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 neutral. 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 learn how you can wear bold fashion colors at any age.
- Forget About Sludge Brown & Co
- How to Take Inspirations for Your Outfit
- The Easiest Ways to Wear Bold Fashion Colors
- How to Come up with Great Color Combinations
- Cheat Sheet for Great Pairings from the Color Wheel
- Great Pairings with Neutrals
- Break-down of an Designer Scarf Inspired Look
- Take Inspirations from Brands
- Exercise Your Bold Colors
- Wrapping Up How to Wear Bold Fashion Colors
- Stylish Monday Linkup Party Colors
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
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 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, …
The Easiest Ways 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.
Another nice one is to use complimentary colors like orange with blue or green with red or purple with yellow. This is 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, limegreen 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 Pantome colors inspired look.
The next photos feature an outfit in an analogous pairing of turquoise and green where black serves to ground the look.
You can find more turquoise outfit ideas in this post.
Cheat Sheet for Great Pairings from the Color Wheel
Triads are harmonic combinations of three.
- Pink, yellow, turquoise
- Huntergreen, brown, purple
- Burgundy, blue, Khaki
The split complimentary concept creates a harmony using the following concept. 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
Looks around just three hues are considered to be how far you can go. 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.
Great Pairings with Neutrals
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. See below.
Stylist tips: Always add accessories in hues that tie the look together.
Take 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.
You also can add a color of the family to the look as is shown in the outerwear outfit below.
Exercise Your Bold Colors
Coloring pages are a great way to experiment your favorite colors. They also 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
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.
The purple sheath paired with a green cashmere turtleneck sweater and fuchsia bag is an example of color blocking. This combination works because green and blue are neighbored colors and fuchsia is on the opposite side of the color wheel. To ground the colors, gray tights are a great option as gray is more unexpected than the standard black. The gray suede knee-high boots lengthen the legs. Since they are slouchy, they give the outfit a little 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.
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.You can dress your best when you want it! #dailymotivation #HighLatitudeStyle Click To Tweet
Don’t let your outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.
Stylish Monday March Linkup Party: Color
Join my chic over 40 years old fashion blogging friends and me at our Stylish Monday party. See how they rock the hues.
When you agree that women over 40 look awesome in bold colors share the post with your friends and colleagues.Women over 40 can look great in bold colors. #fashioncolors #highlatitudestyle Click To Tweet
Check out the blogs of the co-hostesses for more inspirations.
Photos: G. Kramm
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