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The DOs and DON'Ts of neon

Julie Bowen Click for more photos

DOs and DON'Ts of neon

Add a timely pop of colour to your wardrobe with our five neon picks of the week. 

Pop lime, acid yellow...citrus neon is the trend of the second.

Exhibit the Emmys: Julie Bowen in a key lime Monique Lhuillier trumpet gown, Julianne Moore in lemon meringue Christian Dior and a beautifully pregnant Claire Danes in gelato draped Lanvin. It was a dessert buffet not a red carpet. All three women took home statues for their day job and won big in the style stakes with each landing a place on the Best Dressed list. Cool and little bit unexpected, the neon trend can be tricky to master. The key to lies in the element of surprise and wearing just enough…here’s how to make it modern, not Macarena.

DO: Keep It Simple.

You can over-think a trend and I’d much rather you devote that brain space to something more worthy. Like what you’re eating for dinner? Neon looks best worn understated – this means restraint. The Emmys dresses worked because they weren't too fussy.

For everyday, add a coloured shoe to dark jeans, white t-shirt and blazer; swap your regular black bag for a bright yellow satchel, cinch in your dress with skinny, bright belt. Unless you're in evening wear, just a hint of the hue is all you need.

DON’T: Dress Like An Extra From A Wham Video.

Neon by its very nature is retro. It has had two big fashion moments – 1) as the go-to colour of the 1980s and 2) as Laa-Laa from the Teletubbies. Make the trend current by choosing classic shapes – blazer not bomber jacket; or a silhouette that is of the season - like a peplum top or pencil skirt.

This means you will need to throw the taffeta drop-waisted dress from the vintage shop in the bin. Unless you’re under 21 in which case wear it immediately because it’s 'ironic'.

DO: Go For Pop (Not Pantone).

Minimal neon accessories are a low-risk way to inject this trend into your wardrobe and are perfect for those of you who are still a little dubious about the whole vibe. You just need one great piece: a watch, a pair of earrings, a necklace. Don’t over do it. Too many multi-matched accessories and you’re a heartbeat away from Patricia Fields. Which is fine, if you’re Patricia Fields.

DON’T: Channel Big Bird.

Bad clothes can happen to the chicest of women. One moment you’re looking for a simple lime singlet and the next thing you know, you’re wearing a yellow feathered mini dress out to dinner. Resist the urge for fun and fuss when it comes to neon (extra points if you can say that sentence fast five times). Opt for clean, simple lines and let the colour make the statement.

DO: Make Camel Your Friend.

The most flattering colour to wear with neon lime and yellow is camel. Look at Julie Bowen’s tan at the Emmys – it was the ideal backdrop for her dress. Camel is great because it pulls all of the blue/green undertones out of citrus and warms up your skin tone rather than washing it out.

DON’T: Wear It On Your Face.

Unless you’re under 18, a ballroom dancer or drag performer, please don’t buy into the yellow and green as make-up trend. It’s not lipstick. It’s texta. The End.

DO: Try it on your nails. A bright yellow pedicure looks fantastic peeking out from just about any pair of sandals and if you really want to push the trend, try a coloured French Manicure (Beyonce and Rihanna are fans). Simply substitute the white tip for a splash of lime.

Want to experiment with a pop of neon? See our gallery, above.

18 comments so far

  • The ONLY way of "nailing the look" is if you're a tradie!
    The do's and don'ts of neon = DON'T!

    Commenter
    Tom
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    September 28, 2012, 10:57AM
    • Tom, you took the words out of my mouth. Was about to write "just don't".

      Commenter
      VLC
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 28, 2012, 3:35PM
    • Haha too true!!

      Commenter
      too true
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 28, 2012, 3:47PM
  • Neon Deion Sanders

    Commenter
    lamb
    Date and time
    September 28, 2012, 11:17AM
    • I bought one neon yellow belt - that's as far as I'll go. I have to say some of the neon stuff in stores at the moment is atrocious.

      Commenter
      Mellah
      Date and time
      September 28, 2012, 3:52PM
      • I was walking through Target yesterday and was overcome by a horrible wave of de ja vu in the women's section: suddenly I thought I was back in the mid-eighties... seriously, do they just store old clothes for three decades and wait until another generation thinks the clothes are fashionable again? It is terribly depressing to see the same crap sold AGAIN, and I'm not even 40 years old. My only consolation is that in an era when people take a million photographs of themselves, they will come to regret these clothing mistakes... I myself only have one photograph of myself wearing a crop-top, ra-ra skirt, thick elastic belt and fake crocodile skin pointy shoes... I ALMOST pity a generation that will have their errors immortalised.

        Commenter
        eiszeit
        Date and time
        September 28, 2012, 3:56PM
        • I was in Best & Less and they had FLURO lace fingerless gloves and socks $9.95. I laughed and laughed. Hello 1985. I wonder if they'll bring back Hypercolour clothing!!! my sister bought a Hypercolour bra & undies set. OMG. (google it if you're too young to remember)

          Commenter
          SallyAnne
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          September 29, 2012, 9:28AM
      • Tish and fipple. FAR too conservative advice. Look at this fab girl macademiangirl.blogspot.com and see how she does it. Admittedly we don't all have her pizazz, but fashion is supposed to be fun, so live a little with colour.

        Commenter
        Mango
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        September 28, 2012, 3:58PM
        • So basically its a yellow/green fluorescent jacket as worn by council workers and school crossing supervisors. chuck on a couple of reflective strips and you're there!

          Commenter
          anne
          Location
          doncaster
          Date and time
          September 28, 2012, 5:19PM
          • No , it's mor the Tony Abbott look.
            You'll be noticed. Although, I don't think I'll go for the millinery extra, the hard hat accessory.

            Commenter
            Not for me
            Location
            On site
            Date and time
            September 29, 2012, 8:28PM

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