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As promised last week, I’m happy to bring you a Q&A with Cate Linden of Cate Linden Chromatics. Cate is the analyst I saw last weekend in Louisville for my PCA, she’s also a friend. I asked for questions online in one of the facebook seasonal color analysis groups, and added a couple of my own for good measure.


How did you discover color? What made you pursue a career in PCA? Tell us about your color journey.

I don’t remember specifically discovering color. I’ve always been interested in it. When I was eight or nine my mom started redecorating our house. We made endless trips to Home Depot and I amused myself by collecting my favorite paint chips. I’m an avid reader and I’ve always thrilled by passages involving color (you’d be hard-pressed to avoid them) because they are so evocative.Here’s a Nabokov line that I’ve always loved: “a portion of pale blue sky – mild infantile shade of blue – taste of milk in my mouth because I had a mug of that colour thirty-five years ago.”

As for the career, it just seemed like a natural progression. I was already running a color-related business as a dye artist. The more I learned about PCA, the more I realized I knew nothing and that I wanted to know more. Additionally, even when I was actually living in the wrong season, it was a great process of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

Have you seen any correlation between eye patterns/colors and season?

Yes, but I’m still learning. There are patterns that are often indicative of certain seasons, but there aren’t hard and fast rules. Many Winters have a lot of warmth to their eyes, for example, even orange.

Are there any seasons that are easier or harder to diagnose than the others, or is ease of diagnosis only dependent on how strongly a person exhibits seasonal characteristics?

Mostly dependent on the person, in my experience. PCA can be very unpredictable!

I’m really curious about how sun (tan) affects PCA. I know it’s not supposed to, but it seems that it should.

Tanning will not affect your real season, and neither will a sunburn or rosacea; none of those things alter the colors that are inherent to your body. They are part of your overtone. What you LOOK like is not necessarily what you ARE.

Also how skin might change color with age – does that impact PCA?

The general consensus among analysts is no, but of course, we don’t have enough information (people draped when young and then again when older) to answer definitively. We do lose pigmentation as we age, so it’s possible that your season will change, most likely one season cooler. But you’d never start out as a Bright Winter in your twenties and become a Soft Summer in your sixties or anything drastic like that.

I’m curious about how graying hair affects season. I know it’s not supposed to, but before my hair got lighter, I wore black much better than I do now.

Black isn’t most people’s color, but maybe your dark hair made some connection with it. Sometimes during an analysis, I’ll like a color on a client because it connects with their eye color. That’s all fine and good, but what does it do for the rest of the face?

I was told my gray hair was a bit confusing for my online PCA because it influenced the analyst to think cool season until she disregarded it.

I’ll talk about online analysis in one of the next questions, but that’s part of why we cover the hair during a draping. I don’t want to be visually influenced by your grey, brown, red, blonde, or purple hair, because it doesn’t mean anything in terms of determining your Sci\ART season. That said, grey is not automatically cool. There are warm greys and cool greys.

I want to know are there any universal colors?

Nope. There isn’t a single color on earth that every single person can wear and look their absolute best in. PCA just doesn’t work that way. If this color exists, I haven’t seen any evidence! I see teal brought up sometimes. Everyone has a version of teal, but they will all be different.

Also, how do you feel about the “counterpoint season” idea? I feel like I’m better in my neighbor season than my counterpoint.

It’s an oversimplification. Every person and every draping is different. I’m a Dark Autumn. My “counterpoint season” is Bright Spring. The Bright drapes, and Spring in general, were my absolute worst colors during my draping. I’d be better off in one of my neighbors than my counterpoint. But sometimes it happens, sure. I draped a friend who is a Dark Winter, but at the end we were choosing between Dark Winter and Soft Summer, which are counterpoint seasons. Whether you’re looking at your counterpoint or neighbor, your “runner-up” season will still lack the magic of your actual season.

What are your views on the accuracy of online analysis?

Take them with a grain of salt. My main issue with online analysis is that the client doesn’t see the changes. It’s very important to me that my clients see exactly why they are what they are. Getting an email with “Congratulations, you’re a Light Summer!” doesn’t give the client any information to work with except someone’s opinion. It’s like an invitation to doubt. Sometimes online analysis is right, particularly if you look like your season’s stereotypes. But more frequently, an in-person draping reveals something entirely different. It’s just impossible to ignore the other colors going on in photographs, not to mention changes in lighting, cameras, computer monitors, etc.

Will all the colors in my palette look good on me? When I first thought I might be BW, I tried Girl About Town and thought it did not look good, even though the other BW lips looked great. I need to try it again, now that I’m used to the color and palette, but is it possible it just won’t look good on me?

Makeup, no. Absolutely not. Your individual pigmentation and overtone will play a role here, because you’re applying colors to your face. One lipstick applied to the lips of four Soft Summer women will probably look a little different on all of them. Where you fall in the seasonal spectrum matters, too. The vast majority of clothing in your palette will look fantastic on you, but you will still have preferences. For example, I know a lot of people avoid colors in their palette that look too much like their skin color.


Thanks Cate, it was great chatting about color with you!