Colour conversation with our in-house colour expert Jo and her sister Charlotte

raw-header_new.jpg

For this week’s Colour Conversation, we are training the spotlight a little closer to home – on our very own in-house colour expert, Jo, and her sister Charlotte, a vintage fashion blogger and dressmaker. Many of you will know Jo from her weekly live Style Spots on Kettlewell’s Colour Club, where she guides customers through their seasonal palettes. Having discovered that her sister Charlotte (a paintbox Spring) couldn’t be more different in terms of style personality and colouring, we thought it was about time we found out a little more about them. Prepare for a colourful read!

Colour plays a big part in both your lives. Was this always the case?

Jo: Not in a conscious way necessarily, but our (Summer) mother has always been very stylish, and we were almost always dressed in beautiful clothes (in her colours, with hindsight), and our house always had very tasteful, harmonious interiors. As I grew up, I drifted away from the colours I’d been dressed in as a child, but never definitively towards another palette. After university I began work in London as a financial journalist, and quickly settled into the unsatisfying but safe ‘City’ palette of grey, black, white, maybe very occasional splashes of pale blue and red.

Charlotte: I think we’ve always had an understanding of the role of colour. One of my earliest memories is walking between two ‘white’ painted rooms in our house trying to figure out why one had a feeling of warmth and another of cool calm, before realising that one was painted in rose-white and the other in apple white. Throughout my life I’ve taken up various hobbies, such as scrapbooking and dressmaking, which lean heavily on colour.

Jo: I definitely remember a lot of debate about varying shades of white every time a room needed redecorating! And dozens of little paint swatches on the wall before a decision could be made.

raw-children.jpg

What are your seasonal palettes and were you drawn to them as children?

Jo: I’m an Autumn (a Deep/Blue Autumn, although my skin tone has definitely got a fraction warmer and softer over the years since having my first colour analysis). I always loved what I would call ‘magical’ colours – deep teals and purples, antique gold and copper – but never had any idea that they might belong to a particular palette, and would never have considered any of the True Autumn colours like Olive, Rust or Tan. I think our mother did enough negative propaganda for the poor ‘muddy 1970s colours’ to put me off for a good few years!

Charlotte: I’m a blue/paintbox spring. I fully favour ‘my’ colours now, but as a child I don’t think I was as discriminating in terms of palette, I was just drawn to saturated colours. I fondly recall two of my favourite outfits as a child, one a ‘harlequin’ tracksuit in cobalt blue and hot pink, and another an emerald green jumper and corduroy skirt set. 

raw-jo_and_charlotte_8.jpg

What made you decide to have your colours done?

Jo: After having my eldest child I had a total lifestyle change, becoming a stay-at-home parent and moving to the South Coast. I needed new clothes to accommodate both the new lifestyle and a new body shape, and was totally lost! After briefly losing myself, unhappily, to baggy jeans and boring sweaters, a friend recognised my dissatisfaction with my appearance and recommended that I go to a stylist she had been to after a similar period of being lost in the style wilderness. It was, frankly, a total revelation. Colours that I would never have previously considered were layered up against me, and, despite struggling to ‘see’ the difference during the analysis process, I could clearly see how even and fresh my skin looked in the deep teals and rich browns of the Autumn palette as my consultant layered them up at the end of the session. I still vividly remember nearly crashing my car on the way home because I was so distracted by my appearance in the rear-view mirror, sporting the most perfect red lipstick I’d ever worn in my life!

Charlotte: Jo had enthused about the power of “having your colours done” and become qualified as a consultant, so I had an understanding of the process. I had embraced vintage fashion, and while my wardrobe was already colourful, I was starting to feel like I wanted more variety of colour, but didn’t know where to start. I had also started sewing more of my own clothes, and when you’re making that kind of time investment, it becomes important to figure out the most flattering colours more effectively than by trial and error. 

raw-jo_and_charlotte_7.jpg

How do you incorporate colour into other areas of your life?

Jo: Interestingly, we both have second businesses, which we have full creative control of, and you can see our colour palettes come through really clearly in each. I founded and run Ochre & Flax, a natural soy wax candle company, and I think it only takes a glance at either my social media or website to make it perfectly obvious which seasonal palette I’m drawn to! I think every aspect of the business, from the natural ingredients to the colour palette to the focus on writing and a life lived slowly in nature, really demonstrates the Autumn in my personality too. Charlotte’s business is... a little brighter!

Charlotte: I started reproducing and designing vintage fabrics, and my design library is basically a showcase of my favourite Spring colours – lots of turquoise, pink, coral, teal and navy! I love exploring how fabric designers used colour in the past, and playing with my own combinations. My favourite designs are available as both fabrics and wallpaper on Spoonflower.

raw-jo_and_charlotte_3.jpg

Jo's essential oil and soy wax candles and her new writing supplies available from Ochre & Flax

Charlotte wearing outfits she created from her own fabric designs ( available as fabric and wallpaper on Spoonflower)

Tell us about your different style personalities…

Jo: Again, total opposites! I am an Adventurer, happiest in more casual clothes and always the most underdressed person in any room. I am drawn to texture, movement and comfort. I am fascinated by how clothes can make us feel more like ourselves, and support the way we want to interact with the world, rather than simply being about looking our prettiest, all of which is what drew me to train as a colour analyst and personal stylist in the first place.

Charlotte: I feel most myself in a 1940s dress or a 1950s poodle skirt! Bold colour combinations, eye-catching novelty prints and softly structured shapes all feature heavily in my wardrobe.

Jo: Children and adults regularly stop Charlotte on the street to admire her outfits!

What colours do you reach for most in your wardrobe?

Jo: I don’t think it will surprise anyone who has ever seen me to know that Mustard ranks as my favourite all-time colour. I love it and all variations on the theme, from Amber to Golden Spice. It’s probably the ‘bright’ that I turn to most often, although I have found myself experimenting with a little more colours than usual thanks to endless inspiration from the Kettlewell Colour Club. I am also having a bit of a love affair with Chestnut at the moment. It blends my love of neutrals with the depth and richness I need to feel my best.

Charlotte: Coral, navy and teal are definitely my daily wardrobe staples, often accessorised with shades of turquoise or pink, or a pop of sunflower yellow ­– I love to rock a contrast colour scheme!

raw-jo_and_charlotte_5.jpg

Do you have any favourite Kettlewell pieces?

Jo: The Connie Sweater has become a new and firm favourite of mine – it's become my go-to transition weather piece, layered up over a simple camisole or a Silky Roll Neck for a little extra warmth. But my all-time favourite piece has to be the Lambswool Coatigan – I don’t think a week went by last winter without me wearing it at least twice. I also own Silky Roll Necks and Silky Scoop necks in a huge array of colours – I wear them as stand-alone tops, as well as layering under anything and everything.

Charlotte: I have an early predecessor of the Darcy Scoop Neck Top in Apple Green which still gets a lot of wear – paired with a swingy skirt and a cardigan it makes a great everyday ‘vintage casual’ ensemble when I want the comfort of jersey fabric without losing the fitted silhouette.

What are your best tips for wearing colour?

Jo: Go with what makes you happy! Colour analysis is the start of a lifelong adventure with colour, and can provide a framework for discovering a full rainbow of shades that you love and that make you feel like the truest version of yourself. I think when we stop engaging with how we feel about our clothes and instead stick to the rules and ‘shoulds’ of either society or our colour analysis, that’s when the fun starts to drain away. If you want to wear your soft season colours in contrast, or wear a colour that your consultant said was the single worst colour in your palette for you, I think you should absolutely try it at least once. I love how Kettlewell makes colour so accessible for everyone.

Charlotte: Life is too short to stick to basic black! Don’t be afraid to express yourself through colour and style. I get a lot of comments from people that they wish they were ‘brave’ enough to wear vintage or wear the bright colours I do, which I think is really sad. Colour analysis can be really liberating, because it gives you licence to incorporate more ‘daring’ shades into your wardrobe with confidence, knowing you can not only carry it off, but it will complement the other colours in your palette.

Jo: I think this is where our opposite colour palettes and style personalities meet – we both firmly believe in the power of colour and style to help you express yourself and find joy in your wardrobe and surroundings.


You can find Jo's Ochre & Flax website here and can find her on Instagram here

You can find Charlotte's website here and can find her on Instagram here

Sarah Richards on Nov 11, 2021 6:02 PM

Lovely sisterly story!

Please could you start including more diversity the people you converse with?

Sonya on Oct 28, 2021 9:57 AM

Hi,

I loved reading your article. I would love to know what Charlotte's Style Personality is. I don't think it was stated specifically. Or maybe I missed it. :)

Sue on Oct 18, 2021 12:23 PM

Great to hear your stories and adventures with colour. It’s interesting how parents dressed you in their seasonal colours.

Long May your colour adventure continue

Melanie on Oct 16, 2021 2:05 PM

Love reading about how two rooms painted white gave Charlotte different feelings. Love seeing how cute you were as little girls, and how each of your distinct essences shines through from then through to now in your work, lives, and businesses.

Clare on Oct 16, 2021 9:47 AM

What an enjoyable article- it's SO interesting to see how widely sisterhood can diverge! You would never take Jo & Charlotte as sisters at first glance, but they actually have similar strong clothing personalities & approaches (even if radically different ones!) . And businesses too! I have Jo's seasonal palette and Charlotte's style personality, so that has been a fascinating read!

Mary on Oct 16, 2021 9:12 AM

Fascinating blog! As a teenager I wore those lovely 1940/50 clothes whenever clothing coupons allowed me. Still wear one 50’s dress at Christmas but it’s classic black sadly, and ow, thanks to Kettlewell I love colour.

Helen Williamson on Oct 15, 2021 9:05 PM

Fascinating. A love of colour & such different ways to express & live it. X ❤️

Jenny Worstall on Oct 15, 2021 8:57 PM

Brilliant post! Absolutely fascinating to read about Jo and her sister, Charlotte.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.