Can a colour be offensive to others when you wear it?

Anne Hathaway nails a tricky colour combination on the streets of New York City.Credit:PA

It didn't take long for Pantone to announce the 2019 colour of the year for fashion watchers to cry "hail" or "fail" about the star hue, living coral.

Looking somewhere between watermelon and Finding Nemo it's not the easiest colour to wear, let alone decorate your house with. And let's face it, these things ought to be taken with a few grains of salt (the fancy pink one) given I am yet to see too many of my friends getting around in "ultra violet" or "greenery", the last two Pantone picks.

In any event, it got me thinking about colours (and colour combinations) that are hard to wear, or even downright offensive.

Yellow is a harsh colour, it's also a lot harder to match with a lot of what's in your wardrobe. And yet, about this time last year we were all being told it was going to be the colour of 2018. And then we saw Amal Clooney at the royal wedding and realised we are not her and will never be her and thus shelved our aspirations of wearing sunflower in spring.

You see, that's the funny thing about colours. Once we have finally worked out how to wear them, we are told they are no longer in vogue.

If you want to know whether a colour can cause enough eye pain to incite a violent response, just ask the judges of The Block or a TV presenter.

While it's common knowledge that TV newsreaders are warned off wearing patterns or anything that will "strobe" under the lights and cameras, solid colours are thought to be pretty safe.

ABC News Breakfast host Virginia Trioli said one of her favourite combinations, an acid yellow top with a bone leather skirt, may have divided viewers but she had to stop wearing it when the top shrunk.

"Women, especially in Melbourne, should embrace much more colour, we are awfully wary," she said. "It's remarkable of the power and effect of a red dress. When you wear one, you get [positive] comments all morning."

Although Trioli says no colours should be ruled "out of bounds", she has a personal dislike of teal and "that awful burgundy" often seen in corporate wear.

"The moment you put it on you feel as though you are enslaving yourself.

"I accept some people don't like wearing some colours – [but] pale blue and pink make anyone who looks exhausted, especially at the end of the year, look well."

Everyone has their own personal colour kryptonite. Mine is baby blue. Can't stand it. Never have, never will. Give me teal, cobalt, navy or sapphire but powder blue (in Pantone speak, that's "serenity", one of the colours of 2016) – yuck. But put it on a fair-skinned woman and it can be quite magical.

It definitely pays to come up with your own personal colour wheel for ease of shopping and dressing. Look in your wardrobe and divide it into three sections: the pieces you wear all the time, the ones you have trouble matching and the ones you hardly wear.

Do you notice any patterns? If there is a colour that appears time and again in the first and last group, there is a good reason. As for the middle grouping, if you find yourself with a bunch of red tops begging for bottoms, you just need some white, denim or khaki to balance them out. Stuck with some lone pink pieces? Just add navy or grey. And as for that salmon pink top that's been sitting around for a year? Don't bin it yet – your ship has just come in.

Get the look

Jump on Pantone's pick for 2019 with these coral-hued pieces.

Once Was, $270

Sportsgirl, $80

Converse, $120

Champion, $59

Double Rainbouu, $85




Double Rainbouu:

Once Was:


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