Synonyms for the word neutral – like ‘bland’ and ‘anodyne’ – might fool you into thinking that a trend based on neutral hues is one to pass on, but the fact is that, if done correctly, tonal dressing can pack a punch.
Wearing a single colour is a classic fashion trick that swerves between chic (all-black) and garish (all-red). Nail head-to-toe neutrals and you’ll have reached a level of sartorial sophistication you simply wouldn’t achieve otherwise.
Neutral tones, especially pastel shades, are always part of spring/summer collections – but for SS15, the colours themselves became a trend in their own right. And looking ahead to AW15, it seems little has changed, with shades of grey shown across the board.
On The Runway
Shades Of Grey
Grey was at the core of colour palettes across all the global AW15 fashion weeks, with everyone from Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein to Boglioli and Lanvin layering multiple shades of grey, ranging from dark charcoal to light stone.
Versatile and extremely easy to wear, grey flatters all skin tones. But it can – depending on how you style it – look a little casual. To separate your outfit from grey loungewear, you should switch to a more formal frame of mind. Fine knits, wool overcoats and well-cut suits are all good places to start when trying your hand at this trend.
To accent your greys, try white – rather than black – touches to ‘lift’ your look. White leather trainers or a crisp white shirt are both dead certs for complementing grey tones and will keep your ensemble feeling clean and modern.
Earth tones, from beige to tan, have long been the preserve of those who struggle with the never-ending carousel of fashion trends. There’s a certain mature ‘dad’ style to basing an entire look around the colour of your chinos, but it also speaks of a kind of aesthetic timelessness.
At Berluti, rich, warm shades of brown built looks that typified that classic Italian sense of off-duty elegance. Again, these earthy hues were intricately layered for maximum impact.
Elsewhere, Canali, Bally, Boglioli and Fendi took a more tailored approach, utilising brown and camel suits to great effect, while Etro and Richard James matched brown safari jackets with well-cut trousers in rich orange tartan and taupe grey, respectively.
Beige is perhaps the most common – and arguably most uninteresting – of the neutral tones, and therefore needs a little more effort to make it look stylish rather than staid. Try accessorising with a cognac-coloured leather document wallet or briefcase, or accent a predominantly beige ensemble with deep burgundy, forest green or dark sapphire.
If you’re opting for tailored pieces in earth tones, keep your outfit looking fresh and contemporary with a pair of white slip-on plimsolls or suede loafers.
Don’t panic at the idea of wearing pastels. While they might traditionally be branded feminine, in the hands of Bottega Veneta and Versace these pale hues were entirely re-imagined, used to colour distinctly masculine separates.
Pink is still a hard look to pull off for most men, but pistachio green and cornflower blue can, if styled correctly, make for a high-impact late summer/early autumn look – see Burberry Prorsum for proof.
Offset a lightweight pastel blazer or preppy Oxford shirt against classic white jeans or light blue denim and you’ll project a certain kind of masculine confidence.
How To Wear
Head-to-toe outfits in one colour are a tricky thing to pull off, unless it’s black we’re talking. To better your chances of carrying an all-neutral look, you’ll need to masterfully mix and match different tones.
Sound difficult? It’s not. Just remember to reserve darker tones for your trousers and outerwear (their large surface area means they’ll garner plenty of attention anyway), and lighter hues for tops and mid-layers.
Once you’ve got the basics covered, it’s worth adding some depth. Texture is key in this respect, introducing points of difference to your look where colour would usually be the main differentiator. Try mixing wool and cotton, suede and leather, or denim and synthetics for an ensemble that’s subtle but engaging.
You can also think of your all-neutral look as a blank canvas to be accessorised, integrating statement pieces – a bag, cap, or piece of jewellery – here and there to offset your base.
If eye-catching accessories aren’t for you, then you’ll need to pay particular attention to the cut and details of any garment you wear. Block neutral tones will rely heavily on design features and silhouettes to sell their individuality.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that wearing clothes of the same colour is a sure-fire way to look good – this is a dangerously reductive understanding of how to dress. Choose a tone that suits you, and in which you feel comfortable, and build a few key outfits out of your staple pieces in varying shades.
All-Grey Outfit Inspiration
Earth Tones Outfit Inspiration
All-Pastels Outfit Inspiration
Brands from high street to high-end all offer a huge selection of neutral pieces each and every season, so finding something that complements your personal style and existing wardrobe will be easy. That said, when browsing, prioritise items that either offer longevity, or tap other AW15 trends as well.
For example, long overcoats in camel or concrete will combine effortlessly with your current work suits and prove a worthy investment for many years to come, while a green roll neck hits two of this season’s major trends and can be teamed with other earth tones for a head-to-toe look.
- River Island Grey Flannel Long Sleeve Shirt
- 01:09 Regular-fit T-shirt
- Incotex Slim-fit Herringbone Stretch Cotton-blend Corduroy Trousers
- Reiss Walker Flecked Quilt Sweatshirt Grey
- Reiss Sonata Funnel Neck Bomber Jacket Grey
- Leather And Suede Runners
- Only & Sons Wool Overcoat
- He By Mango Structured Cotton Blazer
- Essential Chino
- River Island Green Flannel Long Sleeve Shirt
- River Island Brown Wool-blend Harrington Jacket
- Acne Studios Jena Wool Sweater
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Summer Tweed
- Topman Washed Purple Long Sleeve Casual Twill Shirt
- Burton Menswear London Sand – Chinos – Yellow
- J.crew Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- He By Mango 5-pocket Garment-dyed Cotton Trousers
- Kingsman 30-gauge Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater
A head-to-toe look, despite sounding simple, actually depends heavily on smart styling. Balancing textures, tones and statement touches is key.
Is all-neutral everything a trend you’re into? Or is dressing head-to-toe in the same colour simply a cop out?
Comment below to let us know.