Effortless Style: My Favorite Neutral for Shoes, Bags, Belts, and More

A core of neutrals in your wardrobe is the key to effortless style

perfect for you isn't pefect for me

Mission accomplished. I had acquired another every-woman-must-have wardrobe item: nude heels. I love lists, and I love checking things off a list!

Why must every woman own a pair of nude heels? Well because they must. All the lists on Pinterest say so. Seriously. Every. Single. One. I’ve read them all. They intrigue me. Being an intentional shopper, I need to know what I’m intending, and these kind people have provided me A LIST from which to shop. These were on my list, and I had made it my mission to find THE ONES so I could have effortless style, just as they promised.

They were the perfect color for my skin tone, the perfect height to be sexy and flattering, yet sensible enough that I could walk unassisted (#goals), and in the 3 years I owned them I wore them…once. And I hated them. Out of my peripheral vision I looked barefoot. I looked like an irresponsible, shoeless, toeless, tip-toed Barbie Doll. The bottom half of my outfit was missing. If I’m not wearing shoes, I’m not completely dressed, and here I was, walking around unfinished at our triplets’ baptism. The next time the must-have shoes left my closet shelf, they went in a box to ship to someone else shopping from the perfect wardrobe must-have list.

Compare the outfit on the left, about a year before I overhauled my style and found what was perfect for me. I look awful in the warm toned makeup, hair, and jewelry. And the nude shoes are just wrong for me. On the right I’m wearing silver accessories, and while still a neutral complement to my bold dress, they blend in with my outfit without making me disappear.

Neutrals are a staple in every wardrobe. They are the foundation of every outfit and the key to effortless style. As much as I love bold color, I can only wear so much in an outfit without looking clownish. The trouble is, everyone’s neutrals seem to be nude, blush, bashful, brown, tan, gray, and cognac, all colors that look terrible on me, and terrible with my winter color palette.

Those are the colors of the clothes, the shoes, the bags, the belts, the jackets, everything I see when I look for basic neutrals and outfits. What am I supposed to wear if those look so awful on me? If I wear nude shoes, it’s like having unpainted toenails. I feel like my feet are missing. I look barefoot. I need something on my foot that doesn’t draw too much attention from an otherwise colorful outfit, but sometimes I don’t want something as heavy as basic black or navy.

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perfect for me is perfect for me

The key to a truly cohesive wardrobe is getting the basics right FOR YOU. Not for me. Not for the lists. Not for Pinterest. Basics matter because everything else is a splash of fancy. A SPLASH, not a hosing, and that’s what makes your style look effortless. I wear a lot of basics, and finding the right ones is crucial. Despite what it would imply, not all neutrals go together. That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true, so if you get the right combination of neutrals, they can all go together. My basic neutrals are black, white, navy, and the fanciest of all my basics: silver.

Instead of a nude pump, I now have silver pumps. Instead of nude sandals, I wear silver. Instead of a basic neutral brown bag, I have a silver one as my go-with-any-and-every outfit. My basic belt is silver. I finally found silver booties. This winter I even found a silver jacket! It had to be just the right silver jacket to not look cheap or tacky.

I love how silver pops against my neutral palette of black, white, and navy. I love how it looks with the bold colors in my wardrobe. I love how it looks with my skin tone. Sometimes I like hammered, brushed or distressed silver, but I usually love the super shiny kind. Like, I don’t have to carry a mirror because I could check my makeup in it.

My collection of silver basics and accessories grows every season. I love it. I wear it. It is a foundational color of my wardrobe and accessories. It is a true neutral and basic for me. Is it for everyone? Am I going to make a new own-or-be-disowned list for everyone else to shop from? Nope. Silver is my perfect neutral, but it doesn’t have to be yours. Nude really is perfect for some people.

If silver speaks to you instead of nude, brown, blush, and bashful, then you will love my wardrobe guides. Not a warm, naked shade to be found. The new Stunning Style Spring Wardrobe Guide has a neutral foundation of navy, white, dark denim and silver. The rest of the color palette is bold pink, cobalt blue, Kelly Green, and true red. I intentionally left out black this season so we can really shake the snow off our boots, break away from winter, and embrace the season.

getting the right silver for you

Not all silvers are the same. As I mentioned above, it comes in different textures, and finding the right one for you will make all the difference. One of the women who purchased the Stunning Style Spring Wardrobe Guide emailed me because the reflective, metallic silver bag that I included was too shiny for her comfort level. She prefers things a little softer and more muted, so I suggested she try a silver bag with Saffiano leather, like this one and this one. It’s still a neutral silver, but less bold and in your face. I actually have a variety of silver finishes in my wardrobe, and I like them all for different reasons.

Finding silver as my replacement for the nude and brown-based neutrals has been a game changer as I curate my own effortless wardrobe, and I can confidently ignore the lists because I know what looks best on me.

Do you shop from the must-have lists? Does nude speak to you? Have you ever worn silver as your neutral shoe, bag, or belt? What is your go to neutral? Chat with me in the comments below!

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10 thoughts on “Effortless Style: My Favorite Neutral for Shoes, Bags, Belts, and More”

  1. This is so helpful. I was looking at the high shine silver and it was too much for me, but yet I want a silver tote. I had a pair of silver walking shoes I wore out years ago. Since finding my type, I now know why I like the reflective quality of the silver. So I’m going to keep looking once again for just the pleasing texture.
    Thanks for doing this post. I love how you deconstructed one issue. Keep them coming.

  2. You know I love silver too and I always inwardly cringed at the idea of nude heels/shoes. I also found I cannot/will not wear brown shoes or boots. But silver gives some great new options when white is too too and black or navy won’t do!!

  3. Do you have any specific tints/tones/shades that you ever miss wearing? What do you do if you still feel drawn to a color that isn’t a cool, pure, bold hue? As much as I love silver, I’m still so drawn to wear black and cognac together. But I also love following rules/guidelines which explain why that doesn’t work. I haven’t done a true 30 day challenge yet. I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible in the past few months with the resources I have and still am reluctant to give up some of those warm, rich, earthy, golden colors.

  4. Rachel, before I did my 30-day challenge, I swore I wouldn’t part with brown, gray, and a variety of other colors and outfits. My 30 days lasted 45 before I tried something outside the guidelines, and I HATED IT. I felt like a fraud. It was an outfit I had previously loved. One by one things fell off the list. I didn’t let them go until i was ready. I didn’t wear my brown boots anymore, but it took 2 years until i could part with them. I strongly recommend a true 30-day challenge and see how you feel then.

  5. Julie for some reason I have never, ever liked white shoes. Personal preference. So until I started wearing silver, I didn’t know what to wear besides black or navy for a neutral, and they aren’t always the right look for an outfit.

  6. Thank you, April! I love getting direction for how to develop my wardrobe piece by piece in the meantime from your posts that show how to style versatile basics. Your content is great! Thanks for keeping at it amidst your everyday life.

  7. Sandy, isn’t it so satisfying to understand all these things about ourselves? And when you fine tune the details and know exactly what you love and don’t love, shopping and getting dressed is so easy!

  8. Rachel I’ve thought more about your questions. I do miss some colors, but not enough to wear them. For a long time I hung on to a turquoise tint because it was my signature color. I look amazing in it. After a few years of wearing only hues/winter color palette, I can’t wear that color anymore. It feels wrong. It’s too light. I’m not light. Of course this only works after a true challenge of sticking to the palette. I still get color envy, but when I try it on, it comes right back off.

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