Colour Combinations

Colour conversations with Fiona Douglas from Bluebell Gray

At Kettlewell, we are always excited to discover people who share our passion for colour. In the first of a new series of Colour Conversations with colour champions we admire, Fiona Douglas, founder of the Scottish design studio Bluebell Gray, famous for its exquisite watercolour florals, tells Melissa about her adventures in colour – and why the future has never been brighter…

Your watercolour florals are beautiful. How did you start designing them for the home? 
I’ve always loved home things. As a teenager I begged my mum and dad to let me paint my room bright lime green and orange, and I covered the walls in all sorts of things and pictures I had made – flowers featured everywhere. Our home growing up was colourful and full of interesting things, so I think interiors have always been something that has been around me. My prints are usually quite large scale so they lend themselves well to interiors. When I was starting out, cushions seemed like the best, and simplest, way for me to transfer my designs on to textiles.

Where did the name Bluebellgray come from?
Bluebells are my favourite flowers. I love seeing them carpet a beautiful wood in springtime, and they always make my heart happy. The word ‘gray’ refers to the fact that I print on to a lot of linen cloth that has a grey tone to it.

How does colour make you feel? 
It really uplifts me, and it definitely affects my mood. I love using it in a positive way. Wearing something colourful reflects me and what I do; it’s an important part of who I am. So much of my identity is wrapped up in colour – it’s a big part of my life.

Where do you find your design inspiration?  
I find inspiration everywhere. I love just soaking up experiences and the world around me. It could be something as simple as looking at the leaves in the light on trees that line my street, the colour of the ocean when I’m on holiday, or the colours that are left over on my palette when I paint that feeds my creative mind. I do plan specific inspiration trips as well, though. I usually go somewhere twice a year with my creative team to spark some new ideas and feel inspired.

Describe your design studio.
It’s in a beautiful old townhouse in the West End of Glasgow, with huge ceilings, lots of period detailing and big double-aspect windows that let in lots of light. The space I work in is really important to me and how I work. I need light and space and walls to hang images. I love having inspirational things around me; it all feeds in creatively. The floors are whitewashed wood and the walls are painted in various colours that change quite frequently depending on what I’m working on. We often do our photo shoots in the studio as it’s such a beautiful space, so we always need to freshen the colours. Right now I have a deep dusty rose-pink wall and an amazing deep, almost cobalt blue, on the walls.

Do you have a favourite Bluebellgray product? 
The ‘Abstract’ design always has a special place in my heart. It was so new at the time when I launched it; there was nothing else like it around and it’s become the design people really associate with the brand, which is lovely. The punchy colours and fun nature of the design really sum up my design style.

Abstract design

How much has colour made its way into your wardrobe?
My wardrobe is absolutely filled with colour! I adore clothes. I wear colourful things every day. I actually had my colours done a few years ago and I’m a Summer, which fits me so well as I love pinks, blues and turquoises. I wear a lot of blue jeans and then colourful tops and jackets. I usually add a colourful bag and earrings too – that’s my go-to look. I have a jumper I got given as a gift recently which is an amazing aqua blue – it looks hand-knitted and has big belled-shaped sleeves. It’s a really special piece that a love wearing.

Colour is everywhere right now, from homeware to fashion. Do you feel beige has had its day? 
I think the amazing thing about this point in time is that there are so many options for people! When I was in my late teens/early twenties it was right in the middle of the trend for minimalism and everything being black. I really struggled finding my clothing identity as I just couldn’t find what I wanted to wear; it just didn’t exist. The thing I love so much about now and the trend for colour is that it’s given people options and choices, there is no one overriding trend, so people can choose from an amazing variety of colours and designs that are on the market.

I’m just so happy that there is so much colour out there to choose from in homeware and fashion. It really lets people choose things that make them happy. I don’t think people will ever want to go back to times of less choice and colour. I think it’s here to stay.

 

Last great colourful buy?
I bought a beautiful Anya Hindmarch tote bag. It was an investment but I use it almost every day and the colour works with everything in my wardrobe.

And finally, do you have a favourite colour? 
I find it so hard to choose just one! I love pink, blue and turquoise all equally and in all their shades.

What’s your bouquet?

Chelsea Flower Show is almost upon us. Does anyone else view Chelsea Flower Show in much the same way they view a good cup of tea, the Queen and complaining about the weather? A gloriously comforting British institution that rolls around each year, reliably and without drama, and reminds us of the good things in life.

Of course, unlike the tea and the weather, (but a bit like the Queen, to be honest), Chelsea Flower Show is vibrantly, proudly colourful. Whether you are an avid horticulturalist or just like to glance admiringly at a bunch of florist prepared flowers on the windowsill, no doubt you will have caught a glimpse of the rainbow of colour that makes up every view at the show. Every angle is filled with colour, with even the most minimalist gardens proudly boasting dozens of shades of soothing green and the boldest gardens a riot of bright shades.

In honour of Chelsea, we’ve turned our very favourite bouquets into an outfit for each season.

Autumn

Kettlewell items shown: Look 1 Long Linen V Neck in Acid Lime, Jersey Trousers in Cream, Florence Infinity Scarf in Pecan, Look 2 Milan Knit Cardigan in Sunshine Yellow, Long Camisole in Indian Spice, Short Ruched Skirt in Savannah Look 3 Mid Cascade in Flint, Davina Tee in Almond, Rosa 7/8 Trousers in Poppy

Spring

 

Kettlewell items shown: Look 1 Mid Cascade in Canary Yellow, Long Vest in Rose,  Jersey Trousers in Cream Look 2 Milan Knit Cardigan in Cream, Long Camisole in Poppy, Short Ruched Skirt in Savannah Look 3 Mid Cascade in Soft White, Darcey Scoop in Kiwi, Ruched Skirt in Ganzi Purple

Summer

Kettlewell items shown: Look 1 Mid Cascade in Clover, Long Camisole in Crushed Berry, Short Ruched Skirt in Antique Teal Look 2 Cotton Blazer  in Iris, Silky Scoop Neck in Hyacinth, Marie Trousers in Light Navy Look 3 Short Cascade in Silver, Lace Camisole in Pink Ice, Jersey Pencil Skirt in Mulberry

Winter

Kettlewell items shown: Look 1 Tasha Top in Neon Yellow, Marie Trousers in Light Navy, Tassel Necklace in Cerise Pink Look 2 Mid Cascade in Charcoal, Lace Camisole in Deep Claret, Rosa 7/8 Trousers in White Look 3 Fitted Cropped Cardigan in Black, Sleeveless V in White, Short Ruched Skirt in Cobalt Blue

Perfect prints for every palette

While plain coloured clothes can form the building blocks of any wardrobe, prints really can be your wardrobe heroes. Whether you’re highlighting your best bits, camouflaging your, erm, less best bits, trying to find an effortless way of incorporating colour or simply embracing this season’s floral trend, prints can solve a multitude of wardrobe dilemmas.

The other problem with prints after your colour analysis can be deciding whether they’ll work for your palette. simple rule of thumb solution; the more a print aligns with your palette the better, but a bare minimum of 60% of the print falling within your palette will work well enough. Of course, the easiest way to get a print that fits perfectly within your season’s colours is to choose one from Kettlewell, where the colours have been carefully selected to match your palette.

And once you’ve bought your print, how do you wear it? Pick out a colour from within the print for the rest of your outfit, or go off piste and boldly clash? For information on how to wear prints for your season, click below to go to the appropriate post. If you haven’t had your colours analysed yet, why not take our quiz, or read on for more general tips and tricks to perfect your print game.

 

 

 

If you haven’t had your colours analysed and want to get started with prints, stick with either universal colours or ones you feel confident in and follow one of our simple formulas for wearing print. Start with a simple stripe and work your way up!

The stripe is right
Kettlewell items shown: Stripe Boat Neck in periwinkle, Ballerina Pumps in light gold

Keep it co-ordinated

Kettlewell items: Print Jersey Trousers in black/sapphire, Mid Cascade in black, Long Vest in sapphire

Neutral with a pop

Kettlewell items: Print Daphne Blouse in pastel & aqua, Short Ruched Skirt in pebble grey, Milan Knit Cardigan in light silver

Go for the clash

Kettlewell items: Stripe Boat Neck in true red, Short Ruched Skirt in ganzi purple, Ballerina Pumps in silver

Co-ordinated colour clashes

Every few years, another colour clashing trend comes around, and while some of us embrace it with huge confidence, the rest of us tend to sidle around it slowly, keeping our outfits nice and safe and, at most, ‘neutral with a pop of colour’. Well, it’s 2017 and the trend has cycled round again, but this time we’ve decided to make things simple for you by showing you how to pair clashing colours in a way that makes you look and feel amazing.

The rules of The Clash:

  1. It is so much easier if you choose colours from within your palette. Clashing doesn’t need to mean going outside your palette. Think of bright fuchsia pink with bold scarlet, or burgundy with delicate duck egg?
  2. If you want to go outside your palette, keep your outfit down to as few colours as possible, to avoid the clashing colours looking less ‘statement style’ and more ‘got dressed in the dark’.
  3. Unless you’re being super brave and adding a third clashing colour, keep your accessories/any non-clashing clothes as neutral as possible to avoid detracting from the bold colour statement you are already making. Going for a darker neutral makes those non-focus colours recede, while going light can add even more interest, and give a slightly retro feel.

Our favourite colour clashes

Pink and red (Winter, Spring)

cara v neck, short ruched skirt, tassel necklace, love colour tee, rosa 7/8 trousers

Navy and black (Winter)

cara v neck, short ruched skirt, leaf charm necklace

Blue and orange (Spring, Autumn with teal)

pippa top, short ruched skirt, tassel necklace, darcey scoop, rosa 7/8 trousers

Muted and bright pink (Spring, Summer)

milan knit crew, florence infinity scarf, rosa 7/8 trousers, long tie wrap, long vest, tassel necklace, marie trousers

Sky blue and vermillion (Spring)

darcey boat neck, tassel necklace, weekend skirt

Mint and mulberry (Summer, Winter)

milan knit cardi, fine cotton v neck, marie trousers, leaf charm necklace

Violet and pink (Summer)

v neck 3/4 sleeve tee, florence infinity scarf, marie trousers

Terracotta and yellow (Autumn)

milan knit cardi, square neck 3/4 sleeve, rosa 7/8 trousers, tassel necklace

Mustard and purple (Autumn)

mid cascade, davina tee, rosa 7/8 trousers, tassel necklace

Cobalt and ice green (Winter)

daphne blouse, short ruched skirt, coin pendant necklace

Purple and red (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)

long tie wrap, love colour tee, short ruched skirt

Pink and orange (stepping out of your palette!)

simone cowl, rosa 7/8 trousers, coin pendant necklace

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)

Better than black

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Way back last year, I wrote a post on how colour analysis can still work even if you are addicted to black, and I promised you a post on some even better options when you felt ready to ditch the black for good. Finally, that post has made it to the top of my never-ending list of post ideas.

Yes, black is ‘timeless’ and ‘a classic’, but the fact is that on most of us it is (a) really rather draining, and (b) unless you are wearing beautifully cut well dyed, non-faded designer black, it doesn’t actually look any more elegant and well put together than any other colour (and I would argue that even that deep black designer piece might look even better in a slightly different shade which allows us to see the gorgeous cut and detailing, rather than hiding it all in a light absorbing swathe of darkness). Even for Winters (the only season to which we ‘give’ true black and white), there are alternatives within the palette, so whatever your season I’m going to try to persuade you away from the black.

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Kettlewell items shown: Silky V Neck in Ice Blue and Soft White, Mid Cascade in Black and Bright Navy, Jersey Pencil Skirt in Black and Bright Navy, Metallic Ballerina Pumps in Light Gold

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Kettlewell items shown: Silky Crew Neck in White and Soft White, Florence Infinity Scarf in Black and Fig

 

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Kettlewell items shown: Sasha Belted Cardigan in Oyster Marl, Long Vest in Black and Mocha, Long Leggings in Black and Marine Blue

raw-winters_bKettlewell items shown: Faux Wrap Long Sleeve in Black and Charcoal, Jersey Trousers in Black and Charcoal, Florence Infinity Scarf in Fuchsia

 

Who you gonna call? Mythbusters!

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Fashion myths drive me bananas. I find arbitrary rules such as ‘blue and green should never be seen’ and ‘everyone looks chic in black’ utterly infuriating, and they instantly make me want to go out wearing my bluest and greenest clothes all at once, preferably in vertical stripes with mismatched textures and a print on my widest part, for maximum offence.

However, rather than doing that I thought it might be more helpful to actually address some of those pernicious fashion myths and show you that actually the most important thing is to choose styles and colours that work for you, not that adhere to some arbitrary set of fashion ‘rules’. Of course, once I started to look into it, there were so many rules that (a) I was left amazed that any of us manage to get dressed in the morning and (b) I realised it was more than I could cover in one post. So today I’m going to deal with pervasive colour-related myths, but keep an eye out for further fashion myth busting next month when I deal with stripes, prints and age related ‘rules’.

Blue and green should never be seen

I’ve always found this rule bizarre, frankly. Anyone who has studied interior design or art knows that blue and green fall into the ‘related colours’ rule on the colour wheel (put simply, these colours sit next to each other on a rainbow or artists’ colour wheel) and therefore look perfectly good together. Of course, hue and value matter too – don’t panic too much about this, just feel confident that if you both colours you are putting together sit within your palette, they will be harmonious, and it’s only when you drift outside your own personal palette with one or other colour that you might run into problems with clashing.

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Kettlewell items shown: Mid Cascade Wrap in Emerald, Cara V Neck in Navy and Ruched Skirt in Navy

No white in winter

Or if you’re in the US, no white after Labour Day (the first Monday in September). This rule made (some) sense back in the days when the only clothes you might buy in white were soft cottons and linens in summer weight fabrics. Nowadays, with the abundance of white denim and knitwear, there’s absolutely no reason why your clothes shouldn’t have a white winter! Of course, stick to your best version of white – soft white for Summers, a slightly warmer cream for Springs and Autumns, and true stark white only for the Winters among us.

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Kettlewell items shown: SPRING: Silky V Neck in Soft White, SUMMER: City Poncho in Oyster Marl, AUTUMN: Alpaca Shawl in Oatmeal, WINTER: Semi Scoop 3/4 in White

Your bag must match your shoes

It definitely should, if you want to look like you got lost on your way to the 1950s. Otherwise, mix and match within your palette for a look that provides contrast without a jarring clash. If you’re feeling low on confidence in this area, try going for a brighter bag and neutral shoes, rather than two bold tones together. I promise that once you get your nerve though, there’ll be no stopping you.

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Kettlewell items shown: Suede Tassel Clutch in Ginger and Rustic Red

No navy with black

I only approve of this rule if black falls outside your personal palette, in which case you shouldn’t be wearing it. Otherwise, ignore it with impunity. True deep black and rich navy looks expensive and elegant paired together, particularly done in a bold colour block way, rather than an ‘I accidentally wore these black shoes with my navy suit’ way. The softer navy of Summer, brighter navy of Spring and marine blue of Autumn all look fairly drab with black, but that’s because they don’t fall into the same colour palette, rather than anything to do with some arbitrary fashion rule.

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Kettlewell items shown: Mid Cascade Wraps in Black and Navy, Soft Square Vest in Navy and Jersey Pencil Skirt in Navy, Sleeveless V Neck in Black and Ruched Skirt in Black

Black works for everyone

No. Just no. If you’ve had a colour analysis, you’ll know full well how many better colours there are for you than black, unless you are a Winter (and even here there are often better options such as charcoal or navy, especially on older skin). In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I’ve got an upcoming post on ‘better than black’ alternatives for every skintone which you can keep an eye out for. And if you really can’t give it up, why not read our guide on how to make it work for you?