Settling into Bright Winter (long)

Thanks to another thread I got wrapped up trying to understand seasonal colour analysis. I’ve looked into this before, but been disheartened by the reports of analysts getting it so wrong. But there’s merit in trying to understand what colours work when dissecting your style, so I gave it another go.

I started out with contrast, something that doesn’t get talked about much in SCA. I found some very useful posts on the menswear blogs:

From this I determined that my colouring is medium to high contrast.

Then I found out about how the 12 sub-seasons relate to one another on a continuum of warm and cool, dark and light, soft and clear, shown here as a wheel:

I learned from 12 blueprints that your season is decided by The Most Important Thing, which will be one of the parameters of SCA that correspond to the three basic colour components:

  • Hue - warm or cool
  • Value - light or deep
  • Saturation - soft or clear

All of this makes some kind of sense from a colour theory perspective. I decided it was easier to do this by figuring out what I’m not as well as what I am.

  • I’m neither light nor dark. My natural hair colour is dark ash, my eyes dark blue green with flecks of gold. I have very fair, almost translucent skin with a pink undertone. 
  • I skew cool. My veins are blue. I look better in hot pink than I do in orange. That means I’m somewhere in Winter or Summer.
  • But there’s warmth. I have freckles. I usually wear silver jewellery but gold looks OK too. After years of experimenting, I’ve decided my best hair colour is red. This rules out True Winter or True Summer. 
  • I've come to think I look quite striking in black, which would make me a Winter. I’m unlikely to be Dark Winter, although I can’t rule it out. That leaves Bright Winter, which would mean my Most Important Thing is contrast and saturation.

If this is correct, it explains a lot about my preferences. Black works best accented with optic white or brights, which is why the Bad Boyfriend is such a roaring success. Softer colours can work but they need a lot of help to keep them from falling flat. Warm brights can also work in moderation. Most of my current wardrobe falls within in the Winter palette, with a few brights from Bright Spring, some darks from Deep Autumn and some cools from Summer.

I feel like I’ve just discovered a superpower, which I can use for good or evil. Bright Winter seems like my natural home but it scares me too, because while colour and contrast make me feel like my best self, they can also make me look quite intense. Intimidating even. Perhaps that’s how I’m supposed to look.

All in all, this is an incredibly useful piece of information. Moving forward, I’m going to test the hypothesis and challenge myself to dress more like Bright Winter. I’m also going to update my glasses. But I’m not going to ditch colours outside the palette. Instead, I’m going to use it to learn how to colour outside the lines more effectively. Soft colours in support of cool brights, warm brights by cool deep neutrals. It might just work.

What about you? Have you self-diagnosed your colour season? Are you happy with it? How do you extend outside it?


Fashion Era Challenge: 80s Power Suit

I have a shameless love for the 80's power suit. I had a mental one in tomato red wool gabardine with black and gold buttons. It was beautiful, full of lady attitude. I wore it well into the 90's. 

It has a bad rap of course because of Joan Collins and Dynasty, but done right it calls to a very subtle kind of feminine power, which is all about looking tough and ladylike at the same time. A woman in a power suit takes no crap from anyone. 

I was pretty thrilled when I found this vintage Escada jacket while shopping with a friend last summer. I'd been looking for a long black blazer, and this was a definite wild card with its big shoulders, shocking pink revers and red lining. She warned me that the jacket was like a bad boyfriend - the one you know you shouldn't love but you do. I ignored her and bought it anyway.

The Bad Boyfriend, it turns out, is a bit of a workhorse for going out in the evening, when I style it with a printed tee and skinny pants. But this is the first time I've tried to take it back to its 80's power roots, with pleated tailored pants and pumps.

The shoes gave me pause, as I spent far too long in front of the mirror asking myself what Grace Jones or Tina Chow would have done. Still not convinced these flat pumps were the right choice, and I'm pretty sure the Pants Length Police will be along any moment to slap me in cuffs. Diamante cuffs, of course. 

Sadly, I don't have any spectacular plastic earrings anymore, but I do have a giant perspex ring and a mix tape full of 80s power pop. Enjoy!

  1. Culture Club - Do You Really Want to Hurt me?
  2. Queen - I Want to Break Free
  3. Eurythmics - There Must Be an Angel
  4. Kajagoogoo - Too Shy
  5. Aha - Take On Me
  6. Duran Duran - Rio
  7. Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me
  8. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  9. Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
  10. The The - Uncertain Smile

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


Fashion Era Challenge: 80's Avant Garde

This should have been a cakewalk, given that I have so much vintage in my closet. In fact, it was harder than I thought it would be because I wanted to put together an authentically 80's outfit that would work today.

The coat is a classic Issey Miyake design for Vogue Patterns from the middle of the decade. I had one in brown when I was at university, so I can say without doubt that this is something I would have worn back then. I made this one about five years ago, some time before loose fitting draped coats started trending again, when the original pattern was reissued.

Nothing else in my outfit existed then, but all of it could have done. Lace up dress boots (I wore them), baggy pants with asymmetric fastening (my too cool for school friend wore them) and batwing sleeves (everybody wore them).

It all feels very contemporary, but also very much like old friends. What do you think?


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