Bright Yellow, The Colour Which Has Come To Define Gen Z
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First came Lemonade then Gen-Z yellow.
Yellow. It’s a divisive thing, isn’t it? The colour of Big Bird, the Tour de France winner’s jersey and fishermen’s wellies. The Beatles sang about it. In nature, when paired with black, it means danger. In Japan, it often represents courage; in Russia, a psychiatric hospital is known as a ‘yellow house’. And yet it also represents sunshine, happiness and spring. The acid smiley face is the colour’s DNA.
And it’s been on our fashion radar for decades: first popular in Victorian times for ladies’ morning dresses, revisited in the Seventies as mustard corduroy, and now – thanks to Balenciaga, Gucci and Christopher Kane, to name but a few – it’s coming to a high street near you. And yet it remains a controversial colour for most. The Marmite of the fashion world. I’ve always thought it washed me out, with my pale skin and blonde hair. I remember as a teenager being told I shouldn’t wear yellow, obediently doing just that until recently (such are the silly rules we often unwittingly adopt). Although it must be said: if you are of a darker complexion than me, then lucky you – every shade will suit you.
It’s not a colour that’s trended much in recent years – or at least not compared to the rest of the rainbow. Pink has had more of a moment, even garnering its own nickname – millennial pink – thanks to its stratospheric popularity over the past few years. Blue had a bit of a thing several years ago, too, albeit a much less Insta-worthy one. And now, it’s yellow’s turn.
The spring/summer 2018 catwalks were awash with sunflower shades. There were yellow tartan trousers and Crocs at Balenciaga, sheer lemon-yellow chiffon dresses at Preen and knee-high sports socks at Prada. A skinny-strapped asymmetric cocktail dress is everything I want to wear on holiday this summer.
And then there is Ganni – the Copenhagen-born brand that is rapidly gaining cult status among the Instagram generation – first with its sold-out banana T-shirt and now with its egg-yolk-bright belted coat. And of course there was that Tibi dress,seen on the back of every street-style star worth their salt at New York Fashion Week this February, that most likely populated your Instagram feed for the duration of the month. Canary yellow, ankle length and subtly pleated (pictured above right), it’s one of their best-sellers and a style they’re having trouble keeping in stock.
So, how to wear it. Well, as always, accessories are your entry level. Fancy a yellow bag? Take your pick. Everyone from Roksanda to Loewe and Fendi have done their versions, with the high street not far behind. Shoes? If Christopher Kane’s Crocs are just one step too far for you (I’ll forgive you, but do not pass Go. Do not collect £200), then perhaps Calvin Klein’s yellow cowboy boots might be your thing. Or Ellery’s ankle-tie leather pumps are très chic when worn with all black.
For just a flash of yellow, a cotton poloneck (Uniqlo’s HeatTech are the best), worn under a buttoned-up shirt and tucked into denim, feels very Calvin. You could apply the same layering trick to any T-shirt/summer-dress combo.
When it comes to what to wear with yellow, it goes especially well with camel, which has a sort of instant neutralising effect on it. Try a classic trench – there are hundreds on offer this season – belted to give structure to a floaty floral summer dress (Self-Portrait and Urban Outfitters both have great yellow ones).
But of course, those willing to move beyond this slightly safe pairing will get serious style kudos for going the whole hog with a full head-to-toe yellow look. Shrinking violets, this one’s not for you, but those brave enough to wear yellow-on-yellow-on-yellow, I salute you.
Follow Harriet as she tries the trends @harrietstewart
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