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Bright ideas for colourful dressing

Mastering the art of colour-blocking

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Bright ideas for colourful dressing

April 29 2011
Lucia van der Post

I know, I know: if you have any interest in fashion at all, the talk of colour-blocking is everywhere. But one thing I’ve learned about trends is that however much one thinks “not for me”, sooner or later one succumbs. And so it seems to me to make much better economic sense to embrace it early – that way you get a much longer run for your money than if you pick up on it half-way through. Also, looking at my own sober wardrobe makes an injection of colour begin to feel “right”, in the way that the best of fashion trends suddenly do seem “right” when their time has come.

The thing about colour-blocking is that you don’t have to embrace the whole top-to-toe look, as done so brilliantly for the catwalk by Jil Sander (neon-bright silks) and Gucci (sensuously sexy silk, lovely for evenings). Do as stylist Annabel Hodin suggests and add pops of colour to liven up the core wardrobe you already own. Apart from anything else, it’s a much more sophisticated way to do colour-blocking; it seems to suggest that you’ve perceived that there’s been a shift in fashion but you’re not going to follow it slavishly, you’re going to do it your own way. Much cooler.

Annabel suggests that a good investment would be a really great dress in a brilliant single colour (which you can break up with one of this season’s very slim belts – gorgeous at Miu Miu for £125 – and tone down by wearing nude shoes). “But,” she warns, “it should be by a good designer. Something like Diane von Furstenberg’s bright blue silk gauze dress (£400) would be perfect.”

Alternatively, you could liven things up by adding pops of colour with shoes, belts, bags, sunglasses and/or jewellery. The thing, she warns, is not to do matchy-matchy. This is all about clashing colours – pinks with orange, reds and pinks, bright greens, oranges and blues. Bright tops will give your wardrobe a great kick and they’ll go splendidly with the black trousers you probably already own.

DKNY has some great silk tops, almost like simple tees, for £150 a time, while Equipment shirts (£209 from Net a Porter) come in brilliant fuchsias and oranges. When it comes to shoes, Paul Smith has some delicious brogues in blue suede (second picture, £235) or half-brogues in lime (£369), and Prada has turquoise flatties with a demure bow (£390). As for me, I’m eyeing up Jil Sander’s brilliant green silk parka (first picture), though the £2,125 price-tag is a bit of a stumbling block, and her grass-green cashmere cardigan (more affordable and gorgeous at £820).

But if you buy only one thing this summer, you could make it a handbag – Jil Sander’s gorgeous market bag in yellow or Schiaparelli pink (£580), or Carolina Herrera’s Matryoshka bag in bright green or piercing yellow (third picture, £360), will add a tremendous jolt of colour. Cheapest of all, of course, are bangles – pile them on in colours that clash with your clothes and it’ll cheer everything up. And don’t forget make-up. All the girls at Prada, ever on the button, are wearing scarlet lips.

Click here to see Damian Foxe’s colour-blocking fashion shoot.

See also

Annabel Hodin