The Intelligent Consumer: Wearing grey, but feeling blue

Style Police : Grey may be the 'new black', but it's navy we long for. Fashion buyers please note
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Indy Lifestyle Online
When the legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland proclaimed, "Pink is the navy blue of India", we wryly smiled. When an alleged fashion wit came up with "Brown is the new black", we yawned. When, this season, we were told, "Grey is the new black", we frankly thought how fatuous fashion pundits can be. As any sensible person knows, black is the irreplaceable cornerstone of a modern wardrobe. Grey is, however, flooding the market from designer stores to the high street.

"I have had it with any colour being the new black," says Evening Standard fashion editor Mimi Spencer. "But if you are buying neutrals this season, grey is an option. It isn't compulsory. A lot of grey can tend to look institutional - like school uniform. Break it up with black or navy." And there's the rub. The late, great Jean Muir would only wear navy. It is a lesson everyone but the fashion designers have learned. Navy is in short supply this season. But it is the one option women always cry out for.

"About a year ago, it was practically impossible to find a pair of navy shoes," says Joan Burstein, owner of Browns. "Navy is never easy to find in the winter season, yet it is an all-year-round colour. Bring it back. I'm all for it." Finding navy this season may be like looking for the Yeti. Well, get out your flatties because the high street navy hunt will be worth the walk.

French Connection has two strong navy stories for winter: boot-cut stretch satin pants, at pounds 70, and suit jacket, at pounds 130. And I know everyone else has been telling you to buy charcoal-grey, pin-stripe pant-suits, but have a look at their navy, stretch-wool suit, pounds 200, with electric-blue pin-stripes. Next to this, the grey gang will look like an undertakers' convention.

A smart designer option is to go for a Style Police favourite: Issey Miyake's Pleats Please pants, pounds 120. Unlike Madame Vionnet's pleats, Issey's are synthetic stretch, washable and work extremely hard. They also come in grey, so you can please yourself.

Every fashion editor from here to New York will tell you that the little black dress will never die. And quite right, too. But for evening, midnight navy is just that little bit better. Strenesse has walked the tightrope between vampy and tarty with an understated clinging midnight, stretch- wool, cocktail frock, pounds 250. The V-neck swoops low but skims the right side of modesty. The long sleeves are a blessing for women who are not happy baring too much flesh around the shoulders.

And, coming full circle, Miss Muir's label has honoured her impeccable taste by remaining loyal to navy. Julia Ormond has just bought a Jean Muir jersey, halterneck, evening gown with a glamorous fishtail, pounds 611, for the London premiere of Smilla's Feeling for Snow. The navy jacket to buy this season is Jean Muir's signature navy wool crepe with slice neckline and sterling silver single button. As Miss Muir would say: "Keep it simple, Hm?"