Fashion: Bright young threads

The style police: Grey is old news now, but it's too early to step into spring's colour. What's a fashion victim to do? James Sherwood provides the answers

Flu? What's all this fuss about it? All you need is a Lemsip, a whiskey chaser and a couple of days under the duvet with J G Ballard. Flu, Style Police can stand. But not the mid-season malaise.

All this month's mags are splashed with spring/summer fashion (need I remind you we are only half way through January?). The catwalk reports are tantalising us with titbits of colour but we're still stuck in the bleak mid-winter. Empress of the blues Bessie Smith probably sang about this mid-season trauma a million years ago: something along the lines of, "I got those 'everything's grey, I'm through with cashmere', low-down maxi blues".

By now, we've all got the season sorted. It's almost too easy to pull on that just-the-right-red John Smedley knit sweater and a pair of charcoal Nicole Farhi combat-cut pants. Even good fashion can get uniform after a few months. You stare miserably at your perfect winter capsule wardrobe and it might as well be prison overalls.

"It's the curse of the fashion editor passed on to the punters, isn't it?" says Susannah Frankel, fashon editor on the Independent. "Just when you've got your winter wardrobe sorted, you are bombarded with all the spring stuff in the fashion pages. You can buy it but you can't wear it and I find that deeply, profoundly upsetting."

You're leafing through February Marie Claire over a double latte and a fag. There's a model in an acid yellow MaxMara sundress pulling a donkey across a double-page spread. Face it, the donkey would look less conspicuous in Coffee Republic than you in canary yellow this time of year.

"We all need a bit of a lift in January," says Marie Claire fashion director Sarah Walter. "Realistically, girls can and do wear the strong coloured spring dresses under the great grey coat for a night out.

"I don't think there's a problem experimenting with new colours right now. Harvey Nichols has already taken delivery of spring Dolce & Gabbana. As a culture, we are holidaying all year round so spring/summer collections are necessary now. Even if you're buying for the UK climate, you can lift grey with one of the vibrant spring sweaters or scarves. Or you can be clever in the sales and look for winter stock - like Top Shop's paisley- print tops - which was a bit ahead of itself."

Fashion retail has a sense of timing to rival the White Rabbit. Unless we are the fabulous nobodies who jet off to Mustique for the month of February, what use is a backless fuchsia sun-dress? Little use, but it is a great psychological ornament. It says hold out for spring. It is begging to be worn somehow, some way.

Last week Style Police had the good fortune to stray into the Office sale shop on St Martin's Lane. What should be waiting there like a lost puppy in the pound but a pair of powder blue suede loafers that were discounted from pounds 59.99 to pounds 20.

It bears out the old Style Police adage that catwalk takes two seasons to make the change from sartorial flashing to street style acceptance. That pair of Hush Puppies wouldn't have worked for spring/summer '98. They would have inspired a few cheap Elvis jokes, maybe; but those shoes are going to kill 'em with nubuck pants and a white T when the world is ready for spring's pastel offensive.

Style writer and self-confessed fashion fox Angela Buttolph says, "Because colour is such a big thing for spring, there is no way you can do it half- heartedly. For people who live in black, like myself, the first time we wear colour will be a momentous occasion.

"People who know me will know I'm wearing colour as a fashion thing. You want to get it right and you cannot look ridiculous. So I need to get the timing right and it isn't time yet."

Ridicule is all too probable if you champion a spring colour and get it wrong. This time round the designers have gone for the scatter technique. Every conceivable colour, from pastels to neons via coffee and cream and nude, is out there. Murky mustard and dull turquoise - colours not seen since Janis Joplin was alive - are meant to be back in business.

"If you live and die in black, then chances are you can live with white," says Susannah Frankel. "I'm not even going near mustard and turquoise. It's very problematic. If you read a good word about them anywhere, ignore it. I once had to write a piece about lime green being a winner. Please! It's all down to your flesh tone, really. I'm sticking to black on top and using colour from the waist down which is going to work."

Style Police isn't going to brave the blue suedes quite yet. So how are we going to get over the mid-season malaise? We prescribe lightening up with one piece of white immediately, gradually rubbing out the grey and black with nudes, milks and creams. Ease into a colour block of pastel (a sweater, pencil skirt or closed-toe strappy kitten heel) well before spring has sprung. But wait until the sun shows its face before braving the hot neons.

Emergency clinic closed.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

    £21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

    Science teachers needed in Norwich

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

    Semi Senior Accountant - Music

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

    English teachers required in Lowestoft

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits