TREND REPORT: New Neutrals
Where there’s a desire to dress better, neutrals are bound to present themselves as a solution. Neutrals are the antithesis to the sharp crescendo and gradual diminuendo of trends, sitting on a pleasant curve of the colour wheel, asserting themselves in neither colourific direction.
As defined by Glue Store Buyer, Gemma Shim, neutrals are made up of “muted colours and can be classed as basic shades that blend into the everyday environment and work to complement primary colours. Some examples include white, brown, black, grey, beige, slate, and ecru.” Harnessing the power of neutrals allows you to create a wardrobe that is an asset to your style, not a hinderance. Your arsenal is your wardrobe, rather than a few key power pieces that get lost within it.
Place of Birth: Everywhere
Neutrals gained their reputation as a preset of Scandinavian fashion. Based on dressing for cold weather, Scandi neutrals lend their tones to trench coats, knit jumpers, pants, and boots. A scenic train trip further south, Italian neutrals have a light and breezy summer bent to them; skirts and shorts, suit sets and linens, flowy, relaxed dresses and button-up shirts.
Muted browns and creams recall an era of unbothered glamour that was achieved not so much by virtue of the fashion itself but by its context. Context provided by the nonchalance of European movie stars on the cobbled streets of 1950s Italy, Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley. Now, decades down the track, neutrals are still imbued with the same charm.
Neutrals have carved out a space for themselves as a pop culture symbol of the city slicker professional in New York (Frasier, Seinfeld), but also of summer holidays on the sunlit streets of Europe. Historical monuments like the Colosseum can’t occur in the same brainwave without linen-donning tourists and locals milling about the bottom of it. But the hustle and bustle of city life and yuppie trends are also nothing without them, proving the versatility and universality of neutrals.
Fashion is the result of a designer’s context. Born out of a city’s preference for light and timelessness, Quiet Luxury bloomed from the brands which comprise it. Making its way into the hands of influencers, fashion took a turn towards a more subdued colour palette this season. Part of the appeal of Quiet Luxury is the European undertones of its look, feel, and its reason for being. Within the symbiosis of pining for a place and aiming for a trend, neutrals have offered a rest stop that not only provides a balm for the trend cycle but an ongoing method of individuating your wardrobe.
Seasonal wardrobe planning is rendered irrelevant when your wardrobe contains neutrals that can be layered and shed throughout the seasons. Shop in a timeless fit or opt for a trending style in a neutral, to prolong its shelf life.
“From high fashion to street wear, most brands over the past five years have offered their own version of a basics range incorporating neutral colourways. Think heavy weight t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, the list goes on,” says Shim. “Some brands have gone as far to base their whole brand image on being a neutral colourway label.” The Quiet Luxury catchment has included labels cited by Shim such as Essentials, Cole Buxton, and SKIMS that have influenced the wider market to adopt this trend.
“Some brands have gone as far to base their whole brand image on being a neutral colourway label.”
Hitting that sweet spot between alkaline and acid, high-low dressing is another way to utilise neutrals in your wardrobe. Pair a simple basic with an elevated investment piece. For example, a white tank top with a tailored pair of trousers, or a knit dress with an oversized blazer. Using this formula allows you to create a reliable fit that can be rehashed in different combinations through warm and cold months.
In fact, neutrals might be the key to achieving balance in your wardrobe overall. Shim calls out the importance of a considered approach to neutrals dressing. “The balance of the colours is the most important part in putting together a good neutral outfit. I’ll look for shades with similar tones and warmth to pare back together or use the neutrals as a base to make a statement piece pop.”
In this vein, incorporating more neutrals into your wardrobe could be the way to get out of a style rut, and make 100% of your wardrobe accessible on the daily by using neutral pieces to let your statement pieces shine.
But neutrals are still about granting individual flair to the wearer, says Shim, “The items themselves are totally up to the individual, it’s all about the balance.”