Colourful chic off the bold block

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 April, 2011, 12:00am


Colour blocking is one of the seasonal trends you can't miss. Literally. How can you not notice a shade of orange paired with a plane of hot pink? Yes, these colours apply to men as well. You want proof? Head to Joyce and look at the Jil Sander rack.

Looking like a walking Rothko canvas is a strong trend this season. The windows at Zara and H&M show looks such as Yves Klein blue trousers paired with pink shirts with yellow belts or jackets in honeysuckle, with white trousers and moss green moccasins.

Ellsworth Kelly, a contemporary American artist, also uses planes of colours on his canvases. He is a master of colour field painting. You can approach colour blocking dressing using the same philosophy. Tell people that solid shades highlight the tailoring of a jacket or the drape of a shirt or the cut of a pair of trousers instead of giving away that you spend hours poring over magazines and street-style blogs for sartorial cues.

If you are sold on the idea of colour blocking, look for clothes in colours that work for your skin tone and body type. Rich, strong colours like tangerine and hot pink generally work for darker skin while paler shades are best for those with fairer skin.

If you are on the heavy side, avoid punchy colours such as orange or Ferrari red unless you want to be mistaken for a giant fire hydrant. Purple doesn't work either because it renders the wearer too much like a plump aubergine.

True colour blocking is when you go for vivid shades as displayed on the Jil Sander runway. Models wore indigo sweaters with mint pants and fuchsia shirts with carrot orange chinos (1). This is when colour blocking is at its most gorgeous and fashion-forward. But when done wrong or worn without conviction, the wearer looks like an unsolved Rubik's cube.

There's a way to approach colour blocking without looking like a fashion victim. The easiest way is to wear one item that is strong in terms of colouring and pairing it with more neutral shades such as black or camel. This was done to great effect at Louis Vuitton (2) where a teal hooded parka (HK$17,500) was paired with tame black linen parachute pants (HK$8,600). You could do a reverse and wear, say, the turquoise chinos from H&M (HK$249) with a very light pink shirt.

You don't have to pick all strong colours to get in on the trend. You could pick one colour and wear different tones of it as on the Boss Selection (3) runway where a model was dressed in two shades of pink: rose for his shirt and bubblegum for his shorts.

Still unsure as to whether colour blocking is the right look for you? In that case start small with accessories such as bags, shoes and belts. Wear your usual black uniform but take it to the next level with Jack Spade's colour blocked waxed canvas tote. Or break the monotony of a camel outfit with a yellow belt from Zara or any of Tod's Marlin Hyannisport deck shoes (HK$3,500 a pair) that come in an array of vivid colours.

Remember, you don't have to follow every trend each season. If it doesn't work for you, skip it. It's all about having confidence in one's look. Don't be a slave to trends - it's the biggest fashion crime. Who knows, you might just end up in a fetching orange jumpsuit.

Shopping List:

Boss Selection at Hugo Boss, Pacific Place Mall, Admiralty, tel: 2918 1802

H&M Queen's Road Central, tel: 2110 9546

Jack Spade at Harvey Nichols, The Landmark, Central, tel: 3695 3389

Jil Sander at Joyce, New World Tower, Queen's Road Central, tel: 2810 1120

Louis Vuitton Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 8100 1182

Tod's The Landmark, Central, tel: 2810 8692