AP Fashion Writer, New York
Mustard yellow might be just the thing to add zip to an otherwise bland fall wardrobe.
Whether it’s the shade of a sweet honey mustard, tangy dijon or hot wasabi, designers and retailers are counting on consumers to crave the condiment colors this fall.
But not everything looks as good on a dress as it does a hot dog. To find out which shades of mustard are in good taste, we asked designer Michael Kors, whose fall collection has a healthy squirt of the stuff, to evaluate six grocery-store brands.
Kors says mustard yellow seamlessly transitions from summer to fall and even winter. It’s that right pop of autumnal color to announce the beginning of the new season–but it’s upbeat, doesn’t make you miss summer and looks great with a bit of leftover suntan.
"Gold, honey, mustard–you can do these colors in lightweight fabrics, so it’s a head start on fall without the bulk," he says. "I think mustard has an automatic warmth to it. A lot of the trick of modern fashion is seasonless clothes. No one wants to wear heavy clothes, even in the fall."
Kors looked at six real, grocery-store mustards and explains how to turn them into wearable styles:
MAILLE DIJON ORIGINALE
This light, creamy yellow is probably the color that comes to mind when people say "mustard yellow," observes Kors, but that doesn’t mean everyone should wear it.
A blonde will love how it looks on her – it’ll look rich, he says. It’s also complementary to dark skin tones.
He warns people with medium complexions, however, that they’ll look washed out, especially if they wear it close to the face.
"Think about it for a skirt or pants, like khaki. You can wear it with chocolate brown or olive green on top."
It looks great in a variety of fabrics, from a light chiffon to a heavy wool, Kors adds.
This lime green with yellow overtones is a great accent color because it’s so bold, Kors says, but there’s a potential risk for wearing too much of a good thing. He recommends sticking to a wasabi-colored handbag, shoes or sweater to add the kick to an otherwise neutral outfit, either black or camel.
That said, Kors does think this green would do well in eveningwear as long as the gown showed enough bare skin. "It’s sort of like an oxidized metal color at night _ it’s sort of a new way to wear gold," he says.
The good news is, it’s flattering to most skin tones. "You could see this on very fair skin but also you could see it on Jennifer Lopez or Mary J. Blige. If you wear it close to your face, wear a lipstick in a warmer shade," he advises.
FRENCH’S CLASSIC YELLOW MUSTARD
A bright shade like this primary yellow works better in textured fabrics, says Kors – think ribbed sweater instead of flat-weave T-shirt. Still, it’s best as an accent color, he adds.
"I think it’s good in small doses. I don’t think you want to invest in a coat of this color."
LAKESHORE WHOLEGRAIN MUSTARD WITH GUINNESS EXTRA STOUT
Kors describes this grainy mix of rust and yellow as "warm" – the modern answer to more staid camel. It’s a color that translates well into accessories, especially those with texture, but it also looks good in a sweater, skirt or coat. "It’s a flattering color on every woman. It’s not a color I think you’re going to want for an evening situation but it will look great in the daytime."
Another suggestion: include this shade in an animal print. If it’s the brightest shade in the print, you’re wearing an eye-catching neutral – not an easy feat and something to be proud of.
STONEWALL KITCHEN SUN-DRIED TOMATO MUSTARD
Make an investment in this burnt orange with flecks of yellow and brown, advises Kors.
"You’re going to see a lot of melding of all these colors, especially a glen plaid or a check. They work like the solid that’s not a solid. A good investment piece isn’t always black pants or a white dress."
He also notes that this mixed mustard would complement black and most other warm tones.
OLD FASHIONED MUSTARD BY DELOUIS FILS
Kors says this mix of textured, brown-toned dots, alternating between cognac and honey, already has the look of tweed – a trend for the season. It’s a wearable shade for almost anyone and it’s not going to become too dated in a few years.
There’s clearly color here, but nothing loud or jarring. It’s an "almost neutral," he says.
"For a coat or a suit, it’s a more colorful camel. It’s a color that’s the backbone of your mustard fall wardrobe."
Go for a mustard that’s not so … yellow. Think accent pieces in bright colors, or tweeds and blends incorporating rusts or browns.
And if you’re buying mustard stock, consider Old Fashioned Mustard. Says Kors: "Particularly in these colors, it’s a weird way to have your mustard and eat it too."