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No Coincidence: A Colour Analysis Expert Explains Why We Filled Our Wardrobes With Colour This Year

16/12/22

Author: Katelin Rice

DOCUMENTED BY: Street Style photo

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It’s fair to say that colour dominated this year’s most iconic fashion moments.

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Documented By: Chloe Hill

It’s fair to say that colour dominated this year’s most iconic fashion moments.

We saw Barbiecore inundate our feeds and closets after Maison Valentino’s Pink PP collection started a fuchsia frenzy (as did all the BTS shots of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling from the upcoming Barbie movie). Buttery yellow walked down just about every runway. Purple was snapped on busy streets, rivalling pink's popularity. And let’s not forget the maximalist displays that took over the red carpet, like Jodie Turner-Smith in that bespoke Gucci neon lime green number for the British Fashion Awards. 

It wasn't just celebrities and fashion elites gravitating towards colour. Despite our enduring love for minimal style and neutral tones, we also added more vivid hues to our own wardrobes in 2022. 

Beyond the obvious celebrity-influenced rationale behind wearing brighter tones, there’s actually a reason more of us wore colour this year.

Colour analysis expert and the head of colour at the prestigious London College of Style, Jules Standish, says it has a lot to do with colour theory. It's an academic or scientific understanding of colour which maps out how the three primary colours – red, yellow and blue – interact with each other to create orange, purple, green, and all the colours in between. All of the colours in the wheel have an effect on each other, and indirectly an effect on us. 

Colour plays an important role in conveying information nonverbally and creating certain moods. In her new book A Colourful Dose of Optimism, Jules explains that colours at the hotter end of the spectrum with longer wavelengths of light like red, orange and yellow can stimulate the senses, encouraging action, creating excitement and boosting energy. Whilst colours at the cooler end of the spectrum, namely green, blue and violet/purple, have shorter wavelengths of light and therefore are more restful for our eyes with a soothing effect on the senses. The soothing effect can even reduce blood pressure and help our nervous systems to keep calm. 

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Documented By: @arnsdorf @melbfashionfestival @australianmadecampaign

That rule of thumb has naturally seeped into our wardrobes. “Wearing the right colours can make us look healthy, youthful and attractive, helping us to feel more confident and happier,” Jules says. “The joy of colour is the vast choice in the world of fashion, and we find new colours appear and become popular every season.”

Jules’s theory for this year’s trending colours is that they’re reflective of our demand for a more optimistic life. “We all need a mood boost after Covid,” she says. “Bright colours instantly impact our senses visually, they get the fastest reaction and can boost our mood and [make us] smile when we see them.”

Even the Pantone Color Institute weighed in on the need for brighter looks this year, making 2022’s colour Very Peri – an aptly warm and friendly shade. Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, says there was little debate over 2023’s recently released Colour of the year: Viva Magenta. The lively and empowering shade of red proves our lust for colour isn’t over yet.

The ever-changing colour trends have left many of us wondering how to make sure bright shades stand the test of time. Jules suggests trying out different colour combinations to keep your wardrobe feeling fresh and authentic. Using the colour wheel, like colour obsessed content creator Maxine Wylde does in many of her “get dressed with me videos”, you can decide how you want to feel by combining different hues. “You can go bright or muted, vibrant or pastel,” Jules says.

@maxinewylde #colourtheory outfit!! Styling mustard in a triad - what are our thoughts?! #getdtessedwithme ♬ Take You Higher - LEISURE
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Documented By: @delvillar_

“[You can create] a high contrast outfit with Triadic colours that are three equally distant on the wheel, like red, blue, and yellow. Or, I love to choose one colour [for a monochromatic look] and use different tones to create a chic and elegant look, like a turquoise blue shirt, navy trousers and a cobalt bag and shoes,” Jules says. 

To make sure the colours you purchase will compliment you for years to come, Jules also suggests completing a colour analysis for your skin tone to find out whether you have warm or cool undertones. There are plenty of ways to do this, including searching the #colouranalysis hashtag and playing with filters on TikTok. “If people look their best in colours that suit them, they feel more confident,” Jules says.

Barbiecore might not be trending this time next year and purple’s popularity may be outshone by another shade in 2023. But if colour theory can teach us anything, it's about finding the shades that resonate with you best, and just going for it. And doing that for as long as it feels good to, no matter where the trends are sitting. 

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