The winter weather has been getting to me. Drizzle. Worse than rain. You can put up an umbrella when it’s pouring and say “To hell with it!” Drizzle pretends it’s not really there but gets you just as wet…. and miserable. And that endless greyness. I hate it. Happily we have recently seen more of the sun and blue skies! Whatever the weather, I’m determined to wear bright shades – even though lots of people still seem stuck in their usual winter blacks and browns.
Not that I’m blaming folk for ditching colour at this time of year. It’s always been the case that fashion offerings for autumn/winter have always been in the darker palettes. Maybe with the exception of red which does seem to come back each winter (and suits many of us) and ‘winter white’ – never seen other than on ‘influencers’ and ‘celebrities’ who don’t have to worry about cleaning bills.
I wonder if this drab winter dressing is because we feel we have to match the outside gloom with what we wear, conspiring with the feeling that this is a time to be ‘got over’ and not to be celebrated. Christmas being the brief exception of course when sparkle and jollity are allowed to help get us through mid-winter. Then afterwards, with lots of colourful TV ads and magazine features, we are encouraged to book our summer holidays. So, this can get us through the rest of winter, still hunkered down, but given a glimpse of something to look forward to.
I know it sometimes doesn’t feel right to put on something bright or even or pastel at this time of year. Or to step out in something extra special. Better stick to the same old dark green parka trimmed with fake fur. Or the ancient tweed coat, very heavy and warm, that comes out every year, smothered with the scarf you once knitted for your husband, which he never liked, so you feel duty bound to give it the occasional airing.
But we don’t need to dampen down our colour choices. There is every reason why we should go for exactly the same mix of colours that we normally choose in spring and summer. They suit us and colour is known to energise us and give us a lift.
We can even go one step further, by inventing different colour combinations to add even more fizz. So, to cheer us up for more chilly months to come, I’ve given this some thought. Although I’ve always loved to mix colourful flowers in the garden, which blend wonderfully together, I used to shun the idea that we can be equally daring in the colours we put together in one outfit. Mixed, and even clashing colours in a garden look right. But put together in one outfit, I used to think was a big mistake.
However, I am now convinced that almost any colour can be combined with any other. Granted, the kind of shades that are mixed give off different vibes, some calming some uplifting, just as individual colours are associated with different feelings. Red for passion and confidence, blue for serenity, yellow for cheerfulness, fuchsia for excitement, green for calm, and so on. (I talk about this in detail in my book, It’s Never too Late to Look Great.” It is always a good time to experiment with new colours and new combinations.
Okay, not all of you will agree with this. But have a look at the Gudrun Sjoden website. She mixes colours we’ve not been used to combining before. And as long as they are in the right proportions and are predominantly the colours that suit you, looking at her web pages could give you an insight into playing with colour for yourself.
Use a splash colour, one you don’t usually wear, as an accessory. Although you love blue, it makes your complexion look green. And though you love orange, it makes you look as if you are having a hot flush. An answer could be to get shoes in a colour that you like, although it doesn’t like you. Shoes are about as far from the face as you can go. So you get the colour thrill, without the wrong glow on the face. Or buy a bag in an unusual colour. It’s still not too close to your complexion to fade you out. And cross body bags, which are so easy and useful for odd bits and pieces you need to take out, can act as a flash of decoration to make a plain top more interesting.
Wolf & Badger crossbody bag in Fuschia £59; online exclusive Burlington Lobster shoes £120; Purple suede belt Classic leather belt in Orange (12 other colours available) £59 from Kettlewell Colours and Swarovski’s Nirvana ring £155
You can wear any colour if it is in the right tone/shade. Remember that nowadays there’s not one Red or one Blue or one Yellow. Dyes are so clever that the fabric shades are often in subtle in-between colours. Think of various shades of turquoise, mustard/gold, or ranges from fuchsia to blush. There are even multiple shades of the forbidden beige – from warm taupe, to golden camel and pinky-brown. So, if you used to shun yellow, red or purple, be adventurous and search for look-alike colours that are similar to the prime colours, but just different enough to be flattering.
An outfit which sticks to the same colour, or tones of the same colour top to toe, is an easy way to look elegant. The garments don’t need to be identical in colour, but close in tone. And you can mix textures – say a knit jumper with silk trousers, or a linen top with crinkly cotton trousers. If you are petite, simplicity of colour can make you look taller and slimmer.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece and have been inspired to experiment with what colours you can wear, and the combinations you can put together to warm up your winter. I’d love to have your comments.
This article was written by Maggie Cox – former journalist, fashion retailer and author of It’s Never Too Late To Look Great! Just turned 80, she has a quirky take on what young-at-heart-oldies can, and should, wear. She encourages mature women to have fun with how we dress – to push our boundaries to a more adventurous style.
You can purchase a copy of Maggie’s book here
Read Maggie’s other articles for A&G