Unless you’re in the position of starting a wardrobe from scratch, your wardrobe evolves organically over time. Most women intuitively know what colors look best on them – really, they do. The problem I find when I go into women’s closets is that they’ve ALSO PURCHASED THE WRONG COLORS. So their closets end up with a mishmash of color palettes, leaving orphan pieces that don’t go with anything.
When I meet with a client I determine her best colors and signature style (how she wants to feel in her clothes) before I look at her closet. I ask her questions about her lifestyle, her clothing needs, and how she wants to express her personality. This gives me a good idea of what clothes to keep and what to weed out.
I’ve heard clients, as well as some style experts, say that color palettes are unnecessary.
They talk about how it’s more important to buy colors you enjoy and not restrict yourself to one palette. I enjoy soft, summer pastel colors – I’m drawn to mauve, orchid, and taupe. The problem is these colors wash me out, and suck the energy right out of me! So I’ve learned to admire these colors on other people and stick to my color palette. Yes, I stray outside the palette lines occasionally, but I always make sure the NEW color I’m adding has several mix-and-match pieces in my current wardrobe. Plus, I accessorize the NEW color with a gorgeous scarf or necklace so I frame my face with my best color.
When a stylist visits your home and cleans out your closet she may leave you with a shopping list of pieces she recommends that will fully utilize the clothes remaining in your closet. For instance, she may have removed staple pieces like blazer jackets or long-sleeve layering tops. Don’t panic! Just start replacing those missing items a few at a time so your clothing budget doesn’t burst, and enjoy wearing what you have.
Here are some tips to build a wardrobe within one color palette:
KNOW YOUR COLORS
Ask a stylist or fashionista friend to help you determine your best color palette. Identify the colors that work with your eyes, hair and complexion and make those the predominant colors in your wardrobe. Be honest with yourself, and be willing to change your color palette, because it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. You may love a color in theory — like magenta — but feel off when wearing it as a wardrobe item. Black is something I advise some clients to wear minimally, especially in daytime, as it doesn’t always complement your skin tone as you get older. My Curvy Stylist friend, Cynthia Miller, asks, “why do you think theater stagehands wear all black? To disappear and NOT get noticed by the audience!” That’s what black does – it makes you disappear.
Like I’ve said many times, the right colors will make you look younger and more energetic. The wrong colors actually age you. Who wants that? When your closet is cluttered with some right colors and many wrong colors, it’s confusing, complicated, and stressful. If nothing else, having a wardrobe organized around one color palette makes getting dressed easy and joyful.
Here’s what a recent client told me after her closet cleaning experience, “Linda, it was wonderful to have you come to the house yesterday, you were a great help. I loved your help with purging my closet and was amazed that all this time I have been picking the wrong the colors, who knew? I did wear one of the outfits you put together. I wore the grey pants, with the cream embellished sweater and the olive sleeveless blouse underneath…and felt like a million bucks. Thank you again for making the process so easy and fun, it’s a great service that you provide.” – Julie
Note: If you’re interested in learning your best color palette, I offer virtual color consultations via Skype. It’s fast, easy, and accurate.
BUILD A WARDROBE OF MOSTLY NEUTRALS
Identify neutrals that work best with your color palette. I recommend building a simple wardrobe of mostly neutrals, adding pops of color that bring out your radiance. Choose different ranges of neutrals: dark, mid-tone and light to increase the outfit combinations you can create. This makes it so easy to get dressed!
For example, if your color palette is PLATINUM (Summer), your neutrals are light, medium and dark gray, taupe, tan, soft white, blush mauve, light orchid, and light blue. The soft white and tan work well with the rest of the pastel color palette. A dark brick (upper left square) red pop of color looks luscious with the neutrals.
REFLECT UPON YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
Creating a wardrobe that makes you feel confident and authentic is all about having colors and styles that express who you are inside. You want to weed out clothes that don’t bring you confidence (and therefore don’t get worn) by removing the wrong colors and styles. To help you think about your signature style, ask yourself these questions:
- How do you want to feel in your clothes?
- What do you want to express through your style?
- What do you NOT aspire to in your style?
- How far is your current style from your ideal style? What would you have to change?
- Which are your current favorite wardrobe items, and why do you like wearing them?
- Which outfits have you felt best in lately, and why did they make you feel fab?
MIX AND MATCH COLORS LIKE A STYLIST
The more you combine unexpected colors together in an outfit, the more confidence you will generate. In other words if you walk out of the house in the blue and mahogany colors above, or alternatively, combine a mustard yellow pencil skirt, a purple top, and wide belt, you are definitely saying to the world I know how to dress stylishly.
You’re in control of a wardrobe when it’s easily color coordinated in new and fun ways. One word of caution: don’t go overboard mixing too many solid colors together in one outfit. Two strong colors should be enough to get you noticed in a good way. More than two colors may evoke second takes…unless it’s a print. The good news is that you can take your color combinations from the color palette card your stylist gives you.
STICK TO YOUR CAPSULE WARDROBES
It’s inevitable that your wardrobe will evolve over time, and that is a good thing. If you’ve attended my online style workshop you know that I help you determine your “capsule wardrobe” needs so that when you add new pieces to your wardrobe, you’re mindful of how the pieces fit your lifestyle. Of course you’re free to add pieces you know you’ll only wear once or twice, but just be aware they will end up going to charity next year because you have no occasion to wear them.
If you’re adding a new color to your wardrobe, ask yourself whether you already have the neutral and non-neutral items to wear with the new color. If it’s a color that’s in your color palette, then you have no worries!
For example, a client of mine wanted to add blush to her wardrobe. Blush was on her color card, but she had never worn it. In order to make the blush work well in outfits, she also needed to purchase a few more separates in soft white, tan and gray. This opened the door to wear her new blush pieces, and she could pair them with existing colors like mint and lilac effortlessly.
As you can see, building a wardrobe around a color palette creates an interesting, flexible, flattering set of clothing choices. Most of your color choices will be intuitive once you get the hang of how to mix and match colors. Creating new color combination outfits from your existing wardrobe is one of the joys of coloring within the color palette lines.
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