Fall Color Coverage: Orange

by Antonia Blyth

Jennifer Love Hewitt totes an orange Hermes bag to a June 2011 movie premier. Hermes, incidentally, helped make the color popular, influencing its resurgence today.

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Ever since Hermes first placed its iconic silk scarf inside its equally iconic orange box, the color orange as a wardrobe choice has been elevated to a somewhat intimidating status -- the bright hue is, quite simply, not always the most flattering color to many. Even though it can be overwhelming for most of us, though, orange has been popping up in designer collections, and now it's all over the stores -- both budget and high-end. But don't fear -- style experts introduce the hottest shade of the season to your wardrobe without giving you a fright.

Orange looks very modern paired with tan, nude or brown -- but avoid pairing it with black pieces unless it's Oct. 31.

Keylee Sanders, Hollywood-based stylist

Orange Origins

Whether it's a true fruit-colored orange, a saffron tone or a burnt umber shade, the orange family of colors can flatter most skin tones and hair colors. Notably its complementary color in the spectrum is blue, meaning those with blue eyes will find the blue appears stronger when next to orange – a great reason to invest in an orange scarf, hair accessory or even orangey-bronze eyeshadow.

Popular in interior design and then in clothing in the '60s and '70s, orange became a ubiquitous wardrobe choice. First used by designers such as Pucci and Halston, it then became popular in mainstream stores. Now its reincarnation is in a slightly different form. Whereas the '60s and '70s saw orange in garish print and flamboyant accessories such as enormous orange hats or orange wedge heels, this time around the color is being used in a sleek, classy way that's more refined and well-groomed than hippie-chic. Now, it's popular to color-block solid orange items against contrasting solid shades or using orange as an accent color in an otherwise muted outfit.

Mimi Brown, New York-based stylist, has noticed it cropping up on the catwalk. "Stella McCartney used it in her bright, almost fluorescent persimmon dresses and separates," Brown said. "Also, Diane Von Furstenberg's brilliant combination of a boxy, orange silk top and purple skirt was one of my favorite looks from spring." She also mentions Derek Lam's orange and black pants paired with a baby blue jacket, as well as Celine's orange cross-body bag, which she calls "one of my favorites."

Everyday Option

It's not just the couture designers using orange; this trend has also appeared extensively in street style and at affordable retailers such as Zara, H&M and Forever 21. Brown also suggests other wallet-friendly options, if you're not yet sure about taking the plunge with an item of orange clothing. "Try the trend of the bright orange lip or melon eyeshadow," she said. "Tangerine nails are also hot right now. If none of these appeal, try sticking to jewelry, for example, some chunky gold bangles with citrus-colored stones."

If you're looking to buy a few key pieces to incorporate the color into your wardrobe without feeling like you're wearing a costume, pair orange with a muted color, says Hollywood-based stylist Keylee Sanders. "Orange looks very modern paired with tan, nude or brown," she said, "but avoid pairing it with black pieces unless it's October 31."

Brown agrees, suggesting a starter outfit might be "an orange silk blouse with gray jeans or a nude skirt."

Orange Horrors

So what should you avoid when bringing this color into the closet?

"Orange in any fabric that has a lot of shine will make you look like a Vegas act. Also always avoid anything orange that is faux fur or has too much shag texture to it. Finally, steer clear of white boots with anything orange. They will make you look like a go-go dancer, " Sanders says.

Brown notes that there are some things to bear in mind regarding your own natural coloring. Although orange can be worn by anybody, it's important to adjust make-up accordingly and watch out for unpleasant clashes. "I am not a fan of an orange top worn with red lipstick or even a nude lip for that matter," Brown said. Instead, try a subtle pinkish color or nothing at all on your lip to tone down the orange clothing contrast without leaving your face looking washed out.

Brown also notes that orange worn close to your face can sometimes be overwhelming for very fair skin. If in doubt, put a white blouse between your face and the orange color so there is a barrier between the skin tone and the brightness. Or simply stick to wearing orange on your lower half, away from your face, if you feel as though your pallor is being unflatteringly emphasized.

The Scent Connection

Why not complete the orange trend by trying some orange-based scents? Citrus has long been known to have an uplifting, wakening effect on your mood. In fact, some believe that just looking at the color can stimulate the mind – one reason that Buddhist monks wear orange robes.

Try adding a few drops of orange essential oil -- sometimes available as Neroli oil -- to your bathwater for a mood-booster, or add a zesty orange-scented scrub to your shower routine to refresh you first thing in the morning.

Candles and incense are widely available in orange-based scents. Try orange blossom for a sweeter smell, or cinnamon orange for a more festive atmosphere.

Orange and orange blossom elements appear in many popular perfumes, such as Cacharel's Anais Anais, Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld, Colors by Benetton and Obsession by Calvin Klein.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Antonia Blyth began writing professionally in 1996. She has contributed to "British Marie Claire," "Us Weekly," "UK Elle," "Just Seventeen," dailymail.co.uk, "Red UK" and "Madison Australia." Blyth holds a Master of Arts in journalism from Goldsmiths University of London and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University College London.