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Can you smell it? The smoky scent in the air that signals autumn? As we enter the penultimate month of the year, our thoughts turn to fireworks and mugs of hot soup. The leaves are crisp and colourful beneath our feet and summer’s neon tees are feeling particularly out of place. But that doesn’t mean we have to slip into the inky embrace of navy, black and grey.

You know instinctively that the clothes we wear influence the way we feel. But science has gone ahead and proved the idea anyway. A 2012 paper by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky delved into an idea called “enclothed cognition” (a fancy term for how what’s on the outside changes how we feel on the inside) and found some pretty compelling evidence of clothes’ ability to affect our thoughts. “Although the saying goes that clothes do not make the man,” the researchers concluded, “our results suggest they do hold a strange power over their wearers.”

No surprise, then, that in summer we’re naturally drawn to bright, vibrant colours that reflect the sunny blues, vivid greens and colourful flowers. Then, in the gloomier days of winter, we’re drawn to the same, grim colours as the skies. It might be safe, but, just like the weather, it can make you feel a bit glum. So this year, break the mould. "You should adjust your wardrobe to the seasons, and I don't just mean the fashion seasons," says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. "Style is all about context. You look best when you dress for the environment you’re in."

Fortunately, mother nature offers a handy colour-pairing crib sheet. Autumn, in particular, is a time when the trees are putting on a show. Think maroon with burnt orange, or rich umber paired with mossy green. Those are colours that you can easily incorporate into your wardrobe, on top of those safe neutrals that form its backbone year-round.


According to Luke, the easiest way to do this is with knitwear. "There is a huge range of colour in knitwear, and the muted autumnal light hits those bold, deep tones in different ways on a textured surface. I tell my clients that colours can be even more vibrant when they’re not saturated by strong, summer sun. If you wear jewel tones in a low light – or what I call a textured light – you get something really special."

But it’s not just the light that should be textured. "Corduroy and moleskin are great fabrics for colours as they add depth and nuance to the tones,” says Luke. “The sun hits textured surfaces in interesting ways. Sportier layers like gilets and raincoats are also a nice opportunity to inject some vibrancy into your outfit."

If head-to-toe foliage feels a bit much, then there are smaller touches that can lift your darks without looking like a bonfire. "The takeaway is that most people do think winter is drab, but it’s a great time to use jewel tones to highlight your outfit,” says Luke. “Grey trousers and a navy jacket can be lifted with the use of bold burgundy scarf, or burnt orange hat. On a grey day, wearing those little touches of colour are a nice way to lift your mood.”