Black, shades of white, shades of dark blue, blue denim, brown, taupe, tan, toffee, shades of brown, and shades of grey are neutrals. They can be combined with non-neutrals to create visual harmony because of their grounding effect. Of course, neutrals can also be combined with other neutrals to create visual harmony

And then there’s olive, which is a dirty and muted shade of green. Sometimes it’s a very brownish green. Some think of it as a neutral and others as a non-neutral. I’ve found that generally, clients who wear neutrals almost exclusively, think of olive as a neutral. Clients with more colourful wardrobes tend to think of olive as a non-neutral. Clients with very neutral wardrobes can easily combine olive into their outfits. Clients with colourful wardrobes find it a little harder, and prefer using black, white, navy and grey as neutrals. 

I do think of olive as a neutral, and have unexpectedly added more olive to my wardrobe this year. For my own style, I like olive when it’s combined with black, a shade of white, navy and blue denim best, thereby keeping the palette completely neutral. Something white or cream — even if it’s just my pearls — will accompany an olive outfit as a way of brightening and refreshing the dirty shade. I also like olive combined with tomato red and chartreuse and will, again, add a shade of white to the outfit to keep the appearance crisp and fresh. 

Over to you. Do you think of olive as a neutral or non-neutral? Do you wear it, and if so, how easily can you combine it into outfits?