Ann Whitaker Answers Questions about Dressing with Style
I recently had the chance to hear Ann Whitaker, a Confidence Consultant, talk about how to dress for the job you want. She talked about how important first impressions are and how the way you dress can give you more confidence. I was impressed by the beautiful colours she was wearing which were complemented by the perfect shade of lipstick.
Ann was kind enough to answer some of my questions about style and fashion:
Why did you start your image consulting business?
I had my own colours and style analysed in 2001 and it gave my self-confidence a massive boost. It completely changed the way I shopped and dressed. I had never felt like I looked good and always doubted my clothing choices. After my session I suddenly understood how to dress and why certain things did (or didn't) suit me, shopping and dressing became so much easier as a result.
In 2006 I decided that I wanted to help other women experience the empowerment that I had received so I travelled to the UK and trained to become a colour and image consultant with House of Colour. I am passionate about sharing this knowledge and I have just celebrated my 9-year anniversary in the profession.
Can you please tell me about your business?
I teach women how to be the best version of themselves. I show them how to enhance their best points They will learn to know what colours, shapes and styles of clothing suit them and which don't. I also work through any skincare or body image issues they may have, offering effective solutions for any budget from a basic daily skincare routine to the amazing wrinkle iron and fat zapper which smooth out our wrinkly and wobbly bits.
How do you work out what are the best colours someone should wear?
We classify the different colour palettes for people by the seasons - spring and autumn are warm based, while summer and winter are both cool based. This has nothing to do with the time of year you are born, but rather your underlying complexion. Your clothing should match and compliment your colouring, rather than clashing with you.
The first step to determining someone's colour palette is to cover up all colour influences using a cloak and headscarf. Then I compare different colour combinations using precision dyed scarves to see the reaction of your face with each colour choice. For example, depending on your complexion your face may look better with a lime green scarf over an emerald green scarf, or an aquamarine scarf over royal blue one.
With the right colour palette, we see an even skin tone and you'll look healthy, vibrant, fresher, younger and rested. Whereas the wrong colour palette will highlight blemishes, wrinkles and you will probably look tired, drawn, sick, heavier or older.
In a colour consultation we work through this process until we both have a clear understanding of the season you sit in. Then I apply your basic make-up in your correct colours and show you three lipstick colours that will work for you. We try each of the reference colours from your season on you and I advise you how much of each to use, i.e. can it be worn top-to-toe or is it just a top, bottom or accessory. Everyone receives their colour palette swatch to take home, their personalised chart and instructions on how to use this to shop to maximum effect.
How do you work out what someone's style is?
Someone's style is based upon a few factors, firstly we look at their body shape so we take measurements and discuss proportions. However, the most important part of style is about correctly dressing for the client's personality, so I really need to understand the client and their lifestyle and we do a personality test to provide further insight.
Unfortunately, most people play dress up for the differing roles in their lives. They might be suited and booted in severe clothing for their professional life and then turn into the floral princess for social. They may dress naturally for their casual life or go vampish and sexy for their dating life. Odds on they won't feel comfortable in most of these scenarios.
There are six clothing personality types and everyone will be one or a combination of two. People often have no idea which area they fall into or how that would apply to real-life, so learning exactly what will suit you is important to feeling confident.
What's the biggest problem you see with your clients?
Unfortunately, most women don't see their beauty or their potential. They live life feeling drab and ordinary, believing there is nothing that can change how they feel or look. They concentrate on their flaws and inadvertently dress to accentuate these, rather than focusing on their best features and accentuating these instead. Everyone can look amazing, it simply a matter of knowing how to dress for your colouring, body shape, lifestyle and personality.
What's the problem with black clothes?
I believe that the line 'black suits everyone' is the best marketing coup ever invented and whoever first suggested it was very clever. It makes retailing so much easier as shops don't have to stock numerous colours, they simply stock one…black.
Black on the right person can look amazing, however these people are quite rare. On most people black drains and dominates them, ages them and emphasises imperfections. On the wrong person it also makes them look bigger and heavier and this becomes more apparent the older we get, which is completely the opposite reaction to the expected 'black is slimming'.
If a client has lots of black clothes (and these don't work for them) I suggest rather than ditching everything we look at accessorising it with colours that suit the client. We devise a plan to gradually phase black out of their wardrobe as the client starts to revamp their wardrobe.
I am a firm believer in making my client's existing wardrobe work better, rather than advising them to immediately throw out everything wrong, which is incredibly stressful.
Why should we all be wearing a watch?
Even in this digital era a good quality watch is a vital accessory to looking professional. A good watch shows you have an understanding and respect not only for your time, but also other people's time. I urge all my professional clients to invest in a good classic watch.
Do you have any fashion role models?
I love the work that Gok Wan is doing. He is a big advocate of accessorising and he is showing people that high street fashion can be simply modified to the individual. I admire the way he works to empower women to embrace their body shape - no matter what size they are.
What's your favourite go to outfit for work?
My favourite work outfit is a wrap dress, I find wrap dresses suit most body shapes and can be accessorised up or down to suit many occasions. they are practical, professional, comfortable, and that style works well with my body shape and my clothing personality. I need clothes that are fitted to my body with a slightly masculine slant, I don't wear florals, chiffon or excessive sparkles, but also nothing too boxy or loose, a wrap dress fits this bill perfectly
What's your favourite outfit for the weekend?
Now winter is here, I like to wear jeans or fine cords with boots, a fitted sweater and appropriate accessories. I cannot wear really bulky clothing, it drowns my smaller frame and obviously I am always going to wear something in my beautiful summer colour palette.
Do you have any clothing, jewellery or shoe storing tips and tricks?
I like to be able to see all my accessories so I can vary them frequently, instead of getting stuck with just those that are visible, I use earring stands and belt racks and drape my necklaces and scarves on a stand.
My favourite storage tip is to use pool noodles or rolled Manilla folders in boots to keep them upright to keep their shape.
What's the one thing we can all do to boost our confidence?
Smile! If we make the effort to smile every day, then the world becomes a brighter place. A smile almost forces you to put your head up and stride confidently forward. I find that smiling is contagious and often people will smile back at you.
My second tip is to make an appointment with a qualified independent colour consultant who is not linked to a store. Look for someone who works in the natural light and concentrates on colour initially, then style…. there is no point buying all the right styles in the wrong colours!. It really is the best investment you will ever make in yourself and you will come away with the knowledge to always feel good about your appearance.