I revel in colors, both bright and muted, and challenge myself to assemble neutral-free ensembles as often as possible. But I know that many, many women adore their neutral-heavy wardrobes for classic versatility. And there really is nothing so reliably chic as a closet full of whites, blacks, grays, and browns – everything goes together, and it all looks modern and clean and classy.
But I feel it is my duty to push the color envelope. I try to encourage my neutral-loving friends to add some non-threatening non-neutrals to their daily wear. Here are some tips I’ve passed along to the neutral-minded:
Red shoes: Why red, you ask? Because red is a bright, vibrant color that plays nicely with ALL neutrals. Also red is a color that is challenging to many women, either because it does nasty things to their complexions or because it is too bold for their tastes. But red shoes will never make anyone look jaundiced, and always add some zip to a subdued outfit without feeling overpowering. I strongly believe that every woman should own one pair of red shoes.
Colorful coat: Even if being covered in color all day long holds little appeal, throwing on a bright coat or jacket can feel fresh and daring. Jewel tones like teal, purple, and magenta work well with warmer neutrals while hot pinks, neons, and cool colors look amazing with black and white.
Scarves: As a sash, a pocket square, a shawl, a headband, or circling the neck, a scarf works marvelously as the single colorful element in an otherwise neutral ensemble. If you chose this route, place the scarf wherever you’d like they eye to be drawn. Scarves are also a great way for those who fear pattern to dip toes into the water.
Necklaces and bracelets: I’m focusing on these items because they have the potential to affect an overall look a bit more than bright earrings and rings do. A long string of colorful beads, a chunky resin cuff, a gorgeous bib necklace, or a stack of multi-hued bangles can really punch up an outfit.
Belts: If you’ve got a waist you’d like to accentuate, nothing will do it like a bright belt on a wash of neutrals. Red on a black dress, electric blue on gray, orange on brown … all fabulous combinations. And, again, as the sole colorful element a bright belt will draw the eye right to the waistline.
Eyeglasses: If all other clothing and accessory options turn you off AND you’re a glasses-wearer, consider a pair of bright frames. There are so many amazing designs out there, many with multiple colors and slick patterns on the earpieces. My boss’s boss is a neutral-wearer, but has pairs of teal/black and chartreuse/brown glasses that look so sharp with her white, tan, and black ensembles.
Top images from Oscar de la Renta via style.com.