One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable

Kristen Bousquet
One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable
Photo: Courtesy of Kristen Bousquet.

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We’ve long been told that trends are strictly reserved for certain times of year. Pastels and florals are spring-only options. Colors that resemble autumn leaves are solely meant for fall. And white after Labor Day? Why, that’s just uncouth. These adages have been passed down, from generation to generation. And while their tried-and-true nature suggests they’re full of sage advice, I can’t help but wonder: Where’s the fun in this system? Who wants to let the calendar dictate their wardrobe choices? Who wants to forego outfits they’re dying to wear just because it’s the wrong time of year? Not me, that’s for sure. There are too many good options out there for me—and really, for all of us—to live our sartorial lives this way.

Once we overcome the hurdle of social style expectations, though, another obstacle awaits: Is it actually possible to wear these trends during the seasons we’re told not to wear them—and, you know, to look good doing it? Are they forbidden fruit for a reason? Are fall florals and post-September whites verboten because they simply don’t work? I’m skeptical, so I decided to tackle this theory head on. I challenged myself to take a strictly summer trend and render it winter-friendly; I set out to craft a handful of neon outfits that actually worked for winter.

Let’s be honest, here: Neons are hard to pull off no matter what season you’re dealing with—both because the colors are apt to overpower whatever they’re paired with, and because they reek of tacky signage and/or T-shirts for sale at beachy tourist traps. Neons have a complicated history to overcome before we can collectively deem them trendy—or even just attractive. But a few of your favorite celebrities (ahem, the Kardashian-Jenners) are chipping away at this reputation to reveal the inherent, bold style that lurks somewhere underneath. These same celebrities (yup, still the Kardashian-Jenners) are also bringing neons out of summer and into other seasons; Kendall Jenner stunned in a neon winter outfit on New Year’s Eve, Kourtney Kardashian opted for a similar palette on Christmas and Kim Kardashian has been wearing neons on a near-monthly basis for what feels like a year now.

Winter neons are no longer tacky or inappropriate, they’re possible. And not just that—they’re also beginning to get trendy. So let’s dig in, shall we? Don’t let your sense of convention keep you from seeing the largely untapped potential of the winter neon trend.

STYLECASTER | One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable

Cozy Brights

During the colder months, we tend to distill our wardrobes to a mere formula: cozy sweater + comfy jeans = happy person. While this combination keeps us warm (without forcing us to sacrifice our stylish aesthetics), the monotony tends to get a little old after a few weeks. And nothing shakes things up like a pop of bright, neon color. Here, I opted for my favorite neon coral cowl-neck sweater and kept the rest of my look simple—wearing the same black booties, jeans and trench I usually do. Why go overboard with the winter neons when a pop of color does the trick just fine?

sweater, $43 at Lulus / coat, $119 at Chicwish / jeans — vintage, editor’s own / booties, $38 at Forever 21 / belt bag — Free People / hat, $42 at Urban Outfitters

STYLECASTER | One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable

Vibrant Prints

Solid colors aren’t the only way to get your neon on this winter. You can totally get away with an in-your-face, bright-colored print—especially when you’re pairing it with other items that are more toned down. I chose to pair this ’60s-style button-up top with a super cool pair of pastel blue corduroy pants and a fluffy white coat. The look kept me feeling toasty and looking street style-appropriate—and really, what more could a girl ask for?

hat, $42 at Nordstrom / coat — Forever 21 / button-up — vintage, editor’s own / pants, $128 at Free People

STYLECASTER | One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable


When in doubt, pull out all the bold blue clothes out of your closet and toss them all on at the same time. Sometimes when you’re looking to add neons into your wardrobe, you need to be unafraid to go all out. I tossed on my favorite jumpsuit that is covered in various shades of blue then covered it up with a bright blue longline blazer that coordinated with the jumpsuit’s pattern. I kept the neon thing going with a sweet pair of blue sunnies—and kept things simple with my footwear.

blazer — vintage, editor’s own / jumpsuit, $128 at Saks Off Fifthbooties, $38 at Forever 21 / sunglasses, $49 at TOPFOXX / hat, $24 at Lulus / belt — Nasty Gal

STYLECASTER | One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable

Winter Dresses

This isn’t a look you can necessarily wear on any winter day, but on those that are surprisingly warm, don’t be afraid to break out that midi dress you practically lived in last fall. Dresses are truly simple to winter-ify—just add a jacket, some sheer (or black) tights and a cool pair of booties. I went full-on old school with this look, combining a sweet dress I scored at the thrift store with all-white accessories that left the ensemble feeling super mod. Serious vintage vibes are a fun way to sport brighter colors (or so I’ve found).

dress — vintage, editor’s own / jacket, $128 at Shopbop / boots, $159 at DSW / hat, $42 at Nordstrom

STYLECASTER | One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable

Party Pants

Want something a little bolder than a neon sweater? Try some neon pants on for size. I’ve found there are two secrets to pulling them off. First, don’t give a hoot about anyone who gives you weird looks (they’re just jealous they don’t have enough guts to toss on something so jaw-dropping that early in the morning). Second, choose another neutral color and pair them with only that tone. I grabbed my favorite funky, sheer black top and exclusively styled the look with black accessories; this approach ensured my statement pants were the focal point of my look (as they should be).

pants — vintage, editor’s own / jacket —  editor’s own / shirt — editor’s own / bra, $30 at Aerie / belt – Nasty Gal / booties, $38 at Forever 21 / hat, $24 at Lulus 

STYLECASTER | One Writer Tries to Make Winter Neons Legitimately Wearable

Bold Tees

Neon tees tend to get a bad rap due to their longstanding presence in touristy shops (and honestly, on tourists). But that’s no reason to fear the neon tee entirely. A T-shirt decked out in color offers a simple way into the winter neons trend—plus, if yours is as tropical as this vintage Bermuda tee I managed to score in the depths of winter, you can basically just pretend you’re somewhere tropical and not trapped in a freezing cold city. I tried to. Winter-ify the look by throwing on a coordinating colored blazer (I chose green because I’m extra and DGAF about what the googly-eyed people on the subway have to say), and your favorite boss babe pair of jeans.

t-shirt —vintage, editor’s own / blazer — vintage, editor’s own / jeans, $78 at Abercrombiebooties, $38 at Forever 21 / hat — Lulus


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