Happy day dear reader!
Have you ever thought about changing the colors of your wardrobe? Not just adding a new color here or there, but a complete overhaul… I know the thought of it overwhelmed me, and was one of the biggest sticking points to having a Color Consultation. I didn’t really want to know my colors, because I didn’t want to find out I had made mistakes, and I didn’t want to buy a new wardrobe.
When I finally had my colors done properly, I looked at my palette and thought, “Meh.” I had been living very happily in black, grey, denim, and a few cool brights. (At least I had the cool part right!) The colors in my Sublime palette weren’t what I was used to, and they certainly didn’t look like my closet! I had a few pieces that fit my new palette, but replacing an entire wardrobe? Who’s got that kind of money or time?
As I looked more carefully at my palette, I realized that the few pieces I did have in my colors were the ones that elicited “Wow, you look great today!” or “You look so happy today!” when I wore them. Maybe there was something to this color thing after all… That was when I decided to bite the bullet and transition my wardrobe to one that would make me look my best all the time!
I think that need-to-throw-out-my-whole-wardrobe-and-start-from-scratch misconception is common. As an image and color consultant, I would never recommend that to anyone! If you need a completely new wardrobe because you’ve lost or gained 50 pounds and nothing fits, great. If you need a completely new wardrobe because your house flooded, not great, but a great time to start fresh and build a wardrobe that really looks fabulous on you, shape, size, and COLOR! But throwing it all out is bad for your wallet and the planet! Let’s talk about a better way to make that change…
What Do I Have That Works?
The first step was getting really honest with myself. I had a lot of money, time, and emotion invested in my wardrobe. Most of us do. Making the shift wasn’t going to be easy, and doing it in a real wardrobe isn’t like on those makeover shows where the experts swoop in and you shop on someone else’s money. So step one is a Wardrobe Audit! For me, this change was really only about color and not a style makeover, so much of the prep work was already done. The goal for this Audit is to look at each and every piece using the swatch as the guide, remembering not to look for an exact match for color, but instead for the palette to “sink in” because it share the same Color DNA as the colors in the palette. Feel free to get rid of things that you know don’t fit or suit you, but stay focused on color!
Note: If going through your whole wardrobe at once is just too overwhelming, concentrate on this current season and the next! Get the other stuff out of your way; you’ll have less work through now and be better at the refining process after more practice.
What Can I Dye (Or Bleach?) to Make Work?
Over the years I have dyed a LOT of clothes. Sometimes because they were black or denim and needed a refresh to look new again. Sometimes because I am an incredibly messy person and food magnet, so dyeing a stained item darker was one way to save on replacing clothes. For these kind of jobs, I just use the washing machine method. So if your palette is darker than what you own, dye can be your friend! Just remember to run a bleach load afterwards to clean out the washer before running a regular load! Experience speaking. ‘Nuf said.
You can also change the undertone of an item to suit your coloring by using yellow or grey dye in small amounts to warm or cool colors. I can’t begin to explain how well this works, but if you want proof, check out this post. Bernadette is a treasure!
My new palette was lighter than most of my clothes, so overdyeing wasn’t going to be a solution. Bleach can’t be used willy-nilly, but fading my jeans by washing them with a good dose of bleach helped soften the color somewhat. It’s best to wash a few times with a small amount of bleach than to overdose in one wash. It’s also much kinder to the fibers!
Natural Turnover: What Is It Time to Replace?
The most natural and budget friendly way to transition your wardrobe to a new palette is to simply replace items as they wear out with colors from your palette! As pieces wear out, instead of buying an exact replacement, look for a replacement in a color that works with your new palette. Say you have a warm palette and need a new pair of dress slacks. Instead of defaulting to the black you had previously, replace them with “your black,” which might be a dark brown, or even a deep olive. Your white work shirt needs replacing? Look for one in ivory or sand. Neutrals are just that, neutral. Unless you are buying for a uniform, dark brown pants can substitute for black with whatever you wore the black pants with…
The same works for colored pieces. Your “new” coloring is cool? Instead of a tomato red tee, look for one with more of a cherry coloring. Please don’t rely on color names to steer you in the right direction, though. Just because a color is named “Cool Coral” doesn’t mean there’s anything cool about it. There are no regulations for naming colors! (I sometimes wish there were…)
Every item of clothing you buy has a natural life cycle. White tee shirts, for example, need to be replaced far more frequently than jeans, and jeans more often than a good blazer. The turnover cycle is complex, and combines different aspects contributing to clothing wear: color, fabric, purpose, seasonality, etc. Living in Augusta, Georgia means that my winter coat will last many more years than if I still lived in Wisconsin. It just doesn’t see the same amount of wear. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the white tee! It is so hot and humid (read sweaty) here, that a white tee is lucky to last through one summer season before it is time to find a new one. Take advantage of that life cycle and buy your best colors when replacing!
We buy new clothes, even when we have plenty in our closets. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a style refresh, but use that wish for something new as an opportunity to hasten your color change. When palette-friendly color trends hit the store, it can be a wonderful time to buy a few new pieces in your colors! There are warm colors everywhere for spring and summer, so if warm is your coloring, hop on the trend train and find yourself some wardrobe refreshment! Colors run in cycles, just like styles, so take advantage of the flavor of the month when it is one that rocks your world.
Transition isn’t an overnight process; it takes time and consideration. But having a closet full of clothes that always look good on you is worth the effort! Making the switch is the kind of logistics puzzle I enjoy, and it’s great fun to help clients with a wardrobe plan that starts with what they have, and helps them transition into the colors that make them shine!
Have you ever dramatically changed the color palette in your wardrobe? What was the trigger? And how did you go about it? Do let me know in the comments below! I love to hear from you!