How to dress like a grown up with Sarah Bailey: Finally! Head-to-toe beige is no longer ‘blah’
- Sarah Bailey took inspiration from Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection
- The beige trend has been seen on the Duchess of Sussex and Kendall Jenner
- Sarah shared advice for embracing the trend at any occasion this season
- She suggests mixing shades of beige for a flattering look
As someone who loves to wear colour, it feels hypocritical — heretical even — to be writing a column in praise of beige.
But if you are hitting the shops this weekend in search of something to get you out of the winter slump and give you a much-needed hint of spring, the High Street is awash with neutral colour.
From sensual shift dresses (£35, marksandspencer.com) to oversized trench coats (Topshop’s slouch coat is on my wish list, £75, topshop.com), there is no use fighting it. The much-maligned neutral is back. You don’t need to me to tell you beige is the colour with the worst PR ever, a byword for ‘blah’, boring and ‘meh’.
And if, like me, you lived through the Seventies, your childhood was likely touched by some nightmarish beige associations — from leatherette sofas and wardrobes full of unbreathable synthetics to inexplicable macrame items.
Sarah Bailey shared advice for embracing the head-to-toe beige trend as seen on Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex (pictured)
So what, then, has sparked the beige renaissance? Look no further than Riccardo Tisci, the new creative director at Burberry. Many expected Tisci, an Italian gothic romanticist whose dark creations brought him fame at Givenchy, to bring 50 shades of noir to the Burberry catwalk.
But he confounded expectations by presenting his Spring/Summer 2019 collection last September in what every fashion critic was excited to note was ‘50 shades of beige’.
From models Stella Tennant in slightly kinky, shiny caramel-toned separates, to Natalia Vodianova in frothy latte hues, there was no escaping the colour. And as the new season clothes start to hit the stores, it’s Burberry’s unmissable ad campaign that has the fashion world abuzz. The cool status of beige looks unassailable.
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Conscious or not, you can see why Tisci might have been inspired to embrace all things raw and neutral as he takes the Burberry brand back to its origins and begins to shape his signature at the house. The house’s iconic raincoat is, of course, beige.
The pitfalls of beigeness still exist, mind you. Remember: you’re channelling Lauren Hutton’s classic Seventies trench look (I like Massimo Dutti’s double-breasted wool coat £249, massimodutti.com); or perhaps Anjelica Huston in a Halston cashmere cape (Zara has a fantastic cape on the ‘camel’ side of the beige spectrum. It’s in the sale at £29.99, so hurry! (zara.com). Also, the shade of beige you go for is absolutely key. What will look fresh and flattering on one skin tone will be draining on another.
Kendall Jenner (pictured) wore head-to-toe beige down Burberry’s catwalk for their Spring/Summer 2019 collection
From my spin around the High Street last weekend, I can tell you that the more ‘clotted cream’ tones look better with my colouring (blonde, pinkish complexion), while olive and dark skins look great with the more camel and tan shades of beige. And make sure you look for fabrics with a heavier texture that fall well.
There are a lot of beige-on-beige looks around, but bear in mind that a head- to-toe ensemble often works best when you mix up your neutrals.
The Scandi fashion set are the masters of this kind of dressing. In fact, And Other Stories has a brilliant capsule collection of ‘winter white’ pieces, designed in Stockholm, that are perfect for layering. I’ve got a crush on their oversized plaid overshirt in shades of coffee and cream (£159, stories.com).
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- Consider mixing shades of beige if you are wearing it top-to-toe — it’s more flattering.
- A white ankle boot will give a pop of modernity to a beige look.
- Beige can wash you out, so look for a shade that works well with your skin tone.
- And take a fresh eye to your make-up. A bright lip can lift your whole look.
That’s not to say you can’t mix beige with other colours: A black rollneck (try layering it under a white shirt) continues to look good with beige pants or an A-line skirt. White boots look fresher and more modern with a beige outfit than matchy beige shoes.
As the weather warms up, you can mix in the tobacco and turmeric shades that fashion dictates will be spicing up our summer wardrobes.
And should I feel a bit ‘meh’, I’ll be adding a slick of bright, coral-red lipstick to all of the above. Once a colour lover…
Sarah Bailey is executive brand editor at Porter.
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