The grown up guide to wearing pastels

Meadham Kirchhoff Spring 2012 for Rookie Magazine by Eleanor Hardwick

If you have been shopping over the last couple of weeks you will have noticed that pastels are ‘on trend’ for spring summer 2012 . The fashion dictators/forecasters (oops that might have been me!) have decreed that ice cream shades are going to be the ‘hot new thing’ for this season, which may look super cool if you are a 20 year old Dalston hipster or a prima ballerina, but maybe not so great if you are 40 something woman, who’s idea of wearing colour is red lipstick with an all black outfit.

Meadham Kirchhoff Spring 2012 for Rookie Magazine by Eleanor Hardwick

So exactly how do we wear pastels without looking like a middleaged ‘mother of the bride’, who bought her outfit from the fourth floor of a provincial department store?

Rule no 1 – don’t buy sickly sweet colours like those in the Meadham Kirchhoff collection. Despite being my favourite show featuring pastels, they really only look stunning on gorgeous young models. There is a very real danger of looking like you’re wearing 70’s style synthetic nighties from Brentford Nylons. You have been warned!

Also pastel coloured hair is a big no-no! Don’t think I haven’t considered it, as I love this look. But if you are over forty, lilac hair is more Mrs Slocombe than Pixie Geldof, so I’m persuading my teen to go for it instead!

Rule no 2 and possibly the only rule, is mix pastel colours with neutrals or darks to break up an outfit. Head to toe pastels are not a good look and should be avoided at all costs. My Little Pony is for small children, not grown women!

Jill Stuart

Jill Stuart uses shades of stone and camel with pastels in her Spring/Summer 12 collection, which works really well and looks feminine, but sophisticated.

Diane Von Furstenberg

DVF combines dark brown and tinted nuetrals with pastels. I love the little flash of duck egg blue, used with chocolate brown and stone. You could simply add a pastel belt or t shirt to an entirely neutral outfit, for a pop of colour.

Phillip Lim

Lemon is an easy colour to add to grey, white or stone, for a pared down take on pastels. I just love the Phillip Lim collection and really want one of those shell tops.

Phillip Lim

Black, cream and grey, colour blocked with pastel pink and lilac are great colour combinations and can also be worn with black based prints. Combining pink and lemon with deep ink navy also works well.

If you simply can’t bring your self to wear anything pastel, you could always try pastel accessories. We love these colour blocked shoes from the new Kurt Geiger Spring collection, pastel nail varnish and patent flats from Top Shop and if you want to spend a little bit (make that a lot) this gorgeous Louis Vuitton bag.


  • Sue says:

    I don’t know: I think it could all look a bit Grayson Perry/Claire on me even if I was careful.I bought a pair of cream patent Rupert Sanderson brogues for Summer and that is about as far as I’m planning to go…Sue

  • Amanda says:

    I love the idea of pastel nail polish, and I’ve still got my gorgeous pink leather Rae Jones brogues from a couple of seasons ago…so I am going to try little touches to see how I feel. Maybe we should ask Grayson how he feels about pastels?! A

  • Jude says:

    You’ve just made me spend £99! Despite looking washed-out in anything remotely pastel I was strangely drawn to those Kurt geiger Neapolitan flats. So I followed the link to the KG and got totally side-tracked by some Nicole Farhi punched/cut-out brogues, reduced from £400 to £99. Couldn’t say ‘no’ really, could I? Thank you Jane!
    Until I read this post I had dismissed the whole pastel thing as not for me. However it reminded me of a colour moment I had in the late 80’s with some choc/duck egg lycra which suits my dark hair/pasty face combo nicely. Won’t be doing the lycra this time round though.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Loved your comment about mother of the bride. As DD getting married in June I went on line to look at M of the B outfits. Absolutely horrified! So have spoken to a couple of boutiques who have promised to get me dressed in a stylish manner. Probably not pastels though – I prefer sludge but my DD wants me in something brighter.

  • Ι’m for whatever gets you through the night.

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