How to Wear Neutrals Without Looking Basic

As a lover of classic, effortless style, I’ve been asked many a time how I manage to find inspiration from such a limited color palette. Now, neutrals (think: beige, ivory, black, and white) may not translate on the runway as glamorous, but they can be your best friend when mastering the art of street style.

My latest look, dubbed simple with a twist, is fun to look at and easy to follow. See what inspiration and advice you can gather from my step-by-step neutral-wearing rules!

1. Choose contrasting pieces.

Nothing says boring more than matching colors without a purpose. For this reason, you’ll have to put a little more thought into your dress-up time—think about what fabrics would photograph together nicely and which ones clash.

In my case, I paired structured Ink Denim jeans with a loose-fitting top while accentuating a textured Adrienne Vittadini handbag with synthetic fibers and felt from the shoes and accessories. Though the colors stayed plain, the look was anything but.

At the same time, don’t forget to edit your outfit. In the words of Coco Chanel, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Follow Mademoiselle’s minimalist style rule to hit that sweet spot between humdrum and noisy!

2. Mix it up.

You don’t have to take this as literally as mixing silver accessories with gold, but don’t forget to have fun with your clothes. Fashion is nothing if not experimental!

One thing I did to transform my look from cliché to slay was to roll-up my long sleeve Olive & Oak button down and tie it at the waist. High enough to raise interest but low enough that your 70-year-old grandmother wouldn’t judge, this refitted top now looked casually undone. I also wore a wool cloche hat from Target (pronounced Tar-jay by the cool kids) because I’m clearly still not over Downton Abbey.

3. Add a statement shoe.

Repeat this after me: Statement shoes are fun. Statement shoes never hurt anyone.

As for the shoes themselves, I highly recommend that you scour out pack-a-bag sales at your local thrift store before you even think about going near a Nordstrom or, heaven forbid, an actual designer store. These sold out Steve Madden leopard print wedges were originally priced at $119; I got them for roughly $2! (Granted, I had to squeeze them in a bag shared with two friends, but it was totally worth it.)

3. Go for gorgeous.

Whether you choose to go barefaced or bronzer-conscious, make sure that you step out of the house feeling confident, sexy, and proud of what you’re wearing! While you are always beautiful, a classy, neutral look can help to bring out that natural grace.

That said, I used Essence Cosmetics’ All About Chocolates eye shadow palette. Ranging from matte to shimmery tones, it was just what I needed to take my look to the next level.

Are you rocking the neutral look today? Snap a picture, and don’t forget to tag us @CFashionista on social media!