Mary Lou Andre
Monday, 16 February 2015

50 Shades of Gray

By Mary Lou Andre

A home improvement project brought me to the paint store this past weekend in search of the perfect shade of gray for our new bathroom. We picked out a few samples, tested them on the walls and finally settled for a shade that made everything in the room fall into place with the intended style. Extra bonus, I can now say I’ve seen “50 Shades of Gray!”

Whether you decide to see the movie or not, it is fun that “gray” is getting so much “play” right now. Not only is it a box office sensation and hot base neutral in home décor, but it’s also a great way to lighten up your wardrobe as we head into spring.

While we love gray with black, camel, red and brown as a way to transition a wardrobe for fall, pairing gray with green, pink, light blue and yellow is a great way to give it a spring twist – even when it’s still cold out.


Here are four mid-winter twists on gray for women.


And four for men.


For women, gray booties can also help lighten your look as we weather the rest of winter.


For both guys and gals, gray inspired track shoes can help put a spring in your step.

Finally, many lingerie companies are jumping on the popularity of gray, introducing lines in this soft base neutral in honor of the movie. I’ll leave that to your imagination (and own web searches!) but did want to share one Boston-based company doing a nice job with the trend – Vienne Milano. I appreciated receiving a pair of their signature thigh-highs as part of a PR campaign. Their packaging is beautiful and the quality of their hosiery superb. Fun fact is that thigh-highs work really well under slacks when you want extra warmth without panty-lines. In any regard, I am sure glad I can claim to be trending in this area as well – thanks Vienne!

From all of us, here’s to dressing well!

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About the Author

Mary Lou Andre

Mary Lou Andre is a nationally recognized wardrobe, dress code and corporate image consultant, speaker and author. She is founder and president of Organization By Design, Inc., a Needham, Massachusetts-based wardrobe management, fashion and image consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations understand the power of being appropriately dressed in a variety of situations.

Learn more about Mary Lou » 

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Phyllis Fredericksen 2015-02-17 10:29

Can you please address what to wear with leggings for women over 60. I love the look, but at 5'9" it's often difficult to find tops long enough. Thanks!

Mary Lou 2015-02-17 11:01

Best way to carry off this look is to wear a long tank top un-tucked over your leggings -- Nordstrom has some great sleeveless tanks that are cut long and will end mid-thigh (maybe a little shorter on you!) Complete the look with a long, flowing cardigan and a long necklace. A cuff and hoop earrings will further balance the outfit on your tall frame while also adding age-appropriate signature flair.
Good luck!

Michelle Owings-Chri 2015-02-17 12:11

I have gotten thin enough to purchase "off the rack" leggings. I am only 5'4", will be 59 in May, and was just talking about this with my sister yesterday. Thanks for the advice, Mary Lou, and for the question, Phyllis!

Phyllis Fredericksen 2015-02-17 13:21

You're welcome! I just love the look and how comfortable leggings are, so I appreciate all tips:)

Cathy 2015-02-17 12:38

Hi Mary Lou,
I am also looking for that perfect shade of grey! Can you share the paint color you found with the rest of us? Grey is a difficult color - with various base undertones (as in clothing) and it has to be "that perfect shade" ……. Thanks for your help.

Mary Lou 2015-02-17 18:39

Hi Cathy --
We went with Benjamin Moore "pebble beach" in the bathroom. Our bedroom is soon to be Benjamin Moore "calm" and our kitchen was recently updated with BM "silver bells."
Hope this helps!
Mary Lou

Carol friedman 2015-02-17 21:06

Love your "gray" paint color selections. Gray is the perfect timeless neutral. In home decor and fashion. Every color is relative to the natural light in the space. Easily 50 Shades of Gray to consider. Perhaps time to turn my design focus from interiors to me. I need a makeover..Think of you often. Best carol Friedman

Mary Lou 2015-02-17 21:26

Great to hear from you Carol! Think of you often too. We can help arrange for a makeover anytime -- it would be awesome to work with you!

shital kakkar mehra 2015-02-17 23:29

Very interesting article...

Peg Cronin 2016-12-01 17:40

Elizabeth Mayhew, a decorator and contributor to the Washington Post wrote a comprehensive "7 shades of Grey" back in 2012 which is most helpful in selecting different shades of grey for every room in your home. I personally used it as a guide for 6 rooms in my home and have had so many compliments on the choices. Each and every shade is so easy to live with and works well with just about any accent color. I call it the "new white".
Highly recommend!


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