It’s no secret: my heart beats fast for neutrals like taupe, charcoal gray, navy blue, and shades of black. Once in a while I flirt with fuchsia or lime green, but I’ll always come home to neutrals. And what’s not to love about them?
If neutrals were writing their bio for a dating service, they’d say they were stable and dependable—not flighty. Why? In the world of color messages, neutral colors are about communication, honesty, strength, refinement, and helpfulness. Neutrals are more Jon Hamm (minus the angst of many of his characters) than Johnny Depp. They’re strong and supportive, with smoldering allure.
But sometimes neutrals get a bad rap. People may say they’re boring, too predictable. I disagree. Neutrals may not be out clubbing at night, but that’s because they feel totally content to sit at home with the candles lit hygge-style, snuggling with you and listening to Jackson Browne tunes from the ’70s.
What happened when a neutral added a peplum
And then there’s the Harper Jacket from Artful Home, designed and crafted by Alembika in Israel. Here’s the statement from the designers: “At Alembika, we would like you to feel comfortable with your body, not the body you’re working on, fantasizing about, or wish to have—the one you have right now.” Those are words to fall in love by.
This jacket is totally my type. It’s charcoal, and it’s a windowpane check. Those features alone are ticking my boxes. (I ordered size 1, and I’m five-foot-five and 138 pounds.) But what you may not have realized upon first sight is that there’s a party going on within the details of this jacket.
What would be the clue to that? This flirty peplum, that’s what! I’ll challenge anyone who tries this on to not dance in the streets. As my daughter Caitlin took these pictures for me on a recent Tuesday, the swing in this peplum had me twirling in parking lots, shaking my booty, and striking goofy poses. “M-O-M!” she’d say, as if she could turn this party around.
Why wear a peplum?
Let’s bring peplums into our style lexicon. You know what a peplum is if you’ve seen a jacket, top, or dress that comes in at the waist and then flares out over the hips, most often with additional fabric that’s seamed into the waistline. The flared part could be something fluttery as in the Harper Jacket, or you may have seen peplum dresses on actresses in movies from the 1950s. I’m sure there was a peplum detail on one of the dresses in the 2017 movie The Phantom Tread with Daniel Day-Lewis, which is about the world of couture in 1950s London.
Peplum tops or jackets are great worn over slim bottoms, like a pencil skirt or skinny jeans. They can give a woman an hourglass look or simply accentuate someone who actually does have an hourglass shape. If you have a tomboy shape like I do, a peplum could imply you have hips. Either way, it’s a win-win detail.
How I wore my Harper Jacket with jeans
This blazer has what every woman claims is her secret sartorial sweetheart: pockets! Oh, yes—one on each hip.
I styled my neutral blazer with skinny dark jeans and an ivory stripe-on-stripe short-sleeved T-shirt. I also put on a pair of sneakers with metal detail, which gives the shoe a preppy feel—perfect for my Harper Jacket.
The jacket has a one-button closure, though I also like wearing it open. I added a large, shiny beaded necklace in shades of gray and black. The scale of it relates well to the chunky windowpane design. I think it’s perfect to add my lustrous gray, barrel-shaped bag with shiny hardware, which will hold my phone, coin purse, red lipstick, and tickets for two to see Van Morrison at the Fox Theater in Oakland.
How I styled my Harper Jacket for work
Say the words “windowpane check blazer” and you conjure up a work outfit, right? So that’s what I created next: a work outfit. I slipped into a white cotton shirt and black microfiber pant, and added my sparkly bee necklace inside the collar. I added my white and sheer-striped socks to my patent leather ankle boots. I switched bags, still opting for a framed style (so as not to take any attention away from the peplum) but chose one with a feminine bow detail on the front.
When Caitlin and I got back in the car after the last pictures were taken, I was animated, making silly talk in Caitlin’s car. It’s all owing to the fun of wearing this jacket with peplum detail. I guess I was loud, as Caitlin said, “Mom, use your inside voice.” At that moment I heard Patrick Swayze’s character in Dirty Dancing saying, “No one puts Baby in the corner.” I responded to Caitlin in kind: No one puts Mommy in the corner!
So, let’s recap
Neutrals are not boring. They’re long-term-relationship kinds of colors: you can wear them four days a week—easily—and no one will tire of seeing you look so sharp and put together. And while neutral lovers may be wearing beige and hugging the wall at the high school dance, don’t underestimate us. When Etta James sings, “Roll with me, Henry,” on her song “Wallflower,” we get it.
If you enjoyed the anatomy of these outfits, please head over to brendakinsel.com, where the station is on “fashion and style” every day of the week.