Colour Me Faded


Back in my early forties, when I worked in London’s Bunhill Row, I signed up for a Colour Me Beautiful course that was running in the nearby Bishopsgate Institute during my lunch break. (Other colour consultants are probably available.)

At the first session, the consultant introduced the course and held up a coloured scarf to each face to demonstrate the concept. Everyone nodded agreement with an occasional reinforcing, ‘Oh, yes!’ but, at the time, I couldn’t see it at all. It is, however, true that I am a person who fails to recognise people she has met before, so something is clearly missing when my brain processes what I see.

And, to be fair, I have recently tried on a couple of items in the ‘wrong’ colours for me, and had to agree that they didn’t suit me at all. One short summer dress in a charity shop was a useful-looking shift shape. Its coloured stripes did resemble a tea-towel or maybe a deckchair, but I could wear it in the garden. The main issue once I tried it on, was that the white background really did not suit me, even for the garden. My head almost disappeared. (Perhaps that’s a good thing, come to think of it…)

During the half-dozen lunch breaks that comprised the colour consultancy, I learned that my entire wardrobe of autumny colours were wrong for my colouring. I should have been wearing blues and pastels and greys…

Another woman was given similar advice. We privately agreed in a tea-break moment that this was disappointingly boring.

We were told that very few people have the colouring that looks good in black, or in white. I was happy with this, having given up dressing like a crow soon after my teens. I gave up white soon after, as it began to feel too young and virginal for credibility.

Apparently, anyone can wear red, which is reassuring to know in the run-up to Christmas.

One claim of the course was that, once our wardrobe was adjusted, we would be able to pick out any item of clothing when running late, and our separates would match. Looking at some of my daughter’s colour combinations, I think she was at some point given the same advice, only without the colour consultation. The claim is anyway untrue, even for those of us who have been colorifically assessed.

I was told that aquamarine tones complement my skin tone, which pleased me; I like greeny-blues. I now have several tops and trousers in shades of turquoise. I am rarely able to find a match for them, and none of them can be worn together.

The course also covered make-up. I was not convinced by the red lipstick chosen for me, even when the consultant pointed out that it brought out my eyes, and everyone else nodded sagely. The uncompromising red reminded me of my mother on the rare occasions when she applied make-up (which consisted of the lipstick and a compacted face powder, the smell of which made me feel car-sick in advance). I am stuck firmly in the sixties with regard to lipstick. My lips are on the small side, and I prefer a pale mocha or heather tone that doesn’t emphasise them. Although, since the wrinkles advanced to take over my upper lip, I don’t often wear any kind of lipstick these days,

After the ‘Colour Me’ course I recall one immediate benefit that, indeed, saved me much time and indecision. My newly-reduced colour options vastly reduced the amount of time I spent browsing the charity shops, especially those that displayed their wares on colour-sorted rails.


Photo by Roberto Nickson on


What principles (if any) govern your wardrobe?

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4 thoughts on “Colour Me Faded

  1. I need to be grabbed by something a bit different and a bargain. It can be any colour. Sometimes a daughter or granddaughter will stop me in a charity shop and say ‘Really?’
    On second thoughts, I dontgwear beige or brown. And no skirts any more since I stopped work 10 years ago. But long, short dresses and in-between. Leggings and jeggings. And nothing fitted any more since I’ve put weight on during the Pandemic. Just about to lose my second attempt at a comment as a dog clambers onto my lap on my bare legs. I’m in the garden, wearing a swimsuit! No bikinis any more either. 🤣


  2. I go for whites, black or blue. Now post pandemic, our office is really casual and we can wear denim jeans, Ts or polo necks. So I am happy as it means my suits for office can be tossed as that era has gone given we now hotdesk, even chairman is hotdesking.


  3. The pandemic has led to a lot of changes in working practice. Next door neighbour is mostly working from home now, so we don’t get to babysit their dogs as oaften as we did.


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