Meet Jill Kirsh

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Age: Over 50
Marital Status: Married
Education: Studied at Boston University and left to pursue an acting career

“Women who had their colors done 25 years ago were very stuck on, ‘I am a Spring, I’m a Winter…” says Jill. “Now they’re adding highlights or going gray and haven’t changed their makeup or clothing colors to maximize their look.” Convinced that “hair color rules the day” she created her own system, complete with personalized makeup and color swatches to carry with you when you shop. It became an instant hit in Hollywood where Jill has worked with private clients—including fashion designers and stars—on their most flattering colors. Now she’s partnered with retailer Soft Surroundings to bring her color-coded kits to the rest of the word. Find your Jill Kirsh colors, here.

Congrats on your partnership with Soft Surroundings.

They’re so wonderful to work with! Their stores are beautiful and they’re incredibly customer-service oriented. The president of Soft Surroundings saw a feature on my system in InStyle magazine and asked to carry my product line. When we launched it, I went to their headquarters in St. Louis and did an in-store appearance. It was fabulous seeing the women experience how shades of color they might never have chosen really made them pop!

Would you describe yourself as a colorist?

I’ve been called a colorist, a color expert and “Hollywood’s Guru of Hue.” I love giving people the tools to step out of the box with fashion and beauty.

How does your system work?

My system is based around your hair color. If you choose colors in clothing and makeup based on the color of your hair, it pulls everything together. If you change your hair color drastically, then you need to change the colors that you wear.

Your hair? Not your skin tone or eyes?

Your hair is what frames your face so you’ll want to know how to work it. The idea is that what you’re wearing brings out your face which brings out your hair. All the arrows are pointing up, everything is in sync and you look totally put together. It’s a simple way to look extremely made-over without opting for an extreme makeover. Before people start nipping and tucking and cutting up their bodies, why don’t they change the color of their shirt or lipstick?

Tell us about the product line.

I developed the makeup, which is all mineral-based, hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, for eyes, cheeks and lips based on the shades in my system. I also developed a swatch book filled with fabric in all your best shades to take shopping. Every shade in the swatch book works for you and every shade will mix with each other. What’s so fabulous and fun is the system works at every price point. You can take the swatch book to Target or to Neimans. It’s incredibly empowering to people and makes them really happy.

How did you get into color? Did you go to art school?

I grew up in NYC, then went to Boston University for a few years but left to work with a theatre company. I eventually found myself back in New York where both my parents worked in the garment industry. I was a 7th Avenue kind of gal. I worked wholesale in showrooms and retail at Ann Taylor. I was acting at the time, so they were basically survival jobs, but I saw and learned a lot.

How did you end up in Los Angeles?

My husband is in the music industry. He was flying back and forth between the East and West coasts doing projects, and then we said, ‘let’s do it—let’s move to L.A.’ Our first place was under the Hollywood sign and I remember thinking, ‘I can’t get lost here, now.’

Do you have any children?

I have the most amazing daughter, who is 28.

Are you still into acting?

Sure, when the opportunity arises. I’ve actually taken my color system into the entertainment industry in a big way. Not only do I find the shades that make people pop on camera, but I show actors how to use color as a tool to extend a character—if they want to look older, tired or sick for the part.

Color is very powerful.

I love what I do—I can affect change. I got a message from a client who I hadn’t seen in years who told me she was going through chemo. She said, ‘I’m in the makeup aisle in CVS and having an anxiety attack. I have a wig, I don’t know what to do, I look terrible.’ She showed me the wig—the color was different than her normal hair color. I got her a makeup kit and a swatch book that worked. She was thrilled.

Do you have passion projects or charities you’re aligned with?

I’ve worked with former gang members who were turning their lives around and entering the job market. They really got what I was showing them and how it affects the way they present themselves. It was quite something to behold. I’ve also worked with an abused women’s shelter, Dress for Success and The Fulfillment Fund. Aside from it being fun and ‘fashiony,’ what I do is incredibly empowering to people and I’m humbled by the reaction it evokes.

What are your best colors?

I’m a deep brunette. So I wear a lot of the clear, true colors like royal blue, royal purple and icy colors like light icy pink. I’m not good in the earth tones, even though I love them. Good neutrals for me are charcoal gray, navy blue and black. You can never take black away from anyone. You just show them how to work it better.

How would you describe your own style?

It’s very playful. I’ll take a sexy top under a man-tailored suit jacket. In a store, my eye goes towards the colors. Forever 21 had this table of long-sleeved fitted little tops in great colors. I pair them with jeans and a great leather jacket.

Do you have a favorite clothing designer?

I’m not stuck on designer names, but, I do love Donna Karan. I’ve worn a lot of Tadashi party dresses.

What’s your best color advice?

Everyone can wear basically every color. It just depends on which hue of that color will enhance them the most.

What advice do you have for other FOFs?

Fifty is just a number and a lot of experiences. When someone just a few years older than me brought up retirement recently, it almost took my breath away. Retire? That’s so unreal to me right now. I’m excited by new games, new people and endless possibilities!

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