When I describe your best colors to you, I use words like “muted”, “soft”, “pure”, “bright” and so on… assuming you understand what I mean. Based on your comments and questions to me, I realize that not everyone was trained in fine arts and doesn’t know what I mean. So, thought this post would help clear up some confusion and help you understand what colors to look for when shopping for yourself.

Ask Jen: What's the difference between soft, muted, bright and light colors?

Pure Colors

The first column of colors are pure colors. These are colors that have no other color added to them to darken or lighten them. They are pure. Pure / Bright / Clear seasons can wear the pure bright colors. I’m showing the primary colors above – red, blue and yellow. If you mix pure yellow and pure red, you would get pure orange. Adding pure blue to pure red creates pure purple. These colors are hues. You can change the hue without changing the “value”.

The seasons that can best wear pure colors are:

  • Pure Spring (aka Clear or Bright Spring)
  • Pure Autumn (aka Warm Autumn)
  • Pure Summer (aka Cool Summer)
  • Pure Winter (aka Clear or Bright Winter)

Tinted Colors

The second column of colors are tinted colors. These colors are created by adding white to the pure colors. This creates light tints of the original color. Adding white lightens the color and also softens it a bit. You can see how red starts to become pink. Blue looks more like a periwinkle. Yellow is light. The more white you add, the lighter the hue. This is how you create pastels. Tinted colors only have white added to them. There is no black or grey added. They are tinted true colors.

The seasons that can best wear tinted colors are:

  • Tinted Spring (aka Light Spring)
  • Tinted Autumn (aka Soft Autumn Light)
  • Tinted Summer (aka Light Summer)
  • Tinted Winter (aka Cool Winter)

Toned Colors

Toned colors are muted colors. These are colors that have grey added to them. This is the third column in the example above. Notice how the colors cool down a bit when grey is added. They get slightly darker, softer and cooler. A toned or muted yellow becomes light olive green. A toned or muted red becomes a soft mauve-red. Toned colors look best on a toned or soft season. Light and bright colors are too bright for you. And toned colors on Pure and Light seasons will drain them of color.

The seasons that can best wear toned colors are:

  • Toned Spring (aka Soft Spring)
  • Toned Autumn (aka Soft Autumn Deep)
  • Toned Summer (aka Soft Summer Light)
  • Toned Winter (aka Deep Winter Soft)

Shaded Colors

Shaded colors are colors that have black added them. This is the fourth column in the example above. Black darkens the color. Shaded colors look best on shaded seasons. They need the deep rich tones to balance out their deep hair or eyes. Adding black to a pure hue will mute and deepen the color. This is why you may hear me say a deep autumn wears rich deep and muted colors.

The seasons that can best wear shaded colors are:

  • Shaded Spring (aka Warm Spring)
  • Shaded Autumn (aka Deep Autumn)
  • Shaded Summer (aka Soft Summer Deep)
  • Shaded Winter (aka Deep Winter)

If you already know your season, take the guess work out of shopping and order your color fan.

Hope this helps!


PS. Are you ready to know what your season is? Sign up for my personal seasonal color analysis today!