The Power of Colour

27 Feb 2016

Joan Burstein, the founder of Browns boutique is still a strong lover of colour at the age of 90.  One of her recommendations on how to feel fabulous at that age is to make “an entrance” with a “colourful, striking coat”.  She also says, once you have one of those “you don’t need to update your wardrobe each season”.

I think wearing strong, statement colours when you are of advanced years is a wonderful sign of still having energy for living and loving life. 

Once you know which colours bring you alive, give you a glow and make you look younger (which is what a good colour analysis can do), you can really go for it!  There is no reason why someone over 60 cannot still grab attention and be thought of as beautiful. 

 Defining someone’s colouring characteristics or Seasonal Colour is an important part of assessing their personal style.  It is good foundation on which to build a picture of their “image” or Style Personality.

How someone feels about colour, which colours they are most comfortable with or choose to have in their home or in their wardrobes, has significance.

Even though I offer colour consultations and do believe they are very valuable for a client going forward, I do believe many people instinctively know what are the right colours for them and may have been buying them for years (or very often, decorating their homes in them!).  They just need validation and confirmation that they have been doing the right thing.

Of course, there are people who haven’t chosen wisely, or haven’t felt brave enough to try the colours which could magically bring them alive! 

A colour consultation gives someone permission to embrace their Colour Personality (whether they are Winter, Summer, Autumn or Spring) and make more informed choices when out shopping, saving them a lot of money in the long run.

I find it interesting that there are also personality types which seem to fit the Colour Seasons. 

Studies have shown that colours can also have different psychological effects on people. 

You may find that wearing a certain colour makes you feel a certain way, irrespective of whether it suits you or not.  If you own anything red, you may have noticed that putting it on gives you a certain feeling of energy or power.  It can be seen as a colour of aggression which means it should be worn with care in the business world.

Tavi Gevinson (writer, magazine editor, actress, singer) says “Red translates femininity to power”.

Pink projects less energy than red and has a more compassionate, calming, feminine energy.  Gevinson however, says that it is “fraught with politics” and that she wears it when she wants to show that “girliness and intelligence are not mutually exclusive”! 

The colour brown has associations with the earth and can be both grounding and comforting.

Healing Colour Therapists use colour to heal various physical aches and pains or for emotional healing.  Whether a colour suits someone or not is irrelevant here.  In this context colours are worn for healing. 

The colour red in spiritual healing represents the Base Chakra which means it has a grounding energy.

There are seven colours relating to the seven chakras in the human body:  Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and White.

All of them have an energy associated with them which may influence how you feel wearing it.

I am always drawn to the colour Aqua/Turquoise.  As well as suiting my skin-tone, it gives me a “lift”.  I feel a sort of “summer energy” when I put it on.  I do associate it with holidays and warm locations by the sea, and when my skin is tanned I love wearing it!  I can carry a little bit of that feeling into the most drab, drizzly day when I wear it in a scarf or coat.


Simplify Your Wardrobe and Your Life

30 Jan 2016

“A chaotic, disordered space could be an outward expression of internal turmoil” (Dr Jennifer Baumgartner “You Are What You Wear”).

As she says, it is worth examining your wardrobe to discover how you may also be needing closure for painful emotions or identifying underlying psychological issues which may be holding you back. 

That is not say that everyone’s wardrobe needs a psychological analysis!  But sometimes it is very helpful to look at it on a different level. Even just talking through the stress of sorting it out, shopping, and seeing yourself if the mirror with someone other than yourself is therapeutic.

You may be holding onto stuff for a life you had or might have.  There are always those items of which you say, “when I lose a bit more weight, I’ll be able to wear that”.  I say to women, if you hear yourself always saying that, you may have to accept that you will always be saying that.  It is better, and less stressful to just accept where you are now.  I guide my clients to see how fantastic they can look in their own bodies, with the right cut and style of clothing.  If you lose weight eventually, then fine, you can reassess.

There are the pieces of clothing which you are saving for when that romantic relationship comes along or for something “special”. 

My advice is “don’t wait”, life is too short.  Find an opportunity to wear them now.

Some pieces have emotional or sentimental connotations and could just be put aside to clear space. 

Many women are still holding onto clothes they had when they were working (before children) or in a different career than they are in now.  That was a different life.  Move on from that – it’s not necessarily going to come back or it will come back in a different guise with you as a different person.   

Just as restricting, is when you hold onto things because you bought them when you were not the person you are now but think they may be more appropriate for when you are older!  If you have changed as a person, you have grown and moved forward.  Those things still won’t be right in the future.

From personal experience I was guilty of hanging onto a couple of “sophisticated” trouser-suits, which were bought for me (so not really my personal choice), when I was really too youthful to wear them, even though I was a bit heavier than I am now.  I actually thought  “when I am older and a bit bigger they will probably be right”!  They never were because they were never really “me”, even if they were good quality and expensive!

This is the other hoarding-tendency; clinging onto items which you paid a lot of money for.  Just because they were expensive doesn’t mean they are right for you.  Someone out there will really appreciate them so much more than you and by donating them, you could really give someone joy!

As Marie Kondo from Japan, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” (which has become a global phenomenon), says, question of your clothes “Does it spark Joy?” 

Whatever brings you Joy is then put into tidy, tight order to conserve space.  People now talk of “kondoing” their wardrobes and living spaces.  It is a type of psychotherapy for the home.

As she says, “If you feel anxious all the time but are not sure why, try putting your things in order”.  I believe this is the same for "dettoxing" or "cleansing" your wardrobe.  Clear and de-clutter to enable you to move forward to where you need to be. 








Trends and How Realistic Are They?

21 Jan 2016

I have been observing the forthcoming trends for S/S 2016.  It is that time of year.  Designers set the “look” for each Season and anyone who is fashion-led or fashion-aware, consider how they might incorporate these “looks” into their current wardrobes, if they are not actually hiding there already in another guise.

I am very rarely influenced by trends.  I observe them and consider them.  But very few of them I adopt into my wardrobe, unless they can add a needed twist to the majority of classic staples I have.  Or maybe they are already there from many seasons ago and can be revived again.

What has been before, still is, in the main, but is reinvented by designers who may add a twist to the theme and present it as something new.  The basic designs are the ones which have proved their “selling power” in the past and they are brought back with a slightly new edge.

As Edith Head (American Costume Designer – 1897-1981) says in her quaint but still relevant handbook “How To Dress For Success”, “fashion changes are never revolutionary, always evolutionary”.   She says that even though designers try to make each season feel like a complete change “the basic ‘looks’ change only by degrees over a long period of time”.

I think the main questions which should be asked about trends are, “would that suit me?”, “will I feel comfortable in that” and “is that true to who I am?”

Edith Head’s advice chimes with this concept when she says “Never buy clothes that overpower you and place you in a secondary role to what you’re wearing.  The right clothes for you are invariably those you feel right in, that you can put on and forget about, because they let your personality dominate them”.

So what are we being “enticed” by this season?  Well, a lot of detailing!  We are being told to define the waist, which is good news for those with a definable one!  If clients feel they don’t have that, I show them ways of doing it with optical illusions. 

Stripes are back again!  The good news is that there is a stripe for everyone, and actually, even people who are told they should avoid them on the horizontal can regard that as a fallacy I think.  It depends on the thickness of the stripe, the colours, where they are worn on the body and how.  With confidence, you can wear anything.

We have fun, patterned tights to play with, Spanish ruffles, sprinklings of sequins and florals.

The Bomber Jacket is making a come-back too.  The big news is the transition of underwear to outerwearSlip dresses and pyjamas are being seen out in public!

So really, who would wear their pyjamas on the street?  Well, if they are made of silk with beautiful patterning and suit your style (fitting for those with a “Romantic/Bohemian” leaning), you could dress them up for dinner, a cocktail party or for luxe-leisuretime.  They lend the wearer an air of decadence and luxury.  A pair of statement earrings will prevent you looking like you you’ve just got out of bed.

The creative Grace Coddington beat us all to it in May 2015 when she wore a pyjama-set at the New York Museum of Art Ball themed “China: Through The Looking Glass”.   She pulled it off of course, with confidence and style.  But it wouldn’t be for everyone.  It could make you feel quite “undressed”, literally, and therefore, very vulnerable.  Likewise, the slip dress is a daring piece.  Team it with a tuxedo jacket or blazer perhaps to add the necessary weight and feeling of substance to ground you.

All these “trends” could be slotted into whatever your Style Personality might be, whether it is CLASSIC, NATURAL, SPORTY, DRAMATIC OR ROMANTIC.  It helps to know yours as a good foundation for playing with the trends.  Once you know your own style you can allow a bit of playtime with the trends to give it a bit of flare and newness. 


Keeping It Real: the "selfie" and fashion

19 Dec 2015

In the age of the Selfie and self-promotion, whether it is via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, there is a lot of pressure to look, sound or be perfect.

Where hashtags such as OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) and OOTW (outfit of the week) abound on the social media circuit, “selfies” are everywhere.  

The question is, what is real?  The clothes are “real” but the person wearing them can be a false projection of him/herself.   There is a certain identity or social comment being made, in addition to a style or fashion.

Two contemporary artists from New York are currently turning the Fashion Instagram selfie on its head and challenging the concept (

K8 Hardy and Mae Elvis Kaufman are satirizing the fashion selfie with a unique, satirizing style.   K8 Hardy @k8hardball uses Instagram to show herself, as she really is, in her own clothes, but the images tell a story.  She presents herself in a tongue-in-cheek way with poses which one sees on Social Media feeds but just as she is. 

She acknowledges the power of fashion and how clothes make her feel;  “I get dressed for myself and so that I feel like a boss”.

The Art comes in also with attention to the backdrop, lighting and camera angle.

Mae Elvis @maeelvis is fascinated by the concept of vanity and beauty and the Self that is being mirrored.   She has analysed the Instagram Selfies and the intent behind them. 

She says “I wouldn’t say I Instagram clothes specifically, but I’ve found that they can become a secondary character in my pieces.  I’m interested in exploring the projection of class, sexuality, taste and power as different women, and clothing help to build upon and reinforce that.”  She sees the “transformational aspect of fashion”.

One of her trademarks is creating poses or scenarios that feel like having a glimpse into her private life (such as her in the bathroom). 

Taking this approach reveals more of the instagrammer which in turn touches others.  When someone shows their vulnerability and parts of their life, people  can relate to it. 

Ultimately, being yourself, no matter what your clothes are saying, is the key to connecting with people.

 When I style my clients, I am true to who they are, with a nod to where they aspire to be.  I love bringing out the best in women and showing them how beautiful they can be, as the person they are.


Designing For Real Women

03 Dec 2015

Roland Mouret is a designer who likes to dress “real women”.  His famous “Galaxy” dress is one which “loves” the body of a woman. 

Whether a woman is a size 8 or 18 it is flattering.  It pulls one in and pushes one out in all the right places.  The result is an Hourglass shape and a look which is both sexy, chic, and classic. 

The emotional effect on a woman with an article of clothing such as this can be empowering: she feels sexy, but strong and confident at the same time.

In Roland Mouret’s opinion “there is fashion and there are clothes”.  They are two different things:  one is more aspirational and the other an expression of a person.  He says, as a designer, “you have to decide that you are going to get close to women’s strengths and fears, and sometimes that means not being automatically trendy”.  He explores “the concept of what a woman stands for in her sexuality”.

This is an example of a designer looking at the psychology of fashion. 

When we put on a dress such as this, it allows another side of us to come out.  We have multiple characters inside us and what we put on encourages or allows this transformation. 

The Dolce and Gabbana woman is sexy and feminine,  Vivienne Westwood’s designs encourage a liberated, rebellious sexuality.  But of course, women don’t have to be wearing designer labels to express themselves or their sexuality in a powerful way.  Anything which makes you feel your femininity and empowered by that is a good piece. 

It is finding the right pieces to put together which is key of course.  In my work I love to help women bring out that side of themselves and feel confident and unafraid to express their sexuality in the most subtle, elegant way, befitting their body-shape, personal style, and “time-of-life” (which is just a state of mind, but connects to a feeling of appropriateness and therefore comfort).