True Summer / True Winter

What is the difference?

True Summer and True Winter are the coolest of the 12 colour seasons.

And even though they share their dominant characteristic (cool) and may appear similar, they are not the same.

Let's find out how to spot the difference between them!

Seasonal Characteristics

To understand the key differences between the two colour seasons, we have to first look at each one's colour dimensions:

True Summer
True Winter

And it's quickly becoming clear where the differences lie: While both seasons sit at the coolest end of the hue scale, True Summer is lighter and softer than True Winter, which is darker and brighter.

These differences are reflected in the two seasons' colour palettes: While True Winter's colours are more saturated and contrasted, True Summer's colours are more muted and less bright. Similarly, True Winter's colours are darker, whereas True Summer's colours are lighter.

True Summer
True Winter

True Summer vs True Winter

Now that we know the difference in colour dimensions between True Summer and True Winter, we can identify what makes someone a True Summer or a True Winter.

Take a look at the following example: both of these women are clearly cool. There is no sign of warmth in either.

But the woman on the left is a True Summer because she has more grey pigments in her colouring, which makes her appear more muted. She also has a lower level of contrast between her features compared to the woman on the right. The latter, in contrast, has a more intense appearance because her features are brighter.

The Draping 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 Emily Blunt and Lucy Liu as examples, and we will drape them in a few True Summer colours as well as True Winter colours side-by-side, to see which ones work on them.

Yellow is naturally a warm colour, but True Summer has a light, mustardy yellow and True Winter has a brighter yellow. We can see already that more intense Winter yellow doesn't really work on Emily. The muted yellow looks better in comparison.

Now let's see how the same colours look on Lucy.

Lucy is the exact opposite! She shines in the True Winter yellow; but the muted yellow looks off on her.

To make sure that we are seeing is consistent, let's drape the two ladies in some more colours.

The pinks confirm our analysis. The more intense True Winter pink is too much for Emily. It makes her look like a bubblegum wrapper! But she looks so gorgeous in the lighter True Summer pink, which isn't as intense and has more grey pigments in it just like Emily.

Lucy, in contrast, needs the extra intensity of the True Winter pink to make her come alive. Although the lighter pink is not instantly bad, she can easily handle the more intense pink without being overwhelmed. In fact, the True Winter pink gives her features more definition and makes her appearance more lively.

And lastly, the blues paint a similar picture. The darker Winter blue is too dark for Emily. It highlights the shadows on her face and makes her look pasty. Again, the lighter blue looks very harmonious because of the grey tinge which reflects the grey pigments in her own colouring.

The opposite is true for Lucy. While the True Summer blue makes her look drained and washed out, the darker blue lets her shine because it has more intensity.

Therefore, we can conclude that Emily is a True Summer and Lucy is a True Winter.

The lipstick test

If you are still unsure whether you are True Summer or True Winter, try the lipstick test.

Both seasons look best in very cool lip colours, but True Summer cannot wear the intense pinks of Winter. In contrast, True Winters only truly shine in those more intense cool pinks. More muted pinks aren't intense enough for them.

Just like we said, the brighter pink looks very unnatural on Emily. It stands out from the rest of her appearance. She needs a more toned down pink, which doesn't compete with her muted colouring.

Lucy, on the other hand, truly shines in the more intense pink lipstick. She can comfortably wear the brighter colours without it stealing the show. The more muted version looks very bland on her in comparison.

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