Banish the January blacks from your wardrobe

Get some vibrant colour into your life this month. You’ll look better and it will lift your mood during the post-Christmas slump


I had myself a merry little Christmas. I even managed a happy new year. I spent the last month waist-deep in glitter and fluffy reindeer antlers and I ate my way to the bottom of the Roses bucket. But now it’s January and it feels a bit like the fun is over. I’ve noticed that my sullen mood is resulting in a sartorial slump. When I open my wardrobe, all I’m drawn to is black. More than anything, I want to return to my colour-loving sparkly Christmas self. And why shouldn’t I? Having a light-hearted approach to fashion is not just for Christmas.

Caitlin Moran, in her book How to Be a Woman, describes leopard print, gold sequins and silver lamé as “neutrals”, and I couldn’t agree more. The January blues don’t have to be so black. In fact they could actually be blue. Or green. Or yellow. Or all three together. Instead of falling deeper into that black hole in my wardrobe, I’m going to try to turn things around. It’s important to remember that clothes reflect mood, but they also influence it, so we should all try to add a flash of colour to our outfits this month, and lift a spirit or two in the process. Think of it as a public service.

Flattering and chic

Black became code for flattering and chic some time in the early 1980s. Since Comme des Garçons announced “Red as Black” for its 1989 autumn-winter collection, colour has been held hostage as rival to the monochromatic tone.

Each season one colour is picked from the crowd and heralded as “the new black”, but really, we end up back where we started.

But is black as easy and fashionable as everyone thinks? Very few people are flattered by the tone, especially around the face: the lack of colour has a draining effect. A nice peach shade, for example, will bounce light off your face and flatter your skin, whereas black will absorb the light, and you want as much of the light as you can get.

A black outfit can also come across as dull and flat, the lack of colour resulting in a sort of disappearing effect on people. Yes it can be slimming, but no more than a dark brown or green or navy. Black says “Don’t look at me. I am just going to stand here in the corner.” And no one puts baby in the corner.

As for chic, in my mind there are far more fashion props to be had in the delicate balancing of a polka-dot print and a lime-green blouse. Black brings to mind market crashes and melancholy; colour makes me think of sunsets and sweets. Wearing colour gives the impression of confidence and creativity. A colourful outfit communicates to the world that you are not afraid and that you have nothing to hide.

So, now I’ve convinced you, what colours should you try? Start by considering your natural colour palette. The most basic way to break it down is by hair colour. Blues, for example, often look great on blondes, and green tones can look beautiful on brunettes. In saying this, don’t get too caught up in the details. When it comes down to it, you just need to try the thing on. If your reflection appears healthier, you know you’re heading in the right direction.


Blue T-shirt

For men, a simple blue T-shirt, such as the one above from James Perse, would be a great place to start. Or you could try bringing the colour right to your face with a unisex wool beanie from Paul Smith.

Outerwear is so often black. Take a glance down any high street for proof. This red coat from Karen Millen will mark you out from the crowd and is ultra-flattering and warm.

Wearing print makes it easy to introduce colour to your wardrobe, as you don’t have to commit too much to any one shade. This Alice and Olivia blouse would look great over jeans.


Colour-blocking is the next level up, and involves mixing and matching large areas of contrasting colour. It’s the “so wrong it’s right” of dressing and can be great fun. Try this gorgeous jumper from Cos for an introduction to it or go with this matching House of Holland set from Brown Thomas.


If you are really terrified at the prospect of giving up your beloved funereal garb, accessories can add colour and fun to an outfit. Glimpses of a colourful sock, or even a cufflink, such as these ones from Arnotts, provide the whimsy we so desperately desire. And don’t forget the king of accessories: the handbag. This bag from Kate Spade has colour and humour and will definitely raise a smile.

Finally, if you really want to go all-out, we think this jumper from Nowhere on Aungier Street, Dublin, ticks all the right boxes.

Now go forth and find your own rainbow connection.

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