It’s a bolder statement than Kanye saying his latest album is the greatest ever made, but we’re going out on a limb to say light neutrals are the new black. Now hear us out, we know you’ve enjoyed dressing as a Death Eater through the trials of this bleak winter but, for the coming season, you need to lighten up: put dark colours on the back burner and embrace a lighter palette of sand, caramel and camel. Just as versatile, much less of a downer.
Ironically, it was ‘Ye who drove this look back into the mainstream with his latest Yeezy drop of bedraggled streetwear, but we’re not really interested in dressing like we’re surviving the apocalypse, so here are some less divisive ways of doing it.
Camel Coat + White Jeans
On the surface it sounds a bit of a mental combination, like Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy meets Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell, but together these pieces offer a fresh (and admittedly 1990s-inspired) take on smart-casual that works a treat.
There’s no denying white jeans are a bit Marmite. Mostly due to the fact that they could miscast you as the kind of Eurotrashy weirdo perched creepily at the margins of a nightclub dancefloor, waiting. Staring. Maybe even licking his lips. Shudder. But by smartening up the rest of your look with a classic Oxford button-down and a pair of sleek trainers or loafers, you’ll come off more American Ivy League than Ibiza weekend warrior.
Be mindful of the fit and details of your denim, though – steer clear of boy-band-reminiscent rips and manhood-comprising skinny fits, if only to guarantee the meat and two veg some comfort. Choose instead a timeless slim fit and, since it’s more of a spring look, ditch the socks and get your mankles out. Just take care that your pin-roll is on-point.
- Only & Sons Wool Overcoat
- Asos Trench Coat With Buttons In Tobacco
- Native Youth Wool Overcoat
- Zara Trench Coat With Detachable Lining
- River Island Brown Smart Double Breasted Trench Coat
- M&s Collection Luxury Italian Fabric Wool Rich Coat With Cashmere
- Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
- He By Mango Slim-fit White Jan Jeans
- Officine Generale Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Nn.07 Three 1778 Slim-fit Stretch-denim Jeans
- Acne Studios Ace Slim-fit Stretch-denim Jeans
- Burberry Brit Slim-fit Denim Jeans
Beige Suit + White Shirt
Many use the word ‘beige’ as a synonym for boring, but when put across some sharply-cut tailoring, it’s a far cry from flat. Growing weary of your well-worn navy suit? Beige, then – haters be damned – is the antidote.
Flying in the face of the tedium its name connotes, beige is actually a pretty ‘busy’ colour. Which means you’ll be attracting enough attention without going overdrive on your accessories. Steer well clear of loud ties and pocket squares (try complementary solid colour styles in blue, burgundy and darker shades of grey) and err conservative with some classic dress shoes for a grounding base.
We love a good check in a suit, but with beige it’s best to keep it plain. Checks in this type of light-coloured tailoring tend to make you look like your name is Jasper and you split your time between lamenting the expense of running your estate and wearing a gilet for all the wrong reasons.
However, if you’re interested in injecting your suit fabric with some character, linen is a texture-rich choice and makes for a stellar summer wedding suit, too. Another plus of having a beige suit in your arsenal is that you can rework it as separates in other outfits, which brings us neatly to…
- Topman Stone Skinny Fit Suit
- River Island Cream Cotton Woven Skinny Suit Jacket
- John Lewis Linen Regular Fit Suit Jacket Stone
- Asos Skinny Suit In Poplin In Stone
- J. Crew Crosby Suit Jacket In Italian Chino
- Suitsupply Copenhagen Khaki Plain
- Richard James White Cotton-poplin Shirt
- Austin Reed Austin Reed – Quick Iron Classic Fit Twill Herringbone Shirt
- Reiss Albany Button-down Shirt White
Light Neutral Separates
Tailoring today isn’t what it used to be. Over the past year, tailored separates have come over all casual, slowly but surely edging away from the image of the monocled, moustachioed dandy.
So, if you’re into the idea of paler tailoring but have more of a streetwear thing going on, dial down the formality by swapping the shirt for a crew neck tee, the brogues for trainers, and trying your hand at tonal looks by mixing chinos, trousers and blazers in colours like tan, white and beige.
Limit the tonal approach to two items, though, keeping one piece out of the light neutral spectrum. You’re going for clean and minimal, not earthy B&Q paint chart.
- Noak Flannel Wool Blazer In Super Skinny Fit
- J. Crew Lightweight Chino In 484 Fit
- River Island Camel Brown Smart Skinny Trousers
- Reiss Public B Peak Lapel Blazer Tabacco
- Topman Camel 100% Wool Skinny Fit Suit Jacket
- Topman Stone Skinny Fit Suit Jacket
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chinos
- He By Mango Cotton Smart Trousers
- Reiss Ashberry Stripe Chino Trousers Stone
Tan Outerwear + Grey Trousers
If you want to ease yourself into light neutrals, then this is the ideal look to kick off with. Everyone should have a pair of grey tailored trousers or chinos hanging in their wardrobe, whether they’re swiped from a suit or a standalone pair that skews more casual.
One of the best things about grey trousers is that they afford you the opportunity to get experimental with the colour of your footwear. They will – whether stone twill chinos or charcoal wool trousers – pair well with most shades, so feel free to pull on your favourite pair. Provided they’re not Crocs, that is.
You’ll find tan outerwear in most high street and designer stores, it all just depends on the funds you have to throw at it. From skate-inspired coach jackets to street-ready bombers to dapper overcoats, there are heavy and light layers to suit every lifestyle. Match yours with the smartness of your trews.
- Asos Faux Leather Biker Jacket In Tan
- Asos Suede Harrington In Tan
- Asos Suede Bomber Jacket In Tan
- He By Mango Leather Bomber Jacket
- He By Mango Cotton Field Jacket
- Private White V.c. Ecoseam Cotton-canvas Field Jacket
- Reiss Medway Classic Twill Chinos Ice Grey
- Topman Light Grey Crepe Skinny Fit Tux Trousers
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chinos
Light Neutrals + Contrast Colour
Using light neutrals for the base of your outfit (e.g. trousers, jacket) and adding a contrasting hue such as a statement orange or green can really make this trend pop, especially with the (hopefully) sun-soaked days of spring just round the corner.
The trick here is knowing your limits. For example, a red sweatshirt in a boxy shape or neoprene texture is a resounding yes, whereas a shiny 1980s-esque puffa jacket in lime green is a no. (Always, obviously.) And remember that adding any more than one bright colour instantly kills your look dead.
Feeling apprehensive? Dip your toe (literally) in this method by using your shoes to work in a punchy shade. There’s a legion of slick trainers out there in vibrant colours, from burning red adidas Stan Smiths to silver Nike hi-tops. Swish.
- Noose & Monkey Mac With Stretch
- Topman Khaki Skinny Fit Suit Jacket
- Reiss Bank Cotton And Linen Trousers Brick
- River Island Pink Bomber Jacket
- He By Mango Henley Cotton T-shirt
- He By Mango 5-pocket Cotton Trousers
- Acne Studios College Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
- Acne Studios Isherwood Button-down Collar Cotton-twill Shirt
- James Perse Cotton-jersey T-shirt
If the last days of winter are making you weary, then look to this neutral colour trend to blow the cobwebs away. Sure it’d be easy to throw on that same navy coat every day, but it’s also SAD-inducing. Brighten up with these foolproof combos instead.
Will you be ditching standard black and navy for something brighter? Do you have any key pairings we’ve missed out here?
Have your say below.