Three Reasons To Rethink Pastels

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Three Reasons To Rethink Pastels

Words by Mr Jim Merrett

21 February 2017

Why soft power is the way to go with colour this season.

Pastel: possibly a sugar-coated, fruit-flavoured gelatine lozenge you stuck in your mouth as a child. Very probably a stick-like art medium you stuffed up your nasal cavity as a child. And a range of tones that, in clothing form, you think you grew out of when you were a child. Well, you’d be wrong (about the last bit, certainly – oh, and also the first: it’s spelt “pastille”; the middle wasn’t a great idea either, come to think of it), because pastel is about to re-enter your life in a big way. As chinks begin to appear in the wall of gunmetal-grey cloud that has clustered in the sky all winter, it’s finally safe to reach beyond the blacks, whites and navy blues in your wardrobe without fear of it being mistaken for irony. But pastels offer something more – not just a softness, but a nod to the Art Deco facades of Miami, as well as the rolled-up suit sleeves made popular by the 1980s TV show set in the very same city, Miami Vice. And nothing says you’ve fully embraced the arrival of spring like a hue last sported at high velocity on a speedboat. Here, then, are three ways to bring that South Beach vibe into your everyday attire – even if your nearest body of water is the local duck pond.


Even in this day and age, take a detour through the baby clothing aisle and you will be surprised how rigidly the garments fall into colour formation. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Yet a century ago, this was not the case. As noted in a June 1918 edition of trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department: “The general accepted rule is pink for boys, and blue for the girls. The reason being that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy…” Confused? Don’t be – the long and short of it is, if you want to wear pink, you should. Try this denim jacket by new-to-us label CMMN SWDN (pronounced as if it contains vowels), which comes in a subtle dusty shade, with a cropped waist and boxy shape that gives it a gawky charm. Use it as a gateway to a whole segment of the spectrum you previously thought out of bounds, or really screw with conventions by pairing it with a T-shirt in a shade of blue that could come with the prefix “baby”.

The sweater

Remi Relief calls this pale mustard, but it reminds of us more of a dessert-focused sauce, also yellow. As a loopback cotton sweatshirt – a classic athletic garment that will never go out of style – you could consider this a safe investment in a less-than-safe colour. Be assured this particular dye-job (this Japanese brand is famed for its fabric treatment techniques) will also settle and improve with age. You’ll no doubt be turning to it for years to come as an extra layer, but worn with darker denim, it also sets the right tone right now.

The shorts

Now we’re talking. Unless you actually are in Miami – and even then you’re being really optimistic – this is an item of clothing you’ll want to bank till later in the year. Still, it’s almost more reassuring to know that no matter what the coming months throw at you in terms of weather, once a sustained patch of sunshine finally hits, you’re already kitted out with these shorts. Wear them with a classic Oxford-style shirt from Polo Ralph Lauren in an Ivy League-friendly muted blue, or go full regatta with the same in pink. Good legs advisable, straw boater optional.

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