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The Brightness of Dark Winter (or, How Dark Winter Can Appear to be Bright Spring)


The Brightness of Dark Winter (or, How Dark Winter Can Appear to be Bright Spring)

Let me tell you a little story. For some of you it may be very familiar.

A woman whose interest in finding her best colors has been peaked joins a forum or a facebook group, or multiples of both. She's hoping they can help her save a few pennies on a color analysis, or maybe she just lives pretty far away from an analyst and wants to see what she can accomplish on her own before one comes to town. Inevitably if she wants their help, the ladies in these groups tell her she's going to need to post some pictures of herself, usually in a variety of colors. Here's what they see:

My colleague Cate 's Dark Winter client, A

My colleague Cate's Dark Winter client, A

My Dark Winter client, K

My Dark Winter client, K

My colleague Gabi 's Dark Winter client, L

My colleague Gabi's Dark Winter client, L

My colleague Jorunn's  Dark Winter client, S

My colleague Jorunn's Dark Winter client, S

Thank you so much to the clients willing to share their pictures! Gorgeous women, all.

  • A woman who has a lighter hazel or darker blue-green eye color. She may have fairly light hair, often of the sort that sits right on the line between blonde and brown, but may tip in favor of the former. Sometimes, she might have red hair instead. It might be cooler looking (in which case she has typically considered it mousey), or a warmer looking, golden color. Her skin might range from very fair indeed to a light tan. The skin might have some apparent heat to it, but it might not.
  • A woman who looks decently convincing in black, but not totally.
  • A woman who obviously seems to need some darkness. Light, chalky pastels are possibly the worst thing she could do.
  • A woman who can be upstaged by some very intense colors. Put her in BW's most vibrant, cherry reds for example, and definitely if that red happens to be a lipstick, and there's something obviously not right there. Someone might come along and insist it's too cool as well. It certainly might feel that way. Because of what she looks like, and also because black, pure white, and bright red seem too much for her, Winter is more or less ruled out.
  • Speaking of color temperature, this woman seems to need some heat. People are generally not agreed on how much, but most agree she is neutral. Silver and gold both seem to work. Sometimes, gold might even seem to be better. Because Winter seems too much, and Summer is draining and not good at all, it is presumed she must be warm neutral.
  • A woman next to whom rust and camel look like food or dirt. She may have come in liking and wearing these colors to begin with. She very quickly gets the "Honey, no." from girls on the group. She may or may not keep trying to convince them otherwise. Still, Autumn lipsticks look really muddy.
  • A woman on whom, compared to the aforementioned rust and camel, coral and turquoise seem pretty effective. Her eyes brighten, her skin clears, she seems somewhat healthier.  She may tell them this is a Bright Spring trial, or they might tell her that based on what seem in the picture to be those colors. Lipsticks may look better than Autumn as well. Some will continue to argue that they are too bright, but compared to the Autumn ones, they might still look better, because after all it is true she need some brightness. Because Autumn is the comparison presented, and because hue effects are some of the ones most poorly represented in photos, no one notices that her face has turned yellow the minute she put the lipstick on.

So the group decides after extensive trials that this woman is a Bright Spring. Except she isn't. They weren't totally wrong though. Here's what they missed:

  • Hue reactions. Unless it was very extreme, they really couldn't tell how much heat was too much. It's pretty hard, if not impossible in a photo to make much of that. They used other factors to rule out cool neutral, and her appearance was a major sticking point there. Basically, they thought she was so light looking that if she was cool or cool neutral she'd have to be a Summer, which did not end up working at all. If they could see that warm neutral was separating the pigments in her skin, they thought that was just her skin. Which it partially might have been, just not as much as they think. Or potentially not at all. (No, we are not putting you in extreme colors to "fix your problem skin". You might not really have problem skin, or not half so much as you think. We just remove the simultaneous contrast effect making it look that way.)
  • Value reactions. They couldn't tell that Bright Spring was too light to define her. They forgot to check and see if she had edges to her features and to her face, or more likely they didn't know they were supposed to. Or, they could see that but they just assumed she was kind of a darker leaning one.
  • Chroma reactions. The major points of argument for her being Bright Spring were basically her appearance, and the fact that everyone could see that the brightness of that season over Dark Autumn helped her considerably. Surely it would have been impossible to notice the greasiness of her skin in Bright Spring in a photo, if anyone had been checking. And again, because they have already decided that Bright Winter is too Bright (true), and True Winter is too cool (true), and she can't really be a Dark anyhow because she is too light looking (false), the group arrives at what seems to be the only logical conclusion.
  • This probably was not lost on those trying to help online, but it's pretty hard to tell what looks good when colors in the photograph change with every shift of light, and on each persons different screen, etc, even as a trained analyst who knows what to look for. You really need to be in the room with the person, and in controlled lighting. 
  • The possibility they were never looking at Bright Spring colors to begin with. That is still true if she eventually went out and bought the fan. She doesn't know how to use it really, and even if she did it's easy to make this mistake sometimes.

I hope what you are starting to see is how complex PCA truly is. Even if you followed all that perfectly, hopefully you begin to understand why we need to be together in the same room, in controlled lighting, looking at very calculated and specific drape comparisons in order to come to an accurate conclusion. And one of us should probably be a trained color analyst, who knows what to look for and how to know when a color is working or not, and if not, what might be wrong with it. (Oh, and, you can change a few minor things up here and have this same story with either Dark and with either Bright or True Spring)

Ok, so the story continues. This woman eventually senses something is not right, and she shows up at my door for a PCA. She's pretty sure she's wasting her money and she's just going to be what everyone says, but she just wants to know for sure. When we reach the Dark Winter conclusion, her mind is blown. She's seen it all happen of course, she knows exactly how we got there and can see with her own eyes that it does work. Sooner or later though, whether right away or after a week of looking through Dark Winter pinterest boards, she becomes upset. "How can my colors be so heavy, dark, and sad?" she asks me. The simplest answer, one that happens to be true, is that they aren't. Of course everyone idea of what colors are depressing is different, but the main thing here is, when she asks this question, she inevitably thinks she has nothing but mulberry, aubergine, and blackened navy (not that there's anything wrong with those colors!). She's come to love the color she discovered in Bright Spring, and for good reason. Let me show you what I mean.

Often, this woman has walked into her analysis telling me how well she suits coral and turquoise. Quite so, she does. Coral and turquoise can be some of the most surprising and flattering colors in the Dark Winter pallet. While, for this woman, the draping will reveal that these colors really have to be gotten right (meaning that they need to be precisely in her season and not any other sort of coral or turquoise) the effect can be excellent. Add to that list teal, a color which is extremely flattering on any of the 5 Autumn blends, and hot pink, a color that all 3 winters have some version of, and you start to see why it can be easy to mistake a light looking DW for BSp and why it is simply untrue that one is all happy and bright and the other dark depression. 

Please note that polyvores were created on my screen, using digital palette representations for harmony. Many of the actual items may be different seasons in reality, and the images of them may look very different on your screen. I hope that some of the general concepts will come through.

It is certainly true that the overall look and feel of the Dark Winter colors here as a group is deeper richer and yes *a bit* duller compared with the light, bright airy, feeling of the Bright Spring group. Usually, regardless of her feeling about Bright Spring's light tangerines or palest aquas and yellow greens, she knows that those colors are not particularly flattering on her. Bright Spring on the other hand wears these colors very naturally as lightness and warmth at the same time her very much and her wheelhouse. What about the purse in the middle? Is it Bright Spring? Is it Dark Winter? Is it neither, perhaps? Does it really matter if this could be a logical part of either of these wardrobes? Especially of she loves it, probably not.

Worth mentioning, it's totally okay to find another season more beautiful to look at than your own. What I see often is women who discount their own season without really knowing what it looks like, usually because of the name and/or what they see on Pinterest. Spend time with your pallete, see what you can make it do. 

How about purple and blue? Many, many Dark Winters, as well as Bright Springs both love and look good in their blues and purples.  Many of them are not all that dissimilar, because of the inherent darkness of blue and purple. I've tried to expand these examples to include both the "Dark Winter would never" (the merlot dress in the corner) and "Bright Spring would never" (the light purple coat with the flowers) sides of the seasons. If someone didn't particularly care for either of those extreme, I think they could easily work with the tones that are neither. But ideally the colors they did choose would harmonize to those other colors, whether or not they actually chose to wear them. That's how we tested you, and how we know the difference between seasons when eyeballing it is hard to do.

One more, though I could do several. Yellows and warmer greens. Though these colors are perhaps more readily associated with Bright Spring, Dark Winter is quite vibrant and exciting here, ranging to a very punchy icy acid green we use in analysis as a proof against Dark Autumn (who does not wear icy color well at all, or anything that close to white for that matter). Again notice how key it is that Dark Winter has a maximum darkness point which by far exceeds that of Bright Spring, and vice versa that Bright Spring can tolerate much more lightness, even near-pastels (which are kryptonite to the DW). Yet many, even most of the colors exist in a sort of overlapping midrange; the main apparent difference becomes heat level and a bit of saturation. Bright Spring would never wear the olive blouse. The amount of black in the two patterned dresses could get heavy on her. Dark Winter would never wear the light yellow purse, even as an accessory, or the dark yellow hat and scarf, especially next to the face. These are the extremes that  are often not pushed in testing the seasons at home (some of these colors are not that easy to find!).

I hope that this article has served to expand your notion of what Dark Winter can be, both colors and people, and also, perhaps most importantly, your understanding of PCA in general.

P.S. If you've had a PCA from me, or one of my 12 Blueprints/Your Natural Design trained colleagues, reach out to me if you'd like to be added to our new private Facebook group. It's a great place to ask questions and share information.


Stuff I Love: Red Apple Lipstick


Stuff I Love: Red Apple Lipstick

Yes, ladies, that swatching is back on. So sorry for the long holiday! I actually swatch things all the time, but consolidating the results is another story... At any rate, I heard a lot of hubbub about this company from the facebook groups and while I'm not all that jazzed personally over the whole gluten and paraben free thing (I get that some people need/want it, just not essential for me), I DO love a brand that sells me nicely sized samples for not much money. I hope you also have a zero tolerance policy for lipsticks you can't see and try before you buy one in full size. Overall, the lipstick lives up to hydration claims and wears well over time without feathering (I seem to find a lot of really moist lipsticks do this on me, I have dry skin). And compared to other lipsticks in this space, they actually do have some exciting colors.

So, on with the swatches. I tried to order shades I thought were interesting/useful. There are a number that looked like the kinds of colors I avoid, or that didn't offer anything new. There were also others that I'd like to try and more new ones since I ordered, so if you like these I may do more in the future.

  1. Coral Crush - I like this for TA, I had expected it to be a Spring one but it's sort of brownish orange which would be very wearable as a day shade for TA.
  2. Cranberry Magic - This is a pretty and interesting shade, not what I thought when I ordered it. (they've since added more images, very helpful) I felt it was nicest with TW's fan, but would be on the subtle end for many TWs. It could be a bold red for some TSu or a nice lighter shade for a cool leaning DW, especially if she has fair skin.
  3. Light My Fire - Amazing on DA. It looks like it's going to be super warm/brown, but it's not. 
  4. Mix & Mingle - I actually thought this shade was the prettiest with the LSu fan, but on most I think it would be too much, unless worn at 1/2 intensity as suggested on the site. Some TW or maybe BW could wear it, but it's not as intense as I wanted it to be.
  5. Petal Pusher - LSu or TSu. Quite cool, another one I hoped would be brighter - if they had the product images they have now I would not have bought this one. It goes a bit into the zone of too light for most TSu/ too cool for most LSu, a place I find many lipsticks live.
  6. Ravishing - DW, very pretty, nice for those in this season whose skin eats up a ton of darkness from lipstick. Cool DAs could do well with this also. Many women of both these seasons may still find it too dramatic.
  7. Red! 101 - BW, very easy to wear compared to some reds for this season. Try it if Mary Kay Firecracker looked a little much on you, or if it looked great but you're just not ready for that yet.
  8. Sunkissed - TSp or BSp. It's not as bright as many orange lipsticks that get put in TSp but would be too strong on many of them. That said, BSp women who lean cooler and generally go more for the pinker shades may find it looks funny.


Real Client Questions: Why do you cover hair in PCA?


Real Client Questions: Why do you cover hair in PCA?

This is a new series of posts in which I will share real questions and answers from client interactions (anonymously, of course). Many people have the same questions and my hope is to create something of a database of answers. 7475148536_08395ff13d_z

Regarding the Sci/Art system* of Personal Color Analysis as I've read of it: the covering of hair during draping. Is that part of the method you use?

I'm curious how that will affect results. I've been experimenting with my own drapes, but never with my hair hidden. Recently, I dyed my hair a darker (but still warm) color, and found tonight that many of a darker season's palette looked more balanced on me than before. While on one level I understand not wanting hair color to confuse the colors we see, I want the colors to look good on me as I typically look. Many of us don't hide our hair in everyday clothes, so I haven't reconciled that with hiding it during a draping.

I do cover hair in almost all my analyses, and 100% of the time if it isn't natural. There is a fundamental misunderstanding when someone says that certain colors look good with their hair one way but not another. The misunderstanding is that the goal in choosing a color should be to make a superficial harmony based on your overtones. (i.e. "This goes with my hair") This will be obviously wrong to the many cool or cool neutral people who have brown eyes and hair. Wearing most browns and colors with a warm, earthy undertone brings out blotchiness and flaws which are not present in the correct (cooler) colors. Other brown eyed brunettes, however, wear these colors with no detriment to their skintone. Why is that? They have apparently similar overtones and completely different undertones. Yet, because the concept of looking at your hair, skin, and eye colors to determine what colors work seems so simple, the idea persists. You can find more information on undertone vs overtone in my colleague Terry Wildfong's article here:

Modern color analysis involves observing the simultaneous contrast effects on the face caused by colors with different qualities and neutralizing them to reveal the most flawless, youthful and healthy skin appearance. To do so, we must eliminate color noise during the analysis, such as that from hair color, makeup, etc. Once we know the area of color space that produces the best skin appearance, we can then evaluate hair and cosmetic colors. After all, these too, are colors worn on and around the face, and should adhere to the guidelines set forth during the analysis. It should go without saying, but natural color, being cut from the same genetic cloth as the skin, is always perfect. That said, women have many valid reasons for dying their hair. This can be either an enhancing and beautiful thing to do or disastrous depending on the viability of the color chosen.

The secret to your natural coloring and most becoming appearance lies in your undertone. The only way I know of to discover your undertone with certainty is to drape you with specific, calculated drape colors in a neutral grey environment with controlled lighting, and a complete reduction of color noise, including that of the hair color.


*In the interest of being completely transparent, I would like to note that I am a 12 Blueprints Analyst, and in no way claim to be a Sci/Art Analyst. However, they are frequently referred to by the same name in online chat.


Amazing Eye Photos Made Easy


Amazing Eye Photos Made Easy

photo 2-1

Have you missed me? I'm just coming to the end of my vacation in gorgeous sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Promise I'll be back on a more regular writing schedule when I'm home from paradise. *sigh* My own Bright Winter eye.

Anyhow, many of you ladies have seen the eye photos I take for my clients on Facebook, and wondered what kind of fancy camera I have that takes them so clearly. Happily for you, I have no such thing. A few years ago, I discovered this amazing product, tiny little lenses that attach to your iPhone or Android phone via a stick-on magnetic ring around the built-in lens (before you add to cart, make sure you've got the wide/macro lens). At the time, I just kind of putzed around pointing it at things and then got bored, not really knowing what to do with it. However, once I became a Color Analyst, I remembered the little gizmo and it occurred to me it might be a cheaper alternative to a new fancy camera with a macro lens. With a bit of practice, it has produced results beyond my wildest expectations.

Bright Spring

Before you run off into the sunset with your new $20 magical eye picture taking gizmo, allow me to give you a few pointers. First, be sure you screw off the wide angle lens. It's a combo lens and the remaining, very tiny piece underneath is indeed the macro lens. Later, you can screw the wide angle back on to take pictures of your house that make it look huge, but for now we want to see those gorgeous peepers.


Once you've got the magnetic ring on your phone and just the macro lens attached to the ring, you are going to want to go somewhere where you can face into a lot of light. Oh, and it will really help if you can commandeer the help of a friend, or in a pinch, a very confused husband or teenager. I have my clients wheel right up to one of my full spectrum lamps inside a soft box. Outside in bright sunshine, or facing into a bright lamp might be good ideas. Once you've got plenty of light, your assistant is going to need to get the camera really uncomfortably close to your eye, but don't worry they don't need to touch it. It's best, however, if you can get close enough that the person taking the photo is able to get the lens to focus on your iris rather than your eyelashes, as it is want to do. On the iPhone, you can use your finger to choose where the focal point is, which is helpful as well (just be really careful not to poke your eye, PLEASE).

Incredible True Winter eye. See how I caught the lashes a bit too much? If you can get just a few milimeters closer, you get a clearer picture of the iris.

One last thing, which I'm not sure will be helpful for those with Android phones or possibly even older iPhones, but I do it so, full disclosure. At time of writing, I use an iPhone 5S when I take these photos. There are a few built in filters in the default camera app, and I use one of them, called "chrome" when I take these pictures. You can access these by clicking the three overlapping circles in the lower right-hand corner of the camera screen. The reason why I use this filter, is because it lightens the shot quite a bit, though it does also saturate it slightly. I don't find the color in the eye pictures comes out much different than reality, however, and the lightness makes the structure of the eye, something I like to see and study, quite apparent. It should go with out saying that you can, of course, play around with it however you see fit.

Well, that's all my secrets. Good luck capturing the magical supernova inside of YOUR eye! (and back to the lounge chair with me... ;) )


My Color Journey Chapter Three: I Don't Want to Believe


My Color Journey Chapter Three: I Don't Want to Believe


Umm... Sometime in the early fall, when I began my yearly search for a good coat and something to keep me warm, I realized I had become paralyzed from buying anything. I don't know how I hadn't noticed sooner, but it finally hit me that I would never wear at least two of my eight colors as anything but accessories, leaving me with six, which as you can imagine is pretty difficult. I began to rail against the orange energy color in particular, which I was SURE looked hideous on me. As ever, the ladies in the groups assured me, with the absolute best of intentions, that the problems I was having with my palette were effectively in my head. My initial misgivings about the archetype he gave me magnified, and I felt strongly for reasons I probably couldn't articulate properly that I was not the person that palette was saying I was. After months of ignoring or writing off "Sci/Art" as not having a category for me, I started to wish ardently that I could see a different analyst using that system and find out once and for all whether I could do better there. I just wanted to SEE some colors next to my face with an experienced set of eyes looking on with me. At the same time, my previous attempt to become a trained analyst had obviously fallen apart, which set me searching around online.

Originally, I researched being retrained in another Caygill style system, but worried that I would feel as I had using that system thus far: not feeling that I truly knew that I was giving clients the correct results. Somehow while poking around on facebook, I saw that one of my friends from the groups, who has a long history with color analysis herself, had been draped by one of Christine's trainees. I asked her for her review of both the analyst and the drapes, and she was very positive about the experience. Poking around on Christine's website, I was impressed at the progress she'd made with her training and drapes in just a few short months since I last looked - she even had luxury drapes available! reading through her description of training, I realized that I would also be redraped by Christine and my co-trainee. I discussed the options for my future as a color analyst with my mother, who knows little about this whole world but is very similar in many ways to a typical client and an excellent business mind besides. After several hours of combing through websites together, we decided I would train with Christine, and sooner rather than later as she had misgivings about me traveling to Canada any later in the winter (it was currently early November). I convinced Christine to allow me to train in 2 weeks time, which she partially allowed because of my fashion and art background.

Err... Diligent preparation for my training course?

I booked my flights and hotel and spent the next two weeks mostly agonizing about my own upcoming analysis, when I probably should have been thinking about my training. I doubted, FINALLY, that I'd be a Light Spring, hoped against hope that I'd be a Bright Spring, and feared but was ready to accept Dark Autumn or Dark Winter. Perhaps most importantly, I decided whatever I was on the flight home, I'd be forever more. Thankfully, upon arriving at the hotel, I quite quickly settled into the work of learning to be a color analyst. Christine had such fascinating things to show me, I was able to forget about my own issues and history for a while, which was good because I was not scheduled to be draped until the end of the second day. Just by reading the training manual, I knew I was going to be able to accept whatever the result was, because no decision would be made without a "better than" comparison, a fact which was only confirmed to me after seeing Christine drape the first model for our course.

1487800_914118711957_436367608_oBy the time my draping rolled around, I wasn't very nervous anymore, partially because my skin is so reactive that even though I couldn't see myself draping in the mirror, several of the observers coming and going were noticing that even as I held the drapes up the the client faces, my face was changing as well, in ways that hinted we were going to go bright. Much of the draping process was pretty decisive and quick, because as I said, my skin is highly reactive. In many ways, the early tests weren't that different than they were with Nikki, except that here no one liked the silver drape or Summer at all - I lose all definition and become "one big silver/grey circle". Things started to get tough for me once we reached near the end of the red test, and in comparing the neutral warm to neutral cool, (BSp to BW), everyone liked the neutral cool better but me. Still, at this point, I clung to the belief I was warm somehow. We pressed on, being left with a definitely neutral heat level, and not Autumn or Summer, tested the neutral Springs and Winters to each other and came out Bright in both. I just want to reiterate that I overpower Light Spring so much that in a one-to-one comparison you would be hard pressed to miss Bright Spring being miles better. The final test between Bright Spring and Bright Winter, however, took quite a while, mostly because I had to be convinced. I wailed that I had tried that well over a year ago to ardent insistence online that it was wrong, but eventually I just decided to put the Bright Winter makeup on, and it did look excellent. I took the Bright Winter palette to my room that night, and by the morning, I was over any reservations. At this point, I hope you'll see that if I'm not convinced of something, I will search to the ends of the earth and never give up. On the flip side, once I've seen that something is true, and why it is true, I'm past it and will never unsee it. It is my opinion that clients should come away from an analysis with knowledge, not beliefs. It is my opinion that I do color analysis, which happens many times to also be a spiritual and emotional experience, not spiritual and emotional experiences that happen to be color analyses.

1485939_914119166047_1169663090_oAs a bit of a post script, I had the pleasure and privilege to meet the incredibly skilled Terry Wildfong this past weekend, and I asked her to do a little mini redrape on me, not because I had any doubts but simply because I wanted to hear her "drape talk" and see her point out reactions as a learning exercise for me, and I was an available subject. As you probably guessed, I am and probably always will be Bright Winter, but the interesting thing was that Terry felt that unless she had a specific reason to show me why I wasn't a Spring (such as, I came in thinking I was one), she would not have needed to check the neutral Spring comparison, because my coolness and darkness were so definitive at that point, which is quite true. On the other hand, she would have checked back against True Winter, because while most of the drapes were clearly too cool, a couple were passable.

1501328_914119310757_2131599046_oI'm telling you this last bit because I want to answer the question I know you'll have - "How did so many people see you as warm?" and "What about the fact that you look kind of yellow?". I have an apparently warm overtone, it is true. If you scan my skin at Sephora, you get a color that looks like smearing dark fake tanner on my face, and carries the most warm color designation. This machine, and the eye with no help, cannot distinguish undertone. We need to harmonize against something else to know what we're looking at. I'm proud to analyze others using a system and tools that do this methodically and accurately, the one that brought me home after so much wandering.

Picture 30

One last thing I'd like to address: how you can shorten up your journey and be a smart consumer. Don't want to believe, want to KNOW. Expect your analyst to be eager to tell you why and how he or she is making decisions. Don't be so eager to "get" any season, archetype, or set of colors that you accept them despite every red flag being raised. Don't be so eager to avoid any season, archetype, or set of colors that you reject them despite having been handed all the evidence to prove it. Don't mistake information about your personality, decor, or candle preferences for information about your coloring. Ask questions and don't leave the room without understanding why you're leaving with that particular palette or a follow up appointment to help explain it to you scheduled. Don't expect any human to be infallible, either. Come into this as the savviest consumer you can be, knowing that even with the most thorough analyst, it may take more than one analysis to get it right. Be open, be curious, and be ready to have to learn what right feels like. And finally, may all your color journeys lead to as happy a conclusion as mine.

Back to Chapter 2



My Color Journey Chapter Two: The Ecstasy and The Agony


I fully expected David Kibbe to see me as a Winter, but was not entirely surprised when I arrived at his studio and saw bags of makeup labeled "Autumn" next to a card with my name on it. After all, my previous analysis had pointed to warm colors, and I knew he would see me as a dark season, as I would be by the rules laid out in the CMB books. He did show me his Spring colors (which were mostly quite pastel) compared to his Autumn colors (which were mostly quite saturated), and it was true, the Spring colors did not look good. Even then, I convinced myself that David's Spring colors were just too chalky for me, that I did better in the juicier colors of the LSp fan.

599128_810172625747_257154898_nWhen my friends from the color and style groups saw me in the dresses and makeup David Kibbe chose for me, they told me the palette looked really great on me. I decided to just use the makeup I'd purchased and wear the clearer colors from David's Autumn palette for a while. I convinced myself it was just a little difference in semantics as I was just a "darker light spring" who could handle more darkness, and some unexpected colors like Aubergine. Still, the whole thing didn't sit right with me. I wasn't really using either my LSp fan or my Kibbe Autumn fan to make decisions, and it started to feel like I was choosing anything remotely warm and bright looking rather arbitrarily. I heard that John Kitchener, a Caygill style analyst who worked from body colors was coming to DC from California that May, a 2 hour train ride from where I live. The women on the groups who had seen him were incredibly dedicated to him and loved their results. I had begun to think I was more complicated than just being a season or a blend of two seasons and wanted to see what his idea of percentages of each of the four basic color harmonies could do for me.

905747_10100549693506984_1564827721_o (1)When my the day of my appointment rolled around, and after a few travel snafus I arrived at the friend's home in which John was doing his appointments in DC, one of the first things that struck me was the relatively dim lighting of the room in which the analysis would be conducted. I had, however, been instructed to wear a neutral top and was situated in front of a neutral backdrop across from him. From the first swatches he put down, a series of reds and pinks called "Romantic" colors, I could tell where he was going and became quite nervous. Each swatch he was considering was picked up, held to my face, and then either affixed to the page or put back in the drawer. He tested many I thought would be good, and rejected them. My dear friend who drove me to the appointment and observed the whole thing tells me that he appeared quite intimidated by me, probably because I said mostly nothing throughout, just waited to see what he was going to do. In the end, he pronounced me 70% Striking Contrast (Winter) and 15% each Lively Bright (Spring) and Subtle Blended (Summer). I would describe the palette in my terms as a mix of all three winters and soft and true summer, with the majority of the palette being Dark Winter and Soft Summer.

581172_321648347966113_715432867_nKnowing what I know now, many of the colors in the palette would work for me, though probably more than half would not (which, to be fair, it's massive and includes colors with a wide variety of properties). I was convinced the palette was both too cool and too muted for me. I had already accepted that a fair bit more darkness than my Sci/Art analysis indicated would work for me, but everyone had seen me as warm thus far and felt too much softness did not work for me. My illusions of any consistency in how various analysts saw me thus far finally broke down. I rejected my Kitchener palette for the most part, stating publicly that I felt everyone makes mistakes and that possibly the travel scenario, working in a different space, had put John out of sorts. As with the Kibbe scenario, the people I spoke to online tended to feel that the analysis was correct and that my problem was "resistance", though some trusted my judgement. And as in every case, I did not understand his method truly or ask him enough questions about it, either before or after. I will say this for my friends online - again and again the conversation came back to Sci/Art and I was asked if I was SURE I couldn't be a Bright. The intensity of Nikki's reaction to that sapphire drape was burned into my mind and I remained convinced that the Sci/Art method had nothing better to offer me than Light Spring.

581683_145926268927949_694803791_nMere days after returning from my appointment with John, I scheduled an appointment with David Zyla. I was feeling incredibly conflicted and even though part of me didn't want to throw any more money at the problem, I felt compelled to seek another opinion. Many of us had been discussing his book for months or years, but only very recently had three women from the group been to see him for appointments, and opened the door for that as a possibility. Each of the three had also seen John Kitchener, and each came back from David Zyla with a palette that they felt was a refined and highly condensed version of their Kitchener palette, which made sense as they are both analysts that work in a style inspired by Suzanne Caygill. The word was that David Zyla was an incredibly intuitive person with a very refined eye for color. I felt that surely he would know if John Kitchener had made an error, and even if he hadn't, that David would give me a more workable version of the winter palette I received from Kitchener. Further, I decided not to tell anyone I was going - after the reaction from the online community to my issues with my Kitchener appointment, I wanted to be allowed to say nothing of my Zyla appointment publicly if I didn't want to.

photoAt this point it probably goes without saying, but I arrived at my appointment in Gramercy, NYC with enormous trepidation. I had no idea what was going to happen, and just felt like I was stepping back on the merry-go-round. I wore the same neutral outfit I had worn to see Kitchener, terrified I might do something to influence the result of the analysis. As soon as he started to put paint chips down, however, I relaxed. The colors were looking eerily similar to the one I had made for myself using his book, and to what I had expected to receive from John Kitchener. I was not surprised at all when, once he had all the cards filled in, he pronounced me to be a Spring, though admittedly I felt the "archetype" choice, Buoyant Spring, was a bit odd for me. Having interviewed him online about his process, I did not ask him about his again, and assumed his previous answers regarding his experience, excellent eye and intuition guiding his decisions pertained to me as well. Having got loads of validation for why I felt so determined that my Kitchener palette had been a mistake, I was finally, for a time, happy with my palette. I gladly showed it off to the ladies online, and at first went out and bought a few items in those colors. As I was coming into the part of the summer where I spend much of my time at the beach, I have to say, I spent a couple months not thinking about the palette very hard, which was a welcome relief.


Back to Chapter One



My Color Journey Chapter One: A Simple Question

You may recall that in my intro post on 12 blueprints, I mentioned that my personal color journey started with a blog post, but that the rest was too long to share in that space. Today, I'd like to continue where I left off. 182165_788862710987_2028851647_n

After lurking on yuku for quite a while, I finally decided to take some pictures of myself "draped" in various colors (many of you know exactly what I mean) and post them so people on the forum could help me discover my season. I wondered how anyone could see anything from them, as even though I stood in the same spot at the same time of day in each one, the lighting shifted dramatically, but I posted them nevertheless. I could have posted any pictures of me and would probably have heard the same response; as a dark eyed dark haired  woman with fair skin, most people inevitably saw me as Dark Winter. A few suggested to try Dark Autumn lipsticks too, and maybe one or two felt Soft Summer was possible, but mostly not. I went out and bought myself some makeup and a swatch book, and started living as Dark Winter.

71485_802964206477_1194519589_nA few months later, I started feeling like something was wrong. I was struggling terribly with dark circles under my eyes, and at first I just bought some more concealer and told myself I was getting older, but eventually I started to get the idea I might be in the wrong season.

183338_788864053297_1079786304_nAround that time, I ordered the Color Me A Season analyst starter kit, as I knew I wanted to do color analysis and that at the time there was no training available in the Sci/Art System. Reading through Bernice's book, I came to a bit about searching for your body colors in the fan, and having looked in my eyes with the included magnifier, I could not find the yellow in my eyes in the CMAS Winter fan. I did find it eventually though - in the Spring fan. That made me wonder - could I be mixed with Spring?


I went out and bought Cherries in the Snow, and very happily posted pictures of myself wearing it on yuku... Only to be told it was too bright. Frustrated, I finally did what I had been dancing around for months - I booked an appointment with Nikki Bogardus for a Sci/Art PCA. I drove myself to her home one October morning, fully expecting to be a Dark Winter, but hoping I might be a Bright Winter.

521958_802964660567_1002189365_n Nikki is a very charismatic and lovely woman, and we got on right away. I told her about my background, and that I wanted to be trained as an analyst and she was very enthusiastic. Eventually, after some chit chat, it was time to get down to the draping. We started with the same thing I start with in every one of my PCAs - the key drapes. I have very reactive skin and I certainly saw things right away. No one liked brown or gold all that much. I preferred black, though I could see it was too dark, while Nikki told me she preferred silver. Admittedly, I know we did some version of a further test of the 4 true seasons after that, but I can only remember some of that bit. I do know that after that, Nikki determined my heat level to be cool neutral with the "blood color" drapes.

At that point is where the process truly diverged from what I currently practice. I was tried in some luxury drapes from Dark Winter, where Nikki liked some things, particularly the ice pink. Then, a sapphire drape from Bright Winter was tested and the entire season was rejected in half a second. Next, True Summer was tried. Then, the Soft seasons. Then for some reason, Light Spring, where Nikki saw something she liked - a medium value coral drape. Afterwards, she tried Light Summer, and True Summer again. Finally, it came back to deciding between Dark Winter and Light Spring, and after going up and back a bit, she decided on Light Spring. We tried some makeup and snapped a couple of pictures, and that was that. I honestly don't know on what basis this was decided, but at the time I had no reason to doubt it, and probably I didn't want to. Nor did I ask Nikki if this was her usual method, or any more penetrating questions. I had blinders on and I ran out of there with my palette like a bank robber who was getting away with something and not sure how but sure not going to question it.


I'll admit I was ecstatic with Light Spring at first. I did find it a bit hard to make outfits, as the neutrals in the palette never seemed to look right. When I finally got my draping pictures emailed to me after a terrible storm hit NJ, I was disappointed with how they looked, but blew it off, deciding you can't see how something looks in a picture. However, I mostly wear dresses and didn't think of it much, until I decided to go see David Kibbe the following March. I knew he used a four season system comparable to Color Me Beautiful, and I had a strong feeling that there was no way I would be any kind of Spring to him. Everything I'd ever read had discounted 4 season systems as not having accuracy due to the lack of neutral categories, and I already knew that he decided immediately upon seeing you what you'd be and that any comparisons he did show you would be under poor lighting and intended only to show YOU, as he already knew. I decided to see him anyway, and just planned to ignore his color advice, as I wanted to confirm my type and see how he worked.



Stuff I Love: YSL Glossy Stains


Stuff I Love: YSL Glossy Stains

A while back, someone from one of the color Facebook groups linked to this post about YSL Glossy Stains on Karla Sugar, and I have to say, from the moment I read Karla's review, it sounded like the lip product I'd been waiting for without knowing it. glossystain

I love lipgloss but:

  1. It doesn't last, especially if you drink a lot of water throughout the day
  2. It sticks to your hair when you're outside in the slightest breeze
  3. It's generally a mess that slides all over your face and likes to get on stuff you own
  4. You kind of feel like you're always eating it... probably you are

I love stains and long wear products but:

  1. They're really dry, I need gloss for comfort and to keep it from flaking
  2. They're usually quite matte, I need gloss to make the texture flattering
  3. All that glossing kind of defeats the purpose of a product with staying power
  4. Sometimes you have to scrub incredibly hard to get them completely off at the end of the day

Let me tell you, the Glossy Stains solve all these problems. You can eat and drink and still have them on, once they dry (in about 30 seconds) they aren't sticky and don't slide around. They're totally non-drying, magically stay glossy and translucent for several hours, and they're not SO stuck on there that you have to scrub your lips off to remove them. There's only one truly major drawback in my book - the price. Not that they're not worth it, but I'll still keep hunting for a replica of this formula at a lower price point. So far, no dice.

In case you decide (as I have) that one or two of these babies are worth it, wallet be damned, I've swatched most of the line and have done my best to put them in seasons. Lipgloss is a real pain to swatch, it soaks into the page by the time you get it home and smears all over your book, so please PLEASE try before you buy, especially at this price point. I would go put it on, live with it for the rest of the day and see how you like it, and then order it online. I'm probably going to get hate mail from brick and mortar stores for that one, but they don't have to wear it, and you do.

The glosses as I see them by number:

#1 -  True Winter, quite dark and very purple, and it loses brightness next to the BW fan. I think I'd like it best on a TW medium to dark skin.

#3 - This is one of those shades that is distinctly too dark and purple for Soft Summer (in my swatch more so than in Karla's picture), but still muted enough to lose energy next to the Dark and True Winter swatch books. Try it if you're one of those two, but IMO there are prettier shades in the line for both.

#6 - True Spring, should be a nice nude on her.

#7 - My swatch seems to like to be with the True Autumn swatch book, however it looks way off from the images of the color online. I've seen this one suggested for Light Spring, but it looks softer than that in my swatch.

#8 - True Spring

#9 - Bright Winter (it's cooler and redder than Karla's picture looks)

#11 - Bright Winter

#12 - Bright Spring, could try it on a Light Spring who wants a bolder lip, perhaps for evening

#13 - A Bright Winter who tolerates a dark lip well or a Dark Winter that's comfortable with lips in the upper brightness range for that season.

#14 - True Winter (I know, I know, but so many of these are profoundly purple)

#15 - I had this swatched as Dark Winter, but the pictures online look much lighter and pinker. I think this may be best as an intense lip for True Summer.

#16 - True Winter

#17 - I'm not sure who wears lips like this. It's very light and very cool. Far too cool against Light Summer, too bright against True Summer. As a color, it's prettiest with the True Winter swatch book,but it seems just far too light for a lip for her.  It's not bad with Bright Winter, and I think the relative lightness of a Bright Winter person would make this feel more comfortable.

#18 - I suppose for the fairest of Light Summers. Mind that it's not lighter than your lips, which always looks odd.

#19 - Light Summer, go for this before #18

#20 - Dark Autumn (beautiful chocolatey red velvet with some glitter in it!)

#26 - Bright Winter

#27 - True Spring certainly, Light Springs who wear warm shades well can try it, too

#29 - True Autumn

#101 - I did swatch this, but I guess I'll just say this isn't my idea of a lip color for anyone.

#102 - Soft Autumn

#103 - True Summer

#104 - Bright Winter, darker than online pictures, really pretty

#105 - Soft Autumn - has pinky glitter in it that cools the base color that you see online, might be even though many of these in the 100s are "nude" shades that look best on Autumns, the glitter and gloss will put them off it

#106 - Soft Autumn

#107 -Probably best for Dark Winter, be advised it's another one with a warm base an very purple glitter that cools it off a lot.

#108 - This would probably just go on like clear gloss with purple glitter in it.

#109 - Bright Winter - this one is a cool shade with gold glitter in it


So there you have it, those are the ones I was able to get my hands on. Have you tried a glossy stain? I'd love to hear if people of other seasons have tried these and how it went! :)




How True Colors Reveal True Features


How True Colors Reveal True Features


Many of you know me from before my 12 Blueprints Color Analyst training, and know that I helped many many women find their style types before I was a Color Analyst. Until my training, I had only witnessed one draping in person - my own. Having now seen many, whole worlds of understanding have cracked wide open. One of the most amazing things I have learned during and since my training is how much my perception of a persons features, and to some degree the feeling of the person as a whole, changes when I see them in their correct season. This effect plays out in so many different ways, depending on the type and season of the person, and also what they were presenting when they walked in the door. One person's bone structure may soften from mostly sharp to mostly blunt, a Soft Summer Yang Natural in black compared to her own colors, for example. Another person may sharpen up and lose the impression of bluntness, a Bright Winter Yin Dramatic in her colors compared to the Spring colors she walked in wearing. Yet another person changes in ways that escape specific description, except to say that True Spring transformed her from an "Autumn" Yang Gamine who was sort of a cute tomboy into the effervescent pixie she truly is.

It can be really hard to see these effects in a photo, but if you get just a whiff of what I'm talking about from them, I'm happy with that.



This is E, cute, huh? Not sure what season this top is in real life, but it looks warmish. She's worn her hair dyed various shades of red over the years, as it is in this picture. The natural color has shifted more than is usual during her life, and as is typical for bright seasons is a bit hard to describe, but essentially it's a light brown. I think it would be easy to see this person as a Yin Natural in this image. The face feels broad and somewhat flat in topography, it's pretty but I don't think one would call it exotic or dangerous.


I know you've probably seen this image on my homepage, but I'm pretty infatuated with it so here it is again. This is the face of a queen, so much more than just "pretty". All the bone structure has sharpened up and the topography of the face appears more dynamic. They eyes which you probably already don't remember from the last picture are utterly captivating, they have a sensual, exotic quality. The sheer magnificence of a person who is both Winter and Dramatic (the Yin variety in this case) and fully wielding the power that comes with that is jaw-dropping.  This woman walks into the boardroom and people beg her to take the reigns, just because she looks like she was born to hold them. I just want to be clear that Yin Natural is a very excellent thing to be if that is what you are. Here, the colors reveal the truth to be otherwise. Let me just belabor the point a bit more with one more image. 478665_888439693059_959353888_o (1)

Can you even believe this creature is real? Which adult is the logical owner of this baby picture? Bright Winter Yin Dramatic is inherently outside the normal, beautifully alien.

Photo by Ash Imagery

Here's C, my TSp YangG mentioned above. (Client images always posted with permission, but please don't pin or otherwise repost them) No one could say she's not beautiful and and adorable, in any style or any color. I know you're going to ask, so I'll just tell you - Yes, this is 100% natural hair color.


 I just find this face so amazing, I could stare and stare. Suddenly everything about this face seems full to bursting with life, just like the Spring season itself. I had a treasured book when I was a child called Christine's Faeries, about a little girl who went all around the English countryside meeting different sorts of faeries, who all had little jobs like putting the dew drops on all the petals. I can imagine their faces, peering up from under the poppies and tall grass, looking about like this. 

Literally every face I drape becomes different to me somehow than it was before. Usually, it's not substantial enough to change my perceptions of a person's image type, but on occasionally it may be. This is why I pretty much insist that a PCA, whether done by me or one of my amazing colleagues, is the essential first step to amazing personal style. Once we see what your face *really* looks like, we can begin to know how to match it to clothing styles.