Reader Beth e-mailed me this question:
Sometimes–other than a collection of black pants—I feel like I buy too MUCH color. I just don’t feel drawn to neutrals. I am not afraid to mix color, but sometimes I think I’d like more neutrals in my wardrobe but they don’t appeal to me. I know I would it would make many more outfit options available to me.
If you’ll allow a bit of horn-tooting, I’d bet that reading these three posts will be a good place to start:
Black is the neutral that most folks love best and feel most comfortable wearing, but learning how to utilize it intentionally is key to making your black-based looks appear sophisticated. White runs a close second, often serving as a filler for a cardigan/jacket and pant combo in which a camisole or tee is required. And viewing neutrals as a palette that can be played with and mixed can make them seem less daunting. So do take a peek at those posts for a bit of background.
Like Beth, I am more drawn to colors than neutrals. But without the neutrals in my closet, my outfit options would be considerably more limited. Here are some tips for the neutral-wary that should help you feel more comfortable purchasing and wearing those subdued shades.
Opt for colorful neutrals
Oxymoron, anyone? But the thing is that black, gray, and white are not, technically, colors. Brown, olive, and tan are. They have more richness to them and complement a wider range of true colors, so they may feel more appealing than stark blacks and whites. I’d also throw burgundy into the mix. Not universally accepted as a neutral, but goes well with nearly all colors excepting neons and a few pastels. If you’re a neutral-wary person, ease into neutrals by selecting the more colorful options available.
Gigantic caveat: Gray can be tricky because it can have cool or warm undertones, be dark or light, solid or heathered. Gray is a family of colors, not a single shade, and it can feel overwhelming to deploy. But gray is also the neutral that covers the most ground. It works with all other neutrals, all neons, all pastels, all jewel tones, and all primaries. Gray is less harsh than black and softer than white, so gray-based outfits can feel less segmented and blocky. Play with gray in your colorful mixes to see if it feels like a useable neutral.
Try neutral patterns
Solid swaths of neutrals may feel challenging or even dull, but neutral patterns often convey considerably more energy. Black and white patterns are all the rage right now, and work beautifully with cool brights like red, turquoise, and hot pink. Organic prints like florals and paisley look gorgeous with warm and autumnal shades. And many abstract prints include colors and neutrals, which makes them ideal bridging pieces. If you’re still hesitant to incorporate solids, experiment with some neutral patterns instead.
Are any of you struggling to make neutrals work in your wardrobes? Are you so drawn to color that buying neutrals seems like a waste? Would these suggestions help you? Any other ideas for Beth?