast is nothing belonging to the 12- or 16-season-system but I want to mention it nonetheless. There are people who look best all monochromous and others who really need contrast. But with that said we already move on to body types, vibe and style. I need contrast and had my difficulties with the colour seasons because of that, because contrast sometimes is even more important for my look than the right colour, which distracted me from finding my palette.

Still difficult?

Don’t be disappointed, this feeling for colour does not come overnight and also not with reading this blogpost. It is more a skilled habit. It took me around two years to fully understand and feel the colours. Practice. 🙂

“Friendly” colours

If you feel insecure, I recommand working with theses colours as they are no real mismatch to any colour season (except for spring, but spring is usually easy to identify).

medium to dark shades of berry tones
medium to dark shades of teal and mint
heavy, dark navyblues
medium to dark greens which are not too yellowish

Also these colours are well balanced among each other. Of course you can also stay with white, black and grey as most people do, who don’t feel like testing all this crazy colour nonsense. But the colours I mention above do more for you than black, white and grey, except you are a winter, maybe.

“Difficult” colours

Be careful with these, if you are not shure about your season, These are the tyical colours for a certain season and therfore mismatch with the others very much:

All bright spring tones around cornyellow, orange and bright red.
Mustard yellow and rust (autumn)
light lilac and smoky blue (summer)
magenta and royalblue (winter)

Also nude shades are super difficult. The perfect nude is a very elegant and flattering colour but super hard to pic. A wrong nude makes you look, well, naked, and ill. I have not a single piece of nude in my wardrobe yet, even though I would like to have one so much! As a dark colour season needing contrast this is way more difficult for me than for example for a lighter more monochromous type who can wear shades close to skin lightness easily.

And that’s it!!

I hope you enjoyed the article and could learn somethting for you. 🙂 Finally I want to stress again that the colour seasons are meant to compliment you, they are not meant for limitation. Enjoy dressing up, enjoy what you wear, have fun combining, being creative and just try certain breaks of the rules as they can make an outfit really interesting. Understanding colours is like learning to cook. If you have the basic recipes, you have some lines to follow to always create something delicious. But when you get creative, the real magic happens. You learn that balsamico, tomatoes and oliveoil are a good match, also apples and cinnamon are. And hey, next step you find out that tomatoes are also very nice marmelades and apples can be really great with potatoes. But also you now that tomatoe cinnamon might not be your choice. 😉

That said: Wear gold as a summer season if you feel like you want to. Just do it. It is like the thing with the bikini body: Have a body, wear a bikini. That’s it. Just enjoy!


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