How to wear: the colour purple | Jess Cartner-Morley

I’ve had this top for two years. In theory, I really like it; in reality, I’ve hardly ever worn it. Therefore, by the approved rubric, I should put it in the charity shop pile. Things you never actually wear, however much you claim to like them, are cannon fodder in the Marie Kondo era. The trouble is, I am an eternal optimist: I can always imagine a tomorrow in which the thing that has been hanging around in my wardrobe since for ever is suddenly exactly what I want to wear.

And look! Here I am, wearing it. The problem with this top was always the colour. The colour purple, that is. The exact tint of this top – a strong lilac tinged with violet – was what I loved about it in the first place, but I could never figure out what it worked with. Purple is tricky. Purple does gothic well, but I can’t convincingly pull off gothic. In a softer mood, it can be soapy and twee, and potpourri-ish, which doesn’t work for me either. Or it can be kooky and eccentric in the when-I-am-an-old-woman-I-shall-wear-purple vein. But I’ve had my retirement wardrobe moodboarded for ages and I’m thinking kaftan, turban, tumbler of cold rosé on a rooftop, whereas purple goes with a jaunty red hat and coffee cake in an art gallery cafe. We’ll have to see how that one pans out. As I said I’m an optimist, so I’m holding out for the kaftan, but I do love coffee cake, so it’s a win-win.

Anyway, where were we? Lilac. What to wear with it? A month of fashion shows helped me finally figure it out. Attending four back-to-back fashion weeks serves as a handy cheat sheet for problems like this: it’s like a free pass to look over the shoulder at what the cleverest girls in the class have written on their fashion papers.

Purple and brown is not a combination I would ever have imagined would work. But there it was on the Roksanda runway, a violet silk blouse with a trailing scarf, with toffee-coloured trousers, looking neither gloomy nor twee, but chocolate-box lush. And then there was lilac with tomato-red, which would not have occurred to me, but looked brilliant at Victoria Beckham (lilac sweater, red skirt and boots) and Emilia Wickstead (lilac sleeveless top, tomato trousers). I always knew I liked this top. And a month of fashion shows has proved me right.

Jess wears her own top. Trousers, £129, Shoes, £245, Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management using MAC Cosmetics and OUAI.

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