The colours that get overlooked…

If you’re familiar with colour analysis and the four seasons, you probably immediately associate certain colours with certain seasons. Emerald green? That’ll be Winter. Rust? Must be Autumn. Lavender? Summer of course. Coral? Ah yes, Spring.

Each season has colours that you immediately think of when you think of that season. Even now when I look at my swatches (regardless of system; I actually have a few different Summer swatches) I see colours I’ve overlooked. As a Summer I have a lot of navy and purple and sea green in my wardrobe. I forget about the reds and the dusky pinks and I especially forget about the soft neutral sandy colour, the light rose brown and the duck egg blue. As a Deep Summer especially, it’s easy to overlook the lighter colours which can be so useful especially in patterns.

Here are (in my opinion) some of the ‘forgotten’ colours for each season, and why I think they’re useful.

Winter

The colour that always surprises me for this season when I stumble upon it in my drapes is the colour that Kettlewell Colours call ‘pebble’.

The Cora top in Pebble Grey (Kettlewell Colours)

It’s not a cool Winter silver grey as you might expect, but a pale cool stone colour. It’s actually a very interesting Winter neutral and I saw it used well in a jumper that my last Winter client turned up wearing, combined with purple and black. This obviously works well for blouses and shirts too and would be an interesting and less obvious choice for Winter accessories.

Winter’s icy pastels can get overlooked too, the icy pinks, blues and purples. They are useful for creating contrast when worn with the brighter, darker colours.

3/4 bolero in Iced Hyacinth (Kettlewell Colours)

The bolero worn with, say, a camisole in one of the bright cool Winter blues or purples, would look great especially if you were to add black into the mix. I could imagine a black necklace or choker working really well with that.

Summer

Brown is a colour typically associated with Autumn. It’s easy to forget that Summer has a brown too, for which I’m very grateful. I rely on it heavily for boots and handbags because I don’t really want grey or navy which are the other obvious neutrals I could use.

Summer’s cocoa brown

Summer has a very pale, cool yellow. I’ve yet to recommend it to someone as a colour they should buy an investment piece in, but actually it is very interesting and especially brilliant in a pattern.

Primrose yellow

Autumn

Autumn has a blue, a warm one. Blues aren’t typically associated with Autumn, but they sure are useful particularly for workwear where you want / need to carry a little more authority.

Kettlewell Colours top in Marine Blue

Autumn has a very bright, vibrant orange that you might on first glance assume belongs to Spring but it’s definitely an Autumn colour. It’s like Summer’s primrose yellow in that I’ve never recommended it to someone as a head-to-toe colour but it is useful for accessories and in prints.

This kingfisher’s chest is very reminiscent of Autumn ‘orange spice’

Spring

When we think of Spring we usually think of the bright, warm, splashy tropical colours; coral, warm reds, turquoise, warm bright greens such as apple and leaf green. Spring actually has a fair few lighter and more neutral colours such as cream, peach, and warm grey.

Salmon – a pale peach that isn’t as splashy as Spring’s usual colours

It’s easy to forget that the bright seasons have colours that aren’t typically ‘bright’ (pastels for Spring, icy pastels for Winter). I like Spring best when neutrals are paired with the bright, splashy colours. Too many brights and it can look a little overdone.

Spring is closely associated with tan but has a very useful chocolate brown too; a very useful neutral for bags, trousers and shoes.

Chocolate Ruched Crossover ¾ Sleeve (Kettlewell Colours)

Big bust, little bust, cardboard box

Apologies for the title – I trust you’ve heard of the dance move “big fish, little fish, cardboard box”? Sorry not-sorry about that 😉

As an ingénue, I don’t want or need bust emphasis. Whilst shopping online today I was thinking about bust size and how it influences the styles that flatter us (or not). Here are my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, depending on whether you’re small or large of bust.

Small bust

What works: high necklines, a yoke*, detail above the bust, halter necks if shoulders aren’t too wide, long necklaces, polo necks, chokers.

Avoid: Low v-necks and any neckline that is too low.

Top with short yoke
Excellent example of a short yoke here. You can see how this model is very slim and how this would be rather unflattering on a large bust, not least because the top would sit away from the body, giving the illusion that the wearer was several dress sizes bigger than she actually was. Top from Next.
Pretty high lace collar and yoke blouse from ASOS. Small bust required.

Large bust

What works: lower necklines (scoop, v-neck), boat neck (works for medium-sized busts), detail below the bust, e.g. empire band or belt, avoid too much bulk at the bust e.g. ruffles. Romantics might be able to get away with the latter.

This neckline is a cross between a scoop and a v. Better for bigger busts. You could go a little higher if you wanted to slow less cleavage. Black lace top from ASOS.

Avoid: Long necklaces that straddle one asset (if you catch my drift) – necklaces that rest above the bust, as opposed to on the bust, are better. A large bust, when not dressed well, can give the impression of you being heavier than you are. Pepperberry, if you’ve never heard of them, make clothes for the big of bust.

This top needs to hang straight down. A bigger bust will make this top stick out and make the person look bigger overall. If it was fitted beneath the bust (empire line) then it would work better. Blouse from ASOS.

Sheer tops can make higher necklines more wearable for bigger busts, I find.

The neckline here is too high and small. Frustrating that this is marketed at so-called plus sizes. This doesn’t flatter the model, I can’t imagine it flattering any wearer.

Several months ago now I visited Bravissimo in Norwich and it was somewhat life-changing. I was certain I was wearing the right size bra. Turns out I was wearing a band size too big and a cup size too small. The right bra can take years off you and completely change your silhouette, as I discovered. I can’t recommend a visit strongly enough. If your outfit is fabulous but your bra isn’t you can be sure it’ll sabotage your look; I’m not being overly dramatic here. Alas, I digress… There seems to be a lot of high necklines in the shops at the moment, which means I’m struggling. I can see that the slim models look better in these necklines, but I do not.

The above are, of course, only my observations – do you agree? What do you find works for you?

* yoke = a part of a garment that fits over the shoulders and to which the main part of the garment is attached.

Another experiment: no make-up day!

PREFACE (and spoiler): I very nearly didn’t publish this blog post, because of the reaction I got from people. That is, no-one noticed I wasn’t wearing make-up, and I felt embarrassed at having to write a blog post confessing this. I had been expecting people to tell me I looked sick but they didn’t, and on looking back at the photos I realise it’s because there’s really not much difference between my very natural look and me wearing nothing at all on my face. The reason I decided to publish this is because I think there are lessons here. Something that was re-iterated to me doing this is that photos are useful. Sometimes they can be misleading, but for the most part they are useful in helping us to see ourselves as objectively as we humans can. I use them sometimes when buying clothes. If you look at the photos below you’ll see that on both counts, the colour overpowers me. This wasn’t obvious to me in real life, but the photos helped me to see things more clearly (both dresses were returned!).

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I loved the lace but wasn’t sure about the waist definition. The photo showed me that actually the red was too bright for a Summer!
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I loved the pattern and at the time I was desperate for new dresses to go with leggings or tights. I could see how washed out I looked in the photo though, so it went back.

As a result of this experiment I won’t, in future, worry about going to the supermarket without make-up on. I’ll probably still wear make-up to work, because there is some improvement when I wear it of course, but I will no longer bother putting make-up on to go to the gym or the supermarket (that might sound ridiculous to some of you, but I really was that self-conscious about my skin). Most importantly, I learned that how we feel about ourselves is what really matters. Someone might look at someone else and think they look silly / spotty / awful but ultimately if people feel comfortable and themselves in what they are wearing, that’s all that matters.

* * *

I’ve suffered with acne since I was a teenager and I’ve only managed to get on top of it fairly recently. I still have scars, primarily on my chin, but they are fading. I can’t remember the last time I had a spot but I still wear foundation every day and feel utterly naked leaving the house without it. If I do leave the house without it I literally wear a scarf and hide my chin behind it, even if I’m just going to the supermarket. My husband thinks I’m completely ridiculous.

I thought, then, that a no make-up day would be another uncomfortable but (hopefully) interesting experiment to do. It requires considerably less preparation than the style experiment did although I suspected it’d be equally nerve-racking. I didn’t share a photo of myself on Facebook sans make-up when the whole #nomakeup thing was going round, despite being nominated three times. I couldn’t bring myself to. There seemed to be a whole plethora of #nomakeup selfies from people who, quite evidently, didn’t need to wear it anyway thanks to having already flawless skin. I had a little look on Twitter actually before writing this post to see if the #nomakeup hashtag was still being used and, of course, it very much is. It’s certainly interesting. There’s a lot of pressure for women to look good without make-up. Cosmetic companies rely on it to create insecurity in order to sell us things. The fact that I wear make-up and feel self-conscious about not doing so is a rub for me. Of course I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. Of course I don’t want to fall into the insecurity trap and regularly spend a (not insignificant) amount of money on make-up. I don’t spend a lot on make-up as it happens, but I do spend some, and regularly.

This experiment was inspired by my clients who literally always seem to look better without foundation and positively glow with the lightest brush of blusher. I’m going to go one step further in my experiment by wearing absolutely nothing at all, but if I’m honest blusher is the least of my worries given the fact that my chin is still scarred from acne. My skin also goes very blotchy in the cold. It’s not exactly warm out at the moment where I live.

How will I feel? Will anyone notice? I had no idea. I was nervous because I assumed no-one would notice when I did my style experiment but they really did. I was fully expecting people to ask me if felt unwell, repeatedly. I definitely wasn’t expecting compliments. My husband says make-up makes me look different, not better. I wasn’t so sure.

Currently I am using two skincare products I couldn’t live without: the bareMinerals Active Cell Renewal Serum and La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo[+] moisturiser. If I’m completely honest I doubt I’d have even contemplated this experiment without them! Whilst my skin is pretty clear at the moment I still have scars from the acne and, to my delight, sometimes I get bitten in the night by spiders or mosquitoes which result in some pretty unattractive, red marks on my face.

Here is me wearing make-up. I actually wear very little (thanks to the aforementioned products). I’m definitely a fan of the natural look. Who wouldn’t like to feel as though they don’t need to wear any make-up? I’m very fussy about my foundation – colour match is vital and something I struggle with because I’m so pale and have very cool undertones. It took me a long time to settle on bareMinerals original foundation but I truly love it now when used with their BB primer. I like a matte look, I think it works for a Summer. I want to add here: I’m not being paid by anyone for mentioning products in this post! I’d hate for anyone to think that. They’re just products that, after a lot of trial-and-error, I happen to have settled on and love.

Me with make-up. I'm wearing very little foundation, a little blusher and mascara. That's it. I feel comfortable.
Me with make-up. I’m wearing very little foundation with a touch of blusher and mascara. That’s it. I feel comfortable.

This is me without make-up. It’s definitely not awful, I’m aware of how much worse I’d have looked even a few months ago when I just couldn’t get rid of my spots. My eyelashes haven’t been tinted in yonks so this really is me completely bare-faced. I don’t think I look bad, but I think I look a bit blotchy / bare-faced. I decided to wear red on the day of the experiment because it’s one of my very, very best colours (even better than navy on me). I figured I needed all the help I could get.

Me without make-up (literally not a scrap). I'm very aware of my acne scars.
Me without make-up (literally not a scrap). I’m very aware of my acne scars.

When I told my husband I was doing a no make-up experiment he said “Good! I’ve always told you that you don’t need makeup! You’re gorgeous without it.” I truly underestimated how uncomfortable I’d feel on the day. On my way into work, I ended up hiding my skin behind my scarf as I walked in. I was genuinely scared to look in the mirror too – I very nearly chickened out after seeing how I looked in the mirror before walking out the front door. I didn’t though. It’s only one day after all, right? I kept having to tell myself that. I reminded myself that even if people noticed and thought I looked ill, they wouldn’t remember the one day in their lives when Janine didn’t wear make-up for a day.

None of my colleagues commented, unlike last time. When prompted after lunch, the most astute of them did say “I thought your face looked different but I couldn’t tell what. Mouth? Lipstick? Or is it eyes?” I replied, “All of it – am not wearing a scrap of make-up today.” I was relieved when he said “Doesn’t actually show”, after which he promptly insulted my make-up application skills (it’s that kind of working relationship).

Not one other person commented on my (lack of) make-up and actually I thought twice about publishing this post because it seemed like such an anti-climax. As it happens, people really don’t study faces as closely as we think they do. Admittedly I didn’t see as many people as I could have done in my job today, so perhaps I should have done it on a day when I had more going on (although I suspect that if my astute colleague didn’t notice or comment, others wouldn’t have either).

I learnt several useful lessons doing this experiment (mentioned in the preface) and the one that stands out for me is this: what matters most is how you feel in your own skin.

* * *

On an unrelated note, I’d love your opinion on something! A brilliant blogger I know and follow, Kristen Kalp of Brand Camp, offers her blog posts as podcasts too (they are brilliant I might add). She reads out her posts and I’m curious to know if you’d like something similar. What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to know! Just post a comment below. I’m toying with the idea of doing something similar for up-and-coming stuff.

More style experimentation

I visited Matalan a while back on the hunt for some more leggings (the search is endless, I swear), and couldn’t resist some more style experimentation. I took some photos… Are you ready for this? Brace yourselves…

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My head looks separate from my body here. Do you like the lovely coral heels that do absolutely nothing for my legs?
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Jessie J would rock that chain. Me? Not so much…
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MY EYES! There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Lily Allen would wear this outfit well I think.
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This isn’t how an ingénue does sexy… Nope! The black is completely dominating.

I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that none of these outfits made it home. I showed these photos to friends recently, and their replies were not repeatable in polite company. One of my friends commented on the consistency of my style usually, so these clothes are a stark contrast to my usual Summer Ingénue Natural look. I imagine a Winter / Bright Spring Dramatic would look good in these. They are pretty much exactly what I shouldn’t be wearing; mostly Winter colours with a little Spring, Dramatic style, large scale, heels. For the sake of completeness and contrast, here’s what I usually wear if I’m going out to something that requires a smarter look…

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I can’t remember why I wore this now, but this is my version of ‘dressing up’.
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Sometimes I’ll swap the leggings and flats for navy tights and kitten heels if I need to go smarter. I do get a little bit scared sometimes when I realise I’m leaving the house dressed like a princess.
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Apologies for the headless shot! If I need to do “going out / clubbing” (not that I’m a big fan of clubs) then the cord hot pants come out, with a pretty blouse.

So there you have it! When I’m next out shopping, who knows, I might experiment some more 😉

Is colour analysis for me?

Excellent question. I’ll start by answering first who it ISN’T for.

It’s not for you if:

  • You are completely invested in the colours and make-up you already wear and you wouldn’t consider changing them. I hasten to add, this isn’t the same as having favourite colours and wanting to wear them regardless of the outcome. Chances are (as I’ve seen again and again), if there is a colour you particularly love it’s almost certainly in your palette (I’ve yet to see this NOT be the case). Even if your favourite colour isn’t in your final palette you can still wear it! Of course you can. These are very much guidelines, not rules. You can do as much or as little with the advice I give as you like. In addition, you don’t have to wear every colour in your palette if you don’t want to. As a Summer I have some beautiful shades of pink in my palette but I feel apprehensive about wearing them because it feels vulnerable to do so. That’s totally okay. You don’t have to love every colour, although chances are you’ll fall in love with them when you see what they do for you.
  • You’re going to give yourself a hard time afterwards if 100% of your wardrobe isn’t already compliant. (See previous comment about my advice being guidelines, not rules!) Self-compassion is where it all begins. Be kind to yourself.
  • You have plenty of money and enjoy shopping and the thrill of a new buy and don’t mind wearing something once and then getting rid of it. You’d rather buy something (even if it doesn’t particularly suit you) rather than return home empty-handed.
  • Keeping up with trends is uber-important and you don’t care whether what’s in suits you or not.
  • You don’t think your dyed hair really suits you, but you wouldn’t change it anyway. The problem with this is that even if you’re wearing all the right colours in your clothing, your hair will still throw the whole show off, and in quite a big way given it’s right next to your face all of the time.
  • You can’t think of how you could apply the information you’ll be given to your life. If you’re not interested in applying what you’ve learnt to your hair, make-up or clothing then there’s probably little point in you spending money on a colour analysis session.

It’s for you if:

  • You’re curious and ready to experiment with what you wear.
  • You enjoy shopping but you’d like to refine the process so you can see more quickly what might work for you.
  • You don’t enjoy shopping and you’d like to be quicker and more efficient at it.
  • You would quite like to dye your hair, but you want to be sure that the shade you choose suits you.
  • You’ve long since suspected that some colours suit you whilst others don’t but you don’t know why.
  • You feel like you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time.
  • You understand that despite the outcome of the colour analysis session, you are still free to wear your favourite dress / shoes / top even if it isn’t in your palette. I’m not the fashion / colour / style police!

I understand that some are apprehensive about having their colours done. I am very sincere and serious when I say I wouldn’t want to drape anyone who didn’t want it done with one exception – my husband – whom I bribed with beer and he was quite happy with this arrangement (turns out he was an Autumn as I suspected, and had been wearing and buying the right colours all along). If you’re still having trouble deciding, you might find my previous post, ‘The difficulty in explaining colour analysis’, useful.