How to wear... beige
It’s spring’s unlikely hero hue, and this season you’re encouraged to wear it head-to-toe. Meadhbh McGrath explains how to make the divisive neutral shade work for real life
There's no getting around it - beige doesn't have the best reputation. It's not as exciting as a bright blue or green, it's harder to wear than a basic black, and it's a lot less sexy than red. But this season, boring, bland beige is having a makeover. Fashion is working overtime to rebrand the neutral shade as sleek, sophisticated and even a bit sultry.
At Burberry, new creative director Riccardo Tisci dedicated the majority of his debut collection to the classic shades of the house's iconic trench coats. Along with new variations on that famous staple, there were pleated skirts, high-waisted trousers, silk blouses and blazers in 50 shades of beige. The look was polished and very grown-up, as Tisci positioned himself as an increasingly rare designer interested in catering to mature customers as well as Insta-savvy millennials.
Beige outerwear also played a starring role at Max Mara, long-time proponents of a neutral palette. Here, it was layered over strong-shouldered trouser suits, vinyl pencil skirts and one-shoulder draped dresses with cinched waists. The variety of nudes was notably diverse, as designers expand the shade range to suit multiple skin tones.
Beige reigned on the Paris catwalks, too, as Dior paid tribute to the ballerina, pairing graceful gowns, full skirts and fitted tops with ballet pumps and ribbon headbands. The mood at Chloé, meanwhile, was bohemian chic: hippie scarf prints were given a modern twist when teamed with beige dresses, long skirts and tailored blazers. It was cool and contemporary, crying out for summer sun.
The fashion crowd have been quick to embrace the look, and beige has proved to be the dominant street style-trend this fashion month, while the renaissance continues in the autumn-winter collections.
But beyond the influencer set, beige has a number of high-profile celebrity fans, the most ardent of which is arguably Meghan Markle. Since becoming a royal, the former actress has seized on the neutral tone as her hero hue.
We've seen her in a variety of trench coats (including one by Burberry), formalwear, maternity dresses and smart tailoring (left), all in shades of beige. During her trip to Morocco last weekend, she opted for a bespoke Dior gown in her signature colour for an evening reception. With crystal embellishment along the sleeves, the subdued kaftan-style dress was quietly dazzling.
It's a testament to the versatility of the shade in 2019, whether you're at the office, out for brunch or on the red carpet. Looking at Naomi Campbell (right) and Celine Dion (far right) in their striking tonal looks, you may wonder how it could translate to real life. A floor-length beige skirt or wide trousers may not be suitable for dodging puddles on a rainy day, but there are clever, simple and stylish ways to wear it.
First of all, you don't need all your neutrals to match precisely, as Naomi and Celine demonstrate. Ideally, they should all vary slightly, but remain in the same colour family. The effect is very luxe and expensive-looking, but it can be easily achieved on a high-street budget.
Don't be afraid to mix textures: tuck a silk blouse into high-waisted trousers, with COS's tactile wool gilet on top. And if head-to-toe beige sounds too tricky, mix in darker neutrals like olive green, chocolate brown and rich burgundy.
Still not gone on the tonal shades? Break it up with contrasting pastels or a vivid piece like Zara's blue shirt.
It's good news for animal print lovers, too: beige makes a perfect partner for a pair of snakeskin boots or a leopard belt.