Replacing neutrals with colour has an instant brightening, lightening effect …
It is easy in mid-life to get stuck in a sartorial rut and languish in a neutral palette. Not only is colourful clothing an instant cure for any winter blues, it is also one of the most miraculous tools to knock off a decade and ensure you remain looking current and contemporary. It is the ultimate ageing antidote and more potent than any miracle cream or cosmetic treatment.
Introducing more colour into your clothes can have a major impact on self-image, mood and visibility. Many women complain of their “invisibility” as they age; retreating into beige and darker shades can amplify that feeling. Choosing instead to assert your presence by wearing colour is a defiant statement about how you see yourself and how you want the world to see you. As faces alter with age, colour can have a positive impact on complexion and appearance; once we lose pigment biologically, we should reclaim it stylishly, with our clothes. Look to Iris Apfel, Trinny Woodall and Kristen Scott Thomas for joyful inspiration.
With Pantone predicting the evocative Very Peri (a shade of periwinklue blue with violet-red undertones that, apparently, boosts creativity) as the colour of the season it is the perfect time to experiment. Fashion has decided that the antidote to the prevailing gloom is a vivid injection of colour because colour has a profound impact on our emotions and speaks a powerful language that transcends words. Saturated or soft, there is a shade of each colour for everyone.
It’s not necessary to wear colour head to toe – you can use a dash of colour to add zest to your outfit. If your core wardrobe consists of neutrals, look at the colour combinations you can create with the addition of vivid pieces. Initially it can be simpler to keep colour to tops, knitwear, scarves and accessories or even a manicure, and work these against your classic basics. The strategy of adding pops of colour is life affirming and allows you to introduce colour in a way that doesn’t overwhelm. Neons are fabulous especially against darks while colour blocking a monochrome and a primary or bright is effective too.
Judging which colours suit you can be challenging; the spectrum is wide and investing in colourful clothes and accessories can feel frightening. If you feel overwhelmed, book an appointment for colour analysis, but you can start by trying on new colours when you shop – once we get back to shopping that is, though you can also try these techniques with existing pieces in your wardrobe. Hold colours up against your face and observe how different shades affect your eyes, skin tone and overall appearance. A primary red is flattering on almost everyone while insipid pastels can add 20 years in an instant.
With practise, you will start to notice how certain colours lift you and make you look fresher while others drain you, emphasise under-eye shadows and render you tired. Take note of the colours that enliven you and see if they have warm or cool undertones. Warmer skin with a yellow undertone is flattered by golden shades of yellow, red, orange and deep turquoise while cooler skin with a blue undertone favours hot pink, ruby red, navy and cobalt blue. Turquoise is apparently the most universally flattering shade so is an excellent introduction.
With perseverance, you will realise what suits you. Neon yellows, acid greens and mustards can be hard on fair Irish complexions and merit caution. Choose to enhance your skin-tone rather than fretting about lines and wrinkles: good colour choices bring vitality to your face, brighten your eyes and dramatically lift your skin. Also remember Christian Dior’s observation that “Two colours in any outfit are quite enough”. It takes a skilled eye to successfully combine colour and pattern creatively so edit your palette intelligently to avoid crazy lady overtones.
Someone who adapts colour and adorns themselves with optimistic yellow, calm blue or radiant red delivers a potent message. Whichever colour you choose, remember that it will not only elevate your appearance but also your mood and self-confidence. By re-claiming your visibility, you are asserting your right to be valued as a relevant person. It doesn’t matter what the colour is, as long as it makes you look fabulous.
As Coco Chanel observed: “The best colour in the world is the one that looks good on you.”