True Summer: The Ultimate Guide

Light Summer colour gradients

True Summer colours are cool, calming and refreshing, like the feeling of water on the skin.

That’s no coincidence. 

These are colours of water, the blues and greens of still ponds, meandering rivers and deep oceans. They’re the lapping waves on temperate beaches. (Tropical beaches are Spring.)

They’re also the beautiful pinks of English roses, the blue-purples of bluebells and blueberries, and the lovely taupes, greys and whites of pigeons, doves and seagulls.


The palette

True Summer colours are cool, serene, delicate, refined and exquisite.

In our 12 tone chart, True Summer is the tone of complete coolness and softness, which influences the two Light tones (Light Summer and Light Spring) and the two Soft tones (Soft Summer and Soft Autumn). To all these, it contributes delicacy and gentleness.

So where do True Summer colours sit on the 3 dimensions of colour?

They are medium-low in chroma (saturation). 

They are cool, so they contain blue undertones, but no yellow undertones at all.

Finally, the colours range from nearly white to nearly black, from off-white to dark grey. Overall, though, there are more colours that are medium-light.

Compared to True Winter, these colours are overall lighter and softer, but share temperature (cool).

Compared to Light Summer, these colours are cooler, softer and slightly darker. 

Compared to Soft Summer, these colours are overall brighter, cooler and slightly lighter.

True Summer colour dimensions

True Summer colour dimensions


For more about True Summer colours, see 12-Tone True Summer Coral and Red by Amelia Butler from True Colour International.



If you’ve just discovered that you are a True Summer, and you’re learning how to create a True Summer wardrobe, congratulations! These are beautiful colours. 

While there is no true black here, there are many greys, from light to dark, and these are a wonderful neutral basis for a wardrobe.

There are also browns, though I’d describe them as closer to taupe, colours like mushroom, driftwood, pigeon and dove.

True Summer whites are beautiful, gentle versions, like tissue paper, that appear truly white until actively compared to the stark, brighter Winter versions.

Together, they can create elegant and refined outfits.

Beyond these neutrals are a plethora of beautiful colours that you can combine in any way you wish, and will always look beautiful together. There are some examples on the last arm of your TCI True Summer fan, and on the classic fan shown above. Here are a few more:


Remember, these are just for inspiration; the magic of knowing all the colours that are harmonious with you, is that all of those colours are also harmonious with each other. You can’t go wrong.

Here are some examples of how these colours can be put together into outfits, for women and men:

Related: Men’s Fashion in 12 Tones

The styles of these outfits are simply what I can find in these colours, but don’t forget, you can use your colours in whichever styles that work for you.

For more inspiration, True Colour has a 12 Tone True Summer Pinterest Board showing wardrobe ideas for men and women, as well as a blog post of palette-matched Cashmere Pashminas for Summers.


Corporate Clothing

When I’m discussing corporate clothing here, I’m talking about more conservative workplaces — if yours is more casual, this may not be relevant for you.

That said, corporate clothing, in terms of colours, usually consists of some or all of these:

  • Neutral colours

  • Dark colours

  • High value contrast (light/dark)

The classic example is a grey or black suit with a white or light-coloured shirt or blouse, and an accent colour in a tie or jewellery. 

While true black is too harsh and heavy on you, grey is beautiful, and your greys should be easy to find in suits. Soft, cool navy is another excellent choice for you.

Your pastels make for excellent shirts or blouses, just be careful not to stray into Winter “icy” territory.

There are some colour-combination suggestions for corporate wear on the last arm of the TCI True Summer corporate fan. And here are some more:


For more on corporate clothing, see True Summer Corporate Women from True Colour.



Matching solid colours to your fan is one thing; matching patterns can be a trickier task.

If harmonising with the fan is too hard, try checking it against your face. If the colours are right, you’ll see the same effects you saw during your draping, like vitality, happiness, 3-dimensionality and authenticity.

What if most of the colours in a pattern are True Summer, but there’s one that clearly isn’t? Does it matter?

Again, check it against your fan and your face, and look for overall harmony.

Sometimes an element can be tolerable, despite being imperfect, if it’s:

  • Small

  • A neutral colour

  • Close by on the dimensions of colours (only a bit too bright or soft or cool or warm, etc.)

To illustrate, in the first pattern below, all the colours used come from the True Summer palette. In the second, there’s an additional wave in a Dark Autumn olive. And in the third, the background water becomes that olive colour.


The first, obviously, would be perfectly harmonious with you.

In the second the olive coloured-wave blends in to the other waves so that it’s not very noticeable. It’s also not completely opaque, which helps to reduce its disharmonious effect.

The last, though, has completely lost its True Summer harmony, and would not work with you or your other clothes.


Metals, jewellery, watches and glasses

The best metals for True Summer are silver, white gold and platinum. Brushed and satined metals are especially great.

Because you require absolute coolness, yellow gold is completely disharmonious with you and with your colours. 

Beautiful stones for True Summer jewellery can include white, pink and grey pearls, mother of pearl, moonstone, rose quartz, blue and pink sapphire, aquamarine, blue lace agate, blue and lavender chalcedony, amethyst, tanzanite, and pink and blue tourmaline. Large diamonds belong to Winter, being sharp and icy, but small diamonds can work for you in the right setting.

Glasses frames can be silver, or of course, any of the colours in the palette.


Hair colour

True Summer hair colour is ashy — ash blonde or ash brown, the value level can be quite variable, but the coolness is the constant. 

Related: How to Choose Your Most Flattering Hair Colour

Sometimes it can be hard to avoid warmth when colouring hair to cover greys, so that can be tricky for this tone.

However, grey is such a prominent colour for True Summer, that the grey hair often blends in seamlessly, and looks really beautiful.



Complexion makeup (foundation, concealer, etc.) needs to be matched to your skin. If you have trouble finding or matching foundation, I have a blog post that might help.

The “colour makeup” comes from your True Summer palette.

True Summer neutrals

True Summer neutrals

Your whites, greys and taupes are your neutral eyeshadows. One of your taupes will usually work for brow colour, although grey may be better if your hair is grey. 

Eye liners and mascara are deep grey or navy.

True Summer greens, blues and purples

True Summer greens, blues and purples

For more colour, your pinks and blues can often be beautiful in eyeshadow, and deeper blues or greens as liners.

True Summer reds and pinks

True Summer reds and pinks

Blush and lip colours come from the red and pink area of your palette, colours you might describe as rose, plum, berry, mauve, or even orchid. All will work on you, but most women will find their perfect shade is somewhere within this range, so trial and error may be necessary here.

Where I might describe the classic Autumn makeup look as bronze goddess, and Winter’s as the pinup look, for Summer I’d call it English Rose.

Related: Makeup Looks in 12 Tones

Perfect pink lips, delicate skin with a fresh pink blush, and subtle, light eyeshadow, the emphasis is on the delicacy of the colouring. 

Of course, that’s merely one option. You have many deep pink and berry colours to create a dramatic, evening lip, even a pinup style. 

And cat eyes or smoky eyes can be done in greys, without the black a Winter would use.

While many other looks are possible here, bronzer is antithetical to True Summer. Bronzer is a product to bring out warmth in the skin, which you, as a purely cool person, simply do not have. It will just look muddy on you, and dull your skin and eyes. Use blush instead, to add colour rather than warmth.



If you’re getting married, congratulations! 

Wearing your suit or dress and accessories (like a boutonnière or bouquet) in your colours will bring out your best on your wedding day. 

For True Summer, suits are easy — grey is classic, and navy also works beautifully. If going for a white shirt, be careful to avoid bright, stark white and choose your gentler white.

Your wedding dress could be in a white like tissue paper or pearl. Or choose one of the many modern dresses that are still light but not quite white, like palest mushroom beige, light blue-grey, or a romantic pink.

And, of course, you can use your colours as a theme throughout your wedding, in bridesmaids dresses and groomsmens suits, in venue decorations, even your cake. Together, these colours create a classic, elegant and beautiful wedding, as you can see below.


Living spaces

True Summer living spaces that are the epitome of serenity.

If you want to use these colours in your own home, just be aware of the permanent fixtures you already have. In particular, beware of wooden floorboards, which are usually very warm, and clash badly with your colours. 

However, if the bones of your room support it, your colours are perfect for a relaxing but also fresh and clean home environment.


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True Summer: The Ultimate Guide — Everything you need to know about the True Summer tone