Warm Vs Cool Colors In Seasonal Color Analysis

Cool vs Warm Colors Seasonal Color Analysis

One of the most confusing bits about seasonal color analysis is the distinction between warm and cool colors. Most people can quickly tell if somebody is bright/clear or muted, and light and dark are also quite obvious. But warm vs cool always feels more difficult, particularly since most people will be warm or cool but not on the extremes.

So what is the difference between warm and cool colors? And why does a warm seasonal palette have cool blues or does a cool seasonal palette includes warm yellows?

Warm And Cool Colors In The Color Wheel

Let’s take a look at the color wheel:

Color Wheel Cool vs Warm Colors

Traditionally, the primary color list of cool colors includes greens, blues, and violets (to the left of the color wheel) whereas the list of warm colors includes reds, yellows, and oranges (to the right of the color wheel).

However, that is not exactly accurate. There are warm and cool purples and cooler and warmer reds. Most seasons will have at least one of those colors, regardless of their warmth level.

How is this possible?

There is no universally agreed warmest or coolest color, but most people will place the coolest color in the blue area, and the orange on its opposite side as the warmest color. Another frequent warm/cool color split is along the line that goes from purple to its opposite color, yellow.

However, within each color or hue WARM and COOL are relative concepts.

How Do We Tell If A Color Is Cool Or Warm?

A color is cool or warm based on how close to the warm or cool side of the spectrum we consider it to be.

  • Vermillion Red Is a Very Warm Red
  • Pure Red
  • Scarlet Red Is a Cool Red

A cool season looking for a lipstick would avoid Vermillion red, and choose Scarlet red instead. Pure red is neutral temperature-wise, so depending on the brightness and lightness level it would work for almost anybody.

When a color is muted, it is greyed out by adding the color opposite on the color wheel. This makes warm muted colors cooler than their pure hue warm versions. Muted cool colors are warmer than brighter versions for this same reason. The Soft Summer palette reads as warmer than the cool summer palette for this reason.

Is Black A Cool Or Warm Color?

Pure, absolute black is generally perceived as a cool color. This is why only Winters look actually good in black. However, there are many other colors that most people would call black, and some are warmer than others.

For example, a very deep red may read as black to the casual eye, but it will read as a warmer black (suitable for a Deep Autumn).

Is White A Cool or Warm Color?

Similarly to black, pure optic white reads as a cool color, a very high contrast cool color that can only be found on the Winter palette. However, there are many colors such as cream, eggshell, or light vanilla that read almost as white when born by a warm season such as the Light Spring.

Many seasons don’t have anything as dark or as light as black and white on their palettes, because their darkness/lightness levels are not so extreme. However, most seasons will have at least one blackish color or a whiteish color as part of their neutrals. It may be ecru or it may be called charcoal black, but they are there.

Warm vs Cool Colors in Seasonal Color Analysis

Most seasonal color analysis systems consider yellow as a warm shade color and blue as a cool color. This is because warm skin tone usually reads as golden/yellow whereas cooler skin reads as blue. A golden, peachy blush is a Spring blush, whereas a cool-skinned person will have a red or pink blush depending on their color level.

In the case of people of color, we need to keep in mind the red undertones on people with very dark skin. For example, Alek Wek looks stunning in cool shades colors and jewel-like winter colors. Her skin’s cool undertones are not yellow, they are red. Golden or yellow-based makeup would look strange on her. For this reason, it is a cool season. Beyonce, on the other hand, has a golden glow which means she is in a warm season. Not all dark-skinned people will have blue undertones.

Even the cool palettes (Cool Winter and Cool Summer) have yellows. They are just the cool yellows in the spectrum.

Cool Summer and Cool Winter Yellows

Compare them with the Warm Spring and Warm Autumn yellows

Warm Spring And Warm Autumn Yellows

Which are much more golden/orange.

The same happens with blues:

True Spring, True Summer, True Autumn, and True Winter blues

The Autumn palette has fewer blues than the Summer and Winter ones, but even Warm Autumn has a version of this color. It’s just very warm.

Most seasons in 12-season color analysis systems will be neutral, so not entirely warm or cool. If you suit both warm and cool colors, your next step is deciding what is more important to you:

  • Can’t wear light or dark colors at all (You may be a Deep or a Light Season)
  • Can’t wear pure hues or soft, muted colors (You may be either a Soft or a Clear season)

The best way to compare warm vs cool colors in the color analysis is by comparing them with other colors you have already identified. If your season’s coloring requires colors to be very warm or very cool compare a potential new color to your color pallets and you will see right away.

Tips for Incorporating Warm and Cool Colors into Your Outfits

Incorporating warm and cool colors into your fashion choices can greatly impact your overall look and feel.

Mixing and Matching Warm and Cool Colors

Use neutral colors as a base, like black, white, gray, or beige. For cool tones, add blue, green, or purple accessories. Complementary colors, such as orange & blue or red &green, can create a bold look. Choose a dominant color based on the occasion and message you want to convey. Add warm colors like orange, red, and yellow to clothing or accessories. Consider color analysis and undertones for a cohesive and flattering outfit.

Accessorizing with Warm and Cool Colors

Choosing an accent color can make a significant impact when it comes to accessorizing with warm and cool colors. An accent color stands out against the main color scheme and draws attention to a specific area or item. For instance, adding a cool-toned scarf or jewelry to a neutral, warm-toned outfit can create a striking contrast and add visual interest to your look. Color combinations are also crucial when accessorizing warm and cool colors.

Mixing warm and cool colors can create a visually appealing contrast and add depth to your outfit. Cooler colors, particularly shades of blue and green, can make an outfit more calm yet sophisticated. When accessorizing with cooler colors, consider adding metallic accents like silver or gold to add glamour to your look.

Understanding the contrast between warm and cool colors is critical for seasonal color analysis. Following the tips in this guide, you can create a wardrobe that flatters your skin tone. Feel free to experiment with different colors and styles until you find what works best for you.

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