There are two things you can count on from fashion this time of year. The first is major sales. Seriously, if you aren’t taking advantage of them you are missing out. I don’t work much with clients in January. Few are thinking about clothes, they’ve already stocked up on winter fashion and are just hunkering down until spring. However, after a client of mine hit the stores this weekend, due to a fashion emergency, after looking at how much money she saved on what she bought she turned to me and said, “Why have we never gone shopping in January before?” This is the time of year when stores are basically begging you to take their leftovers off their hands so they can stock up on spring and summer. Even if you don’t get a ton of wear from the sale items you buy now, you can always save them for next fall. This is what my mother, the biggest bargain shopper on the planet, does every year. She explains it in this video.
The second thing you can count on this time of year is navy being in the stores. Navy is, undoubtedly, the most popular resort/early spring color and it typically hits retail in January. If you love navy this is when you want to buy it, and you don’t want to wait. Despite the versatility and year-round flexibility, the color usually has a very short shelf life in stores. If you don’t buy navy now there is a good chance that you will miss the window and not see much of it again until this time next year. Sure, there may be dribs and drabs of it here and there as the year carries on, but definitely not at this level.
Yet, the urgency to buy navy isn’t just about the fact that it’s big in the stores right now, it’s also because navy is such an amazing color. Think of it as black’s friendlier sister. It is just as wearable as black, but better. Why? Well here are a few reasons.
Navy is a universal color Unlike black, just about every human being on the planet looks good in navy. If navy doens’t flatter you, you are the exception, not the norm. Navy is what is called a universal color, meaning that all skin tones can look good in it. You can’t say that about black, unfortunately.
Navy is a year round color Navy can be worn all year round. It’s gorgeous in cashmere, heavy flannel while also being beautiful in cotton and lightweight summery fabrics. Most people stray from black in the hot weather, but not navy.
Navy can be super casual and super formal Navy in a gown? Gorgeous! Navy in a pair of cotton shorts? Equally gorgeous! Few colors have the ability to look good in super formal pieces and super casual ones at the same time. The richness of navy is not lost no matter what the silhouette or fabrication is.
Navy can match any style No matter what your style is, be it sleek, preppy, boho, casual, relaxed or athletic, navy works. It’s a very non-specific neutral that lends itself well to a ton of different looks.
Navy matches everything Navy is just like black in this regard, but often better, when combined with other colors. If you’re bored with your black, get to the stores right now and stock up on some navy. Your wardrobe may feel refreshed with just this subtle tweak.
How to wear navy
To give you a little inspiration, here are five outfits using navy pieces to show how versatile this color can be.
In this first outfit, I am using this patterned knit dress from Boden. A dress like this can be treated like a solid. Don’t limit the function of a dress like this, add different colors to it to change it up. Take how I am styling it here, for example. I added these bright blue shoes from Ann Taylor, that a client of mine just bought and are beautiful. Next, this burgundy trench from Modcloth works so beautifully with the dress. For a finish, I added this blue scarf from Norstrom and yellow MICHAEL Michael Kors handbag and hoop earrings from Stella & Dot. If I owned this dress I would play with it to see all the different ways I could wear it. It’s quite limitless.
For this outfit, I created an edgier casual look using this double cloth moto jacket from J. Crew. To it, I added an oversized chambray shirt from Madewell and these olive distressed jeans from Tinsel. When I was putting this outfit together, I loved the idea of popping the look with orange and used this Coach bag. Then, as luck would find it, I discovered these booties from Anthropologie. Lastly, I filled in the neck with this bib from Bauble Bar.
As I mentioned earlier, navy has a versatility to it that it can be used to create a variety of different styles. In this outfit navy is used in a preppier way with this J. Crew cable sweater and a pair of skinny khaki jeans from Boden. To bring in some color, because all colors work beautifully with navy, I added these peach Modcloth flats and mint earrings from Max & Chloe. Tying the colors together, I used this scarf from Nordstrom and finished the outfit with a buff bag from Banana Republic and white bracelet from Stella & Dot. In this outfit the navy looks fresh and springy.
I love this navy printed tunic top from Modcloth for an easy spring look, especially when paired with some boyfriend jeans. To keep it easy, I styled this look with a pair of gold flats from Anthropologie, a long tassel necklace from Bauble Bar and, for a splash, a pink bag from Hobo. Don’t like pink? Add any colorful handbag color you want.
For the last outfit I created a super casual look using these navy pants from Athleta. To give these pants some easy polish, I layered this topper piece from the Gap over a basic long sleeve white t-shirt and styled the look with a pair of navy booties, an orange necklace and tan bag from Furla.
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I do have some “navy” gaps in my wardrobe. I picked up a basic navy blazer last fall during the sales but not much else. The mod cloth printed top; does that fit and work as a tunic top?
Hi Patricia, I think it all depends on what you are looking for in a tunic top. Looking at the top on the mannequin it is definitely a tunic but not super long. I don’t think it will completely cover the butt but it should look good untucked when worn as a tunic.
Actually, looking at it again, you should get butt coverage. It looks like it skims the sides of the body nicely too, which is good.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Thank you for writing it. I’m a winter, so from reading your blogs over the years, I realize that I had NOTHING to wear with the brown pants that hung in my closet year after year so I gave them to a good home:D and purchased some navy pants. Now I’m trying to find pieces to make multiple outfits!
Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and passion with us!
You are SO SO SO welcome, Stacie! I am glad you moved to navy. Although, did you read my post from Sunday about how you can work with any colored pants no matter what your coloring is? I’m certainly not encouraging you to go out and buy a ton of brown pants, but you may be able to get some use out of them. However, I agree, like I said, navy is like black’s friendlier sister. I hope you get some great wear out of your navy pieces with these tips! I always appreciate your comments!
I did read the post about “how you can work with any colored pants”, but when I wore my brown pants I never “felt good” in them-if that makes sense; so when I got dressed, I just grabbed something else. Then I read your comment to one of your clients who always grabbed the blue dress vs the grey one (or visa versa) and decided I would find someone who would love my brown pants:D
That totally makes sense. Just because you can wear them doesn’t mean you have to own them!! I am glad you found what you love!
I find that navy can be problematic, since I like a more monochromatic base. Often the undertones are jarring with the undertones of dark denim or other navy tones, and if navy isn’t light enough, it looks off with black. I often can only find trousers off the rack that fit my weird tall, curvy frame in black, so things need to go with black. Navy prints are great, but I don’t wear a lot of prints that aren’t scarves. Navy pants are indeed my go-to for summer, though.
I was thinking along the same lines. Navy would likely suit me, but I don’t gravitate to it and, on me, it just seems ‘weird’ to wear with denim :/
One of the reasons I like colored bottoms is so I can wear blue/navy/denim on top 🙂
I like dark blue denim with the right shade of navy–it’s when the navy is too purple or green and just looks mismatched with the almost navy jeans.
I can see both your points. I tend to prefer navy on top or as a dress over a pair of pants, but I really have no need for tailored pants in my life. Unless I am wearing jeans I usually just wear a dress.
Navy is the core neutral in my wardrobe and I love seeing all the ways you made it fresh for spring. I think I’ll take a look at my essentials to see if anything needs to be refreshed while navy is “in season”. Thanks for the tips!
Awesome to hear! I hope you can sort it all out!
confession time…i LOVE navy but i can’t bring myself to buy it because all of my shoes are black.
any ideas for introducing navy into a practically all black wardrobe without having to start completely over? The idea of replacing every single pair of my shoes just to wear navy makes me cringe a bit, but i don’t know what else to do. my fault for getting myself into a black rut.
Well being someone who once had a black heavy wardrobe and now doesn’t I can give you a few ideas. First, buy a pair of shoes that you can wear with both black and other colors. With spring coming you may want to think about nude. Also, stop buying black shoes, think about other colors you can wear with black that you can also wear with other neutral shades. You can also consider some metallic shoes as well, like a pair of flats or sandals for the summer. The goal here is to not choose things that won’t work with your black wardrobe but will also work with new colors too. Next, I have seen lots of women wear black shoes with navy, it’s not that uncommon. In fact, I have even seen some women wear navy blazers with black pants. From there you want to build and only buy things that can be worn with black and navy, like colorful accessories, bags and jewelry that can work through the transition, like a cognac handbag or natural colored jewelry. What you can also do is look for things like scarves and prints that have black and shades of blue in them. Lastly, you just want to stop buying black. You probably have enough. As you slowly transition out of black, or at least lessen the amount you have, the accessories, shoes, bags and prints will transition with you. Don’t see it as an overnight transition but something you have to ease out of slowly.
thanks SO much bridgette. great advice. now to be patient instead of wanting to trash it all and start over. haha.
and yes. no more black purchases. i DO have enough. for some reason I’m terrified of colors. but i do have a strange affinity for cognac, and that apparently goes with both, so maybe that’ll get my feet wet. thank you again!!
You can wear navy with black shoes. Very modern
I’m so glad navy’s back in full swing. It’s much easier to transition away from black when navy is more widely available.
I totally agree! I hope you can pick up some fun pieces!
I wear a lot of dark blue, but struggle with navy as it can have cold undertones or ‘warm’ undertones and can actually be such a range of shades. I tend to try to tone my blues in together instead of trying and failing to match.
It’s not that much different than black which can also have yellow or red undertones. I think your strategy is a good one!
Thanks, Bridgette! Navy is a much better color for me than black, and I’ve been trying to incorporate more of it into my wardrobe. I’d love to eventually phase black completely out. The shade of navy is important, though, and I try to make sure that what I buy coordinates well with what I already have.
You are so welcome! Well, you know I am on board with phasing black out of your wardrobe. I haven’t worn it in years and it makes shopping so much easier because I can eliminate so much of what is on the floor. This may seem like it makes it harder, but it makes it simpler because too many options can get overwhelming.
I wish there were more shades of dark denim (for lack of a better color description) for dress pants. I like that better than the really dark inky navy. That said, I’ll take the inky navy over black.