How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson

Yes you CAN brave colourful trousers: How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson

  • Coloured tailored trousers can be striking, simple and joyful, says style expert
  • READ MORE: It’s all about the CBS* (*That’s Chunky Black Sandals) 

This may well be the year we discovered a new elegant fashion icon in Akshata Murthy, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Might she turn out to be our Michelle Obama — the wife of the big chief who dresses the part with flair and a kind of mum-on-the-run ease?

Not for her the politician’s wife staples of stiff sheath dress and matching coat or a boxy skirt suit. As we’re discovering, her go-to look for most occasions is a simple top and a pair of coloured tailored trousers.

In the past few weeks she’s upped her game, wearing red trousers for The Big Coronation Lunch; tan to meet Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska at Downing Street; and she stepped off the plane in Tokyo in bright green crop trousers and a pink sweater looking relaxed yet stylish.

Trousers are to 2023 what shoulder pads were to 1983, but the big message for this summer is: get them in a bold colour. 

The Prime Minister’s wife,  Akshata Murthy, wore tan tailored trousers to meet Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska at Downing Street

The Princess of Wales chose pink tailored trousers, which she wore with a matching blazer and white court shoes  

Akshata is showing us how it’s done. I know what you’re thinking (apart from, ‘Hold on, the PM’s wife would look good in sweats and a pac-a-mac’) because I was thinking it, too — coloured trousers are not the easiest.

There’s the Hi-de-Hi! factor: don’t you always look a bit travel rep in bright trousers? 

There’s the ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ issue, and won’t your bum always look bigger in yellow than in silhouette-slimming navy?

There’s the ‘go with’ issue: what are you wearing with parakeet green?

And then there’s the sheer boldness of them because, while we certainly do not want to blend in, we don’t want trousers that are etched on everyone’s memory every time you wear them.

Or do we? Murthy’s plane outfit worked so well (striking, simple, joyful) mainly because of the trousers. Suddenly a slick coloured tailored trouser and a bright top look like the modern alternative to a suit.

The right coloured trousers have two big things going for them: one, they let you wear trousers in situations where you’d otherwise feel obliged to wear something dressier. Two, they’re refreshingly different.

We’re always looking for ways to switch up clothes we know we can rely on — and buying the trouser shape you trust in a strong summer colour is about as easy as it gets.

Blake Lively’s wide leg blue midnight trousers looked perfect with glittery blue shoes poking out

American model Chrissy Teigen went for bold red flared trousers with a matching jacket and embellished bra in New York

It’s true some colours are less flattering, but providing the cut is good, you won’t have anything to worry about. A well-cut pair of red trousers will do you more favours than a poorly cut pair in navy.

As for the Hi-de-Hi! factor, as ever it depends on how you wear them. 

Red trousers plus black pumps and a black jacket might not be a good idea, but a clashing pink blouse or a sky-blue shirt looks great, and you can’t go wrong with two pieces in the same colour.

I also think a plain black top works well at night with most colours, though not so much with red (Dennis The Menace) or orange (easyJet). 

As for shoes, nudes and neutrals will cover you for all eventualities, but a shoe in a clashing colour is extra stylish.


  • Match or clash your top half with your trousers. 
  • Wear either neutral or tonal shoes. 
  • Try green for a change. 
  • Look for cropped styles.

Murthy’s trouser collection is full of Me+Em because it delivers designer-quality tailored trousers for high-end High Street prices, so it’s made for the woman who has designer tastes but needs to be seen to be spending less.

The green trousers she wore in Japan are last season’s, but the brand has the same style in a polyester viscose mix (avoid linen and linen mixes — they crease) in purple and in pink (£185, and a ‘man pant’ style with a slight flare in a bright fern (£195), which would suit more of us.

If you can’t justify that kind of money, a good runner-up is Zara, which does a slim crop trouser similar to Murthy’s (£29.99, in 15 colours including a bold green, and high-waisted straight-fit pants also in green (£32.99).

Otherwise, Arket does a good mid-waisted straight style (£79,

Green has a lot going for it this summer — it’s fresh and it goes well with so many colours — but I also like Hush’s wide-leg pair in red (£79, to wear with trainers, or Arket’s cotton trousers in tomato red (£35,

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