So you can wear navy. But which one?

Wearing Navy

Wearing Navy

My job is not necessarily to take colours away from my clients, but rather to show them which shades of each colour works best for them. There are a few exceptions, of course – I’m only going to be giving you free reign with black if you’re a Winter, and coral belongs firmly to the Springs and Autumns, for instance.

Knowing how to identify not only the colour, but the shade of that colour that works for you, is how you recreate the magic after a colour analysis class.

Recently I’ve found The Navy Question cropping up more than any other, so I thought it was worth a deeper look at how to identify your best version. Obviously in Kettlewell-land, it’s simply a case of clicking on your season and shopping the navy that appears, but out in the real world you’ll need a little more confidence picking the right shade.

The navy for each season is quite distinct, and getting it right will mean not only looking about a zillion times better (put a Winter in an Autumn navy and watch them turn yellow, the Autumn in the Winter navy will look washed out and over exposed), but also having a wardrobe that mixes and matches and has that look of effortless style and co-ordination.

A navy for each season:

  • Spring – This navy is a bright, clear colour. There is no greying to it at all; it is definitely not a soft colour. Imagine mixing a ‘true’ navy (i.e. sea captain uniform) with a bit of cobalt blue to achieve the perfect shade for Springs. Getting into a true navy makes for too dark a colour for Springs to take with their clear bright colouring.
  • Summer – This is what is commonly called French Navy. Imagine viewing that sea captain’s uniform through a haze of barbecue smoke (although what you’re doing having a barbecue on a ship is anyone’s guess) and you’re about there. It has been slightly muted and greyed and is therefore slightly lighter and softer than the true navy.
  • Autumn – Again, this is a softer navy, but rather than having a touch of blue-grey added to it as summer does, it has a hint of teal mixed through it. Think a dark blue teal rather than a navy, and you’re unlikely to go wrong.
  • Winter – This is a true, dark navy. Clear and crisp, there is no softness or lightness to this colour. When Winters feel they aren’t looking their best in their navy clothes it is commonly because it has faded into a summer French Navy. Dylon can be a good solution to keep colours at full saturation.

Navy is a great staple for Spring/Summer, with the inevitable annual nod towards nautical, and getting it right will make you feel even more confident in your colours this year. Have you found any great navy purchases for your season recently? I love to hear from you so I can spread the word about which shops are stocking which shades this season.

3 comments

  1. Thank you. I love the blues, but am still having trouble deciphering which suit my complexion, and which drain me. I think I’m a soft summer, though I used to be able to wear black until I got older and my skin tone changed – especially now that I’m growing in my grey hair.

    I’ve found some cardigans and knits on Woolovers (they’re in the UK) in different shades of navy – Navy, French Navy, and Cobalt. I was leaning towards Cobalt, but now I’ve read your article, I think I’ll try the French Navy. Cheers!

    1. I, too, am a soft summer and while I love any navy that isn’t inky or too purple, a greyed navy is definitely the best, especially as I age and hair becomes more grey. I used to avoid blues like the plague – lighter ones – because it was my Mom’s favorite color and when I was little, she really wanted me to wear it”. I preferred the blues with more green in them, or greens. Once the grey hair really came in, I realized that soft blues are really my best friend, despite my dusty aqua eyes. About the only blue color I cannot stand is royal blue. Too overpowering. I am now 70, with pale, ruddy skin from rosacea and grey hair and the softer colors have become the best for me. I avoid the reds in my palette because of the rosacea. For 13 years (K-12) I wore a grey uniform and after graduation, swore I would never wear it again. Now it is my second favorite color after greyed navy (a hard color to find when you sew).

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