50 Shades of Gray

This fall, the color of the season is all things gray. From gorgeous sweaters to fabulous boots, you'll find a head-to-toe assortment!

For my 13th birthday, I asked for gray flannel trousers, a white crew neck sweater (soft), black penny loafers, and a doll the size of a 3-year-old in a pink dress. I had hit the bridge between girl and Girl. That was in 19… oh, never mind.

According to the London Times, in a piece that came out last week, I’d be totally on trend for 2023. The prestigious publication announced the return of gray – head-to-toe gray. The designers that tell us what to wear have declared it the color (of sorts, for fall). Put the pieces together, head to toe, and you have what they have dubbed a “Groutfit.”

That sounds like wearing cement, doesn’t it? But at least 50 shades of gray are out there, from pale, pale chinchilla to seriously dark charcoal. Some have a blue cast, some yellow, and some lean toward lavender. No doubt there’s at least one shade you’ll find flattering.

The Paris shows were full of the moody hue; models pranced in everything from flowy dresses to pantsuits from luxe lines like Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Ferragamo, as well as “Balenciaga, which makes a point of being depressing,” quipped the Times. Quick adopters were fashionistas like model Gigi Hadid, and star-studded clientele like Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande quickly hopped on the monochrome train. 

What happened to red? You might well ask. Wasn’t that THE color for this fall? Puh-lease, that was so… last week. And Barbie pink? Yawn. Summer’s over.

As you’ve probably noticed, gray has been the in color for walls for at least the last decade. Now you can hide in plain sight, blending right into the living room walls, swallowed by the down-filled raw-silk cushions of your gray sofa, wriggling your toes in deep pile carpeting as icy as a lynx in the snow.

But wait! Don’t stash the pink – or the red – just yet. Is there anything more feminine or more appealing than pale pink and gray? Top a pair of wide-legged gray wool trousers with a pink cashmere or Angora sweater, and you’re a lusciously soft gray kitten, rosy tongue lapping milk from a silver bowl. Switch to a matching gray sweater and add a red pashmina, red shoes, and a red bag – poof — gorgeous. With black, navy, or white, you’re all easy sophistication.

Whatever the accent color, sling a rope or two of pearls around your neck, pearl or diamond studs in your ears, or add silver cuffs or bracelets – I like it bold, but you might prefer dainty. Either way, it’s smashing. Add a slash of red lipstick or pink, which is more forgiving.

If your hair matches your trousers, all the better!

Ah, my gray flannel pants (circa right now) at Banana Republic – which, you should know, is having a massive fall sale – as is most everyone, but this sale is HUGE. These wide-legged, pleated, charcoal heather pants are as close to black as gray gets and totally on-trend. They were $100, reduced to $50 – and you get an additional 20% off on top of that. That’s – are you kidding me? — territory.

The pants have a matching jacket, but maybe switch it up with a light gray herringbone on top. This one has a snazzy fit at the waist and silvery buttons. It was $200, now it’s $100 less 20%. There are matching pants for this one as well.

La Ligne recently got the highest marks for their 7-ply cashmere from testers at the New York Times. Their best-selling Marin sweater comes in stripes and solids, including a pearly gray that’s almost a sweatshirt but decidedly more elevated – $295.

If you haven’t yet heard of Quince, listen up. Their $50 gray Mongolian Cashmere Crewneck Sweater gets raves for quality and comes in 19 colors, including light pink, red, black, and white – all terrific with gray. There are plenty more styles for women, men, and children…t-shirts, dresses, jackets, and so forth…

That “and so forth” includes fine cotton, silks, and woolens in addition to cashmere. I’m loving this slightly cropped, boxy-loose mock turtle made of viscose, polyester, and nylon for over a skirt or pants. It comes in gray, black, or tan – also $50.

Mohair just feels so….warm and cuddly, doesn’t it? A hot cuppa in front of a roaring fire, wrapped up in a snuggly cardigan – do you need a matching poodle for this? & Other Stories is another fine spot for luxurious basics with a not-so-luxurious price tag. Their relaxed knit, mostly mohair cardigan also comes in black and beige. $159.

Did I say you had to pass a sobriety test to wear gray? I did not. So consider these Daniela gunmetal metallic jeans, $348 from Veronica Beard. Go all in and pair them with the towering, bejeweled April heels from Badgley Mischka. You’ll look spectacular sitting down in them. And they’re on sale at Nordstrom for around $77.

How about a giddy(up) pair of cowboy boots? These black beauties from Ouepiano are studded with rhinestones and come to the knee – cool over leggings, hot under a skirt or dress. Plus! They have a Good Housekeeping seal of approval and over 2900 four-and-a-half-star ratings at Amazon. They also come in silver metallic – if you want to go all in on silver – and nine other colors for under $70

Getting back to basics, a pair of gotta-have black penny loafers, like these from Cos., All leather, with the penny slots on top. $150, on-line only.

Put a kick into those pennies with a purple pair from Sebago. The Classic Dan Leather Penny Loafers are hand-sewn with a waterproof rubber sole. $265 at Neiman Marcus.

Nothing finishes a look like a great top coat. Leave it open to stride about, button it up, and pop the collar to ward off frigid breezes. This one from Theory has it all: a relaxed fit so that you can wear it over a suit, jeans, sweats, or those pleated flannels. It hits just below the knee if you happen to be 5’10” like the model it’s shown on, more likely around mid-calf. At Bloomingdales for $995 in what they call “pestle mélange,” which is fancy speak for charcoal gray.

Read Next:

Getting Into Vogue This Fall

Flatter or Fatter? Jeans Right For You!

Maxi Dresses: Optimal Comfort, Maximum Fashion