I often find that it’s not until someone has had their colours analysed by a trained consultant that they properly ‘get’ what wearing the right shades can do for them. It’s easy to think that you’ve always suited a crisp white shirt – until you see in sharp relief the effect oyster has on your skin tone, and then there’s no contest. Or the periwinkle blue that makes your eyes ‘pop’. I hesitate to use the words ‘life changing’, but for a lot of people it really can be.
And while it’s tempting to have a stab at colour self-analysis, it’s best left to the professionals. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has told me with quiet authority that they’re a Winter, only to discover at the end of a consultation that, on the basis of their skin tone and eye colour, they’re actually a Summer.
Which is where Fiona Ingham comes in. Fiona is an expert in colour analysis with the House of Colour and her sessions at her studio in North London’s Primrose Hill are the stuff of colour legend. Stella magazine cited them as one of their ’20 Ways To Look Younger’, and as well as being helpful and informative, they are also immensely enjoyable. Fiona’s philosophy is that whatever your gender, colouring, age, shape or budget, having your colours done will save you time and money in the long run and help you to avoid those “I’ve got nothing to wear” wardrobe laments we’re all so familiar with, as every piece within your colour palette pulls seamlessly together.
Last week we asked Fiona to work her colour magic on feature writer and columnist Hannah Betts, a regular contributor to The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Stella, Daily Mail, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, and a lifelong devotee of ice pastels, emerald green and black. Secretly convinced she was a Winter and with a “terror of going sludge”, Hannah’s joy was palpable as one cool, intense colour after another, from iced lavender to crimson to dark emerald was draped under her chin, brightening her eyes, lighting her face, and placing her very firmly in the Jewel Winter camp.
I have to say that Hannah made for a rather fabulous client – enthusiastic, fascinated, full of energy, one moment shrieking with delight, the next recoiling in horror. It was one of the most entertaining colour consultations I’ve attended in a long time.
So what did Hannah make of her session with Fiona? ‘In the main it was a blissful confirmation that I was on the right course, given what joy I take in my wardrobe, and how distraught I would be sans emerald green,” she told me, when we caught up the following day. “That said, I’d worried about black because we older birds are told to worry about black, and now I can rock it with impunity. I’d also thought that white was generally a bit impossible, had noted it could really work on me, but wasn’t quite sure if I’d imagined this. Now I can really see it. I loved having my ‘ice colours’ confirmed by way of light relief when I don’t want to be in “full on” winter mode. However, with typical Winter truculence, I won’t be giving up gold, because a life without gold is a life half lived. It stays in the form of jewels, bags and shoes.”
Fiona also took Kettlewell’s new PR, Claire, through her colour paces, declaring her an Autumn, with marine navy, forest green, dark olive and chestnut among her ‘wow’ colours. “Going clothes shopping soon after I’d had my colours done by Fiona was a revelation,” says Claire, who confesses to having more than her fair share of (now forbidden) black in her wardrobe. “While in the past I’d home in on monochrome, especially with Christmas around the corner, I made a conscious effort to seek out pieces in colours that hadn’t really occurred to me to wear before. I’ve always been a fan of autumn colours navy and camel – and love coral in the summer when I have a tan – but it’s amazing how you start to see beyond the familiar and look to embrace other shades within your palette, in my case forest green, dark olive, old gold and rosewood. It’s exciting to be able to look at your wardrobe in a whole different light.”
And that’s the joy of colour analysis. It takes you to places you never even knew you wanted to go.
If you would like to have your colours done and find a colour consultant near you, visit this page on the website
Buy Hannah’s Kettlewell favourites
1 Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in Grey Marl and Lobelia
2 Florence Infinity Scarf in Lobelia
3 and 4 Lace Satin Shirts in Light Grey and Navy
Buy Claire’s Kettlewell favourites
1 Cashmere Gauze Stole in French Navy
2 Sparkle Tunic in Antique Teal
3 Lace Camisole in Sultry Navy
4 Suede Tassel Clutch in Ginger
5 Long Merino Cardigan in Dark Olive