How to Wear & Pair Neutrals - Combining Subtle Colors
Video Channel: Gentleman's Gazette
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So how do you do it in a way that makes you look dapper?
Before we answer the question, we have to look at why we should wear all neutrals in the first place.
The good thing is chances are you already own a bunch of neutrals in your wardrobe because they're just a staple of every man's wardrobe. You probably have those chinos they are in khaki would you say neutral, you probably already have white or off-white shirts, another neutral, maybe you have solid brown shoes in your wardrobe another neutral. These colors are classy because they never go out of style, you can wear them now or 10 years from now and there won't be anything new. They're also not bright and bold but rather mellow.
Now that being said, you can still make a statement out of it. The Navy blazer with a white shirt is very pedestrian. On the other hand, wearing this gray jacket with an off white or ivory pair of pants combines two neutral colors yet it really stands out and pops.
So when we talk about neutrals, what exactly do I mean by that?
It is a color that works well with other colors that are stronger and contrasting yet it doesn't really draw the attention to itself. They help tone down other colors and make them stand out and they're basically grouped in cool colors and warm neutral colors. The warm neutrals include tan, taupe, beige, ivory, khaki, or any shade of brown under the sun. Cool neutrals, on the other hand, are shades of black and gray as well as white. Sometimes, you also find people who expand that look a little bit and include tones of navy and blue, as well as olive green, however, strictly speaking, they're not neutrals. That being said, they pair quite well with neutrals. On the other hand, just think of denim for a moment, it has become so prevalent and the blue is so standardized that I think it can definitely be called a neutral color.
So how do you wear neutrals together?
First of all, start with something that is close to your skin tone and how you do that is really step by step explained in this video here. Once you've chosen the right colors, you simply combine them. The goal is to have a certain amount of contrast between your items, otherwise, it just all blends in together, it's too monochromatic and boring.
For example in this outfit, I'm pairing a tan Brown turtleneck sweater with a dark brown and ivory houndstooth suit. Now apart from the color, you can also see there's a difference in texture. The suit is a slight flannel but the knit of the sweater is a lot more hairy and it has a pretty much uniform color but a fuzzy finish when you touch it that helps to provide the right amount of contrast. The pocket square, on the other hand, picks up the ivory of the houndstooth and combines it with brown of the sweater using a different pattern once again. You can see, I have this solid neutral for my sweater, I have the houndstooth which is a small pattern paired by with a bigger pattern which is the Paisley.
That's how you want to combine a neutral; you'll have different canvasses, you have patterns, and you have them in different sizes. That way, it's visually interesting yet the color palette is so neutral that it's all very harmonious. Whenever neutrals are too close in color, everything looks washed out.
So with this ensemble, I opted for a brown pair of suede boots. Again, they have a different texture that is matte and works with the overall softer and fuzzy textures in this outfit. They are also contrasting enough, they are in the brown family yet they're not quite the exact shade of brown as my sweater.
In my opinion, one of the most underrated neutral colors is ivory for pants simply because it makes a bolder statement and admittedly, it stains more easily but as a gentleman of taste, wearing it with a brown sportcoat whether it's something like this houndstooth jacket here of this suit or something more of a medium tobacco Brown herringbone or even a kind of charcoal Brown, it always works.