The color that we think of as a combination of different amounts of black in white can be spelled either Gray or Grey. Both are accurate. “True” gray is going to be a tint or shade that falls between black and white and those variations are often used as a guide to indicate color value….or depth. A grey scale or value
scale looks like the image above. Gray could be considered the ultimate neutral. There are some versions of gray found in all personal palettes. But the range of grays that are found in clothing, makeup, and home decor is far greater than those that we see falling somewhere between black and white.
There are cool grays; warm grays; blue grays; green grays; yellow grays; purple grays; and even brown grays (often referred to as taupes). The undertone of a complex gray….that is any gray that is not a “true” gray will be what determines how flattering it will look with someone’s complexion or how well it will blend with the other colors in their wardrobe. True grays are the most versatile. Complex grays will be more fussy about who they keep company with…..without arguing.
The grays seen on the left are examples of warm and cool grays. You can almost see a hint of yellow in the grays at left and a hint of blue in the grays on the right. The warm grays would blend nicely with a warm red like brick red while the grays on the right would look perfect paired with a raspberry red. Combined the opposite way, something would seem slightly ‘off’. This is why we should not consider all grays to be equally versatile as a neutral and why it is important to know what shades of gray are the best compliment to our own complexion.
Gray is usually a color that needs help. By itself it is pretty boring and it begs for an accent or contrast color. If you are wearing gray, pay attention to the color of your accessories and your makeup. Few people can wear gray by itself with good effect. A man should wear a tie with color when he dons his gray business suit. Not an almost equally neutral tie like navy. A woman can add a scarf, a necklace, or some great color on her lips.
As a wardrobe staple, gray is one of those colors that earns its keep. It is classic, easy to mix with colors of the same undertone and has a nonverbal energy that is seen as either businesslike or elegant. It is NOT really a playful, sexy, or feminine color. Use it as a wardrobe color when you want to appear reliable, traditional, understated, trustworthy, dependable, or authoritative.
Use it in your home as a neutral backdrop that you won’t tire of quickly. Be sure to choose a gray that has a similar undertone to the white trim paint…if you have white trim paint…..or to the undertone of any stained wood in the room to avoid a conflict that will just never seem quite right.