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What is the color palette for cool or soft summer?

Determining your best color palette can enhance your natural beauty and bring out your most flattering features. If you have been analyzed as a “Cool Summer” or “Soft Summer” season, you will look your very best in light, muted, cool-toned colors that align with your natural coloring.

What is a Cool or Soft Summer?

The Cool or Soft Summer color palette is one of the 12 seasonal color analysis palettes devised by color expert Carole Jackson in the 1980s. According to color analysis theory, colors are divided into warm, cool, light and dark. Certain undertones in a person’s skin, hair and eye color will either harmonize with warm colors or cool colors.

Cool Summer complexions are characterized by having a cool undertone, which means they contain hints of blue and pink rather than yellow and olive. This undertone is accompanied by low-contrast, muted coloring. Hair is ash blonde, mousy brown or salt and pepper. Eyes are blue, gray, hazel or light green. Skin is fair ormedium, ranging from porcelain to alabaster to ivory.

The muted cool colors of the Summer palette enhance the cool pink and blue undertones in the Soft Summer complexion. Dramatic or bright colors tend to overwhelm those with a Soft Summer coloring. The best colors are those found in a shady garden rather than a sunny landscape.

Characteristics of the Cool/Soft Summer Color Palette

The Cool or Soft Summer color palette contains light, cool, muted colors. The defining characteristics include:

  • Cool-toned: Colors have blue, pink or purple undertones rather than warm yellow, olive or orange undertones.
  • Muted: Colors are soft, dusty and diluted rather than vivid and bright.
  • Light: Colors are light in value rather than dark and rich.
  • Low contrast: Adjacent colors provide low rather than high contrast.

The overall effect is subdued, calming and understated. Soft Summer colors impart a sense of sophistication and elegance.

The Cool/Soft Summer Color Palette

Here are the colors that comprise the Cool or Soft Summer color palette:

Primary Colors

  • Blue: Pastel blue, ice blue, soft periwinkle
  • Green: Seafoam, celadon, sage green
  • Purple: Mauve, lilac, lavender, orchid


  • Grays: Dove gray, silver gray, frosted silver
  • Beiges: Pearl beige, oatmeal, sand
  • Tans: Faded tan, café-au-lait, powdered cocoa
  • Browns: Taupe, grayed mocha, dove wing
  • Off-whites: Ice white, snow white, vanilla white

Accent Colors

  • Pinks: Dusty pink, seashell pink, blush
  • Blues: Ice blue, frosted blue, pristine blue
  • Greens: Celadon, sage, jade green
  • Yellow-greens: Frosty mint, pistachio, lemon thyme

Colors to avoid include clear, bright, warm colors like fire engine red, neon orange, hot pink, emerald green and sunflower yellow. These overwhelm the Soft Summer complexion.

Contrast Levels in the Soft Summer Palette

The softly blended colors of the Cool Summer palette are low in contrast. Some guidelines for working with contrast levels:

  • Choose low and medium contrast colors for clothing and makeup.
  • Avoid high contrast color pairings like navy and white or cherry red and pale pink.
  • Neutral basics in gray, tan and beige provide a soothing low contrast backdrop.
  • Pops of pastel color can provide gentle medium contrast interest.

Keeping contrast subtle helps prevent colors from competing with your natural cool, muted coloring.

Best Colors for Clothing

Certain colors in the Cool Summer palette are especially flattering for clothing. Try incorporating these colors into your wardrobe:

Color Why It’s Flattering
Periwinkle blue Brings out blue eyes; complements cool pink skin
Dusty rose Harmonizes with cool pink cheeks
Mauve Enhances cool undertones in skin and hair
Seafoam green Provides gentle contrast for pink skin
Pale gray Makes blue eyes sparkle; neutral backdrop
Buttercream Warm neutral; prevents washed-out appearance

Best Colors for Makeup and Lipstick

Makeup and lipstick choices can truly elevate your appearance when you choose Soft Summer enhancing colors. Recommended makeup shades include:

Feature Recommended Colors
Lips Mauve, pinky beige, rosewood, plum, raspberry
Cheeks Soft pink, peach, rosy brown
Eyeshadow Mauve, peach, moss green, ice blue
Eyeliner Brown, navy, charcoal gray
Mascara Dark brown, gray

Avoid overwhelming your features with too stark a contrast level. Muted, light colors will let your natural beauty shine through.

Best Metals and Stones for Jewelry

Jewelry choices that harmonize with your coloring can make your eyes sparkle and skin glow. Recommended metals and gemstones include:

  • Silver: Sterling silver, rhodium silver, white gold
  • Platinum: Highly flattering neutral metal
  • Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, moonstone, pearl, peridot, sapphire, tourmaline

Gold jewelry tends to overwhelm most Cool Summers. Stick to white metals along with soft, cool-toned gemstones for a harmonious look.

Best Hair Colors

Hair colors within your natural range will complement your Soft Summer complexion beautifully. Flattering options include:

  • Natural ash and mousy medium to dark brown
  • Salt and pepper hair
  • Dove gray hair

If you color your hair, stick to colors that match your natural depths while enhancing your cool undertones. Some suggestions:

  • Ashy light brown
  • Dark ash blonde
  • Silvered dark blonde
  • Dove gray over salt and pepper hair

Avoid warm shades like golden blonde, chestnut brown and black cherry, which will overwhelm your natural coolness.

Tips for Wearing This Color Palette

Here are some tips for wearing your Soft Summer color palette successfully:

  • Choose muted, blended color combinations rather than bold, contrasting ones.
  • Incorporate neutral grays, taupes and beiges as foundations.
  • Add porcelain, dove gray and ice blue near your face.
  • Avoid large areas of black, which is too harsh.
  • Add a warm neutral like camel or almond to prevent looking washed out.
  • Tone down bright cool colors like emerald green by pairing with gray or mauve.

Celebrities with this Seasonal Palette

Many gorgeous celebs share this muted, cool-toned coloring. Soft Summer examples include:

  • Cate Blanchett
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Jessica Lange
  • Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Renee Zellwegger
  • Diane Keaton
  • Gwyneth Paltrow


Finding your best colors can feel like discovering your own personal power. When you dress in harmonizing Soft Summer colors, you’ll look healthy, luminous and radiant.

Focus on light, muted cool colors like mauve, jade green, dove gray and frosted pink. Avoid clear warm colors that compete with your natural undertones. With the right colors, your inner and outer beauty will shine.