Plug Into Neon

When I was working at the Symphony Decorator’s Showhouse last week, I found that I couldn’t help looking at a designer in an adjacent room with her unusual pairing of bright colors.  She had combined a goldenrod pencil skirt with a white, lightweight cotton knit shell bearing tiny black stripes topped by a bright pink cardigan.  Then she added a large, collar-type necklace with turquoise set in silver.   Her black ballerinas completed her look.

Sounds like a designer’s nightmare?  It actually looked fabulous; each element skillfully put together using proportion and varying shades of color to bring harmony.  When I talked with her, she had no idea why it worked, it just felt right.  Her interior design skill had translated into her wardrobe.  In addition to the harmony of shades and proportion, she had strong coloring and great presence.  She was not a lady who would enter a room unnoticed.   All of these factors contributed to making the look work so well for her.

Who could pull off this dramatic combination of colors?  Maybe one in a thousand!

Neon is ubiquitous in the stores this season, the first time since the ‘60’s.  Fashion often follows what’s happening in the country.  Those of you who remember the 60’s, remember how, similar to today, there was political uncertainty, protests and war fatigue.   Neon provides a counterbalance in symbolizing happiness and optimism.

I just read an interview with Tomoko Ogura, fashion director of Women’s Co-Op at Barneys New York.  She suggested pairing the bright neon colors with unexpected, deep shades such as hunter green or burgundy rather than looking like a 1960’s retread with black and neon orange or pink.  For the less adventuresome, choose camel, beige or ivory to balance a neon color.

Neon is not for everyone.  If you have soft coloring, it can overpower your look.  Or, the person with a retiring personality will be exhausted after wearing neon a short time.  There are other options for those who would like just a teaspoon of neon.  Try using a soft shade of neon and use it in a scarf or accent piece.   Shoes or handbags can furnish that punch of color without overpowering the wearer.  And, for the really cautious person, what about carrying a wallet in a bright neon pink, orange or lime?  One only sees it when you are at the cash register.  How fun is that?

If you love neons, make them work for you.  Choose colors that complement your natural coloring in hue and intensity.   Keep it interesting with a 1/3 to 2/3 proportion. And follow the advice of Ms. Ogura, “The beauty of this bright color trend is the color itself – and that can be diminished when there are too many other ideas and colors.”

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