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Seeing red

6th February 2013

As Valentine’s Day approaches, there’s one colour dominating the high street and fashion pages, and last week one of my Colour Me Beautiful colleagues was on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing ‘daring to wear it’ – red.   Consider the media frenzy around Nigella’s ‘wiggle dress’ and the first lady’s inauguration ball dress  and we’re left in no doubt that this is the colour to be seen in this season.

This craze for crimson has triggered a traumatic memory for me.  Flicking through the fashion pages one day last year I spotted an article on the latest ‘new black’, the journalist boldly stating:

Everyone can wear red, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, Colour Me Beautiful consultants!

Well! (It’s impossible to convey in writing the outrage and injury I’m breathing into this word).   My indignation does not stem from ‘anyone can wear red’, but from the assumption that CMB consultants would refute this.  A year on and I’ve missed the boat for writing to the journalist but the thought of the article is still enough to make me…see red (sorry).

So to set the record straight: in terms of personal colouring anyone can look great in red.  What’s more, wearing it can be of great benefit – researchers in Germany found that sports competitors who wear red score an average of 10% more in any competition than if they were in another colour.  It is thought this is because it inspires confidence in the wearer and is perceived by others as dominant.  So if you want to wear it, go for it, but there are two key things we Colour Me Beautiful consultants recommend you keep in mind:

1. Choose the right red

Different combinations of hair colour, eye colour and skin tone suit different shades of red.  It’s all about creating a look that balances with your colouring:

  • Those with a muted, light or delicate look glow in a subtle raspberry or geranium.
  • Those with strong, dramatic colouring are gorgeous in bold pillar-box red.
  • Those with golden undertones to their hair and skin are ravishing in orange-toned watermelon and tomato.
  • Those with grey or ashy tones to their hair are radiant in blue-toned (yes, really!) ruby.

If you’re not sure which category you fall into, consider a colour analysis to ensure that the red you choose is not wearing you!

2. Work with your style personality

In our society red has many associations – positive (love, passion, confidence and energy) and negative (danger, aggression and promiscuity). Either way, you won’t go unnoticed when wearing it – and not everyone wants to be noticed.  What we feel comfortable in and how we put our look together is all down to style personality (a key issue I focus on in style consultations) which is determined by an individual’s culture, upbringing, lifestyle, budget, age and level of confidence.

If your style personality is all about making a statement, try one of this season’s fabulous quirky print jackets!  Or if you prefer a more understated look, try making a nod to the trend with a red accessory – a belt, bangle, handbag, brooch or shoes.

And if wearing red’s really not your thing then forget clothes and accessories and embrace this season’s hottest colour in cake form – delicious red velvet, as modelled by my sister at The Tea Cup, Richmond.

There’s more to the Bake Off than meets the eye

27th January 2013

It’s easy to see why we’ve all fallen big time for the Great British Bake Off.  Who could resist the delightfully diplomatic Mary Berry, the silvery charms of Paul Hollywood and the innocent delivery of Mel and Sue’s spectacular innuendos?  Add into the mix some scrumptious baked goods, the odd culinary disaster, and all the kitsch-en equipment you can lay your hands on and you have the recipe for a seriously feel-good, thoroughly British television experience (it’s so much more than a show!).

Am I obsessed?  Yes I am and this week, watching the Comic Relief specials I realised another reason why…

…the whole programme is in my colours!

One of the main influences for Colour Me Beautiful’s colour analysis is a theory by Johannes Itten, an artist who noticed that his students always did their best work using colours they had chosen themselves.  Tellingly, he found a connection between the colours they chose and their own colouring.  With more than two years of experience as a Colour Me Beautiful consultant under my belt now, I wholeheartedly agree that individuals are most often drawn to colours that share a similar depth, tone and clarity to their own.

Close your eyes and picture the Bake Off;  you will see sky blues and pale pinks, yellows and greens.  My fair hair, pale skin and light blue eyes make me a sucker for these pastels colours as they share similar characteristics to my own.  If you need further proof, take a look at some pastel-hued scenes from my wedding last year:


Oh and the icing on the Bake Off cake for me? If you’ve ever noticed that for a near-octogenarian, Mary is the picture of radiance then you’ll understand the benefit of wearing the right colours.  Maryrarely gets it wrong, usually opting for soft colours with a blue undertone – creating the perfect balance with her ashy hair, cool skin tone and overall muted look.  Paul rivals Mary in the colour stakes, setting off his of his trademark icy gaze and silver hair with crisp whites and cool blues, pinks and lilacs   He often uses charcoal and black to create contrast which mirrors that of his hair against his eyes.

With all this going for it, is it any wonder that while on our megamoon last year, reading the weekly stream of Bake Off –related tweets was enough to induce in me a sense of heavy hearted homesickness?  Long live the Bake Off!

The blog is born

9th January 2013

After faithfully logging every day of our four month ‘megamoon’ last year, the return to reality has left me with a blog-shaped hole in my life (not to mention a holiday-shaped hole).  Already keen to continue writing, on Saturday I had the good fortune to meet a fun and feisty group of female bloggers, and, on the same day, received an email from my ‘techie’ (as she likes to be known) aunty(she does internet), lamenting the demise of the travel blog.  Clearly, the stars have aligned and writing a blog is part of my greater purpose.   It’s hard to know at this stage what shape it will take, but it will be loosely focused on my work as a Colour Me Beautiful consultant with lots of stories and titbits.

So it is with great excitement, after a six month pause, that I am back in business!  The year started with a bang as I was invited to Special K’s pop-up stand in Westfield where they were launching their 2013 campaign.  Special K had invited ten VIPs along for a pampering experience, concluding with their photos being displayed on Westfield ’s billboards.   My job was to provide mini colour analyses.  I had been imagining the VIPs would be executives from the cereal world so was delighted to find that they were actually the aforementioned bloggers, although I can’t pretend it wasn’t daunting giving advice to this group of such confident women.

Still, they all seemed fascinated by the way their colours enhanced their looks and even the fashion bloggers who have to be open to wearing anything couldn’t deny, when I demonstrated, that there were certain colours that could make or break their look.  And English Mum and Jayne’s Kitchen  even wrote up their colour analysis experience in their blogs!

Anyway it was a great fun day with only two slight drawbacks:

  1. The fact that this was an ‘event’ and my other job is as an event organiser.  I had to virtually sit on myself to stop myself from giving the PR team ‘helpful tips’ and gasping in horror when they realised they only had eight plates for breakfast for ten.
  2. My shoes.  I knew they were painful but I thought for a couple of hours standing in the same place I’d be fine.  Totally hadn’t bargained for the toe crippling, bunion crunching agony of walking a mile across Westfield after three hours on my feet to find the storage unit which contained the holy grail – my flat boots.

The good, the bad and the ugly

6th January 2013

It was drilled into me early on in my Colour Me Beautiful training that as an image consultant, you are your own advertisement – a daunting prospect, especially as many of us go into this line of work because, pre-training, we’ve struggled ourselves with achieving the right look.  But I was confident that once armed with the knowledge of what suited me, looking my best would become second nature.

The good

While I’ve found it’s not entirely without effort, knowing the styles, colours and shapes that suit me really does make shopping and getting dressed every morning more of a pleasure than the chore it used to be.  However, as hard as I try, I’ve found there are some unavoidable phenomena that occasionally get in the way of creating the impression I’d like…

The bad

The ‘off day’: I still have nightmares about the time I returned home feeling bedraggled after a painful chiropractor appointment, preceded by a long day in the office to find a lady on my doorstep who had mistakenly arrived an hour early for her colour analysis appointment.  How she managed not to run away when I introduced myself as the person who would be doing her makeover I will never know.  Thank goodness after settling her in with a cuppa and chocolate biscuits I had five minutes to change, touch up my make up and go some way to redeeming myself.

The ugly  

An unruly (but not ugly) husband: I have yet to convince my husband that he is also my advertisement (or at least my representative), given that people assume I have some influence over what he wears.  Usually very easy-going (and well dressed), he is uncharacteristically stubborn when it comes to certain items in his wardrobe, notably sportswear. No amount of effort on my part is going to compensate for walking home from the gym on the arm of a man in these socks – see right (as if you can miss them).