Colour analysis

Colours for Life – by Melissa

One of the joys of doing what I do at Kettlewell is being able to see the impact on other people, whether it’s a teenage goddaughter having her clothing personality analysed for the first time or a lifestyle blogger having her colours refreshed  after 25 years.

It takes me back to the first time I had my colours done in my late twenties (John had his analysed first and, assuming I was a Summer too, would buy me beautiful cashmere jumpers in his palette of baby blues, pinks and lilacs, before I decided to try it for myself and discovered I was a Spring). Without putting too fine a point on it, it changed my life. Out went the black and grey, and in came yellow, turquoise and coral, like a burst of fresh Spring air. I’d never had so many compliments.

Since then I’ve convinced almost all my friends and family to get theirs colours done, including my three children, who were eight, six and two at the time (Tasha is a Winter Sprinter, Trixie is Vibrant Autumn and Tom is a Summer). Tom must be one of the youngest people ever to have had his colours done, although in all truthfulness it was more for fun than anything else and we only managed a few drapes before he wriggled away.


Recently, for her 18th birthday present, I took my goddaughter Mimi to Battersea in London to have both her colours updated and her style analysed by Rachel at the award-winning style consultancy Red Leopard , to help her avoid expensive shopping mistakes early on and set her up for life with a wardrobe of clothes in colours that genuinely suit and flatter her. Mimi had already been analysed as an Autumn when she was a child, and the minute the warm, earthy Autumn colours were draped around her, her eyes lit up and her skin glowed, and it was plain to see what palette she belonged to.

Just as important as identifying the colours that make you glow is finding styles that highlight your best bits and draw attention away from problem areas, and the fun part of any style journey is finding out your clothing personality. Having analysed everything from body architecture to face shape, Rachel identified Mimi as a ‘Bohemian’ (feminine, sexy, glamorous, yet earthy: think Julianne Moore, Sienna Miller and Sophie Dahl). She also advised her what to wear to a couple of important events in the diary, including bridesmaid at her sister’s summer wedding and an upcoming university interview (if she wanted to wear a jacket for authority, for example, it would be better curved with some texture or pattern, rather than the classic suit look).

Armed with this new-found knowledge, we headed off for an afternoon of shopping at nearby King’s Road and the home of boho chic, Anthropologie. To say that Mimi looked great in everything she tried on is an understatement. From the butter-soft chestnut suede jacket to the sage green ruffle-fronted linen top, one piece after another looked like it had been designed especially for her. The Red Leopard magic had worked.

But the final word goes to Mimi herself, who messaged me later to say how much she had enjoyed her day out. “Thank you for such a unique and thoughtful present – I had so much fun but also learnt so much. I know everything I found out today I will use for many years to come.” I think that says it all.


Yellow – the ultimate springtime shade, for every colour palette

Yellow is such a polarising colour. I would say that 75% of clients have strong feelings about it, either positive or negative. Of course, most of those feelings come from experience either of their perfect yellow (a Spring who has inadvertently hit on their perfect shade of canary), or their worst version (usually a Winter or Summer who has been persuaded into mustard or corn by well meaning friends and family). Whatever their relationship with yellow, as a consultant I get the chance to show every client which shade they can wear for maximum effect.

So what is your best yellow, and how should you wear it? If you know your seasonal colour palette, please click below to visit a post written specifically for you. If you don’t know your colour palette, why not take Kettlewell’s colour quiz, or read on for how to wear yellow if you don’t know your palette.




If you haven’t had your colours analysed, yellow can be a tricky shade to risk, as there is so much variation between the warm and cool shades, and it’s hard to find such a thing as a ‘neutral’ yellow, without too much warmth or coolness.

The best solution, if you are lacking in confidence with yellow, is generally to keep it away from immediately under your face (i.e. avoid high neck t-shirts and scarves in yellow). Opt for a lower neck top, with a safer shade scarf or necklace over the top, or a cardigan layered over another colour. In summer, pale yellow cropped trousers can be a cheery alternative to denim or white, and yellow sneakers or sandals can lift an outfit.

(Click to enlarge image)

Tonal directions or seasonal analysis? Translation 101

When I write the Kettlewell blog, I talk almost exclusively in seasonal terms (i.e. referring to the colour palettes as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and within that the different ‘types’ of each season. However, the palettes can also be divided up according to ‘tonal directions’ rather than seasons.

In the interests of keeping things clear for all of Kettlewell’s customers, not just those who have had a seasonal analysis, a translation guide seemed in order.

Most modern colour analysis systems – including the two UK big names, House of Colour and Colour me Beautiful – use a 12 season analysis system. The difference is not so much in the palettes as in the different names of those palettes. I have dealt with the different seasonal types used by House of Colour in depth in four posts (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and today it’s the turn of the Colour me Beautiful system to get a little in depth attention, and a translation to the seasonal system.

In the Colour me Beautiful analysis process, the client is assigned a dominant and a secondary tonal direction. These two tonal directions together determine the palette that the client is given. So a client may, for instance, be given ‘Clear and Warm’, meaning that their dominant tonal direction is Clear, with Warm being the secondary palette signifier.

So what do each of these tonal directions mean? Please note that the translations from tonal to seasonal below may not be exact – every analysis system is slightly different.  However, it should give you a good starting point for finding your colours.


A Cool dominant skin tone is one in which the primary, most important descriptor of the client is that they have a cool (blue) undertone to their skin and need cool toned colours to look their best. A Cool dominant person might be a Winter or a Summer in seasonal terms.

Cool + Clear roughly translates to a Cool/Sultry Winter, at the coolest, deepest end of the Winter palette, whereas Cool + Soft translates to a Cool/Deep/Dark Summer, which is the deepest, most saturated end of the Summer – the most ‘Winter’ end of Summer.


A Warm dominant skin tone is one in which the most important descriptor of the client is that they have a warm (yellow) undertone to their skin, and need similarly warm toned colours to look their best. A warm toned person might be a Spring or an Autumn in seasonal terms.

Warm + Clear translates to a True/Warm Spring, at the warmest, most vibrantly yellow/golden end of the Spring palette, while Warm + Soft equates to a Warm/True/Vibrant Autumn which, like the Spring equivalent, is the most golden, warmest end of the Autumn palette.


Rather than being predominantly warm or cool, the defining characteristic of the Light dominant palette is, well, light. Often fair of skin, hair and eye colour, the lightness of the colour is more crucial than whether the colour falls just to the warm or to the cool side. A Light dominant person might be a Spring or a Summer in seasonal terms.

Light + Cool equates to a Pastel/Light/Cotton Wool Ball Summer, the lightest and brightest summer colours – these colours are the least ‘greyed’ of the summer palette, and seem to be softened by white more than by grey. Light + Warm translates most closely to a Light/Pastel Spring, containing the lightest and most pastel end of the Spring Colours.


As with the Light palettes, the dominant characteristic of the Deep palette is not warmth or coolness, but depth of colour – tending towards the dark and saturated, and the more neutral end of the spectrum rather than overly warm or cool. A Deep dominant person might be an Autumn or a Winter in seasonal terms.

Deep + Cool translates as a Deep/Dark/Burnished Winter, the Winter palette containing the most neutral (in terms of warmth and coolness) tones, seen as the ‘softest’ in the Winter palette, as much as any Winter colour can be soft. Deep + Warm is a Deep Autumn, again tending towards the darkest, most neutral (in terms of warmth and coolness) end of the palette.


The Clear dominant palette has as its most defining feature an absence of greying or muted tones to its colours – all the Clear colours are ‘true’ shades rather than softened versions. A Clear dominant person might be a Spring or a Winter in seasonal terms.

Clear + Cool translates to a Clear/Bright/Sprinter Winter, which falls at the lightest and brightest end of the Winter palette, whereas Clear and Warm equates to a Bright/Clear/Blue Spring, at the brightest and most ‘Winter’ end of the Spring palette.


The predominant feature of the soft palette is an element of muting, or greying, to the colours, rather than a dominance of warmth or coolness. None of the colours appear at full saturation. A Soft dominant person might be a Summer or an Autumn in seasonal terms.

Soft + Cool equates to a Soft/Brown Summer in seasonal terms, featuring the least cool Summer colours, such as the jade greens and rose browns. Soft + Warm is a Soft Autumn, at the lightest and most muted end of the Autumn palette.

Hit colour refresh

What a month March is turning out to be. Not only have we been busy putting the finishing touches to our A/W17 collection, but we’ve been zipping between location recces in Bath, high summer brochure photo shoots in London and filming in Henley-upon-Thames. Added to that, Kettlewell has had the best start to a season ever, for which I must say a huge thank you for all your continued support.

Anyway, there’s nothing like the shift from winter to spring to get everyone talking about colour, and that’s what we were doing last week in Henley with our good friends at Country Wives . For those of you who may not have heard of it, Country Wives is an online magazine, set up by Annabel, Grace and Ellie, three friends from their London days, who have come together to share tips and ideas about everything from food to fashion. We’ve been lucky enough to team up with them once before , but this time we were videoing Grace having a colour refresh  with Helen Venables, MD at House of Colour.

It turns out that 25 years after she first had her colours analysed, Grace’s wow colours have shifted in her seasonal palette and she is now a vibrant autumn, which, I have to say, is a perfect match for her personality. Enthusiastic, vivacious and ever open to suggestion, Grace embraced Helen’s wonderful bright colour drapes with an open-mindedness that was refreshing to see, and loved our Acid Lime, Fiesta Orange, Saffron and Mallard tops, which I highlighted in the second of the vlogs, How to (successfully) wear bright colours .

Back at Kettlewell HQ, we’ve been busy doing some filming of our own this month, and the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a number of short Style Guide video clips dotted around the website, as I talk through a range of styles, including the Striped Boat Neck, Silky Tee, Print Daphne blouse and Butterfly Print Tee. We’ve had some really positive feedback so far, with one customer telling us that the style clips give her a good idea of “whether I’ll like it on myself… It makes outfit ideas come alive when you can see them in real life.” Look out for more as they pop up over the next couple of months, as well as some longer ones where I’ll be sharing my favourite pieces for Spring/Summer 17, and do let us know what you think. After all, it’s because of you that we’re here!


What to buy after your colour analysis, for every palette


If you’ve recently had your colour analysis, you might still be in that post analysis slightly-panicked-and-confused phase, where you’ve been given your season, you’ve looked at your wardrobe and spent a few minutes hyperventilating at how many ‘wrong’ colours you own and you’ve chucked out perhaps three items of clothing that you never liked much anyway. And now you’re not quite sure what to do next.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck, then help is at hand. I’ve pulled together ten essentials, together with five top tips, that will help you begin to move your wardrobe over to your best colours without requiring you to chuck away everything you already own.

If you’ve had your colours analysed, please just click on the appropriate link below to be taken straight to the essentials for your season. If you haven’t had an analysis yet, read on for some tips and tricks to make your wardrobe work more effectively for you even without an analysis.





If you don’t know your personal best palette, it’s still possible to move your wardrobe over to a coherent palette of colours that works well on a wide range of skin tones. Shades such as a taupe-grey, teal, navy, soft white and true red look great on almost everyone and can create a stylish wardrobe that isn’t dependent on the boring basics of black and white.

Kettlewell items shown: Florence Infinity Scarves in True Red and Sultry Navy, Silky Roll Neck in Soft White, Cara V Neck in True Red, Silky Scoop in Mallard, Milan Knit Cardigan in Light Silver, Mid Cascade in Navy, Ruched Skirt in Navy, Rosa 7/8 Trousers in Poppy, Stripe Boat Neck in Kingfisher Stripe

Limiting your wardrobe colour palette will also help you, counter intuitively, embrace colour, as it will give you the confidence to wear the colours that are in your wardrobe, knowing that they harmonise well. It will give you more clothing options, as everything you own will mix and match. And if after embracing a bit of colour, you want to know more, why not try Kettlewell’s quiz to find out what season you might be, or click here to find a colour analyst near you?


Five reasons to get a colour analysis in 2017



No messing around, here’s why you need to make 2017 The Year Of The Colour Analysis:

1 Because neutrals matter

Contrary to popular belief, colour analysis isn’t necessarily about wearing All The Colours (although of course it can be, if you want it to). Increasingly, there is a realisation among people who come to me for a personal colour analysis that knowing their neutrals is vital to putting together everything from a confident professional look to laid back minimalist chic to glamorous evening wear.

Knowing your neutrals is like baking the best possible sponge cake you can before getting onto the decoration – it makes a huge amount of difference to the finished cake (outfit) even if most people won’t notice it at first glance.


(Shown: Soft white Silky Scoop, Light sand Square Neck 3/4, Tan Faux Wrap Long Sleeve, Chocolate marl Jenna Tunic, Light grey marl Cotton Cashmere Cardi, Bright navy Silky V Neck)


(Shown: Soft white Silky V Neck , Mole Soft Square Vest , Rose brown Shawl Collar Wrap, French grey Long Camisole, Navy Crossover Top, Silver Mid Cascade Wrap, Charcoal Camisole)


(Shown: Sand Merino Scoop, Old bronze Camisole, Mocha V Neck 3/4, Chocolate Soft Square Vest, Marine blue Lace Camisole, Dark olive Square Neck 3/4)


(Shown: White Square Neck 3/4, Silver Mid Cascade Wrap, Mid grey Long Cascade, Charcoal Soft Square Vest, Black Silky Roll Neck, Navy Long Camisole)

2 Because brights matter too

You’ve got the ‘cake’ part of your outfit sorted, but adding the right brights is the cherry on top. Wearing bold colours that really work for you, whether it’s a hint of a bright camisole or a full length scarlet evening gown, really makes an outfit head-turn-worthy.

raw-rainbow(Shown: true red Silky Roll Neck, chilli Square Neck 3/4 , mustard Davina Tee, leaf Tasha Top, periwinkle Silky V Neck, indigo Faux Wrap Long Sleeve, ganzi purple Cara V Neck)

3 Because saving money is always happiness inducing


Imagine a world in which you actually wear and love every single item in your wardrobe. A world in which expensive mistakes are a thing of the past and you can invest in well made garments knowing that they flatter you and will be happily worn for years to come.

4 Because looking amazing = feeling amazing

Knowing that you look your best and that you are dressing in a way that works with your own body, rather than some hypothetical ideal woman held up by the fashion industry, really will give you that indefinable inner confidence that you’ve always wanted. Counter-intuitively, it actually makes you less vain, because you can spend less time thinking about your own appearance and more time focusing on other people.


(Model is wearing an Cassis Mid Cascade Wrap over a Ruched Skirt and Cara V Neck in Pebble grey, finished off with a Tassel Necklace in Mulberry Sparkle)

5 Because you can finally have the wardrobe you’ve always dreamed of


Even if you don’t aspire to having a teeny weeny capsule wardrobe (like yours truly), having a wardrobe where everything mixes and matches and you can actually use and love everything that’s in there is a goal of literally every single client who walks through my doors (because, after all, what’s the point of beautiful clothes that look terrible on you?). Knowing your colours and style means having a wardrobe not where you wear perhaps 30%, but a wardrobe where 100% of the clothes are used and loved.

Journalist, Hannah Betts’ had her colours analysed and wrote about her experience in the Sunday Times Style magazine. Read it here

How We Choose our Models – by Melissa


One of the key aspects of my role at Kettlewell, and one which I really enjoy, is choosing models – after all, they are the first people you see when you click on our website or thumb through the brochure that has just landed on your doormat. Finding the right faces to represent the brand is really important, and some of the models have come to feel almost like family over the years. As our collection grows, the number of shoots per season increases.  Currently we book 6-8 models every 6 months and shoot in both studio and on location.

We’ve come a long way since the early days of the business, but I still get that same buzz when the models arrive at the studio and we start the casting process. Today they come from some of London’s top modelling agencies, such as Premier, Models 1, Select and Hive. When we first launched in 2004 we used friends and family for our photo shoots, but soon discovered that the key to showing off the collection in the best possible light is to use experienced models who understand how to create good shapes and know how to move without feeling self-conscious.  With so many colours and styles to photograph in our collection and endless combinations, the photo shoots are tightly packed days and it’s important to have an experienced model and good team who work well together.


Of course, our model castings aren’t a simple case of whittling the choice down to the most beautiful women – our challenge is to find four perfect models who represent each of the seasons, as well as actually suit our clothes. Customers have pointed out in the past that some of our models have been too young or too skinny, and we really take that into consideration, paying attention to body shape and age, and looking at whether the girls are curvy or angular. As obvious as it may seem, they also have to look like they are enjoying what they are wearing and, most importantly have a certain energy to them – after all, colour is joyful.analysis_dAs I mentioned in last week’s blog, it’s never a good idea to guess your colours, models included, so we refer to a trained colour stylist for this task. For our latest casting, we were fortunate enough to be accompanied by House of Colour MD, Helen Venables, who brought her colour drapes and analysed all the models for us, which was no mean feat considering there were about 20 girls. Once their season had been identified we checked to see if they fitted our clothes.  Keira, our in-house stylist and photographer, then gave each seasonally coded model a Kettlewell silky scoop neck  to be photographed in – mint green for Springs, duck egg for Summers, rust for Autumns, sapphires for Winters.models_bLater, back at the office, the hard work began in earnest, sifting through all the images from the casting before finally deciding on the perfect ‘Spring’ and ‘Winter’ to model part one of our next collection – ‘Spring’ Sophie for her sunny, energetic and engaging personality and sporty physique, and ‘Winter’ Violet (a dead ringer for the actress Rachel Weisz) for her glamorous dark looks and curvy figure. Find out how they both got on at our Spring/Summer 2017 collection shoot in next week’s blog.