Kettlewell colours

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.

Cover up or dare to bare? Your essential summer skirt lengths

Effortless summer style is all about mastering the art of the skirt. Find your perfect length and everything falls into place for a breezy summer look.

short – ruched skirt

A great summer length for a huge range of body shapes from apple (you’ll have great legs if you fall into this camp, I guarantee), the more petite among us and, conversely, the longer of limb, as well as curvier types who want something that follows their body shape without highlighting every lump and bump (the ruched fabric disguises a multitude of sins). The ruched skirt looks amazing paired with a relaxed top like the cara v neck or tasha top.

Items shown: Slub Charli Top, Short Ruched Skirt, Tassel Necklace and a Suede Tassel Clutch

knee – jersey pencil skirt or long ruched skirt

Workwear, sorted. The safe skirt length for all of us when it comes to smarter dressing, you can’t go wrong with a gently fitted knee length skirt. Far easier to style than its a-line counterpart, don’t be put off by feeling that this skirt will cling or highlight your flaws – rather the opposite, in that the neat tailoring will elongate and slim your silhouette. For a more formal look, opt for the jersey pencil skirt with a light coloured jersey shirt or daphne blouse, or go slightly more casual in the long ruched skirt with a faux wrap crossover.

Items shown: Daphne Blouse, Shawl Collar Wrap, Jersey Pencil Skirt, Single Wrap Bracelet, Ballerina Pumps

midi – weekend skirt

The length of the moment, the midi skirt can feel old fashioned and tricky to style, but bring it up to date with a crisp breton top and playful sneakers and you’re good to go. If you’re petite, opt for a slim fitting top to avoid looking drowned in fabric, but for everyone else, the gentle a-line shape of the weekend skirt can be worn in a variety of ways to dress it up or down.

 

Items shown: Stripe Boat Neck, Weekend Skirt, Tassel Necklace, Suede Tassel Clutch

maxi – jersey maxi skirt

Wear with care if you’re petite, but a jersey maxi skirt can be a great breezy option for pretty much every body shape. Ideal if you don’t want to bare your legs (because it’s just faintly possible that, like me, some of you aren’t in possession of a pair of legs that feel 100% summer ready yet), a maxi skirt gives that laid back and boho-chic feel with the simple addition of a short sleeved t-shirt and a sunhat.

Items shown: Pippa Top, Jersey Maxi Skirt, Short Cascade Wrap, Single Wrap Bracelet

And to get your legs summer ready, why not check out these Legology products developed by award winning beauty journalist Kate Shapland –  Exfo-Lite sea salt scrub is the perfect prep for summer legs. After a good scrub and soak, finish them off with the genius Sun-Lite, which adds a healthy glow without the hassle or scary orange hue of fake tan. And if you suffer from heavy legs while flying or in the heat, you definitely need to add Air-Lite to your hand luggage. The amazing scent, innovative massage application and powerful active ingredients will put a spring in your step every time you use it.

And don’t forget to enter our competition to win a wonderful holiday essentials package including a complete set of Legology products:

  • A Kettlewell Cashmere Gauze Stole in your choice of Bright Aqua or Green Teal
  • A Kettlewell Stripe Boat Neck Tee in True Red
  • A set of Legology Contouring Leg Care – Exfo-Lite, Air-Lite and Sun-Lite
  • Two signed copies of A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson
  • Two copies of the CD daydreams by Alice Martineau

Competition closes at midnight on 29th May 2017. 

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

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.

 

Wedding season ready – add your splash!

It’s that time of year again; The invitations arrive, the outfit panic begins. Wedding season is upon us.

If you’re an experienced wedding goer, you’ll be familiar with the effort involved to simultaneously not spend a small fortune, look like you’ve made an effort, not wear the same thing as you wore to the last three weddings within the same social circle and, often in distant last place on the priority list, actually feel good about your appearance.

Luckily for you, the solution is at hand. Three simple steps to wedding guest perfection…

First

One of the easiest way to boost your wedding outfit confidence is to wear colours that you know make your skin glow and your eyes sparkle. So get your colours sorted pronto. Find your nearest consultant and book in for a colour analysis or, if you’re panicking about a wedding next week, take Kettlewell’s online quiz as a first step to get you on your way.

Second

Buy an investment basic outfit in one of your favourite neutrals, either a simple dress or trousers and top. For ideas on the best neutrals for your season, check out this recent blog post. Keep this outfit simple and flattering – you’re going to be adding the wow in a minute.

Kettewell items shown: Simone Cowl in Pastel Rose and Soft Square Vest in Bright Navy. Other items from John Lewis.

Third

Add your splash! The brights are what people will remember from your outfit, so adding a few carefully chosen brights will uplift and change your outfit for every occasion. And best of all, you can mix and match the basic outfit and the brights within your wardrobe to make a million and one outfits for other occasions in the future.

 

Add a Short Cascade Wrap in Flamingo Pink, a Suede Tassel Clutch in Ginger and a Single Wrap Bracelet in Biscuit/Gold

Add a Mid Cascade Wrap in Canary Yellow, Metallic Leather Clutch in Silver and a Tassel Necklace in Aqua Multi

Add a Cashmere Gauze Stole in Soft Aqua, Metallic Leather Clutch in Platino and a Tassel Necklace in Aqua Multi

Add a Milan Knit Cardi in Strawberry, a Tassel Necklace in Azure Blue, a Suede Tassel Clutch in Cobalt Blue

Or… make the dress the splash!

Go bold with your basic dress. Here we show the Arabella Cap Sleeve Dress in Canary Yellow.  Accessories can be bright or neutral, depending on your mood and the occasion!

Go neutral: add a Milan Knit Cardigan in Cream, a Tassel Necklace in Savannah and a Metallic Leather Clutch in Platino

Go bright: add a Milan Knit Cardigan in True Blue Marl, a Tassel Necklace in Azure Blue, a Suede Tassel Clutch in Cobalt Blue and a pair of Ballerina Pumps in Blue/Neon Coral

 

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

How to win your ultimate holiday essentials!

Some holiday essentials transcend the destination. Whether you’re heading for the pool, the beach or a glamorous city location, there are a few things that should never come off your packing list.

Not only am I going to let you in on my ultimate ‘getting on a plane/train/automobile to anywhere’ packing tips, but Kettlewell has joined forces with cult body care brand Legology to offer you the chance to win our ultimate packing essentials.

What do I need to take?

We’ve whittled down the list to the top holiday essentials. Read to the end to find out how to win your own holiday essentials bundle!

Layers

Wherever you’re going, layering up will help you get maximum use from minimum clothes. Start with your favourite Kettlewell vest, throw on a classic stripe tee and add knitwear for travel – or aggressive air conditioning (long-time readers of this blog will know this is a real pet hate of mine!).

win – our bestselling stripe boat neck tee  in glorious true red (the perfect shade for any skin tone)

A lightweight wrap

Call it a scarf, call it shawl, call it an emergency sling/blanket/picnic rug. whatever you call it and wherever you use it for, a holiday isn’t a holiday without a lightweight oversized scarf. Kettlewell’s cashmere gauze stole is perfect for holidays – light enough for travel (and that insane hot country aircon. Have I mentioned I have issues with this?).

win – one of my personal Kettlewell heroes, the cashmere gauze stole.
If you can’t go bold with colour on holiday, when can you?

Contouring leg care

Everyone remembers to pack the SPF, make up and moisturisers but are your legs summer ready? If you’re anything like me, they’ve probably been somewhat neglected during the winter months!). Step forward, Legology. If you’ve never heard of Legology, you’re in the same boat that I was a few months ago, but I am well and truly converted.

Legology’s Exfo-Lite sea salt scrub is the perfect prep for summer legs. After a good scrub and soak, finish them off with the genius Sun-Lite, which adds a healthy glow without the hassle or scary orange hue of fake tan. And if you suffer from heavy legs while flying or in the heat, you definitely need to add Air-Lite to your hand luggage. The amazing scent, innovative massage application and powerful active ingredients will put a spring in your step every time you use it.

win – your very own set of Exfo-Lite, Air-Lite and Sun-Lite

The entertainment package

Surely this has to come in the top five on any holiday packing guide? Good books and good music are essential for any holiday destination.

When it comes to literature, whether your preference is for a love story, an adventure or a hard hitting biography, Alice Peterson’s A Song For Tomorrow has something for everyone. Inspired by singer Alice Martineau, who followed her dreams in the face of huge challenges, this book is a life affirming read.

Since A Song for Tomorrow was inspired by Alice Martineau, we’ve also got two copies of her album Daydreams to give away – the addition your holiday playlist has been waiting for just as much as you’ve been waiting for the perfect Breton stripe top!

win – two signed copies of Alice Peterson’s A Song for Tomorrow (one for you, one for a friend) and two copies of Alice Martineau’s CD Daydreams

How to enter

To enter simply click on this link and fill in the entry form.

The winner will receive:

  • A Kettlewell Cashmere Gauze Stole in your choice of Bright Aqua or Green Teal
  • A Kettlewell Stripe Boat Neck Tee in True Red
  • A set of Legology Contouring Leg Care – Exfo-Lite, Air-Lite and Sun-Lite
  • Two signed copies of A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson
  • Two copies of the CD daydreams by Alice Martineau

Total value of the prize is £300

The small print: The prize draw is open from 28th April and ends at midnight on May 29th 2017 and is open to UK residents only. Only one entry per person is permitted. The winner will be drawn from all entries received and  notified by email shortly afterwards.

Good luck!