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Perform Your Own 4 Season Color Analysis

Ready to discover your color palette? First let’s take a quick look at the history of color analysis.

The seed of color analysis was planted when German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) realized the connections between different colors and created “color psychology”. But that was just a beginning, there was no mention yet of the connection and reaction between the color of clothes and skin tone.

Impressionist PainterBetween 1919 and 1933, Johannes Itten (Swiss painter and professor at the Bauhaus University in Germany) took things a step further when he concluded that portraits look better when certain colors were used in conjunction with specific hair and skin tones. He then created four different color palettes corresponding to the four seasons, each of which included four different complexions. These made it much easier for students to paint more attractive portraits.

California-based color theorist Suzanne Caygill (1911-1994) took the next step by combining Itten’s “season theory” with Goethe’s “color psychology”. Her own theory asserted that humans carry information about their personality and style in their natural coloration, and that through personal traits such as skin, hair, and eyes we can relate personal colors to those found in nature. This theory proved to be extremely popular and became the foundation for many color professionals.

Finally, psychologist Carole Jackson wrote the book “Color Me Beautiful”, which became wildly popular in the 1980’s. In it, she simplified Caygill’s seasonal system (which used sixteen different personalities per season), and reduced it to a single personality per color season. This made it vastly more straightforward for everyday women to shop for appropriate clothes, accessories, and makeup.

Making 4 Season Color Analysis Work For You

Thanks to Carole Jackson’s simplified theory, discovering your season is pretty straightforward:

Step 1. Determine whether you are a COOL or a WARM type

The first step is the hardest. Basically, it involves looking beyond your skin color (or overtone) to discover the undertone that gives definition to your looks.

Skin undertone is determined by three elements: hemoglobin, carotene, and melanin. While skin overtone can change based upon factors such as sun exposure, illness, or blood pressure, your undertone is defined by genetics and will never change.

Determine your undertone using one of the following three tests:

  • Foundation Test

Ultimate Foundation TestThe easiest and most accurate method involves putting dab of pink based cream foundation on one cheek, and a dab of yellow on the other. Then spread the foundation evenly on each cheek until they form a very thin layer. Finally, look at which one blends in vs. which looks painted on. The one that blends is your match.

Pink means COOL, yellow means WARM. It’s as easy as that.

You can buy cream foundation at any drugstore, or you can buy a cool/warm tone foundation test kit here for just $14.95 including shipping. The kit includes both pink and yellow based foundations with more detailed instructions on how to conduct the test.

  • Gold/Silver Test

Gold Silver Test

Take one silver-colored and one gold-colored piece of fabric or paper. Place one hand on the silver-colored piece and the other hand on the gold-colored piece. Also try the inner side of your wrists or another part of your body that gets rare sun exposure. You will notice that with the right color your skin color will blend in well with the color of the paper or fabric, and your skin will look even. With the wrong color your skin will look uneven and speckled.

Silver equals COOL, and gold means WARM. Once again, pretty easy.

There are a couple of things you can do to make the test more accurate. Make sure that you’re in a room with natural light, artificial light can ruin the test. And you will need pieces of paper or fabric that are large enough to cover a good amount of skin. If you use drapes, make sure they cover the shoulders. If you use paper, make sure it’s large enough for both hands to fit on the paper.

  • Vein Test

Vein Test

This one is pretty straightforward. Simply look at the veins on your inner wrist and determine whether they look more blue(ish) or green(ish). Once again, make sure you conduct the test in natural light. And don’t use this test right after tanning or if you have a deep tan as it makes it more difficult to determine the color.

Green veins mean WARM, blue mean COOL.

Whether you use just one test or try them all, you’re now only one step away from knowing your season. At this point:

  • Cool undertone means that you are a SUMMER or a WINTER type.
  • Warm undertone means SPRING or AUTUMN type.

2. Determine whether you are a LIGHT or DARK type

Define the brightness (light or dark) of your eyes and your natural hair color.

COOL undertone
Eyes and hair = DARK –> Winter

winter type characteristics
Eyes and hair = LIGHT –> Summer

summer type characteristics

WARM undertone
Eyes and hair = DARK –> Autumn

autumn type characteristics
Eyes and hair = LIGHT –> Spring

spring type characteristics

Finding Your Season Is That Easy !

It may be a bit tricky when you have a mix of light and dark. In that case the most dominant character will determine your type. In case of doubt, let me help you define your “season”.

If you know which “seasonal type” you are, keep reading and find your best matching colors.

The best part of the 4 season color analysis is discovering your personal matching color palette! Scroll down and find out what garment colors should be in your closet from now on. Once you know your color palette, shopping for apparel, accessories and make-up will be a breeze !

COLOR PALETTE WINTER TYPE

color palette winter type

Winter types should wear colors that are sharp and clear. White, black, navy blue, red and shocking pink all go well with winter complexions. For lighter colors, wear icy tones rather than pastels. Avoid subdued tones like beige, orange and gold.

If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Winter Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your winter type color samples in one convenient wallet.

Extra tips:
Use a maximum of 3 colors for your outfit.
Dare to wear contrasting colors like black and white. You are the only type that looks good in black and pure white, use these colors!
For jewelry, silver is your color. Don’t exaggerate with jewelry and accessories.

 COLOR PALETTE SUMMER TYPE

color palette summer type

Summer types should choose pastels and soft neutrals with rose and blue undertones. Lavender, taupe, powder pink and powder blue suit summer types very well while black and orange do not.

If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Summer Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your summer type color samples in one convenient wallet.

Extra tips:
Wear a lot of jewelry (silver), try different accessories.
For a relaxed and friendly look, choose pastels.

 COLOR PALETTE AUTUMN TYPE

color palette autumn type

Fall types should select colors with golden undertones, like camel, beige, orange, gold and dark brown. Avoid colors with blue tones, like navy.

If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Autumn Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your autumn type color samples in one convenient wallet.

Extra tips:
Use many colors, experiment with jewelry, be daring! The best color for your jewelry is gold.
To convey creativity, mix colors. Make sure to combine colors that match and complement each other well, such as green and red.

COLOR PALETTE SPRING TYPE

color palette spring type

Spring types can wear warm colors like camel, peach, golden-yellow and golden brown. Avoid dark, dull colors. Do not wear black and white.

If you want to see and “feel” the best colors for your type, consider getting a full set of sample fabrics with your best colors and use them for shopping. Check out the convenient “Spring Color Swatch” that you can buy right here. It includes all your spring type color samples in one convenient wallet.

Extra tips:
Don’t exaggerate with jewelry, wear gold (colors).
Light colors look best on you.
Wear reds for all of your personality traits. Blue-red conveys assertiveness. An orange-red would be worn by someone who is lively.

Tips for ALL Types

  • Black makes you look slimmer but is only recommended for winter types, all the other types, choose other dark colors.
  • To convey authority and power, wear your dark colors: black, dark grey and navy blue. (Why do you think the police and other authorities are wearing navy blue or black uniforms?)
  • Clear colors can be used to make your breasts look bigger.
  • If you are a sales woman: do not use contrast, like black/white or blue/white, use harmonizing colors. The contrasts look too aggressive.

Experiment with these new findings. After you found your personal palette, try to analyze your friends and/or family and check if they are wearing their matching colors. If they are not, tell them about your new gained wisdom about color analysis, they will appreciate your advice !

Don’t forget to color your day !

32 Responses to 4 Season Color Analysis

  1. Can someone please answer this question. Am I still or was I ever a winter? In youth darkest brown hair, dark brown eyes skin light to medium easily tanned. Now salt and pepper gray, dark brown eyes, skin seems lighter/faded. I can’t find colors in clothes or makeup that flatter me. What’s up?

    • Anja says:

      Hi Melanie,

      If you were wearing clear and bright colors so far and you looked great in those colors, you definitely are a winter type. Color types never change, even when you get older, you will still look great in the cool winter colors. The only thing that may change when we are getting more mature and wiser is that we need to start considering wearing other colors from our personal color palette. Every “season” has it’s own wide selection of colors to choose from. I would try the lighter hues of your color palette, like icy pink instead of fuchsia, dark periwinkle instead of dark purple , charcoal instead of black, …

      Try these colors and let me know how these colors are working out for you.

      Have a great day and good luck with your new colors!
      Anja

  2. Claire says:

    Please, please help me. I have light-medium ash brown hair with possibly a slightly dark red tint. I have green eyes (aqua/teal with a yellow inner ring and some brown flecks), blue veins, porcelain skin (I wear the lightest foundation), orangey freckles and I look think I look best in cherry red, teal, green and black, white and grey. Royal blue looks horrible on me. Yellow looks good on me. My whole childhood I was blonde but since my twenties my hair has darkened considerably. I often get red cheeks and I burn in the sun. I am totally confused – can you tell which season I am or might be? Or whether I am cool or warm?

    • Anja says:

      Dear Cheyne,

      thank you for reaching out to me and I do understand from your description that is it hard to define your season. From all the information you provided in your comment I can not derive your season because there are many contradicting elements. In two weeks from now I will have a new feature on my website to help people like you defining their season via a short skype session. It is important for me to see all your facial features and I will also go over a list of questions which will help making a correct personal color analysis. Since this feature is not ready yet, you can send me a good quality face shot to anja@newstartat40.com and I will define your season for free. Looking forward to your email with picture! Have a great day, Anja

  3. Danni says:

    Hey Anja
    I finally think I have it, but would like so much for you to confirm! I have light/mid brown hair with lots of gold highlights, warm but very fair skin, and bright blue eyes. Medium contrast between my skin tone and hair/features. When I tan I go pink then brown very quickly, but it fades fast. Can you give your opinion?

    • Anja says:

      Hey Danni,

      thank you for reaching out to me. I really like to help people finding the colors that match perfectly with their skin tone. From a description only, it is hard for me to define what season you are. With my website I really try to give people guidance to figure out themselves which season they are and it does help in many cases but I notice more and more that people like to receive confirmation from an expert. I get that now, that’s why I will start in a couple of weeks from now to set up 15 min. skype sessions. In those sessions I will be able to see all the facial features and I will get the chance to ask questions in order to make a ‘diagnose”. I think this will be a great way to help people in a more effective way. I will charge a small fee for my time. Do you think this is a good idea?
      Since I have not set up this application yet, I suggest you send me a good quality face shot and I will give you my expertise based on your pictures and description. You can send the picture to anja@newstartat40.com.

      Looking forward to hearing from you,
      Anja

  4. Martha says:

    Dear Anja,
    after having read dozens of websites on season types, I am still unsure which type I am.
    I have dark blonde hair (which was nearly white when I was a child) and very blue eyes (nor very light blue but also not extremely dark) and I cannot say if the undertone of my skin is yellow or pink. I only know that I am pale…
    My friends say that colours like very light pink and blue would suit me perfectly, but maybe only because they are my favourite colours?!
    Do you have an idea, which season tye I am?
    Have a nice day! Martha.

    • Anja says:

      Hi Martha,

      thank you for reaching out to me and I understand that it can be tricky sometimes to define your own “season”. From the description you gave me I can not tell you with certainty which type you are. I keep getting more and more comments like yours, so you are not alone. Many people want to do their own color analysis, for some it is easy but some of us struggle with it because some facial features may mislead us. I would like to help everyone who is struggling finding their own season and therefore I decided that in the course of the next couple of weeks I will start doing online color analysis consultations. It will be a 15 min video consultation via skype and this for a small fee. That way I can help people all over the world finding their personal colors. So stay tuned and I look forward to seeing you soon.
      Have a colorful day!
      Anja

  5. Pamela Conley says:

    I have pale skin with a slight pink undertone. My hair is naturally grey but I keep it dyed a medium dark chesnut brown. My eyes are a sage green. A long time ago I helped a lady put together swatches for her color analysis. This was sometime back in the early 70’s. At that time she said I wad a summer but the colors dont feel right now. Can someone change their season as they age? I have a professional job as a mental health case manager and would like to look nice for my job. I am now 59. What season would you say I am?

    • Anja says:

      Dear Pamela,
      From your description I can not really derive which season you are. What I can tell you though is that your personal season will never change. It is theoretically possible to make a color analysis on a baby and the season that is defined at that point will never change. Fact is that the older we get, the more it is advisable to use less saturated colors. If the “summer colors” you used to wear, looked good on you for a long time, I am sure that the color analysis performed back in the 70’s was correct. I would just suggest to try a less saturated version of the colors you used to wear. Good luck and let me know how these “lighter” colors are working for you.

      Anja

  6. Jordan says:

    I have green/blue eyes (from far away they look gray), natural hair color is golden blonde hair (when I was younger I had strawberry blonde hair. I gave myself blonde highlights now). When I look at my veins they are blue. Fair skin. When I blush, I can’t determine if it’s pink or peach.) I don’t know whether I’m a summer or spring. Please help me to know what colors would look good on me.

    • Anja says:

      Hi Jordan, after having read the description of your facial features, I am pretty sure you are a spring type. The fact that you had strawberry blond hair as a child is a strong indication that you have a warm skin tone. It can be difficult to see whether your veins look blue or green. Look at my “spring” color swatches which will give you the perfect indication of which colors will look good on you: http://www.newstartat40.com/product/color-swatch-spring-2/

      Have fun with your “spring” colors !

  7. Kristina says:

    I’m more confused than ever. My natural hair color has always been my dominant characteristic, which is dark brown with red tint (only in the sun does this show up, but was carrot orange when I was little). My eyes are hazel (green-brown), my veins are blue-green, I burn easily (fair-skinned) but can tan if I really try, gold/silver test was never conclusive, but now when I do the foundation test it seems I’m a cool. Yet when I look at these palettes, I only have 1 or 2 colors I look halfway decent in from each. Purple seems to be my only good color, but that’s universally flattering. Maybe burgundy too? No one has ever told me I look good in certain colors so I have no idea which direction to go. Help!

    • Anja says:

      Dear Kristina,

      I don’t know with which foundation you did the warm-cool tone test. If you really like to know whether you are a “cool” or a “warm” type, I would try the foundation kit I am selling on my site. I tried different shades and tints in both “cool” and “warm” tones and I carefully picked those two foundations which will work the best on most people. I will also add instructions on how to complete the 4 season color analysis test. I am sure that will help you discover your “true season”.

      Anja

  8. Trisha says:

    Hi Anja,

    Like a lot of ladies who’ve contacted you already, I am comfused as to whether I am Deep Autumn or Deep Winter as I have some cool and some warm aspects to my colouring. I think there are a lot of us out there who don’t fit very well into either category clearly. I have dark brown hair with some gold/red lights, but overall it reads as just dark brown, olive green eyes with golden brown spots in them. My skintone is ivory – very pale, yellowish, not pinkish, but I have a lot of mauve tones showing from underneath the skin – which is very thin and delicate. My veins are really teal – midway between blue or green. I don’t look better in gold or silver, in fact I look bad in both, silver is too cold, gold is too warm. I tend to wear jewellery in colours instead not have metal showing. Golds, oranges ect are too warm on me and make me look flushed, hot and red. Fuchias, bright emerald greens and most blues make me look cold and mauve/blue toned in the face. I tend to stick to a few shades of dark raspberry red and teals as they feel balanced, not too warm, not too cool. I’m sure there are a lot of other people out there like me, that seem to fall between catergories. My parents are Italian and Irish so one is warm and one is cool, which has maybe lead to this mix!

    • Anja says:

      Thank you for your comment Trisha. You are right, it is great when you can find yourself fitting perfectly and clearly into a certain season. For many of us it is not so easy to find out but you are clearly good at trying and evaluating which colors look good on you and that is great. As long as you look and feel good in the colors you are wearing, you are on the right path.

      Have a colorful day !

  9. Charlotte says:

    Hi, as many I am a bit confused about which season I actually am. My hair is honey blonde (very much golden, I have a couple of red hairs but it mostly looks blonde), light skin with very light freckles, greenish veins (but the most centred one is purple at the wrist and on the palm). I always diagnosed myself as a spring, but camel, orange and grey (anthracite suits me better than black, though) are three of my worst colors. I am not naturally attracted to purple or pink either and I also find that with really light colours (the Light Summer/Light Spring palette) I tend to become so muted as to disappear – I seem to really need bright colours. Could you maybe shed some light on this?

    • Anja says:

      Hi Charlotte,

      From the description of your facial features I read that you definitely are a warm type and more specifically a “spring” type. I understand that you can not like all the colors of the “spring” pallet and you don’t have to do that either. Stick to the colors from the spring pallet that you like the most and if you think that you look better with “bright” colors, try the brightest colors from that pallet, like: golden yellow, warm red, navy blue, … And definitely stay away from the “dark” colors. It is normal that we do not like all the colors of our pallet but it may change over time. When we start aging, many women start liking the “lighter” shades of their pallet better which is a good evolution. I hope this helped !

      Anja

  10. Kerry says:

    Sorry to bother you.
    Is it possible for you to help me determine my season? I thought at first I was a Winter, then changed for Autumn, and now I’m totally lost.
    I have a very pale skin, with blue veins, I tend to burn rather easily. I had freckles as a child, but I do not anymore. My sister told me silver looks a bit better on me, although gold is fine too.
    My hair is a deep brown with somewhat reddish highlights in the sun, and my eyes are hazel (olive green on the outside and golden brown in the center).
    Thank you for your help and sorry for my English, it’s not my mothertongue.

    • Anja says:

      Hi Kerry,

      thank you for your interest in the 4 season color theory ! I really like to help people finding their season but it can be difficult at times. From the information I received from you, it is very hard to define your season because some of the descriptions you gave me contradict each other. If you could send me a face picture of yourself (to: anja@newstartat40.com) it will be more likely I can make a more accurate analysis.

      Kind regards,
      Anja

  11. Anja says:

    Dear Anika,

    I can understand your struggle figuring out which season type you really are. It is not easy for everyone to perfectly fit into one of the four “boxes”. Unfortunately I cannot define myself which type you are based on the description you gave me. If you can give me an answer to the following questions I may be able to help defining your season.

    – Do your veins look greenish are rather blueish? Do you look better with silver or gold?
    – Do you tan easily? or do you easily get sun burn?
    – If you wear make up, does it stay on for a long time or just a couple of hours?
    – Do you easily get freckles in your face?

    If you could answer these questions, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

    Have a great day,
    Anja

  12. Marianna says:

    Dear Cynthia,
    I was trying to define my type- please correct me , if I am wrong. I have green veins, golden beige skin – it has more olive in it than pink. Hazelnut eyes and light brown hair, it doesn’t have golden highlights in it- more like ash, but it definitely looks better with golden ones. I guess I am an autumn type( dark or soft I cannot decide). I was thinking about spring at first, but judging from the coloures given as suiting, I am more likely autumn.
    Thanks a lot for the interesting material anyway!
    Marianna

    • Anja says:

      Hi Marianna,

      The description you gave me about your personal features tell me that you are an autumn type. As you probably read in my article the most determining factor for the color analysis is the undertone of the skin. If your veins look greenish you are definitely a warm type, so you could be an autumn or a spring type. When the other features like your eye color and your natural hair color are more on the darker site, the probability of you being an autumn type is very high.

      Have fun experimenting with the colorful autumn pallet !

      Anja

  13. Anja says:

    Hi Alaina,

    Thank you for your comment and your interest in finding out which “season” your really are. The way you describe yourself does make me think that you are a winter. The skin is still the dominant factor in determining which type you are. If your veins look blue and you look great in Burgundy and Mahogany, this tells me you are a winter. Winters do not look good at all with orange so in my view you are a “Winter” type.

    kind regards,
    Anja

  14. Anja says:

    Hi Anita,

    The way you describe your facial features, it really does sound to me that you are an “autumn” type. Therefore gold jewelry will always look good on you. What the color for your outfits concern, if you think that the powerful “autumn colors” you used to wear, do not longer work all that well for you, I would suggest keep wearing your favorite “autumn colors” but in a lighter shade. It can be that the colors you used to wear now look a bit too harsh on you. When we get older, we will notice that slightly lighter colors will look better on our face. Try it and let me know what effect it has on you.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Anja

    • Anja says:

      Hi Anita,

      Nice to hear back from you again ! I am glad you are experimenting with colors, it is always fun anyhow. And even though you are an autumn type -which type is not likely to look great with black- if you feel great in black, who am I to hold you back from wearing it? I can only give you some guidelines and there is always exceptions as you know. Keep experimenting !

      Have great day,
      Anja

  15. Gill says:

    Hi, thanks for this. I have read quite a few websites about seasonal colour analysis and I am still a little bit confused about how to categorise myself. I’m pretty sure that I’m a winter … I have very dark brown hair (can look black), with blue/green (teal coloured) eyes, with paleish skin, warm/pink cheeks, but I have warmish undertones.

    However, I’m unsure if I am a cool or clear winter….bright colours overall do look best on me, but I dont really suit white! It makes me look washed out. I also suit browns but I dont suit muted colours at all.

    Thanks
    Gill

    • Anja says:

      Dear Gill,

      It can be difficult sometimes to define which type you are when you have characteristics that contradict each other. In such cases, I advise to not let the color of your hair or eyes mislead you. Examine the undertone of your skin and define whether your undertone is cool or warm. You wrote you have a warm undertone, which indicates that you are a warm type, most likely an autumn but you also mention that muted colors don’t look good on you. So this is a contradiction. If you tried different colors on your skin and you are convinced that your skin looks great with bright colors, I am pretty sure that you are a winter type. What puzzles me though is that you mentioned that white does not look good on you because winter types are the only types who can wear “black and white”, it looks great on them. So I think there is a chance that you are an “autumn”. Try the gold/silver test or the vein test and find out whether you have a cold or warm undertone. This will help you to define whether you are a “winter” or an “autumn”. Good luck and please feel free to let me know the results of the test.

      All the best,
      Anja

  16. CYNTHIA says:

    I found your information really usefull , you have very good pictures. It is explained clearly. I still have one doubt. I was once color analyzed and told to use cool colors .If they are bright they make me look MUCH better. I also look better in cool eyeshadow, like blue, lilac or pink
    I am mexican, yellowish skin, amber eyes, light brown hair ( it was dark ash blonde as a girl, but now it is brown and not ash anymore) and I have dark eyebrows. I look pale and very bad if I use yellow or military green. I look very good with magenta, lilac , bright red , bright pink.
    Here is my doubt, I have yellowish skin ( you could think I am warm ) but I look much better in cool tones.

    • Anja says:

      Hi Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing this information. I have not seen your picture but you gave a good description about your hair and your eyes. With the description of your skin, one should be careful. To define whether you look good with cool or warm colors, we need to take a look at the undertone of the skin, not to how your skin looks on the outside. You can do the silver/gold test or the vein test. Because you are saying that you look great with bright cool colors I am pretty sure that you look better with silver and have blue veins. So don’t worry about the your skin color and feel great dressed in cool, bright colors !

      I hope this information was helpful,
      Anja

    • Janka says:

      Dear Cynthia,
      I am happy that somebody has the similar problem with skin tone. My skin is also “yellow”. When I compare with my friends and family members, I am sure that I am yellower then they (and they do think so). Who looks at me “live” they think I am of some warm season (light spring or soft autumn). But recently I posted some of my photos to a seasonal-colors blog and ladies answered that I am certainly a summer (soft or cool). I was surprised because of my “yellowness” and warm light brown hair. My eyes are grey-green with yellow flecks, but I have only very little summer golden freckles and very dark (almost black) eyebrows and eyelashes. I think that the photo shown on a computer changes colors to more cool tones. The second fact can be that our yellowness is only the overtone and our undertone (which is more important) is cool. It is difficult when someone is not the “textbook” example :-)
      Thank you for your interesting comment.
      Have nice day!
      Janka

      • Anja says:

        Dear Janka,

        thank you for sharing this information and as you mentioned, not every one is a “textbook” example. I myself am not a clear case either. I had light ash blond hair when I was a kid (till age 8 or so) and then it turned to dark ash brown. I am definitely a cool type (veins look blue) but one would think that I am a summer type because winter types are usually born with dark hair. But after draping summer and winter colors I found out that I clearly am a winter type. The dominant factor in defining which “season” you are is your skin undertone. And you are right, a picture is not the best representation of your skin undertone. Do the silver/gold test and try warm and cool colors on your face and look what effect the colors have on your face. That will help you define which “season” you are.

        Have a colorful day,
        Anja