Styling Neutral Hues: How to Wear Neutrals

Behind the Design

Whether you're looking for a chic casual outfit or a refined business ensemble, neutral colors bring poise and elegance to any look. Learn how to build your wardrobe with classic staples, and explore how to create outfits with texture and pattern to showcase your personal style. 

Side Slit Floor Length Dress

Chevron Rib Knit Sweater

What Are Neutrals?

Neutral hues are beloved not just for their simplicity, but because they pair effortlessly with almost anything in your wardrobe. These staple colors fall into six essential categories:

  • Black
  • White
  • Gray
  • Navy
  • Brown
  • Tan

Varying tints, tones, and shades within each of these colors create subtleties that lend depth and elegance to your ensemble. 

Choosing Your Neutrals

Build your wardrobe by selecting approximately three neutral colors to create a foundation. Choose shades that complement your skin tone and hair color, so your ensembles highlight your natural beauty rather than creating a washed out look.

Softer neutrals, like tan, brown, and gray, tend to pair best with lighter complexions. The gentler hues bring out subtleties in your skin tone, giving you a soft glow. If you've got a darker complexion, play with contrasting white, black, and navy neutrals for bold elegance that stands out.

Neutral Wardrobe Staples

Neutral pieces are the perfect staples for every wardrobe because they pair well with anything and can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion. Once you've chosen your perfect palette, invest in a few select pieces to serve as the foundation of your ensembles. A pair of knit pants or stretch suede cropped leggings make a versatile base for business or casual settings, while a classic skirt offers a refined alternative. When it comes to tops, choose a light cami for everyday wear and a woven or knit sweater for layering.  

Engineered Stripe Knit Cape

Side Slit Floor Length Dress

Creating Outfits with Texture

While neutrals make the ideal base for pairing with other colors, they can also be worn alone in a monochromatic ensemble. For an understated look, pair one or two items of the same hue to create a streamlined silhouette. 

When dressing only in neutrals, pair designs in the same color palette with unique tones and textures. Wear delicate viscose bottoms with a silken suede jacket, or layer a knit sweater over a fitted woven turtleneck. Contrasting textures lend depth to the outfit, while the monochromatic palette maintains a refined feel. 

Mixing Neutrals with Colors, Patterns, or Prints

Add a statement touch to your ensemble by playing with pops of color, playful prints, and bold patterns. For monochromatic neutral outfits, accessorizing with a vibrant handbag or pair of shoes is a simple way to add personality without feeling overwhelming. 

Lend character to an outfit while maintaining the elegant feel by layering a piece of patterned neutral clothing. Houndstooth, tweed, and checkered patterns offer a classic touch to your ensemble, while animal prints add a contemporary feel. 

When selecting your neutral color clothing, opt for high-quality fabrics that are crafted to last. At St. John Knits, each piece is designed for comfort and versatility with a unique eye for details. With the perfect blend of tone, texture, and pattern, it's easy to create neutral ensembles that balance contemporary trends with timeless elegance.