Module 2: Neutrals (with a Pop)
Neutrals — black, brown, gray, tan, and navy (okay, and white too) — are the staple of most wardrobes. And for good reason. They can easily mitigate more piercing color combinations, toning down an outfit and providing cohesion. They can also produce rich and textured outfits by themselves when layered and combined with just each other. With this module, we explore how ensembles comprised entirely of neutrals achieve a rich and interesting look, and how a simple pop of color brings an unexpected boost to an otherwise softer neutral palette.
In painting, neutrals are made by mixing disparate colors together. Mixing red and green paint together will give you a brown, mixing red, yellow, and blue together will push you towards black, and so on. The fact that neutrals actually contain many colors is part of what allows them to look good next to any color.
Like Stacy and Clinton always say on What Not to Wear, “neutrals go with everything,” including each other. Injunctions against wearing black and brown or brown and gray or black and navy together simple aren’t true. When mixed together in a range of shades and textures, an all-neutral outfit can be minimal but sophisticated. Pairing two neutrals in different textures such as jersey and lace or silk and wool can create a clean look. A. is our resident expert on wearing multiple neutrals, dexterously mixing a variety of fabrics and shades.
Neutrals can provide a softer look on their own, or serve as a background for another color. When pairing one “pop” of color with an all neutral palette, the neutrals allow the brighter color to add a wow-factor.
S. and A. have both used pink to “pop” an otherwise neutral outfit, S. dressing it up for a date and A. punching up a teaching outfit. While neutrals dominate, the splash of color is what makes the outfit memorable.
While an orange-and-black or yellow-and-black combination may be something to avoid because of holiday and wildlife connotations respectively, use other combinations and mix boldly. Pair yellow and gray together. Try out navy and purple. Give black and tan a chance. We’ll be playing with neutrals all week. If you do too, drop us a comment and let us know! And don’t forget to check back soon for Module 3.
If you missed Module 1, click for background on this project after the jump!
It’s easy to fall into a rut and wear the same color combinations over and over again. A. and E. have put all of their art-historical training towards creating a useful color wheel of clothing, designed to inspire new color combinations in yours — and our — wardrobes. This is the second of several modules addressing different color combinations and providing examples from our own daily wear. Follow us as we navigate the color wheel and put color theory into practice.
The Color Wheel:
According to Wikipedia, a color wheel is:
an organization of color hues around a circle, showing relationships between colors
In this model, red, yellow, and blue are primary colors; orange, green, and violet are secondary colors; and red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet are intermediate colors. Color combinations can be built by using the color wheel to build particular color relationships or color schemes.