Choosing a Color Palette for Your Wardrobe

Hello there, fabulous readers!

Recently, I was working with a client who had a Personal Style Consultation some months ago. In the interim, she had been texting me when shopping to ask whether an outfit was “working” or not.  Although the styles were great, I would regularly ask her if they had the XYZ (my shorthand for random item!) she was looking at in a different color, one more flattering to her warm coloring. She clearly is a warm palette woman (although she’s not had a full color consult). Over time, I realized that there was no coherent color scheme to the pictures. She was choosing pieces in colors she loved, but with no plan for color in mind. At her Closet Inspiration session she asked for help to see how to best use what she owned, and how to work her new purchases into her (already very full) wardrobe. When I got a peek into her closet, I could see her problem. It was a beautiful rainbow (Organized by color! YAY!), but because the colors were warm and cool, bright and muted, light and dark, it was a challenge to take advantage of the bounty in there.

Choosing a Color Palette for a Wardrobe

Two by Two

When a client needs an entirely new wardrobe, we start by looking at her personal coloring. Is she warm or cool complexioned? What is her Value Contrast? And is her coloring overall lighter or darker? If she’s warm, I would help her choose two warm neutrals (like camel, olive, brown, warm navy, tan, or ivory) that suit her and her personality best.  If her coloring is cool, I would look at grey, dove, charcoal, flannel, navy, taupe, rose brown, and white, and we’d pick two that suit. After choosing her two neutrals (that reflect her overall coloring and Value well), we would choose two  accent colors from the color wheel. (Ideally, I look for colors that make my client’s skin and eyes glow!). You can go on and add more neutrals and accents, but two and two is a great place to start.

What If You’re Not Starting from Scratch?

Polyvore of Warm vs. Cool Neutral Women's ClothingTwo Neutrals

Even if we want a wardrobe overhaul, most of us are not starting from scratch. (Our wallets thank us for that!) As described above, with this client I started by looking at her coloring, and then at what she had in her closet. She is a medium to light warm complexioned woman. We took an analytical approach, and started looking for pieces in just four colors, two neutrals and two accent colors (more like color families). I began by pulling the warm colors I saw the most of, olive and tan/khaki. I left behind the blacks. Black (although easy to find at the stores) is not flattering on her, nor does black play well with the colors that make her glow.  Black is not a must! (Contrary to popular opinion, no one MUST wear black!)

Since this client struggles to find bottoms that fit well, on our first grab, we took two neutral trousers, one olive and one khaki. Then our goal was to find two tops and two toppers to create a column of color that she could spark up with her accent colors. Aha! Only one bottom had tops and toppers to coordinate. The best part of this neutral core approach is that she could see her wardrobe holes and start on a strategic list for future shopping trips. Once we pulled some tops and toppers in the same color families as the trousers, we began to play around. Now this woman is vibrant! She has warm blue-green eyes, and WOW! her personality just shines, so all neutral outfits would never feel “her”.

Two Colors

Then I started looking in her closet for colors (vice neutrals). As I said, she had a rainbow in there. She owns oodles of salmon/coral/russet, and since this color makes her look radiant, that was an easy pick. She can wear these lovely sunset shades with both her olive and tan neutrals, and with them in combination. We took some time to play in her accessories, and found scarves and jewelry that looked fabulous together. Once we were working with light and medium warm colors, it was easier to create outfits. Then we moved on to different combinations, including a salmon top with a russet cardigan over it. Although an atypical combination, it looked amazing with both neutrals, and she started to see how fewer color options, carefully selected, would give her great looks with less stress.

By the time we finished, we had about 20 pieces on her bed, and literally hundreds of outfits for her that spanned a variety of seasons.  She had felt like she needed more clothing, and all that was already in her closet! She also had a great start on a (very small!) shopping list that would make her pieces even more versatile. (It was necessary to put leopard print shoes on that list, BTW!)

She had a few turquoise tops, so we chose those as her second accent color, and found even more accessories to make these play well with her olives and tans. One of our favorites was the turquoise top under the olive cardigan with the olive trousers. She had the perfect necklace that created an effortless and intentional look at the same time. After that she added another accent of a purple that makes her happy, and plays well with her olives and tans. We separated a large number of tops in cool blues, greys, blacks, and whites, and moved those out of the way. She may donate those, consign them, or overdye them to create more flattering colors.

Not only does this two and two method provide a framework to get a grip on an overstuffed closet, it’s a fabulous way to pack for a trip! But more on that next week…

Let’s start a conversation below!  I love to hear your thoughts! What is your favorite wardrobe color combination?

Stay Stylish!

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

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