As the days grow shorter, it can be tempting to void your wardrobe of colour so you don’t end up looking out of place, a sore thumb against a backdrop of cloudy skies and rain-slicked asphalt.
But that’s not to say you should give in to a dull palette entirely. If anything, wearing the right colours is key during the colder months, helping you to raise your game to a level that’s worthy of hat tips.
To assist, we’ve sifted through the spectrum to bring you four easy-to-master colour combinations for the season ahead:
1. Navy & Burgundy
A must for lending your warm-weather looks a Gallic flavour, red and blue works just as well for autumn/winter provided you do a little fine tuning. Bold, saturated red and blue hues look their best in the bright light of the spring/summer season, while darker shades like navy and burgundy are a better fit once the weather turns.
It’s a sentiment that was echoed on autumn/winter 2015 catwalks, too. At Banana Republic, burgundy knits and layered outerwear were offset by tailored trousers in navy (a masterclass in making this colour combination wearable), while Viktor & Rolf folded the two colours into one piece with red-and-navy panelled tailored joggers and a Chevron track jacket that looks a lot smarter than it sounds.
The best way to try this combo is to treat the darker, red element of your look as the focal point and use navy pieces to frame it. Put simply, buy one standout piece in burgundy – whether a fine gauge roll neck, chunky cable knit jumper, wool blazer, or even a coat – and anchor with navy staples such as tees, Oxford shirts, chinos and dark wash jeans.
You can mix and match whichever pieces you like so long as burgundy stays the focus of attention while other colours like white, grey and navy provide behind-the-scenes support.
2. Blue & Green
Fresh from its appearance in our spring/summer 2015 round-up, this pairing has been picked up by several key designers again this season. Gone are the sky blues and sea greens and in their place are darker, richer, cold weather-ready shades like military green and navy – as seen at Bally, Kenzo and Nigel Cabourn.
A navy parka or overcoat worn over a military green jumper and punctuated by a pair of grey trousers is completely foolproof, while the reverse looks just as good, too. In the name of versatility, we suggest you plump for a green piece of outerwear – be it a moss green field jacket or a light olive drab bomber jacket – which will work just as well with black and grey as it does our blue-led ensembles.
Or, you could take a leaf out of Christopher Kane’s book and use navy as a grounding base for graphic prints rendered in shades of green.
3. Camel & Black
Indisputably timeless, colour combinations really don’t come more refined than camel and black. Pairing these two versatile hues results in a contrast that’s striking but still totally wearable, working across everything from casual getups to all-tailored looks.
Designer of the moment, J.W.Anderson delivered a characteristically quirky rendition on the combo, layering graduated striped camel coats over zippered funnel neck jumpers and wide-leg trousers in black and charcoal, respectively. It wasn’t exactly an outfit you’d wear down the local, but it looked undeniably sophisticated.
While you’d be hard pushed to mess this pairing up, by far the best way to wear it is by teaming a no-frills, well-cut camel overcoat with some black separates. We especially like how a jet black or charcoal fine gauge roll neck looks under a camel coat, but you’d still earn props for an equally smart line-up of a white button-down and black loopback cotton sweatshirt.
For a more laid-back take, try throwing a camel sweatshirt, jumper or long-sleeved T-shirt on underneath a slick black leather biker jacket. Alternatively, take the look full-length by trying on a pair of camel chinos and subbing in a white tee to tie it all together.
4. Grey & Grey
Hardly an earth-shattering development, we know, but grey is an unequivocal must for the not-so-sunny season. And never more so than this year, with designers such as Alexander Wang and Calvin Klein Collection’s Italo Zucchelli unveiling collections almost exclusively in shades of grey, incorporating a wide range of outfits that – despite their monochromatic focus – looked multi-dimensional, hyper-textural and, above all, effortlessly cool.
But there’s a fine line between an all-grey getup that’s on-point and one that’s the style equivalent of watching a particularly dull, uninspired shade of paint dry.
If you’re wearing the same colour head to toe, you’ll need to come up with more inventive ways of punctuating your look – and the trick is keeping texture in mind. It could be as simple as mixing a cotton shirt with a wool overcoat and flecked wool trouser. Or layering up a pair of concrete-coloured jeans, a loopback cotton sweatshirt and a nylon bomber jacket.
As well as texture, opt for subtle variations in the shades of grey you put together – e.g. slate with charcoal and cool grey, or cadet grey with pewter and fog. As a rule, stick to darker shades for the majority of your ensemble if your skin is on the fairer side, or branch out into cooler hues if you’ve got the warm skin tone to take it.
Sticking exclusively to colours like black, navy and grey simply because it’s colder outside is a cop-out. Incorporating a spectrum of shades is just as, if not more, important for the autumn and winter months as for the fair-weather season – boosting both your mood and your style.
Bookmark these tried and trusted pairings and you’ll clean up when it comes to colour this season.
Are there any other autumn/winter-ready pairings you stand by?
Make sure you share them below.