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’.

PBGR

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. This is Ice Lavender.

ICLV

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.

PRIM

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. This is Rich Navy.

RINVY

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. This is Salmon, a pale peach that isn’t as splashy as Spring’s usual colours.

SALM

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. This is Chocolate.

CHOC

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.

A Winter and a Summer :)

Photography: Carla Watkins I had the pleasure of draping two friends a couple of weekends ago, one of whom is a photographer, hence the brilliant photography! (Thank you Carla!) After an exciting morning we discovered that one was a glorious Winter and the other a super-pretty Summer. I see them both regularly and actually it’s hard (for me […]

My wedding

You’ll probably not be at all surprised to hear that my colour and style knowledge was immensely useful when it came to planning my wedding. As you know, I visited House of Colour back in 2010. You might not know that I got engaged in February 2012 and married in May 2014. Armed with my colour and […]

The Golden Globes

A friend of mine earlier this month alerted me to the Golden Globe awards and posted a link to an article containing all the red-carpet outfits. She asked me what I thought from a style and colour perspective and I couldn’t resist having a look. These undoubtedly beautiful women have access to the best designers in the business in addition to stylists and make-up artists. Despite this I often find myself thinking that the outfit they eventually decided upon could have suited them better.

I thought Rosie Huntington-Whiteley chose well. She is a woman who knows what colours suit her although I wonder if she’d gone for a soft silver instead of a soft gold whether that would have improved the look even more (perhaps, perhaps not). I imagine rose gold looks great on her. She’s almost certainly a Summer or Autumn who looks best in the softer shades. Notice that she’s a low-contrast woman in a low-contrast outfit, even her nails aren’t a distinct colour. This really works, she doesn’t look naked like some can when they are wearing a nude or nearly-nude shade. What do I mean by low-contrast? I mean that there isn’t a great variation (in terms of colour value) between the colour of her hair, eyes and skin. She has pale skin, light hair and pale green-blue eyes. An example of someone with high-contrast colouring would be Zoey Deschanel with her pale skin, dark hair and bright eyes.

Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley

I thought Jennifer Lawrence chose well too. I’d have swapped the silver jewellery for gold because she appears to be wearing a warm red (which suits her) but otherwise it works. The dress is quirky, like she is.

Jennifer Lawrence

My favourite might just be Saoirse Ronan whose style I suspect isn’t a million miles from my own and who has an ethereal quality about her. What I like most about her outfit, apart from the harmony, is how different she looks to everyone else. She knows what suits her it would seem, and she’s sticking with it. I imagine there must be a fair bit of pressure on celebrities to wear the latest trends to seem current (remember that Stella McCartney bodycon dress Kate Winslet wore one year?). Saoirse did well to choose this dress.

Saoirse Ronan

Kate Winslet is an interesting one. The colour certainly seems right, it does nice things for her skin. I’ve always suspected she’s a Summer. I’m not completely sure about the style though, I’d like to see her in something with more movement in it.

Kate Winslet

I’m sure Amy Adams is a warm season. She carries that orange well. I’ve seen her look great in coral before now too. Excellent choice.

Amy Adams

Jenna Dewan-Tatum looks great. A great dress for a high-contrast woman. What’s telling about this dress I think is that despite it’s size and pattern my eyes are still drawn to Jenna’s face which tells me that she’s getting it right. She’s probably a Winter with those striking eyes, pale skin and near-black hair, and the cool dress flatters her.

Jenna Dewan-Tatum

I’m not sure about Julianne Moore. I think the dress is too cool for her. Her head looks disconnected from her body and she looks a little washed out. Style-wise I like it for her, but the colour isn’t right.

Julianne Moore

Black on Lady Gaga is too severe. Black is hard to wear at the best of times for most of the population, the velvet only increases black’s harshness as it absorbs the light. With the bleached hair and black eyeliner I don’t feel as though I can see her at all.

Lady Gaga

Olivia Palermo is a stunning woman but sadly this outfit is not. My eye is so confused. The cool fuchsia lipstick clashes with the gold necklace and the colours in the dress. The black eyeliner is demanding in a way eyeliner shouldn’t be.

Olivia Palermo

I love Lily James’s dress but for someone with such striking, contrasting features, it doesn’t work. Her head seems at odds with the rest of her.

Lily James

Another example of someone struggling with black, the high neckline really isn’t helping. Emilia Clarke isn’t a Winter. She looks like I do in black.

Emilia Clarke

I looked at Emmy Rossum for a long time and ended up Googling her before I could figure out what was going wrong. She looks like she could be a Winter but actually I think she’s a warm season, an Autumn who suits the deeper shades of the palette would be my guess. The silver jewellery and black eyeliner are jarring. I don’t like the straight hair or the straight lines of the dress. I nearly didn’t recognise her when I first stumbled on the photo.

Emmy Rossum

Lola Kirke looks a lot like a cool season wearing Autumn’s mustard. Look at the shadows on her face. The lippy suits her but not the dress.

Lola Kirke

Sarah Hay’s choice is a very interesting one. First off, I strongly suspect the dress would have looked better in pale gold than silver (on her). In addition, I find the style of the dress jarring. It’s pretty, delicate. The cleavage looks inappropriate. I suspect it’s a dress that would best suit an Ethereal Ingénue but would need some adjustment so it wasn’t so revealing.

Sarah Hay

Eva Green. Such a striking woman, but not in this dress. She looks positively unwell. The warm lipstick isn’t working and in that nude dress she looks like a floating head. As Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale she was pure Winter perfection.

Eva Green

These truly are all beautiful women, they just haven’t necessarily made the best choices for themselves. Before I had my colours and style done I’d have days where I’d look ill and put on extra make-up to compensate. I had no idea that khaki / black / lime was the culprit, not my health.

If you’re interested in seeing more red-carpet outfits you can find them all here: http://www.popsugar.co.uk/fashion/Golden-Globes-Red-Carpet-Dresses-2016-39742645?stream_view=1#photo-39742589.

The difficulty in explaining colour analysis

I was at a social gathering recently where I was put on the spot by the hostess, who asked me to explain colour analysis and my interest in it to a fellow party-goer and it got me thinking, because even now, still, I find colour analysis overwhelming to explain. It’s something, to my mind, that is relevant to everyone and beneficial to everyone. In addition, it sounds too good to be true. Not only does it sound too good to be true, but if the person I’m talking to is open-minded enough to believe what I’m saying there’s still an excellent chance I will be met with defensiveness, which often happens, and I will hastily add now that I completely understand the reasons for this.

In general, people worry about what other people think of them, and no-one relishes the prospect of being wrong, particularly when it comes to our own bodies and appearance. So often, when I explain what colour analysis is (and I’m not met with a look of incredulity) the next oft-cited phrase I might hear is loaded with insecurity and defensiveness. This is frustrating because it stems from a complete lack of understanding as to what a colour analyst does. We’re not the colour police or Trinny & Susannah, we’re not going to tell you off. We want to give you options, we want to make you happy, we want you to feel good in your own skin. Of course you can still go on wearing black / olive / lilac if it isn’t your best colour or even if it makes you look ill. We don’t judge because actually we truly understand that getting dressed, on a bad day, can be a surprisingly complex thing fraught with worry and there are plenty of reasons why you might choose not to wear your most flattering colours, all perfectly valid. We’re in the business we’re in because we want to help ease that angst, not because we’re smug about ‘getting it right’ and want to impose rules on you. And on the subject of insecurity, I think about how so many people, especially women, get sucked into the hype sold by the cosmetics and beauty industry (myself included) and how so little of these people know that by simply wearing the right colours (and by right I mean those that match your own colours in brightness and temperature) they can almost certainly skip the concealer.

As a colour analyst, what I want most is for you to have options. I want you to know your most flattering colours so that you can choose to wear them, or choose not to. Knowledge is power, knowledge is empowerment. Perhaps the opposite of empowerment is insecurity. Insecurity is a funny thing. Fashion and cosmetics companies play on it to sell us things. Insecurity is fundamentally a type of fear. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t fear judgement from others on some level (whether it be about how they look, or their competence at work, or their personality). They might admit it, they might not. It’s perfectly natural.

Colour analysis allows us to see you, not your hair, make-up or clothes. When the colours are right we see your bone structure, the shape of your lips, the line around your iris, the shape of your nose, I could go on. I understand that for some this might feel uncomfortable at first. Not everyone wants to be noticed for who they are, to be seen so clearly, but it is certainly beautiful to behold.

When I start to explain colour analysis, I hear a lot of the same comebacks. To those that say, “I already know what colours suit me” I want to reply “But don’t you want to know the formula? Don’t you want to know if there are colours out there that look amazing on you that you don’t already know about?”

To those that say, “I don’t want to be told what colours to wear” I would say “But we’re not, surely what you put on your body is entirely up to you? Aren’t you curious to know if there are some colours out there that really can make you look younger and your skin smoother and your eyes brighter?”

To those that say, “It makes no difference what colours people wear” I would say “But would you buy the first frame you found in the right size for a painting you’d bought? Didn’t think so. You’d pick a frame that looked harmonious with the painting.” We’re no different. We need ‘framing’ too.

terrible-frame
Ack. My eyes are so confused.
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Could be better… There’s something a bit uncomfortable about this.
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I see the picture, not the frame. Just how it should be.

To those that say, “I don’t want to be told I’m doing it all wrong” I would say “I understand. Please, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter. No-one, least of all me, is going to judge you for what you turn up in.” Instead of fearing judgement or getting caught up in whether or not you’re ‘doing it wrong’ I just wish that people would relax, and breathe, and know that people are often so caught up in worrying about what others think of them that they’re not really looking at you at all. So often when someone turns up for an analysis they are fretting about their outfit and I often think how funny it is that they are so busy worrying about their own outfit that they’re not looking at mine and judging whether I’m practising what I preach and whether, based on my appearance, I’m worth the money they’re giving me.

When I’m asked to explain colour analysis and why it’s great, everything I’ve mentioned here runs through my head. It’s overwhelming. I feel a sense of great responsibility to impart what I know about it and why I think it could help someone and I often feel I fail to convey what I wanted to get across. I want to tell them how it changed my life. I want to tell them that now, every day, getting dressed is easy. Buying make-up is easy. I can put as much or as little effort into my outfit as I want and I’ll consistently feel comfortable leaving the house in it. I want to tell them that it wasn’t always this way. I want to tell them about the days when I’d leave the house hoping I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew. I want to tell them how ugly I felt some days, the shame, the frustration of having a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing I felt I could put on and leave the house in. I want them to know that when I started wearing my colours I started to feel good about looking in the mirror, not anxious or shy. When someone asks me to explain what colour analysis is, perhaps I’ll just point them to this article instead 🙂