How to wear colour with grey hair

— by Alyson Walsh

Denim and mustard


One question I am often asked is ‘Does grey hair mean I need to change the colours I wear?’ While I spent years as a fashion editor dressing women (celebrities, models and readers) in colourful dresses and brilliant blouses because they ‘look better on the page’, there’s a difference between ‘ as seen on screen’ and appearance In Real Life. Style is personal and it’s all about finding the clothes and colours that suit your body shape, complexion and lifestyle. As part of a short Instagram project I worked on in 2019, I chose an egg yolk yellow trouser suit. The two-piece was lovely and received a great response but deep down I knew that head-to-toe Crayola brights were not for me. Both hair colour and complexion change as we get older, but this doesn’t mean dressing like a 1980s newsreader. Unless of course, you want to go bold (and a bit retro). It means dressing to feel our best, which may simply involve a small refresh, rather than a technicolored revamp. Whatever works for you.

Practising with pink

My skin tone can now be described as ‘cool with a generous sprinkling of sun damage’; my hair is its natural shade of gronde (grey and dirty blonde). And though I haven’t gone full Céline Dion, I have become a tad more adventurous with colour. This has been a natural progression rather than an intentional move. Clothes that I’ve been drawn to, include: the pink corduroy jacket, the burnt orange leopard print fleece, and the mustard yellow mac (a generous gift from Toast). Opening the closet doors still reveals a sea of blues and greens and charcoal greys, these are my colours, the tones that keep me in my comfort zone. Blending the new brighter shades in with navy, khaki and denim, makes the transition easier and less alarming to a colour shy minimalist, like myself. I much prefer dialling it down to standing out.

Dialling it down


When it comes to what to wear, I’ve always found rules and regulations restrictive. Every colour comes in many different hues, so there’s something to suit everyone – and what better time to experiment? Take ownership of your wardrobe and really figure out what works for you and the life you lead. Trying on clothes, or holding a garment up to your face, is the best way to do this. Check out which shade is most complimentary by standing in front of a mirror and asking yourself: ‘Does this look good?’ ‘ Does it brighten the complexion and give me a gorgeous glow?’ ‘Or does it make me look (and feel) like Edvard Munch’s The Scream?’ Any garments that receive an affirmative response to the final question  – I’ve found I can no longer wear very pale grey, certain slightly dirtier shades of light blue and off-white – go straight to the top of the charity pile. They are not welcome in your wardrobe.

If faced with a rail full of greys and blacks, don’t be afraid to try something new. Right now that means buying online during lockdown – though this may sound a bit daft, I tried holding the underside of my wrist up to the screen next to the item of clothing and it works as a very rough guide to what suits (toffee-coloured sweater: yes, please. Sunshine yellow shirtdress: oh no). As with Liberating Your Partywear, wearing the right colour can spark joy. And who doesn’t need an extra dose of delight, right now?


Style Notes: The jumpsuit is from LF Markey and has been receiving a lot of love during lockdown. Hi-tops are Good News. Mustard yellow mac is from Toast.

Pre-pandemic photos by Claire Pepper.


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