Neutral Ground: Kate Jones of Ursa Major

Neutral Ground is a casual, weekly interview series with friends in the industry. Say... conversational breakdowns of what neutrals mean, and what that means when it's time to get dressed. Tune in each Wednesday to see who's who and how creatives of all stripes view the world, color not included.

Ursa Major jewelry was started in NYC by designer, Kate Jones, in 2009.  Currently based in San Francisco, all jewelry is handmade in house using the most careful eye and finest materials.... Designed to be contemporary, yet timeless.  Subtle, yet distinct.

Ursa Major jewelry was started in NYC by designer, Kate Jones, in 2009.  Currently based in San Francisco, all jewelry is handmade in house using the most careful eye and finest materials.... Designed to be contemporary, yet timeless.  Subtle, yet distinct.

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NT- What are you wearing right now?

Kate Jones- A navy blue silk pajama top with gray piping, a gray cotton tank underneath, an old pair of levi’s, and some blue birks with white soles

 

NT- What Color [or two] do you own the most of within your wardrobe?

Kate Jones- Blue and white

 

NT- How do you approach neutrals when dressing?

Kate Jones- As a way of giving a good base to an outfit, and grounding it, or creating a good muted and tonal palette.  I have a tendency to dress tonally…and I love the nuances that can be created all within the same color range: white on white, denim on denim.

 

NT- In your opinion- IS there a difference between Neutral Colors within the wardrobe, vs. say...Art & Object Coloration? 

Kate Jones- No, I think either way it serves the same purpose- to give the eye a neutral ground as a starting place.  A fundamental base that doesn’t cloud the eye while trying to process the image.  The neutrality lets the form and shape take center stage- and I feel like for most art and objects that is a tremendous part of the design.  And in fashion it can allow the silhouette to reign supreme.  I don’t think most people realize how the silhouette can define one’s style.  

 

NT- In the context of dressing only in neutrals, what roll and rules must Accessories & jewelry play by? 

Kate Jones-  Well I don’t know, do accessories have to be considered when trying to dress only in neutrals, or is the neutral dressing a way of showcasing the accessories?  I suppose as primarily a jewelry designer I would think like the latter.  But I also believe in jewelry and accessories being conspicuous and inconspicuous at the same time and I suppose there’s some neutrality to that.  

 

NT- Prints seem to be generating a lot of controversy, are prints neutral? Is neutral defined only by color or does pattern have bearing too? 

Kate Jones- This is a very, very good question.  I stopped in the middle of answering it to have a coffee with friends and it became the hot topic!  

So here’s my answer:

I’m on the fence about prints, but only in that not all prints are created equal.  Just as not all colors are neutral. So I suppose that’s the answer- there are neutral prints and non-neutral.  I think perhaps it’s largely a matter of proportion and traditional vs non traditional.  I think neutrality has, in part, something to do with how little it detracts our mind from the ability to process information.  And part of the ease of processing has to do with familiarity.  So traditional patterns: stripes, dots, checks…. are probably more neutral- we look at them and we understand what’s going on- and of course provided they are in a neutral palette.  And thin stripes are more neutral than large bold ones.  But animal prints….well I say that’s a definite no, no matter how neutral their palette is.  But I realize that’s a totally subjective opinion.  They’re just too busy….not matter how quickly I can process that a zebra print is a zebra print…it’s still distracting.


Neutral Ground: Sugar Vendil of the Nouveau Classical Project

Neutral Ground is a casual, weekly interview series with friends in the industry. Say... conversational breakdowns of what neutrals mean, and what that means when it's time to get dressed. Tune in each Wednesday to see who's who and how creatives of all stripes view the world, color not included.

The Nouveau Classical Project (NCP) is a hybrid music ensemble and creative production hub that is putting “a new face on classical music” (NPR Deceptive Cadence) and “leading [the] unlikely intersection of classical music and fashion” (The New York Times). Spearheaded by Artistic Director and Pianist Sugar Vendil, NCP’s mission is to re-imagine the concert experience in modern and dynamic ways through adventurous projects, new repertoire, and collaborations with fashion designers, dancers, composers, and more. NCP began by collaborating with fashion designers to create music-inspired looks to be worn by musicians and has since expanded to creating imaginative projects that go beyond the traditional concert format.

The Nouveau Classical Project (NCP) is a hybrid music ensemble and creative production hub that is putting “a new face on classical music” (NPR Deceptive Cadence) and “leading [the] unlikely intersection of classical music and fashion” (The New York Times). Spearheaded by Artistic Director and Pianist Sugar Vendil, NCP’s mission is to re-imagine the concert experience in modern and dynamic ways through adventurous projects, new repertoire, and collaborations with fashion designers, dancers, composers, and more. NCP began by collaborating with fashion designers to create music-inspired looks to be worn by musicians and has since expanded to creating imaginative projects that go beyond the traditional concert format.

NT- What are you wearing right now?

A long semi-sheer silk/cotton sleeveless collared button down with an asymmetrical hem, fit black denim shorts that used to be pants, a bright neonish yellow-green bra, a navy fabric necklace, white rubber bathing shoes with side cutouts, vintage engagement ring, and wedding ring

 

NT- What Color [or two] do you own the most of within your wardrobe?

Sugar Vendil: White

 

NT- How do you approach neutrals when dressing?

SV: Neutrals comprise most of my wardrobe, although I do love color! Because I have so many neutrals in my closet, I try to incorporate interesting silhouettes or interesting moments of surprise in my outfit, and that's usually through color or jewelry.

NT- In your opinion- IS there a difference between Neutral Colors within the wardrobe, vs. say...Art & Object Coloration?

SV: For me, most of the time there is a difference. I've tried to design things such as flyers or invitations using the colors I'd want to wear together and oftentimes it just doesn't work. Recently, however, shortly after designing our benefit invitations I saw a Jack Spade bag online with the exact same color scheme! That was a surprise.

NT- In the context of dressing only in neutrals, what role and rules must Accessories & jewelry play by?

SV: I think neutrals allow you to have less rules in regards to accessories & jewelry. It's almost as if the neutral dress plays the role of accessory, accentuating the accessories, allowing jewelry to really pop.

NT-Prints seem to be generating a lot of controversy, are prints neutral? Is neutral defined only by color or does pattern have bearing too?

SV: Patterns can absolutely be neutral. They are repetitive by nature, and that repetition allows a pattern to become regular rather than jarring. Prints can also serve as a canvas for solid color. A solid, for example, would stand out more laid on top of a pattern.


Neutral ≠ Impartial: Impatient

I have to be honest: it’s been a rough few months for Neutral Territory. My sporadic  journaling’s not just a result of being busy. To tell you the truth, letting go of any of the colors that still remain in my wardrobe has been, well... let's say disconcerting. I thought I'd enjoy the added challenge of one-by-one color elimination, integrated into this 365 day experiment. 'Keep it interesting,' so to speak. What it’s actually done, on the other hand, is make me feel fucking crazy.  And frustrated. And totally sick of the project altogether. To be honest, I’m ready to quit.

The point of Neutral Territory was to try to understand why I feel the way I do about the colors and prints and patterns and fabrics and silhouettes that I wear. And it has. BUT it really only took three months for me to understand I feel ‘less than’ without all the options I previously afforded myself… not talking cash, here, but rather range, access to expressive capacity. I knew this year wouldn’t be easy, but the lack of color is starting to feel like it’s stunting my fucking personality!

Oh, money comes into it, too. Even if funds were (somehow) unlimited, I’m also feeling extremely resistant to purchasing anything else cream, white, tan, grey and for sure BLACK. Using these “core” neutrals exclusively hasn’t helped me understand a damn thing about what makes them classic – if anything, it’s done the opposite. Neutrals are basically arbitrary, I mean. Plus, I’m bored. AND a classic white button down [you know, a simple one] continues to elude me. Instead my attentions have been stuck on trying to find dynamic pieces in an un-dynamic palette. And it’s KILLING ME. I’m not saying I don’t want to invest in staples, but when facing a wardrobe empty of aesthetic interest, the last thing I want to do is be dressed head to toe in “classics.” That’s an entirely different style that is NOT Gretchen.

Safe to say, I’m pissed.

The moral of this story? I have not fallen in love with neutrals, and I can’t freaking wait to get back to color. Wardrobe staples are well and good, and I’m looking forward to continuing to invest in quality basics, but not until I have my statement pieces back... and I am ready to put this whole shebang to bed and get back to being myself again.

Quite the pickle I’ve put myself in. To proclaim I’m doing a year-long experiment, with day-by-day documentation, and then to up and quit? That doesn’t feel like me, either.

So, do I see through the last quarter (which would mean cutting out denim and brown RIGHT NOW... and end the year in only the most neutral of all neutrals, white[s.] Or damn the torpedoes and get back to being me? I think this experiment as reached it's conclusion.

Maybe you’ll all chime in. What do You think I should do? Just think of the outfits you might be missing from me!? No pressure.

Neutral Ground: Erik Prowell of Bridge & Burn

Neutral Ground is a casual, weekly interview series with friends in the industry. Say... conversational breakdowns of what neutrals mean, and what that means when it's time to get dressed. Tune in each Wednesday to see who's who and how creatives of all stripes view the world, color not included.
ERik Prowell's Portland, Oregon based label  Bridge & Burn creates apparel for people who appreciate the clean, well crafted, and functional. Taking inspiration from everyday life, our aesthetic is anchored in quiet confidence and make-it-your-own versatility. Great fits combine with remarkable, distinctly utilitarian details, culminating in clothing that’s made to be worn and a pleasure to wear.

ERik Prowell's Portland, Oregon based label  Bridge & Burn creates apparel for people who appreciate the clean, well crafted, and functional. Taking inspiration from everyday life, our aesthetic is anchored in quiet confidence and make-it-your-own versatility. Great fits combine with remarkable, distinctly utilitarian details, culminating in clothing that’s made to be worn and a pleasure to wear.


NT- What are you wearing right now?

EP- Blue oxford shirt. Olive drab cutoffs. Grey Vans slip-ons. Camouflage trucker hat. A watch.

 

NT- What Color [or two] do you own the most of within your wardrobe?

EP-My wardrobe is mostly different shades and patterns of blue with some olive and grey mixed in.

 

NT- How do you approach neutrals when dressing?

EP- I wear mostly neutrals and will add some color with shoes or socks or some other accessory.

 

NT- In your opinion- IS there a difference between Neutral Colors within the wardrobe, vs. say...Art & Object Coloration?

EP-My tastes in art differs considerably from my wardrobe. I'm often drawn to pieces that are more loud, bold, and colorful.

 

NT- In the context of dressing only in neutrals, what roll and rules must Accessories & jewelry play by?

EP- Jewelry is not my thing, but when limiting yourself to neutrals, more emphasis should be accessorizing in interesting ways.

 

NT- Prints seem to generating a lot of controversy, are prints neutral? Is neutral defined only by color or does pattern have bearing too?

EP- I consider a print of neutral colors to still be a neutral.

Neutral Ground: Tamar Wider of The2Bandits & Camp

Neutral Ground is a casual, weekly interview series with friends in the industry. Say... conversational breakdowns of what neutrals mean, and what that means when it's time to get dressed. Tune in each Wednesday to see who's who and how creatives of all stripes view the world, color not included.

The 2 Bandits is a jewelry line from Texas bred designer Tamar Wider. Heavily influenced by Texan culture, Wider grew up immersed in a family-run diamond wholesaling business. In a quest to hone her craft, she set off to Ramat Gan in Israel to train and become a certified gemologist. Following her return to the States, she furthered her studies in jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology before starting her brand, which is now stocked at a number of retailers including Fred Segal, Free People, The Reformation and Planet Blue; the line retails for $55-$298.

The 2 Bandits is a jewelry line from Texas bred designer Tamar Wider. Heavily influenced by Texan culture, Wider grew up immersed in a family-run diamond wholesaling business. In a quest to hone her craft, she set off to Ramat Gan in Israel to train and become a certified gemologist. Following her return to the States, she furthered her studies in jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Technology before starting her brand, which is now stocked at a number of retailers including Fred Segal, Free People, The Reformation and Planet Blue; the line retails for $55-$298.

NT- What are you wearing right now?

TW- My Thunderbird Cut offs that I bought in Austin a few years back and a CAMP Collection sweatshirt.

 

NT- What Color [or two] do you own the most of within your wardrobe?

TW- Denim, Grey, White, Camel

 

NT- How do you approach neutrals when dressing?

TW- Neutrals is all I use. I use my color in my jewelry. I love anything distressed, specifically camels, rusts and denim.

 

NT- In your opinion- IS there a difference between Neutral Colors within the wardrobe, vs. say...Art & Object Coloration?

TW- Compared to most women my age, people would describe me as a more avant garde which I find ironic because I wear mainly neutrals. Neutral matching is a big part of my style. For example, I'll wear denim cuts with a plain white T and then a huge faux fur brown jacket with Birkenstock. If the fit and cut are right, I find neutrals to be more versatile to dress up or down.

 

NT- In the context of dressing only in neutrals, what roll and rules must Accessories & jewelry play by?

TW- Lots of the jewelry that I design for The2Bandits plays in neutral with a similar concept of versatility. I also like to introduce color into my accessories which give my neutral look some flair.

 

NT- Prints seem to generating a lot of controversy, are prints neutral? Is neutral defined only by color or does pattern have bearing too?

TW- For me, neutral prints are defined by color. I am a solid girl but play around with textures. For me, texture > color.