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Colour psychology- Kettlewell style!


The internet is awash with articles and blog posts about how colours can make you feel happy, angry, motivated, relaxed, or any other emotion you care to name - it's a subject I am fascinated with and have covered more than once here. But today I want to talk to you about a rather different aspect of colour psychology - how the right colours can help us feel confident, authentic and comfortable in our clothes, and how the wrong colours and colour combinations (and I'm not just talking about the wrong season here) can make us lose confidence and feel like we're playing dress up.

We all know that you're always going to look your best in your seasonal palette over and above any of the others. But I bet within your palette there are colours that you just feel 'not quite right' in, or combinations you put together and just decide never to leave the house in. You might even feel that the way you've been told to wear your colours (in a high contrast way for the brighter seasons - Spring and Winter - or a more muted tonal way for the softer seasons - Summer and Autumn) just doesn't sit with your own personality and how you like to dress.

The reality is that your own personal style - made up of your body shape, personality and lifestyle - has as much impact on what you feel your best in as your colour palette does, and it's as important to honour this as to follow your seasonal palette.


When does style clash with season?

Each of the four seasonal palettes has a personality and way of combining colours which is generally accepted as the 'right' way to do that particular season. They are:

Spring - bubbly, extrovert, energetic, typified by wearing at least a couple of bright colours at a time, outfits with high contrast and lot of brightness.

Summer - elegant, feminine, cool and collected, typified by wearing tonal, textured outfits without too much adornment or vavavoom.

Autumn - outdoorsy, down to earth, organised and investigative, typified by wearing natural fabrics and textures in styles which don't go over the top or feel too sleek.

Winter - confident, precise leaders, typified by minimalist, sleek outfits with high contrast, minimal texture and always smartly dressed.

But, of course, humans are complex creatures and while we frequently observe the characteristics of the seasonal palettes when we speak to customers of different seasons (Melissa is a whizz at this after 15 years of Kettlewell, and has a gold star success rate at guessing customer's seasons over the phone simply from their 'energy' and personality), the reality is that we are all complex beings with a whole range of facets to our personalities and personal style. So when might your personal style feel like it clashes with your season, and what can you do about it?

I've outlined each of our main style personalities below (if you don't yet know yours, you can find out by visiting our the style quiz) and for each one explained how you might adjust how you wear your seasonal palette to best reflect your personal style as well as your unique colouring. And don't worry if you haven't done our style quiz - the information below should help you regardless, and you'll gain the confidence to wear your seasonal palette in the way that's right for you.

The Minimalist


Your style personality: Neat, understated, chic and sophisticated

When it's easy: Winter - the high contrast and sleek saturated colours of this palette lend themselves so well to a clean Minimalist look.

When it's trickier: Spring and, to an extent, Summer and Autumn - you need to look for the most classic colours within your palette, as Amal has done with these gorgeous neutral tan and beige shades, adding a pop of orange in a neat cut to add interest without sacrificing her Minimalist style.

The Adventurer


Your style personality: Casual, laid back, outdoorsy and informal

When it works: Autumn, and to a lesser degree, Summer - the softer seasons find texture and layering comes naturally. Julie Walters demonstrates this perfectly with a combination of colour, texture and print.

When it's trickier: Winter and, to an extent, Spring - you need to work harder to make the bright seasons look casual and laid back. Sienna Miller opts for the most natural feeling shades from the Spring palette to add a good dose of the Adventurer to her look, and the animal print adds to the effect - nature inspired prints will work well for Winters too, as will lowering the contrast within an outfit (think Mole with Dark Emerald rather than Black with White).

The Pixie


Your style personality: Extrovert, quirky, neat and youthful

When it works: Spring, Winter - the high contrast and boldness in the brighter seasons really amps up the fun and quirkiness in any outfit, and can add interest to even the simplest of outfits. Adding a colour pop in the form of a print or accessory is perhaps the easiest way to do this - Dawn French's fun coat really elevates her simple Black outfit.

When it's trickier: Summer, Autumn - in order to add quirkiness to the softer seasons you'll want to opt for the neatest and most modern cuts, think about more contrast within your outfit, and also wear brighter colours from your palette (for instance, Sunflower and Grass Green for an Autumn).

The Princess


Your style personality: Feminine, pretty, kind, and youthful

When it works: Summer, Spring - the light, fresh colours in these palettes lend themselves to the youthful prettiness of the Princess, and all the pink in both doesn't hurt! Even in neutrals, Nicole Kidman exudes delicate femininity.

When it's trickier: Winter, Autumn to an extent - the striking palette of Winter is perhaps the most challenging for this look, but by opting for a lighter and less severe Azure shade and delicate detailing, Lupita Nyong'o looks 100% the Princess.

The Movie Star


Your style personality: Nurturing, glamorous, grown up, and confident

When it works: Winter - the bold intense colours of Winter feel grown up and confident, and the rich saturated shades exude luxury, making them perfect for this glamorous and grown up style personality.

When it's trickier: Autumn and, to an extent, Spring and Summer - All three seasons can manage full on screen siren, but opt for your deepest, richest shades for maximum impact. This isn't a look for combining all the brightest colours of your palette, but confident larger scale patterns or high contrast colour combinations add style without sacrificing elegance.

A final word

If all of this feels a little overwhelming, the one piece of advice I'd like you take away from this blog post is this: whatever your combination of personal style and seasonal palette, it is still possible for you to honour both your colouring and your personality within your outfits. Sure, it's a little easier for some palettes than others, but go with your gut and wear what feels right for you and you'll end up with a wardrobe you love. And if you want to learn more about creating outfits that work for both your colour palette and your personal style, I recommend this recent blog post.

Fiona Ingham on Aug 08, 2020 6:43 PM

When a client knows their colour palette and also their clothing personality from a Personal Style session, the whole subject comes together. It's great that within each palette is the possibility of myriad different looks. And for variety it's good to have all the colours of the palette in the wardrobe even if some are in tiny amounts. Don't be predictable!

stellatagg on Aug 08, 2020 8:54 AM

very interesting read i will try it out thanks stella