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How to wear navy

Navy blue really is one of the ultimate classics. Timeless, elegant and more flattering than black, it also works with a huge range of colours – there’s a reason that a version of it appears in all four of the seasonal colour palettes.

However, it’s also one of those colours that it’s easy to stop making an effort with, and to just pair with the same safe go to option that you always do, whether that’s white, light grey or pale pink, and it starts to look and feel a bit flat and boring. However, with a little effort navy can become a hugely versatile colour, a real foundation stone in your wardrobe, and can manage everything from timeless chic, to party clothes or thoroughly modern minimalism.

If you don’t know your seasonal colour palette, you can keep reading this post for expert tips on styling navy whatever colours you have in your wardrobe, but if you know your colours then I am excited to be able to share an exciting new blog feature that I know lots of you have been waiting for – individual dedicated seasonal posts! Click below to go straight to navy styling tips for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, or read on for more general styling tips.

Six steps to nailing navy:

  1. Navy is a great ‘safe’ neutral if you don’t know your seasonal palette – far less harsh than black, but with all the slimming, chic benefits, it’s an easier option than black for the majority of skin tones.
  2. Try pairing your navy blue with soft white for a more formal look. Unless you know you have a ‘Winter’ palette skintone, soft white is a safer alternative than stark white, as it works on more skin tones and is less harsh.
  3. Pair navy with true red for a guaranteed flatter-everyone bright look – true (i.e. not orangey and not bluey) red is a universal colour that suits every skin tone as it has no warmth or coolness.
  4. If you’re not ready for a fun colour analysis yet, take the quick colour analysis quiz to give you an idea which navy might work best for you, and which colours to pair with it! (And if you are ready to take the analysis step, you can find your nearest consultant here).
  5. Stick to one ‘type’ of navy – familiarise yourself with true navy, bright navy, french navy and marine navy, and try to stick to buying your favourite one. Mixing several shades of navy within one outfit is a surefire way to look less well put together.
  6. Pinterest is your friend when it comes to finding combinations to wear your navy in. Simple search for ‘navy colour palette’ or ‘navy outfit’ to open up a world of colour inspiration.

Barbara on Nov 07, 2016 3:15 PM

Another really useful blog. As an Autumn I have treated navy items on a case by case basis. By avoiding bright and also very dark navies I have found some softer toned items that work.

Helen on Nov 04, 2016 2:06 PM

I have always been a lover of navy, even my 11 year old daughter says I'm obsessed with the colour! It's a classic in my book and so versatile. I love the "work" look. Thanks for a great post!

Mama Squirrel on Nov 02, 2016 10:09 PM

What shades are the vest and scarf shown under Rest? Polyvore always takes us to the item, but not the colour.

Jayne Smith on Nov 02, 2016 7:21 PM

Thank you for this. I have always preferred navy to black as it is much more flattering. As an autumn navy has never been one of our colours but I see we now have sultry navy. Unfortunately it is not in the garments that suit me or in a jacket which would be useful. Would have been great in Jenna Tunic, silky V neck or scoop or merino crossover

Una Barry on Nov 02, 2016 6:41 PM

These four women, as far as Kettlewell colours go, really look well and an accurate House of Colour analysis here. Would be great if we could have seen the bottom halves of them in the navies you suggest. I have never ever work navy as an autumn, having dyed charity shop jeans either chocolate or olive. Would be interested to see - particularly as these four women are dressed accurately, and don't have odd dyed hair. Thanks!

Margo on Nov 02, 2016 2:06 PM


This is exactly the type of post I have been hoping for giving advice for all seasons together with the really useful general tips. As a huge Kettlewell fan I am really pleased that you have done this. Keep up the good work I love looking out for the Wednesday posts and now Melissa's too Margo