High contrast

Clean lines ensure that a panelled approach to dressing comes across as eclectic rather than indecisive


If the word patchwork suggests floral quilted bedspreads to you, think again. One of the most wearable and lovely trends of the season is a modern version; garments with contrast-colour panels – either sleeves or back and front in opposing colours or a collage of square and rectangular patches. On the spring/summer '13 catwalks, this technique was much in evidence.

Young London designer Eudon Choi patched together patent leather with matte fabrics in various tones of one colour; designers Preen and Erdem showed dresses of composite prints, with snakeskin against florals and even stripes, whereas Paul Smith combined blocks of contrasting fabrics such as a black and white print against vibrant orange and red. In New York, design duo Proenza Schouler achieved a geometric effect in a bold neon and printed palette.

It's one of those rare trends that come along that can be worn every day. The concept of colour panelling is particularly suited to tailored clothes, which are more in fashion than ever right now, thanks to the likes of Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo. It's also the perfect solution for those who'd like to wear colour but draw the line at florals, animal prints or otherwise splashy patterns. It's a trend that can be interpreted as either androgynous or feminine according to taste – whether you're in the market for a mannish shirt buttoned all the way to the collar or a more ladylike A-line skirt or shift dress.

All in all, it opens the door to the pleasantly novel idea of fashionable and appealing professional attire, which is at once suitable for a day in the office and a pleasure to put on.