I have a confession. This may surprise and shock some of you, but I have actually been colour analysed or whatever it’s called.
For someone who finds putting on make-up a drag, and rarely wears it, and spends most of her time messing around in casual trousers and boots – my hedonistic moment (actually nearer an hour) may sadly diminish my standing in your eyes.
I was wandering around Selfridges in Oxford Street, as you do. I was dreamily looking at fabrics when I should really have been buying notions or whatever they are called. Interfacing, buttons, thread, etc.
There was one of those promotional stands. Colour Me Beautiful in fact. I looked idly at it, and flicked through the book. It looked quite interesting. It basically said that people look better in some colours depending on their skin tone and hair colour.
I could buy that theory. There was a practical chapter about colour wheels and tones and blah blah blah that all made sense. There was even a consultant relatively near me. I bought the book but didn’t make an appointment.
I didn’t make an appointment for another three or four years, but finally, with a lieu day from work and in the north of England, I bit the bullet. The price had gone up of course. I think the astronomical sum of £25 had shot up to £35 or £40. Still, I had a day off and it was time to get this out of my system.
I was sure I was a Spring, or maybe even a Winter, looking at my wardrobe full of strong colours. Blacks, bright reds, whites, greys, bright pink, royal blues. I figured I wasn’t summer, or autumn with all the bright orange and lime green colours.
Off I went through glorious North Yorkshire scenery to a lovely house reached by an exceedingly long drive.
I was dutifully wearing a white top so I could be draped with scarves in varying colours which showed me to my best/worst aspects.
They all looked the same to me, and so did I. I could not tell the difference between one colour next to my face or another.
Also I had frosting on my hair apparently. Why do Americans call everything frosting? Icing on cakes is frosting and so are highlights in hair. (My consultant was American).
I was not to wear grey. This was a no-no. Especially with the frosting. If I went back to dark blonde/light brown I could consider it. Bit of a bummer as most of my work clothes were based around grey. Serious, sober, and professional. Somewhat unlike me I suppose.
It turned out I was a sludgey autumn. NO bright colours. No shocking pink. No burgundy. No black. No white. The list of NOs was endless. The amount of clothes I would have to discard would be endless too.
At least my lovely olive green Barbour was a Very Good Colour. As was my mother’s chocolate brown coat which I stole at every opportunity.
I was such a wimpy autumn I ‘flowed’ into summer. Hmm. Not sure about that one. I skipped off with my portfolio and wondered if this woman even knew what she was doing. I suspect she did actually.
Incidentally she was one of the models in one of the official books. And I did get coffee and biscuits (which I didn’t eat) included in the price.
Do I stick religiously to ‘my colours’ after all these years? Of course not. But I do think there is still some basis to it and most of my clothes are built around the palette for my muted and broody autumn.
Why did I do it? Curiosity primarily. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what ‘season’ I was and I wanted to find out. And, as someone working in PR and journalism, it’s difficult not to admit to the fact that first visual impressions matter, especially when advising people on what to wear on television, or for a press conference. So, there was some professional interest in it too. How can you knock something when you don’t know enough about it?
When I was working in London, I went on a management course and one session was directed towards telling advising us what to wear. I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t need to be told what to wear to look good. After all, I wore home-knitted pullies, silk shirts, expensive skirts, had a couple of tailored suits, and otherwise dressed – eccentrically?
I certainly didn’t want to look like the overly made-up dressed-up woman jigging around in front of us all telling us we should aim to dress like her.
A few years later on, I started to buy Vogue Designer Patterns. The suits, in suitable autumnal sludge colours, flew under my fast fingers on the sewing machine.
And there I was. Finally, still frosted, I mean blonde highlights, suited in suitable autumn suits, and even wearing the make-up. By then I could have given the lecture myself. Not sure I could ever have successfully done the colour analysis for anyone else though.
I have just looked up the American site and see perhaps I am not in such dreary, drudgey, sludgy, company after all. Seems like Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Lopez are all gloomy autumns too. I also think Angelina Jolie’s hair on the CMB website is frosted. Wonder what her consultant said about that?