Waking Up Neutral Outfits

by Anne Middleton, on May 18th, 2015
boston proper neutral outfit

Inspired by magazine photos, DIY television shows and industrious friends all touting the benefits of a closet neatly organized by color, I recently set out to catalog my clothing by hue. I was hoping that having my trousseau chromatically arranged would make it simpler to mix and match, and to see what I truly have and what I need in my wardrobe. The exercise certainly accomplished the later. Once everything was sorted, I ended up with a scant stack of dark denim, a teeny-weeny section of colorful pieces, and acres of black textiles. A quick glance into my closet might trick you into thinking it belongs to Elvira or Wednesday Addams. I think everyone has a neutral shade they are drawn to. For me, it’s ebony, but for others it’s beige, white, brown or khaki. I might veer toward vestments in inky pigments, but at least I know how to wake up those neutral outfits with more exciting accessories.

Make a statement: Wearing a basic ensemble of simple pieces in solid shades leaves room for one or two really over-the-top statement pieces.  Try bookending your outfit with a beaded bib necklace or oversized earrings and a pair of unique shoes. Fringed heels, embroidered western boots or beaded sandals from Boston Proper are sure to do the trick. By donning interesting pieces at the top and bottom of your outfit you encourage the eye to move up and down and elongate the line of your body.

Add pops of color: Stop despairing about your color anemic raiment and start thinking about it as a backdrop for a grandiose palette of accessories. Canvas sneakers from Converse in classic red, soft pink, fresh blue and even quirky prints like American flags and a pop of pizzazz without committing to massive amount of the shade. Echo or complement the shade in other accessories, such as handbags, scarves and rings.

Get wild: Make your achromatic outfits roar with touches of animal prints. To novice fashionistas, animal prints seem like a risky move, but they are actually versatile prints that act as neutrals and pair with any shade.  Try tossing a cheetah cardigan over your shoulders, winding a zebra scarf around your neck or wearing a pair of leopard espadrilles from Ugg Australia. You will be surprised at how often you reach for these jungle-themed pieces. 

Add texture: Variations in texture can add enough interest to an outfit to save it from becoming dull and drab. Adding a lace or suede skirt or jacket in your favorite neutral hue can feel fresh and interesting, but also safe enough to wear on a regular basis. Textured accessories, such as Nike Flyknit shoes, can provide the same impact without too much effort