Skip to main content

making faces :: fall for all, part 1 [a seasonal colour analysis experiment]

i hadn't done posts on seasonal colour analysis in a while, but the shift in weather this week got me thinking. i love the shift to deep, earthy fall colours, the tights, the sturdier shoes and all manner of boots, sweaters, the breathtaking visual display that is the changing of the leaves... cosmetically, of course, fall is the season most strongly associated with a specific palette: nude looks, pastels, highly saturated colours, sparkling effects and virtually everything else fight it out for the rest of the year, but fall is always about the femme fatale: smokey eyes, dark, vampy lip shades, contoured faces sometimes flushed with a perfect wind-chilled colour [the way cheeks never, ever look when exposed to actual wind], sometimes luminous with the warmth of early dusk. simply heaven for me.

but i got to thinking that extolling the wonders of the typical fall palette is a little bit hypocritical for someone who's spent a lot of time reading about and playing around with seasonal colour analysis, which holds that there are certain colours that simply work better on each person than others. it's a sad situation, because i know lots of people who look really different from one another who love the fall. [in fact, according to at least a couple of polls i saw last night, most north americans choose it as their preferred season.] so i got to thinking that their must be a way for people of all different colour analysis seasons to get in the fall spirit and that i would try to figure it out.

so this is the start of a series about how every season can wear fall, both as makeup and in clothing. these aren't carved in stone ideas, nor am i a professional in the field. i've just been playing around with this a lot and i have at least once tried to do a makeup look typical of each season [while trying to figure out which one i was], so this is like me doing the "dogma" version of those posts. now, it's cheating a little, since it's always me wearing the looks and i'm not equally at home in every season, but i only have one me to work with.

i figured i'd start myself off as easily as possible [sort of] by tackling the three autumn seasons. after all, those are going to be the people who are right at home with the rich, earthy-spicy-deep palette we associate with the autumn season, right? well, as it turns out, the answer is "kinda". i'll explain...

soft autumn

as we've discussed, the soft autumn is a blend of [mostly] autumn and a bit of summer. this person is going to have autumn's golden warmth, but it'll be a little tempered by summer's cool grey mist. the result of combining the two seasons of lowest colour saturation is that even the brightest colours appear a bit muted. the contrast is very low and, as you would expect from the name, there is a softness to them.

but the typical autumn colour scheme isn't terribly soft. it has tempestuous reds, daring oranges, well, you know what it has. soft autumn is made up more of the shades that i think of as "indian summer tones", sandy beige-browns, golden late summer sun, the dark green of leaves before they start their whole autumn fashion show. so the soft autumn version of, er, autumn isn't going to go as dark or as saturated as others. the smokey eye is tricky and the full-on vampy lip is an absolute no-go. but we adapt.

in my case, i adapted by using a few muted versions of typical fall colours. i still wanted a strong lip, but what looks strong on my colouring is going to be overwhelming on a soft season person. i figured that, rather than going for the more dramatic burgundy or plum, it would be a safe bet to use a deep rosewood shade.

here's a rundown of what i'm wearing in the makeup department [note that for all the looks, the base is hourglass mineral veil primer + nars all day luminous weightless foundation in "mont blanc" + dior nude skin concealer in "010" + mac paint pot in "painterly" as an eyeshadow base]:

the eyes ::
rbr matte e/s "papyrus canary" [warm beige]
mac prolongwear e/s "one to watch" [orangey golden brown]
mac e/s "marsh" [soft olive green]
tarina tarantino e/l "sparkling ammunition" [shimmery khaki green]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

the cheeks ::
guerlain jolie teint powder 00 "les blondes clairs"

the lips ::
rouge dior l/s "continental"

the lip shade is new [and limited, i believe] with dior's fall collection. the collection itself features a lot of products for the eyes, some new stick blushes and more, but call me conservative, i went for the lipsticks, which are pretty much in keeping with fall colours [there's a warm peachy nude and a deep burgundy as well]. "continental" is one of those colours that's going to be different on every skin tone, but that's going to work on almost all of them. [i'd probably hold back if i were either a true summer or a light summer, where i think it would look muddy, but there's enough red and brown in the shade to make it work on anyone else.]


the shade falls between guerlain rouge g "grenade" [#65], which is brighter and cooler and urban decay revolution lipstick in "manic", which is darker and warmer.

l to r :: guerlain grenade, continental, urban decay manic

it's a lovely shade and about my only complaint was that i found that it didn't last quite as long as i've experienced with other rouge dior shades. that said, my lips have been a little finicky lately, something that tends to happen with the change of season, so that might be the fault of my body chemistry.

i wanted to dress according to the palette too and i chose specifically from the areas of the soft autumn colour palette that i found closest to the typical idea of autumn. that's harder than you would think, because soft autumn colours don't include the flame shades of fall leaves, or the dark ones of colours seen at night [arriving ever earlier]. i used olive green as a base, because tones of slightly browned green are everywhere in the fall, even though they're not terribly present in nature. i guess it's the earthiness that lets it slide in. i built on that with the warmer than it looks in the photo] peach scarf, as well as the caramel coloured bag and a little with the tortoiseshell frames, and added a little more green and bronze with the earrings. and i figured that denim was both earthy and muted enough that i could fit it in [and fit in it, but that's another matter]. this isn't a combination that i would wear a lot myself, because i find that the softness of the palette looks a bit insipid on my colouring. like i'm overwhelming it. that said, i do think that on the correct colouring, it could work really well.

true autumn

this season is all golden heat. it just glows with warmth, shines with metallic light in tones of yellow, orange, yellow and green, with hints of plum and teal. that inner light keeps the colours from getting too deep, but the intense heat keeps them from getting too light at the same time. since the light is waning, however, the shades stay a little muted. so that's the palette: no shade will ever be too warm, but it will never be among the boldest colours, it will never go as light as pastels, nor as deep as the near-blacks. every time i look at shades like this, i think of food: pumpkins, squash, legumes, root vegetables, jams and preserves, spices like curry and paprika... is anyone else hungry?

clearly, this is a palette that encompasses almost every variation of autumn's glory, but it still doesn't go terribly dark. autumn, along with winter, is a darker season, but the true autumn has too much heat in them to handle the cold, hard reality of black in any great amount. deep greens, plums, reds, browns, and teals [blue is trickier, although navy can work] can be used judiciously, but very light, icy colours will be a disaster. as a result, true autumn shades tend to look- i think- darker than the palette actually is.

i wanted a sort of spicy orange-red look for the makeup, although on my colouring it tends to show more red than orange. on the correct complexion, this would show much warmer than how it looks on me.

the eyes ::
guerlain e/s palette "les fauves" [shades of reddened brown, burnt orange, bold coral, shimmery copper]
guerlain e/s "taupe secret" [shimmery beige taupe]
mac brow fluidline "deep dark brunette" [used for the brows and as a liner]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

the cheeks ::
guerlain roses aux joues blush "red hot" [shimmery brick and deep coral red]
hourglass ambient lighting powder "radiant light" [toasted gold]
hourglass ambient lighting powder "dim light" [warm light beige]

the lips ::
guerlain rouge g l/s "gardner" [brick red with soft gold shimmer]*

*suggested alternates :: gardner = guerlain gisela

golly, can you tell what brand i trust enough to buy colours that are out of my comfort zone? although it might not be in harmony with my colouring, i do like the way the eyes turned out in this look. i used the bright coral shade as a base, then tapped the copper colour over it and used the rosewood and brown shades to define the crease. "taupe secret" is actually used as a highlighter here. it's too dark to work as a highlighter on a lot of people, but i think that autumn skin could get away with it.

i know a few people have wondered about using multiple ambient lighting powders, so to explain how i've done it here: "radiant light" is applied on the cheeks, right over the blush, but all the way to the side of the face. it's not matte enough to work as a contour, but i does add dimension as well as warmth; "dim light" is applied on my t-zone and my chin, like a highlighter. on deeper, warmer skin, that's exactly what it would be. on fair skin, it'll amp up any warmth that's hidden in your porcelain depths.

outfit-wise, i don't have a lot of options from this palette, but more than i did for soft item. i used a deep plum-burgundy top with scarlet trim, because, while it's not tremendously saturated, true autumn can handle a hit or two of colour. the skirt is this very nifty faux suede [that you can put in the laundry!!!!] and both that and the top come from aime com moi. the gladiator sandals are black, which is kind of a no-no, but i love chunky things with this sort of palette. besides, i think it's more than compensated for by the boho hippie backpack. one of the things that i like about all this together is how many textures are going on. you can enlarge the picture to see, but the top is a very rough, lacy material, the skirt is, as mentioned, suede-like, the shoes are leather and the backpack is a nubbly canvas. the transition to fall is marked by the [necessary] shift from light, floaty fabrics to more substantial stuff and one of the things i love is how many options that creates, especially in a mid-tone palette like this, because the contrast that's lacking in colour is made up in fabric.

dark autumn

ah yes, the harbinger of winter, where the coals are still burning, but they've developed a coating of black and ash over the glowing centre. unsurprisingly, this is my favourite of the autumn seasons, since you really have the feeling of the cool weather coming in, chilling the palette just a little and leaving you with colours that are rich and deep and more saturated than the other autumns. the other reason i like it more, of course, is that any of the palettes that touch on winter look better against my complexion.

seriously, tell me this isn't a huge improvement on the previous two.

the eyes ::
le metier de beauté e/s "chameleon" [dirty antique gold]
lmdb e/s "fig" [rich, deep aubergine]
lmdb e/s "fire lily" [bright, shimmery warm pink]
mac e/s "shroom" [frosted oyster beige]
urban decay 24/7 e/l "demolition" [dark cool brown]
guerlain cils d'enfer mascara

the cheeks ::
dior cheek and lip tint [cherry syrup red]
guerlain terra inca radiant powder [rosy tan]*

the lips ::
nars audacious l/s "audrey" [deep currant red]

*suggested alternates :: terra inca = becca rose gold

the addition of winter's cool tends to make colours look like they have a slight grey cast. "chameleon" is an antique rather than a true gold, and i think that the whole palette has a slightly "antique" quality about it. there's nothing crisp and fresh and new, because the range of colours doesn't get lighter than a warm beige.

those who have a dark autumn complexion can fully embrace the typical autumn palette as no one else can. the combination of darker colours with flame accents, the smoky eyes and vampy lips, they all feel right at home here, with just the barest hint of what's to come. this is where you find the rich, rustic, earthy tones combined with the bolder shades from the fall kitchen and the mysterious dark colours that seem to lurk forever in the shadows. in this palette lurks all the wonders of the season, from the multicoloured foliage to the halloween witch.

although the dark autumn person can get away with some black, more so that other autumns, i figured it was best to stay on the fringes and just cheat in a little. so i went for a very dark green/ teal sweater and a gold and black dress underneath. the combination looks less formal than the dress would on its own, because breaking things up with a sweater is awesome. and if the dress portion of this looks familiar, it might be because you watched conversion. it's the same dress i'm wearing for the bulk of the film. it's made from montreal designer kollontai.

i'd be remiss if i didn't mention the ideal nail polish that i'd found to accompany all three autumn looks. it's a-england "briarwood", part of their amazing "sleeping beauty" collection from a couple of years ago. i can't recommend the polishes from this launch highly enough. they are incredible and unique, although "briarwood" may be just a hair ahead of the others. spectacular.

so that's it for the autumn season. as i said, this is really the easy one when it comes to finding autumnal looks. it gets trickier from here. but i shall move on to cover winter, spring and summer and find how each of them can incorporate a fall look into their personal colour palette. stick with me, there's more to come!

p.s. :: i'd like to say a special thank you to my lovely model lulu, who was very excited to pose with me for all the clothing shots. i know she's looking forward to the post on winter seasons, because she's curious to see some higher contrast looks. 


as long as you're here, why not read more?

do you not know what you do not not know?

i've been meaning to get back on the blogging bandwagon for ages but i've been lousy at focusing. i mean, i'm never great at focusing but it's been particularly bad lately. i've also made the horrific mistake of following the news too closely, not just in the last few weeks but in the past several months. i realize now that that isn't healthy. [no pun intended.] my head has been so wrapped up in politics that shifts from moment to moment, half-baked debates about social policy, trying to track what's happening behind the smoke and mirrors of the biggest news stories because we all know that those are the things that are really going to affect how we live. there are few things worse for anxiety than knowing that your dark fears about the chaos of the world are actually pretty close to the truth; and the thrill that comes from being able to say "i told you so" is remarkably short-lived.

however, it's pretty much impossible to deny that we'r…

making faces :: fall for all, part 2 [a seasonal colour analysis experiment]

well, installment one was the easy part: coming up with autumn looks for the autumn seasons. now we move into seasonal colour types that aren't as well-aligned with the typical autumn palette. first up, we deal with the winter seasons: dark, true and bright.

in colour analysis, each "parent" season- spring, summer, autumn, winter- overlap with each other season in one colour dimension- hue [warm/ cool], value [light/ dark] and chroma [saturated/ muted]. autumn is warm, dark and muted [relatively speaking], whereas winter is cool, dark and saturated. so you can see that the points of crossover in palettes, the places where you can emphasize autumn's attributes, is in the darker shades.

it's unsurprising that as fall transitions into winter, you get the darkest shades of all. we've seen the warmer equivalent in the dark autumn look from last time, so from there, as with all neutral seasons, we move from the warmer to the cooler cognate...

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…