When I was a teenager, I went through phases of wearing earthy neutral colours: a sad camel, a lonely khaki, a misanthropic beige. There’s an old photo of me that resurfaced on a WhatsApp thread in which I’m wearing olive trousers, an olive zip-up fleece and olive-coloured glasses. Unsurprisingly, I look like an olive. It was, in retrospect, screamingly bland, while also stern – and not in a good way.
At that time, I thought bright colours were ridiculous, not for me, or something that works for Grover from Sesame Street. Neutrals were safe; a comfort zone of invisibility, blending in and fading away, which is what lots of 14-year-olds want to do.
This is why I felt edgy and alive when I cracked in sixth form and bought a tangerine towelling hoodie (I think I saw Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke wearing something similar). It felt wildly subversive, far more than it really was.
Even though that seems like a lifetime ago, I’m still surprised by how many menswear shows are largely composed of ditchwater-toned clothes with a spot of colour. Pink provokes a strange reaction in people; when I wore a rosewater sweatshirt a couple of years ago, someone came up and told me, “It would look better in blue”, as if I’d violated a bro-code. Perhaps I had, but they were missing the point. Take away any gendered connotations and pink is where purple was with fashionistas a few seasons ago: it has a hyped-up energy, especially when it’s worn by Harry Styles or Tyler, the Creator.
It turns out the problem was actually which shade of pink to wear. Forget bubblegum, shocking and magenta – it’s hard to get them right – and opt for a soft shade instead. Today I’m wearing a louche safari shirt and a loose-fitting jacket, both in neutral pink tones of tasty watermelon and salmon. I’m not giving off any marshmallow vibes. I’ve found that it’s good to style with complementary colours such as safari green and creamy whites. Here, I’m wearing pink with black skinny jeans and boots, which balances out its softer aesthetic.
See? Neutrals don’t need to be bland and pink doesn’t have to be shocking. It’s a win-win.
• Priya wears blazer, £90, and shirt, £24.99, both topman.com. Jeans and boots, his own.
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