How to Dress in Winter as a Light Season

by | Mar 3, 2019 | Refine Your Style, Seasonal Color Palette | 0 comments

Do you feel frumpy and like you look dull during winter months? You just might be a light season. The best winter colors for you are those that harmonize with your own personal coloring and not work against it. The Winter color palette is dominated by dark neutrals and bright, pure colors like true red, cobalt blue, and forest green. Although these colors are lovely on people who are actually Winters, they diminish the looks of those that have much lighter or softer coloring. You can find out your season by taking the quiz at the end of the post. How to dress in winter colors when you’re a light season? Knowing the best winter colors for you really comes down to knowing your color palette, your value, and your color quality. Once you know that, you just need to choose the styles and textures that work best for the winter season.

Winter colors

Know Your Color Palette

They key to making your color palette work for you, is remembering that it’s a tool. Your seasonal color palette is only a small sampling of the colors that work great for you. It shows you the type of colors that are best for you (like light and bright or cool and soft) and then you use it to test for like colors when you’re deciding what to wear. Once you know your seasonal color palette, it’s really easy to adjust for seasons outside of your own.

Each palette will have an overall value of lightness, darkness or somewhere in between; however, every palette does have darker and lighter colors within it. As a light season, your overall palette will be light to medium with a few medium dark colors in it. One method for feeling “right” in your clothing in Winter months, is to choose the darker spectrum of your colors. Staying within your value range will help you blend with the season while still shining brightly.

As you can see in the pictures below, my own personal palette (and closet) is really light and bright. During the Winter, I mainly base my wardrobe palette around my eye color (the sweater pictured on right with my palette) and also use my dark neutrals more often than in other seasons.

Winter colors           Winter colors

Know Your Value

Although you’ll often want to stay on the darker end of your color palette during winter months, you want to be sure not to go too dark. As a person with overall light coloring, you are typically not very contrasted. Meaning the difference between your hair color and skin color isn’t very different. This is called low value contrast. When you personally have a low value contrast, the clothes you wear should also be low contrast. So you don’t want to wear black pants and a white sweater – that much contrast works for Snow White, but not for you. Instead, pair darker bottoms with a medium value sweater and pair a light sweater with medium value pants. (post on value contrast, if you’d like more detail). For most light seasons, the key is to stay at a lower contrast. Along with the right pairings, you can also think about minimizing the amount of darker colors by using scarves, cardigans, or jackets to break up the darkness and provide an overall lighter affect.

winter color palette

Know Your Color Quality

Each season has a quality of color to look for. I call this color quality, but in the art world, this would be referred to as chroma. Not to get too technical, but chroma is defined as the quality of a color’s purity, intensity or saturation. In a nutshell, it’s the tone of the color when combined or mixed. So, you take a pure color like red, and then change the quality or tone by mixing it. Red mixed with water or white is tinted. Red mixed with brown is toasted (toned) and with black is shaded. Red mixed with its complement (green) becomes grayed, making the color quality soft.

shades of red

Which tone of a color, like red, that you should wear depends on your coloring. The Lightest seasons are soft and tinted, but can also have a mix of color qualities. For instance Soft Autumn is a mix of soft and toasted. Keeping to your color quality in the winter months, will help you feel more at home in your winter outfits. A soft Autumn would stay with soft and warm colors while a Soft Summer would stay in the soft and cool realm. Light Springs and Light Summers are both fairly neutral, so they should stay bright (or tinted) and neutral. 

winter colors

Choose the Right Textures and Styles

Not all colors look “right” in the Winter unless worn with the right texture and style. You can buy a down jacket, fleece sweatshirt, plaid shirt or turtleneck sweater in any color and still look like you’re wearing a winter color palette. Jackets are a necessity in Winter, but are often in dark colors. Instead of choosing black, try your best dark neutral, which might be navy or green as it will work better with your color palette. Better yet, go for a jacket closer to your hair color. My favorite winter jacket is my light and bright gray down jacket as it goes with everything I own and keeps my outfit in a light value range. My dark neutral, navy jacket, has a fur hood that is more of a taupe and relates to my hair. If you live in a true winter climate, you might opt for a third jacket in one of your fun accent colors. I love my light turquoise jacket as it really gets me noticed on a snowy day!

winter outfit ideas

If you’re wondering how I find winter textures and styles in my lighter colors, I have to say that it isn’t always easy and patience is key. Each year and each season you will find different colors to be the focus in all of the stores and it won’t necessarily work for you. I found both my plaid shirts and half of my fleece sweatshirts through thrifting. They came from ThredUp, an online thrift store, with pages and pages of merchandise (post about thrifting online). Since it’s used clothing, it’s a combination of years and seasons. Therefore, you’ll find more variety in the colors available than what you’ll find in stores. If thrifting isn’t your thing, then you will definitely need more patience. Spring and Summer colors start to come out in mid-January, so that’s a great time to shop for Winter styles, but in your colors. 

What are your tips and tricks for dressing during the winter months? I’d love to hear how you “do” Winter in the comments!

Ready to refine your style?

If you feel like you’re stuck in a fashion rut, then a capsule wardrobe might be a great place to start in order to gain confidence and refine your wardrobe. Check out my favorite, Outfit Formulas®, and pick a capsule that best fits your lifestyle.