How to wear colour, by a stylist who never wears black

Author and presenter Zeena Shah shares her tips

how to wear colour
(Image credit: Casetify)

How to wear colour is a sartorial issue that even the greatest fashion icons have never cracked. But bold hues are a fashion trend that keeps on appearing on the catwalk, with the hue of the autumn/winter 23 season being red.

So I thought there was no better time to get some style tips from the queen of all things bold and colourful: Zeena Shah. The stylist, author, presenter and influencer is known for her dopamine-inducing style, as you'll know if yo already follow her on Instagram, which looks like a rainbow brought to life. She even wore multi-coloured polka dots for one of her wedding ceremonies and a pink Lehenga for the other.

In short, Zeena wears colour well, and here are her tips for those wanting to add a bit more joy to their outfits.

Many fear wearing bold colours, what are the sartorial rules (if any) you live by?

There really are no rules when it comes to colour. Life is too short not to live in colour so you really do just have to go for it. There are so many benefits to your wellbeing and mood through colour and the more you start wearing it the more your colour confidence will grow and your mood brighten. If you’re feeling colour shy then start small. A colourful accessory, a bright red (a huge trend right now) pair of socks or a colourful phone case can instantly bring a dose of dopamine to your everyday.

What are your main tips to follow when getting dressed and using colour for a dopamine hit?

Getting dressed should be fun and for me it’s about starting with one colourful piece and building an outfit. It might be a handbag, pair of socks or statement piece. 

Think about the way colours make you feel, on Mondays I might need a vibrant boost of reds and oranges. Greens and blues bring more calmness and pink is playful so you really can adapt your colour palette to your mood and what you might need more of that day. 

If the piece is full of colour and pattern pull out other colours from within it to create a really stylish look.

A post shared by Zeena Shah

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Any tips for using accessories to complete a look?

Accessories are where you can be really playful, I love pulling out colours from my outfit into my accessories. Why not match your phone case to your fit or adorn your phone with colourful charms to make them unique and personal to you. I love a statement shoe or handbag too, if there’s just one thing you can transform and elevate an outfit with it’s one of the two.

Party season is rife with buying items you'll discard later. Do you try and make sustainable choices when dressing for the festive season and beyond?

Absolutely, I love shopping my wardrobe first (it is filled with treasures) and getting creative when it comes to getting dressed. I’m a big fan of sequins all year round and pairing party dresses with cosy knits so they can be worn throughout the season. I have a gorgeous feather trim dress with detachable feathers so it can be dressed up or down too, I think it’s about being very considered with what’s missing in your wardrobe and what pieces will really add to what you have already. I’m totally addicted to Vinted and have found some fabulous pre-loved gems on there too lately.

You wore incredible looks on your wedding day, what advice do you have for brides who don't want the traditional look?

Wear what brings you joy, don’t feel pressured by other people's opinions and ‘tradition’ your wedding dress should make you feel like the most fabulous version of yourself and bring all the joy to your day. Build a moodboard of all of the dresses you would love to wear and shop outside of the traditional bridal stores. The high street offers some incredible wedding dress options that won’t break the bank. Don’t compromise on comfort either.

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What inspires your outfit choices?

A lot of the time it’s my mood and personality, getting dressed is an extension of who I am as a person. What I wear is always very me and always makes me feel good.

I love Pinterest and street style too and often get inspiration from there as well as old movies and even interiors. I’m an art director so I am a sponge for colour and style inspo.

Your home is equally joyful and colourful, any interior tips to share with our readers?

Aww thank you so much! I love interiors just as much as fashion and wanted to create a home that felt like a reflection of me but was also a space to bring calm at the end of a busy week.

Don’t be afraid of colour, just the simplest addition (whether it’s painting your walls or adding a colourful object) can make a huge difference.

Make a moodboard, collect paint swatches, know your lighting as it can make a huge difference to the way colour sits in your home.

Take your time, building your interior style is a marathon not a sprint.

Do shop second hand - it’s where you will find the best and most unique pieces. I love furniture charity shops, eBay and Vinterior are great too.

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A photo posted by heartzeena on

Where do you find your inspiration for homeware and interiors?

I love looking to past decades, the 70’s was such a vibe and it definitely inspires some of the pieces at home. Old magazines, movies, pinterest, tiktok and instagram are full of interior inspo, I have endless boards with saved photos of things that I might want to try in the future. I recently spotted some incredible shell shower hooks on instagram and managed to track them down online for our bathroom.

You recently collaborated with CASETiFY, what inspired your colour scheme and designs for the collaboration?

I’m so thrilled to have collaborated with CASETIFY! I’ve designed 5 colourful phone cases to inject joy and colour into your everyday. Each case was hand marbled in my east London studio and as such a colour enthusiast, it was impossible to narrow down the colour palette but I ended up settling on colours that I felt would bring the most joy and a dose of dopamine. 

Our phones are our most touched and used items we own and should reflect your personality and bring joy just by looking at them in my opinion. 

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.