How to Wear Neutrals Without Looking Basic

As a lover of classic, effortless style, I’ve been asked many a time how I manage to find inspiration from such a limited color palette. Now, neutrals (think: beige, ivory, black, and white) may not translate on the runway as glamorous, but they can be your best friend when mastering the art of street style.

My latest look, dubbed simple with a twist, is fun to look at and easy to follow. See what inspiration and advice you can gather from my step-by-step neutral-wearing rules!

1. Choose contrasting pieces.

Nothing says boring more than matching colors without a purpose. For this reason, you’ll have to put a little more thought into your dress-up time—think about what fabrics would photograph together nicely and which ones clash.

In my case, I paired structured Ink Denim jeans with a loose-fitting top while accentuating a textured Adrienne Vittadini handbag with synthetic fibers and felt from the shoes and accessories. Though the colors stayed plain, the look was anything but.

At the same time, don’t forget to edit your outfit. In the words of Coco Chanel, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Follow Mademoiselle’s minimalist style rule to hit that sweet spot between humdrum and noisy!

2. Mix it up.

You don’t have to take this as literally as mixing silver accessories with gold, but don’t forget to have fun with your clothes. Fashion is nothing if not experimental!

One thing I did to transform my look from cliché to slay was to roll-up my long sleeve Olive & Oak button down and tie it at the waist. High enough to raise interest but low enough that your 70-year-old grandmother wouldn’t judge, this refitted top now looked casually undone. I also wore a wool cloche hat from Target (pronounced Tar-jay by the cool kids) because I’m clearly still not over Downton Abbey.

3. Add a statement shoe.

Repeat this after me: Statement shoes are fun. Statement shoes never hurt anyone.

As for the shoes themselves, I highly recommend that you scour out pack-a-bag sales at your local thrift store before you even think about going near a Nordstrom or, heaven forbid, an actual designer store. These sold out Steve Madden leopard print wedges were originally priced at $119; I got them for roughly $2! (Granted, I had to squeeze them in a bag shared with two friends, but it was totally worth it.)

3. Go for gorgeous.

Whether you choose to go barefaced or bronzer-conscious, make sure that you step out of the house feeling confident, sexy, and proud of what you’re wearing! While you are always beautiful, a classy, neutral look can help to bring out that natural grace.

That said, I used Essence Cosmetics’ All About Chocolates eye shadow palette. Ranging from matte to shimmery tones, it was just what I needed to take my look to the next level.

Are you rocking the neutral look today? Snap a picture, and don’t forget to tag us @CFashionista on social media!


With April in full swing, the rain showers are in full force, especially here in Ames, Iowa. While we are waiting for the magnificent flowers of May to arrive, we have to deal with the cold and wet weather (unfortunately). I know, getting ready and finding something cute to wear when the weather is taking its toll on your mood is hard to say the least. But a cute, rainy day outfit could have the potential to make your gloomy day bright, so consider this the next time the rain rolls around!

The number one thing that must accompany a rainy day is rain boots, of course. What is so great about rain boots is they come in an unimaginable number of different colors, patterns, styles, and lengths. You can choose to go with a simpler style and color while dressing up your outfit with vibrant colors, or you can sport more vivid rain boots while dressing your outfit down so there is no collision between the two. As for your outfit, to go along with jeans, I would recommend wearing something to keep you warm like a big comfy sweater or layer a cute top with a cardigan or jacket.

This Fashionista perfectly executed a rainy day outfit. She paired her blue jeans with a cute black top that has a cut out in the front and a cream-colored wrap/shawl for warmth. She tied the look together with her leopard print short rain boots which are perfect for this look because they match perfectly with the colors in her outfit.

STYLE ADVICE: Cheetah Girl

With the academic year winding down, it’s time to start preparing our wardrobes for the summer internship season. Whether your workplace has a business professional or casual dress code, I think we can all agree it’s important to look cute everyday. A simple way to change your everyday work wear is to mix prints. This Fashionista’s outfit shows just how effortlessly mixing prints can be.

The key to mixing prints is to make sure all of your prints share the same color scheme. The fastest way to have a fashion flop is by mixing too many prints with too many colors. The goal is one cohesive look not a mix of five different ones. This Fashionista for example kept it simple with a neutral color scheme with the colors black, tan, and white.

Her striped shirt is originally from Mango, but was purchased at Buffalo Exchange. The quarter length sleeves are perfect for those times when the office gets a little chilly. Black dress pants are a must for any internship.This Fashionista’s pair, purchased from Target, fits her perfectly.

Some internships have you running circles around the office for hours. And while a cute pair of heels sounds like a good idea in the morning, your feet will not be happy with you by the time 5 o’clock rolls around. This Fashionista made the smart choice and opted for a pair of flats for her workday outfit.

Cheetah printed flats have become a staple piece in a lot of people’s wardrobes. It is so easy to dress them up or dress them down. Plus, they look fierce no matter what. You can find cheetah flats almost anywhere at almost every price. These flats were purchased at Target for only $5. In this look this Fashionista’s patterned flats mix perfectly with her striped shirt. The black stripes of the shirt tie in the black from the patterned flats nicely.

When you’re mixing prints it’s sometimes best to let the clothes speak and have the accessories take a back seat. This Fashionista kept it simple by adding a pair of pearl earrings and a silver chain-linked necklace from H&M. To add a fun pop of color for spring, this Fashionista applied her favorite bright pink lipstick from CoverGirl.

Until next time you can find me strutting into the office rocking a pair of cheetah flats ready to take on the work day.

STYLE ADVICE: Vintage Rocker

In today’s society the social norm has shifted to create a growing popularity for a unique individualized fashion sense, as opposed to a “black and white” outlook of what is considered in style and out. Today, it is considered trendy to thrift your wardrobe and personalize your look. This can make constructing your style a lot more fun! Whether you are dressing up or dressing down, there are plenty subtle tricks to express your unique style.

This Fashionista added some magic to her outfit by mixing the prints of her striped top with her cheetah/denim reversible coat. When you have two risky coinciding looks, it is a good idea to balance your look with a strong yet simple piece. As you can see, the black overlaid dress played this role by perfectly unifying the coat and top. As for the jewelry used for this look, this Fashionista pulled off a tricky technique. It’s easy to make the mistake of overdosing on rings and accessories. However, the plethora of rings used by this stylish student added a cool rock-star vibe. This is a look that can only be pulled off with very simple rings that have a unifying factor, such as the silver makeup and circular theme. Pins are another new trend we are seeing more of everyday. Not only does adding pins and buttons give your look a burst of color, it will add detail to whatever outfit you are sporting. Pins also allow you to show your support for social issues you hold dear, as we see this Fashionista doing! Finally, this look is finished off with some classic little booties, which ties this look together and gives our cute crusader a classy and individualized vibe.

STYLE ADVICE: Bold and Unique

It is an amazing opportunity for me to introduce to everyone an outfit that I am obsessed with from a phenomenal Fashionista. I had a chance to come back to Minnesota and visit the University of Minnesota after one year and a half moving to the West Coast. It was already March in Twin Cities, but the weather was still pretty chilly there. This late-winter outfit of a “U of M” student totally caught my attention for her glamorous and fashionable outlook.

At first glance, I wouldn’t expect this Fashionista could pull off this glamorous look elegantly like the way she did on a school day. Her edgy, yet fancy coat absolutely draws people’s attention to her outfit. It’s a black button-down jacket which has soft feather/fur attached on both sleeves and its bottom half part. Rocking this jacket lets her look just like a celebrity going to school because of its glam and attraction.

In addition, what she rocks on her feet totally amazes me. She wears a pair of black leather ankle boots with delicately designed mini studs. She revealed that they were her favorite Wendy booties in black from Gray City. There is one element that pops her entire outfit off, which is her leopard-print crossbody purse. The vibrant color of her faux fur bag lets it become a statement piece of this look. This Fashionista believes her beautiful purse, which she got from Milly, is very easy to go with almost every outfit look. Furthermore, one final piece that helps to put this entire look together is her chic and exquisite snake ring that she got from a fashion boutique in Texas. This unique ring expresses her special and personal taste through this look.

This is one of the looks that really caught my attention because of its strong impression and uniqueness. I can’t describe how much I loved her style, because I just couldn’t stop adoring her outfit. There is one thing that I have learned from this Fashionista is being fearless in selecting a school outfit. Don’t be afraid that people might stare at you; you might not know the fact that they’re staring because they’re admiring your bold and unique fashion taste.

STYLE GURU STYLE: Wear What you Mean and Mean What you Wear

As college students, it’s very easy for us to get wrapped up in ourselves. Between classes, extra curriculars, friends, and drama, it’s rare for us to step back and look at the world around us. But when we do, it is a very powerful thing, and we learn that yes, even as students, we all have a voice.

And while it may be hard to always use this voice when we are so removed from the world around us, there is always still a way, and lately is has been through fashion. Graphic T-shirts are definitely making a comeback, but not just to show off what bands you listen to so others think you’re super cool. People are starting to use T-shirts to make a statement and say something loud and clear without actually saying it at all. The power of fashion, right there in front of you. So whether you’re making a subtle statement with an embroidered jacket or wearing your favorite political slogan loud and proud on your chest, just know that you are making a difference in the most fashionable way possible.

In this look particularly, I tried to add some dimension to the simple black T-shirt with white lettering. I paired it with high-waisted, fringe-hemmed jeans to keep the look relaxed and casual. Nothing is more simplistic, yet such a staple, than jeans and a T-shirt. Then, by pairing them with these dreamy statement block heels, I instantly add a touch of glamour and interest from head to toe. If you plan on taking your literal statement look out on the town, spruce it up even further with a unique jacket. As you can see, I went for a lush, cheetah, faux fur coat. It breaks up the color-blocking of the outfit with some pattern and easily turns that simple jeans and T-shirt combo into a look that transcends all time of day.

Still though, I’m making a clear statement with my shirt but making sure that everything I am wearing reflects who I am as a person. Even though it may seem silly that I’m putting so much credit into a simple top, you’d be surprised how much people around you everyday are impacted by the clothes you wear. Without even realizing it, your individual fashion is making an impression on each and every person you walk by, so make sure to make it count.

ALL IN THE DETAILS: Concrete Jungle

After several months of winter, it can be hard to inspire oneself to dress creatively. When the city looks so stiflingly monochromatic—a blur of white and gray—it’s no surprise that its inhabitants start to emulate that. Not to mention the bitter Toronto weather (how is it that March was colder than February?). The amount of head-to-toe black and gray outfits in the city starts to become predictably dull, so it’s exciting to see someone take a chance with their winter attire. 

If you’re looking to shake up the monotony of winter dressing, take a note from this
Fashionista’s outfit. The statement leopard print coat not only looks incredibly cozy, but it also manages to be extremely chic (not always an easy feat for a print as loud as leopard). 
She paired it with a steely, silver dress, which cools down the excitement of the coat while still standing out. She’s also rocking a green Guess purse, which has just enough of a gray undertone to fit right in with the metallic dress. 

And check out the Michael Kors boots she’s wearing, which seem surprisingly manageable in the city slush. Their combat boot style gives her outfit just enough edge to make the look a little more casual—perfect for grabbing some cocktails after an evening lecture. The whole aesthetic screams urban concrete jungle. With warm weather within our reach, it’s good to remember that there really are no rules in fashion. There’s no reason to wait until the flowers bloom for you to start dressing with spring in mind.

STYLE ADVICE: Sporty Street Style

Street style has been all the rage this winter season! Denim, slouchy, and sporty are all things that appeal to our fashion millennial selves. When considering advice to give to your peers about comfy and chic outfits, it’s important to give examples of pieces that are versatile.

This outfit screams everything street. From the white distressed Air Forces to the extremely unique detailing on this denim jacket, you can stand out from all the people you see walking around on campus! Back in the day, short denim jackets were everywhere. Now we see that the oversize look is all the rage. When picking out a slouchy top from your wardrobe, it will be important to balance out the outfit with form fitting pants. These white patterned pants bring out the neutral colors within the outfit. Pair them with some comfy flats or sneakers and you will be on your way!

Accessories could add a lot of spark to this look. A little bit goes a long way! A simple watch or bracelet will complete everything about this slouchy denim streetwear ensemble. In fact, having intricate details within a shirt or patterns on the pants could be just enough to go without accessories for a day! It’s always easy to look effortless when putting an outfit together. All you need are clothes that will make a statement and speak for themselves. Stay true to your style and wear what you feel comfortable in. Strut your stuff and help others feel great about themselves too!

STYLE GURU STYLE: Simple and Comfortable

Most of the time, I like to be simple and comfortable. I don’t like tight-fitting clothes all the time. Loose, flowing dresses and cute, loose T-shirts are usually my favorite. I think comfort should be the most important aspect of an outfit. I don’t know if looking cute is worth it if my outfit is so tight and uncomfortable that I can hardly breathe and enjoy my day. I like my clothing free flowing so, if I wanted to, I could do a cartwheel. If there’s anything I like that’s tight and more fitting, it’s skinny jeans.

I love jeans that can hug my figure and show it off occasionally. The skinny jeans I’m wearing really make any curve pop and are my favorite pair. Every girl needs a good pair of jeans in their wardrobe! Next, I have on this loose elephant print blouse. It’s light, soft, and almost way too comfortable to be real. I also love the pretty indigo blue color. Unique patterns are a must-have in my wardrobe because daring and unique patterns can bring character and life to an outfit, even if it’s just a simple T-shirt and a pair of shorts. Patterns always make a statement.

I also popped on some cute gold hoop earrings. I think they add a little more personality to the outfit. Lastly, I have a small over-the-shoulder bag. I love totes, but sometimes they’re too much to carry around. Most of the time, all I need to bring with me is my wallet, phone, and keys. This bag can hold everything!

ALL IN THE DETAILS: Keep It Sweet and Simple

Ever heard of the acronym K.I.S.S.? Well, if you haven’t, this post is all about keeping it sweet and simple, which is what K.I.S.S. stands for. Today, I am featuring a Fashionista who has just started her college career. I loved the outfit that this Fashionista had on. She mixed prints with a coordinating color, and a simple accessory to top it off.

The very first detail in her outfit was a camouflage T-shirt. Camouflage is a trend that is in one season and out the next. But, when it comes to what is on trend, this Fashionista plays by her own rules. “I don’t care what is in or not, whatever I have in my closet is what I’ll wear,” said the Fashionista. Another simple detail in this look were her sneakers. As seen in the photos, she wore a pair of light pink Adidas. The color of the Adidas is on-trend and are a pop of color in contrast with the camouflage. When you wear a print, using solid colors and simple accessories as an accent are important because you don’t want to have too much going on in your outfit.

The very last detail in this outfit was an accessory of a watch. Watches will forever be an essential in an outfit. Worn by the Fashionista is a simple, Fossil gold watch. Gold can go with any color, any print, and the gold watch looks gorgeous against her glowing skin.

So, it is all about the details as you can see. With one simple accessory, such as a watch and a popping color to go with a print, you are all good to go with keeping it sweet and simple.