Knowing what colours suit you is the foundation of great style, we’re always told, as is choosing the right makeup for your skin tone. Most of us may think we have a pretty good idea of where to start, but could you name the 42 different shades in your personal colour palette?
Colour analysis is nothing new; the concept has been around for decades and reached the masses in the 1980s when Colour Me Beautiful became something of a pop-culture phenomenon. At the time, you were categorised as one of the four seasons; spring, summer, autumn or winter, depending on your skin tone and hair and eye colour, and matched with 36 colours. Now, the seasons have been scrapped and you get an additional six colours to choose from, but the principles remain the same.
Curious to see if she can make me step out of my navy comfort zone, I make an appointment with one of London’s most experienced Colour Me Beautiful consultants, Annie Bucknill. She welcomes me into her studio in West Kensington, where I take a seat in front of a full-size mirror positioned by a large window. Having draped me in a white sheet to start with a neutral base, Annie places a pastel-pink piece of fabric over my shoulder. “Can you see how this does nothing for you?” she asks. She then replaces it with one in a brighter coral shade, which instantly perks me up. By the time I have been swathed in a whole rainbow, I realise just how transformative colour is, and how few I normally wear.
I find it intriguing to learn how Annie and her colleagues categorise people into combinations of six different types, ranging through ‘light’, ‘deep’, ‘cool’, ‘warm’, ‘clear’ and ‘soft’, and use celebrities as examples. Annie explains that my pale olive skin, dark brown eyes and brown hair make me a ‘deep’ and ‘warm’ type, “like Catherine Zeta-Jones”, and it turns out I have been using the wrong blusher for years. As soon as she removes the pink shade from my cheeks and applies one that has a warmer undertone similar to terracotta, I see that it works much better with my skin tone. However, I am less sure about the green eyeliner she insists complements my eye colour – but this is probably just a matter of personal taste.
Before the consultation, I thought I had a fairly good idea of what colours suited me but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to identify even half of the 42 shades Annie picked out for me. Since the consultation I have had a wardrobe clearout and given misguided purchases to charity—making room for bold new colour choices.