Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Color Talk: What's Your Neutral?

This week has been all about color for some reason. On Sunday, my big brother e-mailed me the link to the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Fall 2010, and I found it hugely inspirational. (Thanks, Bryan!) Given our discussion yesterday about what constitutes a neutral color in a wardrobe, I thought it was interesting to look at these ten colors together. They're clearly meant to work pleasingly together to a certain extent, yet some colors speak louder than others. Certainly Oyster Gray is a neutral. But with some creative styling, what about Endive as a neutral? Or Chocolate Truffle, a rich plummy brown? Or - let's get crazy - even Lipstick Red?

Given many of your comments on yesterday's post, it seems that neutral is in the eye of the beholder. I chose a deep smokey blue-based purple as what I called "my version of a neutral" for the Background Dress. I suppose what I meant by that is this is a color I could certainly see as the background in said Background Dress. Just think of the various colored scarves you could pair with it - blue, red, mustard, black, burgundy.
Many of you responded excitedly to this idea of creating your own neutral. As Casey said,
We've been boxed into the idea that "neutrals" are things like shades of white/cream, black, gray, brown, navy, etc. But if you don't like the standard bunch of neutrals or find that they don't work in your wardrobe, who is to say that you can't make your own set of neutrals? I've been slowly working towards doing just that in my own wardrobe: medium blues, gray, purple, etc. Those have become my more flattering "base" pieces, and I'm finding that I actually use them more than garments that are in conventional "neutrals"!
Others gave surprising choices for their neutrals: Mikhaela says chartreuse, for Vix it's aqua.

Sara respectfully disagreed with all this neutral willy-nillyness.
I love the purple double knit, but in my opinion, it isn't a neutral. A colour that suits you certainly belongs in your wardrobe, but a neutral is a colour that you could wear everyday and that you could even wear head to toe. My go to neutrals are black, white and tan, which I love to combine with splashes of colour (colours that suit me, such as coral, turquoise, purple, plum, all shades of green). I think you could wear black everyday and never look the same, depending on the style of garments you choose and how you accessorize them. If you wore purple or plum everyday, it would be too monotone. Green is a colour that looks great with my skintone and haircolour, but if I wore it head to toe, I would look like an elf!
I think that's an interesting litmus test for what a neutral is: would you wear it head to toe? Black is the only color I would wear head-to-toe, and indeed it is my traditional neutral of choice. (I don't go for browns, grays, or navys for some reason.) But, then again, ivory is a nice neutral and I would never wear it head to toe unless I was getting married again (aka never!).

Though it may not be the most practical or conservative method of wardrobe-planning, I continue to feel inspired by this idea of trying nontraditional colors as neutrals in my wardrobe.

What do you think? Can more electric colors be neutrals? Or is that a stretch? What are your neutrals?

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!

P.S. Definitely check out the Pantone site for fantastic color inspiration!


  1. Well, in my, ahem, youth, black was my neutral and I used to wear it shoulders down to great effect. Now, I can't wear it near my face without looking drawn and tired. Rich chocolatey browns, however, have rescued me in that area and have basically become my neutral though I wear plenty of black slacks and skirts; if I wear a black dress, I need to put something colorful like a scarf in the upper part of my body. On the other hand, I am very much attracted to that nice green in the list as a neutral for spring/summer/early fall. That is something that can be worn with lots of very happy colors.

  2. IMO.... Nuetral has everything to do with what is already in your closet. If you whear a LOT of Orange then orange is YOUR neutral and everything else has to fit that.

  3. I'm not sure about the head-to-toe test. Every time I wear white head to toe (in the summer), people comment on my bridal appearance.

    I think in order for a color to be a neutral, it needs to be recognized by your environment as such. Which means that it depends less upon your personal taste and more upon where and when you live. If blue isn't a neutral, how come blue jeans go with every other color? Because everyone wears blue jeans as a background/base piece, therefore they ARE neutral, to us. And back when women didn't wear black, it was far from neutral -- it was a bold color with very specific connotations.

  4. I grew up with my mom's best friend referring to "neutral red." Not as crazy as it sounds. A pair of red shoes or a red blazer can go with a lot of different colours and make them "pop."

  5. I think Serenity and Dora both make really good points--neutral is whatever stops registering as a color when you wear it. I think the example of jeans is a really good one because it's a neutral for so many people, but I think neutrals can also vary by person, depending on what each person wears the most and what their coloring looks good with. To use myself as an example, I think of darker purples as a neutral (so I'm loving the swatches for the dress!); they look nice against my skin but don't really announce themselves. I also wear bright fuschia pinks a lot, because those shades look good with my coloring, but they also stick out, so I don't think of those as a neutral. Meanwhile I've known women with really warm skin tones and auburn hair who turned orange into a neutral. I think some colors are neutrals (black, dark blue) because of prevailing fashion trends, but a lot of it is also down to individual circumstance as well.

  6. Well, I already voiced my opinion on the neutral subject, but I just wanted to chime in with a few more thoughts. I love how Serenity said that neutrals are what is most suited in your closet, because that is so true. For me, I have a lot of soft ivory/cream, pink, bright red, etc. colors that I like to wear close to my face (give the illusion of smoother/even skintone for me ;), which is why I've picked colors like light-to-medium shades of gray, purples, and medium blues to use as my neutrals. I find that just about all my separates go together well! I've also started to toy with the idea of introducing a teal/shade of green into the mix to further add some dimension and mixing possibilities. I actually bought a length of light green linen for a skirt to try and see if I could make it work as a neutral, or if it's a color that is destined to be a "centerpiece" instead. I think too, living in a part of the country where bolder colors are not avoided or considered "trends" so much (having grown up in Washington DC where blacks/browns/grays definitely were the colors of choice!), has given me a definite leg up in feeling comfortable sporting bolder neutrals.

    Head to toe color for me? Hmm... Tough one. I'd say black, but I had to wear black head to toe at one job and hate the look on me now ('cause I always feel like a hostess again! :p). At this point in my life, it'd have to be something like a soft coral pink; although it'd be a tough exercise in not letting the outfit get too twee! lol.

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  7. I have decided that black is my neutral. But only because I am a sucker for a compliment! On Monday at work, I was wearing black from head to toe...because I woke up not feeling well, and didn't have the available mental faculties to match my clothes.

    As I was dropping some files off at the front desk, one of the women that I work with raved over how I looked so good in black, and it really set off the color of my skin.

    Of course, I take her word as gospel, because she is always fantastically dressed, used to be a model, and spends part of the year with her family in Asia. With such a glamorous life, how could she possibly be incorrect?

    So, I have it is. Of course, it may not be the black...I might just look better when I am feverish ;)

  8. Interesting post. I love doing the opposite: mixing different neutrals to bring out the color in them. I love how wearing a brown next to a gray brings out the red in it. And I find it helps bring out my own color as well (particularly useful at this end of winter.)

  9. I'm with Karin about the "neutral red". My daughter isn't much of a risk taker when it comes to color. She's 17 and getting ready for her Jr. prom. I'm making her a red silk chiffon dress. We were out shoe shopping in the "fancy" shoe section. The choices were lacking pizzazz. I turned around and grabbed a turquoise blue shoe and told her red was a neutral and she could wear any color with it. She shot me a look of disbelief then tried them on. I thought it would be such a cute surprise underneath her dress. She is still thinking about it.

  10. I am drawn to the blue base neutrals--grey/blue, purple/blue, and red/blue are my favorite. I find either people gravitate to the brown neutral group or the blue neutral group for neutrals, but not both. And depending on the shade green, it could fall in either group.

    This post on color reminds me of a discussion with our real estate lady when we were selling our first home. When choosing a paint color for the walls, she said to stay with ivories/light neutrals. She said either people love or hate grey/blues and the same with browns.

  11. I'm an artist so color theory comes up in my everyday life. Wikipedia explains the basics pretty well.
    Pure Neutrals are always going to black, white and grey. Less Pure Neutrals are generally you're browns, tans, and Navy. Anything you can create by mixing in any amount of pure neutral.

    In fashion neutrals work the same but you can also get away with wearing a strong base color and accent colors. The base color is what I believe most of you are referring to as your personal brand of neutral. It all goes back to color theory again. Complementary colors, split complementary, and color harmony. If you pick the right shades and hues you can make thousands of color combinations and you can do those combinations with or without a neutral. The neutrals are helpful in that they can be paired with color combinations to help finish out the big picture but you don't necessarily need them.
    I wear a lot of navy (denim) with yellow and blue, yellow and black, or yellow and pink. I like yellow as my main base color.
    I think I've talked enough.

  12. as a typical new yorker, and being in the design field, when I was working, I wore a lot of black and grey. Like, A LOT.

    I can't abide by certain combinations: orange and black IS NOT allowed - Halloween! - nor is yellow and black - bees! - or any "baby" color mixed with black.

    In those cases, that would be when I wore grey pants, or tannish pants (but never dark brown, 'cause they look too poo-ish)

    I have a lot of orange accessories (purse, belt, scarves, etc) as well as a lot of lime green, but I wouldn't consider them my neutrals. They're just my preferred accent colors. They also come with their own subset of rules - never ever navy blue and orange (sports team!) or any shade of red with any shade of green (christmas!)

    With all these color combining aversions, is it any wonder I stick with black and grey??? I also mix in ivory from time to time, but very rarely go full white...

    Since I don't work anymore, plaid flannel is my new neutral :)

  13. Very interesting post, Gertie! It makes me think of both my colour choices and what actually suits my skin tone... I thinkt Bishojo Mandy differentiates in a nice way, between neutral and base colours. And according to that, both my neutral and base colour is black. Because I always tend to mix more bright colours with black, e.g. red and green. Still I could wear red head-to-toe, but it wouldn't feel very neutral... I would like to have more neutral colours in my closet, to vary a bit more, but it would have to be charcoal (which is gorgeous with black), asphalt and grey hues. As I'm slightly into polka dots, red and black at the moment, my wardrobe don't get those classy and soft colours like plum, charcoal etc. Conclusion: Boring black. Luckily, according to the 'color me beautiful' concept, black goes well with my skin tone.

  14. I strongly believe in the "season" theory: that particular skin tones look best in certain groups of colors. Cool tones (skin with a yellow undertone) look best with the winter and summer groups, and warm tones (skin with a red undertone) look best with spring and fall. By "look best," I mean that when you put on a good color, it makes your skin look healthy and fresh without makeup.

    I'm a "winter," so I can look at that group of Pantone colors and see that only one or two of them will work for me in anything I wear next to my face (the red and maybe the turquoise blue). Beiges, browns, yellows or golds, greens with a lot of yellow in them -- all of these are colors I can't wear as base colors or in large quantities.

    This is why black is definitely my neutral and the most flattering color on me. Next best is a charcoal gray. Anything bright has to be a jewel tone with a lot of blue in it (e.g., fuschia, deep green, deep red, royal blue, deep purple). When I've gone wild and bought clothing that is outside of this palette, it ends up not getting worn because it just doesn't look right.

    Although white is a good color for me in the abstract, I find it is problematic as I get older. It seems to accentuate the imperfections in my skin. It's also hard to keep white clothes clean and neat looking, and I hate futzing around with my clothes that much.

    The beauty of following this color scheme is that pretty much everything you own will go with everything else, at least in terms of color.

  15. I've been thinking about this very same issue. I say you can't limit yourself to just black, brown, tan and the like. I think you should think of an artist's palette and what they would use as a neutral. Colors can be neutralized in relationship to other colors. I think that is very much worth remembering too. Because everyone wears the said "neutral" colors, but why not be brave and try an actual color as a neutral. I have a thing with purple too. It looks brilliant on me and I think you can add a black value to that and make it darker and give it a more neutral appearance. Your swatch is a case in point. It would be fun to give the said neutrals the spotlight for once maybe too. Think of how the sky is a neutral palette for clouds, mountains, trees, etc. What about how the greens of plants neutralizes against the blossom of a flower. Use Mother Nature as your inspiration is what I say. Don't be limited. Play, experiment and dare to defy the traditional view of neutrals. Gosh, isn't that why sewing your own wardrobe is so fun? You get to say what is neutral for you! Hip hip hooray!

  16. I'm on the fence about neutrals... I've always thought of a neutral as any color that doesn't draw the eye particularly; not to be clever, but neutrals seem like colors that should be a BACKGROUND for everything else, whether it's your face, your hair, your accessories, or your red pumps. If you're dressing head-to-toe in one color, it's not a neutral anymore because there's no contrast. Wearing all one color is a statement in itself. Neutrals are colors you wear to showcase something else. I agree that neutrals can be any color though; it depends on your coloring and your style. I wear a lot of dark purples as neutrals, as well as grays and whites. I actually find that black doesn't look neutral on me because it is such a startling contrast to my skin and features.

  17. I tend to be old-fashioned when it comes to neutrals, and only place black, white, gray, and brown in that category. But since I make a real effort to create outfits with NO neutrals in them, I love the idea of turning the definition on its head.

  18. What's my neutral? Hmmm... it has to be grey. I love grey because I can pair it with cool blues and dark greens, or go totally the opposite direction and pair it with eggplant purples or bright reds. I purchased a pair of grey suede pumps last fall and found I wore them with just about everything from black trousers to a red pencil skirt. There is something to be said about one particular piece of a wardrobe that can bring all other elements of an outfit together all at once. I have a truly white skintone with dark hair (think Snow White). Actually my features aren't too different from yours, Gertie. So, I'm thrilled to say that I can rock black year round. I don't know about the "seasons" approach because of red/pink undertones in my skin. Greens and blues tend to neutralize this problem near my face, so my blouses and shirts are almost exclusively greens and blues.

    One final thought: there is a WORLD of difference between bright or pastel colors (think lime green) and a pale or darkened color (think mild olive). What is the right word, saturation? If the fabric color is saturated rather than reserved, this for me would differentiate something acting as a neutral from something acting as an accent color.

  19. Red is my summer neutral. I will happily wear it head to toe. My rationale is simple: red makes me happy. For winter, I'm thinking a brown that's not quite black. I'm not sure about black-black with my (red!) coat.

    It's funny, but I've never considered black to be a neutral. I can't dress head-to-toe black because the shirts are never the same black as the pants, so I end up treating black as a color, to be matched with other colors. Like Binkydoll, I agree that black does not go with everything--orange and yellow are right out, and usually true red, too.

  20. Wow--we all have such strong opinions on this matter!
    Being a violinist, I think of black as a work uniform only.

    I'm interested in Cindy's theory about people loving blue neutrals or brown but not both. I will agree with that...I hate tans and browns, but every shade of blue except primary is fair game for me.

    I think neutrals are things colors that you naturally gravitate towards...perhaps without even thinking about it. For me my #1 color in this department is some version of turquoise. I wear some shade of it almost always, and it is a backdrop for more intense colors that I can't wear from head to toe. Being petite, primary colors or those that are really intense make me look and feel like little orphan Annie...or at least rather juvenile, but I often wear really bold shoes or a scarf in a wild color against my turquoise and that seems to be a good balance for me.

    As for traditional neutrals, the only one I'd consider is navy. I have light hair and skin, so black is pretty overwhelming, but I have dark blue eyes, so navy is always safe, and I like how it makes my eyes stand out.

    Colors should make you happy too. Gray, brown, tans...they all make me sad and seem terribly boring on me...some people look and feel wonderful in them. I'm just not one of them.

  21. endive is totally a neutral to fact, most greens are neutrals to me. dark browns are often neutrals too.

  22. I think of a neutral as a color that blends with other colors in your wardrobe. Colors that go with everything.

  23. I pretty much just think of the basics - black, brown, grey, beige - as neutrals. That's not to say that I necessarily wear a lot of them, or that I have one of those colors on every day, but to me I think neutrals are the colors that people just sort of skip over when looking at you. The sort of colors that don't get attention on their own and usually don't really register with them, at least at first - for someone to pay attention to your black top, you will probably need it to have a really interesting detail or a very nice cut. If you're wearing a red top, people will notice the red. But the black top would fade into the background and everyone would probably notice your scarf, earrings, makeup, etc. over it. And Dora is right, blue jeans can be neutrals, because most of the time when you look at someone, you probably really don't notice their jeans unless you make a special point to or unless they are glaringly bad/good. They've become a neutral because they are so ubiquitous.

    If that makes sense.

  24. I love how people these days can just make up their own reality and then have it supported by a like-minded group of individuals in the cozy echo chamber that is internet. "Purple is a neutral!" "If you have a lot of orange in your closet, then orange is YOUR neutral!" "Red is neutral!" "White is not a neutral because it makes me look like a bride!" (From this statement, one can safely extrapolate that black is also not a neutral because it makes one look like a widow in mourning.)

    On the web, statements like these (that in the real world would be deemed delusional) are roundly applauded and affirmed. When someone like Bishojo Mandy tries to bravely bring in a dose of reality, she is roundly ignored. Gotta love the www.

    Next up: Loud geometric prints are a neutral!

  25. Anonymous, dissenting points are always welcome, I only ask that they be made respectfully.

    Also, if you'd like to bravely bring in a dose of reality, anonymously is an interesting way to do it. Just sayin'. :)

  26. I don't see what is more monotone about wearing that lovely purple from head to toe than black. I think black is just more "normal". Also, I think plenty of people wear the same color from head to toe when they wear a dress with coordinating shoes, but I don't think that necessarily makes it neutral. Neutral in reference to an application like a garment is different from neutral in reference to a color as considered on the color wheel. To me, if a color or garment is acting as a neutral, it means that you can pair it with other items, and the other items take center stage. I think that is what you are considering with the background dress in purple. I think people do this all the time with jeans, and that blue isn't a neutral on the color wheel. Some items in my wardrobe can act as both. For example, I have a brown shirt that is neutral when paired with my plaid skirt, but when paired with jeans it becomes the focus. Also, "neutral" colors don't always act as a background element. For example, in a room with three white walls and one black, the black is an accent despite being a "neutral" color.

  27. How exciting that you quoted me! And thank you for posting the Pantone preview. I've started shopping for fabric for Spring and the coral, purple orchid and lagoon are among the colours I bought. I'm making a black cotton sateen jacket as a base garment and plan to make lots of colourful dresses to wear with it. But the most interesting colour in that preview is, in my opinion, the chocolate truffle, which appears to be more of a maroon/plum than an actual brown, yet it does seem pretty neutral, doesn't it? ;) Unusual for spring as it's so deep, sexy and warm, but it really does combine beautifully with all those bright colours!

  28. Actually, Anon, among other things on the web are dictionary definitions of "neutral." One of which says:

    --a. gray; without hue; of zero chroma; achromatic.
    b. matching well with many or most other colors or shades, as white or beige.

    As those who've referenced nature and art mention, there are, in fact, many shades that work with most other colors. Certainly dirt brown, sky blue, and grass-green all make the cut. And going by definition "a" nothing other than gray does.

    I think I know which I'd prefer to explore.

  29. Now that I have read over the comments, I have a little more I would like to try to articulate. I think that people are talking about three different concepts when they use the word "neutral". I like what Bishojo Mandy said about neutrals on the color wheel as opposed to a background color in a wardrobe. Color theory has other precise terms that apply to this situation, like hue and saturation. I also think there is a third concept going on here, which is a person's most plentiful color in their wardrobe -- their go-to color. I think that these are all distinct concepts that can apply to the same garment.

    For example, aubergine is not a neutral color, but it could be a background to a red scarf, and it could be the most plentiful color in your wardrobe. Another example: tan is a neutral color, but I have very little of it and when I wear it paired with a dark brown pant, the tan is the focus of the outfit.

    - Neutral applies to color alone, not context.
    -Background/accent applies to the color as used and the role it plays in context.
    -Prevalence applies to how often a person wears a color, how it looks with their coloring, and how much of their wardrobe consistes of that color.

    I think our conversation could be more fruitful based on these distinctions. For example, a lot of us agree that there is no particular reason why your prevalent background color needs to be a neutral.

  30. I agree with Bishojo Mandy. We may all have our favourite base colours(whether they change according to season or not)however every colour in the spectrum shouldn't be considered a neutral. When it comes colour it will always be black, white & grey - see colour theory.

    If you have a favourite base colour and it suits your colouring then that is great, but it's not a neutral, it's just a colour that you love to wear that you use as a before 'accessorising' with other colours.

    I hope this doesn't come across rudely, but I feel there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of words here!

  31. Just read Gaidig's comment & totally agree! Should have read that before posting my bit.

  32. My wardrobe is, at this point, almost entirely based around red. Things are themselves red, or have red elements, or can go with red - because I don't keep an extensive everyday wardrobe, I like bright color, red is my favorite color, and I don't want to try to keep a bunch of different sets of accessories on hand. My winter uniform is an ivory wool/cashmere coat with vivid red beret, scarf, and lined leather gloves. It all stays together by the door so I can run out in a hurry and still look coordinated. Yes, I look the same every day, but I can get away with that here, and it makes my winter life simpler.

    There are very few things in my wardrobe I can't wear with that set of outer garments - I have a lot of black, ivory, and grays, and well as some brown-toned neutrals, and of course, red. Green and red are kind of awkward together because of Christmas associations, but I find that teal-toned greens and really saturated reds are easier to "get away with." Still - I don't actually consider red a neutral - it goes with many things, but it never disappears. I just love it enough that I use it as a consistent accent color.

    If you ever really want to throw your brain for a loop, mid 19th century color theory is quite a kick. It's all about complementary colors - opposites on the color wheel, and harmonizing colors - those next to each other on the wheel, and not matching any of your accessories. So it would have been quite stylish to run around in a hoop-skirted dress of scarlet wool trimmed with moss green braid, with white undersleeves and collar, with a chocolate brown bonnet lined in blush pink, and black kid gloves. And maybe a dark green shawl in case you get chilly! To a modern eye, that would look like chaos. To a super-matchy mid 20th century eye, it would look like, oh, you know, the apocalypse. But then, it would have been seen as very weird to wear all one color (except, to some extent, black for deep mourning or white for young girls or brides), or to match accessories.

  33. Just like Toby, I'm also moving to brown as my neutral over the ever popular black. I've suceeded in eliminating black in my home decor and am now trying to do the same in clothes Well, not all black! It's just black HAS to be paired with some great color or color pattern, though of course black tights will always be a staple. However, I hope to never wear ALL black again.

  34. I don't think neutrals are colors that you can where head to toe because the idea of wearing a single color head to toe is cringe worthy to me. Neutrals are colors that can serve as a background to other colors. They're the less dominant colors in an outfit. I frequently wear softer yellows as neutrals because they makes the other colors I wear like red or green or even black stand out more. White isn't neutral in my wardrobe because whenever I wear touches of white, they dominate the outfit because the rest of my wardrobe is so color saturated. Neutral is really subjective.

  35. Neutral colours for me are black, white, red, purple, and chocolate. I have pretty much every colour on that chart in my closet already. I love colour - it makes me happy. :)

  36. Fabulous points, everyone. It's interesting that there are indeed varying concepts of neutral. In color theory, it is a fixed and stable thing, as several people have mentioned. But does that mean that Tim Gunn is incorrect when he calls khaki a neutral? I don't think so, because he's using the word neutral as it applies to fashion and style, NOT color theory. Perhaps the more accurate term would indeed be "base color" but the word neutral has entered our popular lexicon in a way that makes its use flexible in some situations. I think it's really a matter of semantics, personally.

  37. Hmm... I'm wondering if there is some confusion in terminology here lol That might account for some of the differences. :)

    There is a lot of blue, black and gray in my wardrobe, which I noted seems to fit in with the notion of pure and less pure neutrals that Bishojo Mandy mentioned... and my wardrobe is pretty much just blue based colours. Blue pinks, blue purples, blue greens, blue reds etc., like Cindy. So that makes me inclined to think that for the purpose of fashion, what one person considers neutral is probably what dominates their wardrobe & tastes. That is their base colour that all the others compliment and work around. Sounds as wonderfully unique as all of us.

  38. Having worked in the (home) design field, I've seen it all when it comes to colors being used together - chocolate and blush pink is common now for girls rooms, and rooms of beige and blue are (thankfully) less popular now!

    Some of my favorite color combos, in no particular order (and mixed with liberal helpings of grey, taupe, white or ivory):
    chocolate and teal or pumpkin or lime or raspberry
    olive/avocado and pumpkin with mushroom
    navy and celadon and/or lavender
    turquoise and lime green
    navy and lime green (my kitchen)
    deep red with mustard yellow
    clear blue-red with baby blue (it was a coat and scarf combo that I just cant stop loving)

    I think the same color principals that are applied to interior design can also be applied in wardrobes, but I'd be loathe to do it to MY wardrobe. I can't imagine anything more horrifying than matching one's living room!

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  40. Gertie,
    Have you heard of colour analysis (eg the winter-summer-spring-autumn thing)?
    I have had my colours analyzed recently after having been interested in the theories for a long time and learning about colour, skin tone etc.
    I'm far away from wearing the colours that are "right" with my skin, but I hope you don't mind it if I say I sometimes feel the colours you choose seem too harsh on you to me. I'm really curious to see what you would look like in softer tones!

  41. I live in a part of the country most people consider color to be a sin. I see more jeans, blues, blacks and greys then any single color and forget bright.

    I wear whatever I want to, mostly oranges but I am just as likely to wear limes, teals and prints as I am to slip on a black skirt or navy dress. I wouldn't wear any one bright color head to toe, but I wouldn't wear any other "neutral" color head to toe.

    Blue (of all shades) seems to wind up being my neutral, although I don't like the color. I can wear it with orange or lime, I can wear it with prints, I can wear it pretty well matches everything. It doesn't wash me out like black does, it's not as ugly as brown and it tones down the wild colors...or accents them.

  42. Ava: What an interesting point. Yes, it's funny to think that something like what colors go together, which you would think would be based on the inherent qualities of colors themselves, is really just...custom.
    In terms of fashion, I mean. I understand that color theory is different, and does have actual rules.

  43. I don't really agree with calling any colour 'your neutral' on the basis that it suits your skin tone best. I believe in the traditional description, similar to what Meghan said: "neutral is whatever stops registering as a color when you wear it", and hence, goes with everything. Sure, purple could form a good background for certain colours, but I'm sure not all of them would go together ideally. Black, grey, and flesh-toned/tan are counted as neutrals because they can be worn with just about anything.

    Perhaps another word is needed for your preferred base colour. It may be what you typically build an outfit around, but I don't think it can rightly be called neutral.

  44. I've been pondering this very question since yesterday. Red is a colour I wear with many other colours (black, purple, green, brown, white, pink and sometimes even orange). I also do wear it head to toe (lots of red shoes in my wardrobe). It's also my go to comfort colour when I'm feeling fat, old and ugly.

  45. Plum has become my new neutral. I wear it with black and gray and patterns and brights and somehow, it always seems to work. house is plum!

  46. This discussion is so fascinating! I've been thinking a lot about what my preferred neutral (or, base color) is as my goal is to sew a few wonderful wardrobe staples. I know it's fun to sew special pieces, but as a beginning (and very frustrated) sewer, I'd like to put all of my effort into something that both fits perfectly and will have major mileage.

    So I keep going back and forth on fabric color: navy? gray? black? I love them all, but I'm leaning toward black. Black (wardrobe-wise) sometimes feels overly formal but it's classic and mingles well with others. I'm likely to change my mind tomorrow, though. :)

  47. I say neutrals can be whatever you want them to be! Your clothing is personal to you and if tan, black, gray, etc. don't work for you, then there should be nothing keeping you from coloring outside those lines!

    I'm all about white, medium blues and navy, and chocolate-y browns.

  48. I don't particularly think neutrals are person specific. My own definition of neutral would be that it doesn't clash with anything. Add ivory or white or navy or black to another bright colour and they generally rub along quite nicely, throw an olive green and a tangarine orange together and that almost makes your eyes water! This is the case whether the colours suit you or not. Personally I feel that black makes me look a bit dead, and I would certainly never wear an entire black outfit... but I do think its a neutral. My black jeans go with pretty much everything, so for me, that means black is neutral!

  49. This conversation fascinates me because I get chided by my friends (lovingly) for only wearing neutrals. One of my colleagues whom I like alot will make a comment if I am not wearing a neutral, and I've been following certain bloggers advice about "pops of colors" as a scared New Yorker's attempts to add color to my wardrobe.
    That said, I think that black, grey, white, brown and cream are neturals. I've been told navy, green, and red are neutrals too (also denim is considered a neutral?) But I think that anything not black, grey, white, brown or cream is a "bright" for me, since it's so difficult for me to incorporate it confidently. I think my fear of color comes from some irrational fear that I am trying to draw too much attention to myself (ironic, since I put my outfits on the internet).
    Maybe though to consider the question if purple is a neutral, I think it can act like one. For purposes of the dress, the purple can serve as a background for additional colors. No matter what, I believe that it will look amazing on Gertie!

  50. Thanks Gertie I am lovin' this thread! I have been pondering this for some time wondering what I can use as a base color or neutral in my wardrobe now that I'm getting older.
    Years ago I made the decision to use cream as my base color not that black, the usual, didn't look good on me but because everyone always wears black and I have to be different. Often I would go monotone cream with a splash of color. I have always worn lots of scarfs so that worked well for me.

    Now at my age, and with the lightening of my hair, black is much to harsh and cream makes me look fat. What's a girl to do? I would love to use tans and taupes to go with the oranges and golds that I like to wear but If those colors are not in style it's very hard to buy ready to wear in a color that you choose if the "Powers That Be" have not designated them to be the in color for the season. It's a delema.

    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  51. "Would you wear it head to toe?"
    Seems my neutral is beige in different shades - by this rule, but by other ones as well. I do wear it head to toe often (if you leave out shoes, that is). And I'm quite happy with it that way, and especially happy combining it with other colours as well.
    Plus, it's the colour I'm able to combine with no regrets as a headband worn together with a rather bright green sweater, the brightest, most standing-out thing in my wardrobe currently. That goes to prove it's my neutral, doesn't it?


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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