Colour yourself beautiful – practical advice about colour and clothing

Colour Me Beautiful.

Anyone remember them? Spring, summer, autumn and winter babies, we were all meant to fit into these four neat pigeonholes. What a load of cobblers. Instead, here’s some practical advice about colour and clothing:

Dark neutrals

These should be the basis of every wardrobe: by dark, I mean colours like black, chocolate brown and charcoal grey, and – to a lesser extent – navy, burgundy, olive and khaki. These are dirt-proof colours and nearly always look good, even in cheaper fabrics (generally speaking, the paler the colour, the better quality the material needs to be, so if your budget is small, go for the dark stuff). Many of the dark neutrals also go well together, extending their usefulness.

Medium neutrals

These should be the backup colours in your wardrobe for everyday basics – colours like taupe, beige, camel, oatmeal, rust and denim blue. Again, nearly all of them go together. They are slightly less formal and businesslike than the dark neutrals, which is handy if you live a casual life, and they also lend themselves very well to textures such as tweed.

Pale neutrals

These work best on your top half unless you’re a lady of comparative leisure, or it’s high summer, when it’s easier to wear them in a whole-body outfit such as a dress. By pale neutrals I mean colours such as white, cream, ivory, palest pink, pale grey, nude and very pale shades of blue and beige. Be very careful that your pale neutrals don’t clash with your underlying skin tones, however – you’ll know which ones they are from the number of people who ask if you’re feeling OK today…

Copy your eye colour

Pick up your eye colour with tops, jewellery, scarves and other accessories. Matching or complementing your eye colour is very simple to do and gives your face an amazing lift – try turquoise or lapiz jewellery for blue eyes, bloodstone or jade for green-eyes, tiger’s eye and topaz for brown-eyed babes…you get the drift. Scarves, poloneck sweaters and anything else that you wear close to your face works equally well. You will not believe how many compliments you get when you follow this simple trick

Copy your hair colour

In tune with copying your eye colour, try picking up your hair colour in the main pieces of your outfit – that means straw, camel or beige for blondes, chestnut for brunettes, rust for redheads, silver for grey-haired women, black for raven-haired beauties. If you can, use the colour both top and bottom, to give you a long, lean line from head to toe (this works especially well in evening wear), but if you can’t, focus on your top half.

Cosmetic colours

That’s terminology used by stylists and it means the colours you’d naturally use for lipstick, foundation and blusher, shades such as flesh, peach, pink, azalea, crimson and scarlet. If you don’t feel up to a whole outfit or even a top in these colours, consider scarves or jewellery. They are very useful if you’ve had a bad night – just like slapping on some blusher to make yourself look brighter, a peach silk scarf will give you a glow.

The wrong colours

You’ll find more of these as you age and your skin tone bleaches out. They’re any colour that makes you look tired, drained, older or sick. Particular culprits are shades of putty, olive and beige, which is annoying because these are also very practical colours – the trick, if you own them already, is not to wear them near your face but to confine them to your bottom half.

Also worth avoiding, by and large, are ‘hard’ colours such as magenta, hot pink, electric blue and lime green. These only really work well in summer sunshine, and they look better against youthful, dewy skin.

Really bright metallic colours such as silver and bright gold are also difficult: tarty at the best of times, on a woman over 40 they can shift you into mutton dressed as lamb territory. Instead, choose the darker metallics such as pewter, bronze and copper, or dark golds with soft glow, not a hard glitter.

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