wearing color 101

I know it’s not easy to break out of the habit of buying “neutral” colored clothing. You want your clothes to be versatile, to go with everything.

You see a purple dress, or a red sweater, and you like it! But you always talk yourself out of it, calling it impractical. Next thing you know, your closet is a sea of black and gray and (the worst!) khaki.


Holland Cox brand colors


My friend, I’m here to tell you that practical does not mean plain. Being solid brown or black or tan does not automatically make something practical. If it doesn’t make you feel confident and happy every time you put it on, then it shouldn’t be in your closet. Is plain khaki really the color that brings you the most joy?

If you’re not sure what “your colors” are (and I’m pretty sure it’s not khaki), here are five painless ways to experiment with color, to help you figure out your favorites!

Once you figure out what colors make you feel happy and confident, then boom: you have your new neutrals, and you’ll never be tempted to ‘get the plain black one, it’ll be the most practical’ ever again!

loose mineral eyeshadow from Essentric Cosmetics

Jin Soon nail polish


experiment #1: makeup and nail polish

The great thing about most makeup is that you can achieve many different looks with just one color. Brush it on with a light touch for daytime, and a bit heavier for a night out. Even better, get a set of colors that some kind soul has already coordinated for you, and mix and match them.

Nail polish is also a great way to experiment with wild colors, because a bottle is super cheap, and failed experiments are easily remedied. No reason to hold back!


a collection of colorful jewelry and watches


experiment #2: jewelry and watches

Even the most color-averse among us can manage a brightly colored watchband! There’s no reason for plain leather or metal links to be your only options.

And what about that bold color you love, but that you can’t imagine covering a whole dress or top? Surely you can manage it in the form of a bright jewel. Perhaps on a pendant, in tiny stud earrings, or a bold cocktail ring? Jewelry is extremely well suited for bold, bright colors, and is a great way to make an old, neutral stand-by outfit into something interesting again.



a collection of colorful silk scarves


experiment #3: the silk scarf

There’s a reason the distinctive Hermes scarf is so legendary. A colorful silk scarf is quite possibly the most perfect accessory! There are literally dozens of ways to wear it: in your hair, around your neck, hanging from the strap of your bag, as a belt…you get the idea.

Now, you may not want to experiment with an actual Hermes scarf (you better be sure you like the color at $300 + a pop), but there’s no law saying you can’t use their handy scarf-tying guide with a more affordable version. Find one you love, and it’s like having a dozen accessories in one!


three 517 totes from Holland Cox, in red, black, and off-whiite

experiment #4: handbags and wallets

The days when your shoes had to match your bag are gone. In fact, your bag doesn’t have to match anything! This is worth repeating.

Repeat after me: your bag does not have to match anything that you are wearing!

Your handbag (or briefcase, or wallet) is actually a perfect place to have a shot of color, especially if much of what you wear otherwise is in the brown-tan-black-beige-gray (et cetera) family. It’s a great way to make your look distinctive. Oh, there’s that lady with the gorgeous purple briefcase.

Nobody ever notices the lady with the plain black bag.


a collection of colorful coats, jackets, and ponchos


experiment #5: outerwear

Your outerwear is an area that shouldn’t be ignored when it’s time to try something new. Choosing a boldly colored winter coat might feel like big step, but if you feel shy about it, think of it this way: nothing has to match your outerwear, so you are 100% off the hook for coordinating anything. Just pick a color that makes you happy and run with it!

Beyond actual coats, jackets, ponchos and the like, don’t forget hats, gloves, scarves and umbrellas. My absolute favorite winter scarf is an intense, acid green, and it makes even the worst winter days bearable (even though I hate the cold), because I can’t help but smile when I put it on!

Color adds interest and style to your outfits, and is a great way to let your personality shine through. I don’t believe that anybody out there has a khaki, tan, or beige personality. If you’re not ready for lime green pants or an aubergine dress, perhaps one of these experiments will help you ease into wearing color!



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