The shades you wear can make your complexion pop, provided they’re the right ones. Caitlyn Davey took two loyal readers to image consultancy company House of Colour to find out exactly what hues suit them best.
Knowing which colours look totally smashing on you is not something we’re innately born with. Some shades can make you look a million bucks, while others simply fall flat. But how do you know which hues are right for you? Experts on the subject, Dubai-based Kirsty Volpe, Marcia Holland and Sam Logan from UK image consultants and colour analysis company House of Colour, say it’s more than just eye colour and skin tone. Here, the trio take us through a colour analysis workshop with two willing guinea pigs, Time Out readers Kaye Smith and Karen Visser, to show us just how much colour influences overall appearance.
The colour wheel
Kirsty Volpe and Sam Logan begin explaining the colour wheel, which is hanging on the wall in the House of Colour studio. The wheel is made up of two frames, with autumn in the top left, spring in the top right, winter in the bottom left and summer in the bottom right. There are 36 colour swatches in each season.
Sam begins: ‘The wheel was developed by Johannes Itten, who taught at the Bauhaus School of Art in Germany. He found that it didn’t matter what subject matter art students were given – they used similar colours all the time. The French impressionist painter Monet, for example, stuck with summer colours. You’ll see the top half of the wheel has warm yellow-based colours while the lower half has cool, blue-based colours.’
‘We work out whether or not clients suit the warm-based colours or cooler based ones,’ Kirsty elaborates. ‘We have the colours divided into warm and cool and within that into seasons. Each season has a selection of 36 colours in their range that will suit different skin tones. Everyone has a specific season that suits them best.’
Sam shows us an example red swatch. ‘This red has a yellow undertone. You’ll see it fits well in the warm, yellow colours but it changes in tone when we take it into a different season,’ she explains, carrying the swatch in front of the autumn and spring colours. ‘It looks great at the top of the colour wheel in autumn and spring but it doesn’t sit so well in the bottom half.’
‘Wearing the wrong colour can really drain the life out of someone’s face and make them look ill,’ adds Kirsty. ‘We always get clients telling us they get positive feedback when they are wearing a colour that
really suits them.’
The stylists have drapes of fabric that are specially dyed to emphasise the blue and yellow undertones of the skin. Marcia holds a white drape tinged with blue then a yellow-based white drape against a client to bring out the tones in their skin to compare and contrast between the blue and yellow tones.
Finding that hue: warm or cool?
Marcia explains the coloured swatches of fabric work by accentuating the yellow and blue undertones – she tells us everyone has one or the other in their skin. ‘This is all according to a person’s colouring – eyes, natural hair colour, skin undertones – the fatty tissue under the skin.
‘To begin with, we want to see the clients’ hue, whether that’s warm or cool. Then from that, we delve into seasons. You see autumn and spring are mostly warm colours and winter and summer have a blue undertone. After that we suggest colours according to how they suit the client.’
Marcia continues: ‘Warm colours will make cooler skin tones look unwell and often accentuate yellow tones in the skin. On the other hand, we see warm skin tones looking washed out in blue tones, as again, it drains colour from their face.’
First up, Marcia tells Kaye and Karen: ‘When we drape variations of colours around your neck, don’t think about whether or not you like the colour, but look at your face to see what starts to happen to your skin tone.’
Karen sits down first. Marcia drapes a blue-based white piece of fabric around her neck, followed by a yellow-based white one. After four different colour-comparisons, it’s evident Karen’s skin brightens with the cooler colours. Karen says: ‘Wow, I can really see the difference, I can’t believe it. I can see I look better in the cooler shade; yellows really wash me out and give me a yellow tinge.’
Kaye then has her turn. However, she is not as quick to be defined as Karen. The stylists need a few more colour variations before defining her as a warm tone. Then it’s time to decide on her season, alternating between autumn and spring. The spring pastel colours look washed out on Kaye. Sam explains: ‘People with autumn tones tend to look like they are faded or have been over-washed when wearing spring colours.’
Finally, once a season has been selected, the House of Colour stylists work through each of the 36 colours on Kaye and Karen, giving them a booklet of fabric swatches each.
The ladies report they are stunned at the difference the colours make, and both tell us they will be going shopping to buy a new wardrobe in their new colours.
Karen is a winter – this soon becomes obvious, as the brighter colours really enhance her face whereas the warmer colours give her an unhealthy yellow hue. Kaye is an autumn, which gives her a warm radiance and complements her skin tone. She says: ‘It’s surprising I can actually see the difference in my face, the autumn colours make my skin tone look even and healthy. Normally I would never wear these colours, but now I can see they look great.’
Dhs700 for a three-hour colour analysis consultation. Location given on booking, www.houseofcolour.co.uk. Contact Sam (050 152 2161) or Marcia (050 596 4386).
Get personal: shopping services around town
An at-home service only. The stylist arrives at your door with the latest collection and will assist with choosing the right colours and cuts for you.
Various locations (050 396 3038).
During the experience, personal shopper and stylist Daniela carefully selects colours from either a cool or hot palette as well as outfit combinations that flatter and balance your body shape.
Citywalk, Al Safa Street (opposite Life Pharmacy on Al Wasl Road), www.michellebelau.ae (04 344 9989).
The personal shoppers here have a good eye for colour.
Bloomingdale’s, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 350 5333).