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The non-boring way to wear neutrals

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Claire Pepper

Occasionally, an outfit comes together at the very last minute. This is not exactly a happy accident because some thought has gone into the pairing, so perhaps it’s more of a conscious coupling? Oh dear. Make that a winning wardrobe combination. When a last-minute, humidity-induced fluster meant the black, heavyweight linen top I had on was flung onto the bed, there wasn’t much time to play around. Bring on the easy-breezy, pull-on-and-go patterned top. This lightweight cotton, sale bargain is a wardrobe newcomer from Isabel Marant Étoile. It’s neutral but non-boring. The pattern and the pink tones add warmth and allure (or so I’ve been told).

Pattern can perk up neutrals

Some people steer clear of beige, and it’s not a colour I am particularly drawn to. Mostly because when hair, complexion and clothes all look the same, it can lead to an instant wash-out. And the last thing we want to do is fade away. But, now the hair is au naturel, lighter colours seem to work, in a wonderful, Scandi-licious kind of way. Not forgetting that today, leopard print is seen as a neutral, khaki is a neutral, rose pink is a non-boring neutral. All of these look lovely on a beige canvas; in cool natural fabrics for a steamy summer in the city. Introducing eye-catching shoes and accessories – summer flatforms or statement sneakers and kooky sunglasses all help turn bland into grand. While teaming neutrals with a strong colour such as red, cobalt blue or fuchsia is another way to perk things up.

Often I like to ease a new garment in by teaming it with an old favourite, blending a recent purchase with something familiar always makes me feel at ease.  So, this outfit is a rare occurrence, both items of clothing I’m wearing are relatively new. Though the sandals are ancient (still haven’t got round to taking them to the repair shop, it’s on my list and thanks to the reader who sent me the recommendation), the silver jewellery collected over the years. And being increasingly conscious of the impact the fashion industry is having on the environment, I need to make the most of these COS jeans. The one-in-one-out rule is still in practise and there’s a small bag of clothes ready to go to the charity shop. There is fun to be had experimenting and taking a slower approach to fashion, when I do buy new items versatility and longevity are crucial. The barrel leg jeans look very Katharine Hepburn with the navy Super Shirt, and the printed pull-on-and-go blouse is perfect with black jeans. These new pieces form part of a wardrobe that’s working, not shirking.

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