How to Wear Color Without Looking Like a Clown

Real Style on 08.15.11
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Photo: Zappos

Color is huge for fall, but it’s a trend that can be daunting to the Mom Uniform crowd. If you’re the type who defaults to neutrals, adding a little Roy G. Biv to your closet is a simple upgrade. But don’t go overboard -- too much color can be, well, too much. Here’s how to color your world without looking like Bozo the Clown.

Assess your neutrals. My closet is built on a palette of black, gray, and navy pieces, which means that I can add pretty much anything for a pop of color. Black is a great backdrop virtually everything; pair it with pink and blue and red. Gray is fantastic with orange and yellow, while navy livens up a pretty purple. Beware of costume-y combinations, though; I won’t wear orange with black because when I do, I feel like I”m all ready for Halloween.

Pick your color. Think about the shades that draw your eye; if you’re not one for colored clothes, look at art or dishes or paint swatches -- whatever works for you. Start by adding pieces in colors you already love; you’ll be more likely to actually wear them. This fall, neons are still in, but be cautious; if you’re old enough to remember the last time neon was cool, maybe you should opt for something a little more grown up. Jewel tones are sophisticated and wearable.

Start small. You’re not required to go from all black to head-to-toe color. An easy and safe way to add color to your neutral closet is with accessories: a beautiful scarf, a bright bag, or an unexpected pair of shoes can totally change your look without overwhelming you.

Be strategic. If you want to add more color to your closet, choose carefully. A skirt is an easy way to incorporate color into a neutral wardrobe; pair it with your basic tops and shoes for a look that is yours but more interesting. My favorite winter piece is a purple pencil skirt (yes, really!) -- I wear it with a gray or black sweater, gray or black tights and -- you guess it -- gray or black flats. It’s easy and interesting and totally fun.

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