How to wear gray?

When not associated with handcuffs, gray can sound like a boring color.

The one of cobblestones, February sky and heartless offices.

It may not be the funkiest of colors indeed but it does have some undeniable style perks.

  • it’s an often overlooked neutral color
  • it conveys either edginess, professionalism or refinement
  • it can be many shades, from soft to dark

I/ What to combine gray with?

1/ Gray and bold colors

As a mix between the two most famous (and most intense) neutrals (black and white), gray is the neutral above all.

Ideal to tone down bright vivid colors.

Le Frenchy style

Myself finding bright red and pale grey very amusing

2/ Gray and pale colors

Pale gray is a very soft blended color.

It will look lovely with shades similar to it like “milky” or “dusty” colors.

Gisele is nerdy wearing dusty pink with her gray jacket.

3/ Gray and black

This edgy rock combination is perfect for graphic outfits.

Make sure your gray is pale enough to be noticed next to the black.

Iro, a gray loving brand

4/ Gray and white

Or the best way to light the gray.

Iro, again, with a black, white and gray perfect combo

5/ Gray and beige

A very bourgeois mix (think Burberry) that always works.

Franfynne, chic toujours

6/ Grey and blue jean

I knoooow blue jean is not an actual color but I love this soft urban combination so much it had to be there.

Sophie Fontanel, our all gray french icon

7/ Monochrome

A very elegant take on the color, but be careful to include different shades and textures so the result does not look dull.

Rococovintage wearing a satin blouse, wool pants and shiny snake boots

II/ Grey wardrobe staples

When I say staples, I mean “choose” your staples. If some of those timeless classics do not suit your personality then you do not need them.

1/ Gray T-shirt

Finding the perfect gray T-shirt is my style obsession. There is nothing better to twist an outfit into being cool.

2/ Gray suit

A timeless “office” wear that can be turned into something less conservative by accessorizing with edgy pieces such as a loose black or white T-shirt, shiny boots and bling “street” chain jewelry for instance.

You could even wear the jacket only.

3/ Washed of black jeans

I have a thing for gray jeans that look as if they used to be black.

Their patina gives them a rebel attitude that adds depths to simple outfits.

In opposite, I find too many people wear nylon loaded smooth gray skinnies that put me to sleep.

4/ Gray hoodie

Wear as-is or under dressier pieces like a structured coat or a suit jacket.

And you? Are you into wearing gray? 

Cover collage: Iro, Mathilde Clauzet

34 Responses to “How to wear gray?”
  1. Julie says:

    Bonjour! I’m trying to match gray combat boots with skinny jeans. For some reason light gray jeans aren’t looking so great. The boots look cool with my gray hair though. With a brighter color jeans my legs look cut off and shorter. Maybe just too funky!

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      This is indeed a tricky question. You could use darker gray pants, but you are right colors pants will cut the leg.
      What about trying white pants or light blue jeans? The difference in luminosity won’t be so big it cuts the leg but the difference in shade will make things interesting.

      • Julie says:

        That’s a good idea. I’ve been far too hesitant to wear light colors in the winter. I think, being petite, combat boots aren’t the best choice but I love the round toe for comfort so am trying hard to make them work.

  2. Gale says:

    Dear Aloïs, I found those links for T-shirts right there in your blog (was reading too fast before) and will check them out. Merci!

  3. Gale says:

    Dear Aloïs, I‘m so happy to see your blog again. It’s a breath of fresh air. Your English is good and my French is not, but I am OK at reading it and I have read most of the French letters. I don’t know how old Elsa is, but when she wrote on 3Feb about gray, “il remplace le noir, trop dur à mon teint,” I said wow, that’s just like me. Growing older, I noticed that black no longer looked as good near my face as it used to, but a medium gray did the trick. I also have a favorite pair of skinny Jag jeans (cotton/polyester, 2% Spandex) in medium gray, with black paillettes sprinkled here and there. That may sound tacky for daytime, but I always get compliments on them and I just go ahead and do it because they look and feel good. As for favorite gray tops, I have a medium gray Hanes Sport tee, 90/10 cotton/Spandex, that I wore so hard it ripped. The moderately scooped neck was just right, because I don’t care for the higher neck on most tees. I have been unable to find the top again, but I will try Levi’s, as Laura suggested on 30Jan, and would like to get the link you sent her, if possible. One day, Aloïs, I will be brave and write you a note in French. Merci mille fois!

  4. Simone says:

    Great to get the email that your blog is continuing. I very much enjoy reading your ideas. I loved your book too. So sensible and stylish.
    This post is great too. I have all the grey items you mention and I have silver hair. I love charcoal and pearl grey, especially with black. And like you, I live faded black jeans too. They look so chic.

  5. Eva says:

    Dear Alois, I’m glad you are back! I was glad to see your email again. Interesting thoughts about gray. It made me realize I have a LOT of gray in my closet. I didn’t even know I liked it so much. I wonder why. Next time I’m wearing it I will think about what color I’m going to pair it with. Thanks for your ideas!

  6. Elsa says:

    Chère Aloïs,
    Merci pour ce post. J’ADORE le gris! Chez moi, il remplace le noir, trop dur à mon teint. En ce moment, j’ai une passion pour les imprimés léopards, que je combine et qui permettent de twister une tenue toute grise en lui donnant un côté rock sans tomber dans le vulgaire. Sinon, j’adhère à tout ce que tu as écrit et je trouve le gris à la fois sobre, élégant et mystérieux, j’aime ces teintes entre deux teintes…

  7. Pascale says:

    J’ai résolu le problème. Je ne porte pas de gris. Ca me donne un air cadaverique ! 🙂

  8. Claire says:

    Bonjour Aloïs,

    De passage chez mes parents ce week-end, je lis votre dernier post. Ma mère se penche au-dessus de mon épaule et me dis “sornettes!”. Moi “comment çà?” Elle “Je vais te montrer”
    Du coup elle file dans la garde-robe de mon père, en ressort avec pull sheltland, pull islandais et veste en tweed et me lançe “tu vois c’est du gris et du brun juxtaposés”.
    Sur ce, elle ressort ses livres de peintures (très nombreux) et la, çà va des peintures rupestres à Pierre Soulages en passant par Goya et d’autres encore pour une démonstration approfondie.
    Sa conclusion: le gris et le brun çà marche ensemble à condition que la matière soit belle et les couleurs pures, non rabattues. Elle me dit encore “tu vois la photo de la jeune femme blonde en haut à droite de l’article, eh bien son sac en croco aurait été brun foncé et la jupe couleur carambar, ce serait plus beau”. Et aussi “c’est néanmoins une association de couleurs très masculine”.
    Elle m’a fatiguée. C’est une femme de 85 ans qui a passé sa jeunesse en Italie, fait l’école des beaux-arts et est férue de textiles. Elle m’a quand même envoyée en séjour linguistique au Royaume Uni avec des robes en wax fait maison. Autant dire que je ne passais pas inaperçue! C’était il y a plus de 40 ans. Toutes les autres filles était en Liberty.
    Elle voulait lire vos autres articles, j’ai dis non, on va prendre le thé.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Elle n’a pas tort votre maman… J’avais hésité à écrire de ne pas associer marron et gris de manière aussi radicale…
      Parce que 98% du temps c’est mal fait. Donc je préfère conseiller à mes clientes de ne pas associer ces deux teintes.
      Je vois trop de pulls gris foncé portés avec des besaces marron un peu bohèmes… le tout pour un résultat terne.
      Mais OUI comme pour tout, si on y met l’art et la manière, on peut obtenir de bons résultats.
      Son exemple du sac croco brun (foncé) sur pull gris clair est très juste. Et la jupe caramel… ah c’est caramel, pas marron. Mais ça pourrait rentrer dans la famille extensive des marrons en effet. Ou des beiges cités en exemples plus bas. Entre les deux. L’association de couleurs n’est pas une science exacte.
      En tous cas j’ai fait plus de recherches et dénichés deux très jolies tenues associant gris et marron… et beaucoup de ratés à côtés.
      En résumé, l’association gris marron n’est pas pour les débutantes!
      Merci pour votre commentaire, bonjour à votre maman et j’adore le mot “sornettes!”

  9. Carola Naranjo says:

    Welcome back Alois!, So nice to hear from you again, I really don’t care about “mistakes”, what matters is that we all perfectly understand you and enjoy your fashion tips. Greetings from Ecuador!

  10. MABdePARIS says:

    “Publication is back to once a week over here.”
    Voilà la bonne nouvelle de l’année 2020!

  11. My mother adored gray, and I never much liked it – I had an Argentinian friend tell me “you look like an immigrant in that color,” by which she meant I looked like someone who just dragged herself off the boat from German in 1929 (say, my Oma :)…). But then I discovered blue-gray, and it changed my perspective. That’s a shade that works on me. The wrong gray is a horrible washout. I love these pairing suggestions, and particularly, the logic of them, like that rose with the gray. That makes sense, and is something I can replicate.

    Editor here – gray and grey are both correct, but I believe the US preference is gray, and UK is grey. Personally, I prefer it with an “e,” and that is actually a nickname of mine, derived from the German pronunciation of my first name.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      I can totally picture you in blue-grey!
      And so interesting to know there are two ways of writing grey. I guess my spelling corrector programm speaks american english then.

  12. Laura says:

    I’m so glad to see you posting again, I always seem to learn something new with each of your posts. You have a great writer’s voice, the French- English is part of the charm. Please don’t change!

    Also, thanks for the link to the “perfect” grey t-shirt, I am always on the lookout. Right now I like the Levi’s brand t-shirts, 100% cotton and a heavier weight fabric than most.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Oh yes, the heavier the more resistant!

      • V says:

        D’accord avec Laura “You have a great writer’s voice, the French- English is part of the charm. Please don’t change!”

        Le gris ( souris) et moi avons commencé notre histoire quand je me suis rendue compte il y a des années de cela que la teinte ” Blanc-Blanc” ne flattait absolument pas mon teint.
        Mais l’ asso blazer marine et tee gris ou pantalon 7/8 marine + tee gris est mon ” go-to” quand je suis en panne d’inspiration. C’est juste très classe !
        Sinon, le gris + jaune ( citon à moutarde ) et le gris + rose ( pâle à soutenu) ont également mes faveurs.
        Apres en printemps – été, c’est Jean Flare blanc + tee gris ( souris ) + top moutarde.

        Fin du pavé
        Hate de lire les prochains posts.
        Bon week-end.

  13. Juhi says:

    I love your blog and your book. I am a long time reader and so glad to see you back.

    Grey is ubiquitous here in North America, so I find this super relevant. Especially as I grew up in India hardly wearing grey at all! However over the years I have learned to embrace the fifty shades of grey.

    Btw I love your French English! It’s refreshing to feel the influence of a different language. And I love your analytical approach to fashion, maybe because I am an analyst by profession ^^

  14. Maggie says:

    I love gray, so thank you for this post, Aloïs! Wonderful advice as always. I come here for your fashion insight, not grammar, and I think your “mistakes” add to the charm of your writing. Both “grey” and “gray” are correct spellings, BTW, one is predominantly English usage, the other American.
    I’m thrilled to see you posting regularly again and will drop by more often.

  15. Olga says:

    Dear Aloïs,
    I absolutely love your book and your blog and was happy to see a new post today. Please, though, type your text in a Word document set to UK or US English before copying the text to your blog as this will correct most of your unnecessary language mistakes. You alternate between grey / gray (it’s ‘grey’ with an e), for example.
    That being said, I wish to express again how much I always enjoy reading your fashion advice. Keep on blogging!
    All the best!

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