Colorful Lives, Soft Summer Valerie Peterson

August 01, 2023 7 min read

Indigo Tones Colorful Lives Blog featuring Soft Summer Valerie Peterson

I am so excited to introduce you the “entertainingly irreverent” (Associated Press) Soft Summer, Valerie Peterson. Valerie is an extraordinary storyteller in a variety of media including scriptwriting, screenplays, fiction, non-fiction and book publishing/consulting. I analyzed her colors years ago in Rhode Island at a girls weekend hosted by a mutual friend (color analysis and girls weekends make a great combo!). In the years since, Valerie has embraced her Soft Summer colors in spite of living and working in New York City where black is a standard and practical.  Her hair tends to pull warmer and lighter colors when she colors it so we have been working to soften and cool it down to an ashy, neutral brown which was her natural tone before coloring it. 

It was a thrill when her publisher chose a photo of my family for her wonderfully spirited book, Peterson’s Happy Hour. On page 46, you can find me with my family - brothers, Mike and Tim and my parents Marcia and J. Michael Jones circa 1970. The book features many more photographic gems and recipes for a fabulous social gathering!  

Unfortunately that was not the last time I attempted to cut my own bangs.  But I was loving the romantic clothing style, even then! 

Peterson’s Happy Hour by Valerie PetersonKerry Jones with her family in Peterson’s Happy Hour cocktail book

In this month’s colorful lives blog, Valerie shares her journey with her color palette. As with all her writing projects, she is humorous, colorful and entertaining!  She has kept in great condition and still uses the Sci Art swatch book that I provided back in those days!!  Be sure to check out her large body of work on   

Formerly All-Black-Wearing NYC Writer / Filmmaker / Consultant Embraces Her Soft Summer Colors

I live in the New York City neighborhood where the Beat generation of poets and singers — in their black turtlenecks, black pants, and black berets — used to hang out. And this helluva town can be kind of … grimy.

Which is why I am completely making up the fact scientists agree that wearing black is a Darwinian, evolutionary adaptation for those of us in Greenwich Village. And, in my NYC book writing / book consulting / script writing & filmmaking life, I was in danger of evolving to wear black, all day, every day. Except when, for a little contrast, I’d throw in some — what goes with black? — White, of course!

 Soft Summer Valerie Peterson on the set of the film Maid of Honor

For example, I always wore black to meetings and on set — as in the photo of me at the monitor, directing The Maid of Honor, a short, comedic film I also wrote (and that you can watch here).

My experience with Kerry’s Indigo Tones color analysis

Then I did a “Girl’s Weekend” during hosted by our mutual friend Anne Stout. One by one over the course of a few days, Kerry did each of our colors. It was a revelation! As in — I learned with her hard photographic evidence that I look like — what’s that highly technical term that color professionals use? SH*T — in white, and black wasn’t doing my pale complexion any favors, either. (When she saw me in the white drape, one of the friends commented, “She looks like you need to take her to the hospital!”)

Enter Kerry with her magic color analysis. She demonstrated what did look good and gave me the take-away Soft Summer palette tool so I could color-fend for myself.

Valerie Peterson Girls Weekend with Color Analysis drapes and wine


Before and After Pic  of Soft Summer Valerie PetersonBut what to do? What to do when wearing black for creatives was what I’d learned I was supposed to wear officially enacted into New York City law?  Not to mention I’m tall and hippy and busty (and, as I age, thick around the middle) and can be a bit hard to fit and my taste runs to “pretty simple.” And what’s simpler than black and white?

It’s taken me time to adapt but here’s how my color style has evolved over the years as I’ve woven in Kerry’s color advice, my personal style — and yes, even a bit of black (Kerry forgive me). A light black with a bit of white in a subtle pattern can actually soften to gray and work!

Valerie Peterson with sisters

I wear my colors when it counts

Green is usually my go-to because I find the Soft Summer greens most flattering and that they bring out the green in my hazel-y eyes. The photo of TV host Julie Auclair and me in Soft Summer colors is from one of several cookie decorating appearances Cookie Craft co-author Janice Fryer and I did for BetterTV wearing …  soft green. 

Valerie Peterson TV appearance for Cookie Craft

For my formal portrait (taken several years ago by the lovely,talented actor / photographer Jen Manley — and retouched brilliantly, ahem), I ran out to buy a slightly weathered dusty blue casual blazer, which not only created the professional but not-too-formal vibe I wanted, but fit right into my Soft Summer palette. I continue to strive to keep my colored hair a soft medium brown like it was in this shot but Kerry shared that putting color in my hair to cover gray will  tends to push it to a warmer golden tone in spite of using an ash color like my natural hair before I started coloring it. 

Soft Summer Valerie Peterson headshot in blue

I now love deep blueish grey / off black as an evening color – especially when it has some opalescent, like in my hometown Yonkers Film Festival Opening night gala, just pre-pandemic. FYI – a mockumentary short I co-wrote, Pretty Dead, was an Official Selection at the festival. You can see the short and fun film on my website.

 Soft Summer Valerie Peterson in Dark Gray at YoFi Writers Fest

I look for my colors in the basics – and snap them up

Especially during the pandemic – I lived in tee shirts. And when I see tees or other basics in “my” palette, I snap them up.

Soft Summer T-shirtsphoto of Soft Summer Alfani shirt on sale

Also, I find that now when scanning sales racks, my eye goes to color first and I’ve gotten good at zeroing in on what works. This Alfani shell was “orphaned” amid a jumble of other tops, but it’s perfect.

I’ve embraced coats of many colors — that is, my colors

Apologies to Dolly Parton. But once a strictly black-coat woman, I’ve found that outerwear can do a LOT of heavy color lifting for me, since they’re so visible in the winter months. I love my olive-green puffy coat, worn by a palette grey hat (pictured on me with the random guy wearing his colors).

Soft Summer Valerie Peterson with Santa 

Just recently, I expanded my palette with a Soft Summer garnet boucle. It felt a little out of my color comfort zone — but every time I wear the coat, the compliments pour in. Coincidence? I think not! (The woman in the picture with me is my sommelier friend Suzanne Taylor, who also took the portrait picture of me on the top of the article).

Writer Valerie Peterson with Sommelier Suzanne Taylor

FYI – faded denim feels very Soft Summer ;) Here I am being an ally to the Writers Guild of America, helping to picket in my (barely visible) colors (with one of my producer heroes, Tom Fontana, on the left).

Soft Summer Valerie Peterson in soft denim jacket at Writers Strike in NYC

I keep my colors near my face

Whether a necklace, a tank top worn as a camisole, or a scarf, I try to keep a pop of Soft Summer somewhere, especially if black has crept in (more on that, to come). I’ve realized that my taste gravitates towards opalescent accessories, like the greenish grey and pink beads of the necklace pictured on the left, and in the natural green and pearly stones in the necklace on the right.

Soft Summer tank tops and necklaces

My bags reflect Soft Summer, too. Like the pink one that was a perfect pink and the one my talented Cookie Craft book series co-author, Janice Fryer made for me. She let me pick out the color I wanted and of course, I chose within my palette. Also, I got to choose the eight letters on the label, “WORDWRKR”.

Soft Summer purses with Sci Art Soft Summer Swatchbook

 Yes, I wear still black … but strategically 

Soft Summer Valerie Peterson dressed as a witch

Full disclosure, I haven’t completely given up wearing black (and that is a friend’s cocktail recipe, not one from my own cocktail books). And, because of being hard to fit, easy availability, hiding a wealth of ills and … New York City, I still wear black pants quite a bit.

When I choose tops, I look for solids in my colors or prints that combine black with my colors. I’m VERY picky about print – I reject most of them. When I do “go there”, the print needs to be delicate and incorporate or be compatible with my sweaters, jackets, etc. in my colors.  

 Three pics of Soft Summer Valerie Peterson

Overall, "my colors have become my brand”

I’ve been able to stick to my Soft Summer palette, and still refer to my color tool — and get compliments when I do!  As part of my consulting business, I speak to small businesses and authors about book publishing and marketing. Here is a shot of me in color moderating and leading a book publishing panel for the Jane Austen Society

Valerie Peterson moderating at the Jane Austen Society

In fact, my colors became so deeply ingrained that I found on both my “writerly/creator” website and on the author and book publishing consulting site­­­, I gravitated to a Soft Summer pink and dark grays. Also, Soft Summer dominates the colors I surround myself with — like the paint on my walls and my bathroom wallpaper ;)

I’m so grateful for Kerry and the Indigo Tones color exercise that has made shopping, dressing — and even my website color choices — easier and more flattering!

Valerie Peterson website 

Valerie Peterson content 

Valerie’s bio

Valerie Peterson is a writer, book author, filmmaker, and consultant.

She was co-writer of the mockumentary short “Pretty Dead,” which was an Official Selection of the 2020 New York Women in Film & TV Online Film Fest, 2019 HBO Women in Comedy Festival/NBC shorts program and a total of a dozen fests.

A finalist for the CBS TV Writers Mentoring Program (with an original procedural pilot and a spec) and a semi-finalist for the WGAE Made in New York TV Writers Room Mentorship Program, Valerie’s short film writing/directing and feature/TV scripts have also been recognized by the Sedona International Film Fest, the Austin Film Festival, Cinequest, the Big Apple Film Festival, and others.

The author of the “entertainingly irreverent” (Associated Press) Peterson’s humor/cocktail books and the co-author of Cookie Craft baking books, Valerie occasionally writes about book publishing and lifestyle topics for publications like the Washington Post, the New York TimesBrides, etc.

With deep background in both book publishing and corporate strategic marketing, for six years she was the contracted Book Publishing Expert for and now, in addition to her book and film projects, consults in the book publishing, digital strategy, and marketing space.

A proud graduate of Fordham University in da Bronx, Valerie holds a film & TV directing certificate from NYU-SPS. Born and raised in Yonkers, NY, she now lives in NYC.

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