The Beauty of the Unexpected

May 14, 2014 | Body Line Analysis

I get asked all the time about “unusual” combinations of Season and Image Archetype. The first thing I want to say to you on this topic is: there are no mistakes in nature. Every combination of Season and Image Archetype exists on this planet, in droves no less, and each is perfect. That said, from the origin of color analysis there has been a tendency to associate certain styles with certain Seasons, beginning at least as far back as Suzanne Caygill and her “lines of becomingness” for each season. Even in shops, designers who don’t know anything about color analysis seem to make an especially abundant quantity of certain styles in certain colors.
Perhaps at one point in history, when gene pools were less mixed, these stereotypes lined up, though I kind of doubt it. It doesn’t take a week as a color analyst to see that not every Autumn is a YangN Pocahontas, nor every Summer a soft and gentle Romantic, nor every Spring a perky Gamine, or Winter a Dramatic Morticia Addams. That may be the most literal design interpretation of the colors, but if the body isn’t that, seems to me one must modify the strategy there. Based on all the evidence I’ve gathered out in the real world, it seems that your natural coloring and body lines are determined separately, and the only inherent unifying factor is you.

Recently, I had the pleasure to analyze a Soft Summer Yang Gamine, certainly one of the least stereotypical combinations out there. You might think perhaps some of these don’t exist, and then she just walks in the door and all questions about how that could be are resolved. You might also think “fine, but she won’t find the clothes”, so here are some. There are clothes, there are always clothes.


Is that sweater really Yang Gamine? For a Soft Season person of this type, I think so. It’s boxy and petite, but also a bit earthy, like her coloring. Are those skull loafers too dark? Hard to say from a picture, might be they are in Winter, but I don’t agonize over a picture on a screen, it’s pointless anyhow. When it arrives, your best efforts to analyze the picture may still have been wasted. Even in my wardrobe, I only harmonize things to my own palette, because if I can’t do it with one and look ok, how will my clients? Might be I just wanted this woman to have skull loafers, she’s got attitude –  in the best way possible, of course. Sequins and patent leather for SSu? Well, I told you she was a Gamine, right? Do Gamines wear monochrome schemes, like mauve and merlot? If she’s a Summer, I’d think so, if she’s a Bright Spring, probably not.

In an analysis scenario, we hold things tightly with both hands, look at every detail under a microscope and call everything A or B with no room for debate. In the real world, your only question is, as Christine always says, “Me, or not me?”. If your season says do x and your image archetype says do y, feel free to do both, or neither, depending on what feels right, and what can be done without violating the most fundamental concepts. Hold your Season and Image Archetype loosely, and leave room for discovery and joy in your wardrobe. It’s only as good as it makes you feel.


  1. I love this post about “unexpected” combinations, Rachel! We can really get bogged down in stereotypes sometimes. As a SSu who is most likely a TR, I have been thinking a lot about how season flavours Kibbe type. I appreciate that you addressed the fact that monochromatic looks work very well for SSus and that season will inform the level of contrast within the type.

    • Thanks, Taryn! I’m so glad this is helpful for you. It is true that within every palette that does not contain a winter influence, appropriate contrast is built in – meaning that you can’t exceed your capacity even if you wear the closest thing in your palette to black and white (which for Soft Summer might look like campfire smoke and puce). However, it is also true that image archetypes that would be boring in monochromatics otherwise (such and Yang Gamine) will do well in them if their season says that kind of color combination is excellent on them. Just as, as a Bright Winter, I can wear patterns that look like cracked glass very successfully, even though I’m a Romantic (providing of course that the cut of the item is correct for my body). This is where your style becomes truly your own, I find it very exciting!

  2. This post is really timely as I have been thinking a lot about this very topic. I have an PCA scheduled with Sharon Forsythe at the end of May and have a lot of questions about figuring out which clothing looks best on me. For example, one of the styles I admire is the preppy look, but I was trying to figure out in my head which Archetype that fit into and how each of the seasons would accomplish that look.

    • I always think of a Spring Classic when I think of a prep look – it has a casual attitude, but is also quite traditional and polished. The kinds of colors that you typically see employed are often the bright, happy fruit salad colors of the Spring palettes, and there is a perkiness to the designs often that seems to resonate with a Spring, and be about the right amount for a Classic without taking it further than her comfort zone. Sometimes, prep might also look like Ralph Lauren Rugby, Autumnal red and navy and leather colors. Of course there are variations. I find my Winter Classics avoid prep like the plague, as do Spring Gamines even though it’s not that far off what they might wear.
      However, that doesn’t mean you are or are not any of those things, of course. I love daffodil yellow, it does not love me back. Might be I like it because I just hate the cold so much I could almost weep tears of joy when daffodils poke their little heads up. Or a million other reasons that have nothing to do with whether it suits me or not. And sometimes I might decide that I don’t care whether it does or not and wear it anyway, but at least I’ll be aware that I am making that choice.

      • Thanks for your reply. I do love the colors of the Spring palettes (fingers crossed for one of them!), but I also love the red & navy nautical look, too. My boyfriend and I went through Kibbe’s book and he thinks I am a Soft Classic. Once I have my PCA, I will probably schedule some time with you to pin things down.

  3. As a SSu who is probably an FG in one system and a Classic/Natural in another system I am always trying to balance what looks best on me with the offered guidelines of each system. Some things fit quite well and others have to be interpreted through my preferences and body type as well as my coloring. It is a fascinating process. Thank you so much for this post.

    • My pleasure! Glad you found it helpful 🙂 There comes a point, of course, at which we must each become the master of our own appearance (unless you plan to pay someone else to continually do it – not in the cards for most of us!), my aim is to give you the education and tools you need to get there.

  4. Hi Rachel,
    Christine Scaman recommended your website and I’ve spent some time reading your blog posts and am happy to be getting your newsletter. Christine analyzed me as Bright Spring in January 2013 and I recently saw her again for a refresher, which was very helpful. During our second meeting, we talked about how to combine my season with the kinds of styles and fabric textures I am drawn to. She saw me as a Yang Natural so I’m trying to figure out what that means. I tried to use David Kibbes Metamorphosis as a tool but just ended up running in a circle, couldn’t really ‘see’ myself in any of his types. Can you suggest a book or website or anything that would help me confirm if I am YN?

    Thanks so much.

    Laura Hawthorn

    • This website 😉 Seriously though, thank you for subscribing to my newsletter, that will ensure you don’t miss out on the goodies I share! I hope you are following our Pinterest boards, which you can link to from the sidebar of this blog, we share loads of really great info on there which might be helpful. Shortly there will be a test to determine your base archetype (Dramatic, Natural, Classic, Gamine, or Romantic) up and running on this site, you will know when because you are already on my list! Of course you know I’m going to say the very BEST way to get specific, personalized advice and confirmation of your image archetype is to have a Personal Image Analysis with yours truly, which you can find out more details about right here.

  5. Fascinating stuff Rachel; I was analysed by two different people as a dark autumn and one now thinks I am softening with age a bit towards soft autumn. The same two people cast me as a natural type by inclination of how I like to dress, which is fairly casual and laid back. The contradiction is – I am tall hourglass, fleshy size 12 (US size) curves – bust D cup and full hips/ small waist on a quite strong, muscular but not heavy frame, i.e long fingers, long bones, 5ft 9 inches tall, taped ribcage to waist, long neck, quite prominent hip bones (I appear flat at the hips side on) but as wide as shoulders face on. I think I am more yang than yin structure because of the height? I was advised by both to go for a more tailored, sexy shape, pencil skirts and so on, to honour the hourglass, but to be honest have really struggled with this. As a laid back artist and keen hiker/climber, sure I like to get dressed up once in a while, but this is not really my life style. Do I forget that advise and go for the Autumn warrior princess look instead, dispite the figure type? I tried the preppy autumn look too, with a more fitted, classic feeling, but it felt a bit starchy and unreal.

  6. Yay! Permission to wear monochromatic colors as a Summer G!

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