You are currently viewing You Can Wear Neutrals Without Looking Boring
Casual office look with leather top, Oliveo chambray shirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Ray Ban mirrored sunglasses, Oliveo linen pant, Anne Klein slingbacks and long DIY statement necklace (all own)

Many women prefer neutral colors, which can easily lead to a style rut. This post addresses how to stay with your preferred/beloved neutrals without becoming predictable. Read this style lesson on how to wear neutrals without looking boring and learn how you can put your neutral color clothes together in new ways every day.

  1. What to Wear when Bright Colors Are Not so You?
  2. Use Structure and Shine to Create Interest with Neutral Colors
  3. Denim Is a Great Neutral for Casual Friday
  4. Create Interest with Unexpected Details
  5. Olive and khaki Are Great for Summer and Fall
  6. Blue and White Are a Summer Classic
  7. Blue, Black and White – an American Classic Color Combination
  8. Try an Unusual Combination of Neutrals
  9. Style  One Neutral like a Fashion Color
  10. Take-home message on how to wear neutrals without looking boring

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

What to Wear when Bright Colors Are not so You?

Many women shy away from wearing bold colors over 40 and prefer neutrals for a professional look. Today, more than ever, it is important to not only look professional, but also young and hip. Thus, when styling neutrals for the office it is really important to stay out of boredom land. The secrets to cool looks in neutrals, and to look young and hip and on top of things is to pick one neutral color in different shades and add one other neutral plus making sure that the items have different texture. This concept is similar to how to create interesting and ageless, monochromatic outfits or the concept of adding a pop of color to a monochromatic outfit.

The second possibility is to find a piece in an interesting cut. Of course, in this case, high quality is a Must. The third option is to go for a nice modern or abstract print in neutrals. Fourth, try combinations of the three options to look interesting. Fifth go for underused neutrals like olive as the new black for an outstanding look. Last but not least, try unusual color combinations.

In all cases, it’s important to stay clear away from the “traditional” old people color combinations, especially, when you wear your neutrals as solids. Just think about what your grandmothers, mom, mother-in-law, aunts, etc. wore when they were in their 60s and 70s. I am sure, you know what I mean.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these above suggestions.

Use structure and shine to create interest with neutral colors

Here I paired my leather top – read “little shine” – with linen pants – read “rough texture” – with a chambray shirt – read “smooth texture and second neutral” – with snake print sling backs – read “interesting”.

Style neutral color outerwear with statement pieces

For the commute to work add a classic trench coat – read “professional”, a statement bag – read “I have something to bring to the table”, and purple mirrored sunglasses – read “the outfit is up-to-date”.


over 50 years old style blogger showing how to wear all neutrals without looking boring by use of different textures
Outfit details: Burberry London trench coat, unbranded leather top, Oliveo olive button-down shirt shirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Ray Ban  mirrored aviator sunglasses, Oliveo beige linen pants, Anne Klein snake print sling backs and long DIY statement necklace


Denim is a Great Neutral for Casual Friday

An often overlooked neutral is denim. A pair of dark blue jeans always looks great with a blazer and a white shirt for posh Casual Friday outfits. In America, a classic combination is blue, white and gray. In the western part of the US, a brown suede blazer is a great alternative to a gray wool blazer. When your work dress code allows leather try a denim and leather to look outstanding in neutrals.

In summer, denim jackets can serve as cover-up on chilly evenings or mornings.  Yes, you can look great in denim over 40. This look is interesting because of the contrast of smooth (T-shirt) vs. different degrees of roughness (in increasing order: linen, denim pumps). The Tee ties the two neutral color schemes together with the stripes.

midlife blogger in chic denim jacket with linen work outfit

style book author in hemp trousers and oversize jeans frock all neutrals look

Zoom-in on Levis denim jacket with Tissot stone watch

#maturestyle woman in posh Casual Friday denim fall work outfit
Outfit details: Levis denim jacket with Oliveo linen pants, Tissot stone watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle, Taylor’s Gold’n Stone statement necklace, Prada bag, Anne Klein sling back pumps (all own), and T-shirt c/o Marine Layer


Create Interest with Unexpected Details

The weekend look below features linen pants, a denim push button shirt, and nude sling backs. I dressed them up with a red MOSHINO belt as a pop of color and a string of pearls. The linen pants have a short zipper on the outside side of the leg. I really like hardware to highlight my ankles. The nude heels are similar in color as the linen pants which elongates the legs.

fashion influencer in linen pants denim shirt

ashion blogger over 50 in linen and denim outfit
Oliveo pants, Great Northwest jeans shirt, MOSCHINO vintage belt, pearls, Anne Klein pumps


Olive and khaki are great neutrals for summer and fall

Think safari. Khaki is perfect for an urban (safari) look. When you go military-inspired the pockets, belt and buttons are the interest. Pair the look with wooden beads necklace for sight seeing or with a gold or pearl necklace for the office. Olive also looks great for military-inspired dresses, jackets and pants. It looks well with blush, white, cream khaki, burgundy, light blue and denim. For more outfit ideas in olive check the post at the link.


Black and white are an eternal classic

Black and white pop up as a perennial trend every couple of years, but are always in style. Thus, you can’t go wrong with this color combination. I devoted and entire post to how to wear black and white, for which I don’t repeat it here.


Blue and white are a summer classic

You can’t go wrong with a blue print on white dress or vice versa in summer. The former pairing looks very posh in a sheath or tailored cut. Just recall the white with blue print dresses the Duchesse of Cambridge often wears. A blue with white floral print dress is a shirt-dress cut or Romantic Style gives a great summer-in-the-Provence vibe. The former works great for work in summer, while the later is perfect for shopping the farmers market or a picnic.

Looking for a guide how to wear blue-and-white?


Blue, black and white – an American Classic Color Combination

Three neutrals can look like wearing color. Blue, black and white are an American Classic style combination that is easy to create with jeans, a black blazer and white button-down shirt. Or make it black dress pants, a white shirt and navy blue blazer. Also try pattern to switch the game up.


stylist showing how to wear neutrals without looking boring in outerwear
Vittari Shearling coat with beret, belted scarf, polka dot tights, shearling booties, ethnic belt and statement bag (all own)


woman wearing a denim shirt under a dress
GAP LBD, Great Northwest denim shirt, polka dot tights, statement bag, DIY statement belt, and L.K. Bennett blue patent leather pumps (all own)

Try an Unusual Combination of Neutrals

Classic, i.e. expected combinations are

On the contrary, unusual, but extremely stylish combination – when done right are:

influencer in white, brown, black in winter office outfit

style book author in houndstooth skirt black 3/4 sleeves top

stylist demonstrating how to wear neutrals without looking boring using a teardrop key hole top for interest
Outfit details: Covered Perfectly black key hole shirt, Banana Republic above-the-knee hounds tooth skirt, DIY statement belt, Hermes collier de chien cuff, pantyhose, JORD wooden watch and Musse & Cloud ankle boots c/o Coolway


In the look above, interesting details like the teardrop hole and the hardware on the booties create the interest to a white plus black and a hint of brown business casual work outfit.

The next photo uses olive, light blue, gray and beige in one outfit. This combination was inspired by the printed scarf. In the example, the other neutrals make the light blue leather trousers the statement of the look. This neutral nearly seems to be a fashion color in this combination. Thus, the outfit feels not like all neutrals.

Stylist tip: Repeat the neutral that you want to be the statement three times in the look.

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.

stylist in all neutral non-boring outfit with trench and leather pants, scrf
Burberry trench coat, Oliveo button-down linen shirt, Covington ankle strap pumps, topaz statement necklace, Modalu Pippa bag, Halogen leather trousers, unbranded belt, Anne Klein silk leopard scarf


Style One Neutral like a Fashion Color

The outfit features all neutrals. However, the stark contrast between burgundy and the desaturated gray and black items of the look gives the illusion of wearing a fashion color.


over 50 years old woman bundled up in a casual work outfit with blazer and color jeans

style influencer in glen check blazer, striped sweater and color jeans

fashion blogger over 50 in burgundy jeans, and blazer
Tahari glen check blazer, Only Mine striped cashmere sweater, Aeropostale sequin stripe burgundy color jeans, Kieselstein Cord belt and horse heads buckle, Harley Davidson booties (all own), and wooden sport watch c/o Jord


Take-home message on how to wear neutrals without looking boring

Outfits in neutral colors need interesting cuts or different structure to look young and hip. #agelessstyle Click To Tweet

Do you wear all neutral outfits? What is your challenge to not look boring?

Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2021 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved