Get your coat (just make sure it’s colourful)

Alyson Walsh / 05 October 2018

Fashion guru Alyson Walsh on the easiest way to bring vibrancy to an outfit.



We are going crazy for colour. The rise and rise of Instagram selfies and online influencers is having an impact on the clothes we wear.

Do bear with me… this is not all attention-grabbing slogan t-shirts and Millennial Pink (otherwise known as rose).

Basically, colour looks good in photographs. Something I‘ve been aware of since my fashion editor days; when styling magazine photoshoots the easiest way to perk up a plain outfit was by introducing an eye-catching jacket or bold accessory.

Actors, female politicians and Her Majesty the Queen all know the score, adding vibrant touches helps to create an outstanding outfit.

‘Very bold, primary colours such as strong vivid reds, blues and greens always work,’ says photographer Neil Mackenzie Matthews, ‘A good combination, of say, orange, blue and white will always make a photo stand out.’

Coloured tights

The relaxation of dress codes and the way we work today - remotely, part-time or in several different places throughout the week – is another influencing factor. According to the trend forecaster WGSN, in January 2018, colourful clothing accounted for 20.2% of the UK market (up nearly 4% from 2016), while sales of black clothing have fallen.

Though glancing up from my smart phone, at the train station on a winter’s morning, reveals a line-up of dark overcoats that wouldn’t look out of place in Reservoir Dogs… So, don’t write-off the old classic just yet. Black is still popular, in Real Life (IRL).

Just not as popular as it once was.

The sea change from dressing soberly to looking vibrant at any age hasn’t escaped the notice of high street brands. This autumn, John Lewis relaunched its womenswear collection using bold tones and strong design.

‘Fashion is a means of feeling relevant, whatever your age,’ points out Jo Bennett, head of buying at John Lewis Womenswear.

‘Nothing is off limits… we want to celebrate style and individuality - and colour and tone are tools of expression.’

And, if like me, you look a bit pasty come mid-winter, choosing an outstanding coat is also the best way to enhance the complexion. IRL.

How to get your glow back

What to wear with an outstanding coat

Brooches are back  

Have a rummage through your jewellery box or check out the vintage section in John Lewis for sparkly brooches. Jon Richard and Butler & Wilson also stock characterful collections. Wear a small cluster of three grouped together.

Gloves on

Coats with three quarter or bracelet sleeves require longer length gloves. Try Catherine Tough and Quinton & Chadwick for longer lambswool gloves, from £35 (Catherine Tough has a fingerless version that’s good for staying tuned to social media), or go for a colourful pair of recycled cashmere wrist warmers from Turtle Doves.

Let your coat do the talking

Keep your bottom half simple – wear an outstanding coat with black jeans and black leather ankle boots and you’re good to go. 

Elegant ankle boots





The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.