Dividing my wardrobe into spring, summer, autumn and winter colour palettesIsabel Dempsey

“Sorry, I’m a soft autumn palette, gamine body, and ethereal essence – so I can’t wear that. It would wash out my features.” Don’t know what any of that means? Well, to be honest, I barely do either. This alien jargon seems to exist exclusively in a strange sphere of TikTok, one that is focused on enhancing your natural features through colour, shape and general vibe. In this world, we’re not interested in brightening your looks with the latest concealer, skincare and Botox concoctions. It’s all about learning to dress your body in the best way possible for you. Sounds simple, right?

“What was once a simple set of quick tricks has been twisted into an extreme science”

I’ve always been slightly fascinated with this bizarre set of rules, only ever written in beauty magazines or The Girls’ Annuals of my youth. The hot top tips that advise you to grow out your hair if you have an oblong face, wear blue if you’re a blonde or teach you whether or not your mental breakdown fringe will actually make your breakdown worse. It all stems from modern society’s obsession with wanting to look the best we possibly can. Who cares what makes you feel good? All that matters is what the magazine gods have planned for you.

However, what was once a simple set of quick tricks has been twisted into an extreme science, something I have only just scratched the surface of despite all my hours of scrolling on TikTok. Apparently, it’s now more complicated than “people with brown eyes look good in green”. You need to know if you’re cool-toned or warm-toned, bright or soft, high or low contrast. However much I check my veins I still couldn’t tell you what my undertone is, leaving me perpetually on the cusp of considering myself a deep winter or autumn. The colour palettes associated with each season (which also come in even more fun sub-varieties) are meant to be the colours that best complement the natural hues of your face. They alleviate dark circles, add colour to your cheeks and blur the appearance of wrinkles (because how dare we look tired and old?). It’s now much more complicated than “don’t wear pink” – you need to know which specific shades of pink you are and aren’t allowed to rock.

“Nobody should take these as hard-line rules they have to obey”

But that’s not all. The further I went into this maze of colour analysis and tailored shopping, the more categories I discovered. There’s also your Kibbe body type, which goes a few steps beyond your traditional pear and hourglass to an intensive thirteen-point scale all the way from dramatic “yang” angular bodies to romantic soft “yin” shapes. All with their own tailored set of “do and don’t wear”s of course. I’m pretty sure I’m a flamboyant gamine, but I’ll get back to you once I’ve coughed up £200 for a trained consultant to approve. And I’m not even going to bother working out my essence – whatever that means. It seems these experts have made this science just complicated enough to ensure people pay big bucks for professional help. The really fun catch? Once you’ve paid some expert to hold up different coloured fabrics next to your face, you then get to spend even more money altering your entire wardrobe and make-up collection to match their recommendations.


Mountain View

My beef with BookTok: ‘uninventive, repetitive, and reductive’

The fact that anybody would remodel themselves after this abstract set of rules demonstrates their harm. Surely I don’t need some TikTok consultant to tell me what I do and don’t look good in. I have a mirror for that. There’s probably a reason my wardrobe is almost completely void of oranges, reds and yellows, or that I’d prefer to wear skirts over trousers any day. I don’t care if some expert tells me I would look good in bright red skinny jeans. It’s never going to happen. Wear what makes you feel confident, happy and hot – it’s as simple as that. Even though I know for a fact that light blues and pastel pinks aren’t in my colour palette I will continue to defiantly wear them for the simple fact that I think they look pretty.

Not everybody desires the same thing from their clothing. We use it to create certain effects and identities. People who look “washed out” in black choose to wear it because they like the gothic effect it has. Or people wear oversized clothing because it’s comfortable – even if it doesn’t traditionally complement their figure. If you’ve got the time and money and are willing to take it unseriously, these outlines can be an interesting way to experiment with your wardrobe. Or they can be just plain stupid fun. But nobody should take these as hard-line rules they have to obey. Wear what you feel best in, not what some random overpriced TikTok consultant insists you look good in.