Fashion: Purple prose

Purple is flourishing across all trends for spring and summer. Stephanie Smith has tips on how to wear.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 31st March 2015, 9:20 am
Sophie Ellis-Bextor wears Ninette dress, £140, from Phase Eight.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor wears Ninette dress, £140, from Phase Eight.

Lavender, lilac, amethyst, aubergine, violet, magenta, mauve, fuchsia, indigo, orchid, heather, thistle … just a few of the many, many names and many, many shades of purple. So many more than 50.

Now for the science bit: Purple is a range of hues of colour occurring between red and blue. That’s it. That’s all I know about the science side of purple. On the social and historical side, I know it’s associated with royalty, magic, mystery and piety, and was worn by Roman emperors, the clergy and Prince (or the artist formerly known as).

Anyway, purple is a major theme in fashion for the spring and summer, seen pretty much on every runway and across all the trends, from lace and crochet work (Balenciaga showed luxe mesh polo shirt tops and midi skirts in pale lilac) through to tailored looks (Boss gave us linear shift dresses and a reworked working wardrobe in pastel lilacs and lavenders).

Then there’s the rock chick and Seventies’ trends – because, this season, everyone needs both a lilac suede jacket and a pair of aubergine purple crushed velvet flares in their wardrobe. Wear both together if you like, with a purple floral shirt.

I’ve never understood why purple is sometimes associated with eccentric old ladies, as in the opening line of Jenny Joseph’s poem, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”

Of course it will suit her. That sounds like a fabulous outfit to me and one I fully hope and intend to embrace.

Actually, due to its blending of warm red and cool blue, purple is a remarkably wearable shade, suiting all skin tones, although the received advice is that cooler skin tones should go for a purple that has a blue or grey hue to it, such as slate, heather or violet, while warmer colourings should go for one with a red tone, like crimson, magenta and burgundy.

Purple florals work well too, especially in the royal, richer shades to offset any insipidness creeping in. And you need a purple bag. Pronto.