How to style bold colours this summer: Tap into the trend with our top picks

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When thinking about the colour for summer, there’s often not one that particularly stands out. But bold hues usually take centre stage.

This season proved that more so than ever. The spring/summer shows would perhaps be best described as an explosion of different hues.

Christopher Kane, for example, turned to orange and pink lace. And Valentino went with a series of looks in green, fuchsia and yellow.

If you’re a colourphobe, this might intimidate you, particularly when a monochrome outfit often feels like a safe bet.

While head to toe monotone does have currency, it’s time to get creative and play with colour combinations. Bright shades don’t have to be as scary as you think.

The runway was adrift with chic styles, and rainbow collections have been popping up left, right, and centre. So, there’s bound to be something for you, even if it’s simply adding a bold blazer to your classic jeans and a white T-shirt.

While it’s important to understand what colours suit your skin tone, you can easily experiment with what works best for you. By exploring different shades of your favourite colour, chances are you’ll soon find the palette you love, and will be ready to create a uniform of colourful combos in no time.

As the fashion industry has become far more accustomed to colour in recent years, the high street is a great place to start on your quest – whether it’s accessorising or going bold in head-to-toe hues.

From bold orange to parma violet shades, we’re here to help you add a little bit of brightness to your personal collection. You won’t regret it.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Orange

Hues of orange and tangerine flooded the spring/summer 2019 shows and remained a massive colour on the SS20 runways, too.

Rejina Pyo, Emilia Wickstead, Tom Ford
Rejina Pyo, Emilia Wickstead, Tom Ford

At London Fashion Week, Rejina Pyo turned out a retro silk dress, while Emilia Wickstead opted for a more grown-up take on the trend with a tailored jumpsuit. At the other end of the spectrum, Tom Ford went big with electric orange blazers, midi dresses, and maxi skirts.

At first glance, you might think that this isn’t for wallflowers, but it needn’t be difficult to pull off as long as you style it right. It’s important to think about the fabric – avoid heavy pieces, such as knitwear or sweaters, and instead reach for linens, satins and silks for a summery take on the trend.

We love this wrap-style tunic (Zara, £29.95) that pays homage to Emilia Wickstead’s smart tailoring. The asymmetric hem and wrap-style make for a flattering cut, while the fabric soft and subtle. A great way to pare this back is with a simple sandal – we love these loupe smart sliders (Dune, £85).

Loupe smart sliders 
Loupe smart sliders 

If you’re not quite ready to wear head-to-toe orange, there are a number of ways you can easily accessorise with it. Swap out your neural coloured jacket in favour of this orange single breasted blazer (Topshop, £45.50). Wear it over jeans and a plain white T-shirt, for the perfect pared back, yet summery look.

Pink

This colour was celebrated in every hue this season, from electric tones to bubblegum shades. High street brands followed suit, meaning there’s plenty of options to choose from.

The key thing here is to not treat it like it’s a statement. Instead style it with trainers, mix it with black, or even try a colour clash with different shades of fuchsia and pastel blue or green.

Also consider the style, if it’s a bold pink, balance it out with romantic and airy silhouettes. If it’s a lighter shade, try something more fitted.

Jacquemus, Valentino, Jacquemus
Jacquemus, Valentino, Jacquemus(Jacquemus, Valentino, Jacquemus)

On the catwalk, Jacquemus made a compelling case for the colour, showcasing his vibrant pink trousers, blazers and dresses on a hot pink runway. Valentino went all out too, with a fluorescent puff-sleeve midi dress and coordinating waist belt. While Christopher Kane went more coral and ethereal with a spaghetti strap, pleated dress.

From designer to high street, there are a number of ways to wear the pink trend. If you’re looking for something bold and puffy, look to this satin puff sleeve mini dress, (& Other Stories, £50). The floaty cut will balance out the bright colour but it also cinches at the waist for a flattering finish. Wear with a pair of simple black wrap sandals (Topshop, £20.30).

Satin puff sleeve mini dress 
Satin puff sleeve mini dress 

If you’d rather something a little more structured, opt for cream linen shorts (& Other Stoires, £55). Similarly, we love a bold two-piece, so try pairing the jacket with clashing wide linen-blend trousers (H&M, £79.99).

Yellow

From bright lemon hues to buttery pastels, yellow in all its forms screams summer. It’s a colour that looks great with a tan and when worn with a clashing bold red lip.

Emilia Wickstead, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Balmain
Emilia Wickstead, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Balmain

While shapes and styles differed drastically across collections, where designers did unite was in their fondness for the shade. 3.1 Phillip Lim led with a bold lemon midi dress and co-ordinating jacket, while Balmain went for a fringe cut jumpsuit and a floaty, off the shoulder dress. Emilia Wickstead opted for a puff-sleeve floaty number.

Yellow bardot maxi puff dress 
Yellow bardot maxi puff dress 

When tapping into the boldness of yellow, we’d advise keeping it pared back. For an easy summer daytime look, we love this long lyocell-blend dress (H&M, £49.99), or for something a little less bold, opt for this striped oversized dress (Zara, £29.99), it’s the perfect throw-on-and-go number.

Lilac

This colour has recently been dubbed millennial purple. When it comes to modern pastels, in our opinion, lilac is always a front-runner. Although we didn’t see as much purple in the spring/summer 2020 catwalk as previous years, its delicate hues were still used by a handful of designers.


Loewe, Max Mara, Givenchy

Loewe, Max Mara, Givenchy

Max Mara opted for a satin slip dress paired with a coordinating cap, while Givenchy went with plunging necklines and midi length cuts and Loewe opted for long lace. Following the Bottega Veneta Resort 2021 show, where lilac was the colour that took centre stage, we’re sure this shade is here to stay and will continue to reach cult status.

The trick to pulling it off is finding the perfect shade to match your skin tone – too dark and it looks slightly gothic, too light and it has the ability to wash you out. Once you’ve nailed this, it’s easily one of the most versatile colours for summer. When it comes to styling, try experimenting with various hues – it also works particularly well when paired with green, baby blue, and even yellow.

Relaxed wrap mini dress
Relaxed wrap mini dress

Alternatively, put green and purple together to create an unexpectedly chic outfit – we think this Kai dress (Weekday, £25) is a great standalone piece but would pack a punch when paired with a dark green double-breasted blazer (Mango, £39.99).

If you’re not sure about going head-to-toe lilac, try adding it into your wardrobe slowly, with this linen shirt (Massimo Dutti, £49.95) for example, worn best when unbuttoned over a white vest (Urban Outfitters, £10) and black denim jeans (Topshop, £36). On a hot summer’s day, sub the jeans for a pair of black linen shorts (Arket, £35).

Green

Green for spring/summer shows no sign of slowing down. From light and fresh pistachio hues to more bold lime greens, this has been a trending colour this season. There’s a number of options for styling – mint works as a soft alternative to monochrome dressing, so try a co-ord, while lime can be layered with whites and pinks.

Jacquemes, Victoria Beckham, Valentino
Jacquemes, Victoria Beckham, Valentino

On the runway, Valentino went big with a striking neon maxi dress, while Victoria Beckham opted for something more light and ethereal in a pleated midi dress with a plunging neckline. Jacquemus played with the idea of green in place of neutrals, with blazers and blouses.

Florina asymmetric cotton-poplin shirt (Net-A-Porter, £230), pink strappy sandal (& Other Stories, £50), Ganni printed mesh wrap dress (Mytheresa, £178) 
Florina asymmetric cotton-poplin shirt (Net-A-Porter, £230), pink strappy sandal (& Other Stories, £50), Ganni printed mesh wrap dress (Mytheresa, £178) 

If you want to back a punch, play with patterns and opt for a floral number, we love this Ganni printed mesh wrap dress (Mytheresa, £178). Or for something a little more subtle, it’s got to be this ruffle gown (Mango, £19.99). Both dresses would look great when worn with a contrasting pink strappy sandal (& Other Stories, £50).

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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