Bright colours are just for summer, right? Wrong! It’s easy to fall into the trap of associating your yellows, reds, oranges, and light blues with summertime. They are, after all, the colours of everything we associate with the season – sea, sand, cloudless sky, and floral displays. It’s probably why many of us reach for the neutrals when autumn and winter come around. Those greys, browns, and blacks seem to fit the environment – and possibly our mood.
But there are plenty of reasons to ignore those instincts in winter. Bright colours are just perfect as an accompaniment to the muted tones of the natural world. They’re also a bit of a tonic for a time of year when we’re craving a little heat and light in our lives, just when the evening seems to come far too soon every day. So before you pack away your beloved bright clothing for the winter, have a look at our guide to technicolour when everything else is in black and white.
It’s no coincidence that the highlight of the social calendar happens at the exact nadir of winter. The Romans had Saturnalia, a festival of gift-giving, partying, and the annual tradition of masters waiting on their slaves. The Celts celebrated the winter solstice with more feasting and festivities, and of course, they gave us the idea of decorating a tree, which we still do today. And the Germanic people and Vikings, who really had the toughest of winters, would also spread the cheer in their Yule celebrations. Cue more light, feasting, and wild gatherings that make the average office Christmas party look like the local book club tombola!
In other words, there’s something innately human about introducing light, colour, and conviviality into your life when the world around you is doing the opposite. And your wardrobe can play a wonderful role in fulfilling that particular need.
So, instead of pulling on your rusty browns and cool grey (however gorgeously autumnal they are), just go for it with a splash of colour to warm your soul. If it’s a little nippy out, why not snuggle up in a vivacious jumper? The Kiera star jumper comes in hot pink and berry and feels like you’re wearing a Caribbean sunset, regardless of what the British weather’s doing. Or go for an even richer interpretation of winter warmth with the Astrid Jumper? It’s the colour of the glühwein (translation: smoldering wine) you get from the Christmas market, and we all know how a mug of that makes us feel, don’t we?
Christmas isn’t the only celebration that brings us all together at the tail end of the year. We’re also treated to an international phenomenon and a uniquely British affair – Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Thanks to the pumpkins we’ve carved for generations, orange has become the Official Colour of Halloween by order of the Department of Taste. It also happens to be a lovely rich and balmy colour, occupying the centre of the warm section of the colour wheel. If you’re out shopping you’re going to see orange highlights everywhere during a Halloween season that seems to get longer every year. And that means it’s the perfect opportunity to bring a little orange into your life.
You could shop around for an orange jumper or coat, but we can probably all agree that unbroken orange can be a bit much, and struggles to complement other clothing as it’s so dominant. If you do want to take that route, try and find something towards the redder part of the spectrum, as that better complements jeans and dark greys.
However, orange is a wonderful highlight colour, as you can see from the Tess jumper in pink – note the orange flashes separating the hem and cuffs from the main body and arms. They just bring enough orange to stand out without being overwhelming. Or how about an accessory? The cowhide purse comes in a vivid warm orange, and it’ll brighten you up every time you open it.
Five days after Halloween, when you’ve finally finished off your kids’ confiscated chocolates, there’s another celebration, this time with every colour under the moon. How many of us go out to watch a firework display on Guy Fawkes’ Night and then head off to a bar or restaurant to tuck into some delicious warm food or a cheeky drink? The atmosphere is always fantastic, and it’s the perfect opportunity to show off a bit of colour to match the mood.
You can get more out of the star design, for example with a warming coral-coloured jumper, this time featuring sparkly lurex thread that catches the light like a thousand fireworks. Or how about a great aqua and teal jumper, like the Robyn design, which really lights you up on a cold evening with its rich, organic glow. There’s a hint of hygge going on with the design, too, thanks to the ordered geometry of the central pattern.
Going colourful when the world around you is dressing drab is a great way to stand out. Depending on how brave and outgoing you are, you don’t have to have volume control when it comes to colours. Even though something subtly colourful will give you a slight edge, why not go all the way and step out in a rainbow of shades? A lively stripy jumper worn under a red overcoat, or light blue trousers against a warm brown patterned jumper will work a treat, and ensure nobody thinks you’ve let the long nights get to you.
Just have a look at your summertime wardrobe and see if there are any perfect layering opportunities. A bright T-shirt can be worn under a more muted cardigan, for example. It just looks the part and makes you stand out enough to look like you’re not trying. And of course, there’s always room for an array of colours in your accessories. If you are dressed a little more mutedly, through taste or uniform requirements, there’s nothing to stop you from making your hat, scarf, shoes, or bag a beacon of colour against the muted backdrop.
Colour is known to help lift your mood, and there’s no better way to put it into action than to actually be wearing it. It just makes you feel confident and approachable, and for many of us, that’s exactly what we feel like we’re lacking in the wintertime. Every time you catch yourself in the mirror, you’re going to get a little tingle, so just imagine how you’re going to lift all the people around you, whether it’s friends, family, or colleagues.
Obviously, you still need to exercise judgment in your clothing. If you like to feel great but don’t want to stand out too much, it’s all about small sections of colour against darker dominating colours. Look for complementary pairings, like mustard yellow and black; turquoise and tan; powder blue and pastel purple; pink and green; or the absolute classic, teal and scarlet.
It’s always possible to find garments that feature two complementing colours, but it can give you more options if you have a wardrobe full of single-colour items that you can mix and match. Black might not seem like the first shade you’d think of when considering colour, but it forms the canvas for absolutely any bright colour you can imagine, and it’s always going to enhance the one you choose.
Pink is surprisingly cross-compatible, too, especially a subtle pastel shade. It goes beautifully with a darker brown, most shades of red, olive greens, and white, but its most natural match is probably a darker blue – the two colours really set each other off, and there’s that sweet combination that looks confident and lively even though (and perhaps because) it shouldn’t really work.
Colour and winter really are the best of friends, especially when it comes to fashion. As we’ve seen, humans have a real craving for colour, warmth, and light, and we can bring at least two of them to the party with some well-chosen winter wear.
It’s a time for celebration and getting together with friends and family, but it’s also a period when we spend quite a lot of our days and nights outdoors. Pulling on something infused with summery shades just makes the winter seem a little more friendly and reassuring, just when we need it the most.