How To Wear: Brown On Brown

My New Year resolution is to get better at vintage shopping. Vintage, charity, secondhand, call

My New Year resolution is to get better at vintage shopping. Vintage, charity, secondhand, call it what you want. I have always been green with envy at other people’s knack for truffling out bargains and treasures. I went into a vintage shop the other day, looked around and thought to myself, nope, nothing here. It was all too… brown. Too muddily neutral.

 

How wrong I was. Brown is exactly what we should be wearing, it turns out. Brown has always had a bad rep. Brown is mud and bus upholstery. It is the wrong kind of corduroy. (The cross-hatched scratchy kind, rather than the plush, jumbo cord kind.) It never seems properly fashion, somehow. Except, actually, it is as fashion as it gets. Forget black and white: according to Fendi and Chloé and Loewe, to name just a few, the colour combination of the season is brown on brown.

 

The craze for brown started with the trenchcoat. Trench has become a colour – that distinctive mackintosh-beige – as well as a style of outerwear. And since a trenchcoat is bluechip chic, it stands to reason that trench-the-colour is the new black. A trench with a white shirt always works, but fashion has begun to experiment. The first look on Chloé’s winter runway was a caramel-and-coffee swirl-print blouse, under a chestnut knit, with a chocolate-brown skirt. At Fendi, there was shiny peanut leather and rich terracotta, with mustard accents thrown in for 70s emphasis.

 

Toast, chocolate, coffee: all of these are cheering concepts on a dark January day. There is, it turns out, a lot to be said for brown. And in the watery midwinter light, are you really going to reach for lime green in the morning? No, my friend, you are not. So unless you plan on wearing black every day for the next month, it is worth broadening your horizons.

Matchy-matchy gets a bad press, but there is something undeniably satisfying about putting a whole toning outfit together. To look in the mirror and see a top-to-toe look feels like that moment when you open the oven door on a perfectly risen cake. Do you have a trench? I bet you do. Or a camel coat? Maybe you’ve got some snake-print boots? In which case, you are most of the way there. I’m wearing an on-sale-now Marks & Spencer skirt with a vintage velvet T-shirt. Vintage stores have lots of brown clothes, for some reason. Which, I am coming to realise, is a good thing.