To understand the key differences between the two colour seasons, we have to first look at each one's colour dimensions:
And it's quickly becoming clear where the differences lie: While both seasons sit at the darkest end of the value scale, Dark Autumn is warmer and less bright than Dark Winter, which is also cooler.
These differences are reflected in the two seasons' colour palettes: While Dark Autumn's colours are more muted and warmer, Dark Winter's colours are brighter and there are more extremely light and extremely dark colours on the palette.
Dark Autumn Colour Palette
Dark Winter Colour Palette
II. Dark Autumn vs Dark Winter
Now that we know the difference in colour dimensions between Dark Autumn and Dark Winter, we can identify what makes someone a Dark Autumn or a Dark Winter.
Take a look at the following example: both of these women are clearly dark. Their features have real depth to them and stand in contrast to their relatively lighter skin.
But the woman on the left is a Dark Autumn because her colouring is warmer. The latter, in contrast, has a cooler and and even darker appearance with even more contrast between her features.
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Everything you need to build a Dark Autumn wardrobe.Explore Essentials
II.i The Drape Test
If you ever have any doubts about your season, the best thing to do is to select the most prominent colours of the palette you are testing and drape yourself in them (or use lipstick with the same colour aspects).
For our purposes, we will use Freida Pinto and Lily Collins as examples, and we will drape them in a few Dark Autumn colours as well as Dark Winter colours side-by-side, to see which ones work on them.
We can see already that the brighter Dark Winter yellow doesn't work as well on Freida as the earthier yellow. The latter harmonises really well with her natural colouring and blends into the image.
Now let's see how the same colours look on Lily.
Lily is the exact opposite! She looks washed out and drained in the Dark Autumn yellow. But the brighter Dark Winter lifts her appearance and brightens her.
To make sure that we are seeing is consistent, let's drape the two ladies in some more colours.
The blues paint a similar picture. The warmer, more muted blue looks very harmonious on Freida. Whereas the cooler blue doesn't look as good.
Lily, on the other hand, needs the brightness of the cool blue to come to life. On her, the Dark Autumn blue looks bland.
And lastly, the greens confirm our analysis. The cooler Winter green is not immediately bad on Freida, but it does make her look slightly pale. In contrast, the warmer Autumn green harmonises very well with her colouring.
The opposite is true for Lily. The warmer Dark Autumn green washes her out and highlights the shadows on her face. But the cooler, slightly more intense Dark Winter green looks stunning.
Therefore, we can conclude that Freida is a Dark Autumn and Lily is a Dark Winter.
Wardrobe Building Essentials
Everything you need to build a Dark Winter wardrobe.Explore Essentials
The Wardrobe Guide
Want to learn how to build the perfect wardrobe around your colours? Check out the wardrobe guide.Learn More
II.ii The lipstick test
If you are still unsure whether you are Dark Autumn or Dark Winter, try the lipstick test.
Both seasons can comfortably wear dark lip colours without looking like a vampire, but Dark Autumn cannot wear the cooler, more purplish colours of Winter. In contrast, Dark Winters fare better in cooler reds and purples than warmer ones.
We can see here that the cooler purple doesn't sit well with Freida. It pales her and stands out too much. Freida looks much better in a slightly warmer red.
Lily, on the other hand, can pull off the dark purple and it doesn't look odd on her. The warmer red, though, diminishes her natural appearance.