In the navy now...and not nearing retirement.

I'd be seriously remiss if I didn't report to duty for today's post. In fact, I'd probably get demoted. ;)

Like Angie, navy is my dark neutral and my closet is packed full of it for all seasons. Unlike her, I also wear sprinklings of charcoal and occasionally a bit of black -- but black for me is a colour or an accent, not a neutral, and truth be told, I will likely get rid of it all within the next 3 years or so, as things wear out. 

I was fascinated to read about the specifics of Angie's choices, though—the way she picks and chooses what items she prefers in navy. The pattern that emerges for me -- in relation to her own style -- is that she avoids navy or navy combos (like a strict navy suit) that might seem "corporate," "uniform-like," "stuffy," or that would drag the playfulness of her overall ensemble down. Given her other preferences, the items and combinations she mentions as "not her" might do that to her outfits. Whereas they might work fine, for another person. Even one with a playful style. For example -- I'm the delighted inheritor of a navy bag she passed along!  :)  

Interestingly, though — I tend to wear that bag with my lilac coat. Not navy. 

When it comes to solids, I tend to look my best in a bright, lighter navy, like the J. Crew cotton rollneck sweater  and the Bernardo coat, below. In prints (especially with white) any navy works well. But I wear them all, from darkest ink right on through. I wear navy in patterns (especially stripes with white or off-white) and in plains. In fact, it is a challenge to find a wardrobe item I do *not* own in navy. I even have navy undies! 

While sometimes, for presentations, I have created a navy "suit" with my blue tuxedo blazer and a slightly different navy trouser, it's rare for me to do this, because it feels a bit too strict for my style unless I can lighten it up with a playful, fun top. I'd be much more inclined to wear a navy patterned suit. I do wear navy pea coats, and raincoats, and overcoats. Navy footwear, accessories, and bags (when I can find them). 

The challenge, for me, over the past few years, in fact, has been to find wardrobe items in colours other than navy. That's because with earth tones trending for so long, navy was often the only cooler colour on offer or the only one that had any hope of suiting me. I'm still working on building up a red/cranberry/ burgundy capsule, and a lilac/lavendar capsule; I've been at this for years and never seem to get very far because no sooner do I find one good upgrade/ update than I have to retire two older items that have worn out or no longer work for me. 

That doesn't mean I'm done with navy, though! Always on the lookout for great pieces in my favourite dark neutral. 

Also, I will say -- if you build a closet primarily around a dark neutral, whether that be navy, black, charcoal, brown -- it becomes very easy to mix and match. Within a given season, almost anything in the closet has the potential to work with almost anything else. Jenn's closet is a great example of that, using black. 

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37 Comments

  • Carol replied 11 months ago

    Wow...so much navy! I would be overwhelmed even picking from that, but they are great pieces. I do love navy, but don't seek it out unless it "happens..." a pea coat, a striped top, etc. I could also see you looking great in gray--either a pale, stone grey, or a heather. 

  • nancylee replied 11 months ago

    What a great navy selection, Suz!

    Thanks so much for sharing your through process on how to wear navy. It's very helpful to this "navy challenged" YLFer! ;)

  • Angie replied 11 months ago

    Well, Queen Navy, good job reporting for duty :)

    Navy is STUNNING on you, Suz! It absolutley loves you right back! In solids and patterns. Even more beautiful with your silver hair than the dark blonde! Fab with your blue eyes. 

    "Always on the lookout for great pieces in my favourite dark neutral" - YES! Please carry on. Me too!

    Thank you for your analysis about my own complicated relationship with navy. Sounds dead right :)  After all - one of my five style adjectives is PLAYFUL. I need to wear navy in a lighthearted way. A pinstriped or windowpane navy pants suit I'd wear in a heartbeat! With bright accents. But not a solid navy pants suit. 

    Sounds like you enjoy incorporating navy in a more playful way too! The navy bag is gorgeous with your lilac coat. Glad it found a happy home!

    So look at this complicated navy theme:

    • I LOVE my two long navy coats. WORKHORSES! The one is dressy - like yours! - and the one is casual shearling.  
    • LOVE my arctic navy puffer for snow. Does not come out often though. 
    • Navy trench coat and navy pea coats are PROBLEMATIC. The navy trench coat does not have a hood, and I am completely off short pea coats. 
  • slim cat replied 11 months ago

    Navy with patterns looks fab on you ( #4 pic is a prime example )! Love your collection!
    Your fab hair and bright blue eyes shine with navy and blue colors- YLF!
    I'm better in lighter shades of blue( or denim ) and prints with predominance of white - my pale coloring limits me.
    BTW - I have the same preference for navy undergarments ;-) .

  • LJP replied 11 months ago

    Navy certainly is your colour Suz  - as slim cat says above .  It's even better with your silver hair and makes such a statement .  One thing I appreciate about navy is how easy it is to move between seasons .

  • Suz replied 11 months ago

    Lisa, yes! Navy moves really well between all the seasons (at least in my closet). I think black can do that, as well, but it might be a bit harder to achieve that with browns or charcoals. 

    I do tend to pair it with different complements across seasons, though -- much more with white in summer, and with burgundy or reds in winter. 

    slim cat, thank you, and that is fun that you like navy undies as well! 

    Angie, it's really interesting about the pea coats. I have a feeling it is not the colour so much as the fact that you are enjoying longer coats, which are trending. And also, you've been wearing more bright coloured bottoms and trousers (instead of blue denim) over the past winter, and topping those with a dark short coat might mess up outfit proportions in a way that displeases your eye. It's one thing to wear a short navy coat with dark (or even lighter) blue bottoms; it's another thing to pair it with bright orange or green. If you wore more dark blue footwear, that might not be such a problem, because the shoes would bookend. But I will say, for myself, I really only wear my shorter navy coats with blue denim and/or navy trousers. Sometimes with white. 

    Nancy, what about navy challenges, do you think? I notice a lot of people don't like it because they want their navies to match. I'm not too fussed about that for myself, which makes it easier. I find if the items have different textures (or pattern) it all blends pretty much ok to my own taste. 

    Carol, thanks! That's navy across all the seasons, of course -- I live in a 4 season climate. But I admit, it is kind of overwhelming at times! I do wear grey as well -- it's more of a light neutral in my closet. 

  • Angie replied 11 months ago

    Suz, regarding the pea coats - YES! I wrote similar reasons in my post about being off my pea coats:

    https://youlookfab.com/2023/03.....right-now/

    Also not my favourite silhouette with wide pants. And I don't wear navy shoes. 

    That said, I might wear a peacoat in a bright colour like lime or citron.......so there is that ;) 

  • Suz replied 11 months ago

    Yes, that is a good point about the silhouette, Angie. I liked my pea coat much better with narrow pants as well. Hmmmm......

    The coats that work best for the full length wide legs, in my own closet (so far) are either short jackets or long coats or coats with some waist definition....

  • Angie replied 11 months ago

    Exactly, Suz! Toppers need to be LONG or SHORT to work with wide bottoms, if I adhere to my personal figure flattering priorties about fit and outfit proportion. All my bottoms are roomy or relaxed at this point - wide or barrel. 

    Furthermore, I don't want want to wear a navy short puffer jacket! I wear those in brights, or lighter neutrals. Happily wear a navy patterned scarf and hat with them though - see FINDS :) 

  • Angie replied 11 months ago

    I WOULD wear a short navy pleather jacket - love yours :) 

  • Dee replied 11 months ago

    I certainly share both you and Angie’s love for all things navy. You both have a wonderful array of navy and although mine isn’t quiet as extensive, what I do have certainly serves as a wonderful base for any season. I couldn’t agree more with how easy it is putting outfits together using navy as a base as it goes so well with so many other colours.  I find I always feel polished and well put together wearing it. 

  • quietloud replied 11 months ago

    You look fantastic in navy, Suz! What a great collection of navy pieces. I have tried adding more navy to my wardrobe, but I find it kind of difficult to wear with my coloring. Unless it's exactly the right shade of navy I feel it washes me out more than black does. Strangely enough, occasion dresses is the one part of my wardrobe that has quite a few navy examples (and I only have one LBD!). 

  • Mirjana replied 11 months ago

    What a great navy selection, Suz! You wear navy so good, your color, as Angie said Queen Navy. Maybe you inspired me to add more navy to my wardrobe. You really look gorgeous in navy, even in all navy #3.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 11 months ago

    Navy is gorgeous on you, Suz. I appreciate the closeups. As I was looking through the photos and your Finds, I started to think maybe I will end up moving that way, too, with navy being my main dark neutral. I do love my dark cool olive, though.

  • Runcarla replied 11 months ago

    Very nice collection, Suz.  I’m jealous of some of your items, and as you know, I’ve lemminged the Liverpool suit - which I include in my dark blue capsule.  I envy those with gorgeous silver hair and how well it works with navy and blues in general.

    Honey beige is my hair bookend.  Though I pair it with navy, it plays better with black, IMO.


    I’ve been considering a pair of navy Converse (rather than black) for a while, but have been procrastinating. I would like to add dressy navy flats as well.  


  • Suz replied 11 months ago

    Carla, I'll bet you'd wear the heck out of dressy navy flats. For the Cons, I almost wonder if they would get as much wear as the fun coloured ones do. But maybe a pair of Eccos in the navy with the white sole? Like your new champagne ones? 

    Funny you include the Liverpool suit in the navy capsule! For me, it reads as more charcoal (even though it does have blue in it) so I tend to include it with my greys. Interesting....I do wear it with blue, though. 

    Sharan -- you look amazing in that sage-y olive green! But navy also looks wonderful on you. Those two neutrals also look good together...   ;) 

    Mirjana, thank you!

    quietloud -- you could absolutely be right about black working better than navy on you. You look great in high contrast and black with white provides that even better than navy does. Occasion dresses often have some sparkle (or you wear them with sparkle) or some richness and depth to the fabric so that can add the "oomph" factor that might make navy work better in those situations. 

    Dee, I love your navy items, especially that top from Simons. the Hilfiger sweater and the Roots bag!  You look fantastic in blues of all kinds. 

    Angie, that is so interesting about craving pops of oolour (or light) in the jackets -- me, too, for the most part! My leather jackets are actually not true navy but a lighter blue and I think that makes them feel easier to me. 

  • Kate replied 11 months ago

    Ha Suz, I'm another with navy undies, a couple of bras, panties and a  camisole, and happily wear them a lot. When it comes to footwear, I just wish I had bought navy Soft 7 sneakers instead of a much lighter blue two years ago, because I rarely reach for the lighter blue sneakers, but wear my navy leather Birks all the time. If I thought I could successfully dye the sneakers, I would.

    Just today I received a pair of wide-legged, dark blue jeans I ordered from COS, and they are the first dark blue denim, actually any kind of blue denim, I've had in years. All of my denim tends to be various shades of brown, black, olive, cream or white.

    Re toppers, all of my navy toppers are either quite short (puffer, pea coat, jeans jackets) or long. My navy Cabbages and Rose coat is a maxi.

  • Sal replied 11 months ago

    You guys have awesome navy capsules.

    I thought I would grow mine, but it is not growing.  I think I have made a couple of poor choices in navy to be honest.

    Navy workhorses
    - navy boots (but less so than a few years back)
    - navy blouse
    - navy and black puffer
    - dark slim jeans
    - dark denim shirt

    Loved but not a workhorse
    - pleated dress

    Not worn much
    - navy tee (gift that I like but I find a bit shapeless on me)
    - A line skirt - a bit shorter that I would like
    - dress - so flattering but where do I wear it?
    - sweater, again very shapeless

  • Jaime replied 11 months ago

    What a delightful thread Suz! Love all the analysis about the particulars of navy. I must say that #3 with you in a column of navy is just stunning! 

  • Runcarla replied 11 months ago

    Suz - I totally see how great the beige Ecco’s look, but I find their sole rigid.  They don’t hurt my feet, and I’m wearing them, but they are not as comfortable as the Converse rubber sole (for my feet).  (I’m actually challenging myself to not wear my Converse during August.)  Considering Reikers, since they are more refined (similar to Ecco’s) and I’ve had success with them in the past (in cognac and olive).  Thus the procrastination :-)

  • Brooklyn replied 11 months ago

    Fabulous capsule. Navy is your signature.

    Do you watch Trinny? She wears a lot of navy and might give you some more ideas about complements.

  • Bijou replied 11 months ago

    I like navy but have not bought anything navy in the last 3 years. That said, I have a large navy collection, so the only thing I am thinking of adding is a navy crew neck sweater (for winter 2024).

    A former employer recommended wearing navy suits in order to look 'professional and trustworthy'. It annoyed me to be told what to wear and the idea that clothing would make me trustworthy.  Whilst I love the colour, I always look for items that are not traditional in styling, my personal rebellion against a conservative navy suit. My favourite navy items are my dog embroidered shirt (westies!), velvet blazer and navy and pink lace dress. 

    You know a colour is signature when even your undies are that colour!

  • Olive Green replied 11 months ago

    Wow, some inspiring navy capsules there. Drool worthy bags and shoes, too. 

  • Angie replied 11 months ago

    Suz, your navy leather jackets are a bit slate-y, aren't they. Pretty on you! 

    I know, right? We need cheerful short puffers in our VERY grey weather :) 

  • nancylee replied 11 months ago

    Suz, I think I've just had trouble finding the right shade of navy for me. I'm loving all the examples everyone's posting...so much variety to choose from! 

  • LaPed replied 11 months ago

    Totally your signature colour, Suz! What a great collection of items. I especially love the floral prints, where the navy has a nice grounding effect and offsets the lighter and warmer colours beautifully.

  • Suz replied 11 months ago

    I'v enjoying all the collections here! Thanks for posting, those who have! 

    LaPed, I agree -- a floral with a navy background is harder to find than one with a black background but I really enjoy them when I see them, too. 

    Nancy -- there is a lot of variety among navies, which creates problems for some. I can see how that might be a bother. 

    Angie, yes, the short jacket  (moto) is a sort of "denim" blue -- like a medium wash denim. The longer 70s coat is also a medium blue but a bit warmer in tone. 

    Olivvegreen, yes, I am in love with some of the shoes and bags shown as well!

    Bijou, I can understand why you would resist being told to wear navy. But wow, you collected some gorgeous items. I love the jacket with the puff sleeves, the taffeta skirt, and that amazing elegant sleeveless dress! (Among other items.) 

    Brooklyn, thanks! I sometimes do watch Trinny, yes. She wears navy with white, black, silver, (all pretty standard for me), and with various neons (among other options). One of her favourite neons seems to be a kind of electric lime green. That's never worked on me in the past -- way too strong for my colouring -- but I have a top that combines navy and that neon green and I really love it, so I am considering adding it in a bit in accessories and patterned items. It would be a real change from my usual. The neon doesn't really show in the Find, but it is there. 

    Carla, now that is fascinating! I'm the exact opposite. Cons are hell for my feet -- can't bear them. I might be able to endure them with a Superfeet insole (which I think you also wear) but there'd be no chance in the world I could manage them otherwise. Meanwhile, the Ecco's work great because that sole gives a bit of extra grip on gravel (which I walk on, a lot) or other uneven or slippy pavement. I still need the insole in them, mind you. It's a rare flat shoe I can wear, without it. Anyway, it just goes to show how individual feet are! I've said it before and will say it again -- it's a wonder any of us has shoes or bras or jeans that fit of the rack! 

    Jaime, thanks -- and yes -- the collections are fun to see!

    Sal, that is fascinating. It seems as if you have a good sense of why you do wear (or don't wear) certain navy items. Useful info! I love that navy blouse of yours so much and can easily see why it is a workhorse. It would be one for me, too. 

    Kate, amazing, another navy undie wearer! To be honest, I didn't search it out -- but NAS had "my" styles available on sale last year so I went for it and have very much enjoyed wearing navy instead of the ubiquitous black. I hope you enjoy your new navy denim! 

  • Janet replied 11 months ago

    Suz, you wear navy so well, and have an admirable collection!

    I like navy but will never give up black either. Navy is trickier for me — there are so many variations in shade that they often don’t match. And sometimes the options that are available in navy are a bit traditional for my preference. Finally, I wear so much dark denim on bottom that wearing solid navy on top just makes me feel rather bland (since I don’t care for the look of white pants on myself, and those are the sharpest combo with a navy top!). Please keep wearing all the navy! :-D

  • UmmLila (Lisa) replied 11 months ago

    You and Angie both have so much patience around navy. I often buy items that are black, wishing they were navy! Navy is by far a glowier color for me. 

  • LJP replied 11 months ago

    I have been thinking about this navy business since yesterday and was coming to add something similar to what Janet said vis a vis the more traditional styling aspect of navy garments and accessories . And back when I had a bigger work/ professional wardrobe and had lots of navy pieces , I had some outdated idea that I needed to have navy footwear to wear with all of this stuff …..and navy footwear is always hard to find so a lot of it didn’t get worn .

  • Suz replied 11 months ago

    Yes, navy footwear can be hard to source, definitely! I no longer worry about that so much -- I'll just wear navy with black, if I want a dark shoe -- but I do keep my eye open for navy options, and then hang onto them for years when I find them. 

    It's entirely possible to find less traditional or classic navy items (see Bijou's jacket, for instance, and several of her other items) -- but in my experience, it is really hard to find anything with what you might call "edge" or any avant guard items in navy. Whereas if you are after edge, or any avant guard flair, you can easily source it in black.

    I find that a frustration, for sure, especially during those phases when I feel like I would like to move my style more in that direction. (This seems to come up for me every few years and then I give up, LOL). 

    A lot of my own navy forms a sort of "core column" if that makes sense. Simple pieces that create (or could create) a column of colour under a more interesting statement third piece. Or simple separates that can let another piece become the focal point. So it's fine for me if they are relatively classic in cut or style. Still, I often admire the sometimes more interesting black essentials that Jenn or Gryffin (to take just two examples) can source. Sometimes it's easier to find grey items in more interesting cuts. But greys can be tricky as well. 

  • LJP replied 11 months ago

    Agreed .

  • Style Fan replied 11 months ago

    Suz, you have a great navy collection.  Navy is a gorgeous colour for you.  The only blue I wear is denim.
    I also prefer long or short toppers with my bottoms these days.

  • Bijou replied 11 months ago

    Suz - you have perfectly diagnosed my issue with navy. It's not the colour, but the fact that it is difficult to source items with a certain toughness or edge in navy. Knowledge is power - thank you! I will look out for those unicorn navy items.

  • Janet replied 11 months ago

    I have gotten more comfortable combining navy with black, as long as the navy is light enough to easily be differentiated from the black! I bought a linen jacket/top by Young Fabulous & Broke (cheap as chips at Marshall’s) and have been wearing it over various summer tops with black pants and really enjoying it. I kind of like the way it can tie together black and blue elements, since blue is generally more flattering on my aging self than black now.

    Related to this navy discussion… I made a spur of the moment purchase in Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps that was pricey but ended up being very smart! Years ago I had a great longer tailored jacket by Athleta that was useful for rain but didn’t look so gear-ish. But I bought it when I was smaller in the peak of my running years, and eventually it got too snug, so I let it go. Now I had been wishing I’d kept it because I’m slowly losing weight (or I was until spending four weeks in Europe!). So I’d been low-key keeping an eye out for a replacement.

    I wandered into a Montbell store — a brand I’d not even heard of — to find some gloves because the next day we were going to the top of Jungfraujoch and knew it would be cold. I spotted this jacket and tried it on. The fit was great and the functionality is brilliant — packs up to nothing in a little pouch, very lightweight, sturdy zippers, a good functional but removable hood… and the blue is a very pleasant navy color. The blue even is an exact match with my old Tumi convertible bag that I take when I travel!

    That jacket turned out to be beyond useful in Paris, because it rained nearly every day for at least a few minutes (sometimes all day!).

    No pics of the full length on me, but a snap of us right after arriving at the Louvre in the pouring rain — our guide hustled us down to see the Mona Lisa before the crowds! My jacket was already nearly dry.

  • replied 11 months ago

    Navy loves you! It's definitely easier to pair with your coloring than mine. Black is still my main neutral, and probably always will be, but I have been liking navy paired with brown lately. Maybe the brown keeps it out of corporate territory?

  • Suz replied 11 months ago

    Suntiger -- blue and brown are a classic combo, really, and brown would not only keep it out of "corporate" territory for those whose associations with navy lean that way, but also it is much friendlier to your colouring mixed with brown. I actually love navy and brown together, esp. warm browns like cognac or camel, or soft cool browns like taupe. When my hair was dark blonde, I wore it with these browns and loved it. Now that I am silver on top, I tend to go with white or grey as a second neutral. 

    Janet, I love your new jacket! It looks great and was obviously super useful for you! 

    Bijou -- you are great at finding the unusual and special items so I will follow your lead! 

    Style Fan, that is very interesting indeed about the toppers. I'll bet it is because you favour wide legs. 

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