Inside Style – Coffee Colours

Inside Style – by Annmarie O’Connor – featured in The Dubliner – Feb 3

Cream is the new camel. This is the mind-blowing fashion edict which has trickled down from the international catwalks. The Pantone Colour Report also touts tobacco, rust, beeswax and honeysuckle as hot hues. Mix them all together and you’ve got yourself a caramel macchiato (without the calories).


Although I can appreciate such poetic nuances (I’m a closet Keats fan); my inner New Yorker yearns for some straight-talking. The moveable feast of fashion can be challenging enough without adding further ingredients to the ROYGBIV equation. What’s more, I don’t possess adequate chutzpah to approach any sales assistant with the words ‘Is this available in nutmeg?’ or any other spice for that matter.

Has fashion become so micro-elitist that wearing brown just isn’t enough? Or is it transmogrifying into a Starbuck’s culture of self-appointed epithets? Both it would appear.

“Since when has buying clothes become such an ordeal?” moaned a friend recently. “Since scarves became ‘snoods’, camel became a colour and treggings gate-crashed the party,” I sniped. “I feel like my mother when she tries ordering a coffee in Starbucks,” added the addled pal. “There should be a fashion menu for the early-adapters and those who still relate to clothing as coffee – black or white.”

This acerbic exchange got me to thinking. Maybe a two-tier system isn’t such a bad idea? Imagine how simple shopping would be: trousers, skirts and shoes on one side; carrot legs, midi swings and clog wedges on the other. Or perhaps a complimentary translation guide could be doled out for style tourists? It would certainly spare the panic of realising those high-waited flares are not toffee as suspected but, gasp, nougat!

Then again, there’s always the clever (albeit sneaky) approach of wearing only black. Coco Chanel’s infamous endorsement has gone a long way in saving harried souls from falling into the trend trap whilst keeping them illusorily slim and at the ready for any function (or funeral). Whilst a similar white edict could work for spring/summer 11, its potential to modify Celtic skin into that of a corpse is well-documented.

Sartorial stratagems aside, the fashion patois will continue to evolve with each season, demanding we either adapt or suffer in kind. “Espresso?” balked my friend. “What ever happened to dark brown?” “Dark brown died peacefully in 2010,” I confessed, “leaving behind chocolate truffle and wintery pepper.” R.I.P.