Shift into neutral

Shades of gray, beige and taupe mix easily and lend emphasis to details

01/09/2012 12:00 AM

01/08/2012 11:19 AM

After the sparkle and bright colors of the holidays, it’s refreshing to shift into neutral. A wide range of white and beige shades offer an elegant look regardless of the garment.

An entire outfit of neutrals is eye-catching and gives emphasis to details, whether it’s subtle beading, fur trim, textured fabrics or feminine ruffles. Part of the appeal is the element of surprise. Winter brings dark, rich colors — and, of course, a lot of black — making an outfit of light, neutral shades a definite standout.

Author Leatrice Eiseman, in her book “More Alive With Color,” writes that there is no end to the versatility of balanced or “ideal neutrals.” These are variations of taupe and beige, the colors of sand and stone. Eiseman explains that gray is another ideal neutral.

David Wolfe, trends analyst for the Donegal Group in New York, says neutrals never go out of style.

“Fashion people are always declaring that something-or-other is the new black. By that, they mean the fallback, fail-safe color that a woman can always wear and always look good and feel well-dressed. Well, I think that women today have discovered that it is really neutral colors — beige, tan, khaki, ivory — that are truly the foundation of a woman’s wardrobe,” Wolfe said.

Neutrals mix easily. Shades of white mix beautifully with shades of beige. Various shades of gray also blend easily.

“Those colors, almost ‘no-color colors,’ are effortless,” Wolfe said. “They work with everything. They go together in harmonious mixes – no problem about exact matching these days.”

We’ve seen more neutrals worn on the red carpet than ever before. Neutral tones showed up in a large number of collections for spring, even though a major trend will be bright colors.

“But neutrals also mix with every season’s promoted ‘fashion color,’ whether it’s bold and bright or soft and pretty,” Wolfe said. “Neutrals are truly the workhorses of the fashion color palette, season after season.”

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