It's actually called Colour Me Beautiful... in my case I'll settle for Better... where you place yourself in the hands of an expert and are advised on which colours suit you and which don't. I have several friends who had brandished their little book of swatches and told me they are Spring or Winter and would never wear anything outside their allotted colours, and whilst it has all looked very interesting and I had wondered, I had never thought about going along... until last year.
There's something about turning sixty that can take you by surprise...well quite a lot of things actually, I hadn't realised quite how much I would want to change and shed, de-clutter and move on from as well as consolidate, though have sensibly not thrown the baby out with the bathwater and so decided to keep Bookhound.
This Colours thing all started when I went to a Women's Institute meeting.
That all started because the handicrafts judge at the Village Show said I really should be in the W.I.
I'm very impressionable like that so overcoming all prejudices about singing Jerusalem, I then discovered that our own village W.I. had collapsed into dissent and recriminations, folding years ago after an unseemly power struggle. All that's left to show for it is a nice set of cups and saucers in the village hall kitchen cupboard. Undaunted I found a branch in a neighbouring village and took myself along one winter's evening back in 2012. I'll gloss over why I only ever went to one meeting...
..no I won't, these things matter.
Comfortable as I am in a roomful of strangers, I'll happily strike up a conversation, but I do find that if no one speaks to me at all in return, and stays huddled in their groups leaving me sitting like billy-no-mates...well I might not want to go back for more unless I get a good vibe. Migraine-inducing fluorescent lights, chairs in rows, and then the table came out, and the 'committee' sat around it giving out notices and magazines and asking for subs, and I thought 'Nope, this isn't for me.'
Anyway, there was a saving grace because the speaker for the evening was Lizzie Fox, a Devon-based style, image and colour consultant, and she was inspiring. A retired TV journalist and reporter now in her seventies, Lizzie looked fantastic and I completely warmed to her engaging and unassuming personality as she talked about confidence and self-esteem, and that whilst much comes from within, plenty comes from without too, and knowing what to wear can all get more difficult as you get older. As she demonstrated colours and styles for a few people that evening I realised I was suddenly itching to know mine.
Yes I thought, I'd willingly put myself at your mercy for a revamp, and when I contacted the Knit Angel she was up for it too, we'd book a Friends Day and make it our Jubilee Birthday Treat to set us both up for the next decade. So off we trotted to Lizzie's home near Exeter, almost a year ago now, for our day. One of us styled in the morning, the other in the afternoon, lunch inbetween and we'd come out looking and feeling a million dollars. The clever thing about this was that we sat in on each other's consultations which is how the Knit Angel knew that the shawl she made me for my birthday was spot on...
'I'll cry if you take teal off me,' might have been my first words after hello, which after a quick look up and down, eyes, hair colour, skin tone, body shape etc Lizzie promised she wouldn't.
There's the first revelation...I am an Inverted Triangle, broad shoulders, narrower (though I have to say not necessarily 'narrow' ) waist. Lapels will do me no favours whatsover. I must direct the beholder's eyes to my waist not my shoulders, even 'bulk out my hips', which I'll confess I can't bear to do because I still feel sure they know perfectly well how to do that for themselves.
And that baggy, comfy, expensive and brand new Boden tunic dress with leggings, and my lovely Fat Face boots?? The leggings were fine, so were the boots, but the tunic was doing my trim (ahem) figure no favours whatsoever, I must accentuate not hide.
'Oh this old thing...yes I wear it for gardening...'
I do now.
You'd think a person would know what suited them by the time they were sixty wouldn't you... well I couldn't believe the mistakes I had been making, For starters I must never go near a nautical stripe or a bold geometric ever again, nor must I wear black. I had just started the black thing thinking it was just what you did as you got older, but thankfully dove-grey and pewter are me. It has to be cream not white... bright yellow, orange and jade green absolutely forbidden. Tomato red (the colour of the coat I was wearing) really the nearest I could get to a total fail. In fact jewel-colours a great big no-no. I need muted tones and have been completely transformed by, of all colours, lavender and aubergine. Brown is back having made me look seriously unwell for years and thus avoided, shell pink is no more after being the one colour I could always rely on...all because of age, changing hair colour, skin etc. In contrast the Knit Angel with her dark hair colouring can wear a stained glass window and look fabulous.
The biggest revelation for us both was hair.
Bless Lizzie, she has developed a lovely way of telling people what doesn't work. My hair... fringe, centre parting, straight to my jawline etc, far too severe for someone who laughs so much she said, and two days later I was in the hairdressers having it taken above my ears, side parting, keeping the length on top etc. I felt completely transformed and haven't looked back since.
I don't do much make up but it was good to have a basic foundation professionally matched to my skin tone for the first time since I went to the Revlon counter pre-wedding back in 1976, and also to be introduced to the magic of the Foundation Brush. If you haven't discovered these and you wear foundation, well hightail it to Boots and buy one instantly. Using the minutest amount of foundation you brush on the finest layer and avoid all manner of jawline disasters and cakey blotches.
Lizzie doesn't do seasons, so I emerged as Soft/Cool/ Deep...
Soft is a colour category which is both feminine and elegant. The blended colours complement the blended, natural colours in your hair and you will find that your colours all work well together; especially when worn tone-on-tone rather than contrast. Your secondary category is Cool, which indicates that you are well suited to blue and blue-based colours and your tertiary category is Deep with stronger, blue-based colours that are great in accessories or in cardigans and jackets, or within patterns.
When the e mail with personal advice notes arrived that same evening, and after such a positive day, I felt completely uplifted. I get the notes out every so often when frumpiness prevails, and especially at this time of year. I know I am very lucky, my family all say lovely things about me, but I don't think we do this often enough... go somewhere where other people say nice complimentary personal things.
"You have good cheekbones, lovely, strong-coloured eyes and a good mouth – which smiles a lot! "
" You are petite and fine-boned...'
"...as you have a defined waist'..."
"...'as you are slim and petite you should go for smallish patterns with colours that merge rather than contrast'...
"You will always look good in the layered look, with separate layers in colours which ‘go’ together and complement each other..."
It's not about vanity, it's about being cheered and feeling good and we all need that.
Interestingly my wardrobe was not as bad as I first thought. I clearly, though sub-consciously, must have known about the yellow because not a single thing could I find, and with my swatches to hand I rooted out a few more forbiddens whilst patting myself on the back for the inordinate amount of blue and grey and teal of course.
The tomato red Craghopper coat with fleece lining, on calculation, proved to be the one I bought back in about 1993 when I was completely fed up with getting cold and wet through winter visiting out on Dartmoor. I probably thought the colour would be jolly on dull days and people would see me approaching through the mist.
Doesn't time fly, and don't Craghopper coats wear well, I have now relegated it to dog-walking
I wondered whether the day would transform me beyond that single consultation, so easy to go to these things and then lapse, but interestingly, in the long-term I think it certainly has... though maybe not when I'm out walking on the moors....
I do consult my swatches...I love the colour names... geranium, periwinkle, soft violet, teal, chocolate, verbena, eau de nil, sapphire, and if it was about feeling more confident with colours and styles and also comfortable with the sixty-year-old me I certainly do now... as I sit here wearing my Tesco's fleece-lined 'aubergine' tights ( as above, great discovery) and one of Bookhound's baggy old fleece jumpers down to my knees... but at least it's the right shade of rose-brown.
Has anyone else done anything like this??
Had a colour or style consultation??
If you can find the right person I can highly recommend it.