Making life more beautiful: my take

A couple of posts ago I reviewed Kate Davies’ newly released book “Making life more beautiful”, and I mentioned that I was going to write a post relating the book to my particular style and personal attributes. I thought this would be worth doing otherwise part of the point of the information contained within the book will be lost.

I chose to be a bit systematic (for once!) and go chapter by chapter. Chapter 1 is Colouring. I spent some time in this section. I have rat brown hair with grey appearing as I age. If I left it alone it would be called “pepper and salt”, and my 95 year old mother still has this colour hair, whereas my Dad had a full head of snowy white hair from when he was around 65 until he passed away at 99. My hairdresser recoils in horror if I ask him whether we can let the colour grow out, and I have to agree with him; it wouldn’t be a good look!

I think I fall into the mutedcolouring category although I desperately wish to be something more exotic. To go with my rat brown hair, I have green eyes and funny coloured skin which can be fair but which tans easily, so perhaps it’s olive. I have no freckles at all and always wanted a few.

When I look at the colour palettes though I find that I like some from the “Muted”, but more from the “Brights”. Kate predicts this by suggesting that the inclusion of Brights appeals but fights with the colouring – oh dear, this is probably me!

I have just re-read the chapter and realise that, hang on a minute, I might just be “Warm”. This is the palette for warm and these colours are ones that I consider would suit me. There is a notable absence of black, white and grey, but look at all those luscious greens which is my hands down favourite colour.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 6.59.53 pm

Having read this section I decided that my jumper for the Elizabeth Zimmerman raglan sweater knitalong might not be quite right. It was just going to be orange and blue stripes. Now I have added various other orange/red colours and brown to reflect this palette. All wool is from my stash and some of it is just scraps, so I’m really pleased. Here it is as a work in progress.


In her book, Kate goes on to discuss the four key colours approach as suggested by Christian Dior. I can’t fathom my colours from this and olivey skin teamed with light eyes doesn’t feature. I did think that I fitted the palette of deep muted charcoal, deep cool browns, blue pinks and purple. Hmm. I might park this one for now as I’m not how these relate to the other colour palette. Perhaps as an extension. I like the idea of the charcoal though…

Chapter 2: Body Shape.

I think I have a semi-straight body, but I like to wear things designed for the straight body as I love 1920s and 1960s fashions and column dresses. I’ve read the classifications several times and still can’t decide, but I do know for sure that I don’t have a curvy body!

Chapter 3: Wardrobe Style

This chapter is divided into five wardrobe personalities and I initially thought I was a Natural, but on reflection I think I’m more Gamine, although I’m no Audrey Hepburn. I fit nearly all the categories for this personality, although I’m not sure about the crisp, medium-weight fabric preference. I almost certainly suit small patterns more than large ones, which is a bit sad.

Capsule Wardrobe: I really want to say that I have a capsule wardrobe but I don’t and I don’t think I even really want one. I do so much travel that every time I pack I am creating a capsule wardrobe of sorts and I get so bored with it all. I even find myself craving different underwear when I get to the end of the trip. However I may put one together for my next trip following Kate’s formula.

Personal Style & Fashion: When I was embroiled in building a career I paid close attention to my personal style. I worked hard on a cohesive “look” which evolved from a corporate look when I was on the promotion ladder, to an authoritative but less formal look when I reached the pinnacle of my career. Much of my wardrobe at this time was black and grey but I did add quite a bit of colour as well. My favourite interview suit was a green Italian linen suit which I loved. Kate has a lot of advice on dressing for work but, thankfully, I can ignore all that now!

As I cruise around my fabric stash I see that 26% of it is black or grey or various combinations of black, white and grey (yes, I counted!), none of which are in my colour palette. Kate also advises to avoid black unless your hair is black, so I might need to work on my stash somehow. I do rather like black at times and deliberately chose my feature image as this is a faux wrap column dress made from t-shirt fabric, including long scrap pieces (blogged here).

There is a section on looking younger (too late for me), but I have taken note of her hints, especially the section on attitude. I don’t have too much trouble with enthusiasm, except that I become rather voluble when I’m excited, and constantly work on my fitness and general health, as well as doing the whole cleansing/moisturising routine.

Kate has formed a Flat Shoe Society and I have immediately signed myself up to this, although will occasionally wear heels where I spend most of the time sitting down. Although I don’t like the idea of looking shorter, my feet are beginning to show signs of years of abuse and I need to preserve them!

There is a large section of the book on Making and think I have a good handle on this, although I have, for a while, been wanting to create my own textiles. I am particularly inspired by Kate’s silk painting and have a bit of block printing and painting planned for this winter.

The book then moves on to Life, Time and Territory and again, I think I have these elements under control. I am fully immersed in the creative community, doing workshops where I can and going to a patternmaking class when I need help or inspiration. I also enjoy the social media aspect of my life and am amazed at the community of practice that is out there. When I was working we tried to set up various communities of practice (CoPs) around my professional field and it was a lot of work for little reward. It brings home to me that to make a CoP successful you need enthusiastic, engaged people who are willing to contribute and who are supportive of each other without being critical or judgemental. I love the fact that I can pretty much go anywhere in the world and find a like-minded maker to catch up with, which is how I met Kate in London.

As I end this post and look back at what I’ve written, it occurs to me that most of it will be of little interest to other people, but it is a bit of a record for me. My family might also enjoy it, having similar colouring (except my extremely blonde sister). I do hope though that if you buy Kate’s book “Making Life more Beautiful”, that you won’t just read it, but use it as a guide to helping you sort out your personal style and make your own life more beautiful, whether you are a maker or not.


20 thoughts on “Making life more beautiful: my take

  1. It’s great that you have already used Kate’s approach to colours with your striped raglan jumper. How practical! I have never analyzed my palette or style, but I should. This sounds like an abstruse language to me and I’ll be glad to dip my toe and see what I can improve to make my llife and style more beautiful!

  2. I enjoyed this post Sue! I had a discussion with a lovely sewist at Stitch Room Sewcial last weekend as we chatted about colour analysis and we tried to analyse her colouring (I had mine done professionally a few years back). I really struggled to help my friend though! You do seem to have quite a warm colouring and your green eyes are warm green too. As a Soft Autumn (muted Warm) I avoid black and only have two pieces in my wardrobe. By the way, you’re quite lucky to have local access to pattern making workshops. I would love to attend something like that. I do love the online community though, it’s super isn’t it?

  3. I thought this was a very interesting post, although you seem to be a bit indecisive about where you actually fit into some of the categories. We should get together with the book and I will read it and provide advice. Is there a MIRL category?

  4. I am interested to see how you have used the ideas in the book Sue, which are there really for you to take or leave as you see fit. One of my work colleagues who got the book said she read the under/over dressed section and is now keen to wear more colour and accessories. Maybe little changes like that are best rather than embracing the full approach.!

    I would love to give you more definitive advice. And although I have met you in real life the colour analysis part really needs to be done properly. But anyone can have a guess and my guess would be warm-deep, but this is very provisional.

    If you colour your hair we cannot rely on hair colour which is a big part of colour analysis. I bleached my hair which made it brassy and warm looking. I was constantly matching fabric to my hair which didn’t really do my skin any favours. Now I have it natural I can easily see it is cool.

    You have a good tan and I am not sure of your eye colour so it very hard to know. The four key colours are obviously poorly explained! You need to look at your own eyes, skin, hair and lips – not fit in with Genie, or Zohra or Leigh… Your eye colour – say light green, hair, say reddish brown, lightly tanned skin, and your lips (again lipstick can mask this) maybe orangey? So that would mean you would dress in browns, greens, and orangey reds. However I have found it virtually impossible to judge from photographs.

    The other areas are easier. I think you have a straight body outline and a classic wardrobe personality, but I agree gamine is in there too.

    In terms of youthfulness, engagement with your community and a positive attitude – you are a role model for me and everyone else. I didn’t really want the book to be a formulae – at the end of the day confidence makes you a cool and beautiful person. Focusing on others, as you do, and being creative are restorative and boost our mental and physical well being. You are very beautiful and when you work with your hands and make the most beautiful things you thoroughly demonstrate the principles behind the book. That everyone is beautiful and creative and if they connect with it they will lift themselves and others up.

    Thank you for your generous review and interesting additional insights.

    1. This is such a lovely comment, thank you Kate. I feel as though I probably have used the book in a too prescriptive way, but this is my first foray into trying to understand my colouring and so I was keen to give it a go. I think I was trying to encourage other people to explore their own personal style and use your book as a resource or even a jumping off point. I love the fact that it has spawned a whole conversation around personal style, and that has to be the point of a book such as this.

  5. I bought this book based on your review, and I have to say I am disappointe in what I have read so far. Maybe I have read too many other ‘colour and style’ books and set the bar high! Having colours, categories and styles set so baldly and prescriptively seems so limiting. Have you come across The Triumph of Individual Style by Carla Mathis and Helen Connor?

    1. I am really sorry if Making Life more Beautiful comes across as too prescriptive Gabrielle. At the end of the day this is only ever a guideline and knowledge that you choose to take or leave. Please leave a review on my site if you can as I would appreciate your feedback and it will help others to make up their minds. I will have a look at the Triumph of Individual Style.

    2. I am sorry if I over emphasised the personal style part. I haven’t explored this before so was keen to see how Kate’s take applied to me. If you follow her blog you will have read her insights into the personal styles of notable people and I have ascribed her some authority on the subject. I shall certainly check out the book you recommend. Thank you for the comment and I hope you find the next part of the book more useful.

  6. I think everyone has put in a good pennys worth here. Yes, you are certainly warm. In the old system, 4 seasons, I would put you perhaps as warm and deep, and muted. But as Kate says, it is hard to tell from photographs. You look good in many things. Certainly a straight body shape, although which permutation I am not sure from photos. As for style, there are many Sues. The old rigid classifications of classic, gamine etc are not always helpful, plus we can also change, or change what we wear for different occasions and reasons. Plus our personality trumps everything else. I am not a prescriptive in this area, because there are so many individividual factors to consider. What matters is always that a person feels good and functions well, and you seem to master this well !

    1. I have loved the conversations that these posts have generated. I agree that our styles can change and I think that I do have many personas. Thank you for your supportive comments, Sarah Liz!

  7. Sue I really enjoyed both of your reviews and loved learning a little of what is included in Kate’s book and how you’ve applied it.
    I’ve ordered the book – both to support a fellow maker and also to ‘Make Life More Beautiful’…..who wouldn’t want that?!

    1. Thank you Franceslee – both for your purchase and for your support for a fellow maker! I am really worried now that people may think I am “laying down the law”. The whole emphasis of the book really is just as Sarah Liz say – to emphasise individuality, your personal style and to break the rules.

    2. I agree. It’s a lovely book in its own right and it is always nice to support a fellow maker, particularly one who puts so much effort into her blog posts on behalf of the making community. Thank you!

  8. I loved reading your review and I had already ordered the book. I wasn’t aware that it includes so many thoughts about colour and style. Now I am looking forwards reading it even more. I had my colours analysed professionally and then was a little shocked that I was a “summer” with a grayish and muted palette. I so had wanted earthy colourful possibilities. I have accepted the limitation now. There remain a lot of possibilities and I don’t follow the muted way all the time. With every good book about colours and style you are learning something new.

    1. I agree about exploring all the possibilities, SaSa and I hope you enjoy the book and the spirit in which it was written. I have never explored this aspect of my personality so I’m finding it quite fascinating.

  9. I’ve very much enjoyed reading this post and your preceding post on the same subject….. as well as some of the exchange via IG…. and agree with Sarah Liz’s conclusion of a person feeling good and functioning well…. of which you have certainly mastered….. that that’s what style is all about!! I’ve never had my colors done, and though this area interests me, I’ve never explored it further. All I know is when I was a brunette with lots of auburn red tints in my hair, tan skin, brown eyes I was definitely a warm. Wore lots of yellow gold jewelry and all the deep, warm earth tone colors in both makeup and clothing. Now that the hair is gray…. it’s sort of turned all that upside down a little. Jewelry is now silver/white gold with cool tones in makeup and clothing. Though I do still love the earthy tones find with my tan skin I can still wear those colors better than the bright cools. Also odd that my eyes turned green as I aged and are no longer dark brown. Black is a great neutral and find I enjoy wearing black as long as it’s not up by my face. But you, dear lovely Sue, look absolutely elegantly divine in your beautiful black dress above! This has been fun and I appreciate your generating this conversation!!!

Leave a Reply