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.
- Why to Forget About Sludge Brown & Co
- How to Take Color Inspirations for Your Outfit
- What Is the Easiest How You Can Wear Bold Fashion Colors?
- How to Come up with Great Color Combinations
- Cheat Sheet for Great Color Pairings from the Color Wheel
- What are Great Bold Color Pairings with Neutrals
- Example: Break-down of an Designer Scarf Inspired Look
- How to Take Inspirations from Brands
- A Way to Practice Pairing Bold Colors
- Wrapping Up What Can You Wear with Bold Fashion Colors
- 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:
- A mix of shine and matte,
- An added pop of color or/and
- A change in texture.
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.
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.
The next photos feature an outfit in an analogous pairing of turquoise and green where black serves to ground the look.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
Add a color of the family like demonstrated in the outerwear outfit below.
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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How to Color Block?
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. Since 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.
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.
Photos: G. Kramm
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