The Secret of Successful Dressing

Have you ever wondered if there was a science behind which colours suit you. Having worked as a personal stylist for many years, our very own Sam Norton gives you the low down on how to dress for your skin tone...

Studies have shown that we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. Who hasn’t bought an item of clothing or several for that matter, and still have those hanging in the cupboard with the tags on unworn a year later? The excitement of sale shopping often results in bargains that are left to languish untouched when they are brought home. I have certainly fallen victim to those scenarios, and have wasted quite a bit of money over the years. However, all that changed when I learnt the secrets to successful shopping – it comes down to only two things:

- knowing what colours suit you

- understanding your body shape and how certain cuts of clothing either enhance or disguise certain aspects of it.

Over the coming months and foreseeable future, Pretty Peachy will bringing you a host of fashion and style inspiration starting by focusing on colour.

When I talk about wearing colour, I get lots of comments such as, “I can’t wear red, but green suits me,” or, “I tend to stick to black as it’s easy to work with.” The good news is everyone can wear colour. It’s understanding the clarity, depth and tone of colours which make a difference. So, when people say “I can’t wear red” what they probably mean without realising is that they haven’t found the tone of red that suits them.

The colour wheel is divided into half. Cool tones and warm tones. Cool tones are those with a blue undertone, and warm tones are those with a yellow undertone.

These halves are further dived into quarters, clear and muted.

To make it easier to visualise, these quarters are named after seasons:

Warm clear colours for spring skin tones

SPRING – Warm and clear - The colours of spring, the fresh bright greens of new grass, the budding crocuses on the lawns, warm blue skies and bright clear yellows of daffodils.

AUTUMN – Warm and muted – Imagine the colours of this season, burnt oranges and sage greens of falling leaves, deep rusts and golds, earthy tones of warm reds and copper.

Cool muted pastels for summer skin tones

SUMMER – Cool and muted – a hazy hot summer day, dappled sunlight creating hues of lilacs, pastels, sparkling waters, baby blues and soft powder pinks

WINTER – Cool and clear – Akin to a crisp clear winter’s day, the deep red of berries, the pure icy white of snow, the deep clear dark greens of holly and ferns.

Everyone will either have a warm undertone to their skin or a cool undertone. This will then determine which half of the colour wheel you fall into, when you know this you can further see if you suit clear or muted tones within that section.

Within each season there is a myriad of colours which range from light to dark.

How do you work all this out? The easiest way is to find an image consultant in your area that can go through the process with you. It’s a compare and contrast exercise with you seeing how different shades and tones affect your face. For example, the four greens of the colour wheel will be put around your décolletage area while you are seated in front of a mirror, these are then removed one by one. The one which suits you most is kept to one side. This is repeated, with the four reds, blues, pinks, and so on, until a pattern emerges. The nice thing about this is that you get to see how some shades really work, and will make you glow, giving you a nice clear complexion and bringing out your best features, in comparison to the next shade which may drain you, bring out shadows under the eyes more, or enhance redness or drain your lip colour.

Back in the 80’s this was all the rage, although a slightly different approach was projected as it was suggested that clients just use the colour that most suited them near their face with either scarves, or a top, and then lighter or darker, or pops of this or that here there and everywhere. I found it slightly confusing and this didn’t help with creating outfits that worked or for packing

a usable capsule wardrobe.

For me the whole point of understanding colour is that it’s utilised not only to enhance the face but also to create a head-to toe-look that appears effortless. I want shopping to be easier, quicker and more cost effective. I want to be able to pack for a short break away and not have to cram six pairs of shoes and twenty different outfit options in my case.

With this in mind, once you know what season or quadrant you suit the most, you can apply this knowledge to make up, jewellery and use the whole colour pallet in that season for your outfits

Each season has neutrals within it which form the building blocks of creating that new wardrobe.

Spring neutrals are ivory whites, camels, pale toffee colours, and clear browns with the jewellery shade a bright gold.

Autumn neutrals are creams, chocolate browns and beiges with the jewellery shade an antiqued gold.

Winter neutrals are black, pure white, charcoal greys, taupe with the jewellery shade bright silver.

Summer neutrals are soft white, pale greys with the jewellery shade pewter.

If you have ever tried something on and instantly love it, and just think it works, most likely this is one of your colours. Bear in mind the overhead artificial lighting of shops tends to give a different perspective, so for true results try anything on at home in natural daylight. It can take time to look at colour in this way and to identify what can sometimes be quite a subtle difference in tone, but once you’ve mastered this, it’s a game changer!

It will be much easier to scan a shop and see the rails you want to head for, no more scrums in sales and racking through every item. You can splurge on just the one item knowing it’s in a colour that really works, which will make a piece like this more cost effective. Subsequently if you are working within your palette/season that one article will go with shoes, make up, bags and jewellery you bought previously. Building up your perfect wardrobe becomes less of a challenge and much more enjoyable. You will find you have more outfits with fewer items of clothes and packing is a breeze!

Ultimately, there’s so much out there its overwhelming, being able to pick out colours you know suit you enables you to build a look that’s unique to you. Clothes are incredibly empowering, if you feel good in an outfit it can increase your confidence and have knock on effect on your interactions throughout the day. Imagine looking and feeling your best all day every day. That’s the goal, and it isn’t dependent on your budget or your dress size.

Next week we’ll be bringing you part 2 of this series which is all about body shape. In the meantime. Happy shopping!

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