A member of my Facebook Group posted a question about wearing fall colors. This member has cool coloring and recently dyed her hair red. With her new hair color, she has found herself drawn to clothing in the rich shades of the autumn palette. Wanting to wear these yellow-based shades, she was curious about how she could do it.

I thought this was a fantastic question to expand upon in a blog post as it’s not uncommon to be drawn to shades that aren’t exactly right for us, particularly when we change our hair color, which majority of women do. I can certainly relate. Being a bottle redhead, I am a spring who wishes I was an autumn. I never stay in the spring lane exclusively and I often borrow from all the seasons.

How to Wear Fall Colors When You Have Cool Coloring

It’s no surprise that most people find themselves drawn to the autumn colors during the fall season. The colors are so rich and vibrant and really evoke the feel of the season. If you are someone who has cool coloring but have a desire to wear the autumn palette, here are some easy ways to do it.

All the seasons are connected

fall colors

When people get their colors analyzed, they tend to focus on the characteristics of their season and that’s it. Even more, many women who get analyzed don’t really understand what the characteristics their season means. When you are certified to analyze colors, like I am, you have to learn and understand the characteristics of all the seasons.

Each season shares something in common with the other seasons. As you will see above, the similarity between autumn and winter is that both palettes are deep. The similarity of between autumn and summer is that both palettes are muted, and warmth, or a yellow-base, is the similarity that is shared between autumn and spring.

Understanding this, if someone had cool based coloring and was looking to wear an autumn palette, I’d make the following suggestions:

  • Winter: Wear deep, rich, vibrant shades
  • Summer: Focus on wearing richer shades that have muted characteristics

Avoid the very yellow-based shades of autumn

There is a whole spectrum of autumn colors, some that are very rich and vibrant and others that are quite yellow-based and dull. For the person with cooler colors, I’d likely steer them away from shades like mustard, camel and golden shades near the face as these types of colors will make a person with cool blue-based coloring look very sallow.

Know the Universal Colors

fall colors

Another thing many people don’t learn when they get their colors analyzed is there are universal colors. These are shades that can be universally worn by all color palettes and are listed above. What makes them universal? Well, if you look at them you will see most have equal parts warm and cool. Teal is a very warm blue, coral has warm and cool, burgundy is a warmer deep red, mid-violet is a warm purple, and watermelon is a warmer pink. Navy is universal because there are so many shades of the color, soft white isn’t stark and is cooler than ivory, and medium-grey is less icy than most greys. Shades like teal, burgundy, violet and coral can be used very successfully when creating autumn-based looks.

Don’t wear true autumn colors near the face

Lastly, keep in mind that colors being flattering has to do with face colors. If you are looking to wear autumn colors and have cooler coloring, concentrate on these tips when choosing the pieces you will wear near your face. Then use the other true autumn shades as accessories or in pieces on the bottom to really enhance the look of an autumn-based outfit.

Autumn colored outfits that look good on people with cool coloring

Here are some examples of outfits using the tips I shared above so you can really see how you can easily apply them.

Outfit #1

fall colors

In this first outfit, I styled this burgundy suede dress from Trina Turk with a navy shrug. I finished the outfit with camel boots from Loeffler Randal, a deep raspberry handbag and burgundy earrings from Talbots.

Not only are the shades of the dress and shrug universal, but they also read as autumn. The boots give it a warmer look but are nowhere near the face. This outfit works for cool coloring but the outfits looks fall.

Outfit #2

This dress is a deep hunter green, a quintessential fall color. But the depth of shade and the fact that it’s actually quite blue-based works perfectly for cooler skin tones. The trick to this outfit was pairing it with autumn colors nowhere near the face.

While a cooler based person would likely avoid the warmer accessories in this outfit and choose cooler based accessories, it’s the burnt orange pumps from Botkier, mustard yellow Coach bag, and colorful necklace gives this outfit a true autumn look.

Outfit #3

This orangey-red look of this sweater immediately reads as autumn but the color is also deep and vibrantly clear, which are two qualities of the winter palette. Yes, it is a yellow-based red but not so yellow that it will make someone with cooler coloring look sallow. Next, using the tip from the last outfit, I styled the rest of the look with very warm, fall looking colors. I added these olive pants from Trave, yellow sneakers from Taos, and teal bag from Chloé.

Outfit #4

Next up, teal, a universal color that is widely considered a quintessential fall shade. It’s not the color itself but how the color is paired that makes it look season-specific. In this outfit I really amped up the fall palette look by styling this teal sweater with brown ankle-length pants from Piazza Sempione (yes, brown is back!), a pair of leopard flats from Boden, olive bag from Rebecca Minkoff and a necklace from Cos that picks up all the colors of the outfit.

Outfit #5

In this look, I used magenta, which is a classic winter shade but one that easily pairs well with warm colors as a pop. I layered this vibrantly colored t-shirt from Madewell under a cardigan in a shade that Eileen Fisher is calling Deep Hemlock. It’s a tricky color that reads as a muted, greyish olive but if you really look at the color there is a lot of blue in it. I know, it’s hard to see from the untrained eye but, trust me, it’s there.

So what is essentially happening with this color is it has the muted characteristics of a fall color but isn’t so yellow based. It’s a great hybrid shade for cool based people looking to wear fall colors. I finished the outfit with charcoal pants, cement colored flats from Gentle Souls, a magenta handbag from See by Chloé and a printed scarf that not only gathers the colors from the outfit but introduces some more shades perfect for people with cooler coloring.

Know the rules…then break them.

As the saying goes, you have to know the rules before you can break them. Having an understanding about wearing your seasonal colors is not meant to be restricting, it’s meant to be liberating. The more you understand about these palettes the more easily you will be able to manipulate them to work for you.