Color

Olive, Moss & Forest: Colored Neutrals

Colored Neutrals: Installment Two

Happy day, Reader dear!

Back in 2020 I fell head over heels with green. I wish I could explain why. Green has never been high on my chart, except that if you asked me my favorite color for leather goods, I would reply Green! without hesitation.

Blame it on a Capezio North-South tote I owned years ago when I was a single working mom… It was a deep green and went with everything and nothing. It was the perfect size and the double handles were just the right length, not too long and not too short. Just enough compartments and pockets to handle everyday life, but not so many that you couldn’t remember where you stashed your keys. Am I idealizing this? Probably. I wore it out and was sad when the day came for it to go to the bin.

Fast forward from 1990-ish to 2020. I hadn’t given green much thought. Then I saw a green skirt that made my heart stop. Which became a SERIOUS obsession.

Well, not serious like buying everything in green, but serious enough to buy some pumps and a bag in green! If you want a closer look at them, they feature in this post, here.

Green (like all colors) is lovely! There really is a green for everyone. Green is both grounded and natural, alive and calming. (Unless you are going for neon-lime, that is!)

Many shades of green can be treated as neutrals. Which makes them a colored neutral, hence the second in our series about colored neutrals takes on neutral greens.

If you missed the first installment about Teal, you can read about that truly fabulous neutral here. If you need more information about colored neutrals, and other information (and links) about color, read here.

Green

How many greens are there? Enough to be confusing! Green and blue are the two most difficult colors for children to learn to identify. It’s easy to understand why. Look at your average crayon box or paint palette. The oranges are all similar. So are the reds. Even the yellows have relatively little variation. But blues and greens? There’s everything from very pale to deep and dark, subdued to bright acid, warm and cool.

For today, let’s stick with those neutral greens! For a green to behave as a neutral, it needs to be a medium to deep value green. That depth of value (or softness in those medium shades) helps it behave like a neutral. The underone of a neutral green may be warm or cool. Neutral in this case is about how it behaves, not about its undertone.

Knowing my penchant for green leather goods, you already know I’m coveting both the bag and the boots, right? Even the trousers are on my radar. And if someone was to gift me the watch for Christmas, I’d not complain… If you’d like to see these items up close, click on this link or the image above to be taken to a shoppable version of this board! (No, I don’t earn a comission on purchases. Nordstrom isn’t an affiliate of Shopshare. Maybe someday?)

Other Ways to Look for Neutral Greens

Forest, Hunter, British Racing Green, Charleston Green, Olive, Moss, Eucalyptus, Sacramento Green, Fern, Army, Khaki, Drab. You may also find neutral greens described as almost any kind of leaf: Juniper, Seaweed, etc… Just saw Cypress today!

There are no correct or incorrect color names! These are simply some ideas if you are hunting. If you love green and want a deep dive into all kinds of greens, some history and geography and their color codes, visit color-meanings.com.

Fabulous Pairings

Do you remember me saying that you will find both warm and cool undertone neutral greens? Let’s look then at Green and Yellow-Green on the Color Wheel to find interesting combinations! For these purposes, I’ll call warm neutral greens Olive and cool neutral greens Moss.

Olive + Coral

Olive + Violet Red/Red-Violet

Olive + Purple

Olive + Mustard

Moss + Red

Moss + Persimmon

Moss + Lilac/Purple

Moss + Pink

Olive/Moss + Light Blue

Olive/Moss + Teal

Green IRL

So How About You?

Do you have one (or more) neutral greens in your closet? Are yours light or dark? Have you ever thought about green as a neutral? What color do you prefer with green? And please! Share any color names you run across that describe neutral greens! You’ll be doing everyone who reads a favor…

Stylishly yours,

8 Comments

  • Sally in St Paul

    I love these greens, but man, they are so hard to match, especially the dark ones! I have a blouse, cardigan, and jeans that could all be called “forest green” but are very different…which becomes especially noticeable when trying to convince myself that I can wear two of them together. I don’t know, it seems like all that black in the color makes the undertone difficult to determine…except when I try to put them together and then it’s like, Oh this one must be almost yellow under all that black, and this one must be nearly blue. I’m enjoying my separate pieces, but I would be happier if they related to each other better. I’ve finally got a good set of olive/aloe items that mix-and-match, which took a while.

    Growing up, green was my favorite color. When I was in high school, I painted my bedroom a mid-dark forest green, which my parents were convinced would look terrible but that turned out to be amazing! I had wanted a green dress for senior prom, but I couldn’t find fabric that was the particular green color I wanted, so I ended up with a blue one instead (no, I didn’t sew it! a lady in town sewed it up). I was SO disappointed until I put on the blue dress and looked like a million bucks. In recent years, I’ve started to shift my love of green to blue-green/teal, but a forest/hunter green still appeals strongly.

    All this said…I’ve NEVER thought of forest green as a neutral! Olive, certainly, but not those forest-y greens. Sounds like I need to try some of your color combos with my forest green items. The pink sounds particularly promising. This may give my non-matching dark green items new life.

    • Liz K

      Greens are an (expletive deleted) to match, Sally! That’s the same reason they are so hard for children to learn! So much variation. I bet your bedroom was GORGEOUS! I’d love to see that with soft pink (or Wedgewood blue) and pewter accents. Sigh. Maybe I’m a frustrated interior designer? The principles are the same: Line, Design, Color and Composition. Style is interior decorating for the outside of you! (That’s how I explain it to people who aren’t familiar with what Image Consulting is…)

  • OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter.com

    Oh, I remember that vibrant green pleated skirt and plaid shirt pairing. I am a huge fan of green in all shades and colors. I am drawn to it you even realizing. Will always automatically pick the green option of anything. Interesting that children struggle with identifying green and blue. Makes sense. Have a green bag very much like the one you described. Mine really goes with nothing but is still beloved.

    • Liz K

      It’s a pity more people don’t wear green as it is fabulous all the year long! I bought a new green (Olive, actually… A color no-no for me but I LOVE olive!) bag this season and it’s just about the same size and shape as my oldie. Different color for sure, and different strap, but it’s making me supremely happy… I expect green sets off your gorgeous blue eyes beautifully!

  • NATALIE K

    Liz, Boy does this army green bring back memories!! My mother is a Autumn so this is a good color for her!! She would buy me clothing(in high school) in this color and it drove me crazy!! I always wore red with it!! I now never buy this color because of my bad association with it!! I’m rethinking this and perhaps there would be a better color green for me to wear that’s more of a neutral. I’ve considered sage green which I like very much!! You gave me some great idea’s for color combining with green!! Thank you!!

    • Liz K

      Funny how so many people have negative associations with olive/army green! My mother used to look fabulous in olive. I never did. It’s too bad you have those negative associations with army green because it looks amazing with so many of the colors you wear well, turquoise, camel, coral, ivory and teal. It might be worth giving it another chance, Natalie!

  • Lydia

    I am a green fanatic! It’s my favorite color of all time, just have to work to find the cool greens! Olive is a terrible color on me and of course the easiest green to find anywhere. I come from a big military family- great grandmother used to wear olive drab all the time because she thought it was my army great grandfather’s favorite color. 😅

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