The mood-boosting properties of a colourful coat

— by Alyson Walsh

Angela Kennedy photographed by Claire Pepper


‘As a style director it was OK to wear any colour as long as it was black,’ Angela Kennedy jokes when I ask about her beautiful blue coat, ‘I followed the uniform of black as it was easier, fitted in, was anonymous and timeless. And, as I have never been fashion-model-slender, it was generally more slimming.’ Seems like I am not the only former fashion editor experimenting with colour

Having spent 40 years working on women’s magazines, running the fashion department at Woman & Home, followed by a stint at Good Housekeeping, directing fashion shoots and offering expert advice on what to wear, Angela has a serious appreciation of style. Over the course of our careers, we have bumped into each other at numerous fashion shows and press events, sharing news, ideas and the occasional Devil Wears Prada experience, with each other. Now freelance, I’ve noticed there’s been a shift in Angela’s style, she has become more colourful, sporty and relaxed. After several coffee meetings and follow-up emails, I managed to persuade Angela to have her photo taken for That’s Not My Age. It wasn’t easy, and I can empathise, after a career behind the camera it is daunting stepping into the spotlight.


Feeling comfortable and confident in cobalt blue

Admitting she prefers blending in to standing out, Angela goes on to explain her new-found love of colour, ‘I have seen the light! I am finally practising what I have preached to zillions of readers on fashion shoots when I extolled the virtues of colour, enlivening, emboldening and generally creating a feel-good factor.’

But why now, I wonder?

‘Colour is just so uplifting and it makes me feel happier,’ she continues, ‘ I won’t reflect on the subject of age, each era brings with it benefits, wisdom and an appreciation of what we have achieved and enjoyed. It’s not about trying to feel younger for me; we are what we are age wise, it’s more about feeling good and feeling confident.’

Looking for a sensible camel coat, Angela nipped in to Fenwick of Bond Street, ‘It was totally out of character to buy a cobalt blue coat but it was calling me from across the floor. From the Marina Rinaldi /Max Mara stable (my top choice for tailoring), I tried it on  – and walked out with bright blue, a little hesitant but pleased with myself for braving the bold.’ Discussing the feel-good element of colour and the benefits of slipping out of your comfort zone, she adds, ‘Why should we always err on the mega-practical side? Colour makes me feel different. The science and psychology of colour has been discussed ad infinitum, so there must be something in it. And the cobalt coat is becoming my go-to, lift the spirits sort of coat and yes of course I still love my reliable old friend, a navy coat from yesteryear, but it does good to live a little dangerously sometimes…’

On colour’s mood-enhancing properties, Fashion Psychology expert Dr Carolyn Mair has said, ‘There are some studies that say that wearing a particular colour can alter your mood. Though how we perceive a colour depends on our experience and expectations. If we believe that yellow makes us happy then it really does have an influence on us. The associations we have with yellow – like a lovely sunny day and buttercups – can evoke an emotional and behavioural response.’

Meanwhile, Angela is introducing more colour into the everyday, ‘This generally revolves around a cashmere sweater, the brighter the better.  I have bright green, yellow,  rainbow stripes and pink Boden ones galore, as they are keenly-priced and generously shaped. And wearing more colour has garnered more compliments, humbly accepted.’


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