FASHION HACK: The new neutral that'll make dressing so much easier (and so much more fun).

Dressing, fashion, style, putting on a hat is meant to be fun. That’s what I’ve read anyway. Usually the people who say this are also wearing pom poms on jumpers and vivid prints in clashing colours and glittery ironic mini Eiffel Towers as earrings.

Somehow they get away with it. More than get away with it: they look gorgeous and free and fashionably interesting. Me? If I tried that I would feel like a clown crossed with Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

I’m a neutrals kind of girl. Navy, black, white and their loyal friends, no floral prints, no loud flashy earrings or necklaces that resemble a kids’ fun park. I might splash out and wear a sparkly sneaker, carry a pop-of-colour handbag and here is where I’m meant to put a third “colourful fashion” example but I can’t even think of one.

I’m kind of stuck in neutral country and the thing is I want to inject some starlight and moonbeams into my wardrobe, the kind I’m comfortable with. The kind I wear and they don’t wear me.

Then I read something (and I saw it in action too). Co-founder and Creative Director of Mamamia, and bold colour and print wearer Mia Freedman (yes, she does work a few desks up from me), wrote on her Instagram last week that she treats leopard print as a neutral. Ditto for camouflage. Only she said: Ditto with camo because that is how people who wear bold colours with sequins and clashing prints talk.

It was like an immediate jolt of cognitive behavioural therapy for my fashion thinking. It changed my thoughts on neutrals instantly. Somewhere deep inside I’ve always known this to be true as I already own a few leopard and camouflage prints. They are the only prints I own. But now I know what to do with them. I can have fun with a print and control it at the same time. It’s like having your cake and eating it too for a neutral-aholic.

Exhibit A:


Now I want to share my new-found wisdom with the world. Kind of like Einstein wanted to share E = MC2

I was at a friend’s place on the weekend and she’s a neutral dresser too but she was wearing a leopard print jacket (faux obviously) and was tugging at it with a face that said I think I’ve sat on something wet.

“It’s not too much?” she asked.

“I shouldn’t have bought it. I just wanted to do something different. I don’t think it goes with anything.”

I now had the fashion wisdom and I shared it like Yoda. Only I’m taller, with more hair and smaller ears.

“You need to think of leopard print as a neutral. It can go with anything a black jacket would. Wear it like you would a neutral.”

Man Repeller uses animal print as a neutral too.


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She looked up at me with wide eyes and a slow nod. I could see she was processing. I could see she was assessing.

“Yes … okay … okay.”

Wear it as a neutral my friend.

She looked down at her jacket. Back up again.

“You’re right. That’s how I can wear it.”

“It goes for camouflage print as well,” I said because that was another discovery I had that might help her fashion future.

“It’s really a neutral too.”

I didn’t tell her I had read about my “discovery” only last week and seen Mia in the office wearing leopard print as a neutral quite a bit.

It’s fashion. What’s a bit of sharing and borrowing between friends?

Jenni Eyles is wearing a neutral skirt.

Fashion blogger Nadia Fairfax is actually wearing just a big black coat.

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Clair Seymour and her “neutral” dress.

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