Color consultant finds your 50 shades

Photo by Ralph Stewart

A visit to Wendy Jacobs and her House of Colour studio in Vineyard Haven is a magical experience. Clients come with strong ideas about what colors they look best in. They leave ready to purge closets, retire favorite outfits, and wear colors they never expected to.

A consultant with the U.K.-based House of Colour, Ms. Jacobs gives clients tools for choosing clothes, accessories, jewelry, and makeup that enhance their appearance, self-confidence, and possibly even level of success and ability to attract good things. In addition to color analysis, Ms. Jacobs offers separate style consultations.

“I never want people to see this as a vain enterprise,” she said. “It really isn’t. It’s for making yourself look and feel better. It’s about empowering and helping people.”

A small percentage of her clients are men, usually motivated by a wife’s or woman friend’s transformation.

Color analysis stems from principles developed by Bauhaus artist Johannes Itten in the early 1900s. His findings about how colors interact provide the basis for the House of Colour’s “Season” system.

Ms. Jacobs works with the client to discover whether she or he is a Winter, Spring, Summer, or Autumn color type. It is not about whether a color is pretty, but how one looks in it, Ms. Jacobs said.

Ms. Jacobs and her husband, Gil, moved here from the Washington, D.C., area 14 years ago with their daughters, Olivia and Dana, now 15 and 18. Delighted with the move, Ms. Jacobs said working from home enabled her to be part of her daughters’ daily lives.

Ms. Jacobs, a tall, trim, woman with a warm smile and sleek, short hair, led the way to her Vineyard Haven home studio. Her flowing, orangey cardigan, off-white tank top and slacks, gold-toned sandals and color-coordinated toe nails perfectly fit her “Autumn” identity.

The third-floor studio is bright and enticing. Previously an office when Ms. Jacobs telecommuted as consultant for a pension actuarial consulting firm, the studio has the combined ambience of private parlor and elegant salon. One room displays clothing in vibrant hues and make-up. Organized by seasons, these may be purchased by clients seeking their exact colors.

The magic takes place in the front room, a comfortable, serene space with upholstered chairs and a large hanging mirror. Ms. Jacobs makes the four-hour session festive, sociable, pampering. She serves chocolates, fruit, beverages, lunch. She recommends that several people come together so they can watch, learn — and be amazed — as each analysis progresses.

“When we’re in the studio it’s a Girls’ Day Out with a lifetime of benefits,” she said. “We come together as strangers, we leave as friends.”

The fun begins when the first person takes the “Hot Seat” in front of the mirror. Ms. Jacobs drapes the client in white, adding a succession of silky scarves in varied hues, Gradually, Ms. Jacobs and her subject discern subtle differences. A face looks brighter, fresher, younger with certain colors; drawn, tired, “washed out” with others. Some tones “bring out” features; others muddy them. Through elimination, Ms. Jacobs identifies the client’s season.

The analysis is based on underlying skin color that remains the same through the years, Ms. Jacobs explained.

Next, testing scarf after scarf, Ms. Jacobs pinpoints which colors in the client’s season palette are the most flattering, “Wow colors,” which are best worn close to the face; and which colors are underemphasized.

“It works for everybody,” Ms. Jacobs promised.

Ms. Jacobs is sold on the system and its benefits. She discovered House of Colour in 2006 while abroad on business. Noticing two colleagues who looked especially vibrant, she inquired. They credited House of Colour. She booked a color and style session, and quickly knew she wanted to become a consultant.

In 2010 she headed for London and the intensive color training, then a second training to become a style consultant. She has seen some 550 clients, and she loves her work.

“It’s an honor to be in the studio, helping people to discover their full potential,” she said.

A consultation is comparable to a luxurious spa service — the standard Color Analysis costs $165 — but Ms. Jacobs said the benefits last longer than the short-lived glow of a massage or facial. She suggested a House of Colour session for vacationers seeking a new, rejuvenating experience.

Ms. Jacobs is often invited to other cities to offer “Pop-Up Studios.” House of Colour has enlisted her to help their U.S. expansion efforts.

Clients leave happy, excited with their newfound knowledge, filling her website with testimonials: “My analysis was a self-actualizing journey;” “I’ll never look at my clothes the same way;” “It has opened my eyes to what colors work for me!” “I am thrilled to have these colors that really go with and complement me.”

They receive a wallet of swatches so they can choose correct colors from closets and shop racks.

Because clients usually discover many of their clothes are not their appropriate colors, Ms. Jacobs throws a clothes swap every year. Clients socialize, snack, browse garments arranged by seasons, and go home with free clothes in their own palettes.

“I’m making everyone on the Vineyard feel and look their absolute best, one person at a time,” said Ms. Jacobs, with a smile.

For more information, email or call 774-521-6087.