How to Wear Pastel Clothing in a Non-Cheesy Way

Yes, it's possible — and these stylists are sharing their best tips.

How to Style Pastel Clothing

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Each season has its own color palette, but spring’s color story is arguably the most criticized of the four. It all started when The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly famously scoffed at an editor who suggested florals were going to be big for spring 2006. Hollywood’s most feared editor-in-chief deadpanned, unblinking, “groundbreaking,” and that was that. Florals were dubbed a painful cliche from there on out. But it’s not just spring flowers that get a bad rap; spring pastels are widely considered banal, too, which leaves us to ponder how to wear pastels in a way that isn’t so overdone.

By definition, a pastel is a “soft and delicate” shade of a color. Powdery blue and yellow, baby pink, and muted hues of sage and violet come to mind. All are gorgeous, and yet they’re considered overly cutesy, kindred to children in their seasonal Sunday best. But does this mean spring pastels should be avoided?

How to Wear Pastel Clothing

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Mix Instead of Match

According to fashion stylist and style expert, Naina Singla, just because certain colors are expected to be worn in a given season, doesn’t mean they aren’t wearable. Nor do you have to style them any differently than the status quo, if the look is one you love and feel good in. However, Singla notes there are ways to “'break' this traditional mold,” should you want to switch things up.

For example, pastels, though soft, can actually be quite aggressive. To offset their brightness, Singla suggests pairing your favorite pastel with a contrasting color — think blue, brown, or charcoal — so that the coupling can complement one another and change the entire finished look. Just keep in mind “this looks best when you choose just one contrasting color,” Singla clarifies, as “many competing colors in the outfit” can make it look too cluttered.

Reconsider Pastel Pieces

Because pastels are so strongly associated with youth, Singla also recommends wearing the softest versions of baby pink, mint green, and powder blue to evoke a more age-appropriate style that’s both delicate and feminine.

“Try a powder blue utilitarian-style silk button-down blouse paired with mocha brown high-waisted straight-leg trousers, medium to dark brown ankle boots, a pair of statement sunglasses, a mini ice blue satchel, and you are all set for an easy polished look for spring. Another option is to wear a thin layered look composed of a short-sleeve camel crewneck sweater with mid-rise jeans and neutral-colored ballet flats. Simply throw on a long pale blue lightweight maxi sweater coat over the top for added warmth, and you have a chic and comfortable look.”

How to Wear Pastel Clothing

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Think About Fabric

Beyond the clothing’s coloring, style therapist, Christina Stein tells InStyle the fabrics and cuts you’re using also play a major role in how pastels are perceived. For example, wearing something adorned with lace, florals, and/or frills, she says, “can make the garment seem less sexy.” Instead, Stein proposes sporting pastels by way of monochromatic suits, or a pastel corset with a pair of denim to “bring new life to these colors.”

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