How to wear ultra violet
It's the colour of the year, but it's no shade for the faint-hearted. Meadhbh McGrath describes how to style the regal hue for real life
Pantone has spoken: the colour of 2018 is 'ultra violet', a deep, bold purple. The self-described "global authority on colour" explained that the shade "evokes the inventive spirit and imaginative thinking that challenges the status quo. A spiritual, cosmic hue, ultra violet pushes the boundaries of what inspires us to look upward and outward to the future."
The colour company also noted that it is "a reflection on a collective cultural moment", and it does seem to reflect our "increasingly complex landscape". Remember the Ralph Lauren trouser suit that Hillary Clinton (below) wore to concede defeat to Donald Trump following the US presidential election? Clinton later wrote in her book What Happened: "The morning after the election, Bill and I both wore purple. It was a nod to bipartisanship (blue plus red equals purple)."
In ancient times, purple was a status symbol. It was extremely rare and expensive to produce because the dye had to be extracted from the mucus of huge quantities of sea snails in the Phoenician city of Tyre, in what is now Lebanon.
It quickly became closely associated with power, wealth and royalty, from the emperors of ancient Rome to the European monarchs. In the late 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I passed a strict dress code to protect the colour so that only the Royal Family could wear it.
In 1856, at the age of just 18, a British chemist named William Henry Perkin while attempting to make quinine - a treatment for malaria - instead produced a synthetic purple dye. Until then, purple could only be made using natural dyes, but his accidental discovery made the hue widely accessible.
The shade was also, of course, a favourite of Prince, and Queen Elizabeth.
Ultra violet cropped up on the spring 2018 catwalks too. Gucci showcased show-stopping sequins and suiting, while Caroline Herrera presented romantic gowns and Versace offered 90s-inspired bodysuits and blazers.
The collections captured the versatility of the shade. You can go all-in with head-to-toe look, or use it sparingly as an accent hue - we love Topshop's patent boots for a splash of luxe glamour.
For the office, let M&S's draped shoulder blouse do the talking and style with check trousers or black slacks, or go for a long-sleeved floral midi dress with slouch boots.
Follow Olivia Palermo's (above) lead and opt for some violet outerwear to inject new life into your off-duty wardrobe. We love her combination of on-trend checks, orange knit and embellished slides, topped off with a vibrant purple coat.
There is plenty of stylish purple knitwear on the high street that can be dressed up with a pleated midi skirt and boots, or toned down with straight-leg jeans and trainers.
Or swap out your trusted high-waisted trousers for a purple pair. M&S's version can be easily styled with a pretty blouse, or for a more laidback look, pair with a slogan T-shirt and trainers.
For evening, there's nothing like vivid purple to make a statement, as Diane Kruger demonstrates in shimmering Nini Ricci (above). The midi length with long sleeves nods to the modesty trend, and if the sparkles are too Quality Street for you, there are more muted options available to give you a break from the Christmas glitz.
Elsewhere, the trouser suit trend is still going strong, or try Zara's rich pleated co-ord with glitzy accessories and strappy heels.
The regal hue is far from the delicate lavendars and saccharine lilacs we usually see going into spring.
This is no shade for shrinking violets, but if you'd prefer a more subtle take on the trend for evening, go for a pair of statement earrings, mule sandals or Mango's gorgeous satin bag - they'll add just the right touch of drama to an otherwise simple outfit.