Drab, Drab, Drab!

Where Have All The Colours Gone? 

I have a horror of being late and a dislike of wasting time, which results in a (not always successful) attempt to arrive on time to the minute, if not to the second. My husband, when catching a train, will invariably arrive just in time to miss the previous train, after which he will lie in wait for his chosen train. He never misses. I however, always like to play fair and give my preferred train a  sporting chance to get away.

But this merely explains why I was haunting the clothing shops on the High Street of St Neots last Tuesday. I had arrived just in time to get to the Costa Coffee shop for 10am where I was meeting my lovely friend Lorraine. Then I looked in my diary and realised I was actually meeting her at 10.30am. Half an hour to use profitably, then.

So I started my trawl in Dorothy Perkins. Dorothy Perkins resembled the subterranean lair of some vampiric beast. The pale young shop assistants leaned exhaustedly upon the tills and were obviously looking up suicide websites on their mobile phones. I half expected to see stalactites forming on the ceiling and to meet several young bearded men with flashlights on their hard hats and “I Heart Caving” T-shirts (sadly I was disappointed there). I think there were a couple of dispirited looking tops in some vague pale skin pink; but they’d have been all the better for a little sunshine and fresh air to give them a more healthy glow.

I then broached M&Co. Same story, although there was a little more light and instead of looking as if they had lost the will to live already, the shop assistants were deeply involved in a discussion regarding the appallingly inconsiderate behaviour of the sister in law to one of them (I didn’t find out  what exactly she’d done because they broke off their conversation as I lurked, ears flapping, and I had to slink off into the underwear section, pretending I hadn’t really been listening to a conversation that was really none of my business.) But it was the same story, lots and lots of grey and charcoal and black and the occasional spot of a pale neutral sprouting like shapeless fungus in the dark.

In desperation I sought refuge in EWM (Edinburgh Woolen Mill). Surely here there would be a couple of bright jumpers at least. Yes! I saw at least one item in a (subdued) kingfisher and there was a plaid skirt in pine green. But EWM has never had as its USP youthful and funky design, so I emerged from its stuffiness (both senses of the word) in dire need of that cup of coffee and cheering up.

So, was I just unlucky, or is there really some fashion industry conspiracy this season to leach the colour from our world?

I go to the fount of all knowledge, our House of Colour Trend Report  (just click for your free copy!) and I find that yes, I’m not paranoid, the world has indeed been drained of its rainbow this Autumn.

“This season we see colour being led by more neutrals as neutral tones of white, black, navy and grey have a new complexity with tinted tones and textural combinations.” says the report for Winters (you get the impression that the writer is trying desperately hard to make the best of a bad job). The same wording (with different neutrals) is used for all the other seasons. There are some darker colours “carrying over from the summer” and the occasional splash of brights, but overall, it appears that we have shifted into neutral and are coasting down the road to a foggy grey nothingness.

Well, on the high street anyway. Often, if you want a bolder look, you need to go upmarket  – or sometimes incredibly downmarket, so I thought I’d let my fingers do some walking and see what my favourite John Lewis had to offer…..

First page and my heart begins to sink as I find a sea of grey, black, camel and khaki;…. second page….. third page……

Bobbing around in this sea like discarded jetsam (it’s the cold, grey North Sea, slapped by a biting East Wind, under a sky the colour of battleships and the ghosts of drowned sailors) is the odd splash of bright colour:


From left to right, these are: a yellow cable knitted jumper from Warehouse, an embellished midi dress by Ted Baker, a pink top by East and a tunic by Whitestuff. There were other colourful things, but when I looked they were all by Warehouse, Ted Baker, East and Whitestuff. I detect a theme here: obviously these labels were caught on the hop and haven’t yet realised that they are far too loud for the New Order of Winter 2014!

So, if none of those labels do it for you then I’m afraid you’re in for a monochromatic cold spell!

But wait – we haven’t looked at Primark yet……

Nope – they’re doing drab and pastels too. I tell you, there hasn’t been as much Eau du Nil since Lady Devonshire’s infamous ball in 1932 where seventeen debutantes got drunk, drowned in the fountain and nobody noticed!*

Oh well, time for another musical link. The Bangles Hazy Shade of Winter, anyone?

* This story is not so much apocryphal as entirely made up on the spur of the moment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s