Golden girls: The quiet charms of camel

It looks expensive and sophisticated, and has finally coaxed the fashion crowd out of head-to-toe black. Gemma Hayward celebrates the quiet charms of camel

With toned-down, understated clothes the order of the day, hot pink was never really going to be the colour of the season. Instead, camel has had a revival – after all it looks luxe and expensive but is less boring than black.

This time around, the sandy shade appears on timeless separates which reference every era from the Fifties through to the cleaner lines of the Nineties. At Chloé, the forerunner in this trend, designer Hannah MacGibbon has focused her attention on the Seventies, where voluminous trousers and long woollen overcoats – think Lauren Hutton in her heyday – are the main attraction.

Gucci offers sharp, straight evening trousers in a high-shine version of the colour, which sit soundly next to soft, egg-shaped wool jackets in caramel. Aquascutum has taken the trend to the max, with sumptuous, floor-skimming wool overcoats. If there's one item that will leave your peers salivating with envy, it's the camel coat.

With the exception of black and navy, wearing one colour head-to-toe can look absurd – but it works rather well with camel. Mix up the shades for a tone-on-tone effect, and don't worry about not matching completely. However, whether you favour tan, toffee, light coffee or caramel – all colours that fit into the camel trend – make sure that the shade suits your skin tone by holding the fabric up to your face. Also, try mixing textures for a pleasingly luxe look. The plethora of impressive camel pieces on the high street confirms this as one of the season's biggest trends. Look out for peg trousers, tactile knits, and suede shorts and dresses.

The easiest way to tap into the trend is with accessories. Tan is au courant and so is the simple satchel, so no need to take last season's Mulberry Alexa to Oxfam just yet. At Lanvin, Marni and Chloe, totes and shoulder bags in natural colours had a ladylike look. After all, it takes a real woman to wear this most refined of shades.