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Developing Your Wardrobe Palette {part 1}

by Ashley on May 5, 2009

Why Develop a Wardrobe Palette?

One of the things I’ve been striving to do this year is refine my wardrobe palette. I love color–and lots of it; but that can lead to many lone pieces that don’t play well with others. This happens often to me, just as I have several pairs of unworn brown shoes in my closet.


I’ve been wavering on doing this:
♥ “Do I really want to limit myself to a color palette?”
♥ “It seems like a lot of work.”
♥ “Is it worthwhile? Will it be time consuming? Will it limit my style & creativity?”

In the end, it seems worth it. There are loads of creative men & women who have limited their wardrobe palette to a single scheme and find endless options and creative choices through it (see Nubby Twiglet & Amelia Arsenic for two amazing examples!).

I’ve pushed myself to stop thinking in terms of  “limiting” myself to the palette, and am viewing it as a base to jump off from.  It may take some work up front, but in the long run, having a wardrobe of colors I feel confident, beautiful, sexy, and comfortable in is worth it.

In reality, it seems that many of us do this subconsciously with our wardrobes.  My goal is to be aware of it, so I can maximize my purchases and the wearability of my wardrobe.

In no way do I intend for this to restrict my wardrobe. It’s my hope that this process will refine and define it, allowing for other colors to come in with a better sense of how and when to be used.

Coming up next… part 2, developing my Color Palette.



Emily July 20, 2010 at 5:36 pm

You have some truly interesting ideas for posts, and I may be borrowing this one at some point in the future (with credit, of course).

I took a class with a girl once who clearly had a colour palette going: hers was black, with red and green. I’m sure she had other colours too, but there was a lot of black, red and green! It looked excellent on her, and I do think it makes it easier to buy things like jewellery: I coveted her coral drop earrings, bought a pair and seldom wear them due to a lack of red in my own colour palette. C’est la vie!

Freya May 8, 2009 at 9:51 am

Wow, this is interesting. I think people with a lot of clothes can organise their wardrobe this way. Waiting for part 2!

Jennine May 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

i would totally develop a color pallete, but i’m such a colorslut… i don’t even have a favorite color!

Alicia May 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Sounds like an interesting undertaking…I’m interested to see which palette you pick!

Fasshonaburu May 7, 2009 at 9:45 am

Ha, I JUST bought a pair of brown pants so I could finally wear my brown shoes with something other than jeans!

Birdie May 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I definitely don’t try to, but my wardrobe is several shades of green, several shades of blue and a lot of black/grey/neutral.

I’d *love* to branch out and I need things that go with my several shades of green… I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Ashe Mischief May 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

@Jennifer Nicole – How I LOVE LOVE LOVE your idea of a clothes swapping party built around the idea of building your color palette!

@Tamia – Yes! I think it’s great to figure out what colors you gravitate towards often, and just build around that (black & grey included). I don’t want to limit myself too much, so I figure that building a palette with neutral colors, base colors, and the twist of accent colors is a good way for me to do it.

@super kawaii mama – I definitely know how you feel! The Cancer in me tends to seek colors for my emotional needs, so the idea of saying “No.” and cutting them out of my wardrobe is a bit scary. My way of doing this will be much, MUCH more broad that those who stick to one color, or even those sticking to a palette of 4 colors. Hell, I’m wondering if people are going to say, “Um, this isn’t really a palette. You’ve got too many options.”

@Shay – Thank you SO much, honey!

@Fajr/ Stylish Thought – I’m quite a bit color schizophrenic myself– so the palette will probably be a bit larger than people expect it to be! I could never pick one color, or even 3-4 to live by.

Fajr/ Stylish Thought May 6, 2009 at 6:52 am

I read that article and I envy people that can define themselves that way. I’m a bit too schizoprenic to pick just one thing, but I’m anxiously waiting to see what color palatte you decide on….

Melanie May 6, 2009 at 7:04 am

I tend to stick to a colour pallette, inspired by early muse. Monochrome against a bright vivid colour – usually red. I’ve been dressing like this for 7 years now and don’t intend to change.

Annie Spandex May 6, 2009 at 1:36 am

Wearing all black seems to be fairly common.. I’ve always thought that was interesting

Shay May 6, 2009 at 1:27 am

gave you a shout out today, check it out. ;)

super kawaii mama May 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm

The Virgo in me loves this idea. The harmonious palette, the order, the system… then the Leo in me (so hard to be on the cusp sometimes) knows that I would go crazy after less than a week of this living. But I do love to look at all these photos of people and their mono tone wardrobes. It somehow makes it seems like a delicious treat. I can’t wait to read all about your experimenting.

Tamia May 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm

I think this is a great idea. I always wind up gravitating towards the same colors anyway (er–do black and gray count as colors?)so why not make it a conscious decision? I don’t think it’s limiting at all…as a matter of fact, it can be quite liberating to develop guidelines that help you make better shopping choices!

Tara May 5, 2009 at 9:23 pm

My palette is definitely grey and black…and it does make things easier; I can pair anything with it! I used to be all over the place with color and patterns, but I’ve realized I wear things a lot more if I keep most of it simple! Great tips…

Frankie - Swell Vintage May 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I’m feeling that blue. This is a great idea for a series! x

Clandestinechic May 5, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Great write up on wardrobing. A wardrobe pallete is great and I agree it helps you enhance your wardrobe. Can’t wait to read part 2!

Jennifer Nicole May 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm

How exciting! I’d honestly never thought to do this, but thinking about my own wardrobe, I seem to have leaned toward it most of my life. And now that I think on it, the clothing I don’t often wear is all made with colors that stray from the rest of my wardrobe.

Because it’s spring, my first thought is to throw a clothing swap party with color palettes in mind. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Ashe Mischief May 5, 2009 at 1:54 pm

@Michelle – Just wait for part 2! I think it’ll really touch on both of our style identities (as they sound VERY similar). Hopefully we can help one another out on this!

@eCRAFTic – Your style sounds adorable! I love a lot of what I’ve seen from you so far, and your palette is a great one that works REALLY well together!

@Retro Chick – Burgundy & black are to great base colors to have, hon! I’ll talk about it in my next post, but maybe those are your neutral colors, and all the random ones just accent them wonderfully!

@lisa – Absolutely! It’s really helping me focus on wearability overall– how will the silhouette work with other pieces I have, how will the color, is it universal enough to be worn with many pieces. It’s invigorating in many ways!

lisa May 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm

This sounds like a really neat exercise in wardrobe editing! I think being limited in terms of colour palette forces you to focus on cut and style more and be more creative with silhouettes. Hehe I’d love to see how this goes for you!

Retro Chick May 5, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I always try and convince myself I will create a colour palette but I never do!

In reality I think most of my clothes are black or burgundy but I always buy random colours that then don’t go with anything I already own!

eCRAFTic May 5, 2009 at 11:40 am

Well, I usually dress in red and black, with a few touches of white (mostly dots) and gray, and is quite nice ‘cos all of my wardrobe can be combined perfectly in a million ways wich make things quite easier!!! Also is a sign of identity, so well for you if you want to create your own palette and stick to it!

Looking forward to see the results!

Michelle May 5, 2009 at 10:55 am

I keep waffling back and forth on this! It’s terrible, because I know it would definitely make shopping easier (don’t have to worry about if you have anything to match that piece with, if it’s not in the palette, it won’t match!). But whenever I try to narrow it down, I end up with something that looks like – pink and turquoise with occasional pieces/accents in purple, navy blue, and orange. Then I look at my list and I say, wtf, Michelle, you will look like a bag of skittles. But I don’t have the heart to cut any of the colors out (granted, orange is a bit random, but I don’t have that many pieces, just enough to include it). Sigh. So, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how you do this :)

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