How to wear...Easter pastels
They’re flattering and versatile, but can come across more girlish than grown-up. Ahead of this weekend’s candy-hued celebrations, Meadhbh McGrath advises on getting the balance right
Just as Christmas prompts us to cover ourselves in red and green, and Halloween invites a palette of orange and black, Easter calls for pastels. As surely as we'll be devouring a slate of chocolate eggs this weekend, we'll almost certainly be wearing an outfit comprised of soft sugary shades - it's fun, it's festive and it's fashionable too.
Pastels crop up in the spring-summer collections in some variation every year, yet they were particularly popular in 2019.
The dominant hue was a pale lemon, which appeared in many guises: Miu Miu's dishevelled party frocks, worn with crystal headbands; Chanel's classic bouclé skirt suits and filmy sundresses; Marni's arty draped skirts; and Derry-born designer JW Anderson's flowing handkerchief hem shirts and colour block co-ords.
Now, the high street is also covered in yellow, a shade many Irish people are reluctant to try. With some smart styling, however, delicate lemon can be much more flattering on pale, olive and dark tones than a bright canary shade.
If you have a fair complexion, you'll want to pair your yellow items with a contrasting colour so it doesn't wash you out - good news if you have red hair or blue eyes, as they'll do all the work for you. Otherwise, it can be as simple as teaming a pastel shirt dress, like Samsoe & Samsoe's version from Arnotts, with a pair of blue jeans, or try an unexpected combination such as yellow with candy floss pink or lilac.
On warmer skin tones, pastel yellows make a beautiful complement to creams and whites, especially in occasionwear when a vibrant yellow could end up looking harsh.
Still not convinced? There's a whole array of other pastel hues from which to choose. On the catwalks, Valentino offered luscious pastel pinks in a midi dress with voluminous blouson sleeves and a pleated top and trousers, while Loewe combined soft colours with this season's neutrals, adding large raffia totes to a sharp pink blazer or two-tone pastel dress. Rodarte, meanwhile, showcased a series of candy-coloured fairytale gowns covered in spectacular ruffles.
It's evidence that this Easter-appropriate palette works just as well in fanciful gowns as in smart tailoring, such as the peachy Stine Goya suit Michelle Obama wore on her book tour last week.
They can also benefit from a dash of silver sparkle, whether in Obama's beaded embellishment or in accessories - a subtle metallic sandal or mule will be much more effective than a heavy black or nude pump to finish off the look.
Glenn Close's Alexander McQueen suit was one of her strongest outfits in a long Oscar season, and illustrates how tonal dressing, particularly in delicate colours, can really make an impact. The coloured suit is a high street favourite, and there are many pastel iterations to choose from at the moment. French Connection's offering, available in lilac or cool blue, would look just as stylish at one of this summer's weddings, with a silk camisole and heels, as it would on the weekend with a plain T-shirt and trainers.
For a more classically feminine take on the trend, look to Kate Middleton. Green is fast becoming her signature shade and last month she opted for two mint dresses in a week: first, a shimmering Lurex Missoni design during her visit to Belfast, and then a high-collared, full-skirted dress for a reception at Buckingham Palace.
Both had long sleeves and a midi-length hem, but where the former was glamorous with a hint of disco, the latter was prim and proper - a testament to how versatile pastels can be. Whether you prefer dressing up or down, there's a shade and a silhouette for everyone.