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How to pull off neon at work

If you’re like me, Day-Glo colours conjure up images of a mixture of things — none of them particularly good.

If you’re like me, Day-Glo colours conjure up images of a mixture of things — none of them particularly good. Think the synthetic hair on My Little Pony dolls, George Michael’s short shorts in old Wham! videos, flickering Bud Light signs at gas stations and American Apparel leggings.


But in fashion, these cornea-popping brights couldn’t be more “haute” courant. Think Christopher Kane’s sublime laser cut leather and lace skirts in hot pink, Miu Miu’s silk pleated dress in fluorescent yellow, or Jil Sanders bold florals. Blame them for all the candy colours you’ve been seeing in Zara, Topshop, H&M and the like. The challenge: wearing brights in a way that looks chic and not MTV circa 1983. You’re not going to an awesome ’80s theme party, after all.


Right about now, you may be imagining your boss balking at the sight of a dress in go-to-hell yellow, a flagrant rebellion against the navy, black and tan of nine-to-five world. Or someone on the train mistaking your neon orange blazer for a safety vest. Don’t think about that.


This look can work in the office. There are several foolproof routes you can take. 1) The Small Doses Approach, in which you use neon as a pop of contrast against an otherwise sensibly coloured look. It could be as simple as a neon pink collar poking out from underneath the neckline of a respectable gray sweater, a fluo green belt cinching a nude coloured dress or a brazenly bright orange manicure. And then there’s option 2) The Whole Hog Method, in which you take a series of separates in different bold hues (a green pencil skirt, blue button down and yellow trench coat, for instance) and wear them all at once — fashion types like to call it colour-blocking.


I’ve tried both at work and managed to even get a compliment from our hard-bitten news editor who rarely misses an opportunity to make fun of my fashion-loving ways. Nevermind that he followed the nice words up with this gem: “It’s great and versatile. You can use it for cycling at night.”


But even if he did crack wise, no worries. The most important rule when it comes to wearing a bold colour is to accessorize the look with your attitude. It’s less about what others think of you in the outfit, and more about how you feel wearing it.

 
 
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