Indulge in chocolate this winter – guilt free! How to dress like a grown up with SHANE WATSON
- Browns from caramel to 90 per cent cocoa are the new wardrobe base colours
- READ MORE: Polish up your act in tailored pinstripes
Something surprising happened last week. I bought a pair of brown corduroy trousers — something I haven’t worn since my mum was buying my clothes back in the 1970s.
There are some black cords in my wardrobe but I didn’t give them a second thought when I picked up the brown pair: I didn’t think, ‘hang on, those black ones will do the job just as well’ because they wouldn’t.
They’d look colder, older, a lot more ordinary, and definitely not so autumn 2023.
What’s surprising is that the colour I last wore in any significant amount in my teens, is not just in fashion, big time, but looking like an easy and obvious alternative to black.
When I went out on Friday wearing the cords (more of the going out appropriateness of brown in a minute), a girlfriend swooped down to check out my legs and exclaimed: ‘Brown? Ooh! Nice!’.
Ashley Roberts channels the new trend is a metallic brown co-ord paired with a cream bag
Warm hues: Olivia Wilde wore brown suede knee-high boots with a long tweed coat and fringed bag
Later on, when my fashion editor friend rang and I reported having just bought some cords, she simply assumed they were brown.
She also guessed they were Me+Em (£195, meandem.com) which happen to be a great shape, barely flared with patch pockets and a mid-rise waist, while going on to sing the praises of Massimo Dutti’s chocolate needlecords (£69.95, massimodutti.com) and Marks & Spencer’s bitter chocolate wide-leg cord trousers (£39.50, marksandspencer.com).
She would say I’m late to the brown party: all the browns, from caramel to 90 per cent cocoa, are the new wardrobe base colours. And it’s true, I’ve been slow to accept this fact.
But there’s no other way to say this — brown really is the new black, especially if it’s dark enough for you to have to do a double take.
If you’re buying a basic wardrobe building block, dark brown is now the colour that looks new and polished, the one that will sit comfortably with all the other colours out there, from bright blue and plum to red and green.
If you’re young you can wear all the shades of brown all over if you fancy; if you’re not young, it’s got the same advantages as navy — it’s softer, warmer and more forgiving against older skin than black, and it works well, if not better, around the clock.
For example, you can wear a coloured top with chocolate brown trousers and look smart and work ready or dressed for Friday night; whereas bright colours and black together always looks a little bit like Christmas party time.
Likewise brown and light grey or cream is a luxurious- looking daytime combination, whereas black plus grey or cream has the potential to look cold.
Hot cocoa: Tory Burch 2023 showed a long brown coat paired with a bright green leather handbag
It’s easier to experiment with colours if you put them with brown. And brown is less formal and more evening-friendly than a neutral such as grey.
It’s also true that brown is not nearly so easy for us grown-ups to wear as it is for our daughters.
You need to consider the texture — a chocolate corduroy or velvet is a very different prospect to a flat brown crepe — a bit of sheen doesn’t go amiss, and tone is crucial.
And don’t wear it next to your face. There’s nothing that can kill a complexion faster than donkey or mouse, and if you want to avoid accidentally looking like a penitent, stick to the bitter chocolates and don’t wear it head-to-toe.
BROWN: THE NEW RULES
- Go for dark chocolate shades.
- Choose brown rather than black leather.
- Select textured fabrics like cord.
- Wear brown in place of black.
Luxury shirt company With Nothing Underneath (WNU) has added a delicious-looking chocolate poplin shirt to its range (£95, withnothingunderneath.com) which has that crucial bit of sheen and would be a great alternative to a black top for dressing up jeans (just add a midnight-blue velvet jacket — £79, marksandspencer.com).
M&S has a satin midaxi slip skirt in chocolate (£35) which you can wear in the day with boots and a hip-length roll- neck sweater or a longer split-sided sweater.
Otherwise you can try a pencil skirt with a bit of sheen (£87, arket.com) less severe than black and smart with an open blazer.
Brown is a colour that always works best in more luxurious fabrics.
A faux leather-effect blazer (£89.99, shop.mango.com) or a bitter chocolate cord single-breasted blazer (£79, marksandspencer.com) worn over a black sweater and trousers for the office looks stealth-wealthy and businesslike rather than hitman.
Finally, a dark burnt orangey brown will make a spicy alternative to a black tuxedo this party season (£119, shop.mango.com), with trousers to match (£79.99).
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