I always love pulling together my seasonal style guides, and this spring is no exception. However it really is a guilty pleasure, as we all know how difficult it is to transfer those fantastic full colour fashion spreads to real life and more importantly real women.

Take the colour blocking trend. At first glance we’ve been given a wonderful fresh start to 2011 with vibrant colours and fabulous fabrics. The models look bright and confident – but they also look thin, tall and on the whole pretty dramatic. So how on earth do we mere mortals carry off such a strong look?

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Well, here are some tips:

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Take care when pairing – in the same way that horizontal stripes don’t suit many of us, nor will the sharp horizontal lines created by mixing a contrasting top and bottom. This is a great and easy way to achieve the colour blocked look – but only if you are slim, and preferably tall. Those who are slim but petite can still colour block separates but lengthen the bottom half and go for slim, long trousers and pencil skirts.

Shed pounds

if you are curvier you can use this look to great effect.  Remember the ‘column of colour’ technique and work it. Use a longline cardigan or waistcoat to contrast with either a monotone dress or same colour top and bottom combo. Let the designers do the work – there are a lot of dresses on the market that have built in the colour blocking principle so go for dark side panels and lose pounds in an instant.

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Go bust

in response to this trend there are a lot of colour contrasted empire styles around, so make the look work for you. If you’re big up top, say goodbye to minimiser bras and go for a darker top section. If you are less well endowed then the light coloured top and dark bottom combo is a must.

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Less is more

keep accessories to a minimum, this look is all about simplicity. Choose accessories to complement and not fight with the theme. Don’t just grab your trusty, worn-in classic black or brown day bag – it will destroy the look and seem shabby. Instead you can get away with a trip to New Look or Primark – ring the changes with an on trend, in budget, patent handbag, snazzy plastic bangles or sling back shoes.

Rely on pink – since Hilary’s famous handbag, pink is the new black. If this whole trend seems perplexing, or you can only afford one item then choose it in a lovely, fuchsia tone – think shocking pink.  Pair with purple, scarlet, hot orange or cobalt blue. And if you still feel nervous then there’s nothing wrong with choosing navy or cream as a base.

Know your colours – without a doubt this is a better look for you if you’ve been colour analysed as a winter or spring – colour blocking is all about shock. But you can be clever – pair the colours that suit you with the key fashion hues.  Use brown, navy, grey or creams as a base and go the accessories route. Alternatively, choose a dress in a fashion tone and pair with a favourite colour pashmina, cardigan or scarf so the most flattering colours are against your face.  Again, cream, navy, grey or brown can prove a safe contrast – or go for one of your colours and pair it with something shocking. As long as you keep away from patterns you’re still colour blocking!

What’s in a name – the common theme may be Brights but when I’m flipping through the colour swatches I’m amazed at the fine line between warm and cool. Bright blues, reds and pinks can fall into both camps so pick a tone that flatters – there are rails and rails in the stores to choose from.

Rescue remedy – if this trend really isn’t for you then panic not. This spring you can still go for the minimal military look which is all about neutrals and sharp lines. There’s also the option of colour mixing – jumbling patterns and colours for a hotchpotch effect. I love this look but as I’ve already warned – I’m a professional style consultant and I find it challenging. Take the safe option, mix and match from the same collection and let the designers do the work.

Colour Blocking for Real Women