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Summer Neutrals: How to Balance Texture, Tone, and Proportion

June 26, 2016

There’s something so classy about a light-hued look for summer. But how do you pull it off at work without looking like you’re in tennis whites? By striking the right combination of tone, texture, and proportion. Choose rich shades from the same color family (cream, birch, Sahara); mix in some texture (ribbing, knits, crêpes); and play with proportion (midi, full-length, cropped).

Ready to see how it’s done? Here, three MM.LaFleur team members hit the streets of Soho in their summer neutrals.

1. Texture

When you’re wearing light tones from head to toe, the trick to keeping your outfit from looking one-dimensional is texture. It draws the eye, adds depth, and elevates the overall feel of your look.

summer neutrals

Lani in the Giovanna dress and Graham kimono.

The Graham is an awesome light layer that can be dressed up or down,” says Lani, an MM Stylist who specializes in Bentos. “I’m planning to wear mine to a wedding in northern California, but I also wear it to work. It’s more unique than an everyday cardigan, because the ribbing gives the look more dimension.”

summer neutrals

Layer texture (the Graham kimono) and tone (the Power camisole and Evers trouser).

Slightly sheer and silky, the Graham provides coverage without adding bulk. Wear it tied in the front (as Lani does above), or open and loose (as Pauline does here).

2. Tone

At MM, we have a concept we call “tonal dressing.” It means mixing similar shades from a color family for a look that is almost monochromatic. The overall affect is elongating—it creates one clean line from head to toe—and unexpected, without being radical. After all, cream and beige are perfectly office-appropriate, but when you wear them together (and eliminate stark contrasts), you just look so damn chic.

summer neutrals

Pauline in the Sant Ambroeus with the Power camisole and Evers trouser.

Seriously, though. How sophisticated does Pauline look? “To me, this look is effortless and clean, which is perfect for summer,” says Pauline, a Stylist who works in our NYC showroom. “I don’t usually go for ribbed detailing, but the Sant Ambroeus is super comfortable and the ribbing is an interesting detail that sets it apart. And I love that the Power camisole is both tailored and machine-washable. It’s the dressiest casual piece you can own—so versatile and perfect for layering.”

summer neutrals

Caroline in the Susan dress and Sant Ambroeus jardigan.

The Susan has sleek architectural lines, and it’s so comfortable. It’s really easy to dress up or down, and the front slit spices it up,” says Caroline, an MM Marketing Associate. “The Sant Ambroeus in ecru is a great, light layer for summer. It adds depth without being heavy, and it’s wrinkle-resistant, so you can just throw it in your bag.”

3. Proportion

While texture adds depth, it’s important to break up a tonal look by playing with proportion and length.

summer neutrals

Bonus points for matching your outfit to your neighborhood.

Lani, who is 5’0″, wears two long layers to elongate and streamline her silhouette. “As one of our shorter styles, the Giovanna dress is great for petites—I own it in three colors,” she says. “It’s professional but not overly formal, and it’s structured, so it doesn’t wilt in the summer heat. Because it’s sleeveless, I like to pull on the Graham kimono when I need a more covered-up look.”

At 5’10”, Pauline chooses layers that break up the long lines of her body. “The Evers trouser is fashion-forward and really comfortable,” she says. “It’s accessible to a wide range of heights because it has a hidden snap that allows you to raise or lower the hem on your own.”

Caroline, who’s also on the taller side, balances the midi length of the Susan with a slim, cropped jardigan that hits at the natural waist.

So there you have it! Shop all summer neutrals here, and tag #inmyMM to show us how you mix tone, texture, and proportion this summer.

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