A Style Reset With Red Leopard

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age with Jennifer Saunders, Manina Weldon and Annie Castano of Red Leopard.

I’ll confess: for some time now, I’ve been feeling rather “stuck” with regard to my style. I’ve wanted to add more color, verve and, well…fun to my wardrobe, but haven’t quite found my footing. I try something new, it doesn’t feel quite right, so I retreat back to my well-worn path of simple neutral basics. Rinse, repeat.

It’s hard sometimes to be objective when it comes to my own style choices. I have a lot of old baggage about what does or doesn’t look good on my body. I knew I needed guidance, and a fresh set of eyes. When I read Lisa’s post about her color and style analysis with the team at Red Leopard, and knew we’d be in London for a few days, it felt as if the universe was holding up a giant neon sign.

"Self-defined in five colors," neon artwork by Joseph Kosuth at Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
“Self-defined in five colors” by Joseph Kosuth at Fondation Louis Vuitton

Getting Professional Help

Fortunately, they had some availability during our London visit. I signed up for both a style and color analysis, and was SO looking forward to it.

Spoiler: it did not disappoint. Annie, Manina, and Rachel all participated in the session, and made me feel relaxed and comfortable right away. They are vivacious and funny, and we all laughed a lot.

Manina at Red Leopard explains Johannes Itten color theory. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

They started out with an introduction to color theory and the system they use, based on the work of Johannes Itten from the Bauhaus. The principle is that a color will look different depending on what other colors it’s surrounded by. The colors we wear will have a large impact on whether we look energetic or tired, present or invisible.

Color Analysis: Manina and Annie explain color system and theory to Susan B of une femme d'un certain age.

Then it was time to get draped. Because my hair is colored, they started out by covering my hair so that it wouldn’t interfere with how my skin reacted to the color drapes. It’s difficult to capture on camera the full effect of how each of the drapes interacts with my face, but when you’re in the room and looking into the mirror, it’s much more obvious.

Personal Color Analysis

Susan B. draped in cool neutrals during color analysis. Details at une femme d'un certain age.
Susan B. draped in warm neutrals during color analysis. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

The first step is: cool or warm? When they flipped between the two, it immediately became apparent that I’m warm. That narrowed it down to either a Spring or Autumn.

Susan B. draped in autumn green color. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

The softer autumn colors like this olive green (above) weren’t terrible on me…

Susan B. draped in Spring Green color. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

but the brighter Spring colors were just so much better!

Annie Castano at Red Leopard explains Susan B's color analysis.

Each of the trio took turns with the drapes, and were unanimous: I’m a Spring, and a Golden Spring at that.

Manina Weldon of Red Leopard drapes Susan B. for a color analysis. Details at une femme d'un certain age.
Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears color drapes from the Golden Spring palette.

Above, these are the best of my colors, and I love them! (And no small coincidence, my palette turned out to be the same as Lisa’s!)

Did I mention we laughed a lot during this process?

Susan B. wearing a purple drape laughs with Manina Weldon and Annie Castano of Red Leopard. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I don’t remember what was being said, but we all agreed that purple, while in my Spring palette, isn’t among my top colors.

Susan B. draped in warm colors during color analysis. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

As part of the color analysis, they also suggested some makeup colors, and Manina applied them. I don’t remember which lip color this was, but it was a winner. (I’ll find out and update, but I know it’s a Jane Iredale shade.)

After a quick snack break, we started the style consultation part of the program.

Style Analysis

Susan B. confers with Annie Castano of Red Leopard about style Personality Profiles. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

(Yes, that tiger shirt works in my Golden Spring palette!) The Style Consultation involved assessing both body type and personality/essence. Measurements were taken, and a personality quiz completed, but their style Personality Profiles aren’t just about numbers. They factor in their own observations and impressions about the client. So when Annie suggested Gamine for my style personality type (and Manina and Rachel concurred), I was delighted.

The Gamine Style Personality

Here’s how they boil down Gamine: cute, sharp, neat, funky. It was like a light switch was turned on in my brain. Yes!! This is how I’ve always wanted to dress, but had assumed that because I didn’t have a boyish body type, it wouldn’t work. Annie explained that with their Personality Profiles, a Gamine can be any body type. It’s more about the overall expression. Within that broader definition, you adjust details to best flatter your shape and features.

They took me through and provided me with a very comprehensive set of guidelines for necklines, hemlines, fabrics, clothing shapes and details. It upended some old beliefs about what I “could” and “couldn’t” wear (much to my delight). Between this and the color analysis, I feel as though I have a workable set of blueprints for taking my style in the right direction.

For reference, Manina (second from left in top photo) is also a Gamine, though her palette is Winter.

Some people don’t need these kinds of categories or definitions to know what works for them. And that’s just fine. For me, this provides welcome clarity, and a touch point. It was a “click” moment for me, and I’m really excited about incorporating what I’ve learned into updating my wardrobe. Yes, it was an investment. But I think it will quickly pay for itself in preventing costly shopping mistakes. (I find I’m already taking a much more focused and targeted approach to shopping.)

Next Steps…

This style reset will be an ongoing process, not a quick fix. Annie suggested as a first step that I remove everything from my closet that isn’t in my color palette. That will help me determine what I have and what I need, and set spending priorities. I’ll share this process as I go along. (For my neutrals, I imagine I’ll be transitioning to navy and warm tans/browns.)

Lisa described her experience with Red Leopard as Style Alchemy, and I have to agree! Since my consultation, I’ve really been noticing color, both what people are wearing and in the environment. And I’m actually excited about wearing color again! No exaggeration, I already feel as though the session with Red Leopard was a total game changer for me.

A shout out to le Monsieur, who snapped hundreds of photos during this process, and submitted to his own color analysis (he’s a Winter, not a surprise to me).

Have you had a color analysis done? Do you stick to colors that are in a specific palette or range, or do you wear whatever catches your fancy?

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122 Comments

  1. July 8, 2019 / 9:03 pm

    This was such an interesting post and makes me feel like I need to look at my entire wardrobe again. As I’ve aged, I feel I look much better in turquoise or aqua blues, which I never wore when I was younger. Most of my wardrobe was always black or a rust brown, which still looks okay, but now I gravitate to those blues and people always make positive comments, so maybe I’m on to something! LOL!

  2. July 8, 2019 / 9:38 pm

    I had my colors done back in the late 80’s and was told I was a spring. That was not big surprise, because those are the color I naturally always gravitated to and received compliments when wearing them. I still prefer most of those colors, but lately have acquired some grey and black to add to my colorful wardrobe. I’ve learned that certain colors, even within the spring range require wearing more makeup to enhance my look.

  3. Cher
    July 9, 2019 / 6:30 am

    Only with your hair covered did I see a slight red undertone in the little wisp of hair by your ear. I did color analysis back in the 90’s as part of selling a brand of make-up and skin care. I enjoyed doing that part of the program more than selling the products. I always found the biggest challenge was with women who colored their hair red when they were true brunettes. It was often hard to convince them that while their hair color may change their skin tone did not and that is what you must take in to consideration when doing a color analysis. Looks like you had a great time that was very informative! Interested to know if your results are also confirmed in your choice of home decor color? I am a Winter but I love to mix cool and warm tones together in my home.

    • Susan B
      July 9, 2019 / 7:33 am

      Our home decor is all over the place. Most of the rooms are warm, soft and beige-y, the kitchen is soft white and grey with warm brown wood floors. Probably the most Spring-ish color in the house is our bed linens: an Asian-themed print with peonies and goldfish.

  4. ChristineCascadia
    July 9, 2019 / 7:29 am

    What an interesting post. Since Eileen Fisher has often been your “go to” fashion choice, and her colors, for the most part, are either black or subdued, I look forward to seeing what new brands you discover!

    • Susan B
      July 9, 2019 / 8:43 am

      Me too! 😉

  5. Miriam Hedderson
    July 9, 2019 / 4:34 pm

    I found it interesting that hair colour isn’t a point of reference..it’s about skin tone. I have been finding that now that I have gray hair, colours that I never used to wear seem to suit me better now. And yet, I still gravitate to warm colours with considerable depth of shade – no pastels here. Cream, never white. Brown, never black. This has been a very interesting post. I love your colour palette, Susan.

    • Kathleen
      July 10, 2019 / 5:29 pm

      I agree! I had my colors done in the 90s and came out a winter. I was blue eyed, black hair back then…but I was blonde as a child. Now that I have naturally aged to a champagne hair color, people compliment me most when I wear coral and warm colors. Go figure!

  6. Christine
    July 9, 2019 / 5:02 pm

    Enjoyed this post so much that I immediately booked a color and style consultation with Red Leopard for when my husband and I are in London on vacation this fall. Over the years I have been color coded 3 times with 3 different results, so will be interesting to see what these ladies decide. Can’t wait! The only difficult part is having to show up with no makeup on! Oh well, at least I know there’s no chance of me running into anyone I know on the streets of London.

  7. Gloria
    July 9, 2019 / 7:17 pm

    This was lots of fun to read. I love a system! As with any how-to system, the individual chooses how to adapt and use it. For me, discovering more about colors that suit me helped me create an even narrower palette of the colors I like best within that set — and stalk them when I need new clothes.

    I’m curious about the style personality analysis. Is it like the Kibbe system (something I heard of for the first time about a month ago)?

  8. Linda Kruschel
    July 9, 2019 / 7:48 pm

    I am also a spring and love the Jane Iredale lipstick you used. Have you been able to determine what the color was? I’d like to get it!

  9. Kristin Chambers
    July 9, 2019 / 11:18 pm

    So fun! I love color and these look so fantastic on you! Congratulations to Red Leopard on a job so well done. I can’t wait to see these colors start to appear more frequently on your blog.
    Thanks for sharing this great experience.

  10. July 10, 2019 / 1:09 am

    Love this post! I saw a Colour Consultant a couple of months ago and was shocked to learn I am an Autumn … I’ve spend decades thinking I was a Summer! But the more I thought about it the more it made sense. I posted about it on my blog too, I’ll put the link in my signature here.

  11. Suzanne G Towles
    July 10, 2019 / 9:31 am

    I have been “studying” my colors for years, ever since the book “Color Me Beautiful” came out, but honestly I can’t figure myself out! I think I’m a summer but the spring palette can work on me, too (except for the camels and tans). I really enjoyed this post and would love to find something like this service in southern California. I’ll do some digging and see what I can find. Thank you for introducing me to Red Leopard. I’m following them on Instagram and loving their posts!

  12. Lisa
    July 10, 2019 / 12:01 pm

    I’d absolutely LOVE to have this done, and only wish they had a North American counterpart somewhere. Forgive me if it’s been mentioned already – I haven’t read through all of the comments yet. Did they happen to mention any peers they know of in the US or in Canada?

  13. Jane in London
    July 10, 2019 / 12:44 pm

    What an interesting post – thank you!

    As a Londoner, I would say that most London women would regard that red suit as a little bit de trop. It would also not be considered suitable for ordinary corporate or business wear, and would probably be best understood in the context of the sort of business Red Leopard operates.

    Although a bit more colour and a more ‘individual’ personal style is the norm in London (we can cope with Dame Vivienne Westwood) , I would say that we are not all that far away from our Parisienne cousins in terms of what we actually wear day to day.

    As an auburn-haired Celt, I shy away from colour analysis as I just know they will say I should wear gold tones in my jewellery. But I only ever wear silver tones – even in my handbag hardware and shoe embellishments – because that’s what I love best!

    Jane

    • July 11, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      Jane, you are correct. London-Paris – subtle differences. I’m speaking only of what I’ve noted in both major European cities. Then there is truly southern Europe, and the Germanic and Nordic countries…

      The Celtic sides of my family counted few auburns or gingers. More dark-haired (silver) Scots and “Black” Irish, not to mention the Bretons. Think Gordon Brown. But a much paler skin tone than the southern Europeans in the family tree. I actually also have a wee bit of African ancestry (maternal grandfather was from the Caribbean). This shows up mostly in my hair type.

      With my hair colour: almost black gone grey, and the cool tones in my skin (even tanned), Silver is a natural.

  14. DIana
    July 10, 2019 / 2:06 pm

    Will be following your journey with great interest as my current wardrobe is about 80% Eileen fisher. Lately I have been wearing more navy than black, add color mainly via scarves. I find getting a bit bored with wear8ng so much navy and black so looking forward to your journey. Also curious what they told You about neutrals white, cream, grey, navy and black as well as how to have cohesive wardrobe with so much color.
    Love your blog by the way!

  15. July 11, 2019 / 6:41 am

    Playing catch up on your blog! I’m so, so happy you had this done!!! I did something like this several years ago. It’s fun, liberating and makes life so much easier! My investment has paid for itself many times over. Also, I’ve heard it takes about 3 yrs. to really come into your own with building on something like this. I’m so looking forward to seeing lots more c-o-l-o-r in your outfits! All the best, Susan!

    • Susan B
      July 11, 2019 / 6:50 am

      Hi Kimberly, thanks! I wouldn’t be surprised if it will take several seasons to rebuild my wardrobe. Colors go through cycles just like silhouettes, and right now we seem to be in a “cool/soft” cycle. Hoping with the fall collections there may be some warmer, brighter options.

  16. July 18, 2019 / 7:12 am

    Susan, I just read all three posts re: your style reset. You look positively fabulous and ten years younger. Love your new glasses as well. I am going to link to you on my Friday post this was wonderful. I will be anxious to learn if you find someone here in CA that can do a similar “reset”. I could use one myself!!

  17. Ali
    July 19, 2019 / 9:03 am

    Susan, I don’t think you should completely abandon black. I’ve always liked you in your black gear & thought you looked fabulous. Same with your longer French Kandy pieces. My suggestion would be don’t rush to discard your ‘old’ pieces as you might be sorry later. I love navy but I think I’d get tired with too much brown and there are lots of browns that are just so so.
    But I can’t wait to follow your colour journey. Fun times ahead!

  18. August 1, 2019 / 4:32 am

    Just joining the conversation, slightly late but here we are! Annie, Manina and Rachel XXXX

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 1, 2019 / 5:33 am

      Hello and welcome!!

      • Martha Debs
        August 2, 2019 / 8:45 am

        How exciting to have Annie, Manina, and Rachel join the conversation. Ladies, please consider bringing Red Leopard to the US! Susan’s post seems to have generated enormous interest in your services (thank you, Susan!), but many of us cannot easily make the trip to London.

  19. Kay
    August 4, 2019 / 2:12 pm

    I had my colors done 4 times in the ’80’s and the verdict was split between two seasons–one cool and one warm! For years, I have used the colors from both seasons (Autumn and Winter) that I like best! Susan, you posted this the very day after we arrived in London. I thought this might be a great way to pull my existing wardrobe together and be a more discerning shopper in the future, so I wrote to see if there was availability for a color and style analysis during our visit. There was– plus Red Leopard was an easy 10 minute Uber ride away from where we were staying! (Our son and his family live in London) So, I met with beautiful and personable Rachel, who did a wonderful job of explaining to me, just as with you, the theory behind wearing colors that energize or drain you. Next, draping determined I am an Autumn…Manina agreed. (After reflection and looking in my own closet at home, makes so much sense. Many of my clothes fit into the palette…of course the black does not!) I especially loved the afternoon style session! I always wondered why chunky jewelry looked great on others and “dumb” on me! Same with boxy jackets and blouses, huge handbags, and jewel necklines –they just don’t work on me. Rachel suggested instead of those looks, aim for this cut, size, style, or neckline. She identified my style as Romantic Classic–which makes so much sense! I could go on and on about how great the experience was–but thank you, Susan for pointing me in the direction of Red Leopard! Thank you, Rachel, for an eye-opening, fun consultation! I highly recommend Red Leopard to anyone, who as Susan said, wants a style reset!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 4, 2019 / 3:39 pm

      Hi Kay, I’m so glad you were able to have this experience! It’s wonderful to have a framework (both colors and styles) to work from.

  20. Barbara
    August 15, 2019 / 5:27 am

    I also jumped on the color bandwagon when the Color Me Beautiful book came out. I am a Spring, but love using many of the colors in the summer and autumn pallettes. I love to tell a color story when I get dressed, so I like to have a lot of options. I make a note of what colors I’m most happy in, and those that get the most compliments. Of course season plays a role. I have a great down jacket I wear in winter in a bright turquoise that instantly brightens a dreary, cold day! One rule I always follow if I wear black, is to use one of my colors next to my face.
    By the way, I’m surprised they didn’t choose that green you’re wearing in the photo that’s always shown on your site Susan. It’s GREAT on you! Not sure I agree with their choices for you. But hey. If you’re happy, that’s what counts!

  21. Alexis
    August 23, 2019 / 8:26 am

    I was so interested in reading about your experience with Red Leopard that I followed one of your links in an earlier post and found a House of Color consultant in California (Anne Wilke). I had my appointment with her a couple days ago and it not only was a lot of fun, but the process was a real revelation of what colors look best on me. We discovered that I am a winter.
    All I’ve done so far is separate out my tops and scarves, without really recycling anything yet. I think that this process will really help me with future purchases by narrowing down my focus, and I won’t be so susceptible to the fashion colors of the moment, which can be very visually appealing!
    I’m going to target getting one or two t-shirts and an accessory in my new found colors as my first effort in introducing my best colors to my wardrobe (and myself!) I’ll also be planning how to best part with some of the color misses in my wardrobe!

  22. Sheila
    October 22, 2019 / 8:51 am

    I stumbled upon your webpage and blog today and was so excited! I have felt lost lately trying to find some inspiration for hair and fashion. I sent a request to the universe and you showed up in a blog I was reading!
    I am recently retired from health care , limited clothing budget and fine very short hair I have decided to go natural (graying!)
    Loved your short hairstyle and fashion choices. I think I am also gamine style (5’4”with a lean frame) and had color analysis done many years ago. I am summer but with some spring influence. I regret I hadn’t read this prior to a trip to London!
    I am aiming for a classic minimalist wardrobe with a little funk for attitude. I look forward to your ideas.

  23. Keri
    November 3, 2019 / 3:24 pm

    For those who may be seeking a color analysis in the SoCal area, I recently had a fantastic experience in San Diego meeting with Louise Hall, of House of Color in La Jolla. She is also British, well trained in the House of Colour method, and my experience seemed very much like Susan’s experience at Red Leopard. After I read Susan’s blog post, I was wishing I could travel to London to meet with the Red Leopard team, but that wasn’t realistic for me… I’m so happy I found Louise Hall nearby. Louise was delightful: professional, fun, knowledgeable, and very kind and encouraging. I’m an autumn, and the tips I learned have been extremely helpful already.

    Here is her contact info:

    Louise Hall
    Personal Color and Style | La Jolla/San Diego, CA
    w: http://www.houseofcolour.com/louisehall

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