Why Colour Analysis has Evolved Beyond the Seasons


Why personal colour analysis has evolved past the seasons

Back in 1981 Colour Me Beautiful was published and really brought the idea of personal colour analysis to the masses.  It was a huge hit and I remember going through the book and figuring out that I was a winter and being fascinated all that time ago about the concept of personal colour analysis.  Now I’m lucky that I fit right into one of those four seasons, but many didn’t, which is why seasonal colour analysis has expanded over the years to include 12 different seasonal colour groupings.

In fact, what is interesting now is that even the Colour Me Confident books of recent years no longer use the seasonal names, not only because they are confusing, but because they are limiting.

When we look at colour, and I’ve explained the concept of colour properties before here.  We have those elements of:

  1. Undertone – warmth to coolness
  2. Value – lightness to darkness
  3. Intensity – brightness to mutedness

which we take into consideration when looking at and identifying colours.

One of the major problems with the seasons is it didn’t take the enormous variety of human colouring into account.   So if you were LIGHT/COOL/SOFT you were a Summer, but if you were LIGHT/WARM/SOFT you didn’t exist and were either given SUMMER (which is cool) or SPRING (which is warm, but also bright) or AUTUMN (which is warm, and softer but deep).   I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen over the years who have had multiple seasonal colour analysis’ and been given a different season each time, all quite different from each other.  It’s only when they get their new colour from me they tell me that they finally feel at home in their colours, that they are the right ones at last.

One of the other reasons I co-developed the Absolute Colour System of 18 colour palettes was that when I looked at how colouring changes with age, I realised, just looking at my own colouring that I wouldn’t one day wake up and move directly from a bright group to a soft one, there had to be a stage in between.

Sure as we age our colouring changes (which I’ve written about on a few occasions and you can read here and here ), but when the colour system you are using is limited, that means you have to find “the least worst” colour group to give your client rather than “the best” colour group.

Another of the reasons for the development of the Absolute Colour System of 18 colour directions, it came from doing colour analysis over the years and finding holes in other systems, feeling that I had to give a client an OK, but not GREAT colour palette to work with.

The joys of working with your refined and nuanced palette is that the colours work together really well, as they have the same colour properties, so it makes mixing and matching the items in your wardrobe so much easier (a problem so many people have, though it’s not because they don’t know how to mix and match, it’s because they are trying to mix colours together that just don’t go together – as I wrote about in this post on clashing colours).

My 7 Steps to Style program members all get a personal colour analysis from me with the 18 groups and from the feedback I read on their forum it’s really obvious to see just how much better they feel in their right colours, plus how it makes building a wardrobe easier (not harder as many fear).

And we train colour consultants to use this amazing colour system so that they too can help their clients find their very best colours.





I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • I’m curious – with your blond hair, do you still consider yourself to have (used to be called) Winter coloring?

    • I noticed that all the winter colour in the blue brilliant suit me whether true deep or clear and toned or shade.i analyse I’m a deep True winter.why don’t they just put all the course side by side and call it winter.coyrs change every year.it give variety.oh don’t forget toasty winter.brown ith icies.uuum

  • As one who has tried every “colour system”, I was delighted to finally reach yours through Evolve and the 7 Steps programs. It is likely that I may have been warmer when I was younger, but never did I fall into a neat colour “season” and always had conflicting colour elements that threw everything off! With my medium skin but so much pink in it, of course I had to be a summer; with my naturally chestnut hair, I had to be a spring or autumn; only winters have aqua eyes with white in the iris. The chaos went on and on! Thank you so much for putting an end to the confusion and allowing me to finally feel whole rather than like a puzzle.

    • Can you tell me where you found the information that finally ended your puzzle. Ive been typed Spring, Cool Summer, Deep Winter, Cool Winter, Deep Autumn, Toned Winter.
      My wardrobe has dwindled to scraps.

      • I’ve done thousands of colour analysis’s over the years and really learned lots about colouring from looking at lots and lots and lots of people and looking at their colouring and colour properties – of undertone, value and intensity. Your colouring doesn’t remain the same over your lifetime either – changing your hair colour can change your colouring. Age also changes colouring, so what you were at 20 won’t be the same at 40 nor at 60 or 80

        • Funny how you one can go along for years wearing things and then suddenly see a photo and realise “good grief, that colour looks awful on me now”
          I didn’t even realised I had softened until my neices wedding and then it was a long process, really long and tedious until Imogen showed me I was deep and cool, and soft. I think early in life I was always a soft, as my hair, eyes and skin were always similar shades but now, I have gone from warm to cool. I wonder if illness and stress can take you from warm to cool. Some stylists say you don’t ever change tone you just soften. But illness I think can really pale you.

          • Yes as we get older it’s more common to go from warm to cool as we loose the elements of our pigments that give us warmth.

      • Meredith, I went through Imogen’s colour analysis within her 7 Steps to Style System. Rather than type you into a season of the year, she has eighteen pallettes that represent your levels of light and dark, bright and muted, cool or warm. Finding out my value and colour contrast levels was also very key for defining what looks right on me (in the search on this site, look up “real life levels of contrast” and “ultimate levels of contrast”) I can’t recommend it enough if you are looking for definitive answers!

  • As I moved from being a redhead – achieved through monthly visits to my favorite beautician, but looking so natural I fooled even my children – to snow white hair (complete natural) this past year, the search for the colors perfect for me NOW left me lost after initially being labeled an “autumn” years ago. It was only when I discovered Imogen Lamport’s 7 Steps to Style this past year that I found the colors which really enable me to shine. These colors are completely different from what I’ve ever worn – and completely perfect for me. Amazing that Imogen can pin it so perfectly when I am half way around the world from her, but trust me, she has.

  • It was the most exciting time for us. We are constantly improving and evolving the colours and tools to ensure that our students and our clients get the very best that we have.

  • Thirty years ago I suspect I did fit into the spring season. As time as gone on I found that I just didn’t fit into that season anymore. This has really messed with my head! Over the last year or two, I kept saying to myself surely a person can be light/warm and muted. I love how the Absolute Colour System covers light/warm/soft people. Thanks Imogen for thinking well outside the square and having independent thoughts. It is so refreshing.

    • Standing on my soap box… As per Imogen, there are three elements undertone, value and intensity. So according to my school girl maths that is 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 different combinations. The Seasons seem to continually deny the existence of 4 other combinations. Light, warm, soft. Clear, deep, warm, Soft, deep, cool and Light, cool, clear. Thanks Imogen and friends for not going along with the rest of the world and coming up with a system that embraces these 4 other options and more. Obviously everyone is different (on a sliding scale) and contrast also has to be taken into account. The Seasons were a good start but should have been thought out better not simplified so much. Thanks again.

  • I had my colours done when I was about 40 and was told I am a soft winter. I still like the colours I was given. My brunette hair turned grey in my early 30ties and now I am a platinum blond, naturally. love your blog read it, and send it to my two daughters.

  • Is there really a science to undertone or is it just opinion? I can easily make out undertones in colors…on humans it is more difficult. Years ago I was labeled a summer. I always felt that gold was much more flattering on me than silver, though I did look good in blue. I have been told numerous times from numerous sources that I have cool coloring…I am not convinced, but I am unsure. Are there some people that are nuetral? Pantone makes a Color IQ device for Sephora and I have been matched several times consistently as a 3Y05 would this mean I am warm or cool?

    • Makeup colour relates to the overtone of the skin not the undertone. I have a cool undertone but wear a yellow based foundation.

      Some people are closer to the warm/cool divide which makes the gold/silver issue more complicated. Warm people can wear some blues.

      • OMG so I’m not a freak of nature. Thanks Imogen for posting this little comment. I’ve been so confused with my colours. I tried to do my own colours to determine if I’m warm or cool and did the typical gold/silver, white/ivory(cream), wrist veins colours, etc… So in my case neither gold or silver on their own look good on me so I will always get jewelry with both yellow and white mixed which kind of works; neither white or ivory (cream) do anything for my complexion – I look sickly and pasty with both; and my veins are blue with a tiny amount of green so that doesn’t tell me much. From my analysis my skin undertone is cool but I do wear a medium golden foundation. I’m in my mid 40’s and I think it’s time to have my colour analysis done by a professional as I am so confused. I’m in Perth so will look for a local but thank you for posting this comment which helped me understand I’m not the only one with a cool undertone and warm overtone – xx

  • hello, i have freckles goldenbrown, eyelashes gold, brows ashy/light brown, eyes light blue-aqua, skin in sun go very much red and burn and peel of, but in winter im very pale, transparent,translucent,porcelain alabaster,snow-white. By natural im not dark haired or brunete, im fairy and light (no reddish hair and not golden blond light), i have mid/middle/medium blond hair (7.0-8.0), like dingy shade blond, piss straw…
    All our Czech and two Slowakien color typologist say im light type (winter and dark autum in not case), probably most light autumn, spring but light summer is maybe right only posibility

  • I gave a cheer when I saw your I saw your cool, medium clear palette. In my 20s I had very dark hair and very pale white skin which showed no flush or pink in it and dark green eyes.Wearing green has always made them look greener. I definitely drape best with the cool palette and this has been done 3 times using 3 different systems, but it was much harder to decide if I was Winter or Summer. It was decided I was a winter.

    As the years past, my hair is silver on top, but has some dark down the side of my face, eyes are a paler green with blue line around the iris and I show a pink flush in my face. I have adopted my own palette colours. Dark cool neutrals and medium clear colours. I find it quite differcult to wear pale neutrals or any very pale coloured garments up by my face, but do like silver, enamelled or pearl jewellery .

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