Doing your colours? Makes me see red!

In a comment to a previous post, I’ve been asked for advice on “prescribed” personal ideal colours for clothes and makeup and the use of specific colour swatches used by a number of style consultants.

I thought this worth its own post as I’m asked about this at pretty much every workshop I do. And I have to say it’s a particular bête noire for me. I believe the approach is simplistic and most often taught by people who do not have enough experience working with women and fabrics.

Telling people on the basis of holding up a single piece of blue cotton next to a person’s face that blue either suits them or doesn’t is just silly. A blue in velvet, a blue in silk, a blue in cotton, wool or any number of modern fabrics will look different. Is it a yellow-based blue or a pink-based blue – the base hues have a massive effect.

To my mind there is only one way that the appropriateness of a colour can be judged for a human being: and that is when the actual person is presented with a specific garment in a specific colour.

Every time someone comes into Wardrobe with their colours done, we have to ask them to forget it and work with us because every single one has been wrong or at least far too limiting.

I remember one time a woman came into the shop dressed head to toe in aquamarine – I mean literally every garment and accessory was aquamarine. Her colourist had told her that it was her best colour. It took me more than a year to persuade her to throw away her book of colours.

It is true that there is a basic link (for Caucasian skins at least) between skin colouring and the colour of clothes you should choose. Pretty much everyone has either a pink tone or a yellow/golden tone – and these are the only two you need to consider. I have a yellow base to my skin and look terrible in any fabric with a base tone of pink.

But it’s hard to tell ‘as a rule’ whether particular colours will work for you as different tints can work at subtly different levels.  In my opinion, you are more likely to make mistakes approaching your choices by following hard and fast rules, rather than looking at each garment’s colour/cloth combination with the advice of an experienced salesperson or stylist.

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1 Response to “Doing your colours? Makes me see red!”


  • Dear Susie,

    I’m so glad you did this post. Have you any idea why the US has never moved away from their original 4 seasons while in the UK it has mushroomed to about 12?

    I think your advice is spot on – believe your own eyes in good light.

    Best wishes,
    Bea

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