Bye-bye black and grey. Make room for tan. Another huge 90’s trend and I think we need to proceed with caution.

Tan, khaki, stone and beige all refer to a similar shade of pastel brown which is just about the most unflattering colour on the planet. I might be alone, but I think that most people look awfully washed out when they wear these shades. Tan is not to be confused with darker and richer colours like caramel, mushroom, camel and toffee, or lighter colours like cream and off-white. Those are much easier to wear than the tricky shade that falls between them.

Drop Notch Collar Jacket 3.1 Phillip Lim Shirred Double Breasted Trench Coat City-fit Super 150s Mini-herringbone Trouser

But there are ways to wear tan and beige without looking washed out. Here’s how:

  • Choose textured fabrications: Tan comes to life when you add iridescent sparkle, sheen and surface interest. Shadows begin to dance over the colour, giving it depth and luster. This makes it visually more flattering against the complexion. Keep the colour flat and chances are high that you’ll look flat too.
  • Look for jacket styles with contrasting trims: Tan blazers, jackets, trenches and coats look more appealing with bold dark trims, like black or tortoise shell buttons, zips and buckles. It can make all the difference.
  • Add a bold neutral: Tan jackets in flat casual cottons look better when you wear them with bright white, rich deep browns or black tops, because the combination creates a bold contrast. For the same reasons also I quite like tan items when they are combined with bright orange, citron and tomato red. A scarf in these colours worn up against the face will also do the trick.
  • Wear dressy tan bottoms: Casual tan cotton bottoms tend to look blah, but as soon as you pop the colour into a lustrous dressy fabric away from the face, the picture changes (the J. Crew trousers above are a good example).

Of course, your natural colouring also plays a role. Ladies with dark hair and skin tones will wear tan and beige better than those with lighter complexions just because the mixture creates an eye-catching contrast.

I won’t be adding the iconic Burberry trench to my wardrobe because I much prefer cream and white to any shade of tan. But if tan tickles your fancy, there are ways to make it work.