Colour conversation with Claire Bannister, MD House of Colour

For this week’s Colour Conversation, we talk to Claire Bannister, the new MD of House of Colour, who we recently welcomed to Kettlewell HQ to talk all things colour with Melissa and the team. Here, she shares her experience of leaving the monochrome world of City finance behind and taking up her dream job in colour… 

When was your first introduction to colour analysis and what led to you becoming MD of House of Colour?

I was given a colour analysis for my fortieth birthday by a friend who had experienced it and it changed my life for ever. Until then I had been that woman who always wore black work suits and white crisp shirts. I worked in the City and that was the ‘uniform’, but I never felt comfortable. Colour analysis was life changing in more ways than one for me.

When I talked to people about it, eventually someone suggested I should do it for a job. It was a monumental moment… YES! I met Helen Venables, who was then the MD of House of Colour, and fell in love with the whole franchise concept. It was as far away from financial services as you can get, and I am so thankful I made that step.


Claire, before and after discovering her Spring palette

I became the number one colour consultant in the UK after a year and then the Head of Training just prior to the pandemic. When Helen announced her retirement, I jumped at the chance to apply. This is my dream job because not only do I get to run the company that changed my life so positively, but I also get to help set the direction of the company.


Claire, above left, working her colour magic as House of Colour’s No1 colour consultant and, right, with fellow Spring, Helen Venables

As a Spring, how do you incorporate your colours into your everyday life? How do your best colours make you feel?

I am a Blue Spring and I love my colours. I try to incorporate a neutral into every outfit, so that my look is elevated. I love the fact that all my colours go together in harmony, and that all my clothes work hard for me and that there is honestly nothing in my wardrobe that I don’t love. My colours are happy colours – they bring zest and sunshine to my life, and now that I am comfortable with them it is all so easy.


 ‘My colours are happy colours – they bring zest and sunshine to my life’ says Claire

One of the first things you’ve done in your new role at House of Colour is to replace the old colour wallets with colour fans (which we love by the way!). What was the idea behind them?

We actually didn’t have a choice because our wallet leather supplier went into liquidation due to the pandemic and it was one of my first jobs to do. I knew I always loved my original fabric wallet but that we needed to modernise the look and feel, so we researched and ended up with the fan concept. I like the way you can easily compare either one section or many all at once and I think it’s important that they are real fabric. They are also made in the UK which was important also to me.


Introducing the new fabric colour fans was at the top of Claire’s to-do list as new HoC MD

What do you hope to be able to deliver to your clients and how do you see House of Colour evolving to appeal to a younger generation of women?

I want to reach more clients of all ages and help them experience the services we offer. Everyone should feel comfortable and empowered in their clothes and this comes from the right colours and style of clothes. It is life changing.

I am going to help House of Colour evolve and modernise for all our clients. I strongly feel that if I had known what I know now about my colours and style when I was younger, I would have made such a different impact on the world, so I aim to help it be accessible to all and to appeal to more people. It isn’t something ‘your mum should do’ – it’s for all.


Claire with House of Colour consultants, from left: the Greek team; Kate Jones; Lizi Green, Jane Brook and Sarah Biancardi and clients 

A lot of women find themselves struggling after they’ve had their colours done. What advice would you give to help them shop?

I can summarise in a few points:

  • Baby steps…. Don’t try to do it all at once.
  • Wear the right make-up. This will help you identify if the colour is harmonising with your face, and use your fan!
  • Clear your wardrobe out and put all your right colours one side and the wrong colours the other – this way you can see what you have in the right season and where the gaps are.
  • Try new shops – they will have items that you may not have seen.
  • Buy some good basics in great colours, such as a Kettlewell top, tee or scarf.
  • If in doubt, go back to your consultant and ask them for their advice. They are there to help.

A long-lasting, fully functioning wardrobe is so important in this age of throwaway fashion. What are your thoughts on creating a sustainable wardrobe?

This runs in our House of Colour veins! We have always spoken about price per wear – ie, the more you wear an item, the less it costs you. We also advocate the fact that it is so much better to buy well, buy less but wear it more.

Once you know your colours and style, you can build a wardrobe that mixes and matches, creating lots of interesting looks without continually adding to the pieces. You also need some great coloured staples (Kettlewell’s double-fronted vests are some of mine!) that will work hard for you and add colour to any outfit. You don’t have to buy a new thing every time you shop – what you need to buy are items that complement you, are the best quality you can afford and bring you joy!


Kettlewell’s double-fronted Sleeveless V – ‘Staples like these work hard for you and add colour to any outfit,’ says Claire

I’m sure you have plenty of inspiring stories of how colour has transformed people’s lives. Do any stand out for you?

I have had lots of moving moments when clients have cried with joy at what they see in the mirror. It was wonderful when I hosted a ‘goodbye event’ for my clients when I sold my franchise. Everyone shared stories among themselves and it made me remember how amazing what we do is and how it touches people’s lives in so many ways.


When Claire came to Kettlewell HQ – recording a vlog with Melissa about the nation’s favourite colour, blue

Ann Botley on Jul 10, 2022 2:59 PM

I had my colours done way back in the nineteen seventies. By a company called Colour Me Beautiful. I am a spring & love the sharp clear bright shades l would have been in my thirties when this colour assessment was made. I am now closer to eighty than l would prefer to be but wearing the beautiful bright spring shades always make me feel good about myself & definitely boost my self confidence. Also enoymlooking youthful without looking like “mutton dressed as lamb”

Una on Jul 10, 2022 2:57 PM

I had my colours and very importantly my style done on the same day in July 1998 by HOC's Nina Wing, now 82 and retired in 2003 but still a friend and someone I see once a year and still consult. I forfeited all holiday that year to afford it all and it has been eye-opening. I I have stuck with it and I wear all my colours as per assessment sheet. I then went onto Fiona Ingham at Nina's recommendation as being a very fine consultant, and she sure is, and again a friend. I never wore black with having red hair and freckles, except I did own black shoes, so not a big deal to be told an Autumn leaf Autumn and a Natural Classic, bought off owning a chocolate brown winter coat. I did wear some of the Winter colours inadvertently, but then frilly or dramatic clothes, even having a life as an opera singer and 5ft 8ins, was perceived as dramatic but I never have been. Never been into making statements and never my style unless forced to wear them as a uniform in certain productions. I have been a KW buyer practically from the start. Sadly, the cost of being a HOC consultant and finding clients who could afford all this was way beyond my purse and I lived in the wrong part of London in a small flat with no soare room nor a car. Now I'm retired in Yorkshire, and too old. But I know I would have made a great consultant.

Anne Smith on Jul 08, 2022 7:57 PM

I had my colours done by HOC twenty one years ago. I have never looked back. I also wore a lot of black (like everyone else) but couldn’t place why it didn’t look right. So glad I turned out to be a Blue Spring. I am now a Pastel Spring and have seen a few consultants come and go or retire but have loved every minute of it.

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