Would you consider doing an article on spring and summer looks for high value contrasts? I can’t wrap my head around how to get a summery look with dark colors. Especially if I don’t want to wear navy all the time. I’d love some photos to help me see how to make it work. I love the warm seasons best and I want to look light and breezy. Is there a way?
Yes we don’t naturally associate dark colours with summer and hot weather as dark colours absorb heat. But if darker colours suit you and you have a high value contrast, there are ways of putting outfits together that will help you achieve a summery look and still flatter your complexion and natural contrast level.
Choose a light weight fabric, floaty fabric, thinner, finer fabric which naturally say summer not winter.
Even for trousers, pick lighter colours and lighter weights. Just pair them back with a darker colour for high contrast balance.
choose patterns rather than solids in your dark colours. Large blocks of solid dark colours is very wintery. If you find a pattern you like in a dark colour with a high value contrast, it will lift the outfit from feeling heavy and hot, to lighter and cooler.
Here in this example above I’ve chosen patterns to lift the depth out of the fabric which speaks to warmer weather.
Choose the cool overtone colours of your palette – your teals, greens and blues which remind you of water and beaches and holidays.
Or choose a ‘fiesta’ colour like orange (if you’re warm) or yellow paired with a dark neutral to add that fun summer feel.
Remember that you can use a bright colour with a dark colour to give the illusion of high value contrast.
Use your accessories to create interest and a summer feel. Add a turquoise necklace (turquoise reminds me of tropical beach holidays!). Floral pieces are also more reminiscent of summer months (as flowers are more prevalent in warmer weather).
And then there are the kinds of clothes you choose. Dresses are the easiest way to create a summer feel. Pick a fun print in a high value contrast (or high value and colour contrast if that’s right for you), and away you go!
Your skin, if it’s fair, will naturally create a high value contrast in summer as you will have more of it exposed near your face – your arms provide that much needed element of value contrast to your darker tops if they are solid in colour.
Want more tips on summer outfits?
My Summer Style and Co-hosting the Top of the World Linkup Party
These outfits are lovely. I have taken the colour and contrast value tests a few times (just to make sure). Every thing points to me being medium both colour and contrast but I so do love high. Could it be from 30 years for colouring my mousy hair dark brown? Would value your opinion.
Yes that would be it. I had to really change my thinking when I moved from high contrast (dark hair) to medium contrast now. It takes a while, but my outfits look better with the new me!
Hi Imogen – I have high contrast coloring with my coloring being similar to yours before you changed your hair color. I am older (mid 60) but my grey hair is not prominent, much to my dismay, therefore, I am still coloring a dark brown, Is it my imagination or do you still wear colors similar to those you wore when your hair was dark? You look great with either color hair IMHO but I am trying to figure out the high contrast and dark color values you reference.
On the whole I wear medium contrast now (as my eyes are a medium colour). I sometimes push boundaries – I like to break ‘rules’. This blog post is more about the light dark or bright dark high contrast.
Thank you so much for providing such useful and fun information. I love your blog and videos with Jill Chivers – two very wise and clever ladies!
At present I have very dark brown hair (with a little silver coming in), nearly black eyes and quite fair skin. I realise I need high value contrast and dominant deep value. My question is, when my hair becomes more and more silver will I still need high value contrast (because of my very dark eyes and fair skin) and simply change to light value dominant attire?
You will gradually change – always needing high contrast – but moving from overall dark to overall light – though I’m guessing that will take a lot of time!
Thank you for this, Imogen. I don’t wear dresses but will try to put these other tips into practice. It doesn’t seem so impossible with the photos as examples to guide me. I appreciate you taking the time to put them together. I’m pinning them all so I don’t forget!
There are lots of ways to do it without dresses. Glad to have helped!
Loving this blog! Your work is amazing.
I was wondering. Who is a Spring-toned celebrity that would suit the high value contrast + overall light value outfits? Someone like Carla Hall? I notice she’s lighter skinned with dark eyes, but she has that grayish cast to her hair which makes it more med-light than med-dark.
Carla Hall is too muted to be a spring – you are looking for someone very bright and overall light in their colouring – but with dark eyes to create the high value contrast.
You’re so right! That’s my mistake- I initially considered a lighter soft/muted toned season for her at first glance. Actually looking through her photos now, I can see she does not pull off the spring colors like I do (neither clear or light spring ones). Carla is more soft toned in a Autumn way. The diversity in people’s coloring always blows my mind. Anyways, after reading your reply, maybe someone more like Nicole Lyn or Madison Keys would better suit these types of spring outfits. I know Jasmine Sanders & Alicia Keys are definitively Light Springs, and they both have slightly darker natural hair. So they might fit something like as well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge😊 I really appreciate it!