Let’s get one thing straight: you don’t have to obsess about colour. No one is going to judge you for wearing last season’s shade of russet instead of this season’s shade of smokey topaz. If they do, they deserve to be slapped a shade of 2015’s Marsala red.
As long as you follow the obvious advice – dress for the occasion, stick to shades that suit your skin tone and pick hues that don’t clash – you’re golden. Sorry, Pantone Nugget Haze 16-0952.
That said, a tweak to your usual colour wheel is the easiest way to light up dull outfits, particularly in winter – a time when the temptation is to stay in the warm cocoon of navy, black and grey. “With any hue that sits outside the safe spectrum – black, navy, grey and white – it’s easiest to ground an outfit by keeping to one bright piece in your look,” says River Island design manager Matt Braun.
Not keen on wide-leg trousers? Think track tops and joggers should stay in the gym? Then let a new hue be the trick that refreshes your wardrobe. Here’s everything you need to know about wearing colour this winter.
How To Wear Colour In Winter: Key Tips
Know Your Skin Tone
Finding the right colour for your skin tone basically boils down to understanding your complexion. First, look at your forearm. Is it fair? Then stick to darker colours and avoid anything too pale. Olive? Chuck out anything yellow or green that is too close to your skin, but otherwise, go wild. Dark? Well, dear friend, the world’s your oyster (chromatically speaking).
“The darker your skin tone, the easier it is to pull off bright colours,” says Rich Simmons, styling team supervisor at the online styling service Stitch Fix. “But remember, none of these rules is hard and fast. I would always advise trying pieces that are outside of your comfort zone in the relative safety of your home, where the lighting is more natural.”
Coordinate With Care
As a general rule, brighter colours tend to pop more when placed next to black or white, which means that you might want to think twice before throwing on your everyday black jeans.
Instead, try a pair of navy or grey trousers or dark selvedge denim, which will create a softer contrast with more vibrant hues. “The darker the shade, the more your brighter colour choices will stand out,” says Simmons.
Getting color right is about substance as much as it is appearance. “Manmade materials [such as polyester or acrylic] take color and print better and make for a more vivid appearance,” explains ASOS head of menswear design Nick Eley.
But, louder isn’t always better. Natural fibres like cotton and wool appear less harsh once dyed, especially those with a textured finish, which can add depth that softens the overall effect.
Dress For The Season
By which we don’t just mean packing away the shorts come winter. As nights grow darker, so too should your wardrobe. Granted, advanced dressers can get away with sunshine yellow in September, but a far easier, entry-level move is to opt for a more subdued palette.
“Deeper, richer hues of your favorite colors are a great go-to for autumn/winter,” says John Lewis menswear stylist Promise Bakare. “For example, if red is one of your summer faves, burgundy is a great color to transition to.”
“As a fan of the ‘all black, everything’ look, I can relate to the challenge of bringing color into an otherwise monochrome wardrobe,” says Simmons. “If you want to jump-start your palette, bring in flashes of color through your shoes, accessories or outer layers.”
Though khaki or mustard might not be for everyone, a medium brown or camel coat is universally elegant, while colorful sneakers can lift any outfit without affecting your overall complexion.
3 Ways To Wear Colour In Winter
Between office Christmas parties, winter weddings and overpriced New Years’ Eve dos, the colder months aren’t short of occasions to dress up for. And while you could dust off the old faithful two-piece, isn’t it already dull enough outside?
Why not lift your surroundings with a suit in bottle green or burgundy – rich, deep hues which read as inherently smart. Stick to a white shirt and dark tie or, if the dress code permits, a charcoal roll neck. A slightly clashing pocket square or a bold pair of socks are nice ways to throw even more color into the mix, just avoid anything that could be described as even remotely festive.