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The key to colour

Want to keep things bright and breezy this Spring? Who What Wear’s Shopping Editor, Joy Montgomery, gives her guide to styling colour into your wardrobe

For some reason, I used to be a bit of a ‘colourphobe’.
Perhaps this was due to the misguided idea that minimalism was the only way to look truly chic. However, now I know that, when used in the right way, colour can instantly elevate any outfit and even possess the power to shift your mood. The smallest things can often have the biggest impact!

Styling colour shouldn’t be too prescriptive.
However, an easy way to incorporate it into your wardrobe is to balance it out with more muted shades. For example, I have a bright purple cashmere knit, which I love to pair with a beige leather skirt or layer under a trusty neutral trench coat. It always makes for a fun contrast. Another more statement-making, but no less simple, option is tonal dressing – simply pair a few separates in the same shade to create a unified look.

Spring collections always bring plenty of colour to choose from.
As the mercury starts to rise and the evenings become longer, there’s a sense of optimism that comes with the arrival of spring that calls for colour. And while you can, of course, embrace colourful clothing all year round, spring is always a nice excuse to pack away your autumnal neutrals and monochromes, and dig out those vibrant dresses and feel-good, lightweight knits.

The great thing about colourful fashion trends is that there’s no sense of ‘one size fits all’.
This season we saw some brands, such as Valentino and Alexander McQueen, embracing unapologetic, eye-popping shades of neon. Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, there was Jil Sander and Peter Do, which took a more subtle approach via mint greens and mellow yellows. My personal highlight, however, has to be Nanushka, which beautifully blended hits of grass green and powder blue into its usual offering of creams, blacks and browns.

Don’t be afraid of colourful prints.
For example, for London Fashion Week, I enjoyed creating a pattern clash with two contrasting, coloured stripes (expect to see more of this in 2022). Spring dresses are also an easy way to wear a colourful print – the bolder the better. Whether it’s a bold floral, cheeky check or animal print, the key is to keep your accessories simple and let the dress do the talking.

The number one rule with wearing colour is to choose something that puts a smile on your face.
I think it’s important to not to stress too much about getting it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – just pick what makes you feel confident. However, one thing you can do to help you choose is to try it on in natural light, or ask a friend to take a photo of you in it. This will give a truer sense of how a colour sits alongside your natural skin tone, as changing rooms aren’t always well lit.

I swear by the power of colourful blouses and shirts to elevate your work wardrobe.
They’re easier to experiment with compared to colourful dresses, and they can be styled with everything from smart trousers to midi skirts. You can also easily adapt them for the weekend by throwing them on with your favourite pair of jeans and a casual jacket. It’s all about maximising that cost-per-wear.

Devotees of black might be pleasantly surprised this season.
After all, ‘colour’ doesn’t always have to mean paint box brights. Instead, keep an eye out for dark forest greens, creamy pale yellows and dusty blues à la Jil Sander. This not only feels like a more accessible entry point to colour, but also pairs well with the neutrals already sat in your wardrobe.

Right now, green is my go-to.
We’re talking everything from Bottega Veneta’s ‘Kermit green’ to softer mint shades. Somewhat unexpectedly, I’ve also been enjoying a bit of pink, especially when it’s rendered in more structured, tailored silhouettes. And as luck would have it, these two colours happen to pair together quite nicely…


Joy's Spring Wishlist