Matching Neutral Colours to Season

In this issue, we go on a shopping trip for Lightweight Blouses. 

In each issue, Featured sections have highlighted a particular aspect of the topic to study in more detail. In this issue, by request, you will find Wardrobe Neutrals with our commentary as to why each blouse's colour and line were assigned a particular Season or Archetype. 

In today's issue, our subscribers will receive links to every Catalog (below). To understand our own Season or Archetype, especially for the more challenging wardrobe neutral tones, having a sense of the others creates a stronger framework. 

Spring Neutrals:

Autumn Neutrals:

Summer Neutrals:

Winter Neutrals:

More blouses:

Neutral colours of white, beige, taupe, khaki, gray, and black are harmonized to Season following the same steps as any other colour. As colour analysts, our job is to assign every shade of every hue to one of the 12 clouds of colour (Seasons). 

Your task is much easier. It is to call Yay or Nay on whether the item could function beautifully with your colouring and in your wardrobe. In this post, we'll assume that you are deciding with only one swatch book, your own. The Comments in the Catalogs will work with all 12 palettes to explain how different Seasons would react to the same colour.

As ever, we can only go by the colour's appearance on the screen. Every monitor is showing it a bit differently.  Though much can be learned, there are boundaries. If you buy, be sure the item can be returned. 

1. Look for a general feeling of the colour. If it were used to paint a wall, would the wall look light or heavy? Would it feel like mist or metal? If you were to texture the colour, what comes to mind first? Suede, feather brushing, rope, scalloping, gingerbread cutouts, or does your imagination seem to resist texturing this wall?

What would be a normal object to paint with that colour? Would the beige be at home in a coffee house or an Art Deco mansion? Is it a cookie or sun on sand? Might the gray be the colour of a gun, a dolphin, or driftwood?

When would you see that colour? At 10AM or 6PM? What is the weather like? You won't see (or feel that you'd see) True Summer grays on a sunny Sunday morning. The grasses would be lighter and yellower in the sunshine. So would the patio stones. The china white of your teacup would seem yellower than it is. 

Soon, these answers will be in your head without having to ask the questions. In the beginning, to learn subconsciously, we must ask with more focus to connect what the answer is with how it feels.

 For some colours, you will know the answer at Step 1 of the process outlined below. For others, and as you learn the impressions to expect with harmony and disharmony, you may be at step 8 and willing to hazard a guess but still not certain. It happens to us too. If the decision is that difficult, it probably doesn't matter much. Enough mutual energy exists between the palette and the colour that it will work perfectly well in your context.

1. Pretend the woman is the fanned out palette. Lay it on the garment. Take a step back. You're looking for the feeling that they settle together in an equal friendship. Neither voice should feel louder than the other. If the palette looks sparkly, or strident, you sense words like rough, sharp, or jagged, there is conflict that you might describe as a tug of war or an argument, that's a problem. If the palette colours look faded or seem to be buzzing or fuzzy for those who are very attuned to afterimages, also problem. You are looking for a feeling of locking together in peace and in strength that will happen almost instantly, like the posture and mindset you adopt during meditation.

Developing sensitivity to these takes time. Not everyone will feel it the same way. We don't. I just offer options hoping that for one of them, you feel the surprise of recognition, "Hey, I've seen that! That just clicked, I have felt something like it. I know what you mean!"

2. Reverse the relationship. Now, the woman is the fabric. Does she look gorgeous? Expensive? Delicious, exciting, luxurious? For whites, the sensation of clean is important. In some way better for having that palette sitting on her?  If she dies back and is getting ignored in favour of the palette, there may be a better choice.

3. Still working from a distance, as you would if deciding where to hang a painting or place a chair in a room, look across the light to dark range on each strip. Do you find that the dark colours are easy enough to see but the lighter colours are looking fuzzy, dirty, murky, or being ignored altogether as if you have to force yourself to see them?

4. Every colour need not match every other in terms of taste. There will always be colours that are used as accents for interest, rather than large blocks. What they need to be is energetically equal.  If one colour feels bouncy, silly, or bossy, an imbalance may exist. That said, yellow is by nature bouncy and some people notice it, or orange, in minute quantities. Blue are purple might not be springy and jolly, but they can express dominance in aggression or oppression.

5. We are still working at a distance, allowing our right brain to help us make the best choice. Take your time to look through Terry Wildfong's Pinterest boards.  Before the page of images loads, look at the colours of the boxes. Why are they always so apt for the content of the image?

Her colour sensitivity and acuity is second to none. The pictures are moved around till Terry is satisfied that the colours harmonize best on a certain page or board. If she is still undecided, you might find the same image in two Seasons.

 It is normal for our attention to be diverted by the colour-colours and the pleasure and balance of the pages. Make the effort to look at the bark, dust, sky, and water colours.  Active colours are supported by their backgrounds. Change the background and the whole image changes. Backgrounds are the colours they are for a reason in natural landscapes and life forms, and even in man-made compositions when the painter's eye seeks balance. There is no effort to be expended beyond simply relaxing and gazing at them. Their energy and meaning will drift into your awareness just by giving them your attention.

Instead of working with your palette, hold up the fabric to the Pinterest boards. Is there one where it seems very belonging? Is the magic of Spring being reduced or lost? Does the colour render Winter's majesty drab and heavy? Does the garment seem like food or mud next to Summer? Could the article of clothing settle comfortably into a fieldstone wall, as if its source were the ground and minerals of the Earth itself?  If not, no matter. Find those where the clash is more obvious. Those will be the ones to avoid.

 Try to fit the colour into one of the main Seasons first, as we do when draping. What can be cancelled? If it's unpleasant with True Autumn, the likelihood of great interaction with Soft or Dark Autumn is low.

That gray garment we are considering in the store. If you were the photographer, behind which objects would you choose it as the curtain? Wisterias, a giraffe, a poinsetta, or a coral reef?

Let's move in a little closer now.

1. During your PCA, the analyst might have talked about the face being scattered or broken up. Reds are too red, whites too white, so the face looks blotchy perhaps, or like a peppermint stick or an uneven sunburn. It might also have sounded as if every feature was off doing its own thing, "...nose too wide, skin oily, shadows dark..." , also causing the face to seem scattered instead of calm and united, with no colour or feature more prominent than any other. 

Look for the palette to break apart. We are, after all, re-enacting a draping. Do certain yellows, greens, or reds suddenly look apart, too zingy for the fabric or the peace of the picture, or springing off the colour strip leaving the other swatches lagging behind?

2. In the beginning, we see our palette as a whole. With time, we become able to perceive each colour as unique and separate, with its own energy and voice.  Begin making outfits with individual swatches. It should almost start happening automatically, as if your eyes were on auto-pilot. "Oh look, that's really nice together." "Wow, what a nice lipstick that would be."

Does any combination feel clumsy to the point of being impossible and bordering on insane, as if nobody would wear these together?

3. Hold up the reds,  your lip and blush colours, and look through them at the garment or screen. Are the combinations reasonable?  There should be several choices. If the cool side looks like a bruise or the light colours might as well not be there, if the darks look heavy or too strong, this garment belongs elsewhere than your closet.  

Ideally, the lip colours become more than rational. They are exciting and healthy. How dramatic a woman wants her lipstick to be is a personal decision, but the combinations should look pretty together. Feelings of dullness, food (ketchup, tomato sauce), and childishness are the last associations that should be made with lips or a mouth, not only visually but also because of the influence on the words that will be spoken.

Before holding up the palette, imagine the perfect lipstick or family of lipstick. With many neutral colours, jut getting them into the correct True Season is plenty good enough. Would the item be best suited to lip colours in brick and rust (Autumn), fuchsia and purple (Winter), pink hydrangeas (Summer), or milkshakes and jelly beans (Spring)?

5. Hold up the neutral strips and look through them at the garment or screen. Does anything change in garment or do the swatches, get greener, duller, pinker than you previously thought? Can you find a pair of gray pants? 

Winter is fairly easy. If the colour balances pure black and white well, it probably has its home nearby. 

For Autumn, khaki greens are easy neutrals. They add interest, colour, and harmonize well. Certainly, there are clear light khaki colours for Spring, but the majority is Autumn. My eye finds them heavy on a Spring, like wearing canvas or a tent. Golden grays and beiges are easier to get right.

6. Trying to match a colour, especially a gray, taupe, or beige, to its exact or close match in the swatch books does not work well for me, except to imagine whether the garment colour could belong on the swatch strips. Look at the blues and greens instead. Could the neutral colour be great as pants for a blouse in the blues and greens? Even if the combination is attractive with some colours, this may be reason enough to bring it into the closet. Gray adapts to the colours surrounding it with relative ease.

7. Winter beige is rare. I confess to finding it less by intention than accident. Among a group of Summer colours, it is the only thing one can see. Too strong, aggressive, suppressing everything around it, with no relief to be had till it's removed. 

 Bright Winter has a gray beige that is hard to describe. It looks like Mary Kay Granite eyeshadow does swatched on paper - an excellent eyeshadow on many BW, and not nearly as sparkly looking on that skin as it is on Dark Winter faces.

Notice everything about the Demetrios 2014 dress on Terry's True Winter page.  Only Winter colours will have any presence next to this. Call it icy beige, we can predict that it will probably be too sharp for Autumn, too forceful for Spring, and more insistent than Summer. 


Go to the Subscribe page and click on the newsletter image to be directed to choose your version of Signature/STYLE and start receiving hand-picked styles to your inbox!

Powered by Squarespace. Home background image by jakeliefer. Background image by Kuba Bozanowski.