Colored Neutrals: Colors that Act Like Neutrals in Your Wardrobe

colored neutrals

Do you open your closet and see a closet full of black?  Are you getting tired of wearing the same old navy, black and grey outfits again and again?  Do you crave color but fear looking too clownish?  If this is you, today’s post will give you some ideas on colors that act like neutrals to your wardrobe.

What are neutral colors?

Neutral means without color.  Typically, neutral shades are considered to be beige, ivory, taupe, grey and black.  However, many consider colors like navy, olive and camel to also fall into the neutral category.  They usually make good colors to wear on the bottom, in tailored pieces and outerwear.  They are also colors people tend to invest in because they remain forever constant and look more serious.

What are colored neutrals?

Colored neutrals are shades that would be considered a color but can easily take the place of a classic neutral shade.  They also can be colors that work well with other shades.  Green is an example of this.  There isn’t a color out there that doesn’t work with green.  If you notice, green is used a lot in interiors because of how well it works with other colors.

Beyond green, think of colored neutrals as shades that you wouldn’t mind wearing in tailored pieces.  These colors are typically dark and deep in nature, not bright and are more muted.  Let’s take a look at some examples and how to wear them.

Colored neutral #1- Burgundy

colored neutrals

Burgundy continues to be in the stores without signs of letting up soon.  It’s also one of the most perfect colored neutrals.  It replaces neutrals like black, navy and grey almost seamlessly while also adding some colorful interest.  Additionally, if you are stuck with a bunch of neutral tops and jackets, burgundy, along with other colored neutral shades, gives you something to wear with them.

I styled these burgundy pants from J. Crew with a tab sleeve top from Lush.  Finishing the look, I added these floral pumps from Ted Baker, blush handbag from Nordstrom, pendant from Stella & Dot and soft pink drop earrings from The Sak.

Colored Neutral #2- Deep Teal

colored neutral

Not only is deep teal another perfect colored neutral, it is a shade that is considered a universal color, meaning that it is a flattering color on just about every skin tone given it has both warm and cool tones in it.  Deep teal looks great in pants, suits, dresses, coats, and more.  Consider it like a distant cousin of navy.

I styled this teal sweater from Halogen with grey pants from Theory.  I finished the look with yellow flats from Seychelles, burgundy tote from All Saints and chain link earrings from BCBG.

Colored Neutral #3- Forest Green

colored neutrals

In addition to green being a color that easily combines with other shades, deep greens, like forest, is a color that can be worn as a colored neutral.  The deep tone makes it the perfect substitute for shades like black, navy, olive and deep grey.  Given the versatility of green, any color that you pair with it will work.

I styled this forest green dress from Reiss with blush ankle straps from Charles by Charles David, blush clutch from Rebecca Minkoff, rose gold cuff from Gas Bijoux and pavé chandelier earrings from Stella & Dot.

Colored Neutral #4- Deep Plum

colored neutralsDeep plum is another colored neutral that can successfully be worn in place of shade like black and navy.  Like other colored neutrals, they also add interest to outfits while not sacrificing the subtle sophistication of the look.

I styled this deep plum pencil skirt from L.K. Bennett with an ivory blouse from BOSS Hugo Boss, taupe boots from Nine West, a Coach bag in dark turquoise, gold earrings from Tory Burch and colorful bracelet from Kendra Scott.

If your wardrobe has been feeling dark, uninspired or blah, or if you feel like you need some variety to balance out that black, check out some of these colored neutrals to and some subtle and chic resuscitation.

  • Heather

    I have a shirt in my wardrobe that is, to me, the most perfect color. It’s kind of pale, somewhere between sage green and mint, and besides looking great with my coloring, it goes with everything I have ever tried to put it with, including multi-color prints that don’t include that shade. For me it is the epitome of colored neutral. I do love burgundy, teal and forest green though. They are not quite as versatile for me as the one grayed-green is, but close. (Purple and I are on at outs with each other currently, so while plum is nice too, I’m abstaining.)

  • meibaola

    Excellent post! Being a warm-toned person, I would add mustard and rust to the list, as the colored neutral versions of yellow and orange. The versatility of these colors in my wardrobe can never be exaggerated… Colored neutrals go with neutrals, colors and other colored neutrals: once you embrace to them, you never look back.

  • Lauren A

    I’m finding these are exactly the neutrals I need- I look SOO washed out in tan and grey and black. Burnt orange is another one I find surprisingly universal, and olive green is a given! Great post