There are some people who like feedback and information about their performance at work, or how they are doing as a parent. I am one of them – provided the feedback and critique is offered in a kind way. I feel I can learn a lot from how others see and perceive me. But many people – probably the majority – do not really appreciate a critique of their behaviour or appearance. Even a polite request to not talk loudly in the Quiet Carriage of the train, or to please prevent their children running around in an art exhibition, are treated as an unacceptable violation of our freedoms.
So any kind of feedback – at work, to family and friends and to strangers – needs to be very carefully posed. It can only really help us when it is aimed to help us, rather than put us down. But most especially in matters of style and dress I would always move with great caution. While I can’t help thinking certain things (inevitably having been trained as a colour and style analysis ), I have to be exceptionally careful not to offer gratuitous advice eg your hair colour is really too deep and has an aging effect. Some people really want a trained eye and a second opinion, but many people are perfectly happy with their image and style and I wouldn’t dream of challenging that. Ceci writes:
I always enjoy these color posts…..so fun to imagine starting over with the right colors! I suspect actually doing it would require some self discipline.
When I do a colour consultation I offer my client the information on what I believe is their best colour palette but I always try very hard to help them see for themselves the impact of my choices and opinions. As they look at themselves in the mirror most people can appreciate, with their own eyes, that some colours enhance their colouring and others do not. Usually they then wish to replicate this effect. The best (let’s not say “right” Ceci!) colours will take away shadows and make any lines and wrinkles less visible. They will calm a reddened complexion, brighten a sallow one, make your eyes look whiter and your skin tone fresher. This is not hyperbole – I have seen it hundreds of times and the best shades just make a person look younger and healthier.
Sometimes my advice conflicts with people’s personal opinion. I find this comes from three places.
- But I love mustard!
Firstly we all have a range of colours we like. I really love the terracotta, peach, light orange, ballet shoe pink shades. I also love strong, vibrant orange! But these warm, yellowy shades don’t suit me nearly as much as the bluer, purpley reds and pinks. If I try an orangey lipstick it really looks nasty, whereas even purple looks quite acceptable (although a bit much for everyday). I therefore avoid wearing coral, tan and orange but I find other ways to use them in my life. My logo at work for example is an energetic, youthful orange and I love it.
2. Half my wardrobe is navy!
The second reason why people reject certain advice is that they have got used to wearing a certain colour – for example black – even though it is not their best colour. Again I usually try to show the impact of black on their complexion. In short when we are doing colour analysis we are looking for naturally occurring colouring in the face/hair/eyes. Black hair is sometimes nearly black (or very dark brown) and people with this feature will generally look good in black and should consider it as their best (but not only) neutral. Usually they will look just as good in the darkest navy, charcoal and brown and sometimes choosing these shades is more exciting and stylish than black. But they will look sensational in black.
On the other hand a very fair or red-haired person will rarely look their best in black. But sometimes we want to wear black and why not?
Although I feel Nicole Kidman looks better in lighter shades, she also looks sensational in a black dress. Her darker make up (lipstick, blusher, eye shadow and mascara), worn with silver jewellery support the icy look she is cultivating and she absolutely gets away with it. However I think she looks even more wonderful in lighter colours. Actresses have personal stylists, make up professionals and hairdressers that help them change their look and image as they take on different roles. And models will be chosen for a range of reasons and sometimes they are paid to model clothes which markedly conflict with their natural colouring and the clothes works well in terms of impact.
3. I would never wear lemon!
But the third and most important one is we probably don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want to be told what to do. We may think this colour analysis stuff is like crystals or homeopathy – hocus pocus for the gullible.
In fact change of any sort involves loss, and generally calls forth resistance. This is why learning new things is hard and can be scary. We don’t necessarily want to change our opinion. This is why most of us struggle with criticism which is often perceived as an attack.
So when I give colour and style advice I always try to show how someone can suit say emerald-green rather than pea green, or ochre rather than lemon. All colours are available to all of us but there are usually better and less good versions. When I am showing people colours they often say – I never wear yellow, or I don’t think I have any pink in my wardrobe. And I usually reply – this shade of that colour suits you and maybe you could try it? When I first took advice on what colours suited me two were put forward as being “flattering” for my cool-light-bright direction – lemon and mauvey-pink. I had never worn either of these shades and didn’t instinctively gravitate to them. But I went into my local charity shop and pulled out a couple of second-hand t-shirts and blouses and, in exchange for a few quids, took them home to try. And now both these shades have a place in my wardrobe.
The issue I find often is that many people restrict their wardrobe to just a few colours they feel confident with. A colour analysis can open your eyes to new colours that you may not have considered before.
So back to Ceci’s point – I offer advice for those that want and welcome it – but only when asked or specifically commissioned. I trust the process I use, and my own eye, but at the end of the day the information is only what you want to make of it. Some people (me included) do this with conviction and never wear the less flattering colours again (I admit I have black underwear and a pair of trainers). Having a wardrobe full of cool palette items means everything coordinates and blends together nicely. No discipline needed. I do have one peach dress which I wear occasionally.
Others just change the emphasis a little, or gradually.