HOW TO WEAR PASTELS AS NEUTRALS – It’s Big for 2020
Pastel colors will be everywhere this Summer. The Spring flowers are blooming with the colors on the fashion show runways, or is it the other way around? So now’s the best time to learn how to wear pastels as neutrals!
How many ways can you go pastel? Oh wow, that’s a loaded question… We’re talking soft pinks, pale yellow, mauve, baby blue, coral, periwinkle, minty green, and my beloved lavender. And those are just the obvious ones!
But how to wear pastels as neutrals? Let’s start by learning what exactly a wardrobe “neutral” is in the first place.
Webster defines a neutral as “having no decided or pronounced characteristics that can be easily noticed” and its synonyms are “subtle and inconspicuous”.
Okay, that’s a good start. To give us a visual aid for this definition, I borrowed a chart from a fabulous fashion and style website I love to haunt called the concept wardrobe. I think you might like it too!
The chart clearly shows that the dusty pinks and light blues are well established as wardrobe “neutrals”. You just might not have known it!
Since a fabulous wardrobe should be built with “basics”, like cardigans, straight trousers and jackets, it’s logical that they be in neutral colors or subtle patterns. Right? At least that’s what common fashion wisdom purports. But why?
WHY YOU SHOULD USE NEUTRALS AS THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF YOUR WARDROBE
The way I teach people to envision building their wardrobe is to use a pyramid for the “visual aid”.
- NEUTRAL BASICS form the foundation of your wardrobe or the base of the pyramid (coats, jackets, trousers, cardigans, button-down shirts, solid dresses and skirts, plain brown/black boots and pumps)
- BUILDING BLOCKS are the pieces that pull together the neutral basics into outfits and ensembles (printed blouses, trendy tops, bralettes, camisoles, embellished sweaters, patterned pants, etc.)
- ACCESSORIES add the “pop of color”, “wow factor” or “coordinating colors/patterns” that should be part of every finished ensemble
All combined, they form a well-constructed wardrobe filled with pieces that are appropriate for almost any occasion in your social and business calendars.
The fabulous thing about building a wardrobe with neutral basics leading the way, is that you’ll always have “something to wear” in your closet. Won’t that be a nice change of pace for some of you?
HOW TO WEAR PASTELS AS NEUTRALS
In my humble opinion, neutrals add polish and sophistication that can help your outfit look totally pulled together.
That’s where learning how to wear pastels as neutrals can come into play.
So yes, you’ll need to have basics in some traditional neutrals like black, navy, ivory, tan, olive, gray, white and brown.
And don’t forget to throw animal prints into the mix! Yes my lovelies, I definitely consider them as “neutral” fair game!
In a future fashion lesson, I’ll help you discover what your wardrobe color palette should be for your coloring and personality. And I’m not talking about “getting your colors done”. Been there, done that. We’ll talk …
BUT THOSE DARK COLORS ARE SO IMPORTANT
You don’t want to skip this step in building a fabulous wardrobe, because these are the colors that will get you through most of the year.
Although, I have absolutely no problem wearing my pink basics all year long! Here’s how I used pastel pink as the neutral for a road trip we took last Thanksgiving. You can see here, that I’ve combined a mid-weight pink wool jacket and boots as my neutrals with two different color groups of accessories.
Now close you’re eyes. Imagine that the jacket and boots are light gray instead. See? Pink is just a fabulous pastel substitute for another neutral. But maybe not quite as ordinary!
NAN’S TIP: Don’t skimp on packing accessories for every outfit in your travel bag. They’re usually lightweight and can be packed into little nooks and crannies of your suitcase. They make all the difference.
Don’t forget my mantra, Pack Like A Pro, Dress Like a Diva!
WEARING PASTELS AS NEUTRALS – Tone-on-Tone is HUGE!
There was a time not-so-long-ago, it was frowned upon to wear two pieces of the same neutral. Wait for it.. that didn’t match!
Thank goodness that’s no longer true! In fact, “tone-on-tone” or “tonal dressing” can look really stylish and sophisticated. (that’s when your outfit has different shades of the same neutral or adjacent neutrals)
- Choose pieces that have different textures, like a sheer silk blouse with a nubby textured capri pant (that way the mis-match looks intentional!)
- Pick different shades of the same color for accessories to add more interest to your outfits. You can introduce some subtle pattern here if you like, but keep it mostly monochrome like the coral lace jacket pictured here.
- Go completely head-to-toe. Start with your feet, then your hosiery, bottom, top and finish with the same tone satchel. OMG! (take a look at the gal decked out in top-to-bottom lavender at the top of this post!) But, honestly, most of us probably can’t quite pull it off in “real life”. I wouldn’t even be tempted to try at my age!
- Pair your pastels – go with two complementary pastels, but keep them in the same color intensity. In this example, you’ll want to keep the fabrics nearly the same texture, as you’re uniting them for a “tone-on-tone” look.
Oh, and about those old-fashioned rules that say two different neutrals can’t be combined…forget about them!
You can wear a frosty pink with a mint green if you want! Yes, the pairing will still function as a neutral-toned outfit if you choose your pieces and accessories wisely.
This is how I would work with the outfit in the accompanying image:
- Replace the purse and earrings with mint green versions
- Change up the sling-backs heels to match the same tone as the top and sunglasses.
- To really achieve a true “combo tone-on-tone” ensemble, it’s best to almost evenly split the colors of all your outfit components.
THE CARDINAL RULE OF HOW TO WEAR PASTELS AS NEUTRALS
Don’t over do it with the buttons, bows and frills!
Unfortunately for us, many top designers still feel the need to doll up their pastel pieces. All that lace, ruffles and detailing may look “sweet” on the hanger, but don’t be tempted!
When paired with more of the same color as a neutral, those details you loved can often make your outfit look “too busy”. And that’s not what you’re going after.
- Choose pastel pieces with clean, sharp details which place the emphasis on the line and cut of the garments, rather than the color
- Go with a “minimalist” approach, less is more. Use your creativity to put more “oomph” into your outfit with your accessories instead.
- If you miss your ruffles, seek out tonal “sculptural” pieces that will give your outfit a bit of drama
HOW ELSE CAN YOU WEAR PASTELS AS NEUTRALS?
It’s going to be hot this Summer, and I’m not talking about the weather!
One of the coolest ways to knock out the pastel as neutrals trend this season is with pastel color-blocking. Color-blocking takes all the worry out of putting together different pastels in one outfit.
What an easy way to confidently combine pastel pink with pale lemon, blue with mint green, or a creamy orange with lavender.
Unlike the model in the picture, you’ll want to pair this top with another pastel to work the “neutral vibe” of your outfit. I’d go with a popular style of pastel skinny-jeans with matching ballet slippers or breezy pair of sandals.
And those pastel denims I mentioned?
They can blow right into Fall when accessorized with black, grey, cream, etc. But remember, the black, grey and cream are the accent colors, not the neutrals! Pick your pieces accordingly.
Don’t let yourself get drawn back into an “only dark colors can be neutrals” kind of mindset!
DID YOU LEARN HOW TO WEAR PASTELS AS NEUTRALS TODAY?
I sure hope so! Pastel garments can create outfits that are sensual, stylish, hip and cool. If you’re a gal who normally reaches for black, navy, brown or gray as your neutrals, why not mix it up this season?
Create some fabulous new outfits using pastels as neutrals to step out this Summer.
You’ll look fresh, stylish, and most of all, like a woman who “owns” her personal wardrobe style!
MAKE SURE YOU TAKE A PIC AND SHOW US HOW YOU WORE YOUR PASTELS AS NEUTRALS! Post your fabulous outfit pic at THE FAB LIFE FACEBOOK GROUP so we can see your “personal style” at work!
NAN’S STITCH FIX REVIEW # 3 – April 2020 “Fix”
“Happy Fix Day, Nancy! I’m so happy to see that the last box was a hit. The post in your blog was an absolute delight to read! I loved getting a peek into your pink capsule wardrobe too – those boots are incredible! I thought the lovely 41 Hawthorn faux-wrap would be a beautiful breezy option for NOLA. Let me know how the fit and the length work out for you. I’m wishing you well! Cheers, Mason”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MY APRIL 2020 STITCH FIX BOX
Since I’ve been stuck at home in “self-isolation” much of the last month or so, I was thrilled to get my “fix” this month! I miss shopping in stores, a lot! So here’s my Stitch Fix Review for April 2020.
I had asked my stylist, Mason, to work on my travel capsule wardrobe for an upcoming travel blogging convention in NOLA. But, of course, it’s since been cancelled, along with everything else in our lives lately.
When I opened the box this month and saw the wrap dress, I thought to myself, “I just don’t like wraps”. But, I’m a firm believer in the idea that you need to try something on before saying “nay”. (spoiler alert – I looked fab in it!)
LET’S TEAR THIS BOX OPEN!
41 Hawthorn – Faux Wrap Knit Dress & Jenny Bird Necklace
Okay, we might as well start with the Faux Wrap Knit Dress. Who doesn’t love navy and white for Summer? I’ve built a lovely wardrobe capsule of navy/white/yellow that makes packing for vacation a breeze!
Although not a big fan of wrap dresses, I loved the print and fabric the moment I saw the piece. It’s got that slinky kind of feel when you put it on and it’s incredibly comfortable to move in. A perfect travel piece!
The dress fit me like a glove, although I would have preferred it to hit a little higher up on my leg. At 5’1″ tall, I need all the legs I can get!
Also shown in this picture is a really nice double-strand Jenny Bird Ellen Sand Disk Necklace. The disks are hammered gold-tone and just beautiful. I really liked the length on me too.
With a small frame, I need to be really careful about the scale of my accessories, especially around my face.
Do you scale your accessories to your body frame size too? If not, you should! No worries gals, I’ll be teaching you how to figure all that “scale” stuff out in a future fashion lesson post!
Kut From The Kloth – Feena Button Down Textured Top
As I just mentioned, I’ve already got yellow going on in my closet, so I was excited to see this top pop out of the box!
It’s a great seersucker check that’s got those nice rolled sleeve loops for fast style changes in hot weather.
When rolled, the sleeves fall right below the elbow, giving you full or 3/4 length style options. That’s a win-win!
While I did find the fabric a bit on the sheer side, once I put it on with a nude bra, I needn’t have worried. No problemo!
My one complaint is that it could be tailored to fit the body more closely by adding a few pin-tucks. If I keep it, I’ll probably have my gal (read, professional tailor) take in the sides a bit.
Despite having a stylist “fit” me for clothes, I’m not adverse to doing some of my own styling to a piece. Living life as a Petite 2, I’m used to it!
Level 99 – Francis Straight Leg Pants
First, let me just say that this light-slate blue is one of the hottest trending colors for Spring and Summer!
It’s one of the “greyed” pastels that have been seen all over the runways this year. Pastels can come in many shades and intensities, as I’ve explained in the earlier lesson how to use pastels as neutrals.
And these pants have got the coolest zipper-front pockets that I just love! The pockets lay flat and give the pants an extra punch of style.
They too fit like a glove, but unfortunately, perhaps too much so. I do like tight-fitting slacks, but I didn’t care for how these pants bunched up or pulled in the wrong places.
You really do need to try everything on! And I really wanted to keep these babies! No dice.
Just USA – Hadid Distressed White Denim Jacket
Yes, I know I’m getting up there in age, but I’m not dead yet!
I love fashion, clothes, and even follow some of the trends along the way. But I just don’t do distressed. Never have, most likely, never will!
I’m a gal who likes to “earn” her tears, rips and ragged hems, thank you! Although you won’t find me in them outside my home.
The distressed look has been around for lots of years, but never once have I considered buying a pair of torn/worn denims. I just don’t see the allure.
I see plenty of women wearing all sorts of distress denim, from pants to shorts and jackets, but I don’t think they look great on them. At any age. Ever.
Is that too harsh? I do tend to be a little opinionated when it comes to fashion. If you’ve got a closet full of distressed denims that you love, you go girl!
As long as you know your own style, and rock them like you own it, then I’m all in.
Actually, the jacket was great quality and fit nicely. But, since I already own a white denim jacket (with a whole collar, thank you), I didn’t even consider keeping it.
Personal style is an incredibly complex equation that most of women struggle with their entire lives.
We all move through our fashion journeys at our own pace…
YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW WHAT I KEPT, RIGHT?
Yes, I did end up keeping the navy and white print faux-wrap dress and the seersucker top. But that was it this time around. In my last Stitch Fix review, you might remember I kept the entire box!
- I really couldn’t justify springing $$ in this tight economy for a new necklace – BACK IT WENT!
- The denim jacket wasn’t my style and was a wardrobe repeat, easy choice – ADIOS!
- The fabulous Francis pants were reluctantly packed up for return too – SAD TO SEE YOU GO!
I can’t wait for my next Stitch Fix box to arrive! I haven’t been to the mall in ages…
What did you think of my April 2020 Stitch Fix review choices? Let me know what you thought of the pieces Mason sent me and if you think I made the right choices.
Click here to leave your opinions at THE FAB LIFE FACEBOOK GROUP, our group of gals who are always in the need to know!
And don’t forget to check out last month’s Stitch Fix Review post here: How and When to Work with a Wardrobe Stylist + Stitch Fix Client Interview
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