Before I kick off – just a reminder to all Sydney readers – my column will appear in the S section of the Sun Herald from this Sunday onwards. And now back to normal service…
A couple of weeks ago I got completely hysterically obsessed with the Vivienne Westwood Anglomania dress pictures above (as seen on the Matches website http://www.matchesfashion.com/?type=women).
Not only because it looks like it would be both flattering and very comfortable – a rare enough combination – but because of the colour.
It’s navy blue! This is the cue for me to set off a dazzling display of fireworks and cartwheel along Oxford Street.
Navy blue is the best of all colours. It just is. Of course, I love black, it’s ultra chic and slimming, but the minute the sun comes out – even on a cold day – you feel like a Sicilian widow. Or a Suzi Quatro wannabe. Or a goth.
Also, as the days turn into weeks turn into years and your face is looking less like a pert bagel and more like a collapsed bap (an image I got from my daughter, who wouldn’t eat her soft white roll the other day because, she said, it looked like grandma…), black gets harder to wear.
It drains you and draws cruel attention to the sag harbour of your jaw line. And it makes your make up look more make up-y.
Navy blue, on the other hand, has all the slimming optical illusion of black, without the down side. It’s like a warm version of black. And on top of those benefits, it looks simply wonderful with denim. Dark denim, of course, which is really navy blue denim. Hurray! Life is beautiful!
I think there are very few things which aren’t improved by being navy in colour (and I have interspersed pictures of some of my favourites), but give me in particular, a well-cut pair of super dark denim straight legs (not skinnies, cigarette shape) and a navy blue T shirt/cardie combo (cotton for spring, cashmere for winter) and I am completely happy. It’s so lengthening, you’re just one long column of navy blue.
All you need to lay over it is a bit of a feature scarf, maybe a necklace. Some great earrings. And killer shoes.
These can be anthing from Louboutin/Balenciaga/Louis Vuitton style bonkers shoes (I don’t own any of the actual above, I buy the brilliant Topshop tributes…), to my brilliant Timberland wedge deck shoes. Hunter wellies. Or even lemon yellow Havaianas, as I was wearing today.
Because navy provides such a fabulous popping backdrop for other colours. I hate black with bright colours, the clash is too harsh and obvious, but navy is enhanced by it.
My favourite summer tote is a bright orange canvas take on a game bag. Looks bloody marvellous with navy. Apple green and fuschia pink are also divine with it.
Red, I’m a little more wary of. Mixed with navy it can easily become a bit natty bandbox smart. But just a hint of it is very Riviera (especially with a stripe somewhere in the mix). I have some red wedge espadrilles that fit that box perfectly.
But here’s another wonderful navy colour combo you might not be so familiar with: navy with black. Ooh! Sharp intake of breath! So naughty, so chic, it’s one of my absolute favourites.
I had this Pauline conversion one cold early evening in Milan, leaving the Burberry show in the Duomo square, when I saw one of my favourite New York fashion editors (don’t know her name, not one of the famous ones) winding a navy blue pashmina around the neck of her black jacket.
She was wearing black jeans, black high-heeled boots, black bag and then this navy blue pashmina. Gee-nee-us. I bought one the moment I got back to London and out it comes every winter, just to take the edge of a black coat, tights and shoe combo, without going anywhere near the colour-me-beautiful pashmina thing which is so 1995.
So that’s all the good things about navy, here’s the rub: there just isn’t enough of it about. That’s why I got so excited when I saw the Vivienne Westwood dress. Navy dresses barely exist. They’re the unicorns of fashion.
But even in more everyday pieces my favourite colour can be hard to find. It drives me nuts how often I see great basics that come in every flipping colour except navy. I confess that when my daughter was a baby I often dressed her in boys’ clothes so she could wear navy.
So I was thrilled to open a Land’s End catalogue recently and find they now do all their staples in what looks like a really nice dark shade. From a company that used to torture me with useful things available only in jade and fuschia, this is a major breakthrough.
I’ve ordered this cardigan and I’ll report back.
Or you could have it in this colour….. No thank you. No contest.