How to Put Together a Neutral Outfit That Isn’t Boring

Whelp! It’s back to life and back to reality . . . While it’s fun to get all fancy for a formal event, I’m always most comfortable in a sweater and jeans, which brings us to today’s post! Let’s talk about how to put together a neutral outfit that isn’t boring.


I love a good neutral outfit, but they can be rather bland unless you know a few tricks.

The key to putting together a neutral outfit that isn’t boring is to include a variety of patterns and textures.

I love the texture the garter stitching gives this link-stitch crewneck sweater from Everlane. That plus the tubular trim at the neckline, cuffs, and hem make an otherwise plain sweater an element of interest in this outfit.

How to Put Together a Neutral Outfit That Isn't Boring with Everlane's link-stitch crewneck sweater.

Since the sweater is cropped, I paired it with high-rise jeans — no one wants to see my muffin top! These jeans have a fun frayed step hem and a nice fading to the wash — two more points of interest.

I know some of you will say you hate the frayed step hem, and that’s okay! They’re a little funky, so if that isn’t your thing, a regular raw hem or even finished hem in a crop jean will work with this look.

For size reference, I have these jeans in the 29. If you decide to order, go with your usual, or size up if in between.

How to Put Together a Neutral Outfit That Isn't Boring with DL1961 x Marianna Hewitt Farrow Fray Step Hem Jeans and J.Crew Factory Zoe calf hair d'Orsay flats

Style Tip: Crop pants work best with this sweater because it’s on the shorter end of the spectrum, so that keeps the proportions of the outfit in balance. A longer sweater would visually cut me in half, but the shorter sweater helps keep that pleasing 1/3 to 2/3 body ratio.

That’s the other important thing to remember when putting together a neutral outfit that isn’t boring — fit and proportion always matter, but it’s even more obvious when they’re off in a simple outfit.

For years I’ve been thinking I’d write a post about this, and show you pictures to illustrate the rule of thirds as it applies to fashion, but I never seem to get around to it — probably because others have done a better job of it than I ever could. So if you’re not sure what I mean by the 1/3 to 2/3 body ratio (rule of thirds), check out this post.

How to Put Together a Neutral Outfit That Isn't Boring

For accessories, I wore silver ball stud earrings with a caviar texture, and I added a few neutral bracelets from Victoria Emerson Design.

This three wrap leather bracelet and the double wrap on tan leather are the perfect pairing and give this casual look a touch of glam.

I could have gone with a larger earring, but I think there’s something so sophisticated and understated about a simple stud — especially with a casual outfit. I think I’d prefer my larger pearls with this one tho.

Victoria Emerson Design wrap bracelets

Of course, the pièce de résistance in this neutral outfit is these calf hair d’Orsay flats.

I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable these shoes are for the price, and I love the unusual pebble pattern as an alternative to the more common leopard or snake print. (They also come in leopard print, by the way.)

Brown is a big color trend this fall, so this is a nice way to participate without bringing it up near my face, as it’s not one of my more flattering colors. I also like how the dark brown shoes and my dark hair bookend the look with the lighter colors in between. I read an article about this years ago — hair color can actually play into your outfit choices too!

The calf hair shoe adds even more texture to this outfit, and the smooth leather of my handbag yet another.

J.Crew Factory Zoe calf hair d'Orsay flats

If I’m being picky, this sweater is a little bulky for my frame. I have square shoulders and a larger chest, so the bulky knit along with the drop shoulders and cropped length work together to add visual weight to an area where I don’t need it.

But this sweater is a great piece for someone who is smaller on top. The quality is fantastic, and it’s 100% cotton — I often get asked for sweaters with no wool in them. It runs TTS; I have the small, for reference.

Putting together a neutral outfit that isn’t boring really isn’t that hard. Just play around with different patterns and textures, and make sure the fit and proportion are on point.


Outfit Details:

sweater // jeans (option) // shoes // tote // earrings

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photos: Alison Cornell