Herts Ad reporters learn how to shop in style with Harpenden-based colour consultant
PUBLISHED: 16:21 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:16 15 March 2019
I arrived at the home studio of Harpenden colour and style consultant Rebecca Mitchell wearing a dark red jumper and carrying a red handbag, terrified I would be told red isn't my colour.
Fellow Herts Ad reporter Franki Berry and I had deliberately dressed in colours we felt suited us, not really sure what to expect, but hoping we’d be told we were perfect.
Rebecca, who lives in Greatfield Close, started working for personal style company House of Colour after leaving a career in law. She was immediately reassuring - partly because her clothes looked great, so clearly she knew what she was talking about.
We learnt that everybody suits either an autumn, spring, summer or winter colour palate, based on the colour theories of Swiss expressionist painter Johannes Itten.
What colours suit you depends on the cells underneath your skin, which can be either blue or yellow under a microscope. It was all much more scientific than I was expecting.
In a typical styling class, Rebecca will identify the colours which suit someone best, help them identify their body shape, which relates to the underlying structure of the skeleton rather than weight, and help them discover their clothing style with a personality questionnaire.
The style categories are dramatic, natural, ingénue, classic, gamine and romantic, and without undergoing the full assessment I found it impossible to place myself in any category other than ‘jeans and a t-shirt’, which for some reason wasn’t listed.
I had my colour assessment first, and Rebecca sat me on a chair in front of a mirror with a white cloth covering my clothes, while I constantly reminded myself she wasn’t going to cut my hair.
Rebecca identified me as ‘dark’ (out of dark, soft, bright and fair) as a starting point, then wrapped layer upon layer of different ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ coloured fabrics around my neck. It was pretty apparent that ‘cool’ colours suit me best, while softer, warmer colours wash me out.
To my intense relief, Rebecca told me dark red suits me, so I don’t need to throw away half of my possessions. Meanwhile Franki was dismayed to discover that bright blue suits me a lot better than it suits her, so she’s morally obliged to give me her favourite jumper.
I was finally identified as a ‘jewelled winter’, meaning I look best in ruby, sapphire and emerald, and should completely rule out orange, yellow and brown. My mum was correct to instil in me a lifelong disdain for the colour orange, but I really shouldn’t have bought a yellow-and-white stripy t-shirt from GAP the other day.
Franki went next, and was found to have warm undertones to her skin, ruling out winter and summer and eventually placing her in the ‘autumn’ category. Property editor Jane Howdle, after a slight misstep towards spring and autumn, was found to be a ‘dark summer’.
I was hoping for someone to be a spring so we could have the full set, but Herts Ad contributor Hillary Childs was a ‘sultry winter’, which admittedly sounds cool. This means she can wear the same colour palate as me, but suits slightly darker tones.
For the colour matching to be accurate, Hillary had to cover her bright pink hair with a Handmaid’s Tale-style white scarf, but was relieved when Rebecca told her pink was her colour, and even found her a matching fuchsia lipstick.
What impressed me most about the session (as well as the burst of self-esteem from knowing that, yellow t-shirt notwithstanding, I’ve been wearing the right colours all along) was how specific it was. At one point Rebecca held two almost identical pieces of cloth against my face, one plum and one damson, and pointed out how damson suited me much better. Everyone except Franki agreed, but based on how she hasn’t given me her bright blue jumper yet she’s probably colour blind.
Rebecca explained how styling makes a positive impact on people’s lives.
She said: “It’s all about people understanding why specific colours look better or worse on them, and how it not only has a physical effect on how they look but also makes them look healthier and helps with feelings of wellbeing.
“It gives people confidence in the workplace and to just step into life and get involved.”
To book a class with Rebecca go to https://www.houseofcolour.co.uk/book/classes?stylist=4567