Beige to the Rescue!
     (A Quick Guide to a Crayola Summer)

By Karen R. Smith


Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of beige. Yes, it’s classic. Yes, it’s timeless. But usually, when beige might do, I either go white (if tan) or black (if pale). Beige has always seemed like a too-safe approach to fashion, and my own tastes run to the unique and bold.

I appreciate the classic trench coat in its khaki beige glory; my own trench is white with black trim. Camel’s hair blazers are always elegant, it’s true, but black cashmere is more ‘me’.

I sat through the Summer and Spring shows (and you can too, BTW, if you get the free Vogue Runway App… more on that in a bit) and by the end, believe it or not, I was appreciating beige. No, let me take that back. I was, truth be told, celebrating beige. Because the rest of the clothes I saw were a crayon-box melange of colors that don’t flatter most of us, and won’t have any shelf life at all.

Lemon Yellow

In the 1990s, Moschino used LOTS of lemon yellow. So did lots of other fashion houses. Thankfully, the century turned and the color was laid to rest, with brief resurrections only on trim or shoes. It’s back with a vengeance.

The color looks its best on dark skin tones, so if that’s you, this is your moment. Macy’s has a Vince Camuto lemon yellow a-line with a high/low hem priced at $138. (try using the promo code FRIEND to bring the price down to $96.60).

If that’s a bit too tame, Majorelle’s Emelia dress is strapless with midriff cutouts and a rising, ruffled bottom. It was retailing for $238 ( but went on sale for $143 yesterday.

Nordstrom’s (you can try their Rack stores here in Tucson, or use their website where there’s huge lemony selection; I really like the 4SI3NNA short sleeve wrap dress, which looks very Reformation at a fraction of the price.

If you are not dark-complected, avoid lemon yellow. It will only make you look sickly and sallow. If you are a fashion junkie and simply must have it, limit it to bags and shoes, both of which will keep the color’s reflection off your face. Kate Spade NY’s Sam Satchel might be just the thing. Manolo Blahnik has a wonderful kitten-heeled yellow pump...and Talbot’s has the Edison pleated D’orsay flat in nappa leather in lemon drop.


Mango is orange with a publicist. It still looks dreadful on all but the darkest skin tones, it still reminds people of Halloween, and it still will only be popular for a single season.

If you must wear mango, keep it away from your face. Pants are a good choice. That way you can wear a top in a color that is actually flattering to your complexion and still look fashion forward!

The high-waisted sash-tie ankle pant from Express at the malls (or on their website is a perfect choice. Right now at Theory’s Clean Crunch Wash Wide-Leg Pants are on sale for $266.25, which is a 25% savings off regular price ($355). And being NM, they call the color fire opal. Which also sounds like orange with a publicist.

Nike has some epic orange sneakers, and being Nike they will always be in style. Besides, having bright feet can put a smile on your face! Their React Flyknit Running Shoe came out at $150; look for it on sale right now for right around $100.

Grass Green

More people can wear green without looking peevish, so this color will get more mileage than the previous two. But even popular greens don’t last long, so choose pieces that don’t cost an arm and a leg since they are unlikely to be long-term keepers. Remember when all you could find was sage? And remember the olive frenzy?

First, determine if your skin is flattered by this more astringent tone. We are not talking malachite here. You might be more familiar with the color as apple green, or spring green from your Crayola box as a kid. My Mom was a pale-skinned redhead who looked marvelous in it; me (an olive-skinned brunette) not so much.

If it’s not friendly to your skin tone, head to accessories. But if it is, there are lots of pretty things to choose from. Cutest of the bodycon numbers is one by Missguided. Ribbed, with a cut-out midriff, available at lots of retailers thanks to the under-$40 price point. Dillards (at our local malls or on their website, has a terrific stretch crepe sheath dress by Donna Morgan for $128. 


And here we are, finally, talking about beige. Because after seeing the yellow and orange and green melange of this season’s collections, beige was a breath of fresh air. Beige has been a classic forever, which means you will find plenty of beige things at the consignment shops and thrift stores. Revel in the glory that is beige. Beige looks good on everyone; on every skin color, next to every hair color. There are light beiges and dark beiges, which means there is one that was born to flatter YOU.

There are even retail bargains...Nordstrom’s Rack should be your regular first stop...they had TopShop’s beige Scuba Strappy Minidress for the remarkable price of $7.49. Bargains are out there! Beige tees have their own rack at Twice as Nice.

Lots of designers were showing beige from head to toe, and those were the outfits that got standing ovations at the shows. You don’t have to take my word for it -- if you have a smartphone and you like fashion, do yourself a favor and get the Vogue RunWay app. You can look at every designer’s current collection, and you can time travel backwards into their previous years’ shows. It’s fashion at your fingertips!

About the Author:
Karen R. Smith is an award-winning journalist and publicist. Her book, "Stylishly Sexy" is available online and she takes private style clients throughout Arizona and across the country. Visit her at