It all depends on what season you are

four season color analysis

31 days of cult classics | Modern Mrs Darcy

A winter looks good in jewel tones. Pastels are for summers. Earth tones are for autumns. And only a clear spring truly looks good in black.

If these categories based on four season color analysis sound familiar to you, it’s due to the influence of Carole Jackson’s 1980 book Color Me Beautiful.

color me beautiful

According to Jackson, everyone looks their best (and worst) in certain colors that cluster according to the seasons of nature. Trained consultants could find your type by draping fabric samples around your shoulders and seeing what colors bring you to life, and which ones wash you out.

You left your session with a cheat sheet declaring which colors made you look your best–and which ones to avoid.

four season color analysis

(Do you know your season? I’m a spring.)

This is an old read, and Carole Jackson’s original color theory has been updated and expanded upon by others since its initial publication (it turns out there are more like twelve or sixteen categories, versus Jackson’s original four), but Color Me Beautifulcontinues to influence the fashion industry–and the closets of women everywhere.

Do you know what your season is? Does it change the way you dress?  

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This is the fourteenth post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.


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  1. Jeannie says:

    Now, this is a blast from the past. Yes, I went to a “colour party” back in the day and even hosted one! I’m a Winter, which explains why my closet is full of black, white, dark blue, purple, and red. The challenge for me as I age is that I don’t wear much makeup; I think Winters need to have some contrast to look their best.

    • Carrie says:

      Yes…a winter all the way. Those are my favorite colors and the ones that make me happy. I hate when makeup companies try to say my olive pale skin black hair and brown eyes look good in warm tones. Yuck!

      • Blast from the past is right!!! I’m a winter too. When I was in high school my totally awesome Sunday school teacher hosted a Color Me Beautiful party at her house. (She also gave me a gift card to Saks Fifth Ave when I graduated — I’m telling you she was the best SS teacher ever!)

  2. Laura says:

    I checked out a slightly newer version of this from the library and I really like it (though the pictures are sooooo dated). I’m still not sure exactly which season I am, but it made me more aware of what a difference color makes. Before, I would buy clothes without giving any thought to whether the color was flattering.

  3. I went through this book about 2 years ago, and it’s made SUCH a difference! I’m not a fan of shopping, but it’s much easier now that I know which colors an Autumn needs to avoid.

    I also remember reading about the 3 variations of each season – not sure if it was in this book or something else I read around that time. But learning that a “wintry Autumn” can get away with deeper hues than a “summery Autumn” really clarified it for me. I wear black pretty well, which only confused me until I read that! And grays, too. I could never figure out which shade of gray to wear until learning which type I was.

  4. Heather says:

    How funny! I remember going to a party about this with my mom and grandmother when I was growing up. I am definitely a winter. I don’t necessarily think of that when I am shopping, but I tend to remember that jewel tones seem to work for me.

  5. Erica M. says:

    I’m definitely a winter, though, oddly enough, the book insists that anyone with freckles and natural red highlights has to have a warm skintone. I just decided not to worry and buy plenty of blues. And black. (I can wear black, but the danger is being mistaken for a Twilight cosplayer. Which actually happened. *facepalm*)

  6. Most definitely a winter! Love my black, bright colors & white, white. I (freakishly) still have my little wallet of fabric swatches that I got from my ‘Color Me Beautiful’ session. Since all 3 sisters and I did this together, it became a source of contention with clothes borrowing as one could claim, “No, that’s not your color”!

  7. Candice says:

    I don’t know my colors although I’m sure I gravitate to the right ones in general at this point. My mother-in-law is really obsessed with her color palate and had all 4 of her sons analyzed when they were tiny. She will not go outside of her season and didn’t buy them clothes outside of their season growing up. Pretty extreme!

    • sona says:

      I have to laugh at your MIL statement. My son is a summer but his wife who wears lots of orange, avocado and gold buys him all the same colors. He looks ill or ghostly much of the time. Color influences everything. Of course you know what would happen if I said anything.

  8. Carmen says:

    I absolutely pay attention to color! I actually had my colors done and I was late Autumn/early Winter. The lady who did my colors called me a Baroque Winter. My colors are dark, heavy, deep jewel-toned colors. I love color and they influence my shopping choices for sure.

  9. Tim says:

    I may not know my colors, but I do know that no matter what season it is I’m always a Fall.

    (Those who know me may start groaning now. Those who don’t should just move along, nothing to see here.)

  10. Katherine says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    I just had flashbacks of my mom waving that book around when I was in high school, trying to get me to learn my colors. I rolled my eyes mercilessly and completely wrote her off because of the dated pictures.

    My mom also took my sister and I for Glamour Shots. Oh, the embarrassment…

  11. Laura says:

    Oh wow, I remember this! My mom took me to a color party when I was probably about eight or so. I wish I knew whatever happened to my little folder of fabric swatches in my colors! I am an autumn. But I will now have to check out the updated version to see the nuances within that, plus I think my coloring has changed a bit as I’ve gotten older. Thanks for bringing this one up!

  12. Sarah says:

    My mom had the fabric color swatches, too! I grew up getting clothes and make-up for an autumn, because that’s what she is, and we do look very similar, but I’ve decided in my adulthood that I’m actually a winter. And I have to say… I look pretty darn good in black!

  13. Jennifer H says:

    I do remember having my colors done at a little boutique and carrying around my little plastic folder full of swatches, but I can’t for the life of me remember what season I was. Good call for a cult classic!

  14. Leigh Kramer says:

    My mom is a winter but I can’t remember if I’m a summer or autumn. What memories! I’m pretty sure mom went to a Color Me Beautiful party and got the swatches and everything. But I learned my type when I got my first official makeover by a BeautiControl lady (does this makeup company even exist anymore?) right before I started junior high. 4 shades of eyeshadow, 2 eyeliners, blush, foundation, the whole nine yards. God bless the early 90s.

  15. Jo Y says:

    This book changed my life. I am a summer and I found out why beige made me look plain and colorless. I don’t wear black except for slacks and maybe in a print. Gray needs blue undertones, beige needs rosy undertones, and winter white is much softer than pure white, although much harder to find. I love my summer colors!

  16. Wendy says:

    This is a trip down memory lane; my mom and her sisters were really into this–I remember that exact book cover!!! I remember going to a consultant with my mom and aunt and we each had the whole shebang done with the draping of the fabric and everything. I was devastated to be a “spring”–I wanted to be a “winter” because I liked the colors better! 🙂

  17. Karianna says:

    I had my colors done this past spring and I am a winter through and through! It’s been helpful for me as I’ve always shied away from color but now I embrace it! Especially red…

  18. Betsy says:

    Oh this is making me smile! My mom had this book back in the 80’s. I’m a winter, but I wonder if my palette could be changing as I get a bit “older.” 🙂 Four categories sound easier to keep track of than 16!

    • carole Barchersc says:

      I am fair skin still but my hair is white. I can still wear the same color group but I have to watch how i do my face makeup and lip color. Your lip color will change a little.

  19. carole Barchers says:

    I use to work in a major store. I had a lady swing her clothing on the counter in front of her face and I saw a shimmer of what the color group did for her face.

  20. Julie Perry says:

    Thank you for this fun blast from the past! I find it interesting that so many Winters are reading this blog. According to Carol Tuttle from Dressing Your Truth, There is a correlation between your colors and your personality, or “energy”. In her system, a Winter would be a type 4, and this encompasses not only your physical coloring, but your personality, preferences for fabric weight, pattern, texture, and design lines, and even how you walk, and move through life as well. There are even decorating preferences to match your type. I am a Spring, or a type one in her system. Maybe Wendy up above is not really a Spring, since you are (usually) naturally drawn to your best colors?? (At least I am, but maybe not everyone is.)

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