- Don’t wear it next to your face unless you have a dark or tanned complexion
- Don’t wear it against pale skin – hands, arms or bare legs
- The beige must contrast with your hair color
- Team with an impactful color – white, black, navy
- Beige looks best in natural fabrics
- Beige looks best in summer
Beige is back in fashion
Beige is a name given to a range of hues.
It comes from the old French word for undyed natural wool. Depending on the sheep this would include palest cream through to toffee, with touches of palest grey through to mid grey.
Because of this beige looks good in natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and wool. These fabrics are ideal for summer. Today we tend to think of beige as a summer color and in 2020 it is definitely trending.
It looks refined and simple on the rack. But should you wear it?
How to choose the right beige for you
It’s worth testing a beige you like, or wear often, to find out how brown or grey it is.
- Beiges on the brown scale are warmer and probably closer to most people’s skin tone unless they are tanned or dark. These are the most difficult beiges to wear next to your face or against your hands or (bare) legs. But they tone well with the whole range of browns including tan and give a relaxed natural look. So they can look good for jackets, cardigans and pants.
- Greyer beiges can be difficult to wear near your face the older you get. I would never wear beige in the winter for this reason. My pale skin can sometimes look very tired and grey especially if I have a cold in winter. The last thing I want to do is continue this pallid look over my neck and chest. But they look subtle. So, accessorized well, they are great for smart or smart-casual bottoms, jackets or suits.
- Naturally dark skin can look beautiful against beige. No need to think too much about accessories to make a boundary between face and top because your skin contrasts naturally with beige. (Lucky you!)
- Beware of smooth fabrics in beige. The older we get the more texture our face has. We have laughter lines, good old wrinkles and those annoying open pores. The evenness of a smooth beige top or jacket can show up the lack of smoothness of your beige-y face by contrast.
What are the items you should never wear in beige unless you are dark-skinned?
Basically any item that sits right next to your skin.
- So don’t wear a beige long-sleeved cardigan unless you turn up the sleeves and show a contrasting cuff.
- Don’t wear beige gloves – they’ll make your arms look weird as if you have chunky hands.
- Don’t wear beige shorts unless they make a big contrast with your leg color. But even then I’d avoid them unless you have very dark skin.
- Never, ever wear beige socks. They make your ankles look huge – and as most of us well over 50 now have slightly swollen ankles that’s the worst fashion faux pas ever.
How to style a beige top
Look for an item in a different color that will sit closer to your face than your top. This can be a scarf, a collar or jewelry.
Make sure the top is a darker beige than your face (if you are pale) or a lighter beige than your face (if you are tanned or darker).
So you might wear a thick gold link chain close to your neck over a pale beige top if you are warm toned and have a tan.
Or wear a darker beige top with a white collar if your face is paler. White will stand out against the palest skin. But cream or pale beige will not.
So don’t throw out that beige top just yet. It could be that with a little styling around the neck you can still wear it and look good.
What items can you wear in beige and look good?
You can look fabulous in beige trousers. Or a beige pant suit. But make sure your shirt makes a good contrast. Younger women look stunning in a cream shirt under a beige jacket but older women do not (unless there’s a scarf or statement necklace on top). Your shirt will need to make much more of a contrast – see my remarks above about tops.
But a beige pant suit with a bright white shirt, or a navy, green or burnt orange top – depending on your complexion – can look fabulous on women of any age.
Can you wear red with beige?
I’ve been looking at a few images of women wearing beige and red. And I have to say they really don’t look good. So many colors look great with red but beige doesn’t. Red is difficult to wear next to your face and so is beige.
Can you wear yellow with beige?
Ouch! Orange or even saffron, yes, but a real yellow hue, not so sure.
What colors look good with beige?
Dark navy with beige is classic French chic
Brown or tan with beige is relaxed and natural
Black with beige is cool and smart
White with beige is fresh and confident
Burnt orange with beige is perfect on the beach
Pink with beige (greyish pink and greyish beige) is soft and feminine
Pale blue and beige can be calm and assured (but the tone of each color needs to work with the other)
Gold with beige can be classy or brassy depending how you wear it.
Silver with a greyish beige can be summery fun.
How to wear the right beige for your hair color.
You need to avoid certain beige tones if they do not complement your hair so know whether the beige is on the warmer side (brown spectrum) or cooler (greyish). In addition you should look for a beige that contrasts with your hair.
So if you have grey hair with a silver tone you’ll look for a cool beige significantly paler or darker than your hair.
If you have dark blonde hair with a slight warm tinge like mine, you’ll look best in a warm beige that is lighter than your hair.
If your hair is red then a very pale stone-colored beige will make a great contrast.
If you have brown hair make sure the beige contrasts well.
Black hair looks good against most colors and that includes beige – almost any beige.
How to style beige when you’re over 50
Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Lay out your beige pants or jacket or cardigan on your bed. Now sort through all the tops you might wear. Look for those that make a good contrast. Place these around the beige items and retain only those that look good (not simply acceptable!).
Now take out your jewelry, your shoes, your scarves and your bags which are right for the season. Hold them against the beige items and the tops. Select a few that make the statement you are aiming at.
Here are some marriages made in heaven – with beige:
- Tan shoes, tan bag, gold earrings, navy scarf, white shirt and beige suit – smart and considered.
- White sandals, pale raffia bag, silver necklace chains, bright floral top and beige pants – fun and summery
- Black slide sandals, cream or very pale beige linen trousers, navy top and beige long straight cardigan – cool and relaxed.
So, in answer to the question: How do you wear beige when you’re over 50? With careful planning!
The images in this post feature beige items I think would work well for a woman of any age. I have tried to show various tones of beige for comparison.
John Lewis & Partners is a trusted UK retailer but delivers internationally – without upping the price.
Saks Off 5th and Eileen Fisher are ideal if you live in the US, though they ship internationally too of course.
Most of these styles come in a good range of sizes and Eileen Fisher also offers petite (Thank-you Eileen!)
Almost all retailers are currently cutting their online prices even for new-in styles (June 2020). How long this will last is unknown as we don’t yet know when stores on the high street will start to reopen. Saks Off 5th always offers discounts throughout the year.