Last updated on March 30, 2021
One of the most interesting neutrals is gray (or ‘grey’ if you go by British English.) Not considered a color, gray is an achromatic. Yet it does have a contributing hue so it can lean to being a warmer brown-gray or a cooler blue-gray.
In it’s purest form, gray is neither black or white, but right in the middle, enjoying perfect neutrality. Gray is the Switzerland of color.
A perfect gray is achieved when you mix a perfect hue such as red with it’s direct complement (blue-green on the Munsell wheel.) It can also be achieved when you shade white with black. Black reflects no color and white reflects all color. Gray reflects color yet it is harmonized to cancel each other out.
The essence of Gray
When we consider gray in our environments and in nature, we think of stormy gray clouds, solid marble, industrial steel, cold concrete and other man-made structures.
Gray is serious, calm and collected. Even hematite has a calm, cooling effect when you hold it – it is known for it’s strong, grounding energy.
What wearing Gray says about you
With our wardrobes, gray can take on similar, yet also very different, meanings. When you wear gray (or silver), it sends various messages about you, depending on the value (light gray to dark charcoal) you wear:
- Serious, Corporate – a good neutral dark gray without warmth or coolness
- Professional, Classic – medium + dark charcoal grays
- Cool, Modern – light-medium to silvery grays
- Solid, Sophisticated, Timeless – neutral grays
- Non-Committal, Neutral – light grays
I put together three outfits that use gray entirely. Pictured above, here they are from left to right:
- Summer Cool: a perfect modern look that uses the same values of cool gray from top to bottom.
- Weekend Classic: Mixing darker charcoal jeans and casual boots with a classic gray turtleneck is timeless.
- Casual Sophisticate: Adding a sophisticated vibe to a business casual outfit helps you balance looking professional yet feeling cool.
To discover if you look best in warm or cool grays, take my Color Temperature Quiz to find out!