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Does your season change as you age?

How does your season change as you age? Do you become a different season when your hair goes grey? How about when your skin gets more translucent? Do you start life as one season then change as you grow up? This topic comes up a lot. In fact, I rarely get a client who doesn't ask about it in some form.

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The short answer is no. The season you are born with is the one you'll have with you for life. The long answer is, well, longer. There are several issues that interact to occasionally produce a client who has been analysed as two different seasons at different times:

  1. Different colour analysis systems - every colour analysis system works under broadly similar ideas, but the specifics of each system are slightly different, so someone on the cusp of one season in one system might just fall into a different season under another system - I have seen Spring palettes that incorporate some colours that to my training are Autumn and Winter colours, Summer palettes that are broader or narrower than the ones I use, and so on. There are pros and cons to each type of analysis system, and some people like to try more than one analyst or system before truly committing to their palette. The thing to remember is that having palette of colours that makes you look and feel amazing and mixes and matches is the goal here, and a good analysis system will provide that.
  2. Improved analysis techniques - The fact is that analysis techniques have evolved over the years, so if you had your colours analysed twenty years ago, then had another analysis this year, it might be found that your initial analysis was incorrect because of the limitations of the process at the time of the original analysis. This doesn't mean that your season has changed, rather than the new systems are better at picking up people who are right on the edge of the season, and making sure they are in the right place. This can be difficult for clients to process, as your season can become a defining part of you, so if this happens to you, spend time with your consultant working out which garments from your 'old' wardrobe will still work and harmonise, and which ones shouldn't be there.
  3. Being analysed wrongly in the first place - of course, as well as changes in systems, it is possible that a first analysis was just plain incorrect. As before, this might have been down to limitations of the system at the time you were analysed, or simple consultant error. These errors are now vanishingly rare, as consultant training processes become more standardised, thorough and professional, but everyone is human and past and present consultants have been known to make a mistake. If you have any doubts about your own analysis, your first step should be to contact your own consultant. Ask them to walk you through the process again, maybe take a friend along to see if they 'see' the right result as well. Do what it takes to reassure yourself about your diagnosis - you have to live with it for a long time!
  4. Changing colour preferences (confidence/style changes) - sometimes we feel that as we age we need to leave certain (usually brighter and/or darker) colours behind us, and stick with a more limited palette. Think of the traditional 'old lady' colours - while fewer and fewer older people are sticking to them, the fact is that most of us turn to a narrower, less bold set of colours as we age. Again, I would encourage a visit to a consultant if you feel that you are narrowing your colour options. Go through, look at your palette, decide whether your abandonment of bolder colours is because they genuinely are harder to wear now, or whether actually society is telling you that you ought to be dressing a certain way, and you'd be much happier ignoring that particular bit of advice.

HOWEVER. Having said all of that, it is a fact that our skin tone does change as we age. But if it doesn't change season, then what does it do?

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You will either have been told by your consultant, or come to your own conclusion, that a certain area of your palette looks best on you, whether it is the darkest colours, the brightest, the softest, the warmest. This means that you will fall into one particular 'type' of season (for a summary of the different types of season, have a look at these SpringSummerAutumn and Winter blog posts). As we age, the one change that can start to happen is that the changing level of contrast in skintone, softening of hair colour, reduction in pigment throughout hair, eyes, lips and skin, can actually shift which part of a seasonal palette looks the best. So someone who was originally analysed as a jewel/true Winter might find that actually as they've got older that they need the even lighter and brighter Sprinter Winter palette, or perhaps a True/Paintbox Spring needs the additional warmth and slight softness of the Golden/Warm Spring colours. The only way to know for definite how your palette has shifted is to go through it again with your consultant, but many people can get a feel for the area of palette they are drawn to as they get older. Be sure you are looking at the most flattering colours though, not just losing confidence with your palette!

Items shown:

Silky V neck, Bella trousers and Florence Infinity Scarf - all from Kettlewell

Jane Whittaker on May 18, 2021 7:30 PM

Question - if you were analysed as a soft summer can you move with age to your neighbour soft autumn ? Or do you only move within your original season so to true or light summer ?

Edda Whiteside on Oct 17, 2020 4:59 PM

I had my colours done a couple of year’s ago and am now going for a rerate, as my hair is now silver/champagne blonde. But then it crossed my mind, your hair is covered when you have your colour’s done 🤔

Judith R Napier on Aug 19, 2020 8:10 PM

I have realized there are many colors on the pallette I have. Not just the oranges, etc. There are blues, reds and many others for autumns like me. So I'm going to check my pallette out on a different end of it.

Mary Lauer on Dec 28, 2019 5:35 PM

I think the situation is a mix of aging and modern changes to color analysis systems. I have bright blue green eyes, olive skin and brown hair. I was analyzed by CMB in 1985 using the original 4 season system and later in 1991 using the new 12 season system. Both results were Spring and 2 different analysts noted I looked better in brights, pale in lights, and so-so in neutrals. The new Clear Spring palette required me to make a complete wardrobe change as it is closer to Winter. My hair is natural level 5, which is light brown, but chemical perms lightened me to dark blonde. I think the analysts were wrong in not covering my hair during drapings because it wasn't tinted. I just had a Sci/Art draping this year with my hair covered and I was BW! Not surprising because it is close to Clear or Bright Spring. We found that BSp colors weren't saturated enough for me and they made my skin more yellow than it is. Ever since menopause and graying hair arrived, I became aware that the predominant yellow colors of Bsp weren't working and the palette seemed too light overall. My husband said so too. I'm tinting my hair level 5 now, so my hair looks dark. If I had my gray hair back, the Spring palette would be awkward. It sure wouldn't fit my skintone. I'd be wearing only medium gray and bright navy as neutrals. Oranges, rust, golden yellows and peaches of Spring do no favors to gray hair in my opinion. Staying in a limited range of colors in that season became unbearable. As a BW, I have many cool and neutral colors that will suit graying hair and skin as I age.

Trisha on Dec 23, 2018 9:03 AM

From personal experience, I know you can change seasons with age. I used to have very dark olive (almost black) eyes and darkest brown hair with a warm tone. Hence I was diagnosed as a deep autumn many years ago, by several different colour and style companies. During my late fifties, my hair went more grey and now it is dyed mid golden brown with highlights in summer. My eyes have faded to a mid grey tone with yellow and eye ops for lenses implants (done for medical reasons) have left them bright and clear looking, when I always had dense, dark eyes before! My pale ivory skintone has remained the same. When I realised the deep olive tones no longer suited me, got re diagnosed and came out as a bright spring. Now I wear a completely different palette of colours, lighter and brighter mixed with greys and navys rather than browns and rusts I wore before, even bright pinks and reds.

Janice Clarke on Oct 11, 2018 8:03 PM

I find all this very confusing! I have always been an Autumn, based largely on my auburn hair colour, as Susan says.

It is now rapidly going grey, if not white, and I can see if I decide (as I am considering) not to continue with the helping hand of hair dye, then the Autumn colours in my wardrobe will no longer be appropriate.

But I have no idea now what colours would be appropriate?!

Kettlewell Colours: We wrote a blog post about this a while ago which might help. You can read it here: https://www.kettlewellcolours.co.uk/blog/jo/does-your-season-change-as-you-age

Melina on Mar 14, 2017 1:29 PM

I really don't get where this persistent myth that you change seasons as you gae has come from - for me it's just plain sense and more than obvious that it's not the case! So I agree with the article, only that I'm not convinced one changes subseasons either (like from True Winter into a Bright Winter... You can just maybe be drawn towards a little bit different section in your own palette (e.g. lighter colours), that's all.

Jo @ Kettlewell Colours on Oct 22, 2016 12:35 PM

Hi Marion, the best way to be certain is to visit your consultant to get your colours looked and your best colours within your season reassessed, but there's definitely no need to abandon your favourites! If they feel a bit much right up under your chin, go for cardigans with a softer colour top layered underneath or a lighter coloured scarf to soften things right next to your face.

Marion Salmon on Oct 09, 2016 2:03 PM

I have been happily Warm for many years with golden mouse hair and amber eyes and yellow skin tone. But now my hair has not gone conventionally grey , but rather a lighter antique gold sort of colour (I swim a lot) Should I give up my Orange and deep teal in favour of softer , lighter shades?

Gillian on Oct 08, 2016 11:17 PM

reading the article about the changes in colour assesment. I was told over 20 years ago that I was a summer. so that is what I bought.I started to feel "wrong" and was analysed again to find I am a golden spring. now i feel much happier but this is not with out it's problems, a whole change of clothing and jewellry.

Sally French on Oct 05, 2016 11:23 PM

I can't really agree with yr comment abt eye colour, Susan Leitch.

Before I had my colours done, I always imagined I could wear olive green because I have greeny hazel eyes (my mum's hazel was greyer). In fact I look heaps better in clear colours. Strong bottle green, emerald but defo NOT olive!

mary on Oct 05, 2016 1:47 PM

To the lady who bought the olive top: brown or olive or black trousers will go with your olive top. Unless someone else has a better suggestion for you. Good luck!

Kettlewell Colours on Sep 26, 2016 3:44 PM

Judith - you can check out our Colour Combination pages on the website under All About Colour which might help. If you need advice about anything, you can post to us on our Facebook page (if you do Facebook) or we try to answer questions here. I will pass on your suggestion for a problem page!

Sharon on Sep 26, 2016 11:14 AM

I totally get the need to shift through your palette as you get older. I can handle contrast much better near my face as I get older and am now drawn to the 'brighter' side of the Summer palette.

Judith Makoff on Sep 24, 2016 8:21 PM

This probably has nothing to do with your blog, but I don't know where else to post it!

I'd LOVE to see advice about how to put certain colours together. For instance....last year I bought a lovely wrap and matching long-sleeved square neck top, because I liked the colour. Now, however, I find I have no idea what to put them with: I don't want to wear them together because they're too dark and the colour needs a lift. But I can't find something in my wardrobe which will look good with the dark olive wrap, or top. There must be other customers our there who've bought almost on impulse and are now rather flummoxed, colourwise....or am I the only disorganised, scatty woman out there? How about a 'Problem Page' for people like me to ask advice about putting looks together? I'm sure that would go down well!

K. Janke on Sep 23, 2016 12:08 PM

I am a sultry winter and I love the idea that I will grow into a bright winter as I age. My consultant, Gilly, really took the fear out of ageing by explaining that. And especially the worry about root touch up etc. because she is a great example of looking great with your graying hair.

S. Goodliffe on Sep 21, 2016 7:10 PM

if we need a second colour check do we get a discount? !

Susan Leitch on Sep 21, 2016 12:49 PM

In times past I've always taken into account eye, skin and hair colour of a client in order to ascertain their season so if their hair is the largest area of colour then changing that will make a big difference to what they suit - and in some cases, including myself, change their season entirely. I know different companies work things out differently but I really truly believe that the season you're born with being the season you stay with is inaccurate advice. I've also seen clients whose skin tone has changed from cool too warm as more yellow skin tones have come with age - not that unusual. One thing I do think always works is that everyone can wear their eye colour - that simple piece of advice seems helpful to me. Anyway, love your site and colours and it's always good to get people thinking about colour - I just don't think your colour consultant is quite accurate.