The Style Councillor

How to wear pastels

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Our style director’s guide to avoid looking like an ice cream parlour this summer

There’s something about warm weather that brings out the nostalgia in fashion folk. Maybe its a faint hope that through our clothes we can escape these unsettling times, back to youthful long summers in lemon oversized t-shirts, sorbet coloured shorts and baggy trousers. Summer lovin’ has certainly stirred many menswear brands this season, helped along by the nostalgic pastel infused wardrobes of Elio and Oliver in coming-of-age film, Call Me By Your Name.

Of course, the home of pastels is Miami, thanks to its ice cream coloured art deco buildings set against a cloudless blue sky – and the legacy of pastel padded jackets as worn by Messrs Crockett & Tubbs in ‘80s cop drama Miami Vice.  Pastel shades are in this summer (when are they ever out?) and so to guide you through this often tricky colour palette we’ve highlighted five pieces that are guaranteed to have you looking cool and summery. The one take-away is to balance out pastels with earthy tones or team with denim and chambray, rather than opting for more pale shades in one look than an Italian ice cream parlour.

Remember, it’s still early summer, so work up that tan sensibly and show off the pastels to their best effect. Nobody looks good in a lemon sorbet shirt and painful pink burn marks.

1. Battenwear Zuma camp collar shirt

Without wanting to sound like a broken record, we may have mentioned once or twice that the camp collar shirt is the shirt for summer 2018. It also means there are a fair few to choose from. We think this pastel hued mint version from Battenwear is a fine example. It’s cut in fresh, cool cotton, while the boxy cut with side splits stays true to its 1950s West Coast origins. We think you’ll get lots of wear out of this in the coming months, either teamed with navy cotton shorts and espadrilles around a BBQ or out in town with pleated sand coloured chinos, suede loafers and a white crewneck tee underneath – for that must-wear nod to 1950s nostalgia.

£155, shop now

2. Burberry Soho linen jacket

If you think we like to make a point about the trends and colours of the season, then this linen blazer by Burberry won’t come as much of a surprise. Its colour hits the right amount of pastel pink with its subtle dusty shade, it’s cut in a favourable mid-weight linen that gives this blazer some structure, in addition to the high armholes for a slim-line silhouette. It also makes a refreshing change from the sea of navy blazers out there. In fact, you’ll find this investment will tick a number of sartorial boxes – whether you team it with a pair of navy wool tailored trousers, ice blue shirt and navy silk tie for a summer wedding, or with crewneck white t-shirt, khaki cotton chinos and boat shoes for less formal, but no less smart occasions.

£795, shop now

3. Gant slim fit chinos

Tread carefully when it comes to pastel trousers; too much raspberry red and you’re in danger of being refused entry into some of SW1 finest establishments (true fact). Too turquoise and you’ll be asked where your super yacht’s moored (not necessarily a bad thing). We think this fresh blue finds the right balance. Gant’s summer collection is peppered with soft pastel shades, not surprising given their varsity-influenced credentials. These slim-fit chinos offer a flattering shape thanks to their stretch cotton composition, that’s been garment dyed for a lived-in, sun-worn look the moment you put them on. In other words, these are the perfect holiday trousers to play up to the pastel theme. Pair with a pink pique polo and navy espadrilles, or wear in the city heat with a crisp Sea Island cotton open-necked white shirt and unstructured, unlined patch-pocket blazer.

£100, shop now

4. Albam sweatshirt

Casual functionality is what Albam does best, and this loopback cotton jersey in the label’s ‘Lavender Fog’ colourway is a fine example of how to lend a classically comfy sweat top a seasonal lilac twist. The finely ribbed trims on the cuffs and hem are nice touches of detail, which this brand always pays close attention to. Given the soft jersey fabric and distinct pastel colour coding, it’s got more than a touch of early ‘80s nostalgia about it. Bring it bang up-to-date with a pair of navy drawstring cotton trousers and white low-top trainers for a more minimal Scandinavian approach.

£90, shop now

5. Oliver Spencer Ambleside sneakers

This shade of dusty pink has been a real hit in the Oliver Spencer summer collection, used across his cotton tees and suede cowboy jackets, it makes a neat transition into this fine pair of suede sneakers. Created with a contrasting ecru stripe outline to each side and finished with a bright white rubber sole and matching cotton laces, these have got ‘summer classics’ written all over them. Team with a pair of rolled-up navy chinos, or a cuffed cream linen trouser for laid-back summer weekends.

£169, shop now