Are you looking for the best neutral clothing colors for your style? Perhaps you’ve seen people wear them but aren’t sure how to incorporate neutral colors into your own capsule wardrobe. We’ve got you covered.
What are Neutral Colors?
Neutral colors are not found on the primary color wheel. They are more muted shades that mimic earth tones and natural hues like dirt, clay, stone, wood, and foliage. Neutrals also include black, white, and navy.
Politically, a neutral party does not show any particular bias toward one side or another. That’s a good way to think about neutrals to help you understand what they are. Think of browns. To get brown, you mix other colors together. You may start with bright reds or blues, but eventually, by adding multiple colors to the mix, you’re going to get a muted, more natural-looking color. That’s because nature is full of these shades!
Yes, we have red berries and yellow flowers that pop out here and there, but if you picture a forest, it’s mostly brown, black, and dark green. A neutral color palette is usually based on these colors. It may vary in tone. For instance, you may have a rose gold-toned neutral makeup palette. Or a neutral collection of heels that vary from blush to chocolate.
You can also picture adding or removing light with neutral colors to get an idea of how far the neutral palette can really go. Imagine pouring paint on paper. You can start with white. It’s bright and light. Now start adding bits of color. A drop of red will give you pink. Orange, blue, red, green, and so on, and you’ll start to get muddier shades that you can control with more paint and different lighting. If you turn the lights down, those shades will appear darker. But it all started with a neutral base color.
This is all just to say that neutrals go far beyond black, white, and brown. And the way we wear neutrals today goes far beyond the limited neutrals from previous decades of fashion history.
Wearing Neutral Colors Then and Now
Many decades ago, having a neutral piece in your closet was mostly a necessity because people, in general, had less clothing. Clothing was larger, less replaceable, and not as easy to care for. People couldn’t just toss their easy-care clothing in a washing machine before work! So, having neutral colors made it easier to always have something appropriate to wear.
Until the late 1800s, synthetic dyes were not as readily available. Of course, there were also societal rules that said some people could get away with wearing bright colors while others who tried were considered too gauche.
Today, we can have pretty much any color we want on clothing, and our closets are more full. We still use neutrals as a staple out of necessity sometimes, for work especially, and for those basic pieces that will go with anything. You probably have some black pants that you prefer or brown sandals that match all your outfits. And you’ve definitely heard of the little black dress!
But we also wear neutrals now for fashion. We celebrate neutrals. They’re extremely trendy right now, and they’re not just black and brown. One of the most popular neutrals that have soared to the top of the trend in the last few years is blush, as seen in the Waves Short by Sol Angeles or this Fearless T-Shirt we sell by Katie J NYC.
Some people confuse “nudes” with neutrals, but they are quite similar. Nudes just usually refer to skin tones. Nudes are a type of neutral. Not all neutrals are nudes.
Do neutral colors look good on everyone?
Science suggests that some colors look better on certain skin tones. Skin tones refer to your skin’s color and what you see right away when you look at someone’s skin. Skin tones can vary from very pale to very dark, with many shades in between. Skin tone can change over time from things like health and sun exposure. Neutral colors can make someone with light skin look washed out.
How do you find your skin undertone?
Skin undertones are the colors underneath the surface of your skin. Start by looking at your wrists under bright, natural light. If your veins look blue or purple, you likely have cool-tone skin and would look best in cool tones. Green veins might signify that you are warm-toned and would look best in warmer-toned clothing. If your veins look like a mix of both, you could be neutral-toned.
Silver jewelry looks great on cool skin tones, while gold looks better on warm skin tones. Neutral-toned skin looks great with either. Of course, some people might lean toward warm neutral or cool neutrals. This is just a guideline.
What are cool-toned neutrals?
For cool neutrals, go for colors on the blue side of the color wheel. Blue, green, purple. The closer to blue, the cooler they are!
Gray neutrals are often cool, as they have icy blue undertones. Bright whites, black, pale blue, teal, etc. People with cool tones look great in pure white shirts, soft gray sweatshirts, and navy everything. Black is always a safe bet.
Here are some great wardrobe options for cool-tone neutrals.
Men’s cool tone neutral wardrobe ideas:
Women’s cool tone neutral wardrobe ideas:
What are Warm-toned Neutrals?
Warm neutrals appear toward the red side of the color wheel. Deep browns, olive green, blush, taupe, etc. Instead of bright whites, try creams and off-whites.
Here are some wardrobe ideas for neutral color clothing for warm skin tones.
Warm Neutral wardrobe ideas for men:
Warm Neutral wardrobe ideas for women:
Wear your neutrals as a monochromatic, minimalist outfit, or use them as a base and accessorize boldly. As we said, though, you always look best in what feels best for you. Choose what colors make you feel good when you wear them. At Back2Basics, you’ll only find high-quality, feel-good clothes!