I Only Wear Neutrals But Tried Wearing Color for a Week—Here’s What I Learned

Welcome to I Tried It Month, where we’ll be publishing a new fashion, beauty, or wellness article every day in January that features a first-person account of shaking up an old habit, pushing beyond a comfort zone, or simply trying something new. Follow along for 31 days of storytelling, including everything from going without a cell phone for 40 days to trying the polarizing low-rise-pants trend.

For more than 10 years now, my wardrobe has barely had any color beyond a few one-off pieces in colors so muted I’d consider them to be neutrals. Even though I’m a die-hard fan of neutrals today, it hasn’t always been that way. When I was very young, my style was much bolder, with magenta and bright turquoise as my favorite colors. Somewhere along the way, I drifted away from my head-to-toe looks of hot pink and fell out of love altogether with wearing any form of bold colors.

Over the years, after many closet clean-outs, I ended up curating my day-to-day pieces into an almost all-black wardrobe. At the time, wearing all black felt like a safe way to feel stylish and sophisticated, and it took me a few years before I branched out and added in a few neutral beiges and grays into my wardrobe. Since then, I’ve gotten a better sense of my own style and crafted a more balanced wardrobe of neutrals with key staple pieces that have lasted me for years. 

Even though I’ve recently felt more comfortable than ever with my own sense of personal style, I wondered if there were pieces I was overlooking simply because they weren’t in a muted tone. Especially working with such fashionable people, I started to feel the urge to push my own style boundaries and try wearing some color. To do this and branch out of my comfort zone, I challenged myself to try wearing outfits with color for a week.

To start, I pulled pieces from the back of my wardrobe, borrowed a few items, and started pulling together outfits with the staples I was already comfortable with, like my favorite jeans and slip skirt. Even when pairing brighter pieces with my tried-and-true staples, I felt like a lot of the outfits were far bolder than what I’d worn over the course of almost a decade, which was overwhelming. Here’s how the week went.

I love my namesake Janelle Sweater from Who What Wear Collection, and starting off the week with something I’m already comfortable with felt like the best way to ease out of my comfort zone. I bought this sweater in both colors (it’s the softest sweater ever!), but I grab my green version far less than I do the neutral cream version, so it still felt like I was branching out.

The next day, I pushed myself a little further out of my box with this oversize Zara turtleneck. When looking for outfits for this story, I kept seeing colorful tops paired with white bottoms, so I paired these white jeans with the sweater. This sweater might not look that bright in the photos, but for me, it was already out of my comfort zone. Even though the color scheme was far from what I typically wear, I felt surprisingly comfortable throughout the day.

Given my childhood love of pink, I felt I owed it to my younger self to try something truly pink for this story. Beyond a one-off event dress, I’ve barely worn any pink since I was a preteen and have had no interest in doing so. When I put this coat on, I immediately felt so polished and chic and was shocked at how much I loved it. This outfit melted away any preconceived ideas I had about my ability to wear color and made me feel a lot more open to wearing color beyond this week. This was, by far, my favorite outfit of the week. I didn’t want to take the coat off at the end of the day!

The next day, I kept with the theme of pink and took it even further outside of my comfort zone with this color-blocking print. This style is far bolder than anything I’ve worn in years, and I have to admit that, while I liked the look, I might stick to pieces that are a little more subtle moving forward.

On day five, I decided to pair this Vince sweater with my favorite slip skirt, something that hasn’t seen the light of day since before the pandemic. I’m not sure if it was how comfortable the sweater was or how good it felt to put back on my favorite skirt, but I loved this look and how I felt in it. Despite the fact that I’ve always hated purple, I felt very polished and could absolutely see myself continuing to wear this.

As someone who lives in sweaters and jeans (or full sweats when working from home), branching out to wearing a slim-fitting dress in a statement color felt so far out of my comfort zone. I liked this light blue but was intimidated by the all-over color without anything to break it up. While I ultimately loved the dress and how soft it was, I didn’t feel as comfortable with how bold it felt, as it was formfitting and colorful. It’s still a little far out of my comfort zone right now, but it’s something I could see myself wearing down the road.

For the last day, I decided to pair a dress I wore to a wedding a few years ago with a pale-yellow sweater I bought on a whim from Nordstrom. I didn’t expect to like this outfit as much as I did, but the pairing of the colors and the low-key print worked for me. It made me feel a little bit brighter and much more excited for spring weather.

Following this week, I feel much more confident with my ability to wear color from time to time. By experimenting with different outfits, I found that the pieces I felt the most comfortable in were closest to what I’d typically wear day-to-day, just in a different color scheme. I’m excited that I have a few more options when looking to refresh my wardrobe now that I’m no longer limiting myself to neutrals only. 

As someone who hasn’t taken any fashion “risks” in years, it also felt surprisingly good to branch out of my comfort zone. I’m surprised by how many of these outfits I liked and how much my aversion to wearing color had prevented me from wearing pieces that made me feel a little bit brighter.

Next up, check out the pieces our editors haven’t been able to take off this year. 

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