Linda Mattolini: Why getting your colours done is vital

From building the perfect capsule wardrobe to creating the perfect first impression, getting your colours done has tangible benefits for our busy lives. In fact, it’s vital, says Linda Mattolini…

If you thought ‘getting your colours done’ was something that only happened in the 1970s, think again. While it’s likely you first came across the term back in that era, when the trend was at the peak of its popularity, the fashion movement has had a resurgence of late, with more and more women looking to harness its vital power to transform their personal and professional wardrobes. But what exactly does the process entail? How does it work? And how can you use it to your advantage? We asked Linda Mattolini to explain.

The person you need to see to answer all these questions is Linda Mattolini, the most in-demand image consultant in Florence. Mattolini has worked in the fashion industry for the past twenty five years, as a stylist and visual merchandiser for luxury brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Burberry. Seven years ago, she retrained at the prestigious Italian Image Institute and now spends her days working with brands and private clients; advising them on everything from the best clothing, makeup and hairstyles to suit their body and face shapes, to the vital art of armocromia – the official term for ‘getting your colours done’.

Armocromia, otherwise known as seasonal colour analysis, is the method of identifying the best hues to suit a person’s natural colouring. Born in America in the 1930s with the advent of colour cinema, it rose to popularity in the seventies, when the seminal book Colour Me a Season was released. Now it’s having something of a moment again, particularly in Europe, where women of all ages are realising its vital potential to change not only their wardrobes, but their whole outlook on their appearance.

‘Armocromia came to Italy around fifteen years ago, so it’s still fairly new for us and it’s very popular right now,’ explains Mattolini, whose clients mainly come to her for armocromia consultations. She sees women from all over Florence and beyond – some fly in just for a session with her – to help them transform their image.

So, what exactly does an armocromia session with Mattolini involve? Each one-on-one consultation lasts for an hour and a half, during which time you will discover which of the four seasons you fall under: spring, summer, autumn or winter. These seasons are then divided into two groups, cool and warm, which refer to the undertones in the colours. Those who are winter or summer are in the cool category, while autumn and spring’s colours are warm. ‘Understanding the temperature in your undertones is the first step in armocromia,’ explains Mattolini. ‘If you’re warm, your best colours will be anything with yellow in them, such as oranges, beige and browns. For those who have cold undertones, it’s more about the percentage of blue, so all shades of blue, purple and lilac will suit you best.’

During the session, Mattolini works by holding up a series of drapes around your face – which must be completely makeup-free and with your hair covered, to see your natural skin tone as clearly as possible – to test which ones complement you best. ‘When you find the right colours, the skin appears more relaxed and looks brighter, while any redness or wrinkles are softened,’ says Mattolini. ‘In contrast, any “enemy colours” that are held up around the face will have the opposite effect.’

To demonstrate during our Zoom call, Mattolini holds a variety of drapes against her face. She explains that she’s a summer – and, when we speak, she’s wearing a crisp baby-blue shirt that perfectly complements her colouring. Light makeup makes her complexion glow. She explains that, as a summer, soft, pastel colours suit her best, while her skin isn’t happy with anything too bright. Picking up the drapes, she holds a pastel pink against her face, followed by a dark, deep red. The difference between the two is stark, with the darker colour immediately washing her out and making her look more tired.

Mattolini doesn’t offer her sessions online, because, to get a truly accurate reading, you need to be face-to-face. But I can see the immediate impact of armocromia with just a couple of examples over Zoom. ‘The aim is for you to be in perfect harmony with the colours,’ she says, ‘not for the colours you’re wearing to be the star of the show rather than you.’

She sees women of all ages and from all walks of life, though she says it’s not possible to get a full armocromia reading before the client is at least sixteen years old, as our skin and hair is still changing before that age. Once you have your palette, though, it stays the same for the rest of your life, arming you with the tools to know which colours will suit you best and which inherently go together. ‘You can use it for every occasion and every moment, throughout your entire life,’ says Mattolini. After the session, you’re sent home with a special report that reveals your palette, as well as the best colours for your makeup and hair. Mattolini says dying your hair won’t affect your palette – ‘The skin is the most important factor’ – but she does caution about experimenting too much with hair colours that don’t fall within your palette: ‘If you’re a winter, for example, and your skin prefers dark, cool colours and you dye your hair red, it’s going to be a bit of a disaster.’

Armocromia is a fashion practice that makes a lot of sense in today’s world, where we’re all trying to use our time more efficiently and make more mindful, impactful purchases. Armed with your palette, shopping becomes a breeze as you immediately know which colours will suit you and, crucially, which ones won’t – which means you’ll never again buy something that ends up languishing in your wardrobe for years, never to see the light of day. It has the added benefit of allowing you to make more sustainable choices naturally, as shopping within your palette means you only buy pieces that go together, instantly creating your polished capsule wardrobe that will never go out of style.

It’s clear that Mattolini gets a lot of joy and satisfaction out of her job. When I ask about her favourite aspect of the work, she finds it hard to narrow it down to just one thing. ‘I love it because a lot of women, when they first come to me, are afraid to change. But then a month later they’ll send me a photo saying, “Oh Linda, I tried this and I never thought I could.” And I’ll be like, “Wow! Is that my client?”

‘Discovering their palette helps with their happiness, their confidence, their self-esteem. They become a completely new person. That’s the part of my work I really enjoy, because I get to help someone. I get to participate in their life.’

Next: Being a free spirit

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