Pop culture is littered with tributes to bright, bold colours. Lady In Red. Pretty In Pink. Purple Rain.
Red, pink, purple. These are the colours of passion and romance – the very opposite of fashion’s current favourite colour, which is… beige.
Yes, beige, the colour of nude underwear, milky tea and chinos, a colour that is the subject of precisely zero love songs and which is absolutely no one’s idea of passion or romance, is the trend setting the fashion world alight right now.
It’s time to cast aside beige’s safe, boring reputation.
But it’s time to cast aside beige’s safe, boring reputation. This season, beige – and its marginally more appealing-sounding cousins, oatmeal, caramel, ivory, cream and cinnamon – have become the uniform of choice for everyone from Meghan Markle to Kim Kardashian (not to mention every minimalist blogger from here to Milan).
“Beige can now be worn in a way that’s very chic and contemporary. It can look very fresh,” says stylist Aileen Marr, a recent beige convert, who views neutrals, from cream to chocolate, as the new wardrobe building block – a little like denim or black. “It’s very wearable. I just realised I have four beige boilersuits and I don’t even know how that happened!”
And yet for those of us not possessed of a flawlessly creamy complexion, a limitless dry-cleaning budget or a wardrobe so vast and fashion-forward that it can apparently accommodate four beige boilersuits, beige can feel like a tricky trend to pull off.
One long-time fan is photographer and writer Ally May Carey. “I love neutral tones,” says Ally, who stepped in as our model this week. “With my complexion – I’m quite fair in winter – I think neutrals are the most complementary colours for me. They’re also the colours of nature – and I’m an outdoors kind of gal.”
L: C&M Faith blazer; C&M Alida pant; Reliquia Maxine headband; Chuck 70 Low Top black trainers. R: Zimmermann Sabotage Check Cropped Jacket (available August); Bassike Button-Detail rust cashmere knit; Elka Collective knit skirt; Pretty Little Thing white cleated sole sneakers; Seed bucket bag.
Self-deprecating and fun, Ally divides her time between Sydney and Thredbo (she is a keen skier and her partner, Will, lives in Thredbo). She has been writing a blog, Substance.cc, since 2010 (which, in influencer terms, makes her one of the blogosphere’s first settlers) and masterminds social media campaigns for the likes of Bonds, Chanel Beauty and David Jones.
For Ally, black is a colour reserved largely for nighttime. “It makes me look quite dressed up. Browns and creams are fresher for me during the day.”
The key to neutral dressing, say both Ally and Aileen, is mixing textures and finding the right shade for your skin tone. Pull off these elements and the effect is modern, polished and confident.
First up, Aileen styled Ally in a chocolate and navy C&M combination that Ally loved. “I’m such a pant girl – you’ll often find me in jeans and a T-shirt,” says Ally, who owns similar trousers from Isabel Marant. The Reliquia headband was another favourite piece.
Navy works well with beige and brown, and Aileen says that white and beige is another easy-to-wear duo. “I like putting neutrals back with white,” says Aileen of this Zimmermann bomber jacket and Elka Collective skirt (which Ally coincidentally owns and is, ahem, currently on sale). “It makes it really fresh.”
L: Tory Burch Embroidered Barn jacket; Tory Burch Embroidered denim skirt; Cooper Pleat and Greet Shirt; Chuck Taylor All Star Frilly Thrills Low Top in melon baller. R: Boden cardigan; Spell V-neck Jumper; Cooper Vest Friends vest; Monse check woven wide-leg pant; Marimekko Janika bag; Teva Flatform universal metallic gold (gold available August).
And yet, prints and patterns work equally as well with neutrals, as evidenced in the looks above. Still one more benefit of beige, says Aileen, is that it works all year round. “It’s seasonless. It can be warm and wintry, or in summer it can be worn in cotton and khaki.” This summer, another beige family member – terracotta – is set to be big. You heard it here first.
Want to try neutrals? Here are Aileen’s tips:
* Look for pieces with texture or interesting details, such as contrast stitching, to avoid looking overly utilitarian
* Want to dip a toe in the trend? Beige trousers, a trench or an A-line skirt is a good start
* White and oxblood or crimson look excellent with shades of beige
* A neutral look lends itself to white, mustard or tan accessories