Meet Your Color Consultant
One step into Sarah Gallagher’s apartment and it is obvious she has an eye for color. The dining table chairs alternate light orange and green, the gray-teal wood cabinet that pairs with the striped carpet holds carefully arranged books and wine glasses, and the paintings on the wall complement the surroundings perfectly.
But Gallagher hasn’t always been a color consultant, having only started her business one year ago. Before that, she was a corporate lawyer in London, where she saw first-hand the importance of dressing well.
A few years ago when Gallagher was still living in the UK, a couple of friends recommended that she try a color consultation. Gallagher, who says she “has always been interested in color, fashion, and style” was eager to try it out.
The result? A “transformational experience,” she says. Since then, Gallagher has completed the full Colour and Style training program with Colour Me Beautiful, the world’s leading color and image consultancy based in the UK. In addition to color consultations, her training included style consultation and makeup. She started her own business, What’s My Colour, in association with Colour Me Beautiful, because she wanted a business that she could take with her around the world.
“I love seeing people’s faces when they see themselves in colors and styles that look great on them,” says Gallagher. “Same with style – I love helping people to understand how to use clothes to flatter their body shape and enhance their best features.”
When she’s not doing color consulting, Gallagher is pursuing a diploma in interior design with the KLC School of Design in London – hence the immaculate apartment.
Why Get a Color Consultation?
Color consulting is much more scientific than many people realize. It involves the science of color theory and looks at six specific characteristics, (more on that in a bit). Knowing from a systematic standpoint that you look good has dramatic effects. “When you know objectively that you look good, you feel good, and that has an enormous impact on your confidence in both work and social situations,” explains Gallagher.
How much impact does color have on your appearance, anyway? A lot, it turns out. “The wrong color can make [someone’s] face look a bit drained and flat, but the right color can make [them]glow with health and vitality,” she says.
Understanding your colors also makes shopping easier and more effective; you can hone in on colors that you already know will make you look great.
However, unlike what some may think, color consultations can also expand your horizons. “Sometimes people think that having a color consultation will restrict the colors that they can wear, but it is actually quite the opposite,” says Gallagher. “Every client I’ve had has told me that that the color consultation opened up a whole new world of color for them; they realize they look fabulous in lots of colors they never thought they could wear!”
Today, Gallagher is giving a private color consultation to Elaine Pratley, who deserves some special time for herself. In addition to being mom of 1.5 year old Joshua, Pratley is the director of Humnbuzz, a company that supports other companies with their loyalty campaigns. She also coordinates two volunteer projects, Project Mobilize, which raises resources and finds volunteers for NGOs, and the BIG Voice, which increases awareness of social justice issues.
The night before Pratley had barely slept because Joshua was sick with a cold. With such a full plate, her daily makeup routine tends to be quick and simple.
“After having a baby, my body feels different and clothes don’t look quite the same on me anymore,” she says. She wanted a color consultation to feel more confident in the clothing she wears, “I know it can make a difference on how I feel and how I work. I want to look good for myself so that I can be a better mom and wife.”
The Process Begins
Using “Colour Me Beautiful: Expert Guidance to Help You Feel Confident and Look Great” as a visual guide, Gallagher starts by introducing color theory to Pratley. The latter involves six characteristics divided into three opposite pairs: soft or clear, warm or cool, strong or light.
The color theory that used to be widely accepted, including by companies like Color Me Beautiful, classified flattering shades
according to “seasons”. However, saying that someone is an “autumn” versus a “summer” is ambiguous and leaves room for interpretation. The updated color theory uses the six characteristics to be as specific as possible.
It is helpful to think of these pairs as opposites on a spectrum rather than an all-or-nothing proposition. Experienced color consultants can determine where each person falls along the scale. Gallagher uses celebrities as examples.
First there’s clarity, which is defined as the amount of contrast in your features, and described as “soft” or clear.” For example, Kate Winslet, with her light hair and skin tone, is a soft while Courtney Cox, whose dark hair and bright eyes contrast with her light skin tone, is a clear.
Next is tone, or how “warm” or “cool” you are. Common features in people with warm tones such as Julianne Moore include red-toned hair, freckles and darker skin with a golden glow. People with cooler tones such as Judi Dench tend to have ash tones to their hair and pink or blue undertones in their skin.
Finally, Gallagher looks at depth, or how “deep” or “light” your
coloring is. Michelle Obama is a deep; she has dark eyes and hair. Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett is a light because of her pale blonde hair and light skin. That being said, depth doesn’t necessarily fall along racial lines; it just means that people notice your eyes and hair first.
Gallagher also says that your colors can change slightly over time. With age, people usually become cooler as their hair turns gray or white. Getting a summer tan can also change your colors slightly, but rarely enough to make a difference.
Testing the Colors
“Testing is the most important step,” Gallagher explains as she
transitions Pratley to the chair facing a mirror. She wraps a white barber-style cape around Pratley to remove all distracting colors, then proceeds to determine the shades that flatter her.
Behind Gallagher are four stacks of neatly-folded color drapes, each labeled with a number and key words like “warm” or “deep.” She expertly shifts through the stacks to find the ones she is looking for. After finding the right warm red and cool pink drapes, she holds the pink over the red and places them both underneath Pratley’s face. Gallagher moves the pink up and down to reveal the red, comparing the two colors against Pratley’s skin.
“Which one looks better?” she asks Pratley. “How do you tell?” “Look right here under the eyes.” It is obvious that Pratley is better suited to cool colors; the pink lifts her face and makes her look fresh.
Next, Gallagher tests Pratley for clarity by alternating between a bright green and a muted purple. Again, the difference is incredible; the bright color looks amazing on her, proving that Pratley is definitely a clear. “Really good, yeah, that looks fantastic!” Gallagher exclaims. “That’s amazing!” says Pratley upon seeing her eyes pop with the green. “It’s just so interesting,” she says, “All these colors I never thought would look good on me!”
Although one test is usually enough for Gallagher to see where her clients fall on each spectrum, she often does two or three tests for each characteristic to make sure that clients understand why certain colors look better on them than others.
The final test is for Pratley’s depth. After seeing how amazing the contrast between charcoal and bright teal is on Pratley, it is confirmed that she is a deep. “Try to keep some contrast and keep it cool,” says Gallagher. She pauses briefly, then grins. “I am going to keep repeating that so you don’t forget!”
Getting Your Game Face On
After determining Pratley’s colors, Gallagher gives her a pamphlet that summarizes all the makeup colors that look best on her and proceeds to demonstrate. Gallagher starts by applying a neutral skin primer, concealer, and then light foundation, using a sponge to make sure everything is evenly blended.
To minimize the shadows under Pratley’s eyes, Gallagher dabs concealer on the indentation line under the dark shadows and blends with a sponge. She cautions against applying concealer directly on to the dark shadow or it will stand out more.
“Now we’re ready for the fun bit: a little bit of color!” says Gallagher. After gently rubbing eye moisturizer on Pratley’s lids, Gallagher uses a disposable brush to apply eye shadow and a pretty amethyst eyeliner. After a few swipes of mascara, the eyes are done.
The final touch is some lipstick. After a base of lip pencil, Gallagher looks through her shades of lipstick. “Mauve would be good for you… oh! Fiesta would be fun!” she muses. However, she doesn’t add
anything without asking Pratley if she feels comfortable with it first. The two settle on a brighter pink called ‘bonbon’.
Now that Pratley knows what her colors are and has flattering makeup on, Gallagher picks out 42 of Pratley’s best colors and teaches her the best ways to combine them.
In Pratley’s case, she looks for combinations of bright, contrasting colors with cool undertones. She moves various colors around near Pratley’s face; each combination looks stunning. “Teal with charcoal? Really, really lovely. That’s amazing,” Gallagher says as she smiles into the mirror at Pratley. Pratley’s eyes stand out beautifully with the bright teal, and her pink lips provide the perfect pop of color.
Continuing around the color wheel from blues to greens to purples to pinks, Gallagher finds a couple of shades from her stacks of drapes that match Pratley’s shade perfectly. As she shows them, she discusses potential outfits, like wearing a pink blouse with a charcoal suit at work or a blue jacket on the weekends.
…And the Look is Complete!
At the end of a color consultation, clients receive a color wallet with swatches of their 42 best colors for reference, and a list of all the makeup Gallagher used. Clients can buy the makeup they are wearing from Gallagher.
It is impressive how an hour and a half session can be so
transformative. “I didn’t realize how wearing your colors makes such a difference to how one subconsciously feels,” says Pratley, looking incredible in a purple scarf she is now wearing. “I feel like I could walk into a court room and win a case!”
If you really love a color that isn’t perfect for you, don’t fear; just don’t wear it too close to your face. Gallagher also recommends using scarves to distance yourself from the color. Don’t give up on the color completely; often you just need it in a different tone.
Can’t figure out whether an item has cool or warm undertones in-store? “Try to find something orange or yellow and something blue. If it tones with the blue color, it will be a cooler shade; if it tones with the yellow or orange color, it will be warmer,” Gallagher advises.
You can mix and match all of 42 of the colors you get in your color wallet because they are all the right tones for your specific coloring. This means that all the clothing in your closet will eventually start to mix and match, allowing you to do more with less!
Makeovers for Men
Don’t worry guys – color and style consultations are not limited to women. Although only a small percentage of Gallagher’s clients are men, she hopes to expand her client base to include more guys with a new service she is offering called “Men’s Grooming.” Image
consultations don’t seem macho? Think of it this way: it will make
shopping much easier and faster, and you will always look put-together!
Gallagher is offering an exclusive price for beijingkids readers: Order a color consultation and get a style consultation at 50 percent off.
•Color consultations: RMB 1,200 (regular price)
Style consultations: RMB 1,200 (regular price)
•Color and style consultation with beijingkids discount: RMB 1,800
Gallagher also ran the popular 4-session course “Discover Your Style” at The Hutong this spring and expects to host another one this autumn.
For an appointment, contact Gallagher directly at email@example.com or 137 0100 1864, or visit her website
www.whatsmycolour.com. Simply mention that you read this article in beijingkids for a discount. Offer valid through September 2014.
Photos: Dave PiXSTUDIO