How to Dress in Colour with Fiona Keary from Style Liberation



The rollout of fabulous workshops put on by the Canberra Centre as part of their holistic health and wellbeing hub, Eden, continues this weekend with a style workshop exploring dressing with colour, lead by Fiona Keary from Style Liberation.

Fiona is a resident stylist at the Canberra Centre in addition to running her own consultancy business, Style Liberation, through which she aims to help women find confidence and presence through personal style. In her second style workshop for the Canberra Centre, Fiona explained all the nuts and bolts of dressing with colour.

As someone who has always embraced colour, I have never really stopped to give full consideration to the colour choices I make or if they really suit me. I have always known that I am a cool (my mother dearest has always been knowledgeable about such things) and I know I look appalling in pale blue (the colour of my high school uniform which, thankfully, I had the presence of mind to rarely wear), but other than that I find I tend to be drawn to all manner of colours and prints regardless of whether they match my bright red hair and pale skin or not.

Given my more eclectic approach to dressing, I was particularly interested in garnering some advice from a professional. I was pleased to hear that Fiona also harbours a healthy adoration of colour. ‘I love colour,’ she revealed. ‘I love working with colour. I get excited by colour. I was one of those people who wore a lot of black and maybe a bit of beige but not that much colour. It wasn’t until I went with a girlfriend, while I was living in London, to get my colours done that I became a convert.’




So what are Fiona’s top tips? It turns out that there are three major benefits to building your wardrobe around a colour palate that suits you.

  • When you work within a colour palate you will find that pieces will naturally mix and match much more easily.
  • You can look fantastic in colour.
  • Different colours have different messages which means that you can use colour to express your personality or mood.

Ultimately, you want to wear colours that make you look healthy, glowing, and alive and that harmonise with your hair, skin, and eyes. When working with colours Fiona looks at three core things:


Depth of the Colour

This facet of colour looks at rich tones including forest greens, deep blues, and plums versus pastel pinks, pale greens, and creamy tones. Most of us sit somewhere in the middle in terms of colour depth and we can borrow from each end of the spectrum.

Fiona’s tip: as a general rule of thumb, the darker your hair, skin, and eyes, the better darker colours will work for you. But remember, that’s only a generalisation.


Colour Temperature

The temperature of a colour is what we are all probably most familiar with i.e. warm versus cool. Warmer colours are more earthy tones while cool colours are more blue-based. Putting a warm colour on a cool person can bring out more yellow in the skin tones. Putting something cool on a warm person can make them look washed out.

Fiona’s tip: Try and test out colours against your skin on natural light with no makeup. Try and identify colours that either wash you out or colours that make you look healthier. If you aren’t sure, book a session with Fiona!


Colour Vibrancy

When talking about the vibrancy of colour we are talking looking at whether it is bright and clear vs muted or dusty. If you put something muted on someone who should be wearing bright they will look washed out. If it’s the other way around, the colour steals the show and you might not look at their face.

Fiona’s tip: Same as above. Try a variety of bright and muted colours out against your face.




Now you have identified the colours that suit you, here is what you next need to consider to take dressing in colour to the next level.



Contrast refers to the way we combine colours together. Fiona advises that the way you contrast colours on your body should mirror the contrast you naturally have between your hair, skin, and eyes. For example: someone with dark hair, pale skin, and medium eyes will suit medium to high contrast colour combinations in their clothes.

Contrasting colours can be very useful when using your clothes for personal branding and messaging. High contrast combinations can create an impact, which can be desirable in certain situations, say, when you are giving a presentation and want to assert yourself. Medium contrast combinations, such as two colours of the same hue paired together, can appear more friendly and easy going which can be handy in the workplace. Low contrast combinations such as two light colours together or two dark colours together can be useful when you are in the mood for blending in with the crowd.



When working with print, don’t be afraid to branch out of your colour palette. If you are a cool, try a print which mixes blues with a pop of warm orange. Mixing colours up like this adds interest to the print itself and lets you experiment with colours you might like, but perhaps don’t suit you as much as you like.

What can sometimes be intimidating for people is matching prints or patterns into your wardrobe. Fiona’s tip is to draw out a colour from the print to use as your block colour to pair it with. We often play it safe pairing print with neutrals, however, it can be fun and liberating to choose an unexpected colour. Have a play and try and make combinations you haven’t tried before.

As a general rule, match the size and scale of a print to your size and structure. For most of us, we are in the middle and can go either way in terms of the scale of a print. Ultimately, when choosing the size of a print, take into account your style and personality.



Fiona’s tip with regards to the texture of a piece is to consider how bright the colour is vs the amount of texture. For example: a bright colour can get lost in lot of texture i.e. a hot pink won’t appear as vibrant when made up in a super chunky knit. Conversely, a lot of texture will work well in more neutral, muted tones.


Colour Trends

At the moment we are seeing a lot of blush, beige, different versions of white, as well as lots of rich jewel tones such as forest green, copper, and plum. We are lucky that fashion is so varied at the moment; there is something out there to suit everyone’s style and taste.




The way we dress reflects our confidence, presence, and impact. The colours we wear play a big part in expressing our personality whether we are aware of it or not. Now that you have all of Fiona’s tips, dive into your wardrobe, get experimenting, and discover what colour can say about you.

If you aren’t making any headway at home and you need some professional help, book a session with Fiona through her site.

For those of you in Canberra, Fiona will be running a group colour session on Sunday 27 November at the Hub in the Canberra Centre.

Visit to find out more.

Emma Batchelor

Emma Batchelor

As well as a near obsessive interest in fashion, Emma is a former scientist, occasional contemporary dancer, avid reader and self-confessed cat lady (she has three). Emma lived in Leiden in the Netherlands as a baby and Leiden ought to have been her middle name had her mother thought of it at the time and not chosen Louise instead.

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