Daily Mail

Indulge in chocolate this winter – guilt free!

- Shane Watson

SOMEThINg surprising happened last week. I bought a pair of brown corduroy trousers — something I haven’t worn since my mum was buying my clothes back in the 1970s.

There are some black cords in my wardrobe but I didn’t give them a second thought when I picked up the brown pair: I didn’t think, ‘hang on, those black ones will do the job just as well’ because they wouldn’t. They’d look colder, older, a lot more ordinary, and definitely not so autumn 2023.

What’s surprising is that the colour I last wore in any significan­t amount in my teens, is not just in fashion, big time, but looking like an easy and obvious alternativ­e to black.

When I went out on Friday wearing the cords (more of the going out appropriat­eness of brown in a minute), a girlfriend swooped down to check out my legs and exclaimed: ‘Brown? Ooh! Nice!’.

Later on, when my fashion editor friend rang and I reported having just bought some cords, she simply assumed they were brown. She also guessed they were Me+Em (£195, meandem.com) which happen to be a great shape, barely flared with patch pockets and a mid-rise waist, while going on to sing the praises of Massimo Dutti’s chocolate needlecord­s (£69.95, massimodut­ti.com) and Marks & Spencer’s bitter chocolate wide-leg cord trousers (£39.50, marksandsp­encer.com).

She would say I’m late to the brown party: all the browns, from caramel to 90 per cent cocoa, are the new wardrobe base colours. And it’s true, I’ve been slow to accept this fact. But there’s no other way to say this — brown really is the new black, especially if it’s dark enough for you to have to do a double take.

If you’re buying a basic wardrobe building block, dark brown is now the colour that looks new and polished, the one that will sit comfortabl­y with all the other colours out there, from bright blue and plum to red and green.

If you’re young you can wear all the shades of brown all over if you fancy; if you’re not young, it’s got the same advantages as navy — it’s softer, warmer and more forgiving against older skin than black, and it works well, if not better, around the clock.

For example, you can wear a coloured top with chocolate brown trousers and look smart and work ready or dressed for Friday night; whereas bright colours and black together always looks a little bit like Christmas party time.

Likewise brown and light grey or cream is a luxuriousl­ooking daytime combinatio­n, whereas black plus grey or

cream has the potential to look cold.

It’s easier to experiment with colours if you put them with brown. And brown is less formal and more evening-friendly than a neutral such as grey.

It’s also true that brown is not nearly so easy for us grown-ups to wear as it is for our daughters. You need to consider the texture — a chocolate corduroy or velvet is a very different prospect to a flat brown crepe — a bit of sheen doesn’t go amiss, and tone is crucial.

And don’t wear it next to your face. There’s nothing that can kill a complexion faster than donkey or mouse, and if you want to avoid accidental­ly looking like a penitent, stick to the bitter chocolates and don’t wear it head-to-toe.

Luxury shirt company With Nothing Underneath (WNU)

has added a delicious-looking chocolate poplin shirt to its range (£ 95, withnothin­g underneath.com) which has that crucial bit of sheen and would be a great alternativ­e to a black top for dressing up jeans (just add a midnightbl­ue velvet jacket — £ 79, marksandsp­encer.com).

M&S has a satin midaxi slip skirt in chocolate (£35) which you can wear in the day with boots and a hip-length rollneck sweater or a longer splitsided sweater. Otherwise you can try a pencil skirt with a bit of sheen (£87, arket.com) less severe than black and smart with an open blazer.

Brown is a colour that always works best in more luxurious fabrics. A faux leather- effect blazer (£89.99, shop.mango. com) or a bitter chocolate cord single-breasted blazer (£79, marksandsp­encer.com) worn over a black sweater and trousers for the office looks stealth-wealthy and businessli­ke rather than hitman.

Finally, a dark burnt orangey brown will make a spicy alternativ­e to a black tuxedo this party season (£ 119, shop. mango.com), with trousers to match (£79.99).

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 ?? ?? Hot cocoa: Tory Burch 2023
Hot cocoa: Tory Burch 2023
 ?? ?? Warm hues: Olivia Wilde
Warm hues: Olivia Wilde

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