Monday, May 29, 2017

What Accent Colors go with Navy and Beige? I Have a Dozen Ideas!

Today's a holiday, but you get a blog post because I write these in advance - this was completely last Friday! So what I'm saying is that TOMORROW, you're just going to get something short and sweet about my holiday weekend...

It's probably the most common question I get in my email: How can I pick accent colors?

Couple that with lots of questions about the most versatile neutral colors, and I've got a lot to think about!

But I've got to admit that more and more, I'm beginning to suspect that starting with navy and beige in a wardrobe might be the very easiest choice. Only if you have the luxury of starting from scratch, of course, or if you're in a position to build a capsule wardrobe of over a dozen pieces for a season (plus accessories!).

We often find, as we explore ideas on The Vivienne Files, that something that starts out really well with one color scheme can be expanded into lots of others, so this idea might really grow to include many other neutrals; we shall see!

First up, let's start with the neutrals as I see them:

navy and beige color wheel with space for possible accent colors

Please note that I've included the top center accent color as white; in reality, it could be any light "shirt and blouse" neutral that's not pure white, such as ivory, bone, etc. The only thing you have to be sure is that it is a color that works well with both the navy and beige. I suspect that at some point in the future I'll be using a slightly warmer neutral there...

Having established the 2 neutral colors, and that light-color accent, there are (potentially) almost countless possible accent colors that could be tossed into this mix. I've tried to be somewhat systematic about how they are shown here, but I'm open to trying a LOT more combinations if suggested. (that's a hint...)

navy and beige color wheels with pastel accent colors

navy and beige color wheels with bright accent colors

navy and beige color wheels with muted accent colors

navy and beige color wheels with other neutral colors as accent colors

navy and beige color wheels with traditional choices for accent colors

navy and beige color wheels with unexpected choices for accent colors

To show how this works in "real life," I'm going to pull together a small 13-piece travel capsule wardrobe. This isn't going to be a strict "Whatever's Clean" wardrobe because I'm going to be a little bit more relaxed in the choices of accent pieces. Nonetheless, this wardrobe's going to offer up about 2 dozen possible combinations - more than enough for most travel adventures!

First off, I'm going to start with a core of pieces in the 2 neutrals, and a pair of comfy summer shoes in the beige...

(Yes, I got all of these clothes from L.L.Bean. I did this deliberately - probably the biggest drawback to using navy in your wardrobe is the "matching navies" dilemma. Buying from 1 source might help minimize the issue of having navy garments that don't look good together... If you sew, this is a great excuse to buy a big hunk of navy fabric! Note that all of the navy pieces are described on their site as "classic navy," and that the beige is called "heritage stone.")

six core garments in navy and beige for warm weather, with a pair of beige espadriles
classic navy cardigan – L.L.Bean; classic navy tank – L.L.Bean; classic navy pants – L.L.Bean; heritage stone pants – L.L.Bean; heritage stone shorts – L.L.Bean; heritage stone cropped pants – L.L.Bean; espadrilles – David Tate

I'm just starting with the very first color scheme, which uses a soft bluish green and pastel purple as the accent colors. Figuring out what to search for when you want to look at clothes in these colors online is a tricky business!

Color wheel with navy and beige neutrals, and aqua, white and lavender accents.

I'm also going to drop the six "starter" garments into a 13-piece template so that my additions to the wardrobe are chosen with some kind of plan. As much as it is important to listen to your heart and buy things that you truly find appealing, it's also pretty urgent to make sure that you don't go overboard in one segment or another of your wardrobe!

13-piece wardrobe template with six core garments in navy and beige

A couple of pretty tops, a lovely bracelet, and a pretty extravagant baseball cap! Knowing that the tops won't last terribly long, you don't have to pay a fortune for them, but something like a hat might be around for a long time, and could justify a splurge...

Accent pieces in mint green or aqua - two tops, a bracelet and a baseball cap.
aqua tee – J. Crew Factory; aqua ruffled top – H&M; bracelet – Sole Society; baseball cap – Maison Michel

I'm just going through the same general exercise with another accent color - note that these colors don't have to match exactly because you'll never wear them together! Again, I chose one really classic tee shirt, and then one top that's a bit more relaxed and has a bit more... distinctiveness. This scarf would be really pretty with the tops above too, of course.

This Lands' End tunic comes in 8 colors, so if the style appeals, give it a look. I'm seriously thinking about the red...

two accent garments in lavender, along with an amethyst necklace and a pastel scarf
wisteria tunic – Lands’ End; tee – Uniqlo; necklace - Leocadia Designs; scarf - K’amolon K’i K’ojonel

I could add more pieces in the accent colors, but I'm feeling a need to "shore-up" the neutrals somewhat. This print tee shirt combines the neutrals nicely, as well as sharing the overall soft feeling of this wardrobe. And for those of us who don't look our best with too much beige near our faces, this rather minimal cardigan might be okay for warm weather...

a floral tee shirt and a short-sleeved cardigan in beige, for a warm-weather travel capsule wardrobe
tee – Uniqlo; cardigan – L.L.Bean

Referring back to the 13-Piece Wardrobe Template, I remember that we're going to need another "bottom." And a dark pair of sandals makes sense... I truly intended to put solid navy sandals here, but I just could NOT resist these beaded ones... Sometimes, you have to give in when your temptations are strong!

If this skirt feels too "above the knee" for you, there's a longer version available too!

navy skirt and purple beaded sandals to add to a 13-piece travel capsule wardrobe for warm weather
skirt – L.L.Bean; sandals – Comfortiva

Now, when we look at the wardrobe template, it looks both nicely complete and has an overall feeling of coherence and harmony. Nothing sticks out terribly, and you can at a glance see all sort of outfit possibilities:

13-piece wardrobe template with a summer travel capsule wardrobe in navy, beige, lavender and aqua

This is how it all looks, including the accessories. For some reason, when I see all of the pieces in 1 place like this (like spread out on a bed, perhaps?) I can more easily see the possible combinations.

This might be why I'm so fond of having a template to complete - to avoid missing a critical wardrobe component. Once I'm sure that I'm "covered" on all of the normal travel bases, then I can get creative...

travel capsule wardrobe in navy, beige, mint and lavender for warm weather

But just to be certain, I'm going to run through 20 outfits... I really like the way these look!

four ways to wear beige shorts from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear navy pants from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear beige cropped pants from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear a navy skirt from a travel capsule wardrobe

four ways to wear beige pants from a travel capsule wardrobe

I'd deeply, madly love to change out the accent colors here and see what other possibilities can be discovered in the navy and beige neutrals. Are you interested in these possible experiments?

love,
Janice

What Accent Colors go with Navy and Beige? I Have a Dozen Ideas!
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44 comments:

  1. This is awesome; thank you. I totally confess to be mentally switching the beige items for gray, but I love what you've done here. Happy Memorial Day. Mollie

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  2. Wonderful - and yes, please!
    I would be specifically interested in the versions with the two types of grey and the cool muted version. And yes, I often have the problem of not knowing what to call the colours when searching online for an item.
    I wish there was a possibility like searching for apparel by pantone numbers or something like that...
    Thank you for your ideas - great as always!
    Nina from Bonn, Germany

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    Replies
    1. You can search by general color family on Polyvore. Just start a new set.

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  3. What a lovely surprise - I hadn't expected a post today as it's a bank holiday here in UK and a holiday for you in the US, which doesn't happen often, so I thought you'd be out enjoying yourself!

    Really liked the choices today and especially the run down of colours at the beginning. I have quite a difficulty with colours (slight colour blindness) but seeing them side by side, as in warm/cool, bright/muted, really helps me to concentrate and see the differences - thank you.

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  4. What a great idea. I would add a white top or two and would like to see other colours as well.

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  5. Ooh this is lovely. I would love to see you continue with this series. Could you do one with a burgandy accent colour, I am hoping to redo my wardrobe in the southern summer and navy and beige are my two core colours. Thank you

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  6. Ooooh, I'd love to see this with warm muted accents and also with other neutrals. Thank you, this is really useful, Nicola, Ireland

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  7. Yes, please continue this project! Love the traditional and other bright colors.

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  8. Yes, please continue this project! Love the traditional and other bright colors.

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  9. Yes, please continue with this project! Another vote for warm muted accents and with warm neutrals too. Sue x

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    Replies
    1. I second Sue's request !

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    2. I would love to see these as well!

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    3. Me too!Linda M

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    4. I'm a fifth yes for warm muted accents!

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  10. Thank you. I'm not great at pairing items and your posts really help. Yes, please continue. Selfishly, I'd like more of the cool side and including grey.

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  11. These are my current summer neutrals so yes please continue. I would love to see light grey added especially to see how you would combine the grey with the beige. I'm considering more light grey and maybe converting over from beige/light khaki to grey as a primary neutral. Love the items you have chosen here. And those beaded sandals - they come in wide width! I'm in trouble! Janice Collins, Washington DC

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  12. Janice,
    Call me dense, but I'm still trying to figure out your initial thinking on the selection of accent colors with the following regard -- I see analogous colors for the cool two selections, but more contrasting colors for the warmer ones. So when you choose accent colors, what is your thinking as it applies to a color wheel ?

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    1. Not dense at all - really I'd say insightful! Dear Shreebee, what you've discovered is my propensity for blue and purple and most of the cool colors, and the fact that when I'm "randomly" choosing accent colors, it's not really as random as I try to make it! I think my ultimate instinct is that I shy away from things that are yellow or have a yellow base, and that chases me over to the "blue" side of the color wheel. For no good reason at all...

      I'm going to try to become more systematic in this, and when I figure out a method of choosing that's less personally driven, I'll of course share it with you! But I think that accent colors must be personal favorites, don't they?

      holiday hugs,
      Janice

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    2. Janice,
      Yes, of course ! Personal favorites are what we all gravitate toward, thanks for your response and your honesty ! Thanks for posting anything at all on this US day of remembrance !

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  13. Love this series, please continue and cover the other combos! I'm building my winter wardrobe now (southern hemisphere) with navy and grey neutrals with teal and berry and black as my accent colours.

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  14. Nice combinations! Looking forward to the other color combinations, particularly the cool muted.

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  15. This is so useful. Yes, do continue!

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  16. Yes, please, I add my request to all the others. I am developing the base neutrals of "navy" and "beige" right now. The trick is finding warm navies and warm beiges. I also find that mixed navies are easier on the eyes than mixed beiges.

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  17. Love your series! I've been gradually switching out black for navy and gray. Love the beige for summer. I have a pair of red ankle pants that I'd like to incorporate into my scheme but not quite sure how to really make it cohesive. Red and leopard as accents?

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    1. I don't wear red or leopard but am intrigued by your request. I imagine these accent colors would be fabulous on the right woman and would love to see a wardrobe developed around them. My one exception to not wearing red or leopard is shoes!

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  18. Hope you will continue this idea, especially with the warm colors.

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  19. Oh Janice, I'm in the process of trying to put together a capsule of navy, chocolate brown, kelly or hunter green, and stone. Please help if you can squeeze me in!

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  20. I love these!As I get older, I find my coloring changing more from cool/neutral to on the warmish side/neutral(dark hair and eyes, olivey skin). So now mu usual black, white, jewel tones don't look good and I find myself eyeing blush nude, cognac, terracotta, orange red, etc. The navy and beige is perfect as it means I don't have to start completely over. Some cool colors, like cobalt, still ring true. Instead of looking like a peacock, think more like a pheasant. Would love to see some accents to the navy and beige neutrals that address this issue. Thanks, I read your blog every single day!

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    1. I love the way you describe your 'new' colours. It will be useful for me to remember, as I have the same colouring and have the same experience of being drawn to warmer colours with age :)

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    2. Yes! I think it has to do with a softening of my skin and hair, aka greying/fading, lol...

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  21. Yes, please continue this series. I have learned so much from you and how I needed to scale down my wardrobe. I had every color in the rainbow in my closet and nothing to wear. After learning from you for months I finally decided that I would use a navy and beige base with accents of yellow and green just like your traditional warm choice. I rarely comment anywhere on the internet as I am such a private person but I felt that this is so very important to me to speak up. Please Please Please continue this series!

    Sincerely, Janet

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  22. I hope to see some of the bright/red used as accents. Love this thread. Keep going.

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  23. I am so pleased to see you featuring navy and beige! I have been slowly changing the base of my wardrobe from black to navy over the last few years, after learning I was more suited to Autumn colours. I can't use dark brown as a neutral, as it's not considered smart enough for my job, and anyway I love navy! I feel instinctively drawn to the warm brights you feature as all neutral sometimes makes me feel a bit bland. Love, love, love to hear more of your ideas for navy and beige!

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  24. Yes, MORE please! I'd love to see navy - beige (or tan or khaki) - olive - white - and ... something. I love the ways you find interesting things to go together!

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  25. Yes, more! I'd love to see the cool neutral and the unexpected subtle wardrobes. Those look lovely.

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  26. Please continue this series. I'm rebuilding my wardrobe from scratch this summer, since I've lost several sizes. Since I'm not at goal yet, a compact wardrobe helps my budget, too.

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  27. I'm just back from a trip to London and Normandy down the Seine to Paris. And my capsule was navy and beige with coral and navy/white stripes as my accents. I had long pants in navy and beige, and crops in navy and beige. I brought a bunch of T shirts in blues, beiges, coral, stripes and solid white. My accessories were two scarves, one blue/dark blue paisley and the other floral, blue, coral and white. I brought two pair of walking shoes, navy and beige and a pair of nude sandals. I had one navy sweater and one navy cardigan that functioned like a blazer and a light weight indigo jacket. I could dress in the dark and still look stylish. Everything worked with everything else and it worked very well for me. I could handle cool rainy weather in London and 95 degree heat in Paris. I felt I blended in with what the locals were wearing and I was comfortable and happy with my choices. I do listen when you post about planning a capsule. And it does work. I used my (now laundered) travel wardrobe as the basis for my current summer capsule and just added black pants/crops and a few more options for tops.

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