Introducing Color Into A (Mostly) Neutral Wardrobe

How to add color to a neutral wardrobe: Susan B. wears a turquoise sweater, jeans, tan sweater blazer and gold jewelry.

If you’re not used to wearing a lot of color, adding it to your outfits and wardrobe can be…challenging. There’s an ease, simplicity, and sophistication to a mostly neutral wardrobe that I don’t want to lose. But I also love how the right colors make me look and feel more energized. And a bit of color provides a focal point to a simple outfit.

earrings | sweater | necklace | jacket | bracelet | bag | jeans (similar)| boots

Still, I don’t see myself ever wearing head-to-toe color, or multiple (bright) colors in an outfit. So I’ve been using the concept of “tabletop dressing,” (focusing on that part of the outfit above the waist) to add color and pattern. Scarves are one way to do this. Tops and sweaters are another.

How I Add Color To A Neutral Wardrobe

Since I had my Red Leopard color analysis a few months ago, I’ve been on the lookout for the colors in my Golden Spring palette. And aside from rusts, oranges, and browns, they’ve been few and far between, at least in styles I’d wear.

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wears a J.Crew turquoise cashmere sweater and a French Kande bee necklace.

Now that it’s cooled off enough to contemplate wearing sweaters, I’ve been having some luck there. This turquoise (one of my “best” colors) is one of the two I’ve found in the J.Crew Everyday Cashmere. It’s light enough to layer without overheating. It’s a little bit longer than I think is optimal for me, so I’ve done a half-tuck.

The bee necklace is from the French Kande “FK Petite” collection. I love the soft gold finish.

Detail: Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears a French Kande gold and pearl bracelet, and carries a Brahmin croc-effect bag.

My neutrals have shifted from mostly black to navy (including denim) and some browns. Jeans still suit my style, lifestyle, and environment, so I won’t be giving them up anytime soon. 😉

Detail: Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears Everlane Day Boots in Brick.

What I think this outfit needs is some pattern, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for some patterned jackets, as well as scarves in my colors.

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37 Comments

  1. Angela Wilson
    November 4, 2019 / 4:39 am

    That turquoise colour really suits you, Susan. Gives you a real ‘lift’
    I like the boots as well!

  2. November 4, 2019 / 4:39 am

    You are doing exactly what I do when I wear color. I usually only wear one item in a bright hue since I am a winter. clear bright tones are great on me. but I always wear black or navy or white pants. I never wear any other type of color on the bottom. I usually wear a bright shirt or sweater and add a scarf. I love Hermes scarves. It must be jarring for you to wear color, but you are doing a great job at it. You look great in your outfit!

  3. Lesley
    November 4, 2019 / 4:54 am

    Hi

    Whenever I receive your daily email and click on the link to continue reading I receive the following in a pop-up box

    “Suspicious link
    Malicious emails often link to this site. Are you sure you want to proceed to unefemme.us9.list-manage.com?”

    • Linda
      November 4, 2019 / 5:12 am

      Got same message, and clicked ahead.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 4, 2019 / 6:27 am

      Hi Lesley, this is an error, and you are safe to proceed. Adding info@unefemme.net to your contacts, or list of “preferred” or “safe” senders in your email settings should eliminate the issue. Thanks!

      • Lesley
        November 4, 2019 / 2:02 pm

        Many thanks, I’ve done that some time ago but still the message pops up whether I use Chrome or Safari. A friend was recently caught out by assuming a site she uses was safe and it wasn’t and hey presto loses her email, bank details, all social media, everything – all gone in a keystroke.

    • Linda G
      November 4, 2019 / 12:18 pm

      I do, too. I click through, but always wonder if I should. Thanks for mentioning it, Lesley, so Susan knows.

  4. Jill
    November 4, 2019 / 4:55 am

    The turquoise is a great choice, looks fantastic! It could be the way it plays off the camel, but still lovely.

  5. Barb
    November 4, 2019 / 5:22 am

    Beautiful colors on you! And that front tuck is sure a lifesaver for us petites!

  6. Stephanie J
    November 4, 2019 / 5:46 am

    You look great, and I love everything about this outfit, especially the bee necklace. Just love your blog!

  7. Lyn
    November 4, 2019 / 5:57 am

    Turquoise does look good on you, and the camel topper is a classic. But I’m not sure I like them together.
    I’m so used to your old “unified” style of dressing that this outfit is a big change. You have separate color blocks of dark jeans, a medium tone sweater, and a light colored jacket – not your usual pulled-together look. Maybe a scarf? Or swap the camel jacket for navy?
    That said, I love seeing you experiment with the new color pallet and style guidelines. Not all the outfits will be winners, but it is a lot of fun for your readers to watch your sorting-out process. I would never have the courage to let the world weigh in on my own wardrobe choices!

    • RoseAG
      November 5, 2019 / 4:36 am

      I think Lyn makes a good point, adding this lovely pop of color does break up the column approach to color/dressing. An all blue first layer plus a turquoise necklace would be an alternative.

      I think it’s important that she did the half-tuck with the sweater to give the viewer the appearance of a waist, although it’s not a column of color it does keep the look from being a blocky baggy one.

      Myself I’m happy to see outfits that are less black-based. Black is a great color and I have some outfits that include it but I prefer it more as a pop, or maybe a drop?, than a mainstay.

    • Avicennia
      November 6, 2019 / 5:09 am

      I’ve been sitting on the sidelines about Susan’s style change. I agree with Lyn and Roseag that the new colors look better on Susan’s skin. And some of her tonal outfits in rusts are truly amazing!! But this outfit looks blocky and choppy to me. I like Roseag’s idea of a blue support act.

  8. Eileen
    November 4, 2019 / 6:27 am

    I love your new color journey, I wish there were bloggers for all the seasons showing transformations. And particularly a summer season person with your same level of sophistication. I have made an appointment with a local colorist, fingers crossed I have as much fun as you!

  9. linda
    November 4, 2019 / 6:32 am

    I also got the “suspicious link” message on my apple notebook

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 4, 2019 / 6:35 am

      Hi Linda, thanks for letting me know. If you add info@unefemme.net as a “safe” or “preferred” sender, it should eliminate the error message. The link IS safe, and the message is in error.

  10. Linda L
    November 4, 2019 / 6:49 am

    You have been an inspiration as I transition from NY professional to SoCal retiree! I have been adding more casual, chic items to my wardrobe as I purge so much black in my wardrobe. Years ago I had my colors done and I was a warm autumn. Turquoise is one of my better colors as well. I love it with the camel! Do you think ones colors change? I was 39 and dark blonde when I had them done & now I’m 68 and totally white. I still have the fabric swatches given to me by that colorist.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 4, 2019 / 6:56 am

      According to my friends at Red Leopard, your season doesn’t change with age or greying hair, but the colors within your palette that are best for you may shift.

      • Rondi
        November 4, 2019 / 7:25 am

        Susan, Your reply above is very helpful. I wondered if our season could change with age and your answer was very informative. Makes perfect sense.

      • Diana
        November 4, 2019 / 7:38 am

        Thanks for this comment. I have wondered about that as well. By the way, the turquoise is fabulous on you!

      • Linda L
        November 4, 2019 / 10:06 am

        Thanks Susan!

      • lagatta à montréal
        November 4, 2019 / 11:44 am

        Susan, as I’m sure you know, skin colour itself can change with age. I’m also thinking about your jeans, which are lovely, but in some “creative” professions, while we don’t have to wear those horrible pleated trousers and jeans are fine, they aren’t seen as professional unless they are black, a very dark colour or dark wash.

  11. November 4, 2019 / 7:16 am

    Love the color of that top, can also see how a little pattern would take this outfit in your style direction.

  12. November 4, 2019 / 7:23 am

    Susan, It’s so exciting to see you on your color journey!

  13. Ronda
    November 4, 2019 / 7:30 am

    You look fab! I love your outfit as is for myself, but could also see that a patterned scarf could add another layer of loveliness. Ronda

  14. Alexandra Martella
    November 4, 2019 / 8:02 am

    The jacket is 40% of at J Crew! Also love the turquoise color on you!

  15. Lily
    November 4, 2019 / 8:05 am

    On wearing color – My sister had a color analysis. The consultant wore head-to-toe purple. Joan hates purple. She didn’t have much confidence in the results.

  16. November 4, 2019 / 8:29 am

    Splendid outfit. And eh.. half tucking hey? You just wait, in a couple of years you will have multiple colours in one outfit . Having said that: this outfit has 4 colours as well: camel, turquoise, brown and blue. How about that! I agree the blues and browns are in the same tone of colour but still…
    Greetje

  17. Lorraine
    November 4, 2019 / 9:16 am

    Gorgeous outfit! I am loving the elegant jewelry collection combo. Pretty yet simple statement necklace ties all the accessories together. Very chic!

  18. Kris
    November 4, 2019 / 9:27 am

    You look gorgeous, Susan. And I’m not sure the outfit needs more pattern – I think the colour-blocking may be more sophisticated although perhaps a very simple geometric-patterned scarf in the main colours might work really well?

  19. November 4, 2019 / 9:45 am

    That color on you is gorgeous!!!! Still testing out my “what goes with what” (which your posts are SO helpful for!) and I just kept thinking this combination would also look fabulous with cream pants!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      November 4, 2019 / 10:04 am

      Thanks! A pair of cream pants is actually on my wish list. 😉

  20. Rondi
    November 4, 2019 / 11:39 am

    I agree that cream pants or cream jeans would look nice with this outfit. I love the camel with turquoise as I think camel works great with most shades of blue. But I always have trouble putting turquoise or teal with blue denim. Regardless, the turquoise is very flattering on you!

  21. Lisa B
    November 4, 2019 / 11:48 am

    I’ve purchased a few cashmere sweaters from J Crew but like to stick with the V neck as I have a short neck.
    Love that color on you! Was thinking of buying the turquoise but opted for the dark green.

  22. Susan D.
    November 4, 2019 / 5:11 pm

    Color becomes you!

  23. November 4, 2019 / 7:06 pm

    Color is perhaps the most important part of fashion and yet most of us don’t really understand it. Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.

  24. Berenice Wolpin
    November 5, 2019 / 2:49 am

    That turquoise really is lovely on you. Works beautifully with the camel. I agree that a patterned scarf incorporating some of those two colors would bring this outfit up a notch in sophistication. Question about that sweater: I’m wondering how it’s holding up; I had thought that it was more ‘coat like’ when I’ve seen it previously, but clicking on it I realize that it’s a knit. No pilling, worries about snags? Also – apologies if you’ve mentioned this elsewhere – were those jeans shortened? I have a terrible problem with pant length, as just an extra inch or two makes me look disheveled. Thanks!

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