Gemma Bourne is an Image Consultant working with people to help guide them through the increasingly crowded world of fashion, style and colour.
Image is at the core of her business, giving confidence is the heart and soul.
With many years experience in fashion together with professional training in image consultancy, colour analysis and styling, she is passionate about helping her clients enjoy wearing clothes and shopping again whether for work, pleasure, smart, casual, special occasion or doing the everyday school run.
After having my colours done with Gemma, I wanted to share the brilliant experience with everyone.
So I think, like many people are, I was quite sceptical about the process of seeing someone to “do my colours”. I saw it as a bit of a dated concept, the “colour me beautiful” books of the 70s/80s. But it’s having a huge resurgence; why do you think that is?
I think it’s ultimately a direct response to the world in which we live now.
We live in an extremely visual society. We are continually bombarded by images, so I think people are looking for a way to capture what works for them and making it fit to their life, their shape, budget, personality and preferences.
People are also living longer, working longer and many of the rules that have existed for “how we present ourselves” are being disregarded by our generation. How we feel we look, has an enormous impact on our psychological state, the constant competition to achieve is exhausting and so people reach out to rediscover and take back control.
The younger generations particularly are aesthetically driven, the selfie is quite a phenomenon and I believe that as we talk about how this can be damaging to body image and mental health, it also triggers a desire to present ourselves confidently in real terms.
Talk us through your process, what can someone expect when they visit you?
Firstly, I like to get to know the client, their lifestyle, job, personality and how this manifest in their current styling.
After a coffee (or champagne!) and a chat, the client removes any makeup and hair is tied back so that we are working with true skin tone. It’s not unusual for people to be wearing the wrong hair colour and we want no distractions.
I then use a use a white cover up to the client’s clothes to neutralise the skin. Then I go through the process of applying a series of colour drapes to see what enlivens, brightens and sallows the skin.
The first step is to determine the undertone to the skin – cool or warm.
Next we define the clarity of the colours that work on the skin: vibrant or muted.
Lastly the depth of colours: light or deeper.
At the end of the process, the client has a season and palette of hues that is optimised for them.
The right colours will make skin look younger, define features, diminish imperfections and make you look less tired. Once you have the right colour; you start to look past it and simply see how much better you look!
Do you guide people on their makeup choices? So lips, eyes, cheeks and jewellery too?
Absolutely everything, top to toe! Tones of colour and what brings out key features, the detail, colour, style of accessories and where to wear them i.e. close to face, short line necklace or long line, detail and chunky or light and simple, silver, gold etc. It’s all key and affects where the eye falls and how we see ourselves and each other.
So for example, anyone can wear red on their lips, it is about finding WHAT red works.
Do you think that most people are wearing within the wrong season, the wrong colour palette for their skin tone etc?
Yes. Many women who reach a certain point in life, believe that society expects them to blend in, so they reach for natural colours as they believe that will make them disappear, not call attention to themselves. In fact, few people can actually wear these colours and they can actually make you appear older and more drawn in your features. Indeed, the very colours that perhaps would be deemed too young or too bright, if chosen correctly, can make you appear more youthful.
How have things changed with your work in recent years with the explosion of online fashion influences? Do you think people are more or less confused or informed?
I think that it’s easier to find role models for style and shape that resonates with you at your stage and style of life these days as we are in a round the clock society, with seemingly access all areas.
But, it’s easy to get caught up in filtered images and then have your confidence knocked when you have your own in-home experience after clicking to buy, having the excitement of receiving the parcel and then the try on.
I always say the economical benefits of having you colours done can be staggering, because let's be honest, how many of us have items we’ve admired on someone else, bought and then they’ve been tucked away in the wardrobe, with the tags on because they just don’t work. So with key colour and style insights, you can avoid making expensive mistakes and have confident, happy fitting room experiences!
How much does our age influence the importance of colour choices and knowing what works?
Our palette or season doesn’t change in terms of what works best for us, but the tones or hues may. Skin tone changes as we age and depending on the time of year too, if we have a tan for example; so that can be enhanced or not with the palette of colours and the subtle depths that we choose, making us feel more or less comfortable, bold, happy and visible. As we progress through life, we can work with the same palette, but adapt the ratios of the colours within to suit the changes.
What are your thoughts on the changes of how women in midlife and beyond are dressing now? Do you think they have more freedom, feel more youthful in their choices, less confined by societal expectation of what a 40/50/60+ year old should wear? Or are we still subject to those expectations?
I think that we are still struggling with breaking free of the notion of previous generations that we should become invisible, but I think more and more people, especially women in their 50s, who perhaps were the first generation of having children later in life, have longer careers, breaking through the glass ceilings are pioneering en masse, the sense of breaking away from stereotypes of image. My job is to help them optimise this with the right style, accessory, colour choices to boost their best assets.
Does personality play a part in helping guide people in their colour and style?
Yes it does. I always consider whether the client is classic, dramatic, natural, feminine etc…and build this into the personalising of the assessment of colour and style analysis.
I think that you also need the right mindset of going through the process. It’s extraordinary to see the evolution. However sceptical people start out, however much they look at a coloured scarf and say “well I wouldn’t wear that colour”… once they see what works, they see the benefits to their skin, how much younger and radiant they look, they don’t see the colour. They see themselves, their eyes sparkling, colour in their cheeks and a smile.
I don’t say it lightly, but it can be life-changing. I just love being able to give that moment to people.
Why not get in touch with Gemma through our website and see what she can do for you.