How to Wear Colour and OWN it

I didn’t always know how to wear colour. Find out why I no longer wear beige and what I’ve learned from hiring fashion stylists.

how to wear colour yellow

In the beginning of March, I was feeling tired, at a loss for ideas for the blog.  I left town THE DAY BEFORE self isolation was announced.

When I returned from Cancun a week later, I asked ya’ll for ideas on what to write about next and I thought I’d start with this question:

“I love your sense of color and style in your wardrobe. Maybe you would be willing to share tips on accessories, color and how you put your wardrobe together.”

So first thanks for that compliment, because I work really hard at it. I love fashion, but creating fabulous outfits does not come naturally and easily to me.

I thought it would be super fun for me to share my latest fashion guru with you!

I have told you this story before but I’ll share it here again.

Outfit feedback I remembered forever

Before I started writing this blog called ‘Colour Me Happy’, I had decided that the easiest way to dress was to just wear neutrals. Black, brown, beige, white, cream.

But then the blog started. I subsequently arrived at two different consultations where both husbands looked me up and down and said “YOU are a colour consultant and you’re wearing BEIGE?”

I immediately thought “Wow, I can NEVER wear beige again”. And, since then, I have rarely arrived to see a client without wearing something colourful.

However, over the years, I found dressing with colour to be harder than I thought. So I hired several stylists to help me and I learned a lot from each one!

Dressing with colour takes talent

Dressing with colour is much harder than wearing neutrals, and obviously decorating interiors is the same which is why most people embrace neutrals when decorating their homes as well.

For example, you can’t just throw on a orange t-shirt with jeans and white runners. Suddenly, in order to make it work, you need a scarf with orange in it, or some jewelry, or perhaps shoes or a bag to match? Or perhaps an orange t-shirt with kelly green pants. It simply takes more thought to dress with colour.

How to wear orange colour

In Hermes (learning a new scarf tying trick) in San Francisco for my sisters 50th birthday last April

Neutral interiors are also much easier to design than colourful ones. It’s why MOST designers start off decorating with neutrals (I did the same).

Anyway, back to fashion, let me be clear, dressing creatively, is not a gift I seem to have. I have friends that whenever I see them, I want to run out and buy everything they are wearing because they throw it together so effortlessly. That’s not usually me.

And I’m okay with that. I have my creative gifts and I’m grateful for them!

But I still really love fashion and wish for the day that I could throw together an outfit like I can pull a room together.

Your new fashion guru is here

But then, the fashion blogger that brought it all together for me wrapped up with a bow was Trinny Woodall. You should follow her immediately on Instagram here. AND You Tube here.

Back in January, I was shopping with a friend and on my insta-stories, I wore a coat I had just bought on sale from Zara.

How to wear neutrals

One of my lovely followers said “Here’s a fashion blogger you should follow, she wears lots of colour and she loves Zara”.

So I binge watched her videos for a couple weeks. And learned something new with every video.

I finally had the experience that I know lots of people have when they start following me. I found myself saying “What would Trinny do? What would Trinny wear?”, “What would Trinny say?”.

She answers the question ‘Why’ constantly in her videos just like I do in my blog about decorating with colour. She is a master at layering and shows you why something works and why it doesn’t work, which is why I’ve started doing more of that too, like in this exterior I recently posted.

This video where she analyzes navy is one of my favourites:

And, if you’re thinking you need to start shooting video for your business, you can get some inspiration from her because her videos are not overly edited either. However, she adds so much energy, she doesn’t  need any bells and whistles or heavy editing.

If you’re bored, sitting at home right now, you are about to spend many happy hours watching her vivacious personality on videos and learning so much about fashion.

Your welcome 🙂

Best tip about jewelry

In a recent video Trinny taped, she talked about jewelry and I loved this tip: Match the buckle shape to the earring (like this outfit) and how you can take a boring dress and bring it to life with the right accessories (below).

One more thing I’ve learned from her, is to hold on to items in my wardrobe that I just love, even if I haven’t worn them in a few years. I am the first to give something away if I feel I haven’t worn it, or it doesn’t work for me anymore so I loved this advice (I just need more closet space).

Trinny does not subscribe to the advice “Turn your hangers around and if in one year you haven’t worn the items that are still backwards, get rid of them”. And she says the same thing about jewelry which made me regret a recent purge where I got rid of quite a few pieces I have reached for since.

Best jewelry fashion tip

Here’s what makes her fashion videos so great

She loves Zara which is totally affordable for everyone (except the sizing of course which is bad, and she says that all the time). For example, I’m a size 8 in pants and Medium in most tops, so that usually always translates to Large at Zara. It’s funny, before Trinny, I always thought of Zara as fast fashion, but when I look in my wardrobe, I actually have lots of Zara pieces that I’ve had for YEARS. Tell me if you can relate? Trinny has high end clothes and bags as well, but she is masterful at creating high and low outfits. So approachable.

She is also gorgeous, has amazing energy, super fun, 55 (my age bracket) AND she’s probably a size 2 or 4 AND yet she still says things like “I don’t wear skirts anymore because my knees aren’t great”; “I don’t go backless anymore”; “Ack, this jacket is way too small for me now, here’s how to alter it to make it fit”.

Watching this beautiful woman say things like “OMG my tummy is sticking out and these pants don’t fit me anymore” made me feel okay about the fact that there are some clothes I don’t wear anymore either. And maybe there’s just nothing wrong with that. Her attitude really gave me a lot of freedom in the way that I look at my body now that I’m in my early 50s.

Here’s the number one lesson about dressing with colour, that I have never heard before:

Are you ready?

It’s really good.

Black works best with neutrals

Trinny only wears black with grey and white, or neutrals basically.

She thinks colour + black is too harsh and now that I see how she puts colour together, I totally agree.

She wears colour WITH colour and it’s totally fabulous.

Here’s an outfit I created in January in two different shades of yellow (no black). I have rarely worn this yellow coat (but now I know how), and no surprise, it’s from Zara, every colourful coat I own is already from there. I realized colourful coats are as important to have as colourful shoes (if you want to wear colour).

How to wear colour

I read a funny joke the other day where the husband said to the wife “One good thing about being in self-isolation is we’re not spending any money”, “Yes dear”, she replied as she clicked ‘Add to cart’.

So be warned: watching her videos, you will feel compelled to shop at Zara . . a few boxes have arrived at my door since I found Trinny.

Alright my lovelies, hope you are holding up in this new normal. Sadly, no one has any need to buy fashion at the moment but if you spend some time watching Trinny’s videos, I bet you could put together some new combinations you’d never thought of before!

I look at my closet in an entirely new way than ever before and it’s really fun!

Tell me if you can relate to my comment about having a few items for YEARS that were already from Zara!

PS. And while you’re watching Trinny videos, don’t miss this one by Angie from Hot & Flashy on How to look good on a Zoom Call! We all need that these days!

Related posts:

Stylish Woman Don’t Wear T-shirts; Yay or Nay

The Magical Art of Closet Organization; Before & After

The Shocking Truth About How Most People Choose Colour

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  1. Great post. I remember Trinny from a TV show a long while ago….
    Looking forward to checking out her videos. You look amazing, ever better! Isn’t constant improvement/sensible evolution what we should be going for? I think so!
    Stay well xo

  2. Yes, yes, YES!!!!! Your yellow jacket and top with that scarf, pants and shoes–WOW!!! You nailed it!

    Thanks for the introduction to Trinny.

  3. I laughed at the “What would Trinny do”?
    I swear I sometimes can’t get you out of my head, Maria! “Would Maria put these colors together? Are these similar tones?” Would Maria approve? On, and on, and on. Lol

  4. Great post! Love Trinny as well. Adding more coloured pants to my wardrobe rather than wearing black bottoms! Great yellow outfit.

  5. Wow! You look awesome! I am going to love watching Trinny. Many years ago I was introduced to the book Color Me Beautiful by Carol Jackson. It is now out of print but you can find her books used. She was fabulous. She divided people into 4 groups of winter, spring, summer, and fall buy skin tone and hair color. Knowing this book has saved me thousands of dollars! I know exactly what color will work for me and make me feel fabulous! I loved on the video when Trinny said someone with red hair would wear the color blue that was more on the teal side. That is exactly what Carol Jackson would have said!

  6. I am beyond horrible at fashion, but great at designing homes. Funny, I thought they would go hand in hand.
    I’ll definitely watch Trinny’s videos, and check out Zara! I need help. I adore her accent, she’s adorable and brilliant.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Fabulous post Maria! I’ve always admired your pulled together colorful looks (I think maybe it helps a little to be adorable and blond to begin with), but have struggled to figure out how to break away from neutrals in my own wardrobe. Thank you for sharing Trinny’s Closet Confessions videos! Now I’ve got a wonderful resource to inspire me (and your fabulous posts too, of course). You and Terreeria stay safe out there!

  8. I think Trinny used to have a show called “What Not to Wear” with a cohost named Susannah. I used to love that show way back when!!!!

    You look awesome in your fantabulous yellow coat 🙂

  9. Oh! It’s Trinny from the original What Not To Wear! I haven’t seen her for years. What a great find!

    When she had a compatriot on WNTW, they were always good about pointing out what they each did differently as regards to body shape. So for example, remember Trinny has a fairly flat chest. The shapes and patterns she chooses for her tops aren’t always going to be great if you’ve got a bigger chest.

    Thanks again for the link to Trinny!

  10. Trinny was in Britain’s version of “What Not to Wear,” I think. I have a book written by Trinny and her co-star, Susannah. I’m also a fan of her YouTube channel and especially love the makeovers she does!

  11. Thank you, thank you. Loved Trinny’s videos. I really liked how you coordinated your yellow outfit. So springy. Trinny’s, tone, tone is what you say about paint colours, I love it. You two are such inspirations. God bless you both. Now at 78 years old and I feel better at how I coordinate my clothes, but if only I had that knowledge when I was in my 20’s, 30’s.. Again, thank you Maria for sharing the videos with us.

  12. Great post Maria. I have been watching Trinny for a while now. She is so awesome with her fashion idea videos. There is only 1 Zara store here in NZ in Auckland i think. So when we are back to normal life I will make a special trip to Zara.
    Love you in the yellow coat you look fabulous.

  13. Maybe you already know this, but Trinny used to be on the original (British) What Not to Wear – with co-host Susannah – and they were all about putting color with color. Such a great show – and such great, timeless advice! Thanks for the tip to check out Trinny on Instagram.

    I, too, have some pieces from Zara that I’ve worn and loved for years. But I stopped buying from them when I started to read more and more about the real cost of fast fashion. I’m not an authority on the subject, but I’m trying to be more aware.

    Thank you for all you share with us, Maria!

  14. Robin Alexander-Wood

    When I was in the spandex fabric biz, the whole of the nineties, I only wore neutrals to show the fabric off. Then realized my entire wardrobe was blah, decided NOT to wear neutrals. That was challenging as most clothes come in black and blah. So glad color is back!!!

  15. Maria your yellow outfit is gorgeous…..not many people can wear yellow so well.
    Thought I’d share some tips that have helped me. I’m one of those people who must see something otherwise it doesn’t exist!! You know that forgotten t-shirt at the bottom of drawer. A little trick that’s helped me enormously with my clothing choices every day is roll most of my non wardrobe items instead of folding and storing them one on top of the other. Now when I open a drawer every t-shirt, pair of jeans, jumper etc. is on display. Also I rotate clothing out and store with change of season – Summer and Winter only.
    Also if I buy some new clothes I’ll spend an hour doing a try-on, experimenting to see how what I already own will work with new items. It’s amazing how many new combinations I’ve managed to come up with and how it can really refresh your tired looking wardrobe. I agree with Trinny, don’t immediately throw things out!! Keep experimenting……look on Pinterest and Interiors (Marias Blog) for interesting colour combinations and I also have a few books by Scott Schuman The Sartorialist (great for some offbeat fashion ideas)

  16. I think our skin, hair, eyes and certain aspects of our overall personality/style are like the hard surfaces and architectural style of a home. What works for one, may not work for another. Stark white or black don’t work well with certain coloring, yet is beautifully striking with others. I think choosing color for our clothing is as unique as choosing color for our homes.

  17. I’ve been following Trinny for several months now. I love her energy and excitement over clothes. The way she puts outfits together sometimes perplexes me, and I think I would never wear many of the things, but she has made me think about the way I combine colors.

  18. I loooove Trinny! And watch a lot of Angie’s video as well. But I’m still not very good at putting outfit together lol!
    Your yellow outfit is Beautiful!!
    Take care!

  19. Hi Maria, imagine my surprise when I saw “liked by Maria Killam” on Trinny’s Instagram site. You are so right about precious Trinny! She genuinely wants to help women. She’s a great teacher, like you! BTW, I have been following you since you were recommended on another fashion blogger’s site, You Look Fab, many, many years ago! I became a follower of you and am now a True Color Expert! When I go to a client, I say What would Maria wear? 😉. xo jan

  20. Terrific post.
    Many years ago like the other comment regarding the “Color me Beautiful” series, I consulted with a similar group, ‘Color Wonderful”. Their philosophy was that everyone could wear every color…adjusted for contrast and hue. Not unlike your “clean dirty” analogy. Best tip for my coloring, no high contrast (as in black with white). Better choice would be black with cream, off white or grey. ‘When wearing a bright color, always add white” . It works! It is fun To see other women who look fabulous in high contrast or pastels and know why it works so beautifully on them…rather like “Color Me Happy”!

  21. As so many others have said – I love the yellow outfit! For those of us who like to add just a splash of color, your simple scarf and handbag in orange are perfect. As someone who likes to just dabble in color, when I buy a colorful handbag or shoes, I make sure to pick up a scarf or piece of jewelry in the same color (I really LOVE that orange handbag). Just as you always talk about in decorating, that splash of color has to relate to something. Not that shoes and bag need to match, but I like to have at least two items with the color.

    I find Trinny fun to watch and I really liked her piece on white blouses. My philosophy is you should never pass up a beautiful white blouse (or a colorful handbag).

  22. You should really try Carole Tuttle ‘It’s just my nature’, a guide to knowing and living your true nature. Rather like the 1980s 4 seasons colour profile, However, she takes it way further with the correct colour and design lines. The profiling can be done online for free which you can find out if you are a type 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 type. She has more in-depth videos with correct colour, design line of clothes and hairstyles for a monthly subscription fee. The best thing is knowing what type in life that you are, discovering why your greatest weaknesses are actually your greatest strengths. With skill, it is possible to face profile people so you understand why people act the way they do.

  23. I like the enthusiasm of this article, and I look forward to watching Trinny videos and getting good tips. But I am going to push back on Zara. Buying from Zara (and H&M and old navy etc) is irresponsible. We need to be better. Check out Patriot Act for a good primer on Fast Fashion and how it affects the planet.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGF3ObOBbac
    ❤️❤️

  24. Thanks for sharing this! I had never heard of Trinny or ever followed any fashion bloggers before, but I could really relate to that video on the different shades of navy, as navy is also a staple in my wardrobe, and I have experienced the difficulty of finding just the right shade of navy tops to go with the bottoms ( jackets, blouses, sweaters, Sests, pants, skirts, etc) and I am not even much of a fashionista at all!
    I am big believer, though, in the “ Color Me Beautiful” concept that explains that everyone has their own personal color “season”based on skin, eye, and hair color, and certain colors will be more complimentary on you the others (another poster also mentioned this book, which was a HUGE phenomenon/ best seller in the very early 1980’s, and the concept was further refined in a follow-up book ( Color Me Beautiful’s Looking Your Best) by dividing each season into 3 sub groups for 12 total Specific “sub-seasons”. ) I’m guessing that Maria must be a “ Spring” ( perhaps a “ Clear Spring?” ) with her beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes, and can really rock yellow. As a cooler “Cool Summer” type myself, would never look my best in yellow, no matter how well accessorized they are! Others, like myself, ( I’m a “Cool Summer” for instance ) would look sick in that much yellow, no matter how well accessorized they were! And I look ghastly with a lot of black near my face, and look much better in almost any blue, so navy is “my black”, too, (as Trinny says. J
    Again, Thanks for sharing this!
    Btw, Maria, I noticed that in the photo of you in yellow in your bedroom, the wall color provides an absolutely beautiful beautiful backdrop for you and that outfit!

  25. Hey Maria,

    That’s a cute post .. ☺️🤩 I have a wardrobe as big as Trinny’s mainly because of thirst for colors .. 😆👗👚👘 What is good about cheap brands is that you can really get enough of colors there….I love Zara for its affordable cost and didn’t know that women with high income do purchases there as well 😃 The canary yellow on Maria and super good, I adore vanilla tones. Thank you, Maria, for this exciting post full of colors and I hope to use these fashion advices this year .. 😍😌❤️

  26. Oops! I’ve always worn black with color. When I would put orange with black I always felt like Halloween. So I never wore orange with black. Now I see how black is a problem with all colors, not just with orange. But I have so many colorful blouses and mostly black pants and jeans. I suppose all those colorful tops would look better with jeans? And I’ll wear neutrals with my black pants now. I’m mid-60’s and retired so I don’t “dress up” to go “out” a whole lot. But just this little bit of advice is so helpful for when I do. Thanks, Maria! The yellow outfit looks great on you.

  27. Thank you Maria for posting my suggestion and creating a fabulous post! Love your style tips and resources. Clearly so many others loved this post as well. I’m looking forward to watching all the Trinny videos. Thanks for being our “Color Me Happy girl”!