Ok, so in the second of my new season direction posts, I want to talk about colour trends Autumn – Winter 18. There’s a temptation at this time of year to leave bright colours behind with summer and slide into a wardrobe of neutrals – blacks, greys and navys. I think it’s partly because we often subconsciously associate September with the start of school term and so there’s that whole uniform reference in our minds but also because it’s just easier to fade to grey. As soon as you start having to factor multiple pieces worn in various layers into an outfit, neutrals are just simpler. The problem for midlifers is that unless you have a strong natural skintone, as your own colouring starts to fade (in terms of complexion and hair), neutrals can just look and feel drab.

To back-check this theory I spent some time analysing both my own and other over-40 Instagram accounts. It’s noticeable that the posts featuring outfits in bold colours that suit the wearer get far more likes and engagement than neutrals, even if the neutral outfits work well. Colour just gives you a boost.

Now of course there’s a whole industry dedicated to colour analysis and I’m not an expert although I know some of you are. However over the years I’ve learned what suits me largely by making mistakes along the way. Long term readers will remember that when I was invited to ‘have my colours done,’ the autumnal palette that I was given just didn’t work for me, even though I agreed with it as we were going through the process. It was only when my sister went to see a different consultant and was defined as a ‘Blue Spring’ that I had a eureka moment.

If you feel unsure about your own best colours, there are a number of ways that you can uncover them

  • See a colour consultant
  • Think about the colours that you know you look good in and then go to the colour charts on the Kettlewell Colours website to find your grouping (go to the shop by colour section)
  • Have a look at Imogen Lamport’s blog which is completely dedicated not only to understanding your colour palette, but also to defining things like the level of contrast that will suit you. It explains why the classic colour consultant solution of two strong colours and a scarf in a third really doesn’t work for everyone.

Autumn 2018 colour trends

The reason that I want to help you to define your own best colours is that there are some incredibly strong and powerful shades around this autumn. Some, such as the many shades of brown, will be completely new to some people because they haven’t been around for such a long time. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re going to feel lost when you start shopping in this season’s sartorial paintbox.

Why is bright colour such a dominant trend at the moment? As so often with fashion it’s partly socio-political. Whenever there’s a lot of bad news and uncertainty, humans find a way to cheer themselves up and colour is a solace. Years of boom tend to be filled with cool, soft colours and years of bust turn warm and vibrant.

I’m being strict with myself this year because as soon as I see the first autumn leaves, I usually head for every shade of burgundy and although I love it, it really doesn’t suit me. Luckily there’s less of it around to tempt me this year. In fact Grazia has declared that AW18 is simply down to a choice between purple and brown:

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

… but when you look through the reality of the new collections on the high street, there are a lot of other strong colours coming through too. These are the most dominant that I’m seeing:

Worked with a selection of these neutrals:

Of course it’s all well and good knowing what the colour trends are but then you need to work out how you’re going to wear them. There are three key ways.

1. Colour blocking

The really eye-catching outfits are the ones that contrast the strong palette to dramatic effect.

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Left: funnel neck jumper; blouse; trousers; boots (coming soon)

Centre: Jumper; culottes; boots (coming soon); bag

Right: Jumper; trousers; boots (coming soon);

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Left: coat; top; culottes (coming soon); boots (coming soon); bag

Centre: coat; top; culottes; boots (coming soon);

Left: coat; top; culottes; boots (coming soon); bag

2. Tonal

If that feels like too much, the other option is to go tonal. This year neutrals have moved on. Step away from black and grey and pull together the toffee colours that are out there. Add chocolate or grey to give them more depth but unless you have a strong skin-tone, avoid too much black.

While we’re on the subject of black, I’ve told you before about the uber-stylish, Sorbonne-educated style director that I worked with at Selfridges. I once asked her what she saw as the biggest mistake that British women in particular made when it came to style. She surprised me with her answer by saying “wearing colours with black. Black is best kept as part of a monochrome scheme – with grey, ivory or you can stretch it to tan. Of course it doesn’t apply to every British woman but the classic English rose doesn’t have the depth in her colouring that is required to carry off the contrast of schemes such as red and black or bright blue and black. She needs to pair a bright colour with another bright or something softer such as camel, grey, navy or brown.”

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Left: coat; jumper (coming soon); skirt

Right: coat; jacket; top; gloves; bag

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Jumper (coming soon); satin wrap skirtsock boots

3. Neutral with a contrast

The final option is to go this way and contrast one of the brights with a warm neutral

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Jumper; skirt; coat; maxi scarf; boots

Outfit details

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Dress; Bag; Boots

Jumper; Tweed skirt; Boots; Bag

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Scarf; checked coat; jumper; wide cropped jeans (coming soon); shoes; bag

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Coat; jacket (coming soon); jumper; shirt; trousers; shoes

You can always take baby steps…

I have two posts coming up where I’m setting myself the challenge of putting this winter’s brights together to see how easy it is. In the meantime, your homework is to try to identify a new colour to try this season because it will really update your wardrobe. Even if you decide to take baby steps and begin with an accessory – yellow boots or a scarlet bag – you can’t go wrong with a scarlet bag and… I have some beautiful new bags coming to the Midlifechic Boutique at the end of September.

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

Outfit details

A big thank you to Dove

Before I go I just want to say a big thank you to Dove for supporting these trend posts. They approached me in the summer to work with them on the launch of Dove Invisible Care, the new deodorant that has been specifically developed for people who love bright clothes. It leaves no white marks on over 100 colours. I discussed this colour trend post with them and they felt it was the perfect fit.

Although it may appear to be a simple post to write, it actually takes ages because rather than just searching online for whatever Pantone have declared to be the colour of the season, I analyse all of the pictures that I take at press days to find the commonalities. This way I can tell you what you’re really going to find on the high street. However it requires a lot of time and our very efficient accounts chap is keeping a beady eye on the hours I take away from my day job and reporting them back to me. So, Dove’s support on this has enabled me to justify it to him!

Colour trends Autumn - Winter 18

A deodorant created specifically for people who love wearing colour

Invisible Care is new, I’ve been testing it for the last few weeks and it’s true – even when you roll on the tightest, brightest top there are none of those white stripes down your side. Other great things are that it doesn’t contain any alcohol thus helping your underarm skin to recover from any irritation caused by shaving and it lasts for 48 hours so you’ll even be fragrant when you wake up in the morning.

I’ve always used Dove deodorant and the middle son borrowed it one morning when we were in transit this summer. He said it smelt like safety and rather lyrically explained that it was the fragrance of being picked up and held when he was little. So if he ever makes it as a famous actor and is interviewed by The Times, when he’s asked what reminds him of his mother it won’t be Chanel No 5 – it’ll be Dove!

So, I hope you’ll join me in boosting your autumn wardrobe with some colour. If ever there was a year to do it, it’s this one. I’ll be back on Friday with my first colour filled session where I’ll be playing around with the blues, oranges and yellows that are to be found in the new collection from John Lewis & Partners.

Disclosure: ‘Colour trends Autumn – Winter 18’ was underpinned by Dove Invisible Care whose support enabled me to spend time defining the colours of the season away from the beady eyes of my accountant!

Other Autumn/Winter 18 posts you may have missed

Key wearable trends AW18

How to wear Hush when you don’t do slouchy

Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo AW18 review

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