Dark Winter

A Comprehensive Guide

Even though the main characteristic of Dark Winter is depth and darkness, there is a surprisingly high contrast between the features. Pale skin can be combined with black hair, turning up the intensity of this sub-season.

Dark Winter is one of the three Winter seasons and sits between Dark Autumn and True Winter on the seasonal flow chart.

Unlike Dark Autumn, this sub-season is cool. However, both sub-seasons share some colours as they are sister palettes. They are both a blend of Autumn and Winter, with Dark Autumn leaning more towards the Autumn palette and Dark Winter leaning more towards the Winter palette.

Wardrobe Building Essentials
Everything you need to build a Dark Winter wardrobe.


Please note: Do not worry too much if one characteristic of your appearance deviates from the below descriptions. You may still fall into this colour season if your overall appearance matches the profile.

The following images are examples of Dark Winters. You may look different but still be a Dark Winter.

You are a Dark Winter if the dominant characteristic of your overall appearance is dark, and the secondary characteristic is cool – meaning cool colours suit you better than warmer ones.

When you look in the mirror the first thing you notice about your colouring is that your hair and eyes are darkly coloured, and there is a high contrast between them and your skin.

In addition, your features have mainly cool undertones.

The Features

I. Eyes

Dark Winter eyes are, of course, dark. It’s no surprise that the most common eye colours are dark brown and black. Very dark olive, dark hazel, and even a very deep, cool blue are also possible. You may notice a border defining the iris and spokes on the iris that are characteristic for Winter eyes.

II. Skin

The skin is either olive, neutral, or neutral-cool – meaning both gold and silver look good against it, but silver looks better. It can range from fair all the way to deep (I to VI on the Fitzpatrick scale). Regardless of its colour, Dark Winter skin always stands in contrast to hair and eyes.

III. Hair

Dark Winter hair is also dark, ranging from medium brown over dark brown to black. The colour tends to be either neutral or slightly ashy. It generally doesn't have any highlights and also doesn’t develop any when exposed to sunlight.

IV. Contrast

The level of contrast between the features is very high. There is even a high contrast between the iris and whites of the eye. In the images below, you can see the big differences in shades between the features. While the hair and eyes are extremely dark, the skin looks very light in comparison.

Dark Winter vs Dark Autumn

Dark Winters can easily be mistaken for Dark Autumns since both are dark seasons and look fairly similar. Both have dark as their dominant characteristic. The distinguishing feature between them is their secondary characteristic – while Dark Winter is cool, Dark Autumn is warm.

Dark Winter has cooler undertones and a higher contrast between skin, hair, and eyes. Its colours are mixed with black-blue, black, and dark grey. Because of their brilliant appearance, Dark Winters can handle more colour and more contrast than Dark Autumns.

Dark Autumn, on the other hand, has a warm and rich colouring. Its colours are mixed with red-black and brown.

The Colour Palette

Dark Winter is the season reminiscent of deep nights, when the shining stars contrast with the black-and-blue sky, creating an atmosphere of mystery and magic.

In terms of colours, the following images are representative of the deep, cool colours that are part of the Dark Winter colour palette:

The Palette

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Dark Winter combines depth with coolness. As a result, this sub-season's colour palette is dark and intense. Often carrying hints of warmth, Dark Autumn sits on the Autumn end of the Winter palette. However, it needs the icy influence of Winter rather than Autumn’s golden tones.

True to Dark Winter's dominant characteristic, the colours are dark, neutral-cool, and slightly bright to match the high level of contrast of this sub-season’s natural colouring. The colour palette includes highly saturated, highly contrasted, and relatively clear colours, ranging from pure white over true red and burgundy to brown black.

Colour Dimensions

On the three dimensions of colour, Dark Winter has the following properties:


The colours lean towards the cool end of the scale but are not extremely cool. This means they contain more blue than yellow. So even if you choose yellow (which is the warmest colour of all), you will find only cooler shades that have a tint of blue. You will also not find many shades of yellow-based colours but instead more shades of blue and cool pinks, which are naturally cool-based.


In line with this sub-season’s dominant characteristic, the overall palette is dark. And while some of the colours are very light (the white and icy colours), there are many more dark ones. Pairing light and dark colours produces the high contrast that is required for this sub-season.


Typical for Winter colours, the palette is slightly higher in chroma, meaning the colours are somewhat saturated and bright.Sister Palettes

Dark Winter sits between Dark Autumn and True Winter on the seasonal flow chart. It falls at the Autumn end of the Winter palette, which is why the colours are softer, darker, and warmer than those of True Winter.

Compared to Dark Autumn, the colours are similarly dark, but cooler and brighter. In addition, the light colours of Dark Winter are lighter than Dark Autumn's. Autumn’s effect on the Dark Winter colour palette is added warmth and some softness.

Compared to the third Winter sub-season Bright Winter, the colours share the same neutral-cool hue, but are darker and softer.

As sister palettes, Dark Autumn and True Winter both share Dark Winter’s characteristics of dark and cool, respectively. This means you can borrow some of their palettes’ colours as they are close enough to the Dark Winter colour palette. On the Dark Autumn palette, opt for the cooler colours – such as plum caspia or estate blue. Whereas on the True Winter palette, choose the darker colours – such as pepper green or bellweather blue.



Even though technically you can combine any of the colours on your colour palette with each other, certain combinations will look much better than others:

The depth of Dark Winter’s colour palette is best reflected when you wear your colours in high-contrast combinations. This level of contrast will mirror the high contrast that already exists in your natural appearance. This means that the colours you combine should contrast each other.

Contrast in value is especially flattering on you. To achieve this, you could mix a light neutral with a dark accent colour. Or you could mix a darker neutral with a brighter accent colour.

An all-dark look also works on you; but your best combinations will have a greater contrast in hue. An all-light look, on the other hand, will not be flattering since your natural colouring is dark.

Another thing to bear in mind is that even though your natural colour contrast is high, it is not as extreme as that of a Bright Winter. So pairing colours that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel– such as a bright yellow and a clear purple, may look overpowering on you. Instead, always opt for a neutral and an accent colour.

True black is part of the Winter palette, so you can use it as a neutral in your outfits. And if you are pale, you can even pull off an all-black look. If your skin is darker, you may notice that an all-black outfit seems to diminish you. In that case use black more sparingly.

True white is also part of the palette, but always pair it with a darker colour to achieve a high contrast.

Colours to Avoid

Avoid very warm, earthy colours – such as golden orange and brown, peach, and light beige. Warmer pastel colours may also make you look off, so stick with the icy light colours that are on your palette.

Wardrobe Building Essentials
Everything you need to build a Dark Winter wardrobe.

Patterns & Prints

If you are thinking of incorporating some patterns and prints into your wardrobe, consider the following:

The best patterns are those that only contain Dark Winter colours – like in the first example below.

If a pattern contains some but not much colour from a disharmonious palette – like in the second example, you can also wear it.

The last example contains too much of a disharmonious colour (a Light Spring fleshy pink, which is light and warm), so it’s best left alone.

Since your natural colouring is high-contrast, opt for patterns that reflect this natural high level of contrast rather than ones which blend too much together.

In the example below, both patterns are in Dark Winter colours and wearable. However, the second pattern displays a higher contrast between the elements and is therefore more flattering.

Great patterns for Dark Winter are bold, highly contrasted, and contain unusual and unexpected elements.

Look for patterns with geometric shapes or round and rectangular shapes mixed together. Abstract prints are great too; as are stylised versions of natural elements.

Natural floral patterns – like in the first example, are best avoided. If you want to wear floral patterns, opt for stylised flowers.

Also avoid small elements in dense arrangements and anything faded or blended (such as watercolour prints).


Since Dark Winter colours are neutral-cool, both gold and silver work on you. However, your best metals are cool – silver and pewter. Gold may work (though in many cases it doesn't work very well). If you do want to wear gold, opt for a dark one that is not too yellow.

Metals can either be shiny or matte.

Ruby is a wonderful stone for this sub-season. Saturated violet stones are also wonderful as is emerald.

And one of the best choices is sapphire. It is the perfect complement to the beauty of Dark Winter due to its deep, cold, and rich colouring.

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