It seems now more than ever, that the fashionably courageous colour-block trend of summer 2011 is much more than just a fashion revelation this season. Now before we move further (in case you’re unaware), what exactly is the colour-block trend that’s taking designer and highstreet fashion labels by storm?

Put simply– think bright and juicy colours of everything from neon pinks and striking purples to canary yellows and cobalt greens, and contrasting it with a base colour. In essence, it combines the use of two or more geometrical “blocks” of colour in a single ensemble.

From left to right: Marc Jacobs, Sinha-Stanic, Salvatore Ferragamo. | Source: Vogue.UK

This art of play-and-contrast is not limited to apparels only. Take a look at ‘em funky bags the likes of designer labels Mulberry, Dior and Marc Jacobs and killer footwear from Prada, Michael Kors and Celine, to name a few. Here’s a quick glance :

From left to right: Prada, Michael Kors, Celine. | Source : Vogue.UK

Now that we’ve established what colour-blocking is, let’s go back to my point. We read the papers. We know what’s going on in the world around us. From bankrupted Greece, to the US debt crisis keeping us on our toes, to persistent unrest in the Middle East, and most recently, the London riots. Whilst back home in Malaysia, we’re looking at the aftermath of the Bersih rally, the shocking discovery of the thousands that are still being held under Emergency Ordinance, the JAIS raid of a church and rumours of an upcoming election by end year amongst many others.

If one were to read reports of these on a daily basis—and with this burdened knowledge, it’s hard to (for lack of better term) feel “happy” collectively or have a positive attitude/outlook on life. Really, in looking at the state of the world at large…it’s depressing. Now, isn’t it apt how designers perhaps on a sixth sense, have collectively used bright shades as a key feature in their 2011 collections? There’s an abundance of psychological-science literature demonstrating how colours are instrumental in affecting moods, and it’s no question that bright colours—especially neon brights, are mood uplifters.

So, put aside dark shades of excessive somber blacks and greys this season and don on your sunniest colour apparels! We’ve got enough sad news on the roll already, and there’s nothing quite like injecting dynamic pops of colour as a confidence booster and retro-fun appeal.

There’s two approaches to colour-blocking :

1) Creative clashing – Significantly bold and attention grabbing, it’s all about the use of two bright colours in a single ensemble. Whether it’s a bright burnt orange top and melon green shorts or cobalt blue pants and rosebud pink carryalls. Create a harmonious blend using shades of the same colour: lilac and royal purple, or turquoise with navy. Just remember, even out the rest of your outfit with softer hues of light beige, white or toned down black. You want the clashing to be done tastefully on purpose, and not look tacky. Sleek structured bags and discreet closed toe pumps or ballet flats keep the look together.

An unconventional look for the men | Source:
Shades of electric pink and sky blue platform heels | Source:

2) Single colour pop – For the less adventurous, and personally a style I favour more – use one bright shade for maximum impact. Easier to pull off for men as well. This could apply to any part of your outfit—shirt/blouse, pants, bag, jewelry, or even shoes. Lipstick red skinnies with white cropped tees, denim shorts paired with zesty orange platforms, or flirty sundresses defined with a contrasting-coloured slim vintage belt. Try not to overwhelm your outfit with too many embellishments and accessories as you want to maintain the attention on your one statement piece. Add-ons to be kept at minimal—try a pendant necklace or a classy watch.

Crisp white shirt with capri rosebud pants | Source:
Vintage dress with lipstick red platform pumps | Source:

And there you have it.

Two easy ways on tackling the colour-blocking trend. Have fun mix and matching! Most importantly, it takes a bit of time to figure out which colour combo works for you—do some experimentation and discover what looks best on you.

Aspiring human rights lawyer. Still planning that revolution.