The secret to looking good in everything you wear

Recently I was invited by House of Colour to have my colours analysed. I seem to remember that this was very popular with my friends about 25 years ago but I missed out having it done. So I was looking forward to finally learning whether I was Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter.

Of course, at the ripe old age of 57 years, one supposes that one knows all the colours that suit our own complexion and, more importantly, the ones that don’t. In reply to that statement I can now categorically say I did not know! But after three hours with the very charming and knowledgeable Helen Venables, Managing Director of House of Colour, I have been completely re-educated and my wardrobe has been revitalised.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.03.55The day started with the removal of my make-up as Helen needed me to be my natural self so that she had a plain canvas to work with. I felt very vulnerable without my ‘warpaint’. My hair was scraped back off my face and covered, a white gown was placed over my clothes and Helen began. The first pair of coloured drapes were used to find out whether I have a warm or cool skin tone. Having a yellow or blue undertone to your skin is something that is often discussed in terms of make up colours, but very few people confidently know which side of the line they fall regarding their clothes. Having established that I had a cool skin tone Helen went on to assess whether my best colours are those that are bright/clear or slightly softer/richer. To demonstrate this she showed me two shades of various colours (see video below) to prove which tones suited me best – it was a lightbulb moment. I found that French Navy suits me so much better than Midnight Navy. There were colours that I did not like on a personal level, such as Vintage Rose, but I had to admit that they did suit my skin. I quickly accepted that I was ‘Summer’.

It is important to Helen that her clients agree with her analysis ie that you are not bulldozed into a decision. Apparently, very occasionally, a client has found it difficult to accept that she may have been wearing the wrong colours – I think we can become very stubborn as we get older and may feel that we do not want to be told. Luckily I attended the session wearing a jumper in my favourite baby blue and was relieved that it made it through the cull (I would have fought Helen on that one!) I was then presented with a fold out Summer wallet and she explained that I can wear tones of any of the colour swatches contained in it. She also went through all the Summer colours giving each one a percentage mark to show me where it would suit me best ie below waist or close to my face.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.08.08The next stage in my analysis was to be made up using HoC cosmetics with Helen clearly explaining why she was choosing a particular shade of foundation. This was done in natural daylight which is never the case when you are buying over the counter in a store, so I really trusted her choice. The most exciting part for both Ellie and I was when it came to the lipstick. Ellie never wears any as she thinks her lips are too thin and I tend to stick to very pale colours for the day (only putting on a brighter colour for evenings). I realised how wrong that was as when Helen chose a deep purple for Ellie her face was transformed – it was if a light had been turned on. There was a vibrant lilac/rose shade for me and again I too felt radiant. Since our consultation I have been wearing it most days and have had so many confidence boosting compliments about how well I look i.e. not about the lipstick per say, but about the general overall effect. Yes even at 50+ we still need reassuring!

Of course I have noticed clothes in colours that I now know ‘light up my face’ but I have never warmed to them before. Now, armed with my House of Colours wallet as reference, I will definitely try more colours on.

The most exciting part is that, after the good reaction I have had when wearing my Summer colours, I shall now be culling my wardrobe and selling my unwanted items on eBay as I can – finally – clearly see that they do not really suit me.

Another fascinating fact is that you can safely mix and match ANY of your wallet of colours knowing they will work together. I have been really enjoying wearing unusual combinations – something I haven’t done before as I am more of a conservative and classic dresser.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.29.20

Our consultation cost £130 each but Ellie and I found it so worthwhile to have an unbiased, expert opinion to set us both on the right course for the future. As #womenover50 we can all do with a little change and uplifting in our lives, so it is a great time to get a ‘new look’ or just update your current one. We found the whole experience both enlightening and therapeutic. Helen was calm and reassuring and never pushed her opinions – she just led us to the correct conclusions. In my opinion it was money well-spent as we are now going to buy the right colours for our wardrobes, saving us money from all those ‘shopping mistakes’.

But my personal transformation wasn’t over yet. Helen handed me over to Melissa Nicholson, founder of Kettlewell, a go-to website that has brilliant key pieces of clothing in 150 colours. Watch this video to find out how Melissa advised me on what suits my body shape best.

Click here for House of Colour website.


  1. What was old is new again! I recall going for a “color draping” in the early 80’s just after college. However, I must say, your experience sounds much more thorough. This seems to be money well spent and would help so many of us who look at our closets full of clothes and believe we have nothing to wear. I’ve reached that stage in life where I’d rather have a handful of perfect pieces than an abundance of ho-hum options. Thanks for sharing, Annabel.

    • Glad you liked our vlog. I must say that having my colours done by House of Colour was such an eye-opener and really helped me realise that colours that might not appeal to my eye did suit me. It also showed me that I should be more adventurous. I am definitely going for a big cull in my wardrobe. Maybe you should think about having your colours done again. Annabel

  2. House of colour are great – I went and then took my daughter for her 17th birthday and she loved the experience

  3. Really loved this vlog and article! You are absolutely stunning in your pastel summer colours. Love, too, that the make-up is not about what’s in fashion or what I often feel the make up counter assistant likes but what suits your skin tone and condition (as in whether dry/oily etc.) I’m doing this! 🙂

    • The make-up has been a real success in my life – no more wasted money spent on blushers that look good under store lighting but look overdone when I get home to natural daylight. The colour analysis, as I said in my post, was so enlightening and I am starting to cull my wardrobe! Annabel

  4. I had my ‘colours’ done about 15 years ago by someone who really knew their stuff…no idea now what it cost me, but it was worth every cent. As you say, you come away amazed that you can wear colours that you have avoided all your life. There is an incredible difference in shades and their undertones…e.g. a ‘blue’ red or an ‘orange’ based red – the first washed me out, the second made me glow. Fabulous thing to do, ladies.

    • Thank you for your comments. Yes it was a real lesson in colours – tones & shades. We hope some of our readers will have it done and let us know how it goes for them. Annabel

  5. Yes, a professional colour and image consultation can be life changing! And don’t forget there are lots of other image consultants out there too! Colour Me Beautiful have been colouring and styling women throughout the uk (and world) for 30+ years, using the very latest techniques and professional knowledge.

    • Hi Jo

      Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, you are absolutely right. We had our colours done by House of Colour which is why we mentioned them. Interestingly enough I met the Colour Me Beautiful consultant for the Angmering area today and she was telling me that their consultations are slightly different, although I notice you also recommend Kettlewell for clothes. Best wishes, Grace

  6. My problem is that there are very few colours I don’t wear or like and I’d probably baulk if someone suggested my favs were not in my “season”!

    • I know what you mean. I am an Autumn and definitely look best in those warm colours. However, I sometimes wear fuscia – which is not in my palette – and get compliments! I think a lot of what I choose to wear depends on my mood. But, overall, I think it is really handy to know which colours make your face light up. Best wishes, Grace

  7. Had my colours done by The Style Studio, Norwich, this week. What a great experience, reaffirmed the colours I get compliments on about my dress when I wear them and why I have things in my wardrobe I rarely wear. Also bought some fabulous core pieces, suggested for my shape, things I would not have looked at but look great and came home and culled my wardrobes. Now I have space to see everything at a glance, everything is flattering to me and I love to wear everything in there. It’s only taken me 60 years but has knocked years off me.

    • Could not be more delighted for you Lorraine. I know exactly what you mean about the huge satisfaction of culling your wardrobe so that you know that everything you choose to wear you’ll feel great in. Best wishes, Grace

Leave a Reply