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Elsa keeps 2016 fashion

Monday, January 11, 2016
Sporty casual has been given an upgrade as designers bring “athleisure” wear for women in 2016. PHOTO: ESSENCE

My fashion forward friend and media maven Judette Coward showed up for our lunch date in a black and white eyelet romper, and red high heels with a splattering of sequins on the tips. On point, as usual, she has 2016 in the shopping bag. Rompers, jumpsuits, and despite my best efforts, culottes, are still hot and trendy. 

Except that the experts say ‘trends’ are so last year. Now it is more about ‘moods’ and celebrating individuality, diversity and ethnicity. I always chuckle when fashion preaches individuality because the individuals we all want to be are superhumans like Beyonce and Lupita N’yongo. Still, with the popularity of social media, the ordinary girl in the striped pajama pants and cropped top can have more of a voice than before.

Chioma Nnadi, the editor of, who looks as unconventional and wonderful as her name suggests, with her big, bold hair, says the personal point of view has become so much more prevalent. Everyone has an opinion, and by God and Instagram, they mean to have their say, in capital letters. 

The latest fashion forecast from Chioma prepares us for “athleisure” which is  athletic wear which you can wear to lunch with Hillary Clinton or your best girlfriends. No, this is not licence to grunge around in stinky sneakers and grandma’s velour track suit. This is sleek, sexy stuff that you style up with great ankle boots and well-constructed leather handbags. The evidence is in: Beyonce is launching an active street wear line even as we shriek. 

Paperbag-waist loose trousers are making a Katharine Hepburn comeback. But how many people have the height and presence of the grand lady to pull off that extra poof at the waistline and stride by in so much volume without looking as if they shrunk in the dryer? But the fashion news which has me driving spikes into my temples has to do with colour.

Look for things in for subdued pinks and light blues. Why? Because Pantone, which sets colour trends, declared the 2016 Colours of the Year to be rose quartz and serenity, which are the sort of shades you would associate with bridesmaids, high school graduates, and the Queen. 

Rose quartz is described as a “budding flower” or “serene sunset” or a “flushed cheek.” Serenity blue is “weightless and airy,” providing respite in turbulent times.

“Colours this season transport us to a happier, sunnier place where we feel free to express a wittier version of our real selves,” chirps Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute™, which is headquartered in New Jersey, USA.

A wittier version of ourselves? How clever can we be looking like sorbet? 

Other top picks include a maritime-inspired snorkel blue, buttercup, peach echo, and lilac gray. The New Year colours are supposed to be calming and soothing, paying homage to Nature and awakening a sense of reflection and mindfulness. Phrases such as ‘playful escapism’ and ‘disconnect from technology’ are being laced through the conversations on colour.

Sounds like a yoga spa commercial to me, and, while calm and nostalgia have their attraction, I prefer to stomp confidently through 2016 rather than skip girlishly through a meadow. If you don’t hear from me, I will be hiding in the insane asylum until this colour madness blows over.

Recession is no time for retreat, escapism, and lilac gray, which belongs in the closet of every little old lady who remembers having to wear gloves to church. Bring out the bold tangerine and orange, the flamboyant reds, the marvellous indigos, the rich coffee and soulful cocoa, and the take-no-prisoners charcoal, emerald and shut-up yellows.

Pantone can put on the chill factor all it wants. I will be keeping things hot.

What’s your fashion forecast? 
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