Bitter lemon, mint, and cantaloupe are shades that recall ice cream parlor décor. But they were also some of the most influential hues that graced the Spring 2012 runways. Bridesmaids everywhere once feared these sorbet-like shades, but now they are poised for a big comeback. This season, pastels manifested themselves in countless ways from ultra-feminine dresses at Prada and Louis Vuitton, to smart sportswear from Diane von Furstenberg, 3.1 Phillip Lim and J.Crew, to tough girl chic from Balenciaga and Balmain. Balancing out their saccharine sweetness may be tricky, but with the right combination of girly and sporty, pastels and neutrals, one can embrace this frothy colour trend easily.
Fashion tips #1: Don’t get too sweet
Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2012
The pale yellow gingham skirt and jacket ensemble paired with an oversized lace collar and a crystal headband may have worked for teenage model Lida Fox on Louis Vuitton’s runway — especially set against the backdrop of a enchanting vintage carousel — but in real life, one might look like a cupcake shop employee. On a similar note, skip on any ruched or ruffled pieces as they might appear a bit juvenile or prom-like.
Fashion tips #2: Layer using clean lines
3.1 Phillip Lim Spring/Summer 2012
That’s not to say that one can’t wear sugar hues head-to-toe. Phillip Lim made the
colour combination of cantaloupe pants, lavender blouse, pistachio cream jacket and baby blue sandals seem like elegant summer office attire. Clean lines are the trick to layering these powdery hues into a complete ensemble. Take, for example, Preen’s pale yellow pantsuit, elegantly paired with just a simple white tee.
Fashion tips #3: Mix pastels and neutrals
Diane von Furstenberg Spring/Summer 2012
Adding a dose of neutral can help balance out the girly nature of pastels.
Diane von Furstenberg combined her cantaloupes and mints with neutrals like dark chocolate brown and oatmeal. Her Spring 2012 collection is filled with sporty pastel separates, making it very easy to mix into one’s existing wardrobe. Similarly, Phillip Lim inserted a lot of greys and khakis for a more casual approach. Chanel mixed basic blacks with its sea world inspired hues.
More tips for wearing these soft hues, on the next page…
Fashion tips #4: Toughen up
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2012
If soft and feminine lace or silk chiffon pieces are giving you a saccharine headache, try a tougher pastel piece, like the lemon yellow leather motorcycle jacket from Louis Vuitton or the pastel paneled sport jacket from Balenciaga. Or take a cue from Givenchy by simply pairing your favourite pair of slim-cut pants with a menswear-inspired silk button-up in a pastel range. Balmain and Versace both took pastels on a rock and roll ride with the insertion of gold appliqué and studs.
Fashion tips #5: Take baby steps
Jonathan Saunders Spring/Summer 2012
Unsure about stocking your closet with these de-saturated candy shades? Try introducing some bits here and there. For example, choose a blouse with a light pastel pattern, like the darling powder blue palm trees set on a beige backdrop from Jill Stuart’s Spring 2012 collection. Or consider playful colour-block garments such as the dresses and skirts seen at Jonathan Saunders, where shades of pale blue and yellow emerged only at the hem.
Fashion tips #6: Embrace frothy accessories
Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2012
Accessories are always a great tool for experimenting with new colours or styles. Usher pastels into your wardrobe with a bitter lemon Prada satchel or a lilac shoulder bag from J.Crew. Opt for colourful shoes this summer, with a dusty pink ballet flat from Diane von Furstenberg or a soft yellow peep toe sandal from Carven. Bring some colour to your face with thick-rimmed retro shades, like the pistachio and melon hued ones seen at Dolce & Gabbana’s charming Italian garden collection.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.