I’ve got the hump at the moment – in a good way. Camel has raced into the front of my sartorial consciousness this autumn and it’s quite obsessive. Like others around me, camel has always been a go-to neutral colour I’ve dabbled in (think cashmere jumpers and belted winter coat) but this season, I’m zoning in and enjoying a top-to-toe submersion of what is surely the chicest tone out there. Fawn, taupe, light brown, caramel – whatever you want to call it, I’ve fallen back in love with this iconic shade and am loving rediscovered old staple items, restyling them with purpose and seeking out some clever new finds.
There are so many classic camel references and muses to pour over – Lauren Hutton, MaxMara campaigns, YSL safari suits, Caroline Basset Kennedy – all with immediate connotations of luxury, elegance and timelessness. I love the international appeal of camel from preppy luxe in American Vogue to effortless cool on the streets of Paris. I was transfixed by @captainandthegypsykid’s gorgeous documentary of a recent Moroccan trip where earthy shades of rich taupe and caramel were the order of the day, and don’t get me started on the interior porn Instagram has to offer – I’ve been down a few camel-coloured rabbit holes recently, which included finding the world’s best sofa (must start saving).
When it comes to such a neutral colour though, there's a fine line between chic and dull. One key piece of advice is to seek out warmer tones that flatter the skin and will see you through the latter stages of the season. Camel looks sensational post-holiday when a golden glow and some putty-coloured make-up are a match made in heaven. But in the paler winter months you don’t want to have to keep re-applying red lips to bring your face to life. Gravitate towards luxurious texture – there’s nothing more appealing than neutral shades of silk, suede and leather and there are heaps out there from high street to high end. Concentrate on silhouette. It is all about sophistication of shape and intelligent design. Wearing layered camel head to toe is actually an incredibly quick way of pulling together a chic look that feels on trend and gets you from a meeting to a weekend away.
A key purchase is a great camel coat. I have a belted mohair one that I’ve found eternally useful, but if you are on the search there are plenty to choose from. For those with a larger budget looking for a long-term investment, this Givenchy one is the dream. I also love this checked version from Giuliva Heritage, giving the camel look a pinch of pattern. Also check out Nanushka – I adore this brand particularly for their coats and dreamy caramel vegan leather.
A quick wardrobe fix is to top and tail, so if you’ve got a great camel coat, buy some matching shoes/boots – teamed outerwear and footwear immediately pulls a look together, like a neat outfit parenthesis. Zara have these fab square-toe mules (great with rolled-up jeans or wrap pencil skirt), for 70s style knee-length boots you can’t beat Gianvito Rossi (Arket do a reasonably priced version) and Jimmy Choo always do the best croc for a bit of added texture. I’m about to purchase another pair of Isabel Marant cowboy boots (I bought black last year and they got strong usage) that will work with my camel and also with bottle green. And how much fun are these from ASOS? Taking textured footwear to another level, though possibly not in the rain.
These Zara jeans have been so useful (they’re pretty much the only shape I’m wearing right now) and look great with a cashmere jumper or an oversized blazer (like this cord one from Ganni). For a useful pair of high-waisted trousers, Joseph, Isabel Marant or Victoria Beckham are hard to beat, for high street it’s worth checking out Mango or Massimo Dutti (who have a great camel collection in general). Mango also have a luxe hooded shearling gilet which is very tempting.
You don’t have to buy expensive cashmere – look to M&S or Uniqlo for accessible knitwear and always remember to have a peak at the menswear section. I love a knitted skirt and this ribbed one from Topshop is pretty fab. And this blouson sleeve jumper from Zara, reminiscent of Ulla Johnson, is a sophisticated, useful purchase.
For easy-to-wear dresses, I love Zara’s version of the Cecilie Bahnsen that they seem to be producing in most colours and Jigsaw have created a pretty long-sleeved silk dress that is in the most flattering shade, verging on pink. I am in love with my new Asceno silk pyjama set that I’ve been lounging about in and I’m sure at some point it will be worn out one evening. I’ve even have my eye on some lush Falke socks.
Blend with leopard or tweed, throw in a pop of turquoise or orange, team with black leather or keep it fresh with ecru, you don’t have to be purest about this most traditional of shades. The C word has dropped this season and its game is strong.