Soft Summer

A Comprehensive Guide

Soft Summer is the most muted season of the already muted Summer family. Its colour palette contains very soft, greyed out colours that would make other seasons look washed out.

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

Unlike Soft Autumn, this sub-season is cool. However, both sub-seasons share some colours since they are sister palettes. They are both a blend of Autumn and Summer. And while Soft Autumn leans more towards Autumn, Soft Summer leans more towards the Summer.

Characteristics

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 Soft Summers. You may look different but still be a Soft Summer.

You are a Soft Summer if the dominant characteristic of your overall appearance is muted, 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 skin, eyes, and hair all blend together. They are giving you a soft appearance. Instead of clearly standing out, your features appear somewhat “greyed out” or toned down.

The contrast between your skin, eyes, and hair is low to medium. But the important thing is that your natural colours blend together and do not contrast each other. In addition, your features have mainly cool undertones.

The Features

I. Eyes

Soft Summer eyes can be grey, blue, green, or green-hazel. A muted brown is common for darker ethnicities. Regardless of the colour, Soft Summer eyes are always softly greyed. Although they are clearer and less muddy than Soft Autumn eyes, they are by no means bright. Typical of the Summer eye, you may notice a crackled glass pattern on the iris.

II. Skin

Soft Summer skin is either neutral, olive, or neutral-cool with ashy undertones and possibly a pink tinge. This means both silver and gold look good against the skin, but silver looks better. Skin tones range from fair to tan (I to IV on the Fitzpatrick scale), but what is important is that the skin is in low contrast with the hair. Soft Summers may also have freckles.

III. Hair

Hair in this sub-season ranges from dark ash blonde over light to medium ash brown (and even dark ash brown for darker ethnicities). Because of the high concentration of grey pigments, Soft Summer hair is always muted and ashy, never shiny and bright. When exposed to the sun, it can develop ash blonde highlights.

IV. Contrast

Depending on the hair/skin combination, the level of contrast between the features is low to medium. In the images below, you can see how the hair is darker compared to the skin but the contrast is quite weak. There are also no truly light or dark areas in the image.

Soft Summer vs Soft Autumn

Containing the most muted and toned-down of the Summer family’s colours, people who fall into the Soft Summer category may very easily be mistaken for Soft Autumns. Both sub-seasons are very similar to each other and the distinctions are very subtle.

Both sub-seasons’ dominant characteristic is muted – but while Soft Autumn is warm, Soft Summer is cool. The latter’s colouring contains more gentle, muted tones with a high content of grey and olive. Whereas Soft Autumn’s colouring has a high content of walnut and honey.

Subtype test

If you are unsure whether your appearance is warmer or cooler, there is an easy way to find out: In natural daylight and without make up, hold something grey to your face. If your eyes seem greyish (even if they are greenish or have brown blotches), then you are likely a Soft Summer; if they remain green, hazel, or olive, then you lean more towards Soft Autumn. Why is that?

As mentioned before, Soft Summer has a high content of grey pigments, which tones down the colours of their natural appearance. Soft Autumn colours contain more walnut, beige, and gold pigments and therefore the eyes cannot appear grey.

The Colour Palette

Soft Summer is the season of misty days with nebulous paths on foggy landscapes. The colours are gentle and mysterious. They contain so many cold and warm tones that their collision gives rise to a surprisingly harmonious image. And like a chameleon, this sub-season can can show one side or another.

In terms of colours, the following images are representative of the muted, gentle colours that are part of the Soft Summer colour palette:

The Palette

True to Soft Summer's dominant characteristic, the colours are soft and gentle to match the low/medium contrast level of this sub-season’s natural colouring. The colour palette includes low saturation, low contrast, and coolish colours. Some of these are muted, grey and blue based colours, dusky pinks and lavenders, and even light navy.

The Soft Summer colour palette contains a lot of grey and olive tones. The colours are not clear, but complex and elusive, almost as if they consisted of many different colours.

Soft Summer sits on the border between Summer and Autumn. Summer is soft, cool, and light. Autumn is also soft, so adding Autumn to Summer makes the Soft Summer palette even more faded. But Autumn also brings warmth, which adds a brownish element to the colours. Autumn also adds depth, so Soft Summer colours are the darkest of the Summer family.

Colour Dimensions

On the three dimensions of colour, Soft Summer has the following properties:

Hue

Thanks to Soft Summer’s secondary characteristic, the colours lean towards the cool end of the scale but are not extremely cool. This means they contain more blue than yellow undertones. As a result, you will find fewer shades of yellow (which is the warmest colour of all). And you will only see cooler shades of yellow that have a tint of blue. Instead, there are more blues, pinks, purples, and blue-greens, which are naturally blue-based.

Value

The colour palette is medium in value; meaning neither light nor dark colours dominate it. While there are, of course, lighter and darker colours, most of the colours fall somewhere in the middle of the value scale.

Chroma

In line with this sub-season’s dominant characteristic, Soft Summer has the least tolerance for brightness. Consequently, the colours are low in chroma – meaning they are very soft, muted, “greyed out” and not at all saturated.

Sister Palettes

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

Compared to Soft Autumn, the colours are cooler and more greyish, but otherwise similar – both sub-seasons are medium in value and muted.

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

As sister palettes, True Summer and Soft Autumn both share Soft Summer’s characteristics of cool and muted, respectively. This means you can borrow some of their palettes’ colours as they are close enough to the Soft Summer colour palette. On the True Summer palette, opt for the more muted shades –  such as lavender or sea foam. Whereas on the Soft Autumn palette, choose the cooler colours – such as cornflower or light sea green.

Styling

Clothing

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:

Soft Summer’s natural appearance blends rather than contrasts. Therefore, the best colour combinations for your outfits are those that complement each other. In addition, your natural colour contrast is low to medium – so your colour combinations should reflect that. Why is this important?

Wearing colour combinations that reflect the contrast that exists in your natural appearance will complement it and will make you come alive in your outfits.

To achieve a lower contrast, you could, for example, opt for a monochromatic look and combine slightly different shades of one hue – such a light sea foam green with a darker sea foam green. Or you could combine neighbouring hues with the same value – such as a light pastel purple a light pastel blue. Another option is to mix a light neutral with a darker accent colour.

Typically, pastel and greyed out colours in a monochrome look will look best on this sub-season. It might make other seasons look washed out, but on a Soft Summer it is nothing but flattering.

Avoid pairing colours that that are highly contrasting, i.e. those that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel – such as blue and orange. These combinations will swallow up your delicate appearance and make you completely disappear behind them.

True black is a very dark colour and is therefore not flattering on you and best avoided. Black near your face will make you look older and will make your gentle colouring disappear. The closest you have to black is a deep grey and cool dark browns.

True white is also too harsh on you, so opt for an off-white or taupe instead.

Colours to Avoid

Apart from white and  black, avoid clear and bright colours – such as intense pinks and blues, which clash with your natural softness and swallow you up. Rich, warm hues – like warm reds and earthy browns, are also not flattering on you since you are on the cooler side of the spectrum.

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 Soft Summer 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 Bright Spring orange, which is bright and warm), so it’s best left alone.

Since your natural colouring is medium-contrast, opt for patterns that reflect this natural medium level of contrast rather than ones which are too bold.

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

Great patterns for Soft Summer are gentle and delicate – such as watercolour and floral textures, delicate floral drawings, and brush strokes. Natural, delicate elements – such as feathers, birds, and flowers are best.

The elements of the pattern should be small and loosely arranged.

Avoid ordered arrangements and big elements and stiff geometric patterns. These don’t go well with your soft, delicate appearance.

Jewellery

Like your sister sub-season Soft Autumn, you can wear both warm and cool metals. Since you are on the cool side of neutral, silver is more flattering on you, and it is a more foolproof choice. When opting for gold, make sure to choose a gold that is not too orange, deep, and rich. Rose gold works if it is on the pink side.

Metals are best gentle and muted – brushed, matte, satin, and hammered are great options. Antiqued works as well, as long as it is not too blackened.

Avoid bright and shiny metals since they will overwhelm your gentle colouring.

When choosing pearls, it is worth taking a closer look at the options for complex colouring. Snow-white pearls are more suitable for Winters. Better pearl options are those where different shades are combined – from lighter to medium dark.

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