5 Ways to Pull Off Neon

By: Debra Ronca

How about some neon polish?
How about some neon polish?
Dana Edmunds/Botanica/Getty Images

You know how it hurts your eyes when you look directly into the sun? That's how people will feel about your outfit if it's head-to-toe neon. Plus, this isn't 1987. Sure, the neon trend has circled back around from that bright bygone era, and we'd all like to give it a nice, polite nod. But that'll be just enough -- a hint of neon here and there, a pop, an accent. Perhaps you'll pair your neon with neutral tones like taupe and nude -- tones that are so 2010s and not so 1980s. It can be done, and tastefully. Here are our tips.


5: Accessorize in Neon

Like we said, a hint of neon is just right. So accessories are a great place to start. Wearing a plain white shirt? How about some orange neon beads for a splash of color? Headed to a party in your little black dress? Put on some pink or green neon-colored earrings to add a refreshing pop of color. You can also find neon flower rings to dress up your pretty fingers. Consider a neon belt to cinch the waist of your neutral-colored maxi dress.

One accessory you'll find in neon for sure is sunglasses. These aren't the neon wayfarers you remember from the '80s, though, or the kind that get tossed out by cheesy DJs at weddings. These are stylish sunglasses in various shapes, but with just a touch of neon to get them noticed.


4: Buy Neon Shoes and Bags

Ahead of the trends: A woman carries a Cambridge satchel in neon at London Fashion Week 2012.
Ahead of the trends: A woman carries a Cambridge satchel in neon at London Fashion Week 2012.
Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images

Nothing completes an outfit like a great pair of shoes and a fabulous bag, and the neon trend will give the excuse to buy new ones. Accent a neutral-colored outfit with a pair of neon shoes -- platforms, stilettos, or flats, depending on your taste. Or carry a neon satchel bag for a big, bold burst of color.

It's OK if you neon-out both your shoes and your bag -- just make sure the colors work together and that the rest of your outfit is neutral. You can also find bags with just neon trim, or a stripe of neon, if you're not willing to commit to a bag that's full-on neon.


3: Wear Blocks of Neon Color

A model at Charles Voegele Fashion Days 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland, wears neon eyeshadow.
A model at Charles Voegele Fashion Days 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland, wears neon eyeshadow.
The Image Gate/Getty Images for IMG/Getty Images

OK, OK -- we already said not to wear neon head-to-toe. But there's a way around this rule if you really want to embrace neon in a big way: Wear two (or more) pieces of neon together using a technique called color-blocking. Warning: This is not for the faint of heart. Only a real fashionista can pull this off!

Basically, color-blocking neon means wearing a solid neon color on top and a contrasting solid neon color on the bottom (think a top and a skirt). No patterns! Or, you can find a color-blocked dress with wide stripes of neon color contrasted with black or white.


2: Combine Neon With Neutrals

The most chic way to pull off neon in the 2010s is to pair it with popular neutrals like taupe, gray or tan. A neutral color will temper the bright neon. Also, neutrals are classic, and neon is trendy, so it's fun to combine both styles. We even found a Neon and Neutral Pinterest board, if you'd like to take a peek at it for ideas.

The nice thing about pairing neutrals with neons is that the neutrals, at least, won't go out of style. (So they won't be a waste of money.) For the neon-and-neutral look, keep your accessories (shoes and bags) neutral and let just one neon piece stand on its own.


1: Incorporate Just a Pop of Neon

The most fun thing about neon is that it can be a surprise. A neon collar peeking out of an otherwise subdued ensemble adds a splash of delight. Here are some ideas:

  • a neon blouse under a neutral colored blazer
  • a neon scarf paired with a taupe blouse
  • a classic black dress with neon green tights
  • neutral-colored, chunky bracelets mixed with some neon bangles
  • a cute neon hair clip
  • a classic, neutral suit paired with a bright pink purse and heels

The combinations are endless. Just be sure to make it pop!


For more on style and fashion trends, check out the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Glitter Guide. "Style File: Neon and Neutral." July 25, 2011. (Feb. 15, 2012) http://theglitterguide.com/2011/07/25/style-file-neon-neutral/
  • Loren's World. "How to Wear Neon." June 17, 2011. (Feb. 15, 2012) http://www.lorensworld.com/Business/Guest-Bloggers/How-To-Wear-Neon.html
  • McNamara, Allison. "How to Wear Neon Colors." FabSugar.com. Jan. 19, 2012 (Feb. 15, 2012) http://www.fabsugar.com/How-Wear-Neon-Colors-21410786