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Colour crazy

The colours you wear say a lot about you.

So are you monochrome or multi-coloured? If the furthest your wardrobe goes towards colour is a pair of blue jeans, read our guide to wearing a variety of shades and, wearing them well…

Be honest now. Is your wardrobe a colour-free zone? Are your clothes firmly rooted in black, black and even more black, perhaps with the odd flash of… surely not… grey and brown? Let’s face it, black is the colour traditionally worn to funerals, so dressing yourself in it, day in, day out, is hardly likely to make you feel cheerful.

However, for many of us, adding colour to our wardrobe is a scary prospect. We feel safe – and, the big one, slimmer – in black, we think it’s flattering and, there’s no denying it, it is classic and stylish. But even those of us who do brave colour sometimes get it wrong.

But colour, in all areas of your life – whether it be in your home or your clothes – says a lot about you. And, if you choose the ones that work for you, it’ll add zest to your wardrobe and help to keep you feeling happy. So how do you make sure you wear the colours that leave you brimming with confidence?

Colour complements
Toshiko Kobatake, an image consultant based in London, explains, ‘When you wear a colour, you don’t want the colour to stand out more than you. Even if you love a colour, the colour may not love you!

How many times have people said to you, “I love your top”. What they’re actually doing is complimenting your top, not you. What you want people to say is, “Wow, you look fantastic in that!” It’s really important to realise that people could say they love a top when it’s on a rail in a shop!’

Toshiko continues, ‘In fact, almost anybody can wear any colour but it depends what kind of red or blue. As image consultants, we focus on the colour characteristics, not the colours themselves.’

Tones and shades
Colour analysis is a way of finding out what colours suit you – that most enhance your natural colouring, such as your hair, eyes and skin tone.

Toshiko uses the tonal method of colour analysis, which is based on whether you have either warm tones (yellow-based colours) or cool tones (blue-based colours), as opposed to the seasonal method, where you find out whether or not you are a Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter colour person. ‘The tonal method of colour analysis is pretty versatile,’ says Toshiko, ‘as there are more than 70 categories to choose from. We look
at skin tone, how clear your skin is and how healthy it looks – it’s known as depth, clarity and undertone.

Wearing the right colour tones makes you look healthier and more vibrant. And even if you really love a certain colour, but colour analysis shows it doesn’t suit your tone, you can still wear it if you want to. However, the important rule is not to wear that colour near your face.

It really makes a difference if you wear colours that suit you around your face – in fact it makes the biggest difference to how you look and feel. The biggest mistake is made with black. Yes, it can be slimming, but if you wear it near your face it often makes many people look tired and sallow.

‘I wouldn’t tell people to chuck out all their black clothes, says Toshiko, ‘but I’d work on black as a base and add colour to it.’

‘Be wary of what you think you know about colour – black does make you look slimmer but there are no other hard and fast rules. It’s rubbish to say that redheads can’t wear reds – I love the idea of redheads in red, it’s all about your personality and what you can carry off…’

Colour supplement Five ways to add a splash of colour to your wardrobe

  1. Clothes – we do it with colour in our homes, so start doing it with your clothes, too! Little splashes of colour can make all the difference
    to your outfit. Try wearing a coloured scarf or having a camisole peeking seductively out of a top.
  2. Jewellery – a necklace, a ring, a bangle – the choice is endless and with high-street finds being so stylish and such good value, you’ve no excuse not to have a rainbow range of colours bursting out of your jewellery box.
  3. Bags – we all love ‘em so instead of playing safe with black, be brave and go bright and bold with your choice of bag colour. As with jewellery, there are some great designer lookalike bags on the high street that won’t break the bank.
  4. Shoes – you might not have the funds to be the next Imelda Marcos, but wearing shoes in a colour is a really good way to start experimenting with colour. Wearing a lighter colour shoe really helps to brighten your look and isn’t too scary if you still find wearing colour difficult.
  5. Belts – a fantastic way to add a bit of brightness to the centre of your outfit. Wear them loosely over cardigans, on trousers, snugly around dresses, the choice is yours. There are hundreds of styles available so, again, no excuses!

Colour code
Rules? Well, they’re just made to be broken aren’t they? So if you’ve always thought that black and brown don’t go or redheads can’t wear red, think again and get rule breaking…

  • Rule 1
    White is not for winter
    Not so. White can look great in winter but it’s all about the white you choose. Avoid light, summery fabrics like linen and light cotton and instead go for fabrics such as wool and cashmere. Soft or off-white, like ecru, works well. White bags or shoes work in winter, too, but choose rich leather or suede.
  • Rule 2
    Black and brown don’t match.
  • On the contrary – they actually look very sophisticated together. Try rich brown wool trousers with a black top or wear black shoes with a brown skirt. For a twist on the LBD, try a LBD (but swap the black for brown!) Dress it up with beaded black necklaces and bracelets. And if solid blocks of colour don’t really suit you, opt for outfits that have patterned black and brown. A word of warning: one combo you should always avoid is black trousers with brown shoes.
  • Rule 3
    Avoid clashing colours
  • Rubbish! Colour clashes make a major statement, so if you’re brave enough, go for it. A-list celeb Reese Witherspoon recently donned a Rory Beca dress in hot pink and red with matching red sandals. Fab!
  • Rule 4
    Don’t wear light shoes with dark stockings
  • In fact, black tights look extra stylish when worn with a striking pair of coloured shoes. Sex And The City star Sarah Jessica Parker ensured her mini-dress wasn’t talk of the town when she paired dark opaque tights with beautiful pale pink heels.
  • Rule 5
    Women of a certain age shouldn’t wear colour
  • Says who? With 50 being the new 40, and 40 the new 30, you really can wear whatever you like. ‘It’s all about your personality and what you can carry off,’ says Gok. ‘Use your imagination and start experimenting with colour.’

Quck tip Wearing colour away from your face is the best way to build your confidenceif you’re still unsure about what colours and tones will and won’t work for you…

‘I discovered I could wear mustard yellow’ Zoe Robinson, 28, is an actress. She lives in south London.

‘I’d always been interested in colour analysis. So when a friend, who had it done last year, turned up at a party looking toatlly fabulous in a blue top, a colour she didn’t often wear, I thought I’d give it a go.

‘The consultant told me to arrive with no make-up on. She checked my eye colour, then asked me about my lifestyle, clothing needs and what colours I liked and disliked.

‘She had rectangles of fabric called “drapes” in numerous colours, and classifed into muted or bright, cool or warm and deep or light. She then draped them around me, near the collarbone, to find the best tones for me. The whole session took about an hour and at the end I was told my good, better and best colours. Good was light colours; better was muted and dusted colours, such as taupe, greyish blue and dusty violet; and best were warm, yellow-based colours. I discovered I could wear mustard yellow, which surprised me!

‘The colour analysis has helped me to focus on what works for me. I like turquoise but it’s a bit too bright for me, although it would suit me with a tan! But I can wear teal which is not too dissimilar to turquoise. I’ve also worn black jumpers in winter or when I was made-up and going out, but now I know that wearing black near my face washes me out.

‘Colour analysis can really help you to see what works well together, and prevents you from continuing bad habits. It saves you money in the end as you will stop buying things that you know don’t suit you. It has really boosted my self-esteem and I feel much more put together now. It was really helpful.’

To contact image consultant, Toshiko Kobatake, or book an appointment visit

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