Is This Mutton?

All the things we love: clothes, beauty, accessories


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Cutting through the complexity of colour analysis

If you had your colors* "done" a few years ago, you probably spent an hour being draped in scarves before being pronounced a Spring, or other season, and given a swatch of colors that realistically you were unlikely to find in the shops.

I had my colors analysed in the 1980s as a journalist writing about this new phenomenon and I was proclaimed a Spring who could also wear some winter colors.

Fast forward to the 1990s and I am on a women's management course where we spent some time with a rival color consultancy. This time I was proclaimed a Summer and was by now, quite confused.

I'm Cool - who would have known?!

So when Pamela Graham told me last week she thought I was a Cool, I thought "here we go again." But when I looked at the colors for Cool in her new book, out today, my interest was piqued. The Cool colors are definitely the ones I do business with: a palette that includes bright pinks, my absolute favourite color lilac, quite a few greens and watermelon red. There are several blues too but I'm going to have to learn to love them! A fellow Cool is Kate Middleton who wears burgundy/aubergine particularly well, and this is a color I've been recently drawn to.

Pamela Graham approaches color and image consultancy with a fresh look based on the work of Albert Munsell, who began to define colours as Light or Deep, Cool or Warm, and Clear/Bright or Muted at the beginning of the 20th century.

She says: "I think there’s too much high fallutin’ nonsense talked and I like to compare the process with nature.  Your natural coloring, eyes, hair and skin, are decided at the moment of conception, all you have to do is identify them."

Combine Tonal and Seasonal

Pamela uses both the tonal and seasonal methods to analyse people's colors as this gives greater flexibility. There are 10 color families: six tonal and four seasonal. "They complement each other perfectly and work side by side. I don’t like to see anyone being given a very restricted color palette, it’s limiting and frustrating.  Everyone should be encouraged to experiment."

Image consultant Pamela Graham
Pamela, a UK based former PR professional, is keen to share her passion with everyone and her website features testimonials from dozens of women from countries across the world who have had their colors analysed virtually. Initially you complete a questionnaire and send some photos. Pamela's site has many resources including swatches, books and ebooks, and an online personal stylist resource, which is available 24/7 and gives access to the best accessories and clothing styles for your shape.

Her new ebook, "Color Analysis: What? Why? How?" will be followed by books on the Warm and Cool color families and how to wear, co-ordinate and build wardrobes.

Pamela initially struggled to find the colors that were right for her. "I always gravitated towards bright blues and pinks, although sadly they rarely appeared, but never understood why something could look good on one woman and not on another.

"I didn’t understand how colors or shapes worked at all until I was nearly 40. Then everything fell into place.  It’s often the age when we’ve had children that we take a ‘dip’ in confidence. I have Cool coloring but I’m fair and the lightest shades of the Cool palette are best close to my face.  I’m not a Summer because those colors, although Cool, are too soft for me."
Image consultant Pamela Graham with husband Maurice
Pamela and husband Maurice 
Once we know which colors, and which styles of clothes, work best for us, we'll actually save money by making the right choices as well as feeling better about ourselves.

I had a couple of questions for Pamela, namely around our colors as we get older, when our hair and skin tone change;  and also about black, which we all like to wear although it doesn't suit many women.

How to wear black

On the question of colors as you age, Pamela points out your genetic colors never change. "You might feel more comfortable in softer shades but this is by no means always the case. Many people keep very strong and dramatic coloring into old age and continue to enjoy their brightest shades. Your natural coloring decides whether you transition into grey, silver or white hair. "

Pamela advises that when you change your hair color, it's best to be guided again by nature. Knowing whether you need a Warm or Cool shade is probably the biggest factor is getting it right.

On the thorny subject of black, she says there's no reason why everyone can't wear it provided we wear a more flattering color next to our face.

"If black is not for you wear a top, a scarf even a pair of earrings to brighten up your face.  If you like to wear a little black dress, go for a slightly lower neckline and add a pearl or sparkly necklace close to your face. There’s always a way to make things work. I hate the old fashioned dogmatic rules of color analysis, I don’t like being told what to do!

"If I wear black I'll team it with a bright cool pink which I love, a silver necklace and pearl earrings (my signature) and a low enough neckline so the black isn’t heavy around my face."

Win Pamela's new eBook!

Readers of Is This Mutton? have the chance to win their own copy of "Color Analysis: What? Why? How?"

Visit and like the Is This Mutton Facebook page and leave a comment under the article about color analysis. You might want to share your experience, if any, with color analysis, or explain why you'd love to know more.

It doesn't matter what country you're in, the competition is open to all. The book is only available in English. The competition will close in a week's time, 5pm UK time (9am PST) on Wednesday 22 February.  Mr Mutton will then choose a lucky winner at random from the names placed in a hat (yes, the old methods are the best!).

Pamela's website, Style Yourself Confident, is here and the new book is on the Amazon UK site here

* I decided to use Pamela's example of the US spelling of "color."

For More Mutton

For more Mutton follow my blog on Bloglovin and receive a weekly email telling you about my updates, and like my Facebook page for extra Mutton each day.

Sharing this post with Celebrating Style at Vanity and Me, #SaturdayShareLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, with Nicole at High Latitude Style. and with Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Style Imitating Art: Georgia O'Keefe "Pond in the Woods"

The SIA Challenge is a fun opportunity to match an outfit to a famous painting, open to anyone. This time it's based on US artist Georgia O'Keefe's "Pond in the Woods" and curated by Erin from Loop Looks.

Here's the painting, from 1922:
My outfit has the green and brown tones, plus the lighter "centre" colours in my fun pom poms - which are also circular of course.

To see what Erin came up with, visit her blog tomorrow Monday - and there'll be a round-up of the other contributions on Tuesday.

Gail Hanlon blogger wearing brown and green shades
Cape: Asos; jumper: Next; trousers, necklace and boots, Marks & Spencer; bag: Ferragmo; pom poms, Ebay. Everything is past season except the pom poms.
Gail Hanlon blogger wearing brown and green

Gail Hanlon blogger wearing brown and green
Sharing with Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style,  #IwillwearwhatILike at Not Dressed as Lamb. Style with a Smile at Style Splash, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish Fancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style and Vanity and Me.

For more Mutton follow my blog on Bloglovin and receive a weekly email telling you about my updates, and like my Facebook page for extra Mutton each day.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Eye cream and night cream: worth the cost?

I used to have creams and lotions for literally every area of my face and body, but about a year ago I began to doubt whether all these dedicated products are worth it. I started multi-tasking with a few key products. I used my facial moisturizer in the eye area and on the neck, replacing two other products, and stopped using night cream altogether, just occasionally using a facial oil,

But about three weeks ago, I noticed the upper eye lid on my left eye was really droopy, like a blood hound! The skin was extremely dry. I'd been impressed with the sample of Decléor's Aurabsolu intense glow for eyes and dark circle corrector, which was in their Advent calendar. So I bought the full size product. I have to say, it definitely deserves a place in my key beauty products. The eye lids are no longer creased and are quite smooth, a great finish for eye primer. It lasts all day. The eye cream is a light texture which taps on easily, and is parabens free.

I was never a big fan of night cream, although I sometimes go through a phase where, after reading an article, I'll up my game and start using products with fruit acids or retinol, as the experts recommend. But it never lasts because these products seem to strip my skin and cause accelerated ageing.

Lately though, my skin has been in need of something extra because my normal serums and oils weren't alleviating the dry, sallow look.

I chose Vichy's Liftactiv Nuit Supreme as I've always had a lot of respect for Vichy products, which you find in Boots and pharmacies. Designed to help with wrinkles and ageing problems, it's a light textured cream with a pleasant, fresh scent, and unlike a lot of night creams doesn't sit heavily or greasily on the skin. In the morning my skin has been firmer and I haven't always needed to load on other products. It's parabens free. A keeper.

In addition to the eye and night creams, I've also been trying out a new mascara and concealer.

Mascara is the bane of my life. No matter what brand I use, I usually get smudges under my lower eye lashes, sometimes within a couple of hours, sometimes by the end of the day, probably because there's concealer or eye cream causing greasiness in the eye area.

Anyway, I am constantly trying different mascaras.  In the past I've liked Max Factor's range so I've been using the False Lash Epic in brown/black. I'm not bowled over: it's quite good about not smudging, but the brush, which has what looks like a tiny chimney sweep at the end for applying to tiny inner or outer eye lashes, and a four pronged comb arrangement, loads the product on quite gloopily. Even though I always curl my eyelashes, the curl seemed to disappear quickly with this mascara. You need a bit of knack to avoid the bitty spidery look. In the picture below, I'm wearing the mascara on the left hand eye only.
Concealer is something else I'm always trying.  Goodness knows how many I've used. It's difficult to find exactly the right shade, and then the right formulation for all your concealment issues. I've tried palettes with different shades, and separate products for under eye circles and pigmentation marks,

I'm quite pleased with Clinique's All About Eyes concealer, in light neutral. The shade is good for my under eye circles. It blends nicely and does a good cover-up job without resting in creases. The only thing I don't like is trying to stop a large blob coming out of the tube. You only need a tiny dot, applied with either a finger or brush.  I find it works well on pigmentation too.

Finally, I've been trying Clinique's Take the Day Off Makeup Remover.  I like an oil in water formula, which you shake, for eye makeup as it lifts everything off very easily without the need to rub. I like this one for lipstick removal but I don't like it as much as Lancome's Bi-Facil Non-Oily Instant Eye Makeup Remover. The Clinique one seems to need a little more effort, and leaves the skin a bit greasy which makes my eyes weep. Not a keeper.

Lancome Bi-Facil eye makeup remover
Love to hear your thoughts on any of these products, or suggestions for different ones to try.

Sharing this post with #SaturdayShareLinkUp at Not Dressed As Lamb.

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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

It's lace - but not as we know it

I was taken by the rigid lace edging of this Ted Baker top. As I've said before, I don't really do lace. But one of the things I'm trying to do this year is break out of comfort zones and try new things.  The top surprised me by being navy blue. For some reason I was expecting black. It also comes in a pretty blush colour. I paired it with New Look white trousers and I'm happily choosing the shorter length lately, above the ankle, without my old qualms.
One thing I did note is that a navy bra would have been better for this. In some shots, although I'm wearing beige underpinnings, you can see this through the lace. It's an easy mistake to make and many celebs get caught out, although usually their bras are white. Not even skin tone or beige can work every time.

Here's my obligatory daft pose. Here I'm chanelling the great dancer Nijinsky in his L'Apres Midi D'Un Faun.
Gail Hanlon UK blogger in navy lace top and white trousers
Zania lace top, Ted Baker, £130 from Asos;  New Look satin look tux trousers, £24,99.

Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky L'Apres Midi
What's your view on lace? Been there/done it, or thinking about it anew?

If you'd like more Mutton, visit my Facebook page where I curate some lifestyle and fashion stories that might interest, and get an email when there's a new post by following my blog on Bloglovin.

Coming soon:
- 5 new beauty products I've been trying
- Three ways to wear one velvet jacket
- 2 great new beauty tools to make life easier
- Style Imitating Art challenge: George O'Keefe

Sharing this post with:#IWillWearWhatILike at Not Dressed As Lamb; Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style; Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish;  Style with a Smile at Style Splash; Ageless Style at Fashion Fairy Dust and Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

Lose 10 years with 5 simple make-up tricks

You can do wonderful things with make-up. Here are five simple tricks I use to turn back time. .

Primed for action

When you get older, it's not enough to use only moisturizer as your make-up base. You'll get far better results with various types of primer. It's like preparing a wall for painting. It may have a fair few cracks and imperfections so you prime it first. I like to use three different types of primer: one for face, one for eyes and one for lips if I'm going to wear lipstick.

Urban Decay's primers are great for the eyes. Sometimes I'll use it on its own to take away the shadows or dark skin on my lids. My mum and I both swear by Guerlain Kiss Kiss Lip Lift for lips. This miracle primer stops lipstick bleeding and keeps it looking good for longer. For face, if you're going to use foundation, there are many great primers to choose from. I like Laura Mercier or Smashbox.

Wake up tired eyes 

Awaken tired looking eyes by applying a dot of concealer or Touche Eclat to the inner corner of your eye. I'm just started using a new concealer, Clinique All About Eyes, in light neutral. It's a good texture, doesn't gather in lines, if you have any, and certainly diminishes  under eye circles. If you don't have time for mascara, or it's problematic for you  (I find it almost impossible to avoid "panda eyes" no matter what brand I use), curling your lashes with an eyelash curler will give your eyes a bit of oomph.

5 makeup tricks that take 10 years off: image showing products
My "Go To" products for the make-up tricks 

Add luminosity 

I'm not a big fan of contouring for older women - our faces lose volume so we don't need it! But a touch of highlighter acts like a magic wand to lend a touch of luminosity. I have several but my favourite is Stila All Over Shimmer liquid luminizer, which, quite appallingly, seems to have been discontinued! I stroke a fine line down the centre of my nose, apply a dab to my cupid's bow and in the middle of my chin, and paint Adam Ant small streaks on the top of my cheekbones. Blend well. This is a key product to use, particularly if you use a matte foundation.

It's eyeliner but not as we know it 

Use eyeliner but differently. It's very ageing to use the same products and techniques as you did years ago. Those thick lines of black eyeliner and the cat's eye look may be looking a bit dated. Instead, use a liquid eyeliner and push the brush into your eyelashes. This fills any gaps between your eyelashes, and gives a subtle definition without looking like eyeliner.  I prefer liquid eyeliners for this and in any colour but black, which to me looks harsh and ageing. I like green or aubergine. My favourite product is Prestige Cosmetics extreme long last waterproof liquid eyeliner. Buy from Cult Beauty or Amazon.

Shape those brows

In mid life we often find that over-zealous plucking, which was all the rage in the 70s, has left our eyebrows in a thinly arched permanent state of surprise. Or, fear of plucking has resulted in unkempt brows with long wiry hairs. I've never had professional attention on my brows. I admit I'm a bit scared of the idea. But with trial and error, and the excellent brow products available including stencils, you can safely create a neat shape and use tiny pencil strokes to create hairs where you'd like to see them.  I love Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, which is a very fine and soft pencil in a great range of colours, and I always stroke on their Clear Brow Gel afterwards which stops the hairs from doing their own thing. Buy both from Cult Beauty.

If you'd like more Mutton, visit my Facebook page where I curate some lifestyle and fashion stories that might interest, and get an email when there's a new post by following my blog on Bloglovin.

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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Chanelling lace designer Isabella Catanea Parasole

Gail Hanlon in black flouncy maxi skirt, hat and polka dot top
This month's SIA Challenge - Style Imitating Art - over at Jen's blog, Librarian for Life and Style, threw down the gauntlet to step out of my comfort zone and wear something a bit different.

We're asked to channel the Italian lace designer and wood carver, Isabella Catanea Parasole (1565-1625). She was the first lace designer to create a lace instruction manual for women,  Her designs include some circular lace, so I was looking for an outfit that included lace / circles / monochrome. I'm not really a "lacy person" in that I don't have any lace. But I found this excellent maxi skirt which I think could be loosely described as lacy. Goodness, I haven't worn a maxi skirt since I was 13 and they suddenly became all the rage!

Doing some pattern mixing, I'm wearing polka dots too in the tie waist top (a great buy for women who need to define their waist). I added more polka dots with my Buff scarf. Remember - a Buff is not just for hiking. See my post here. The chain belt and hat added the finishing touches. I felt quite flamboyant in this outfit, as if I was off to a Mardi Gras.
Click here to see how other bloggers interpreted the challenge. 

Skirt: White Cove at Asos; polka dot tie waist shell top, New Look at Asos; hat: old; belt: Madeleine (old); scarf: Buff, past season.

For more Mutton follow me at Bloglovin to get an update on when new posts are published, and like my Facebook page where I also include curated articles you may be interested in.

Sharing this post with Hat Attack #43 at Style Crone; Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish; Style with a Smile at Style Splash; Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet; Fashion Should be Fun, hosted by Dawn Lucy;  Fancy Friday Link Up hosted by Nancy of Nancy’s Fashion Style; Fabulous Friday at A Pocketful of Polka Dots.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Is it possible to look stylish when hiking?

Gail and John Hanlon below a rainbow hiking in the Borrowdale Valley
The rainbow was a bonus on a day when the weather was mostly grim 
What? I hear you cry. Stylish when hiking? Surely an oxymoron!
Well, dear reader, before we started our trips to the Lake District back in 2012, I had no idea I would soon be avidly scouring The North Face website for their latest drops, or scurrying into George Fisher as soon as we arrive in Keswick each time to buy more stuff.
We usually go to the Lakes twice a year, in May and late September.  We've also been to Wales to climb Snowdon, and we do some walks in our local forest.
The first time we went to the Lake District,  I had bought big stompy leather Brasher boots online,  the sort Alfred Wainwright used to wear (see above) and I didn't have much in the way of fleeces, base layers, special gloves, etc. And no hiking poles.  
Without sticks and with my dodgy knees, it took me a long time to descend on the shale from Haystacks (the biggest hill we climbed that first time) and to add insult to injury, I was bitten by a pony while Mr Mutton was off filling the water bottles from the babbling brook.
By 2013, I had got more savvy: subscribed to Country Walking and bought all the right stuff from the North Face, Sherpa (hand made by old ladies in Nepal!), Berghaus et al, including walking poles.
Wearing "normal" clothes on long walks - eight to 10 miles, with very steep hills up to 3,000 feet, and with very rapid changes in weather - is not possible. You need highly functional, technical clothes from brands like these.

My Eureka! moment with boots

The Brasher boots were a disaster: they gave me blisters every time and were so heavy and rigid I couldn't move my ankles. It wasn't until 2016 that I finally gave them up when I tried on a pair of wonderful Meindl boots from Germany which have changed my walking experience (I'm wearing them in the photo below).
Because we don't go when the weather is likely to be really bad, I don't have to buy insulated winter jackets, crampons and so on. But even in May and September, it can get horribly cold, wet and windy. So windy once that we had to come down from High Stile because we could no longer stand up. That was frightening. And so cold, last September, that I couldn't unzip my jacket because my hands were too cold.
In typically British fashion, you can get all types of weather in one day so we have to take everything with us - summer and winter combinations. Walking quickly warms you up and you shed layers, but when you get to the summit for lunch you usually need to wrap up again.
For each holiday I like to get a couple of new fleeces in the latest colours (!) - I have a whole rainbow of them, teal, yellow, pink, orange, black.....I try to colour co-ordinate with my base layers, which are usually my gym tops, and my hats, Buffs and trousers/tights. Even the socks are special ones, by Bridgedale. I had a new rucksack for Christmas, it's the Deuter one below, complete with flower!

Hiking trousers - never a good look

Hiking trousers are the most unflattering garment known to man. I have several pairs but hardly ever wear them now because they add a stone to your weight (in appearance). The Swedish brand, Fjällräven, has introduced some trousers for women with curves, here, but I haven't tried them yet. Instead, I generally wear walking tights from Montane or three-quarter length gym leggings, and carry deluge trousers which can be pulled on in a couple of seconds when it rains. I also carry a lightweight rain jacket - I have a purple one from Sherpa and a black one from The North Face.
Hiking clothes generally aren't cheap and you pay more for features such as breathability, wicking and so on. I used to visit Rei in the US when I travelled on business to buy pricier items at lower cost. The soft plush cream jacket below came from Rei.

A few other essentials which always get packed: sunglasses, Radox for weary muscles, high SPF sun protection, plasters, head lamps, in case you get lost and find yourself out in the dark (which happened to us once)  a whistle, should you need to get help, and protein bars, which are reassuring to have as emergency rations. Mobile phones don't always work up in the hills.

You earn those big dinners

The great thing about hiking, apart from the spectacular views of course, is  that it's excellent exercise and I can fully enjoy a cooked breakfast, a packed lunch and the hotel's amazing three course dinners without putting on weight. Result!

We're off to the Lakes again in May - see you there!

Let's Go Shopping

A few desirable items you can buy now.

Jack Wolfskin HOLLOW RANGE TIGHTS, £35
The North Face Kyoshi jacket (mid layer), 3 colours, £85

The North Face Summit Series L1 BASELAYER TOP £85
Deuter Airlite 20SL Womens Hiking Backpack, £58.25, Outdoor GB


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