How to Have Fun with Neutral Tones for Classy, Sexy, Creative Looks


Also see for a nice article on “How to Wear Neutrals”

Neutral colors include black, white, gray, brown and beige.  Neutrals are colors that go with everything, so I’m including navy, indigo and leopard print.  Earth colors are also considered neutral, so I am covering the far reaches of the spectrum such as moss green, rust, and dark chocolate brown as well.

Using these basic colors in your wardrobe anchors your other colors in order to give you flexibility without going overboard.  Age doesn’t matter.  These colors tend to project a classic look and yet help you to be sexy with leopard, for instance, or wildly exuberant without overdoing it.  The charts I present here are a guide, but feel free to experiment and try new combos off the charts.For a minimalist look, wear any color (whether neutral or any other color on the color wheel) head to toe, or a combination of neutral colors.  Combining neutral colors is a soft look (think gray and beige) or it can be a bold high contrast (such as black and white).

Leopard print goes with everything, but is especially good with green, pink, red, orange, or pastels.  It also goes great with florals.

Indigo, such as denim, also goes with everything.  Dark denim goes well with rust. Since indigo is almost as dark as black, you can brighten and lighten it with yellow or pale blue or a bright floral.  Other creative pairings are:  citrus, sky blue, tomato red, or petal pink.

When in doubt, choose black and white.  Neutrals in general (navy, khaki, gray, denim, gold, silver, etc.) are great for color mixing, but black and white, especially together, are definitely the superstars of the family.  You can add just about any other color to them as an accent to spark them up.

You can use neutral prints in your outfits or add a print in place of a solid to a neutral piece.

neutral outfits
Sew Terri on Flickr

Look in your closet and pick out pieces in the following color combinations to build outfits.  You may even experiment by adding more than one of the compatible colors to your basic neutral.  Add color pops to an all-black or other neutral outfit with:  a bright bag, a colorful necklace, a head wrap, a pair of shoes, a belt, or even just a bright lipstick.

Neutral Color Combinations

  • Black + white, terra cotta, brown, navy, cobalt and/or red
  • White or ivory + black, red, coral, peach, blue, blush, rust, sky blue, sea green, petal pink, or earth tones
  • Nudes or beige + coral or red
  • Khaki + cobalt
  • Tan + tangerine or sea green
  • Camel + crimson, navy, black, or gray for a minimalist look
  • Buff + tomato red, cinnabar, leaf or grass green, maize, goldenrod, wine or oxblood
  • Chocolate brown + royal blue, jade green, sea green, marigold, coral, orange, citrus or a jewel-tone such as sapphire or emerald for impact
  • Moss green + deep purple/mulberry, warm yellow, tangerine, or pale green such as cucumber or honeydew
  • Rust + turquoise, or navy
  • Navy + teal, burgundy/marsala, or rust (may be a pattern)
  • Gray + coral, burnt ochre, blush, sky blue, aqua, teal, purple or burgundy/marsala
  • Pewter + periwinkle, aqua, powder pink, celery

Here is a partial chart of neutral colors from a blog called A Pair & A Spare that I really like as a guide to how to pair neutral colors in your outfit.  Read the whole article here.


What are your favorite ways to wear neutrals?  Let us know in the comments below!  Sign up for emails to get future blog posts as they come out every Thursday and Saturday.  Follow Your True Self Blog on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.


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