Shop the Look this Summer with pour vibrant colors!!!
When Michael Kors, who knows everything about style, says that your beloved white-shirt-and-black-pants ensemble makes you look like a waiter, as he once told me when we met in Madrid (where they really know how to supercharge their classic style through color), it’s time to reevaluate some things. And for the foreseeable future, every time you see a white shirt and black pants you’ll wonder, How much should I tip? So thank you, fall, because if this season’s runways are any indication, color is everywhere: yellows, reds, pastels—and a whole bunch of hitherto unheard-of shades. Miuccia Prada set the pace with the most astonishing combinations (a coral bag with Dijon-mustard pants was one advanced option). After that, Dior’s raspberry thigh-high boots and Gucci’s burgundy-and-red clashes made sense. Even shoes have gotten the memo: Resistance is futile. If you pride yourself on the disciplined sobriety of your closet’s color scheme, open your heart. The right color, in even the smallest dose, can take years off you and your favorite outfit. First, however, a strategy.
WHEN “INTERESTING” BECOMES A COMPLIMENT Designers outdid themselves in the so-wrong-it’s-right (and sometimes so-wrong-it’s-vile) department. Here are some of their best ideas: pinky taupe with mustard and yellow, topped with a navy collar (Marc Jacobs); lavender and leaf green (Gucci); and cobalt and orange (Roksanda). Jonathan Saunders (tomato red, cerulean, and white) said that he was influenced by the palettes of artists Allen Jones, Bridget Riley, and Victor Vasarely. And why not? Once your eye grows accustomed to violet and mint green (and it will, the 10th time you walk into Barneys or cruise ShopBAZAAR.com), your beloved navy will seem a bit, well, safe. Which leads us to the knowledge that …
NOT ALL NEUTRALS ARE CREATED EQUAL There’s more to camel than meets the eye. Its variants range from slightly milky coffee to the subtlest pinky taupes, as seen at Gucci and Alexander McQueen. “Powdery pinks are a gorgeous way to break up navy or black,” says Ruth Chapman, a cofounder of Matchesfashion.com. Not to mention that they’re much softer than white. But why stop there? If gray is your be all and end all, try silver for a change, which also happens to look great with camel. The freshest neutral, however, is khaki. It works with just about everything—as, strangely, does cobalt. Lesson: Treat neutrals as color and color as neutrals (why can’t electric blue be a base?). Neutrals shouldn’t flatten but exalt.
THOSE ’70S SHADES Mustard, ocher, brown, and orange were splashed all over the fall runways. If you’re scarred by flashbacks to your childhood bedroom, you’ll slavishly avoid adopting a full-on ’70s palette. But let’s be reasonable: Brown is a terrific option for boots and bags, allowing their details to shine much more than black does. Browns make great coats too (try them with a red scarf or bag), while ocher can offer an edgier alternative. If this specific shade makes you feel like a corpse, look back to camel.
IN MOURNING FOR BLACK It will never be entirely over for black, even though midnight and navy have given it a beating lately. And, now, enter darkest eggplant, deep purples, and bottle greens to the competition. A peacock-blue lace dress (as seen at Michael Kors) is as sophisticated as black, less obvious than red, and much softer and more surprising than either of them. Swap your default white shirt for blue chambray and observe how much more modern you look (and feel).
HEAD-TO-TOE COLOR That aqua-green coat-and-bag combination looked—momentarily—adorable on the models, but you and I both know that this really works only on runways and Dancing With the Stars. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing for us in this category. When it comes to navy, gray, browns, camels, and nude pinks, toning shades of the same color can be both elongating and slimming. Want to go for sea foam? Any of these pieces, worn with your workaday neutrals or denim, will provide an instant wardrobe refresh.
MEET SOME NEW ACCESSORIES Retro or bright-toned bag charms, (fake) fur pom-poms (from Helen Moore or real ones from Fendi), and animal mascots (Shrimps) that dangle off your bag, supersize brooches (Prada), elbow-length gloves from emerald to pumpkin, and block-colored shoes (check out the purple heels on the ones at Fendi and the contrast buckles at Miu Miu) are an easier-than-easy way to dip a toe into the new color trends. Befriend silk scarves again—an emerald one, say, wrapped around the handle of a powder blue bag or knotted artfully at the neck—they’re all part of the beginner’s starter color pack.
THE ICK FACTOR It works like this: Last week you thought red and pink clashed and that peach and mint were off-putting. Now you’re not so sure. This is merely a sign that the anti-monochrome movement is working. When in doubt or puzzled that a shade that should look good doesn’t, consider the materials. Cashmere, velvet, chiffon, and duchesse satin add subtle depth to strong hues. Patent leather and PVC can make the sweetest pastels look interestingly subversive. Sign up for the full-immersion program. Because color untamed can reenergize far more than just your style.
Lisa Armstrong is fashion director of The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk)