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A question that I often get from my readers is “What can you wear with bold fashion colors?” Many women in midlife retreat to neutrals to look professional or even to hide in a sea of other women their age and older, all wearing neutrals. When you caught yourself getting into such a style rut, and want to add fashion colors back into your life, read this guide of stylists’ tricks. This guide empowers you to ditch the old fashioned rule of not to wear bold colors over 40. Read on to learn how.


  1. Why to Forget About Sludge Brown & Co
  2. How to Take Color Inspirations for Your Outfit
  3. What Is the Easiest How You Can Wear Bold Fashion Colors?
  4. How to Come up with Great Color Combinations
  5. Cheat Sheet for Great Color Pairings from the Color Wheel
  6. What are Great Bold Color Pairings with Neutrals
  7. Example: Break-down of an Designer Scarf Inspired Look
  8. How to Take Inspirations from Brands
  9. A Way to Practice Pairing Bold Colors
  10. Wrapping Up What Can You Wear with Bold Fashion Colors
  11. Stylish Monday Linkup Party How to Wear Bold Fashion Colors


Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.


Why to Forget About Sludge Brown & Co?

The times are over when women over 40 were supposed to wear just neutrals like sludge brown, navy, gray. When it came to tops muted pastels were in order. My late mom very often told my sister and me that her grandma, our great-grandma was often slammed for wearing bold colors over 80. Mom explained that in the 1950s and 1960s, over 40 years old women weren’t supposed to wear any bold colors.

Thanks goodness, these times are over! And also the times when the number of colors was limited to just three. See how you can look great with more than three colors at work and on weekends at any age today.


How to Take Color Inspirations for Your Outfit

There are many things that can inspire an outfit. Blogs, magazines, outfits in a store window, TV, Pinterest, Instagram, … you name it. Many easy-to-copy OOTD base on neutral colors like black with white and gray, or navy with tan and beige, navy with gray and light blue or white. These easy-to-copy looks typically base on wardrobe classics that every woman has in her closet, i.e. the investment pieces. However, those that really stick out all have at least one of these three styling tricks in common:



over 50 years old fashion blogger in all neutrals outerwear with a pop of red
Vittari shearling coat, Celine tote, GNW leopard print tights, Fendi heeled ducks, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves and beret c/o Tenth Street Hats.


Stylist’s tip: Getting out of your neutrals style rut, spring/summer is the best time to start.


In summer, work outfits have to beat the heat. Thus, office dress codes are taken a bit looser color-wise. Once fall starts, your colleagues and friends are used to your new more colorful you. However, let’s look at examples for all year round. So, …



What Is the Easiest Way How to Wear Bold Fashion Colors?

The easy way is to buy a solid gemstone colored dress or a bold printed dress. Add some flesh colored shoes, pantyhose or self-hold stockings (if the office dress code requires them), a neutral bag and you are done. You look posh with this easy style recipe when the dress is a great fit and cut.


stylist in red knit dress and bag with brown tights, booties, belt and short jacket with leopard print
Solid red I. Peterman knit dress, diamond leopard print short jacket, white topas belt buckle, red gloves, brown halftee and leather belt, Hipstik tights, Antonio Melani booties, and vegan cross-body bag (from sustainable resources) c/o JORD




dancer twirling in blue red black citrus abstract print fit-and-flare dress
Lulu Roe abstract print fit-and-flare dress, Hipstik tights, Gucci enamel buckle and suede belt, blue Halftee layering top



How to Come Up with Great Color Combinations?

Things get more complicated with separates. You have to do the color combination or coordination yourself. There are several ways to come up with great color combinations. Going for a monochromatic look with one color in its different shades or brightness is a great option. For instance, try various pinks from blush to fuchsia. When you are a bit more daring make an entrance with an orange skirt.

Use complimentary colors like orange with blue or green with red or purple with yellow. This concept works well applying the technique of color blocking (see later in this post).

Another foolproof possibility is combing analogous colors on the color wheel. These are the ones adjacent to each other. For instance, green, lime-green and citrus. It also works with just two like turquoise plus green, orange plus red, or olive and yellow, just to mention a few foolproof pairings. Or try a look with red and orange, purple with red (see photo below). Another easy way to come up with great combinations is to create a Pantone colors inspired look.


separates look with red sweater, purple skirt, black layering top, tights and boots
J. Crew straight wool skirt, Hipstik tights, Halftee layering top, Brooks Brother cashmere V-neck sweater, Rebecca Collins necklace, amethyst brooch, Hermes collier de chain bangle, upcycled boots (all own) and layering top c/o Cami Confidential.


The next photos feature an outfit in an analogous pairing of turquoise and green where black serves to ground the look.


mature blogger wearing a bold fashion colors blocked leather skirt

jewelry for mature women High Latitude Style

midlife style blogger answering what can you wear with bold fashion colors
Oliveo striped leather skirt with GNW tight, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Harley Davidson booties, blue topaz earrings and necklace, dyed Ann Taylor sweater and Adea layering top.


More turquoise outfit ideas.


Cheat Sheet for Great Color Pairings from the Color Wheel

Triads are harmonic color combinations of three.

  • Pink, yellow, turquoise
  • Hunter-green, brown, purple
  • Burgundy, blue, Khaki


The split complimentary concept creates a harmony as follows. A primary pastel or muted color is paired with the two that together would make up the complimentary with the respective degrees of between white and black. Chic splits to try are

  • Tan, purple, teal
  • Meadow green, brown, violet
  • Citrus, purple, fuchsia
  • Medium navy blue, olive, brown


Alaskan in loden motorcycle coat royal blue gloves tan head band
Burberry motorcycle coat with blue leather gloves, GNW tights, tan Kate Moss for Longchamp bag, headband and blue-and-tan heeled duck boots


Typically, people go for just three hues. However, a look with four colors can look intriguingly stylish. Tetradic refers to four harmonics that balance their ratios of the primary colors and the fraction of white to black, i.e. the degree of muting with gray or black and softening with white. Examples to try

  • Navy, meadow green, pink, red
  • Burgundy, tan, medium blue, muted grass-green


A less “scientific” way to come up with great color combinations is to look at paintings that your love. I like the color combinations of Edvard Munch‘s famous painting The Scream or Vincent van Gogh‘s Night Cafe, just to give some examples.


What Are Great Color Pairings with Neutrals?

Gray and red

Black and pink

Brown and pink


Example Break-Down of an Designer Scarf Inspired Look

The scarf’s color combinations provided the color inspiration for the outfit. Applying the three pieces rule, search your closet for pieces that repeat a color of the scarf. The scarf has purple, pink and blush swirls as well as green, tan and pink ones (see review of this swirl scarf). Thus, the mules were a great option as they repeat pink and tan. The bag picks up tan with the bamboo pieces and the greens. Adding the geode suede belt with its various pinks and the wooden with cream sunglasses are the finishing touches. Wearing the scarf ends on the back adds interest. I adopted this trick from my Indian girl friends who do so when they wear their Panjabi.


fashion blogger wearing a purple blouse as a bold fashion color with neutral blush mesh skirt


midlife blogger in button-down shirt and skirt in neighbored color combination

stylist in summer blush skirt, purple shirt with colorful scarf
Outfit details: Liz Claiborne purple silk top, green Gucci bamboo handle bag, Hermes collier de chien, pink horse bite slides, pink statement suede belt, blush tulle skirt c/o Lookbook Store, hand-painted swirl silk scarf c/o Uno Alla Volta, and wooden sunglasses c/o Winkwood


Stylist tip: Pick up a bold shade from a plaid piece instead of its neutrals.


You can easily apply the above described concept with a plaid or floral print piece.


over 50 years old woman in orange cardigan, plaid skirt and nude tights
Outfit details: Boden cardigan, Hermes collier de chien bangle, peridot and pearl necklace (picking up the greenish and cream hues of the plaid), Tracy Reese plaid skirt (all own), nude tights c/o Hipstik and layering top c/o Cami Confidential


Stylist tip: Always add accessories in hues that tie the look together.


How to Take Color Inspirations from Brands?

Try to use the combination that brands are using like the fuchsia and gray of Telecom. See the outfit below as an example.



fashion blogger in fuchsia gray work outfit
Sofia cardigan, GNW Luxe sweater, Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, GNW tight, Vince Camuto suede boots, 3.1 Phillipe Lim tote and coin belt


Add a color of the family like demonstrated in the outerwear outfit below.


Winter outerwear with fuchsia worn as a bold fashion color shearling motorcycle coat
Cole Haan motorcycle shearling coat with Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, GNW tights, pom-pom hat, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves  and 3.1 Philip Lim tote



A Way to Practice Your Bold Colors

Coloring pages are a great way to experiment with your favorite colors, and train your color senses. My color-pages e-book provides more information on color-theory. You can also print each page as often as you like to see how the same outfit changes its vibe depending on your choice of shade, tint hue.

Get your copy now for just $1.99.

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Get the inspiration, support, motivation, and tips to look to your best in life. Subscribe to the High Latitude Style Newsletter for free. Deep inside you know when I can do it you can do it too.



How to Color Block?

When the weather is lousy, the sky is gray, the landscape is snow-white, color is very appreciated. To lift the mood in rain or on gray snowy winter days wearing a color blocked look. is worth a try.


fashion blogger over 40 in a bold purple and green color blocked work outfit
Purple Elie Tahari dress worn over green turtleneck sweater. GNW tights, Vince Camuto boots, and 3.1 Phillip Lim bag.


The purple sheath paired with a green sweater and fuchsia bag is an example of color blocking. This combination works because green and blue are adjacent colors, and fuchsia is on the opposite side of the color wheel. The gray tights ground the look and are more unexpected than the standard black. The gray suede knee-high boots lengthen the legs. because they are slouchy, they give the outfit a casual twist.

The example below is an easy start on color blocking because the skirt already is in this style. Just add another color or one of the skirt.


over 50 years old fashion blogger in bold fashion colors blocked outfit of black, turquoise, green and fuchsia
Oliveo color blocked skirt with GNW tights, Salamander shearling booties and cardigan worn as top


Style blogger Nicole in a color blocked casual Friday look in teal, fuchsia and navy
Jeans is a great option when it comes to what can you wear with bold fashion colors.



accessories details of the belt
Zoom on belt, watch and bangle to show details.



color blocking with dark jeans, teal sweater and fuchsia cardigan
Oliveo custom-made bootcut jeans, Swarovski crystals belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Festina watch, Sofia cardigan, necklace, LK Bennett pumps

Wrapping Up What Can You Wear Bold Fashion Colors

When you are in need for great color combinations take inspiration from nature, famous paintings, scarves, plaid or incredibly stylish celebrities. The latter have stylists, i.e. their color combinations, like those in paintings and scarves, are put together by professionals. The color wheel offers great combinations for color-blocked looks.


Stylish Monday March Linkup Party: How to Wear Bold Fashion Colors

Join my chic over 40 years old fashion blogging friends and me at our Stylish Monday party. See how they rock the hues.


hostesses of stylish Monday Linkup party featuring how to wear bold fashion colors
Hostesses of the March Stylish Monday Fashion linkup party answering “what can you wear with bold fashion colors.”



Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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