Do you have two completely different colour palettes for winter and summer? Let’s guess: summer is all about colour and contrast, while winter is when the muted tones and earthy shades come out. We can’t be sure, but there could be something in human nature that guides us in this direction, whether it’s down to the availability of specific colours in different seasons or perhaps even a kind of camouflage. But whatever the reasons, it’s a natural and fitting thing to do, followed by shoppers and fashion houses alike.
The thing is, on the whole, it’s a habit that makes sense and works. You could even say that winter is all the more liberating for it, as you can wear your more subdued tones or go for something brighter. In the summer, there are fewer occasions where you can dress down, especially when you’re hopscotch through the social calendar.
But this isn’t a black-and-red issue. You can make certain compromises with your winter wardrobe that keep things low when the skies are grey and the days are short while introducing little highlights to your outfit. Instead, it’s all about creating pops or small details of colour that accentuate an otherwise muted outfit.
The main reason for adding some pop is to break up a wintry look that threatens to veer out of the seasonal and into the funereal. We’ve all done it – pulled on a night-out outfit and taken one last look in the mirror as the taxi is beeping its horn outside, only to realise we look more “regional performance meeting” than “cocktails and Les Mis”. Of course, nobody cares once we’re out there, but a lack of self-confidence about how we look – especially when everyone else is glad-ragged to the hilt – can take the shine off an evening.
So how can we keep to the winter vibe and stay stylishly subdued while still offering highlights of colour? Here are a few pointers to perfecting the pop.
The first solution is a simple one, but one that still benefits from a little forward planning. You can get the pop-on with a few accessories. That means anything removable or swappable, which is great when you perfect your look before you head out. So think bags, hats, scarves, brooches, belts, bangles and even buttonholes.
If you remember the colour wheel from your school art lessons, you can get clues about what colours to match with your outfit. The primary colours (red, yellow and blue) have opposites (green, purple and orange). Those contrasting colours can work in small amounts, so if your outfit has a hue that edges towards one of the primaries, you can pick its opposite for the pops. Opposites also apply to the brightness, so pop light with dark and dark with light. Red and green do tend to live up to the warning maxim (i.e. they should never be seen), but that only applies if they are both muted or both bright. A subtle pop of light green will work wonders on a very dark red or tartan.
Another, more subtle way to pop is to use the colours adjacent to the wheel. So a red-tinted dark neutral can use a lighter orange or purple highlight. That works particularly well with browns and burgundies.
If your outfit is a strictly neutral grey or black, you’ve got a lot more freedom with your pops, as more or less any colour will set it off. Some combinations work better than others, though, especially against the grey. Orange or yellow goes fantastically with a dark grey, while reds and blues work well on mid-greys.
One final note on accessorising – it tends to work best in odd numbers. A single highlight can often stand out more than two, but three start to look like a theme, so as long as they’re subtle, three can be optimal. Try some jaunty arrangements, too, as looking too symmetrical can make the highlights cancel each other out. If you’re popping with shoes, gloves, tights or earrings, the two count as one, mind you. Wearing different coloured gloves might not quite achieve the measured, in-control look you’re going for!
If you’re looking for a bag or purse that delivers on your demand for colour, you’ve got to check out our magnificent collection. It’s easy to imagine any of these bright and cheerful accessories setting off your dark outfit beautifully, and as long as you keep it within the complementary guidelines, you’re laughing. You might want to grab a few colours while you’re here, though – there’s one for every shade you want to wear.
Accessories are fab because you can collect, mix, and match them as you cycle through your outfits and seasons. But there’s always a nagging doubt that you’ve got it wrong, however unjustified that feeling is. Your second option, therefore, is to choose clothes that come pre-popped. That way, you’re letting professional designers, who already understand colour, highlights, balance and taste, give you an off-the-peg look that mixes the subdued and the flashes of colour to perfection. Let’s take a look at some examples.
One way of introducing pop into knitwear is to have a subtle detail on a part that’s sometimes hidden. Look at the Astrid cashmere jumper, particularly the one in gunmetal with magenta and turquoise highlights on the sleeves. Gunmetal is a dark grey that has a slight infusion of a cooler colour, such as purple or blue, which gives it a high-quality, almost slate-like, hue. Following the adjacent colour rule above, the perfect flashes would be in a light blue or purple, and that’s precisely what the designers have done with the repeating star pattern. See how perfectly it fits? The beauty of highlighting down the sleeves is that you can be uniformly subdued when wearing a blazer or coat (with optional accessories, of course), but once you’re indoors or post-work, off comes the outer layer. You’re left with a beautiful jumper that will pop through the winter months.
The Scatter Star jumper uses the same theory to add interest to a relatively muted grey top. The charcoal one has stars in a subtly varied constellation of colours, with white being dominant and a pastel peach bringing those complementary colours. There’s also the superb Stella cashmere jumper, which has a single star just above the elbow, but again, there’s a blend of two shades in the star itself. While this might not technically be a pop of colour, the lighter shades of grey serve the same purpose, so roll with it. As ever, accessories can turn up the volume a notch.
Astrid’s more straight-laced sister is Farrah, but we think you’ll agree Farrah’s bold berry stripes running from shoulder to wrist are more than a match for the star-spangled decoration. This is a stunning jumper. With its relatively close fit that cashmere allows, it works elegantly with jeans, leggings or even a skirt if you’re going for a more bohemian look. But like Astrid, it’s that blend of gunmetal and berry that works because they are complementary in hue.
We’re going to be a bit biased regarding clothing recommendations, but the rules above naturally apply to the whole range of clothing available. Look out for those complementary colours when browsing online or in the shops, and think about what you will match them with. We tend not to wear a jumper and trousers in the same colour, for example, so if you’ve got a pair of blue jeans in mind for a charcoal jumper, look out for highlights in the blue region of the spectrum, as they are going to work the best as flashes.
Accessorising gives you a little more leeway when keeping a whole outfit balanced, especially if you’ve got a varied collection of scarves, bags, shoes and so on. But if you’re relying on accessories to bring the pops of colour to your winter wardrobe, perhaps steer towards single-colour jumpers and cardigans, as knitted-in highlights alongside accessories can take away the impact of the pops, which are meant to be subtle and focused rather than spilling out everywhere.
However you choose to bring elements of colour to a traditionally muted winter wardrobe, there’s so much you can do to make your clothing sing and add little elements of interest to it. Whether mixing and matching your own collection of accessories or using the designer’s expertise to bring balance and poise, those little pops will have a big impact.