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Help! I'm an Autumn!

This is the third in a series of posts which will introduce you to each of the four seasonal palettes. These posts are written for those who have recently had a personal colour analysis, but will be equally useful if you've been wearing your colours for years and need a burst of fresh inspiration to reboot your colours!

If you don't know anything about colour analysis, now's your time to find out more. Why not learn the basics of the colour analysis process, then pop over to our quiz and find out more about your own seasonal palette.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you've been analysed as an Autumn. But what does that mean, beyond a set of colours that clearly belong to a wood nymph, and a complete lack of neutrals like grey and black? To help you on your way as you begin to explore your palette, we've put together this seasonal palette focus for Autumns to guide you through the early days after your analysis.

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Teach me more about my palette!

Depending on what you've been wearing before, your first glimpse of your new Autumn palette probably had you either giving a huge sigh of relief or shrieking 'I don't have a single thing in those colours!' The second thing you probably did was notice that it contains no obvious shade of grey, navy or black.

Although at first glance the Autumn palette seems a little lacking in neutrals, a second look quickly reveals that you have a host of gorgeously rich, deep neutrals at your disposal - marine navy, rich warm brown, darkest mole and lizard grey all make for effortlessly pulled together base colours for you. And when it comes to accent shades, the sky is the limit. I'll bet that if you look through your wallet you'll find a few favourite colours in there - perhaps the shade of a tshirt or a jumper which always gets you compliments. Just think; now you have a whole palette of colours that look that good on you!

The Autumn palette is warm toned, which means every colour has a yellow undertone. Your colours also have a certain depth to them - think of your yellow undertone being a rich antique gold undertone rather than bright lemon yellow. You have coral rather than pink, mustard rather than lemon, deep teal rather than cornflower blue.

What should I start with?

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Before you start out, it’s worth mentioning that when you’re looking for clothes in your colours, you don’t need to get too hung up on exact matches for your palette. What you want is colours that harmonise with your entire palette – a similar level of warmth, brightness and depth – rather than matching precisely. If you’re feeling stuck, go and look on the Shop by Colour section for your palette. You’ll see that the colours all hang together and harmonise with your palette, even though there are lots of colours that fall in between the shades in your own swatch book.

Now, be brave and get going! Autumns generally look amazing with layered tonal shades – wearing several variations of a colour together rather than pairing high contrast colours from opposite ends of the palette (although you can absolutely play with contrast too!). If you’re already wearing a couple of Autumn colours at a time – say a teal skirt and a cream tee – try adding a third tonal shade, such as a marine navy scarf to really see the magic happen. Observe how the shades play nicely together, pulling your look together and making the whole so much more than the sum of its parts.

Once you’re ready to upgrade a little further, try layering in an extra colour. In the same skirt and tee outfit mentioned above, we might add a lizard grey jacket to keep the tonal feel but adding in a new colour. The best way to plan your outfits is by thinking of a tree in autumn leaf – a range of shades, some tonal, some contrasting, all layered together to create a vibrant beautiful whole.

Is my palette old fashioned?

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Every palette cycles in and out of fashion (Summers seem to have the easiest time of it at the moment), but there are shades in every palette that will feel modern and those that will feel dated at any time.

At the moment, brown has lost favour as a dark neutral – you’re much more likely to come across grey or navy than brown. However, a navy with a hint of teal looks thoroughly modern and makes for a much more interesting outfit than boring old black. Aside from the browns, much of the Autumn palette is actually very current, with mustards, teals, rusts and the lighter coral shades making a huge statement in the fashion world at the moment. I am also a huge fan of lizard grey or mole as an alternative to charcoal – just as modern, but so much more interesting, and more flattering to your skintone.

What about prints?

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Beginning with a print rather than big blocks of colour can be a less intimidating way of getting going with wearing a more than one bright colour at a time. But what if you’re looking at a print and some of the colours aren’t in your palette?

As a rule of thumb, as long as at least half of the print is within your palette, it will be ok, but might not be an absolute wow – if the style is perfect, and you love it though, half is plenty. Once you get over two thirds of the print falling within your palette, no one will even notice the ‘wrong’ colours, as the whole look will tie together. As an Autumn though, it will look best if you try to avoid the most jarring colours for your palette in prints – black, mauve pinks and fuchsia tones can all stand out like a sore thumb and detract from a pulled together look, whereas a splash of a grey that’s a bit too cool or a yelow that’s a bit too lemony isn’t going to detract from a great print.

Of course if you’re lazy, like me, you can just stick to Kettlewell’s prints, all of which have been carefully selected to fit entirely with your palette.

How do I accessorise?

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Accessories are your friend. They can add another layer of texture and colour, which brings that lovely Autumn glow to your skintone. Statement necklaces and scarves can be a great way of incorporating your wow colours into your outfit near your face.

If you’re still feeling alarmed about colour (some Autumns struggle to get out of their comfort zone), go for something like a pompom necklace to add some colour on a neutral background of jeans and a simple cream tee. Once you’ve got your confidence you can upgrade to a bolder coloured scarf and from there the world is your oyster.

I’m worried I won’t look like me

It’s important, once you’ve had your colours done, not to get so fixated on the colour of a garment that you forget to look beyond that. Does it fit well? Does it reflect your personal style? Don’t compromise these things in your excitement at finally finding something in the elusive shade of heliotrope you’ve been hunting for. The aim of colour analysis is to add the power of colour into your own unique personal style, not turn you into a colour clone!

Does everything I wear need to harmonise with my palette?

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The answer is both yes and no. If you only want your face to look good, your eyes to sparkle and your skin to glow, then by all means worry only about your t-shirts, scarves, jumpers, dresses, jackets… (actually, this list gets pretty long once we consider all the items of clothing that actually reach up to your neck).

But if you want to maximise the other amazing benefit of colour analysis – that of a wardrobe where everything goes, and makes you look effortlessly put together without trying – you’ll need to make the leap and start to move your entire wardrobe over to one that sits fully within your palette. If that sounds a little daunting, just think how wonderful it would be to pull out a top and a bottom and know that they will look great together, or to be able to mix and match your clothes for a completely new look without having to face that ‘ugh’ moment when that moss green boxy top looks cheap and tacky next to black culottes. And it doesn’t need to be an instant massive job, just gradually replace clothes with better colours as they wear out.

Still worried?

In case that all felt like a lot and you’re still wobbling, here’s five straightforward tips to get you started right now:

  1. Note your neutrals – start to switch your basics over to these colours.
  2. Add a splash – however you do it, get into the habit of adding a splash of colour to your outfit.
  3. Don’t fear lipstick! A warm peachy nude will add a little brightness and polish, but take the plunge with bold reds and corals too.
  4. Prints charming – experiment with prints if single blocks of colour feel too much.
  5. Don’t lose your style – use colour to enhance your personal style, not diminish it.

Maureen Cosgrove on Mar 24, 2021 5:29 AM

This article is brilliant it has given me so much to think about., I feel quite excited about doing a re-vamp in my wardrobe.

Margret Zachariassen on Aug 09, 2020 3:20 PM

Thanks for this very helpful blog. I was diagnosed Autumn 30 years ago. I've recently discovered KW, which is extremely helpful now that I realize that I've lost my track! I have several black and a single grey items:-(. I blame it on trends in Denmark, where I live.

Barbara on Aug 08, 2018 2:44 PM

A great series of posts and a timely reminder with the new season approaching. A good point about lipstick.

Marie on Jul 27, 2018 4:00 PM

Thanks for a fantastic article Jo. I'm still learning how to get the best from my wonderful autumn palette. Your advice helps take my approach to new levels. I love Kettlewell, especially the xs range and am growing in confidence around combining textures and shades.

Caro on Jul 25, 2018 4:13 PM

What a great article for Autumns! As a Summer many of the principles apply, going with the softly blended rather than the high contrast shades. However, I would disagreed that Summers are having an easy time of it now: the pinks are far too coral/salmon based, and the yellows, turquoise and aquas seem more Winter/Spring oriented and appear not to be my colours. However, a denim jacket, a soft white or grey T and a beautiful orchid mauve-pink Florence scarf have been my go-to’s this season for feeling $1 million.

Keep up the great blogs!

Sue Walker on Jul 25, 2018 11:52 AM

A great, very helpful article even for those of us who have been wearing "our" colours for years. Only one thing missing - links to the Kettlewell clothes and accessories shown would be good!

Kettlewell Colours: The images were prepared for illustrative purposes as many of the items shown are out of stock now the sale is on and the new season will be launched at the beginning of September. We didn't want to disappoint customers clicking though to the website from out of stock links. Apologies!