From monochrome to seafoam, it's time to pull a Switzerland and make neutral shades your new style stance.
Oct 5, 2020
“Neutral.” The word doesn’t sound very exciting on it’s own, does it? If you take a neutral stance, it means you’re not taking a stand—so what exactly does that mean for the neutrals in your wardrobe? Well, we’re here to tell you that “neutral” does not equal boring, that “neutral” can still be worthy of a second take, and that “neutral” represents far more than just the standard colors of gray and black. Signalling the official arrival of Fall, the “new neutrals” are those fresh hues and shades breathing new life into your tried and true staples; think classic pieces like blazers, shirtdresses, and tote bags rendered in shades richer than seasons past (we’re talking sweet caramel shades, tan tones, deep blues, and greens) that can be effortlessly paired with your existing wardrobe. These new neutrals present as an ideal base for layering and a striking mechanism for delivering daring prints and intricate embroidery. They’re the easiest way to update your 9-5 uniform and the most practical items to purchase if you’re not looking to spend bags of money on a whole new look. With their endless styling options (try layering textures of similar tones, pairing trusted cuts with more experimental styles, mixing clashing colors together, or embracing them from head-to-toe), let our selection of garments in palette-cleansing neutrals and simple shapes gently guide your way fashion-forward. Shop the full collection, here.
Photo: Pouf Sleeve Shirt Dress, Studio 189
Back to Basics
It was the late, great Karl Lagerfeld who said “Black and white always looks modern, whatever that word means”. Whatever that word means, it’s hard to disagree. Black and white is a simple formula to work with: it’s always modern and accessible. The ultimate color palette for the minimalist, it deftly toes the line between classic and cool and this season, designers are putting the “new” in neutral and working the color duo into unexpected and novel forms. Two of the chicest interpretations of the look we’ve seen—Studio 189’s Pouf Sleeve Shirt Dress and their Monochrome Double-Breasted Blazer—experiment with this color pairing through bold, graphic prints and patterns. These creations by the Ghanaian label are made to order classics that could easily become staples in any wardrobe. Alternatively, there’s the Malian designer Awa Meité’s Point Fringe Dress. Through it’s unexpected construction and striking embellishments, the piece subverts the minimalist tendency of its color scheme, while the traditional Malian mud cloth it’s made from helps to communicate a message of sustainability and ethical design.
Photo: Barkcloth Long-Sleeve Jacket, IAMISIGO
Down to Earth
Easy to work with and here to provide us an intermission from the enduring neon trend, deep earthy tones like classic chocolate and gingerbread brown provide a relaxed palette, one that just exudes cool. Sophisticated and chic, they’re easily woven into the fabric of the rest of your dress up tapestry and are a sophisticated alternative to black. The Barkcloth Long-Sleeve Jacket from IAMISIGO is an exquisitely crafted piece, one that instantly becomes the focal point of any outfit but looks particularly fantastic paired with a fitted white tee and on-trend miniskirt. Meanwhile, ZAAF’s Indica Afar Weekender is a masterfully crafted piece, the deep earthy shade of which makes it the perfect versatile getaway companion. Meanwhile, the Fit and Flare Corset Dress by Christie Brown, made from a white and brown peacock wax-print, owes its statement-making presence to its sumptuous color.
Photo: Takwa Dress, Andrea Iyamah
Out The Blue (and Green)
While blue or green may not be the first color you think of when you think of neutrals, we’re sure you’ve got some of these basic hues in your closet that form the building blocks of many of your looks. But since we are talking about “new” neutrals, we’re also looking at brilliant Bahama-shades of blue and deep, forest greens. The Takwa Dress by Nigerian designer Andrea Iyamah is a sure example of the latter, one whose elegant kimono style and bubble sleeves set a sleek and refined tone. Add a pair of strappy sandals and you’re just about ready for that dinner date. Repping the trusted navy shade is NKWO with their experimental Indigo Knot Shirt. Hand-dyed by artisans at the famous Indigo dye pits in the Nigerian city of Kano, it’s the color of this unconventionally designed garment that takes center stage, its traditional button-down style providing the same ease of wear as a classic shirt. Pair it with a pair of slip-on mules or sandals for a look that feels casual but still turns heads. For just a tasteful touch of indigo, reach for New Tangier’s Blue Karima Weekender, a silk-trimmed, embroidered version of your standard weekend tote. Team it with a pair of high-waisted, vintage white jeans and a matching, fitted bodysuit for an ensemble that is both casual, polished and perfect for a beach getaway.
Photo: Mini Bucket Bag, Thalia Strates
(Hazel)nuts About it!
Sand. Tan. Caramel. Hazelnut. Whatever you want to call it, this grounding warm tone is a welcome alternative to the standard-issue browns while boasting a dependability that’s confirmed by designers regularly making their way back to this beloved hue. If you’re feeling gutsy, we see nothing wrong with rocking the autumnal tone from top to bottom. Otherwise, the Brown Fah Regal Sandal is one of the best ways to dip your toe in the shade. Offset by ornate, 24-karat gold-plated embellishments, the classic sandal style is handmade by artisans in Cote D’Ivoire and looks great worn with something simple—like a lightly colored slip dress or a form-fitting jumpsuit. As far as handbags go, turn to a variant of the shade in the timeless forms by Thalia Strates. Made from cognac and coffee-colored leathers, Thalia Strates’ Mini Bucket Bag and Geneva Tote are your ideal picks, their artisanal minimal aesthetic and vivid coloring great for setting off the rest of your look.
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