Text by Katherine Ellis.
Photos courtesy of interviewees.
When looking at your closet, do you have that favourite shirt that whenever feeling low, always makes you feel better? Or that special outfit that makes you feel just a little bit sexier? Forget the cut, design or trend – the reason you feel better may be due to the colour itself.
“We all have things in our wardrobe that we gravitate towards. We have it in our head, a mental component, that says ‘these pieces look good on me,’” says Jacqueline Fairbrass, founder of the School of Complementary Therapies.
Fairbrass, based in Seattle, adds that every colour has a vibration and that people are drawn to these vibrations. “If you put a white light through a prism, you get the colours of the rainbow. You also get the other colours at the end of the spectrum, which you cannot see. As energy beings, every aspect of ourselves vibrates […] to a set frequency.”
Fairbrass adds that these vibrations can have an effect on a person’s emotional state.
Amanah Triggs, the Vancouver-based president and co-founder of the Canadian Colour Association, agrees.
“Humans are emotional beings,” she says. “Colour really impacts our emotions; it goes straight to the heart of the matter. Colour is manifested in light as a continuous source of good health and well-being, and each colour of the spectrum can be used to enhance all aspects of our life.” For example, yellow can help stimulate concentration and joy, and red can create warmth and vitality.
Michelle Horne, an Ottawa-based image consultant and the current Canadian chapter president of the Association of Image Consultants International, says that when she assesses her clients, she drapes them in colours to show which ones suit their natural colouring best, looks at how they react and asks what they feel when they see themselves in their best colours.
“I want you to have clothing in your closet with colours that match who you are, and say what you need them to say for what you do,” says Horne, while speaking of her professional clients seeking business attire. “There are so many fashion influences, it gets confusing, especially for women. It is important and critical to understand your own personal style – this is an empowering essential piece to both personal and professional success.”
Horne adds that, after their colour assessment, she tells her clients that it will be easier for them to find their best neutrals, basics and accent colours when shopping. As for people who have not had their colours assessed, Horne suggests they go shopping without make-up and place different shades of neutrals beside their face to see which colour complements them the best. These can include different shades and tints of black, brown, grey and blue. “You always want to see the person first, not the colour.”
Fairbrass adds that when most people are interested in colour therapy, they expect to have a guide on how different colours will affect them. Though there are general rules, such as warm colours tend to uplift and cool colours tend to calm, the way each individual perceives specific colours may vary.
“One of my clients wore black solidly and she did not look healthy,” says Horne. “[Later], she found out she was an autumn and brown was her main neutral [colour]. [The reason she had never worn brown] was because of a negative emotional connection to the colour.”
Even after you figure out your season and your colouring, the best way to discover your individual colour palette is to experiment, says Natalia Kiseleva, an international beauty consultant who has been in the make-up industry for eight years.
“Get advice from a professional beauty consultant, go to a real make-up artist and try different looks to see how you feel,” says the Montreal-based Kiseleva. “There are also different ways of combining different colours together, and this can play a huge role too.”
“Have fun with it,” concludes Fairbrass. “It’s not something that should be scary or intimidating. It’s something that should be liked and played with. Experiment with your own reactions to colour. [Begin] by looking at your wardrobe!”