If you lived through the 1980s, you likely remember neon. This bold, bright family of colors, ubiquitous back then, was worn by everyone from celebrities to school kids. Over the past few years, neon has been sneaking back into fashionable favor. But it’s still difficult to work into your wardrobe. Here are a few tricks to try:

Start with accessories
It’s understandable if you don’t want to jump into a neon outfit. The colors can be harsh and they don’t complement all skin tones. If it feels too overwhelming to wear a dress, skirt or top, try a bracelet, a pair of flats, a necklace or a belt. Wearing something small will serve as a chic accent, but won’t drown you in vibrant brights. Plus, a single neon accessory will instantly perk up a muted ensemble.

Create a modern mix
Back in the day, neon was worn with one color: black.

That created a look that was extremely high-contrast. These days, neons are used in all sorts of color mixes — with primaries, neutrals and pastels. Neon yellow and its less blinding cousin, citron, work beautifully with red, purple, blue and a host of patterns.

If puzzling out complementary colors feels too daunting, start with gray. Modern neons pair wonderfully with gray. And gray creates a softer mix than stark ’80s black.


Play with patterns
Another way to dip your toes into neon is to wear patterns that include neon as well as other, more subdued shades. Prints with neon pinks and oranges are showing up in loads of spring and summer clothing and accessories. Patterns that feature sour apple greens and bright yellows also are popular.

You also can try pairing solid neons with neon-free patterns. Subtle, subdued or colorless patterns can do amazing things to this fluorescent family of colors. Black-and-white patterns with some irregularity to them also work well. Try geometric abstracts or even zebra prints, but avoid bold, regular black-and-white prints. They tend to look more like a throwback than a fresh new take on neon.


Sally McGraw is the Minneapolis-based author of Already Pretty (www.already­pretty.com), a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.