We’ve finally made it to the last of the 12 seasons – and my own personal best season – Dark Winter. There are so many things I love about DW. It takes the icy coolness of winter and adds just a touch of earthy warmth. This results in a sort of smokiness that’s very unique in the 12 seasons. While probably not the overall darkest palette due to the fact that Dark Winter contains some more traditionally Wintery icy and light shades, this palette still goes extremely dark, very bold, and vibrantly rich.
Things that are easy
- Jewel tones
- The somewhat smoky Dark Winter jewel tones like wine red, rich emerald, and deep fuchsia are easy finds for people who wear this season well. DW has one of the easier transitions post-draping for this reason. Many of the deeper DW lipsticks like plum and ruby fall into this “jeweled” category as well, meaning if you’re drawn to those sorts of shades, it’s very easy to incorporate them into your wardrobe quickly. It’s a rare day I can’t walk through a mall and find at least a few DW reds and plums (particularly around the end of the year).
- Dark Winter has a somewhat unique situation in that many darker neutrals work with the palette well. Black is of course a staple, but everything from espresso brown and charcoal to white and lightened taupe can be worked in, as long as they’re cool enough. The fact that darkness is a very important element to this season means that darker colors tend to read as harmonious even if they’re not spot on. I certainly don’t recommend picking up a neutral just because it’s dark, but this season does have a fair bit of fudgeability with neutrals as long as they’re not too warm or unsaturated.
- Winter wear
- In the U.S., many of the colors we associate with our major holiday season (from late November to early January) fall into the Dark Winter wheelhouse. It’s not at all difficult to find a pine green Christmas sweater or a flashy midnight blue New Year’s dress. Outerwear, as well, is often found in shades of magenta, ruby red, or black, which is great news for people who wear this season well. I was able to find a perfectly DW green ski jacket at the end of last season, and living in Wisconsin, it’s one of the most often-showcased pieces in my personal wardrobe.
Things that are hard
- Relying on black
- Black is classic, timeless, and just plain easy. It plays well with the DW palette, and offers the perfect backdrop for a pop of color. Which is why it’s so easy for people who wear DW to fill their entire closets with black. That’s perfectly fine if it makes you feel good (my own closet has loads of black and I’m not sorry about it), but many people come to me for a color analysis to find what OTHER colors work for them. I always encourage people, no matter the season, to explore the reaches of their palette and incorporate things they wouldn’t normally reach for. Fashion should be fun!
- Low-key makeup
- This isn’t necessarily “hard,” but it can take a bit of trial and error to find a version of lighter makeup that works. Many things like golden bronzers, warm brown eyeshadow, and beige lipstick will be too warm or unsaturated to support the strong coloring of a person who lives in DW. This just means switching to berry blush, taupe eyeshadow, or cooler lips to give the same “unfinished” look in more seasonally-appropriate shades.
- Seasonal crossover
- We know by now that every season has a bit of trouble confusing itself with other seasons, and DW is no exception. It’s very easy to find a dark green that’s too soft (Soft Summer), a red that’s too bright (Bright Winter), or a yellow that’s too warm (Dark Autumn) and confuse it with Dark Winter. Swatching with your canvas color book is of course a great way to combat this!
- I have to wear dark clothes
- In some ways, the descriptor words at the beginning of the Neutral seasons can give us some misconceptions about what they actually are. “Dark” might be in the name of Dark Winter, but there are so many beautiful shades in the palette that aren’t dark at all. Think icy aqua, banana yellow, and medium coral. My favorite technique for working these shades into a predominantly dark palette is to try these lighter colors with some of the darker ones at first. Even though it’s lighter, that coral top should still hold its own next to a pair of deep navy leggings. The entire 12-season system is built on the fact that our eyes are able to recognize when certain colors work together, so if it swatches well and looks good with another DW item in your closet, go for it!
My favorite shade
- Me: I don’t have a favorite color
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.