Your Color Signature, Pt. 2: Your “Season”

It’s been nearly 40 years since Carole Jackson rolled out Color Me Beautiful — her guide to optimum colors for your wardrobe, hair color and makeup. Now … before you crinkle your nose at it for being old and lame, consider this: after all these years, her color theory system still holds up. It still works. So, it’s worth learning the basics.

Hue, Depth and Saturation

First, seasonal color palettes are a set of colors with similar characteristics of hue, depth and saturation. It sounds complicated but your brain registers these differences in color constantly.

The hue is, simply put, the color it is — like red, green and yellow. A color’s depth is what degree of black or white is in it that deepens or lightens it. It’s also referred to as a color’s value. A color’s saturation is it’s concentration and color clarity — whether it’s bold and saturated or soft and muted. (See my post on Color Theory)


Characteristics of colors by season

Seasonal color palettes — Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn — are a set of colors that lean toward cool or warm tones. For example, Winter and Summer palettes are both cool, but the colors in the two palettes differ according to their depth and saturation/clarity.


Think bold and icy, cool tones, saturated colors and jewel tones plus icy pastel mixtures of 80% white and saturated hues.


Warm, sunny and gold tones, corals and blue-greens. Spring colors are like watercolors, washes and tints. Think Picasso.


Envision the cool colors on a Caribbean beach: sea foam, lapis, sand and soft pink seashells. Cool colors are mixed with grays, blacks, whites and browns for a range of muted colors.


Rich, earthy and spicy warm colors. Golds bronze, amber, ecru, and true browns belie the palette’s undertones. Colors are strong yet saturated like mustard, saffron, eggplant, evergreen, crimson and chocolate.
Australian Personal Image Consultant Jane Littelow bases her color analysis on the premise there are sub-categories within each seasonal palette based on variations in the color of a person’s features. For instance:

Cool Winter/Summer): Icy and Cool features.
Warm (Autumn/Spring): Golden, Amber and Tawny features.
Clear (Winter/Spring): Eyes with vivid, saturated color that pops.
Deep (Winter/Autumn): Darker complexions, saturated and hazel eye color mixtures, striking hair colors.
Light (Spring/Summer): Overall light, pale features.
Soft (Summer/Autumn): Neutral, almost monochromatic overall coloring. Hair, skin and eye colors match.

The Personal Seasonal Color Analysis Gurus

In the 1970s, Carole Jackson — and fellow authors Deborah Chase, Bernice Kentner and Suzanne Caygill – suggested a woman can find her personal seasonal color palette based on her skin, hair and eye colors and personal preference.

Unfortunately, their color analysis didn’t factor in people with darker complexions. Nonetheless, the principles apply across the ethnic spectrum.

Skin, Eye, Hair Seasonal Characteristics

The authors developed similar palettes for each season. Below is a composite based on the authors’ versions of seasonal color palettes, some modern adjustments that reflect ethnic diversity and my own experience as a cosmetologist and image instructor:





“Seasonal Color Analysis: What Are Your Best Colors?” The Chic Fashionista,

“Color Theory,” The Chic Fashionista,

“Color Analysis (Art),” Wikipedia,

“Flow Seasonal Color Analysis: Do You Know Your Best Colors,” Jane Liddelow,

“Description Guide: Words for Skin Tone,” Writing With Color Blog,