Cultivated Wardrobe

How to Never Let a Closet Full of Neutrals Get Boring

how to never let a closet full of neutrals get boringI feel like I’ve been trying to write this blog post for awhile now but have struggled to put into words all of the knowledge I feel I’ve gained about curating a killer neutral wardrobe throughout my capsule wardrobe building process.  So before I layout some “tips” or “hacks” I’ve figured out along the way for you, just remember that I’m no expert.  I’m just sharing my experiments in the world of minimalist fashion, from one lady to another ;)

Here we go…


1. Be totally sure neutrals are your jam. I know that catch phrase is probably overused at this point and time.  But here? It 100% applies.  First and foremost.

If you’re thinking about curating a minimal wardrobe (capsule or otherwise) comprised of a neutral color palette — there really shouldn’t be any question in your mind as to whether or not this color palette is you.   We all go through times of experimentation — I tried out way too many styles in college that I liked, on other people — but I think we all have a sense of at least one outfit that we feel embodies every aspect of our style.  That you feel totally you in.  That my friend, is your jam. Go with it.

2. Don’t be deceived into thinking that color is the only way to add visual interest to an outfit. It just flat out isn’t.  In fact, unless there is some element of contrasting colors within the outfit that create energy — it’s likely that the outfit is creating harmony instead. Which although is also pleasing to the eye — is a totally different kind of thing [thank you Color Theory 310 from junior year for that bit…]

Visual interest can just as easily be added through texture, shine, pattern, and [my current personal favorite] juxtaposition. In addition, any one of these methods can be combined with another to add perhaps even more visual interest. Think: boxy graphic tee [pattern] under a black moto jacket with quilted sleeves [texture] paired with skinny jeans, casual flats and delicate jewelry [shine]. The semi-structured upper portion of the outfit is in direct contrast to the casualness of the bottom portion [juxtaposition].  Or you could switch out the flats for a nude pump to play up the masculine vs. feminine of the whole thing.  The possibilities quickly become endless…

3. Identify your base outfit and go from there. Remember the outfit I had you picturing at the end of tip #1?  That’s your base outfit. Mine happens to be jeans and white t-shirt. When you have a home base, it’s: easier to build of off, less scary to start building and always incorporates the innate you. You know, because when you let you shine through — you look, act and feel more confident and are just well, way cooler. Am I right?

4. Remember that neutrals are actually kind of relative.  Are they blacks + whites? Browns + creams? Greys + more greys? How about them all? Oh and what about navy…?

You see where I’m going with this? When you think “neutral wardrobe” it’s not the same as what someone else sees when they think “neutral wardrobe.”  Shake it up a bit and explore what other people’s neutrals look like. You might surprise yourself and come away with a whole slew of ideas and inspiration.

5. Embrace classic pieces and try out trends with accessories. Somewhere along the way I adopted the mindset that “classic” was a sophisticated way of saying “boring ” or “frumpy”.  And it’s not.  So not.  Now, I know classic to be synonymous with timeless  — and you’re kidding yourself if you say you don’t want a timeless wardrobe.  Seriously, who doesn’t want that?  Trying out trends with accessory pieces like: scarves, hats, jewelry, etc. is not only less committal (ahem, cheaper) — but when you pair these smaller detail trend pieces with a base outfit comprised of classics, everything is so much more grounded. Grounded creates presence, presence creates impact and… isn’t that what an on trend piece is supposed to accomplish?

6. Wear those classic pieces in non-classic ways. Think half tucked white button down with boyfriend jeans,  a structured blazer over top a loose boxy tee,  gingham layered with plaid, or a striped tee with a patterned pencil skirt.  Classic pieces, although simple by nature, don’t merely offer simple “inside the box” solutions. Because of their versatility they actually offer the most possible number of solutions and truly the most opportunity for creative expression.  All while looking effortlessly cool.

And that’s it.  I think that’s all I’ve got.

Do you ever think that a neutral wardrobe would/will get boring? What are some of the ways you’re dealing with that?



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  • Reply
    February 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    I’m totally attracted to neutrals, but I’m finding this season that I wish I had packed a better mix of them (or even just better mix of styles) into my winter capsule wardrobe. I feel like I’m wearing black every day, so it might have been nice to throw in some cognac cords or something. Love your tips, as always.

    • Reply
      February 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks lady! I took a quick peek at your winter capsule and I feel ya (although I love it!). One thing I just thought of that I didn’t include in my list of tips that I’ve found myself doing lately to “switch things up” is trying unexpected layering combos. How could I not think to mention that? Not sure what the climate is like where you are, but around here temps are prime for layering to my heart’s content. If you feel like all your clothes are black and/or dark, try layering in some of your lighter colored pieces or pieces that have a lighter, airier feel to them. Oh! And you could always try and wear your bibs as pants by wearing sweaters, etc. over them — if you haven’t already tried that that is, haha.

      • Reply
        February 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm

        I’m in LA, so while the temps may drop at night and we have an occasional rain day, 70s and sunny are the norm throughout winter. I’ve been wearing my outerwear tied around my waist a lot (ha), but that’s still an interesting layer. I didn’t think of layering over my bibs, but they could totally pass as boyfriend jeans, so I’ll have to try that. Thanks!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’m feeling this way lately.kind of bored,I hope my next capsule wardrobe is better planned with the tips you gave here!! :)

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    Jennifer Laxmi
    September 1, 2016 at 11:57 am

    This is such a good guide (AND REMINDER) to tell myself that my items aren’t as boring as they seem, and to give me a bit of a nudge to give away all the bright items that I RARELY wear anymore. I fear my closet will become drab, but I’m more convinced than ever that textures, juxtaposition, and SHINE will help with that. Thanks, lady!


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