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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Earn Your Stripes


Colour blocking is as retro and as now as it can possibly get. A blossoming trend in the 1950s (think full skirts and dresses with wide contrast hems or a cute stripy nautical look), and a big hit in the 1960s, adding a flash of colour to clean, minimal, straight or A-line cuts. And then, of course, cropping up at least once in every decade before blasting back on the scene this season.

I'm crazy for colour block pieces. They are striking, even conspicuous (a strange thing to say in a season of colour overload, but still), and seemingly un-versatile but, you know what? That's probably the best part. Most people will only look for wear-with-everything pieces, which is the equivalent of creating a fully neutral d├ęcor in your home. Boring.

When it comes to workwear, making a statement is either not encouraged, or worse, not tolerated. Colour blocking and stripes come in handy when you are tired of looking boring, stuck in a style rut, want to celebrate your creativity, or just wishing to find a new sort of strength and confidence, the type you cannot achieve by blending in.

My advice, then? Feast your eyes on colourful, standout clothes, try on each piece that you really like, and find the ones that make you feel great, strong, confident, fabulous and smart, even if it feels a bit far out at first. A great, simple cut, the right length, and the accessories you add will make nearly every well-fitting piece perfect for work.

This week, I styled my bold-coloured, striped A-line skirt with a sleek boatneck top, a leather mini rucksack I've had (but not used) for ages, and two-tone dolly courts (is there such a thing?) for the sheer fun of it.

Keep it brutally simple. Before stepping out, just grab your classic black blazer and some oversized shades, and prepare for the compliments of colleagues and bosses alike.

skirt: Zara, top: some cheap thing from the 1990s, shoes: Schuh, leather rucksack: a market find

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