Lauren Laverne On Wearing Purple

Purple Bedroom Header

Purple always makes me think of Jenny Joseph's poem 'Warning' ("When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me/And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves/And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter").

This is both good and bad. Only a bloodless misanthrope could fail to appreciate the righteousness of the narrator's future self. On the other hand, the poem illustrates purple's primary problem: wacky people. These Funtime Frankies might have hearts of gold, but when it comes to fashion, they possess the reverse Midas touch – there isn't a look they can't ruin. Not ones for nuance, wacky people favour clothes that say: "Hey!! Guys!!! It's time to have an awesome time!!!! LOLZ!11!" which they wear while saying the same thing out loud and pointing to the garment in question.

Interestingly, after a number of years have passed, clothes wacky people have ruined can be rehabilitated when trendy people appropriate them ironically. It works like this: trendy people don a previously wacky item with a dollop of irony and an acutely unimpressed attitude, and go to an achingly cool party where they pout a lot and look like they'd rather be somewhere else. This is, of course, the exact opposite of the wackster (who always arrives at parties early wearing a novelty hat and doing thumbs aloft before the front door opens). Think of a mid-70s Top of the Pops presenter (not that one; this is supposed to be fun). Chances are Noel Edmonds is now in your mind's eye. Dungarees, facial hair, a novelty knit. He's basically dressed for a night out in east London in 40 years' time.

My point is: purple is back (so are dungarees, but I'm planning to break that to you gently next spring). The colour of prog and Prince's G-string is fit for a king once more (royals of antiquity favoured Tyrian purple, made from porphyry – the shellfish whose classical name is the root of the colour's). The autumn/winter runways were coloured purple – Louis Vuitton's show even began with models disembarking from a purple steam train, rumoured to cost $8m. Mercifully the trend has hit the high street at more affordable prices. Here is my pick of the patch.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Lauren Laverne, for The Observer on Sunday 4th November 2012 00.05 Europe/London

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