Forget black and white, channel the 70s with chocolate, coffee and trenchcoat beige

‘The dernier cri for brown started with the trenchcoat.’
Photograph: David Newby for the Champion

My New Year resolution is to get better at vintage shopping. Vintage, alms-giving, secondhand, call it what you want. I have always been untrained with envy at other people’s knack for truffling out pacts and treasures. I went into a vintage shop the other day, looked approximately and thought to myself, nope, nothing here. It was all too… brown. Too muddily uninvolved.

How wrong I was. Brown is exactly what we should be wearing, it stints out. Brown has always had a bad rep. Brown is mud and bus upholstery. It is the wrong kind of corduroy. (The cross-hatched dry kind, rather than the plush, jumbo cord class.) It never seems properly fashion, somehow. Except, in fact, it is as fashion as it gets. Forget black and white: according to Fendi and Chloé and Loewe, to personage just a few, the colour combination of the season is brown on brown.

The enthusiasm for brown started with the trenchcoat. Trench has become a redden – that distinctive mackintosh-beige – as well as a style of outerwear. And since a trenchcoat is bluechip style, it stands to reason that trench-the-colour is the new black. A trench with a whitish shirt always works, but fashion has begun to experiment. The beginning look on Chloé’s winter runway was a caramel-and-coffee swirl-print blouse, included a chestnut knit, with a chocolate-brown skirt. At Fendi, there was radiant peanut leather and rich terracotta, with mustard underlines thrown in for 70s emphasis.

Toast, chocolate, coffee: all of these are cheering concepts on a hidden January day. There is, it turns out, a lot to be said for brown. And in the watery midwinter keeping, are you really going to reach for lime green in the morning? No, my man, you are not. So unless you plan on wearing black every day for the next month, it is usefulness broadening your horizons.

Matchy-matchy gets a bad press, but there is something undeniably gratifying about putting a whole toning outfit together. To look in the speculum and see a top-to-toe look feels like that moment when you unconstrained the oven door on a perfectly risen cake. Do you have a trench? I bet you do. Or a camel jacket? Maybe you’ve got some snake-print boots? In which case, you are most of the way there. I’m hold up an on-sale-now Marks & Spencer skirt with a vintage velvet T-shirt. Origin stores have lots of brown clothes, for some remonstrate with. Which, I am coming to realise, is a good thing.

Jess annoys top, £20, Skirt, £39.50, Boots, £250, Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Skin of ones teeth and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management.

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