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Colour III: A touch contrary

Browse the Internet, social media or a magazine stand and you will quickly stumble across images of beautifully styled interiors or ‘curated’ wardrobes. Some are various shades of white and grey or a melange of chalk, beige and brown. Rest-inducing to look at with just enough depth of colour to avoid a stark clinical look. Other photos suggest a life full of colour, usually in daring or vibrant combinations.

I often wonder what life must be like at either end of such a style spectrum? I am far more contrary in my colour choices. I love the calm warmth of browns and greens, but I am also drawn to deep rich hues reminiscent of the height of summer and fading glory of autumn.

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My colour tastes have always been pretty steadfast. I have never felt the need to change the shades in my home or wardrobe based on seasonal fads. Recently, however, I’ve found myself thinking about colour a lot.

Garden planning has played a role. Last year my focus shifted from cultivating a garden that looks like an allotment to something that resembles a cottage garden. My desire for year-round colour and interest (as well as food) prompted me to add perennials. As these plants stay in the soil year after year, it meant committing to certain colours as the backbone of the space. Like the warm rusts of Helenium or the chocolate toned aubergine of Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’.

Embracing my silver locks has also offered an opportunity to revisit my relationship with colour. Due to my natural colourings I mostly wear browns, earthy greens and ochres to pick up on my green eyes, dappled freckles and the copper undertones in my hair. I think I am what is know as an “autumn” in the fashion press. Now the copper in my hair has faded, I’m checking whether these colours still serve me well.

All the advice I’ve read suggests that once a women goes grey she should drop brown and green and embrace navy, grey and taupe. As much as I love taupe (or donkey as Mr M calls it), I loathe navy and grey. I always have done.

Of course the ‘perceived’ wisdom is not much to go on as little has been written about flattering colours for grey-haired women, let alone, for those of us who embrace silver and white locks long before we turn 70. My tresses may have faded but my eyes are still decidedly green and my freckles dappled rose gold. So I’ve been experimenting with colour.

Trying out new shades and tones was a challenge during three years of clothes rationing but with some careful choices I’ve been able to turn single skeins into accessories to test out my colour hunches, like the smoky brandy neck scarf. I’ve concluded that my natural inclination for browns, greens, coppers and ochres still works. I am just better off picking a more muted tone or a semi-solid. Being a knitter definitely gives me an advantage. There are so many wonderful wools available in heathered colours not to mention semi-solid hand dyed yarns that allow the mixture of pigments to respond to their context.

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Flouting the “rules”: my almost complete new cardigan in muted brown paired with a cowl in undyed yarn.

So my contribution to the “literature” on colour for ladies with grey locks is this. If you have always suited greens, browns and golds, it is still possible to wear them. Just opt for shades you would find on a moorland rather than in a primary school paint box!


One of my favourite combinations: heathered aubergine (with burnished copper buttons) and antique gold

  • Jackie Manni February 24, 2016, 3:35 pm

    I’m such a researcher that I’m surprised that I didn’t look at what others said about what suits grey(ing) hair – but I didn’t! I decided that my browngrey hair is “neutral” so I can wear any colors I want! I’ve actually gotten more adventurous since my hair is a bit mousey colored currently. Maybe this will change as I get more silvery 🙂

    Your hand knitted items are so very beautiful.

    • Meg and Gosia February 25, 2016, 8:29 am

      I think the maturity of age definitely allows us to be more adventurous. I have always chosen colours with care because I can very easily look washed out and ghost like if I pick unflattering shades. I have very pale porcelain skin that looks completely flat if I wear anything with a blue undertone. There’s a reason I’m drawn to the Rossetti colour palette, where even the blues have a algae like yellow-green undertone.

  • G from Belgium February 25, 2016, 4:49 am

    Interesting topic indeed as I never wondered about the colours I wear nowadays.
    I am considering my silver steel linings as part of “the surf look” I embrace and actually never hold back on any colour I want to wear. But that’s just being old and nuts, not stylish 😉 Gorgeous knitting you have done!

    • Meg and Gosia February 25, 2016, 8:25 am

      You’re not the first to say this. I think I’m very conscious of tones and shades anyway because people with copper hair tones and porcelain white skin need to pick colours carefully so that we don’t look washed out and sickly.

      By the way, silver steel linings… I love that. Beauty & empowerment. I’m going to use it going forward!!!

  • Gigibird March 22, 2016, 7:32 pm

    I’ve had to reconsider the colours I wear since going grey – aubergines and mauvy pinks seem to flatter more than the browns I used to love. I think you still can wear your old colours but to keep them away from around your face.
    I love my grey hair as I am not longer a slave to my roots.

    • Meg and Gosia March 22, 2016, 9:46 pm

      I agree. The shades of brown I am picking are definitely more muted, with taupe and pink undertones. I know what you mean about no longer being a slave to touching up. Thoroughly refreshing!


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