Let me introduce myself, I’m Kim Bolsover, with over 35 years experience as a consultant, trainer, coach, and mentor to image consultants and business owners worldwide. Over 35 years? What a frightening thought! I’ve been working with colour & style since 1980 and back in those glory days, we were pioneers in a new industry and none of us had much of a clue as to what we were doing.
I was bored to tears at my day job in the computer industry and answered an advert in the local newspaper looking for ladies to sell skin care and colour-coded make-up. At the time, I had no idea what colour-coded make-up was but it sounded interesting enough to make the call.
Carole Jackson had just brought out her revolutionary book Color Me Beautiful and I learnt how to determine whether a lady had warm or cool skin so that I could advise her on which make-up colours to choose.
I soon realised that there was more to this than just make-up and sat in on any training sessions I could gatecrash in order to learn more about the seasonal theory of colour analysis, where we were soon madly coding each other as Winter, Spring, Summer, or Autumn.
A real-life guinea pig
They got me wrong, though!
I had just returned from a holiday in the sun where, for the first time in my life, I had acquired a bit of a tan. This small detail put my dear colleagues right off their rice pudding and, wallowing about in the murky mire of this new theory, they concluded, as they clearly hadn’t the faintest notion which season I really was, that I just had to be a Spring.
Well, you should have seen me, terrorising the streets with my newly-coloured hair to match my new (incorrect) Spring clothes and make-up! What a hideous sight I must have been and, yes, I still have the photos and, no, you are never going to see them!
You see, I am a classic Winter. I have pale white skin, green eyes and (in those days) dark brown hair. I need jewel colours like Post Office red, royal blue, emerald, and pure white (one of my best colours, by the way). So putting me in peach, daffodil yellow, tan, and cream made me look exceedingly ill and, to put the icing on the cake, I even used a copper hair dye to balance out the clothes! Yuk!
The essence of colour analysis
Colour analysis usually comes down to skin tone. You either have warm tones (golden or honey) or cool tones (rose pink or blue). Winters have cool tones and Springs have warm tones so you can see that I was not going to look my best in honey-based colours.
Looking good – at long last
Finally, I paid to see an Image Consultant who seemed to have grasped the essentials of colour analysis. She managed to code me correctly as a Winter and, straight away, the benefits were enormous. I dyed my hair back to its natural colour and started to wear the right colours for me. Immediately, I felt so much more confident about my appearance and, as I learnt more about style, I was able to buy clothes to suit my shape and scale too.
I turfed all the wrong colours out of my wardrobe, then got rid of all those items which were in styles that did nothing for my body shape, and finally ended up with a small wardrobe of mix and match pieces that works for any occasion.
My first Image business
Not too long after this, I set up in the image business with a friend and we offered the usual one-to-one consultations in Colour and Style for men and women, later adding make-up classes and confidence courses which were a great success. When my friend became ill I took the business over in my own name, adding wardrobe weed-outs and shopping trips.
I have always been an independent and do not work for any of the well-known Image companies. We all started out together back in the early 80s, many of us attending the same training courses, but then choosing different ways in which to run our business.
Over the years I have run lots of workshops and seminars in Colour, Style, Image and Make-up. The workshops are for between 6 – 30 ladies which suits my talent for teaching as I am a bit of a drama queen and really enjoy working with groups. I had also found it incredibly frustrating sometimes working with just one lady in a one-to-one consultation; a group environment allows everyone to see immediately why some colours and styles look so much better on others – and why!
Seasonal colour theory
When I started out properly in 1981, I used the Seasonal theory for colour (well, there wasn’t anything else) and I find that, even now, clients still want to know which ‘season’ they are.
The Tonal theory of colour came out some years later but it totally confused me, never mind my clients. However, the Seasonal theory just never seemed to be quite right for some people. I found myself telling ladies that they were a ‘Spring going into Autumn’ or a ‘Summer going into Spring’. Don’t get me wrong; these are perfectly valid descriptions of a colour direction but we just didn’t have the colour swatch wallets to support them at the time.
To save those lovely ladies having to buy two wallets, I started by giving them the wallet which seemed to have the most colours in and then had to resort to cutting chunks off my colour drapes* of those colours which would have been in the second wallet. I ended up with shredded and rapidly-becoming-smaller-by-the-moment drapes but at least the client went away happy!
Tonal colour directions
However, since retraining in everything in 1999 with top UK Image Consultant, Bill Sayer, I now include the six Tonal directions (and related wallets) in the workshops – Light, Deep, Cool, Warm, Bright and Soft/Muted. I use both the Seasonal and Tonal theories, according to what suits each individual lady.
For instance, a friend of mine who is blonde with clear blue eyes but has a definite warm glow to her skin was coded as a ‘Winter going into Spring’ in the good old days. Nowadays, I can direct this lady to the Bright colours, which combines some warm and some cool shades – but all suit someone with a Bright look. However, as a classic Winter, I look positively dreadful in some of the warmer shades of the Bright wallet so I would stick to the classically cool Winter wallet.
You’d think style would be less complicated than colour? Well, you’d be wrong. We started with 4 style types, based on body shape alone – Classic, Dramatic, Natural and Romantic. Later, we added Ingenue to make it five, and then Dramatic had to be split down the middle to create two distinct style types – Dramatic and Creative, and then…
Over time, this evolved into 7 types – Classic, Dramatic, Natural, Romantic, Elegant, Creative and – I just can’t remember the seventh one. It’s a bit like trying to remember all the names of the Seven Dwarves, isn’t it? You can never get the last one and have to start all over again.
For lots of years, I worked with just 5 style types – Classic, Dramatic, Natural, Creative and European – but, with the re-introduction of the glamorous look, I added Romantic back into the mix. Nowadays, along with body shape, scale and colouring, we also take your personality into account. I think this is one of the most important elements of the whole process. In fact, I also include psychology in the Colour workshop as I’m fascinated by how certain seasons will always be one of only two style types. I’m sure there must be some exceptions to this but I haven’t found any yet.
Courses for the retail industry
Along the way, I’ve also written courses for, and trained, opticians, boutique owners, and hair salon owners in Colour and Style. Their customers come back time and again for the specialist advice on what really suits them and my trainees love increasing their profitability too!
Seminars for the corporate sector
These generally cover the fundamental concepts of colour, style and image. It’s amazing how hot the subject of ‘Dressing Down’ in the office can be! Very often, the groups are mixed and, although we ladies can’t get down to talking about our wobbly bits in front of the gentlemen (only for fear of embarrassing the chaps, of course) we still have lots of fun and everyone learns how to dress to impress.
After 35+ years in this business, loyal customers are always asking for something new so I’m often working on new courses, workshops, self-improvement masterclasses and business mentoring programs for professionals and business owners.
I love what I do and hope that some of my enthusiasm for Colour & Style will rub off on you – enough to encourage you to take your interest to the next level.
Because YOU have the ability to improve every aspect of YOUR life. My job is to point you in the right direction and encourage you. Start with colour and style, and the rest will follow naturally.
* by the way, drapes are not curtains! They are pieces of precision-dyed cloth which are ‘draped’ around your neck to see which colours are the best ones for you.