Discover the colours that suit you best (and what to avoid)
A consultation can help find your shade, which will be very important this season
Spring’s new shades – clashing tones, ice cream pastels, ultraviolets and shocking pinks – mean considering colour when it comes to fashion versus the safety of staying in the familiar blacks, navys and greys. “Women are afraid of colour” says Maria Macklin, a House of Colour star consultant whose courses have a transformative effect on how her female – and male – clients think about what they can wear.
“It’s all about skin tones and undertones,” she points out when we meet at her studio in Monaghan. “People tend to match their hair with their clothes rather than skin tone and most women have eight colours in their wardrobe in general and tend to hide in safe colours. When they leave here they realise that a quarter of those clothes will suit them. It’s not about the colours they like but the colours that like them,” she maintains.
Her thorough, three-hour consultations take most of a morning and include a 30-second make-up lesson and learning about how to create budget-friendly looks with fewer clothes. Clients can choose a one-to-one consultation or be part of a group and in her experience groups are generally better “because you learn more with a group and the dynamics can be interesting”.
Colour analysis theory is drawn from the scientific work of the Swiss painter and theorist Johann Itten of the Bauhaus whose book The Art of Colour, published in the 1920s, influenced the world of art and design and forms the basis of associating colour palettes with four types of people and four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Artists and the colours they used can be categorised; Constable was always autumn, Hockney spring, Renoir summer and Picasso winter. So the consultation determines the season and spectrum that suits you.
“There are 144 colours,” explains Macklin, “with 36 shades in each palette. The primary colours are red, yellow and blue. Colours are divided into warm or cool – those with a little bit of blue make them cool or with yellow make them warm. If you have yellow in your skin tone, you are better surrounded by warm colours. And if you have blue in your skin tone, the opposite is true.” That is the key lesson.
To find out, you sit without make-up in natural light in front of a mirror and are covered with a large white cloth. Macklin then starts the process of placing a series of coloured bibs (in warm and cool shades) to establish your best colours. It takes time, is precise and comprehensive. Neutrals go with everything and everybody has a different set, some warm, some cool – warm neutrals are best with gold jewellery, cool neutrals best with silver – easy to see. The importance of the right colour lipstick is stressed “for credibility – and don’t shop without it” as is the importance of buying less but better.
“The authority colours – black, navy and grey are darker, generally favoured by men who wear dark suits with light shirts and then add ties. For them it is about project managing their wardrobes, very practical and not emotional,” she says. When it comes to pattern, she advises that 80 per cent of the colours should be in your particular palette.
Customers come for different reasons. “Some because they are feeling invisible, some who have just had a baby have decided they have too much in their wardrobe and others, starting their first job perhaps, need guidance. A lot of women come here with low self esteem and talk about the things they don’t like about themselves. So a lot of work is getting them to like what they are and give guidelines on how to put personality into their clothes. Clothes can be powerful.” Clients leave with a wallet of the 36 colours that all work together as well as those with the most impact.
A former teacher who quit her profession to begin a corporate consultancy career in London, Macklin not only operates from her home in Monaghan but also travels around the country with a portable studio as well as offering a personal style service. For further details contact her at 087 2789547. A morning’s consultation is €170.