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How to Wear Neutrals Without Looking Boring

October 30, 2023

I really am trying to wear a little more color these days. Red is a favorite, as I shared in this recent blog post. And for the first time in a long time…maybe ever…I’m trying to incorporate a little pale purple into my wardrobe. But I still have a passionate love affair with neutrals, and I’m not giving them up. Some say wearing all neutrals can make you look boring and even older than you really are. But today I’m sharing tips for how to wear neutrals without looking boring.

How to Wear Neutrals Without Looking Boring

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To illustrate my points today I’m bringing in photos from my recent YouTube videos. Readers often ask me how they can pin these outfits in their Pinterest boards. My assistant always makes them into LTK posts, so the best place to see and shop them is in my LTK Shop. In fact, that’s honestly the best and easiest place to shop all of my content. But I thought we make good use of these outfit photos today by bringing them onto the blog. So pin away!

Tip #1 – Keep it simple.

Really, the clean aesthetic of neutrals is what makes them so pleasing to many of us to begin with. So one of the best ways to wear neutrals and not look boring is to embrace that simple approach.

Keep It Simple
jeans are old // shrunken sweater // necklace (optional necklace) // earrings // bracelet // shoulder bag // mules on left are old // boots on right

I’ve done a couple of different things with the outfit pairing above. In one outfit I wore cognac accessories and in the other I bookended the look with coordinated booties and sweater. But in both outfits I did keep things relatively simple. Don’t be afraid to let enough be enough.

Button-Front Sweater
button-front ribbed puffed-sleeve sweater (TTS) // Simply Vera Vera Want boot-cut jeans (TTS) // sugar Envoy booties // earrings // similar necklace option // as seen in this previous post

Just to illustrate this first tip further, the very casual and affordable outfit above follows the same principle. Simple can look sophisticated and classy, not boring at all.

Tip #2 – Create pleasing neutrals combinations.

Not to contradict the tip above, but simply to provide another option, work to create pleasing neutrals combinations. I still (generally) like to keep my pairings of neutrals down to two, maybe three, on the rare occasion. But I’m always looking for the most appealing combinations I can create from the neutrals in my closet.

Create pleasing neutrals combinations.
quilted jacket // jeans sold out // shrunken sweater // boots on left similar // Tish Chelsea boots on right // necklace (optional necklace) // earrings // bracelet

I think one of the best places to get inspiration for pleasing combinations of neutrals is in nature. A couple of winters ago I did a video on Style Inspiration for Wearing Grey in Winter and I shared there how nature is the best place to find beautiful pairings for this neutral.

In this video I shared how I pull inspiration from nature for wearing the color grey in winter.

Would you like to see a similar video this winter? Maybe for a different neutral, such as the trending chocolate brown or camel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Create Interesting Neutrals Combinations
shrunken sweater // jeans sold out // necklace (optional necklace) // earrings // bracelet // loafers // handbag

But whether you pull your inspiration from nature or architecture, look for combinations that are pleasing to our eyes. Think outside the box of black plus beige. And don’t be afraid to pair neutrals that may seem to contradict at first. I love the combinations of navy and brown, shown two photos above, and the soft pairing of beige or oatmeal with grey above. What are some of your favorite combinations of neutrals? Share in the comments so we can all benefit from your insights.

Tip #3 – Add a little light to the mix.

Remember, these are not rules, just tips. So you can pull from them here and there for different effects. One of the things I like to do to lighten up an all neutrals outfit is simply to throw in a little white or soft beige.

Add a little light to the mix.
similar tank // jeans (cut off) // shoes // coat // necklace // earrings

There’s nothing wrong with a deep, moody combination of darker neutrals, of course. But sometimes adding a little light to an all neutrals outfit can make it seem a little more cheerful, less melancholy.

camp jacket
corduroy camp jacket // straight leg ankle jeans // similar ribbed tee // similar sneakers (more economical option) // earrings // necklace // as seen in this previous post

You can add a little light to an all neutrals outfit with white (or beige) sneakers, t-shirt, jeans, sweater or shoulder bag.

Early Fall Outfit Easy on the Eyes
Mother ankle jeans // knit ribbed t-shirt // 100% organic cotton fisherman sweater (c/o) // loafers // convertible leather satchel (c/o) // chain necklace // as seen in this previous post

Tip #4 – Keep the quality of your garments high.

Personally, I believe that as we get older quality of garments becomes all the more important altogether. And that doesn’t mean you have to spend a bundle. Just this weekend I was in Goodwill doing some shopping for an upcoming video and noticed quite a few high end brand offerings in good shape. You’d do even better probably at consignment stores or other thrift markets, including online shops like Poshmark. Or you can do like I do and wait for every single item to go on sale before purchasing.

Keep the quality of your garments high.
blazer // similar ribbed tee // black pants // shoes // shoulder bag // necklace

Remember my recent video about Wearing the Elevated Basics Style Trend? I made this same point there. If you’re going to keep your outfit fairly pared back and basic, then you need to wear good quality basics.

In this video I shared the importance of wearing good quality basics.

And, by high quality, we don’t necessarily mean ritzy brand or expensive to begin with. Learn to look for quality, not in the name of the brand, but in the stitching, the fabric, the finishing touches and the sourcing of the garment instead.

Styling a Pleated Midi Skirt 2 Ways for Fall
pleated midi skirt // shrunken sweater // suede block heel pumps, (Use code SARAHFLINT_CCLAURAKAY1 for 15% off at Sarah Flint, new customers only) // necklace // earrings (similar) // bracelet // similar clutch // as seen in this previous post

Tip #5 – Don’t forget to accessorize.

Since we are talking about wearing all neutrals and not looking boring, I think it’s important to state the obvious: accessorizing is crucial.

Don't neglect to accessorize your outfit.
both turtlenecks // black pants // jeans // black pumps (use code KAYHEELS for $50 off your first pair of heels at Ally) // Tish Chelsea boots // coat // brooch // pendant necklace // shoulder bag // earrings

Accessorizing can be as simple as added a little carefully chosen jewelry. But it can also include adding a belt, pairing your shoes and handbag or wearing a scarf or sweater over your shoulders.

long sleeve tee // black cashmere v-neck sweater // Harlow wide-leg pants //  belt // loafers (more economical option) // bag // necklace //  earrings // as seen in this previous post

Tip #6 – Add some interest to your all neutrals outfit.

Don’t forget another fun trend for 2023: adding some whimsy or joy to your outfit. I’m all in.

Add some interest to your all neutrals outfit.
black pants // leopard socks // similar loafers // denim button front shirt (TTS; wearing medium) // quilted barn jacket // sweater // necklace // Tish Chelsea boots // earrings

You could add some fun contrasting socks, like I did in the outfit above left. It’s so on trend to wear some socks that show. And the best way to do that is to wear socks that contrast so it looks intentional. But you could also wear a fun print or graphic, like I did in the outfit above right. I’d just be careful to keep everything else in your outfit fairly basic and straightforward. You don’t want to create a competition for focus in your outfit.

quilted barn jacket
quilted barn jacket // denim button front shirt (TTS; wearing medium) // stretch corduroy straight leg pants in almond buff (TTS; wearing a 10 comfortably) // Tish Chelsea boots // skipping stones stretch bracelet // earrings // crossbody saddle bag // as seen in this previous post

Adding a print to your outfit, even if it’s still in a neutral like the animal print quilted jacket in the outfit above, is another way to add a little interest to your all neutrals outfit.

Tip #7 – Add some color to your appearance with makeup.

I do think it is very important to add some color to your appearance in your makeup when wearing all neutrals, especially if, like me, you have grey hair. Add a bold lip, some “nature-inspired” blush and a soft dusting of eye shadow can help you wear neutrals without looking boring.

Add some color to your appearance with makeup.
black pants // turtleneck // black pumps (use code KAYHEELS for $50 off your first pair of heels at Ally) // coat // brooch // pendant necklace // earrings // lipstick in Rebellious Rose and blush in Rebellious Rose and lip pencil in Rebellious Rose

My favorite lipstick for fall and winter is Estee Lauder’s lipstick in Rebellious Rose. I also have and am wearing above (and in most of these photos!) their blush in Rebellious Rose and lip pencil in Rebellious Rose. This pretty, deep color is considered to be a neutral that most women can wear. It’s a moist, long-lasting lipstick that goes on nicely and I really enjoy wearing it.

lipstick in Rebellious Rose and blush in Rebellious Rose and lip pencil in Rebellious Rose // jacket // shrunken sweater // necklace

Do you like to wear all neutrals occasionally? Do you have additional tips for keeping those all neutral combinations from being boring? I’d love for you to share in the comment section. Just click on JOIN THE CONVERSATION below to open the comment area. If it’s your first time to comment, your comment will need to be approved before it is published, but I’ll get to it soon. Thank you so much for dropping in today. Have a blessed and beautiful fall day!

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Blessed for My Day

As we continue to hear reports about the conflict in the middle East, I thought I’d provide some scriptures that would help us know how to pray. These are words from the Bible that also will help guide our hearts and thoughts as we take in the news and have conversations with other people about these happenings. I’ll refrain from making political statements about this situation, and I’ll ask you to do the same in the comments section. But I will gladly share scriptures that can shed light on the situation. After all, this is how we should approach every dilemma in our personal lives and in the news.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. ~ Genesis 12:1-4

“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” ~ Genesis 17:7-8

I’ll provide more scriptures on this topic throughout the week. I think it might be a good idea for us to keep this topic out of the comments section this week. And instead, let’s just quietly meditate on these verses and allow God to speak to us through them. Thank you so much for understanding.


xoxo, Kay
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19 thoughts on “How to Wear Neutrals Without Looking Boring

  1. Hi Kay, you’re an inspiration to me. I love your neutrals and wonder if you would consider balancing neutrals with a corresponding dark to help give life to the outfit? For example, a deep navy blazer with taupe slacks and a stark white silk blouse? Navy loafers or pumps and a gold chain necklace😇

  2. Kay, you got me wearing gray with tan, which I love, and now I am going to have to try chocolate brown with navy. Thank you!

  3. You look so nice and polished in your neutrals. Wish I could wear beige near my face but it is definitely not my color. So my neutrals are navy, black, and white which are what my pants and some of my third pieces are. Then it is bright colors for me. This post has given me ideas to try more of my neutrals together (maybe with just a spot of red lol!). Keep up the good work and have a good week!

  4. I should wear more neutrals……they really make one look “a step above” the other. So elevated and femine! And I’m loving your hair Kay, super cute on you. 💗


  5. Hi Kay,
    I might just add one thing to run past you…
    I’ve heard that a variety of textures in an outfit can also add interest. I sometimes find this to be the hardest to do myself. I guess it is due to having to think about it more. Instead I want to just hurry to dress and go.
    I think that is why the above outfit with the corduroy pants, jean shirt, and shiny jacket is the most pleasing to me. I like the color combinations and details, but I think the variety of textures really adds to its attractiveness.
    Do you think about this when you are dressing?
    Maybe that would be a good blog or video topic to include??? Can it be enough to change up texture with simply a scarf, or does it need to have more “weight” so-to-speak? I use scarves a lot in cooler months.
    Love your content and, as always, your BFMD.

    1. Yes! I absolutely should have mentioned that. If you notice most of my outfits do indeed have a combination of different textures. It’s such a great way to add a little richness and interest to an all neutrals or even monochromatic outfit. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. You look so nice in neutrals as well as red and blue. Me being a pale brunette, do not look so good in neutrals. They wash me out. I prefer reds, my favorite color and blues. I love it when you show these colors in outfits. They inspire me. God bless you. I agree with Sandra. I like for example, a navy blazer with taupe or light brown slacks, as I cannot wear beige, etc against my face. My neutrals are white, black and navy.

  7. Hi Kay-
    I enjoy your blog posts and YouTube videos. The camel coat with turtleneck is my favorite! I am trying to resist putting it in my cart but don’t know if I will keep my resolve! 🙂
    Thanks for all you do!

  8. This is such a helpful post. I’m loving the look of neutral outfits and have been trying to put together more neutral outfits with items I already have in my wardrobe. I’ve always remembered an outfit I saw an older woman wearing – probably 10-15 years ago. It was winter and she was wearing charcoal slacks, a charcoal mockneck turtle sweater and a flattering necklace. It was a stunning outfit that I still remember to this day. So simple yet so pulled together!

  9. One of my favorite posts! I love neutrals. I think they look so classy and rich. I wear jeans almost every day and you had lots of casual looks in this post! Thanks!

  10. Since I’m low contrast, I love my outfits that combine khaki, beige, cream, and white. It is super easy for me to do in both summer and winter because I’ve collected jackets, tops, pants, and skirts in those shades, so it’s basically mix and match depending on the weather. Having the Stylebook app on my iPad has also been a blessing. I work at a college with a business casual dress code and invested time (mostly winter Saturdays!) into taking photos for it. It’s great because I can also look at my folders of outfits and back at outfits worn.

  11. I don’t think you make neutrals look boring at all! You have some really good fashion sense when it comes to mixing neutrals that has inspired me. I particularly like the tip about wearing bright colors on our lips. Yes!!

  12. Love this post! I’m still waiting to wear my fall clothes and it’s almost November! But I love getting all the inspiration from your blog and videos. Love the grey and beige combo and will definitely be choosing that this year. I have grey hair and light coloring- I bought Rebellious Rose before our London trip as I knew we were doing a photo shoot- it’s such a great color!

  13. I love my neutrals especially warm neutrals like camel and cream. Thanks for all the styling tips. I think it’s getting hard to find good quality even in high end stores. I can understand high prices for cashmere and silk but not for polyester. So many clothes are polyester even from stores like Nordstrom.

  14. Sorry a bit late to this , Thank you Kay for your inspiration and hard work and Thanks for doing this post on Neutrals . You totally Rock Beige I wish I did , I can wear Ivory/Winter White , would this be classed as a Neutral? . My Neutrals this winter are Navy/Grey/Wine . I am really warming to those Cognac accessories they look so elevated and chic . Im looking forward to your Post on Navy/Brown I have really started to love those Chocolate Shades you have been showing us the last few weeks . Loved your BFMD too. Really nice that you and James ended up going somewhere nice for your breakfast. So sorry to hear about your foot hope it heals soon Xx

  15. P.S Kay you look Fab in your ‘Rebellious Rose’ Lipstick and Blush . Im definitely thinking of getting that as Im pale like you with Silvery Ash Hair and ive been looking for a slightly brighter lipstick to wear for this cold season , my usual is a medium nude pink which I wear summer/winter . Thankyou ❤️

  16. I’m always amazed at how you can think of all these different topics! Today I am fighting a cold. You often ask for ideas-I know you have done some on loungewear. A post on what to wear when you are sick is on my mind. Cozy blankets, hot tea, flannel, slippers, sweatpants… LOL The cold and flu season is here!

    Loved this post! Oh, and I LOVED your baby gift to Abigail! Quite darling!

  17. I love how you coordinated the neutrals!
    Your makeup was vibrant and so pretty, but your smile was perhaps the best accessory!