What I wore this week: orange – The Guardian

Close your eyes and think of the 1970s. Or, more specifically, a living room from the 1970s. The wallpaper is geometrically aligned, the lava lamp present and correct, and the Papasan chair in the corner is looking strangely unwelcoming. Now, open your eyes. Everything was a gelatinous shade of orange, right? The orange of E-number-laden ice lollies and MSG’d sweet-and-sour chicken.

And that’s the problem with wearing orange – you risk looking like a barrel of Sunny Delight that’s wandered on stage during a Top Of The Pops Christmas special from 1976. Menswear usually plays it so safe that you’re basically hiding in the undergrowth, cowering and gently rocking to yourself, so any shade you might associate with a box of crayons is normally balked at.

Still, the 1970s has been a key influence on menswear of late, from velvet and corduroy to florals. So it feels inevitable that the colour so synonymous with a decade of wrongness should return. But do we have to be tied to a vision of the past when we wear orange (worst-case scenario: Oompa-Loompa vibes at a 1990s rave. Best-case scenario: easyJet employee gone rogue)? No, we do not. As Liam Gallagher recently proved with his One Love stagewear (a bright orange parka), orange can be pulled off as a piece of trendy daywear.

The key thing about wearing bright colours is that all the other bits of your outfit have to be played dead straight. Even a sneaky statement sock or a jauntily patterned handkerchief can have you looking like Screaming Lord Sutch on election night. You’ve got to temper your brightness with a bit of dowdiness to pull off a look that won’t scare your friends: it’s the clothing equivalent of Dido featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Here I’m wearing a jumper roughly the colour of Kia-Ora, but have combined it with earth-coloured chinos (very accountant binge-drinking at the weekend) and Drake-ish canvas shoes. You may still get the odd sarky comment (OI! YOU’VEBEENTANGO’D M8), but that’s the thing about orange: like its spiritual home, Halloween, it’s a bit scary at first, then you realise it can be child’s play.

• Priya wears jumper, £185, stoneisland.com. Trousers, £28, riverisland.com. Boots, £249, redwinglondon.com

Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management.


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