Neutral ≠ Impartial: About Face


 noun \ə-ˈbat-ˈfās\

: the act of turning to face in the opposite direction

: a complete change of attitude or opinion


I simply must say – sometimes, opposites don't attract. Sometimes they compliment, sometimes they revolt each other... For me, when speaking of neutrals [or at least, living in neutrals only] I found myself feeling turned off. 

It's approximately one month after deciding to say to hell with my neutral project, after returning home from NYFW in September. I lived in neutrals only for roughly 10.5 months, not a full year, really starting in November 2013 after giving myself a buffer of a few months to see if I even really wanted to explore this Neutral Territory concept. I had been longing for quite some time to throw on some pink [thank you Ulla Johnson and Ryan Roche for creating a cult-worthy addiction to my favorite hue!] let alone the rest of the rainbow and started to realize that I had learned the lesson[s] I hoped to achieve through neutral territory... and some I wasn't expecting, either. 

First off, the number one lesson I learned is that color in fact plays a HUGE part in how I relate to the world and my wardrobe. I use color to translate my mood and perspective. I adore the way colors interact through pattern and texture. And with that, I don't feel like myself without at least a smidgen on. Color – in all its glory – is important to me.

The other, less-than-expected lesson I learned is remarkable and humbling and encouraging all in one. My perspective and view and project actually meant something to more than just me. My pursuit to understand myself more became one in which I understood the way my ideas and aesthetics affected those around me. The torrent of comments after my journal post 'Impatient,' for example... They were thoughtful and caring and intellectual and opinionated in a way that left me in awe of my greater collective. I was encouraged to see most everyone feel that my project had come to a conclusion and that I should just do me. And so, I am.  

Another incredible experience and opportunity came through reviewing all the interviews I had done over the last nine months. The creative community I am a part of is VAST. The word community stands out to me, as the reach and breadth between all these talented souls leaves me awed. I had the opportunity to chat with 36 different creatives and get their take on a world of neutrality. Ultimately, we confirmed "neutral" means something different to everyone, and everyone finds them important.

I suppose what I am left with is a deeper question: what now? How do I take such an impactful experience into the next chapter? I believe I stumbled across the magic of influence, of inspiring others to think about things differently and a confidence in my creativity that was very much needed. So how exactly do I take Neutral Territory in another direction? Not to mention what seemed most important in sharing with you my processes and experience? 

Now, a year after moving across the country, landing my dream job [I just got promoted to the Womenswear Director of Fashion for Pendleton] and getting married to a wonderful man who encouraged me to start Neutral Territory last fall and finding a home of my own to remodel and nest in... Neutral Territory is a place for me to just be me. But still, I must ask – what would you all like to see from me, here? And what meant the most to you in following along the way?

This may be a complete 180 – we'll see. My attitude has certainly changed. 

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.


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.