Color is a lifeline for some and intimidating, even intolerable, to others. You can work color into your life via nail polish, wall paint, or clothing and accessories, but many times, people — namely die-hard minimalists — default to neutrals. Hues like white, black, grey, camel, and navy are synonymous with the aesthetic and generally wardrobe mainstays for a reason — hello, versatility! Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you want to inject just a smidge of color into your wardrobe while keeping things simple. Consider next-to-neutral color trends that work exceptionally well for minimalists but anyone weary of color, too.
Monochrome outfits made up of varying muted shades is the sartorial MO of many minimalists. Owning similar versions of the same few wardrobe staples is another common habit, usually resulting in a closet full of timeless neutrals. Either way, it sometimes takes an unthought-of color to reinvigorate the routine. And at the top of a new season, what better way to inject freshness than with an of-the-moment color that perfectly complements a subdued palette. “When it comes to minimalist fashion, neutrals, blacks, and whites are always the wearer’s go-to,” Libby Page, senior market editor at Net-A-Porter, tells TZR. “They’re a blank canvas, a clean way to dress, and since all these hues work really well together, they are great for somebody looking to take a ‘uniform’ approach to dressing.”
Over the years, though, the minimalistic trend has evolved, with color becoming a more significant part of the story. “Previously, [minimalism] was always directed by brands that take a stripped-back approach to fashion like Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, and The Row,” Page explains. Rather than maintain the austere feel of decades past at all times, Page says impactful color moments are key in today’s era of minimalism. “Peter Do and his minimalist aesthetic contains a lot of fashion-forward ideas that would not be considered minimalist, but that’s what makes him an interesting designer with a clear DNA,” the Net-A-Porter editor explains. “Other new minimalist brands coming onto the scene include Savette, CAES, and, whilst not new, Totême always does this aesthetic so well without compromising a fashionable look and feel.”
As for the colors that play nicely with neutrals? They’re derived from Earthy tones but more daring than the browns, camels, blues, and charcoals that typically fill a neutral lover’s closet. Think rusty red and terracotta, sunset-like shades like dijon and ginger, and cooler tones such as olive green, slate grey, and dusty purple. “These colors are great because they all work really well with neutrals, and they actually feel like neutrals in their own right, but they still add interest and a pop of color to an outfit,” Page says. “I would style all these colors back with beige, cream, or white.” Still, if such shades seem like too much in the form of clothing, consider a current It-bag or shoe instead. Page suggests a neutral attire as your base. Then, allow the color to come through in the accessories.
Ready to test the waters of almost-neutral colors? Keep scrolling for five trending hues this season with styling tips from Page. Plus, an edit to shop for those prepared to take the color plunge.
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Almost-Neutral Colors: Rust
Rust is a slight departure from the rich browns that have been trending over the past few seasons, with an interest level just-above camel. Some variations read more terracotta, while others feel akin to gingerbread. “I love the idea of styling a rust shirt underneath a beige blazer,” Page tells TZR. Or, go bigger with a dress or monochrome ensemble.
Almost-Neutral Colors: Olive Green
In the neutral realm, olive green is a mainstay and regularly a tolerable entry point to color. Like with rust, tints will vary — some resemble Hunter green while lighter tones teeter into sage territory. Choose the pigment that speaks to you, and pair it with black and grey for easy styling. One of Page’s favorite combos includes an olive-green turtleneck under a black suit.
Almost-Neutral Colors: Slate Blue
Slate blue is perhaps the most comfortable next-to-neutral shade to embrace — it blends seamlessly with jeans and grey tones alike. This is the color to try head-to-toe when easing away from neutrals. But if not, Page recommends the blue hue with an all-white denim look for casual style.
Almost-Neutral Colors: Dijon
Those apprehensive of color may feel overwhelmed by this warm tone, but this sunset hue is quite similar to camel and a worthy swap for instant freshness. Pair it with creamy shades and grey colors for more of a subdued outfit. Though Page says, dijon works well with rust, amber, and other warm tones for those ready to go bolder.
Almost-Neutral Colors: Fig
A dusty hybrid of mauve and lavender, this unique purple shade is akin to a fig’s center and works particularly well with brown and grey shades. Expect to see more of this hue throughout 2021 and for now, stay ahead of the color curve via silky separates, romantic shapes, and body-skimming knitwear.