Do You Wear More Neutrals Than Colors?

I was at the lounge at Fashion Week, and overheard someone say of a show that had been colorful “they should do more neutrals.” (Neutrals, in case you’re wondering, comprise beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray, and white). This girl said it in a disgusted way. She said it as though lime green colored shoes were maybe a sign of moral decay. I stood there in my black dress with my black tights and my black heels with my grey necklace and thought “oh, that girl is an idiot.”

Then I realized I pretty much only wear neutrals to work. But I wear colors when I go out in the evening – I really love a good red dress. Or blue. I love navy blue. Or pink, although it’s hard to find it in a shade I can pull off. You know what I like? All the colors of the rainbow. Which means that I wear approximately 30 goddamn times more than my colleagues. Because Ashley does not own anything that is not neutral. I just realized that in 6 years, I’ve never seen Ashley wear anything that isn’t black, white or grey. I sort of imagine her looking like a cross between Carine Roitfeld and Wednesday Addams as a child.


I think part of this might be a living in new York thing. You walk everyplace, or you’re riding the subway, things get dirty, if they’re dark you can cover up any stains or smudges. Part of it is also probably the fact that those colors are colors that are taken as being “serious colors” and it’s nice to have something to cling to when you’re 24, wildly under-qualified, and your grandparents think that that you have the same job as their 12 year old neighbor who keeps a food diary on Tumblr. When publishers come in and start saying “words” about “stuff”, the only thing we’ve got to remind ourselves that we’re not 12 and hopped up on rice cakes is black skinny jeans and a blazer. Incidentally, I’m not referencing myself there. I’m referencing every blogger in New York City.

So, now that I’ve screamed at the entire office, “ladies, you look lovely and well dressed today!” and I think we’re all feeling sort of okay about ourselves, I’m going to check to see if this is the case with you, too. You wear colors? You wear them out in public? What’s it like where you are?

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    • Malkovich

      Black is slimming – and all I need.

    • macalny

      I wear both neutrals and colors, although definitely more colors on top – sweaters, shirts, scarves, etc. – and neutrals on bottom. Dresses are another story. I kinda hate the LBD. Don’t get me wrong, I own 1. It’s what I wear when I want to look exactly like everyone else, which occurs once every few years. The rest of the time I wear something interesting that makes me stand out, that makes me look like me and that doesn’t make me look like a drone, even though I’m schlepping to and from work on my beloved NYC subway with the rest of the people who spend time trying to convince themselves they’re not drones.

    • M

      Almost all of my clothes are neutrals, most of them black. On about 14 out of 15 days you will find me in jeans [usually men's jeans] and a black top [tank, short-sleeve, long-sleeve, whatever]. My reasoning/excuse: I work on cars. They are dirty and sharp. Any clothes I have that I plan on wearing on even a semi-regular basis end up holey or oil-stained or both. Black shows the crud a little bit less.

      I actually just had this conversation with a tableful of gays last night. What it comes down to: I know I kind of dress/look like a hobo, but I’d rather have holey oil-stained $12 jeans than holey oil-stained $80 jeans. I was also the only one at the table who doesn’t enjoy shopping, but that’s another issue entirely.

    • Kass

      I live in the Midwest where we aren’t afraid of color. I usually wear neutral bottoms and colorful tops. But we in the Midwest also drive our own cars a lot and smile at strangers. On the flip side we also tend towards teddy bear sweatshirts and way too casual everything, if we aren’t careful. I wear color everyday, but when planning trips to NYC or any other very large metropolis I pack the neutrals. Just so I don’t stand out and feel like a tourist. Anymore than I already do with the map and blistered feet.

    • Lisa

      I try to have a piece of my clothing be colorful. If not a shirt or skirt or something, then at least my shoelaces, or a scarf, or something. I’d be bored of myself otherwise…

    • Tobi

      I’m in Kentucky, and it really depends on the person. Some women sport neutrals most of the time, but there are also a lot of ladies in color. I wear both.

    • Lo

      I love colours – I need colours. I’m forever moaning about how shops stock fifty kinds of everything in black, more black, radioactive white, maybe dark grey if I’m lucky, and that weird nude shade that makes everyone look naked but bizarrely wrinkly. I can just about get away with wearing black, but I rarely have any reason to.

      That said, it’s obviously important to know which colours suit you, and how to put them together (no neon pink-and-yellow plz). I’d even say that good colour combinations make me feel more grown-up (and slim) than sombre neutrals. Workwear often needs to be darkish, but why black rather than burgundy, teal, dark blue (not navy; there’s enough of that), chocolate brown and so on? My neutrals tend to be said brown and various greys, because they go with colour so much better then black.

      Designers, please, if any of you are reading: fewer neutrals. Fewer wrinkly nudes. Fewer harsh pastels – for goodness’ sake, you can create palettes that are colourful, sophisticated and subtle. Last autumn, I found some trousers in colours that were neither neutral nor eye-molesting, and I beamed and clapped my hands. I should not have to react this much.

    • Eileen

      I live in Washington, DC, and I’m still in college so most of the time I’m dressed pretty casually – jeans and a sweater or T-shirt, which is occasionally black or white but often colorful. When I have a desk job (which I do from time to time), I tend to wear neutral skirts or pants and colorful blouses. I do own a couple of black cocktail dresses, but my favorite is a strapless pink silk one that is anything but neutral.

    • Jo

      I like both. I go through phases/my mood changes almost daily. This summer I went on a manic ZOMGCOLORSANDPATTERNSPLZ frenzy and got a lot of colorful and bold pieces, and then promptly fell into a wanting to look like a fall jcrew catalog phase. But I’d have to say, I love color, at least a little bit (if I wear all black, then I want to have a bright purse or something). I love Kate Spade because she mixes color with class very well.

    • Kat

      Is that picture from memebase? You guys should at least give credit to where your pictures come from.

    • Lindsay Cross

      For work, I wear more neutrals than colors. Lots of black and grey. Though sometimes I try to throw in a little color, mostly with my shoes. But even then, I keep it pretty tame. The rest of the time, I’m much more likely to wear bright red or magenta. But mostly, lots and lots of blues. Turquoise is my favorite. With blonde hair and blue eyes, I’ve just always liked it. But I have to agree with Kass, the Midwest doesn’t really have a problem with color. You see lots of it around here.

    • porkchop

      I wear bright colors all the time, especially at work. One day I came in with light brown wool pants and a cream v neck and pearls, and it looked wonderful, but I was dying inside because it was so boring. The next day I went back to mixing plaid with argyle.

    • bakingwithsylviaplath

      I loved this whole paragraph:

      “Part of it is also probably the fact that those colors are colors that are taken as being “serious colors” and it’s nice to have something to cling to when you’re 24, wildly under-qualified, and your grandparents think that that you have the same job as their 12 year old neighbor who keeps a food diary on Tumblr.”

      And I’m an incredibly safe dresser, probably for that reason. Most of my clothes are black, gray, or navy. I rarely wear patterns (unless it’s a black and white pattered scarf). And everything is or looks like it came from Express. I don’t want anyone coming up and yelling, “Proportions! You’re too short to wear that! DEFINE YOUR WAIST.”

      Maybe it’s from years of elementary school kids asking if I got dressed in the dark. I’d like to avoid that as an adult, and I still worry color matching is not my forte.

      Safe choices it is.

    • steph

      I wear both. I’m also in Nebraska where people don’t really care what color your clothes are. I’d much rather wear gray than black, but I’m also very fond of purple and blue. I’ll occasionally wear red, but I think it’s too harsh on me.

    • Michele

      i like color but my wardrobe consists of mainly black. my friends like to tease and call me emo but i swear im not. lol. i like to balance out the black with pops of color in the form of accessories.