Fashion & Beauty

A Shade for All Seasons

From left to right, clockwise: Clare V.’s airy tote bag, Armani Exchange sexy sunnies, a silky button-up from & Other Stories, Veja sneakers in palest purple and a packable puffer from Free People.

By Janet Kelly

FORGET your former feelings about lavender, says Leatrice Eiseman, director of the  Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training. It’s no longer your matronly, ultra-feminine, boring pastel hue. Even macho guys are wearing lavender T-shirts, as well as buying light purple kayaks. The color’s got a brand new vibe, says Eiseman. Plus, it’s a hue you can wear all year round.

“If it’s going to look good in winter, it’s going to look good in the summer,” says Eiseman. For now, think of using it in some kind of plushy fabric—say, faux shearling, alpaca or puffy down—that makes you feel warm.

The magic, though, anytime, is in the mix. “It’s a great color to combine with others,” says Eiseman. Lavender plays well with navy, as well as with blue greens and yellow greens (in the avocado family). And it makes a stunning combo with charcoal gray and yes, black, too.

For the color shy, go small and experiment with it in sneakers, sunnies or handbags.

Below, three spring runway looks and 12 ways to add lavender to your wardrobe right now.

Lavender in bloom on the spring 2024 runways of, from left to right, designers Michael Kors, Staud and Carolina Herrera.


Refresh your winter wardrobe with Stand Studio’s Camille coat. Wrapped in a warm cocoon of curly faux shearling, you’re a beacon of light in a sea of black coats. This cuddly outer layer, which works for any outing, sells for $321 at Farfetch.


Sometimes you feel like a warm coat; sometimes you don’t. That’s where down vests come in—for those in-between times. You can wear this Super Puff Vest ($198, Aritzia) on its own or as a toasty extra layer under coats and jackets when the temperature plummets. It’s roomy and long enough to keep your fanny covered. The water- and wind-repellent fabric is filled with 700+ goose down.

One of the beauties of Free People’s quilted nylon Puffer is its packability—it folds into its own pocket to create a cushy pillow for travel on airplanes, trains, you name it. Made of water-resistant material that’s filled with a down alternative, it’s warm but not bulky and its oversized shape allows for layers. The jacket sells for $198.

Designed to be worn either as a crew neck or a cardigan (buttons are on the back), this luscious, wool-blend sweater (it’s 37% mohair and 37% baby alpaca) with Bridget Bardot appeal will wipe out winter pallor and look just as good with bleached jeans as with a pair of cropped charcoal pants. It sells for $120 at French label Sézane.

With a spread collar, buttoned cuffs and straight hem, Lisa Yang’s 100% ribbed cashmere cardigan will suit those who opt for a more tailored look. Wear now, wear later. It sells for $546 at Farfetch.


Maxi skirts with their long, narrow, constricting silhouettes remind me of the hobble skirts of the early 20th century. That trend was short-lived. I can’t predict the future of maxis, but I prefer a skirt with a leg-freeing flared hem like this pull-on midi from Rails ($188, Bloomingdale’s).

Stock is running out on this mulberry silk shirt ($139) from & Other Stories. Because of the curved hemline, you can wear it untucked—outside your pants—without looking the slightest bit sloppy. It’s a classic button-down except for the modern full-ish sleeve.

I can already hear LittleBird Nancy complaining about this wrinkled linen shirt ($248). That happens to be the signature style of Sausalito, California label CP Shades but not everyone’s cup of tea. For those comfortable with a lived-in look, note that the shirt, which is in the brand’s new 2024 collection, is almost sold out.

If you’re not sure about wearing lilac, take baby steps with accessories. Clare V.’s Sandy Tote (7 inches high by 15 inches long) in unlined crochet with calfskin leather handles will hold your books, etc., and convince you to let go of a bad mood. You don’t need to wait for warm weather to wear this airy bag, which sells for $145 at Shopbop.

It’s always sunglass season. Winter, summer, spring or fall, protect your peepers from glare. These attractive-looking specs in face-flattering lilac are by Armani Exchange and sell for $72 at Sunglass Hut. And, you can put your prescription in them.

Red shoes might run faster, but for quiet luxury, it’s hard to surpass Veja’s cowhide Campo Sneakers in the most subtle of pastel hues. A cushioned collar and tongue coddles feet in these smart sneaks that sell for $175 at Shopbop.


A irresistible confection of satin and ostrich feathers, J. Crew’s Santorini Bag ($222.99) is sure to make everyone at the party go green with envy.






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6 thoughts on “A Shade for All Seasons

  1. Nancy G says:

    Lavender is such a lovely color. I want everything you’ve included.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      I’m experimenting with it to see how many ways I can wear it!

      1. Nancy McKeon says:

        Janet, I clocked three pairs of lavender sneakers yesterday and today just between 72nd and 80th streets. One pair was on a guy (looked great, too). They were all the mesh-type shoe, so the color was subtle. And clean-looking—they were obviously new shoes.

        1. Janet Kelly says:

          Yes, an unlikely but good color for sneakers and a lot of other things.

  2. Carol says:

    All very pretty but lavender is not (and has never) been for me… not sure why as I do like a darker version (amethyst and eggplant)

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Got it, Carol. Leatrice Eiseman recommends experimenting! How about mixing amethyst with a lavender accent or some combination that inspires you.

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