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The Basics of Layering Neutrals

the basics of layering neutralsNeutrals are a necessary part of a balanced wardrobe.

Without neutrals you would never have those pieces that “fill in the gaps” so to speak and pull your look together.

With that in mind, and the first touches of fall visible outside, I decided to put together a list of the five easiest ways any fashionista can layer neutrals.  That’s right layering neutrals is possible (and works wonderfully well with my la mere layering technique just in case you’re wondering:)


1. Match Details

layering neutrals - match details

Matching details of neutral items is the easiest way to layer them and achieve a look of consistency, even if the colors are different.  An few examples of this include:

  • a beige cowl neck top being layered underneath a taupe cowl neck cardigan
  • an ivory bow detail blouse layered underneath a tan bow detailed blazer
  • a camel herringbone print skirt over a pair of off-white herringbone texture tights


2. Go 3 for 3

layering neutrals - go 3 for 3 If you know anything about flower arranging, you know that the use of odd numbers is important to create balance and symmetry.  This same rule applies when layering neutral pieces.   For this technique to work, you want to choose six pieces for your look; three in each color.  Here are a few easy combos you can pluck from your closet today:

  • Tan: hat, blouse, pumps + Ivory: pants, belt, handbag
  • Cream: sleeveless top, shoes, accessories + Stone Gray: cardigan, skirt, handbag
  • Ecru: hat, shoes, handbag + Camel: top, pants, earrings


3. Play with Gray

layering neutrals - play with grayWhether you spell it gray or grey, one of the things I really love about the color gray is how versatile it is!  I remember from art class in middle school learning about values of a color meaning it’s different shades (any color mixed with black) and tints (any color mixed with white) and gray had the most!  Another very cool fact about the color gray is that it’s considered a neutral in many instances and is one of the only colors that you can wear darker and lighter tones of the same color all at once and still look coordinated!

Here are some popular names for the different colors of gray you may come across in  your shopping expeditions:

  • cool gray
  • charcoal gray
  • dark gray
  • gray violet
  • gunmetal
  • heather gray
  • light gray
  • medium gray
  • oatmeal gray
  • pale gray
  • platinum
  • steel gray
  • stone gray
  • taupe gray
  • warm gray

Remember, all these colors can work together with proper balance and proportion.  Practice makes perfect so play with a few different variations of this color and see what combinations you like best.


4. Monochromatic Dramatic

layering neutrals - monochromatic dramaticThis is probably the most challenging way to layer neutrals.  That’s because a neutral color like ivory or tan in one label may be a slightly different color in another layer.  For that reason I have two main tips for this sort of layering:

  • Wear as few pieces as possible.   A dress, shoes and a blazer are a perfect example.  The less items you have to wear the easier it is to make sure everything matches perfectly.
  • Shop the same brand.  If you love a Gucci skirt in ivory, your best bet to match that exact shade of ivory is buying a Gucci top as well   For the fashionistas who love runway designer labels (like Gucci and Versace), you may want to consider bridge brands (meaning slightly lower cost brands such as L.K. Bennett, DVF, and Cynthia Rowley) since you’ll need to buy multiple pieces of that brand to get the right color match.  The only slight exception to this is when you’re wearing a single color in different fabrics (say wool and satin).  Due to the nature of the materials they take color differently when dyed so it’s acceptable for their to be some variation in the shades you’re wearing in this instance.  Just make sure the difference in colors is very subtle and barely noticeable.

For good measure I have a third tip for this type of layering of neutrals…

  • Details add interest.  Since you’re wearing a single color aka monochromatic, that means you want to keep your look from being boring (meaning adding depth,and interest) by ensuring you pick pieces with detail.  Ruffles, frills, bows, ties, crystals, and the like all help to add more dimension to your look and enhance your silhouette.


5. A Dash of Metallics

layering neutrals - a dash of metallicIf you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you probably realize two of my great loves are stilettos and metallics.  Metallics are an unexpected and daring choice but they can be worn as neutrals.

Metallics not your thing?  Then you can do the same layering of neutrals with pearlescent versions of your favorite colors as well!  If you’re really fearless in fashion, pair metallic and pearlescent pieces in the same look.

Now I know your ready to shop for the neutrals that you can mix, match and layer.

Shop my lookbook for exclusive looks featuring this fun fall trend.


Layering Neutrals_KR Lookbook_10.1.14


Is this a look you would try?

Why or why not?

Comment below!

photo credit: garann via photopin cc

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