When it comes to dressing in winter, it is always safe to stay neutral. Shades of brown, black and cream – especially when combined in leopard print – can highlight brighter tones like burgundy, bordeaux, rose and olive. These are quiet hues that never go out of fashion and blend well together. High-waisted brown trousers with a contrast sweater, or a pussy-bow shirt topped with a well-fitting jacket, will always cut it for city and workwear. Accessories can then be used to bring in bolder colour.
Varying tones on the same spectrum can have a harmonising effect on outfits. Cream is a practical and more dirt-resistant alternative to white, and both camel and tan are shades of brown that always have a look of luxury.
A neutral palette also doesn't really date, which propels the choices made by some buyers. "Trends aren't for everybody," says Megan Burns, fashion and accessories buyer for Meadows & Byrne. "What I aspire to provide are trans-seasonal, timeless pieces that you can add to your wardrobe."
A fashion design graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design, who started her career working for Blarney Woollen Mills in Cork, followed by four years in London with John Lewis, she is now making her mark as a buyer with a strong design background at Meadows & Byrne. “Even at college, I always wanted my collections to be commercial – I never went wild,” she says.
Though a lifestyle store with 13 branches, many associate Meadows & Byrne with furniture and interiors. But now, says Burns, it's time to push their fashion offer, featured in our photoshoot, which includes a mix of international brands and their own label. Customers, she says, love Emme Marella from Max Mara with its exclusive prints, good fabrics and considered shapes. Others appreciate Selected Femme and Soya Concept, both successful Danish labels, while coats specially made for the shop from Helene Berman in London are a big draw.
Burns works closely with Berman on coats every season and, along with Meadows & Byrne’s own knitwear and trousers, these are what tempt customers each season. It’s a point of difference with competitors, and an alternative to the high street.
So while “neutralising” can mean making something ineffective and reducing its power, it has another meaning entirely when applied to fashion, as this shoot proves so convincingly.
Photographs by Alex Hutchinson; styled by Sinead Keenan; modelled by Charissa du Plessis from Elite