Dark Autumn has this rich, spicy, delicious quality that’s actually sort of difficult for me to put into words. The palette has sort of a blackened, smoky undertone that makes it one of the darkest seasons overall. It’s not quite as warm as True Autumn, meaning the plums and burgundies have a touch more blue, and it’s not quite as cool as Dark Winter, meaning the golds and oranges retain some of that earthiness we see elsewhere in the Autumn family. This season has such a unique mix of warmth, clarity, and darkness that one can’t help but be drawn in.
Things that are easy
- “Fall” clothing
- Dark Autumn colors burst onto the scene as soon as the first “back to school” ads start running. We so strongly associate wine red, dark brown, and deep navy with the colder months of the year that it can be hard for other seasons to find things when autumn begins! Even the fabrics that are so popular when it’s chilly outside (chunky knits, wool, velvet) carry these rich, deep shades so well that you really can’t blame designers for choosing DA time and again.
- Bold makeup
- It’s Dark Autumn’s unique combination of warm-neutral undertones and medium softness that makes statement makeup so easy for this season. A deep maroon lip? Done. Shimmery golden shadow? Perfect. Peachy, candlelight-inspired highlighter… you see where I’m going with this. I have a lot of personal feelings about makeup trends and how they affect the way we look at our faces, but the fact is that these lovely, bold, “perfect-for-fall” makeup looks often work really well for Dark Autumn.
- Wide appeal
- I regularly find Dark Autumn shades when shopping for my infant son, two school-age daughters, my partner, and myself. These colors are very popular right now, and while we still have a long way to go as a society in terms of who is “allowed” to wear what colors, I’m encouraged to find certain colors having wider appeal than they have in the past. I’m looking forward to the day we can find even more colors in even more departments, but for now, Dark Autumns rejoice!
Things that are hard
- Light neutrals
- Dark Autumn has the darkest “lights” in the 12 seasons. Being warmer rather than cooler means ivories are preferable to versions of white, though the slight hint of Winter’s coolness and clarity means that many yellowish, bright ivories will be too warm or too clear. DA ivory has a very slight touch of pink, peach, or yellow, and is just a bit softened, reminiscent of candlelight. Other lighter neutrals such as sandy tan and light cocoa brown are certainly around, but must be carefully swatched to avoid accidentally picking up a Spring or True/Soft Autumn neutral.
- Mid-range softness
- The chroma level of Dark Autumn is somewhat unique in the 12 seasons. The Autumn family is considered “soft” overall, but being on the border of Winter, which is considered a “bright” family, means that Dark Autumn is the brightest of the Autumns. This sort of not-quite-bright-not-quite-soft quality can be confusing, particularly when starting to curate a DA wardrobe. Too soft can push a color into Soft or True Autumn, too bright can push it into Dark Winter or even Bright Spring. Once again, swatching with your color fan is the best way to ensure the proper level of clarity in your clothing.
- Getting stuck
- Falling into a rut in which you constantly purchase the same colors is of course possible in every season. For Dark Autumn, it can be very easy to fill a closet with wine reds, olive greens, and black because it’s easy. Even if these colors are perfect, I always encourage DAs to explore some of the less frequently talked about shades in the palette, such as lapis, mustard yellow, and muted coral. These colors so beautifully complement the more well-known shades, meaning it’s easy to work them in.
- It’s only for the colder months
- I often get asked questions along the lines of “I’m a [Season with a capital S], what colors should I wear in [season with a lowercase s]?” For example, “I’m a Dark Autumn, what colors should I wear in the summer?” I totally understand that certain colors make us think of certain times of the year, and for some people, they prefer to stick to this formula. That’s totally valid and I support that wholeheartedly. To them I say, find the lighter/brighter end of your palette, which everyone has, and stick to those colors in the warmer months. For others, they don’t particularly care what colors one is “supposed” to wear at certain times of the year, and just want to wear what works for them and makes them happy. That’s also valid and I also support this wholeheartedly. To them I say, wear midnight blue and brick red in the summer! If you’re happy and confident, that’s the most important thing.
My favorite shade
- This stunning Dark Autumn yellow shade is so bold and rich. It reminds me of delicious spicy food and late autumn leaves.
All photos credited to Colorgeek Studio, LLC unless otherwise noted. Photos are meant to evoke the feelings associated with each season, and are not guaranteed for seasonal accuracy due to variations in lighting and screen resolution.