Colour Me Beautiful - a service designed to show you how to wear colour
- Credit: Linda Viney
Lancastrian Cliff Bashford has been giving ladies the Colour Me Beautiful treatment for nearly 30 years. Is it relevant to today’s women? Rebekka O’Grady investigates.
I like to think I am quite savvy when it comes to knowing the colours that suit me. I feel confident in navy and fuchsia, I love wearing a floral pattern and for work I practically live in high-waisted black jeans with a rotating top or shirt. I stay clear of citrus colours, black on the top half of my body washes me out and earthy tones such as brown, beige and khaki barely make it into my wardrobe.
So with this in mind, I sat down for a consultation with Colour Me Beautiful managing director, Cliff Bashford, intrigued to discover my true colours. Cliff has had a 28-year career in the company, starting as a consultant and culminating in the purchase of the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East division of the brand in 2016, as well as the Colour Me Beautiful makeup range.
He now directs a network of 1,200 self-employed consultants and stylists, and has plans to modernise the whole business. With a turnover last year of £1.1 million and expectations of more than £10 million in ten years time, he’s certainly aiming high.
Many will recognise Colour Me Beautiful as a phenomenon of the 1980s. It was new and exciting and long before image overhaul television shows hosted by the likes of Gok Wan. Women rushed to see CMB consultants.
I confess that I’d never heard of it prior to my trip to Penwortham, where Cliff lives. Perhaps that’s a problem for a business now trying to appeal to new generations. I was intrigued by the process and, most importantly, if it still works.
As soon as I sit down in the chair, Cliff declares me a ‘light’. It’s met with instantaneous agreement from his colleagues in the store, and I stare at myself in the mirror, puzzled by what this means. A large white collar, a bit like a nun’s habit, is placed over my clothes and a colour palette bib is placed on top. I am told these are ‘light’ colours that suit me, and Cliff swaps the bib for ‘warm’ colours so that I can see the difference.
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It’s true; the warmer colours either drain my face or make me look older, and the lighter colours brighten up my blue eyes and skin. These are only two of the six themes available, which can then be developed into 24 tonal palettes specific to the client.
‘At the beginning of any consultation, I would go through the book and talk about shades. It’s important to remember we aren’t telling you what colours to wear, but how to wear colour,’ said Cliff, who grew up in a council house in Middleton, just north of Manchester. His career has seen him work for Dixons and then Wella, where his job as a sales representative introduced him to Colour Me Beautiful.
Cliff became fascinated. In his spare time, he became CMB’s first and only male consultant in the UK and soon built up a client base. His increasing success saw him progress to full-time consultant, seeing clients and selling products from the converted garage of his home. Fast forward nearly three decades and his client base now amounts to more than 20,000.
‘It’s a very fulfilling career,’ says Cliff who has won many awards in the image consultancy field. He is also has an honorary fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire for his contribution to the image industry.
‘Colour analysis and personal styling is all about making the most of an individual’s attributes by working with their colouring, shape and personality. We can literally transform lives, and that feels good.’
So, back to making the most of my attributes. Cliff tells me that the average woman wears 20% of her wardrobe 80% of the time, often buying new items but never wearing them. I was proud to say I never do this, mainly down to having a ‘capsule wardrobe’. I’m also told after a consultation women should feel more confident shopping and know what they should be looking for, almost like having a prescription of shades. So what is mine?
I was delighted to know that the majority of blue shades look ‘awesome’ on me, in particular cornflower blue and light navy. As for red and pink, geranium and coral these tones are my friend, more so than fuchsia. Cliff tells me that as I have youth on my side I can get away with stepping out of the boundary slightly, so I don’t have to worry about burning my new favourite fuchsia top just yet. Surprisingly, a primrose yellow looks nice, something I wouldn’t dared to have picked up if I was shopping.
‘If something drags you down, then the colour is wearing you. It should be the other way around,’ he says. ‘It’s good to have a balance of both trends and key pieces - fashion comes around but style never goes out of date.’ Chris will be hoping that also applies to Colour Me Beautiful.