Tracy Ilton Stylist Shares Her Colour Secrets


First things first! When I trained with the Australian Style Institute I thought I would be leaving there armed with all these rules about colour, trends, what goes with what, fruit shapes like “pear and apple”, and millions of other rules to ensure my clients look their best. What a pleasant surprise to discover that there was no such rule book - yes we touched on colour swatches to use as examples for training purposes but we didn’t leave with them, and nor do we use them with our clients. We also studied the art of illusion dressing and how effective it can be when used to advantage, but we never ever refer to a woman as being a pear or an apple shape - I am yet to meet anyone who celebrated being described as a piece of fruit! People seek the help of stylists because they want to feel their very best, and with that comes beautiful confidence - not smug self-assurance, but the confidence to achieve anything they set their mind to.


In the years since my initial training, I have worked with many women who during our initial consultation have told me they have had their “colours done”. Every time I have expressed curiosity about how it worked for them, they described feeling frustrated and confused to the point where they have lost the confidence to shop because they really don’t know what colours suit them any more and often can’t find the correct colour instore. My heart actually hurts every time I hear this. These women have sought the help of a professional but feel more confused than ever. Shopping then becomes a chore, they hate their wardrobes, and feel pretty rotten about themselves. The role of a stylist is really to listen to what outcomes their clients wish to achieve, help them determine their style preferences (categories), understand their lifestyle and budget, and then curate their look to achieve this - on any budget!


Colour changes when next to another colour, and next to the skin. Skin tones change as we age but our “swatches” stay the same (people seem to hold on to them for years - I’ve even seen some from the 90’s!). Throw the bloody things out!! Seriously, throw them out now!! If a client wishes to wear purple, green and orange together but has been told they’re not their colours, I will show them how to do it!! When a stylist instructs a client they have to do this or that, I believe they have forgotten, or not listened to, their clients needs. I had a customer in a store where I was working who was dressed very colourfully (I happened to know she was a stylist based in a rural town nearby). I commented on how colourful she was, and she replied “you have to wear colour, colour makes you happy”. I replied “no it makes you happy”. Funnily enough, she left lol. My point is that, while colour makes her happy, it doesn’t make everyone feel that way. I can admire it on other people but it doesn’t mean I want to be told I have to wear it too. Put your egos aside stylists, and listen to your client. Does she want to add colour? If yes, go for it! If no, then don’t force your style on her! Stylists are not there to create clones of themselves. They are there to help their clients declutter their wardrobes, feel excited about dressing every day, and show them what best works for them within the framework created during their Style Consultation, so that they look and feel their absolute best each and every day.


The final upshot is this: if you love a colour, it is probably because it suits you, if you’re unsure then maybe wear it away from your face - you could introduce it in accessories, or in a print on your clothing, do NOT conform to other people’s rules. If you want to wear pink and red together (very strong trend this season), do so. A few years ago you would have been told this was a no-no. There are no rules, and if someone insists you wear a particular colour that you’re not comfortable with because they like it - get them to wear it, and move on! Mix up your colour palette, try putting some weird combinations together just for fun - you never know, you may just find a winner!! Most of all, trust your instincts and wear what you love. If you’re still not sure, there are some great Personal Stylists out there who can help you understand exactly how you want to present YOURSELF to the world, and then help you to achieve that!

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