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Crossover colours 101

If you've shopped at Kettlewell before, you'll probably have noticed that many (maybe even the majority) of the colours available are coded for more than one season. But if you've had a colour analysis, you'll have been told that it's the slight shifts in the balance of blue and yellow tones or relative brightness that affect which seasonal palette a colour belongs to. So how can it be so precise, yet some colours can work with more than one season?

In order to understand how colours can cross over between seasons, it is important to visualise all four seasons as a continuous spectrum of colour, rather than four distinct blocks of colours that are entirely unrelated. Each season abuts the next - for instance, Spring's bright yellows become more and more golden as they move towards Autumn, and at some almost indistinguishable point, you have shifted from the most golden of Spring's yellow's into the brightest of Autumn's yellows. And so it goes for every single colour in all the palettes. This means that at the point around the 'line' between seasons, you have almost identical colours, one belonging to one season, one belonging to its nearest neighbours. In reality, the naked eye cannot distinguish between these almost-identical colours, and there is very little difference in how these colours will look on a person belonging to either season. Of course, some colours are so definitively in their season that there is no other palette that they work with. The full spectrum approach works here too - if a colour is as far away as possible from any other season, there is no potential for a crossover colour.

The result is that with these colours that are just not the cusp of the seasonal dividing line it becomes more about how to make the colours 'look' like they belong in the appropriate season than the effect on the skin, as the difference is so minimal. The way we make a colour appear as if it belongs in a season is by wearing it in a way that works for that season:

Spring - contrasting colours, neutrals with a pop of colour, plenty of splash.

Summer - tonal colours worn in elegant harmony, not too much variation between lightest and darkest within an outfit.

Autumn - A medley of rich colours, like the leaves on a tree in autumn.

Winter - high contrast, mixing light and dark, neutrals with brights.

In the image above, you can see that Kerry Green works on only one season. This is because, as mentioned, it is so far away from Autumn's moss and olive, Summer's jade or Winter's bold emerald and pine that it belongs solely to Springs.

Navy, however, has two seasonal friends. It falls somewhere on that deep, cool toned spectrum between Summer and Winter, and as such can be worn by both. You can see, however, that it looks very different paired with high contrast colours and brights for Winters than worn in a tonal way for Summers.

Moving on to the next level, some colours actually work for three seasons, such as Aubergine. Looking at the four seasonal palettes as a spectrum, there has to be a point where three, or even four, of these palettes are within touching distance. See how Aubergine blends perfectly with the Summer and Autumn palettes, but offers the opportunity for high contrast and bold tones with the Winter one.

And of course, you get the odd colour that actually works on all four seasons. Universal four season colours are fairly rare, but there are a few. True red is the one often used as an example in a colour analysis, but there are a small handful of others (particular shades of red, grey, teal and purple). These colours can be styled to work for all four seasons, making them a great choice if you haven't yet had a colour analysis and want to add some bold colours to your wardrobe. If you want to know more about universal colours, here's a whole blog post on the subject.

Gillian on Nov 02, 2016 6:26 PM

Are there any spring colours that cross over? I was told the cinnamon was one of my top colours but I think of it as autum. Thank you.

Kettlewell Colours on Oct 17, 2016 9:30 AM

Read this blog post - this might explain it!

Jayne Smith on Oct 14, 2016 3:25 PM

I always thought Turquoise was a universal colour. I am an autumn and it suits me and a friend is a summer and she looks great in it ?