Beige as a color has always been quite controversial. It can be linked to being boring, drab and fabulous fashionista Sue Kreitzman even proclaimed: “Don’t wear beige. It might kill you!”
I recently received this email from Aileen:
“… I have often heard people saying that older women should avoid wearing ‘beige’ as it is an ‘old lady’ color, too safe and boring and also very draining on the complexion. What I noticed in a recent catalog is a lot of ‘beige’ but hiding behind words such as: Toffee, Vanilla Pink, Toast, Iced Mocha, Putty, Toasted Almond, Pale Oyster, Almond Cream, Desert Sand, Heather Silver Sand, Heather Stone, Pale Oyster. What do you think about beige as a suitable color for older women?”.
Great question Aileen!
Let’s first examine: exactly what color is beige?
According to wiki, beige is a very pale brown color, variously described as a pale sandy fawn color, a grayish tan, a light-grayish yellowish brown, or a pale to grayish yellow.
It can indeed be a tough color to wear depending on your specific skin color, but it can also look very chic, provided it is worn in the right way.
Beige clothing: Is beige having a resurgence?
Yes and no. Beige is definitely more popular now than it has been in other years. Below you can see how some of the major fashion houses showcased beige on the catwalks for spring/summer 2020.
Burberry – Givenchy – Oscar de la Renta
However, as you know, beige is not just for 2020. It is also a complete classic. There’s nothing more timeless, for example, than a beige trench coat.
Lauren Ralph Lauren trench coat
Also take a look at how to wear a trench coat.
Some tips on wearing beige and putting together a beige outfit
Wear it away from your face
One of the easiest ways to wear beige is as a bottom. That is how I wore my beige / camel trousers and jacket a while ago with a cream top. I would probably add more color when I wear this again.
Get a more vibrant or shimmering beige
Beige is also easier to wear when it has a bit of shimmer. My golden top for example falls in the beige color range, but it’s shimmery and more golden which brightens up the complexion and is therefore easier to wear. It also helps to wear it with a vibrant color and red lipstick.
Think about fabric and texture
One of the reasons beige works so well is because it has a natural feel, so it makes sense that it looks particularly beautiful when worn in natural fabrics such as wool or linen. Adding texture also creates more interest.
Petra (above) wears an outfit which mostly consists of beige, but she adds interest with different textures and a pop of pink.
Recreate her look with this similar sweater, satin skirt and boots.
Make it part of your timeless capsule
If you are thinking about your wardrobe more in terms of a capsule right now rather than as separate items, beige can be the perfect neutral base for the rest of your clothes, shoes and accessories.
It can also form the basis of a classic wardrobe.
Take a look at our ultimate guide in creating a capsule wardrobe for more inspiration.
Choose the right shade of beige
Just as with gray, there are 50 shades of beige, and more. Choose the shade that looks best against your skin tone.
If you are pale, you may wish to avoid pale beige so you don’t look washed out. Most importantly don’t choose a beige the same color as your skin (otherwise, you may look partly undressed from a distance!)
Wear it with color
Beige is a really good neutral to combine with color. Keep reading for the best colors to pair with beige!
Wear it with a colorful jacket, cardigan, top or use accessories like scarves, necklaces and bags. This is how I wore my beige pants a while ago with red and here is a beige skirt worn with orange.
In general, I would say to stay away from an all-beige outfit as shown by the models at the top. The color does tend to wash out many women (over 40) including me.
If you like the look and feel of wearing a neutral all over, then cream or white may be a better option. They are brighter colors and don’t have that ‘drab’ feel about them. I actually really love an all-cream or all-white outfit.
That said, beige can be a great base for adding colors.
Psyche (above) pairs her beige trench coat with green.
Get her look with this similar dress, trench coat and leopard print booties.
Choose colors that suit your complexion well or that make you happy. Play with various colors and young & hip accessories like contemporary jewelry or a funky bag and use beige as your canvas.
Below you will find just a few examples of how you can look stunning and chic with beige.
Wear with your gold jewelry
Beige can look both classic AND classy. Wearing beige with your gold jewelry can elevate your look even further.
Colors that go with beige?
So now that you are maybe thinking about beige in a whole new way, what colors should you wear with your beige?
Colors that match with beige: All neutrals
This is one of my favorite ways to wear beige. Pairing beige with other neutrals such as white or cream can look very classy.
Patricia (above) looks stunning in beige and white.
Check out this similar textured shirt, trousers, croc-embossed handbag and sandals.
Below are more beige and white outfit ideas for you.
NIC+ZOE asymmetrical hem tank top – Caslon linen blazer – Tommy Hilfiger ankle pants – Vionic cage sandal – Ted Baker London croc embossed bag
Ming Wang shift dress – Blank NYC moto jacket – Ten79LA hoop earrings – Vionic cage sandal – Ted Baker London croc embossed bag
What color goes with beige? Beige with black
There are very few colors that don’t go with beige. And there are very few colors that don’t go with black.
So, it stands to reason that beige and black can look brilliant together.
Jo (above) adds oomph to her look with her animal print skirt.
Recreate her look with this similar sweater, leopard print skirt, tights and boots.
Ganni wrap midi dress – Vionic cage sandal – Ted Baker London croc embossed bag – Ten79LA hoop earrings
Halogen boxy blouse – Barefoot Dreams cardigan – 1922 denim coated ankle skinny jeans – Brixton wool fedora – Madewell ballet flat – Ted Baker London leather crossbody bag – Kendra Scott tassel necklace
Beige with navy blue
Beige is a classy color, and navy is a classy color. So, when you put them together, you get an outfit with more than a touch of class.
Patricia (above) looks very stylish and manages to be classic yet contemporary all at the same time.
Check out this similar blazer, pleated skirt, pumps, belt and bag.
You can opt for navy and beige, as in the outfit below.
Wit & Wisdom stripe top – J.Crew linen blazer – Prosperity Denim belted ankle jeggings – 1901 sneaker
A paler shade of blue will also look just as beautiful.
Vince button-up shirt – Chouyatou biker jacket – Vince twist drape midi skirt – Vionic cage sandal – Ted Baker London leather crossbody bag
Beige with red
This is one of my favorite color combinations, as beige looks ultra-modern when worn with red. A tomato red looks particularly great.
Lizzi (above) wears her red sweater with a beige coat and makes sure to team her whole look with red lipstick.
Get her look with this similar red sweater, coat, jeans and studded boots.
Below are more beige and red ideas for you.
Lulus rib detail sweater – 1901 ankle skinny pants – Vionic cage sandal – Ted Baker London leather crossbody bag – Laura Lombardi chain necklace
Harper Rose sheath dress – Scotch & Soda belted linen coat – Vionic block heel sandal – Ted Baker London leather crossbody bag
Halogen v-neck blouse – English Factory belted crop trousers – Marc Fisher LTD pump – Ted Baker London leather crossbody bag – Laura Lombardi chain necklace
Beige outfit ideas
Below is a capsule wardrobe for you, putting together all the ideas from above.
Other colors that go with beige
I hope that’s given you some food for thought when it comes to how to wear your beige.
The fact is, because beige is such a versatile color, there are few colors it doesn’t go with. You might also with to try beige with orange, cobalt blue or purple, for example.
What do you think about beige? Will you wear beige this season? What colors do you wear with beige?
- How To Wear Gray: Color Palettes And Ensembles For You To Choose From!
- The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Capsule Wardrobe That Works For You
- A Capsule Wardrobe For The Classic Style Personality
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Feature image by Petra
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I have a beige/cream scarf that I have no idea how to style. It’s knitted in the middle and has fabric all around. I’ve had it for about a year now and haven’t worn in once. Please help! Thank you! 🙂
Difficult for me to say Madi and I don’t give individual advice. Perhaps you can wear it with a beige look and make it monochromatic. The scarf will add texture. Then you could acceesorize further with colorful bangles or bottoms. Sometimes, when an item just does not work, it is better to let it go….
Sylvia, this question has been bothering me for ages. And since returning from New York seeing all these amazing outfits matching black& beige, beige & greay, I have been determinded to find a way to wear it and your color chart just does the trick for me. So thanks very much. Great post. Sabina @Oceanblue Style
Great to read this article helped you Sabina!
BEIGE MAKES OLDER WOMEN INVISIBLE!!!
Don’t wear it – it suits no one!
Very helpful tips on wearing beige. I was wondering how to find out the brands for the outfits you posted at the bottom. Specifically, I am interested in the beige skirt pictured with the orange bag in the middle set of pictures. Thanks!
You can find details here: http://www.polyvore.com/how_to_wear_beige/set?id=117311370
I think that beige can be worn all over if you are beyond 40 depending on your skin tone. If your skin tone is beige than you are going to looked washed out if you wear it all over, but someone who has an olive, medium, or dark complexion may be able to get away with it. Of course there are different colors of beige and I think that if you go monochromatic with the right shades and accent pieces with pops of color than you can get away with it.
No khaki, sand, camel or beige near my face. Not without adding a bright colour like neon yellow, red, purple or orange to brighten up my complexion. Shiny beige tops, as you said, are better, but still need colour.
If I look at your board I see that the beige dress on the right is very nice with the red jacket. Probably better than a white dress.
If you have an “english rose” complexion, definitely add colour
Beige on the lower half looks best in flowing fabrics for both trousers and skirts. I do think beige needs movement to be interesting, as in the fabulous flowing Michael Kors trousers in the second photo set above. This example is at the darker end of the beige spectrum, and more of a taupe — a colour that’s surprisingly hard to find.
Beige next to my face – as many of you have already said about yourselves – isn’t my most flattering look. I do have beige linen trousers, a skirt and a beige tote that I love for the summer months, but I wear them with brighter colours to lift them.
You know that I love neutrals, but I’ve stopped wearing beige tops, they really don’t do anything for my complexion. I’ll still wear beige pants and shoes, and my trenchcoat is a light, cool, beige, but that’s about it. I totally agree though that it’s great with brighter colors!
I don’t own much in beige color as most have said – it’s a color that washes out on a lot of skin tones. I am learning that if you pair with a bright/contrasting color or a statement necklace that it works.
Great sets that you’ve created.
Beige/taupe/sand is my “black”. In the colder months (which seems like are going on foreve this year), I’ll add to that darker browns. I usually wear beige as trousers, jeans, skirts and shorts with something more colorful on top. Sometimes I’ll wear a colorful tee/blouse, and a cream sweater/cardigan (or cream top and colorful sweater). The examples in the last graphic could definitely be part of my wardrobe (though not usually as dressy). I agree about white and cream looking brighter…I can easily wear those near my face…but oatmeal or sandy colors are a little harder, so I stick with those on the bottom.
I used to wear so many of those neutrals you describe too. I have changed to more color now, but still like beige garments as a base. You keep rocking those neutrals Rita!
Sylvia, I love the look of beige on women (of any age), although it’s nost the best color on me. I try to gravitate with a beige that has a bit of pink tones in it. I would love to find a beautiful light beige blouse for the season to pair with white skinnies and give it a try.
I would look forward to seeing it Trina!
Beige and I do not get along. At all. In fact white and beige are the two colours or rather non-colours I really don’t buy much of at all. They look awful next to my face.
I do own one pair of khaki jeans that have yet to be worn. I think I must have been having a brain freeze when I bought them as I’d just gotten rid of some a few years back due to non use.
I do own one beige pencil skirt that is okay. I agree…keeping it on the lower half is the way to go.
I can imagine Suzanne. You just stick to all your wonderful colors!
Suzanne, you can wear the khaki trousers with red, green, blue tops, surely?
I like the idea of beige – I think it looks classy and expensive – but it might be too close to my hair/face colour. But as Lisa so rightly says, you need to find the right shade.
Yes, you need the right color but also the right styling.
Please let me know what you think of this, I work for the (Ann Taylor) Loft and this season we are showing a lot of pale colors including beige and cream colors. I am seeing that beige can also be worn sucessfully if there is texture to the garment…we don’t have anything that sparkles this season but more lace and in diamond, french dotted and woven patterned weaves. I still recommend a detailed colored necklace, not chunky and heavy though because the garment can run delicate. Just wanted your thoughts so I can better direct my clients in this trend as our demographic is the 40-65 year young woman.
You probably meant your question for Sylvie but I am going to answer it anyway : )
I think beige is more an issue for a fair woman rather than the age of the woman. That being said, I think it is more important for the beige item to have, or contribute, to an overall look that is more on the funky side, than the classic when older, or it very easy to look ‘grande dame’ if dressy, or ‘given up’ on the casual. For example with a textured jacket (think Chanel), I would only pair with a jean (and in my case at the moment, a ripped one, but I know that would be pushing it too far, too young, for many). I think white and beige is great, it breaks a rule which is inherently an attitude in itself that isn’t wallflower. A pop of fluro in an accessory also breaks up the sedate, a flash of leopard, or paired with natural leather cuffs and long chains. Anyway, that’s my 5 cents worth, and an Australian 5 cents at that, so really on 4 cents if you are in the US. Suzanne : )
Totally agree with every word Suzanne just said.
Hi Marnell. I think that Suzanne has given some excellent advice here already. Textured beige can look a bit old so I think it’s important to add things that are a bit young & hip like good shoes or a modern (colored) jacket or jeans. It also depends on the kind of texture. I love the look of a chunky knit sweater coupled with a modern skirt for example.
Thank you everyone! I will keep this in mind!
Oh you lovely women… such good answers!!
Beige is one of my go-to wardrobe colors, similar to black.
Feel free to share some examples either in the style forum or on my facebook page Antoinette. Would love to see your outfits.
I love a bit of beige, but think it looks a lot better on a darker complexion. Being very fair I’d only have it near my face on summer spray tan days. I think this is a great article though and like how you’ve styled your sets.
Thanks Suzanne. Yes having a darker or tanned skin certainly helps with this color.
I see these light tones as a neutral that is good for mixing. Sadly all white is a color that I just can’t wear. If the lights have some color mixed in, for me it’s better. I do think women with darker skin colors than like look great in beige.
blue hue wonderland
Yes, that is true. I love how it looks on a darker skin. As for white, that is a tough one also. I love wearing white and use it as a base for jewelry but a warmer hue like cream is better for me too.
Your array of colors shows it all. Most people can wear blue. But not everyone can wear the same hue of blue. The same is true for beige. Some beiges will look good on you, some will look good on me. And since there’s no line of demarcation where cream or tan ends and beige begins I say try it on and see what it does with your complexion.
Yes very true. Changes of color can be very subtle and make a huge difference on how it looks on you.
Great post, Sylvia. Beige looks ghastly right next to my face (I do like ivory, though), but I love it for skirts and trousers.
Yes me too!
And frankly it’s not doing much for the under-40 (and probably under-20) runway models on top either!
Yes I tend to agree.
It would have helped if the models weren’t made up to look as UGLY as possible! A big reason I no longer read most fashion mags (like Vogue). As a magazine, InStyle has, so far, done a good job of ‘keeping it real”, in some instances, picturing JUST THE CLOTHES! IMHO there is nothing as classic, and timeless as a crisp white shirt. To make up for the lack of color, I make sure to add a bump more color to my make up.
Sylvia, this is a wonderful site! I’m going to forward to a friend of mine who I know will love it too.
Thanks for the feedback Melanie and welcome to 40PlusStyle!
Thanks very much for featuring my question Sylvia. Great article and it’s given me lots of answers and ideas.
Great. Happy I could help!