Using the Neutrals Sets

Wardrobe neutral colours include the whites, beiges, grays, taupes, and browns, as well as the navy and black that we use to create ensembles and for basic large area items. These frame our appearance, creating a background structure for the colours and details that will be added. We notice flowers more than stems, but flowers must be connected to their world, rather than floating in space. Colour needs context to communicate. Meaningful, confident beauty requires the right foundation.

Your Season includes thousands of colours and Colour Analysis (PCA) gives you the toolkit to select them. However, because they contain so little pigment, neutrals may be the most challenging to choose. A set of neutral colours in your Season acts as a reference for adding these essential building block colours to your wardrobe. Decisions are quick and confident with these in hand.

In the envelope

The set includes 12 pieces of fabric measuring approximately 9x4 inches = 23x10 cm. The darkness (value) range spans the Season's white to black, and warmer to cooler range if applicable. At least one example of dark brown and navy are included, as well as a more pigmented colour or one that is unusual or challenging to find. Examples of these are Dark Winter red rust, True Winter red, Light Summer medium blue, and Light Spring shell pink or khaki.

The role of neutral colours

Neutral colours register in a subconscious way, as settings should, adding depth and realism to the plot and enriching the script. When neutrals and colours have a reason to be together, both perform to their full potential. The range of colours in your Neutrals Set (NS) is a representation of wardrobe neutrals for the Season, as the palette itself is for your Season.

Palette colours are precise to a high degree, which is possible with computer colour software, modern printer inks, and artist's canvas. Textile colour is not always so permissive or available, with a narrower colour range, many of which are close enough to work extremely well. On the opposite end of the spectrum, fabric dye can create unexpected colours that do not appear in human pigmentation, but are still able to form attractive or inspired pairings for outfits. To make intelligent shopping decisions within the sphere of modern retail, I see value in showing you both these extremes, although the inspirational colours are far more likely to be found in the colour analyst's Luxury Drapes than the NS colours, which tend towards to more everyday.

The intention of the NS is practical and involves optimizing the understanding and appearance of the Season, and less to inspire or precisely duplicate an ink on canvas colour. While colours are chosen to be specific for each Season, they may also hover very near another Season that could wear them just as well. Rather than omit very good examples of certain colours, I chose to include fabrics that could serve as an excellent starting point for purchasing. From the fabric to the palette, the concept would be attainable and adaptable with the fabric in the kit.

For example, True Autumn navy blue is may be hard to find but if the choices were expanded to include the traditional Men's or Corporate palettes, which often reach a darker endpoint, an excellent option might be found, still entirely applicable to women if desired. A fabric that is suitably dark and muted, with the correct red content to belong in a warm Season, would carry valuable information even though it may be slightly too dark or saturated for the absolute average of True Autumn. A client with softer or lighter colouring within True Autumn might use the fabric as a guidepost and substitute a slightly lighter, less saturated tone, as though the fabric had been stored in sunlight and faded a bit. From the fabric in the kit, with your palette guide, and adjusting for your own preference, you'll be able to make the leap. Please note that this applies to one fabric per Season at most, or none. 

To summarize, the colours you wear need not match your colour palette or Neutrals Set (NS) precisely. The aim is that they look attractive, balanced, and rational together such that you and your colours look better by being together. To test their suitability, begin by placing several of the fabrics on garments and consider whether your attention feels evenly divided. The overall effect should be agreeable, united, and settled. Look for a sense of the colours having a common undercurrent or looking great together, as if lit by the same sun or able to grow in the same garden.

A mildly displeasing combination is not an automatic exclusion. Especially for Neutral Seasons, colours have a warm to cool range. You might wear the warmer colours together, or your taste may enjoy matching warm with cool. Season narrows down the field to a place where there are many rights and very few wrongs, or none, although individual preferences within the Season vary.

Take your NS shopping to compare fabrics under the same lighting conditions. Holding them inside your field of vision while you browse in shops allows your eyes to find similar colours without requiring effort on your part. Neutral colours tend to be adaptable so don’t worry about being perfect. You are so much more intentional and successful with your colours than before your PCA that small variations are unimportant. If your eye finds the combination appealing and balanced, the colours will find their shared territory and enhance one another elegantly. 

Some clients prefer the fabric pieces to remain separate, which is how they are packaged in the envelope. Others prefer them to be joined and have sewn them together along the top corner or keep them together with a paper clip or clamp.

Learning more from your NS

If colour is available, it occupies our awareness. By excluding it, neutrals teach us about our Season in a different way. Below is a list of more examples detailing specific information that can be gained from your NS:

Value range. Notice the distance between lightest and darkest colours. This range applies to every colour you add, from apparel to highlights in hair to your eyeshadow design. How near and far are the lightest and darkest colours from pure black and white? Notice if the colours have warmth and whether the darkest colours retain a soft or dusty impression, or if they seem ink-dark. Try describing your white and black in your own words, which may be helpful for you and store staff when shopping. At times, a colour may be included that is darker than the range in the traditional, Classic, or Women's palettes, but would disappear into the palettes designed for professional wear or men.
How you combine your lights and darks is your choice. Some days, wear your lightest and darkest for a crisp or formal look. Other days, combine your midtones and bring in more colour. For Seasons with a narrower lightest to darkest range, such as Light Spring whose dark colours are still relatively light, you may notice less light to dark movement in the range. The ability to make small increments in value appear significant is one of the special qualities of the Season, in the same way that the Soft Seasons are able to make very gradual shifts between soft colours look like different colours.

Colour balance. The garment being tested and the NS fabrics should maintain their colour strength when placed together. If either colour seems to dominate, which may happen as colour naturally moves forward, ask yourself if they are able hold each other up. If one colours loses energy, fades, look tired, is sinking into the other, borders are hard to see, or edges seem to be fuzzy or moving instead of crisp and supported, the choice may be not be the best.

Undertone. The colour that is shared within a Season palette may be easier to see when overall pigment is reduced. You may notice smoky lavender in Soft Summer and yellow in True Spring. Neutral colours may appear to have blue, red, or green tones, offering different types of colour relationships in ensembles. Notice also the amount of colour pigment in the neutral tones. Is the colour component easy to see or does the colour appear mostly gray, with slight but strong yellow, green, red, or blue appearing only when the fabric is held next to another neutral, as is the case for many Winter neutrals? 

Eye makeup. The more ways in which we see colour, the better we understand it and fabric is a terrific way to learn your eyeshadow colours. Cosmetics may be easier to harmonize with fabrics than with the ink on canvas of the palette. Keep eyeliner in mind as well, an item that may be most sophisticated when it’s under the viewer’s radar.

Basics. Neutrals are excellent colour choices for suiting and items that need wardrobe versatility such as coats and eyeglass frames. They provide the backdrop and stillness to feature the livelier colours. They also indirectly represent many of the colours in skin, so if an item is causing them to appear distorted (greener, yellower, grayer), so will that item cause these distortions in the skin. 

Shine. With the textile variety, gain a sense of your Season’s natural reflectivity, which may be extended to jewelry. Among the fabrics, you will find a variety of textures, weights, opacities, and degrees of luster. Are they mostly matte? Textured or smooth? Sheer, flowing, structured, opaque? How would you describe the finish? Metallic, cotton, paper, pearlescent, frosted, or satin? If the shine in a fabric feels sharp, seems to approach pure white, or is much lighter than the base colour, the reflectivity may be overpowering for some Seasons. Fabrics that are both dusty in colour and muting in texture, such as flannel, may create an earthy sensation that is a perfect extension of your own colouring. 

Jewelry. The colours of metals that will be most attractive next to your skin and clothing are often included in the collection. If not, place the jewelry item on the fabrics to determine how well they look together. The energy should be equal, beautiful and belonging together. 

Possibilities. Don't underestimate the importance of your unique imagination. Keep practicing ways to broaden your vision. Any colour in your palette may be worn as you wish, as a large block item, a watchstrap, the leather in belts and shoes, the stone in an earring, the texture of a hair accessory, the colour of the lens in sunglasses, the metal in a zipper, the colour of a wedding gown, or the elements in a print. Try to be very fluid when you visualize the part that each colour might play in your wardrobe.

Your Neutrals Collection will help you harmonize colours with more ease and confidence. It will be faster and easier to create your sophisticated, weekend, professional, and evening combinations, as well as discerning whether items coming into your wardrobe, including jewelry and cosmetics, will be your most flattering choices.