I mentioned recently that I was working on putting together a colour palette for my wardrobe, and while nobody expressed wild interest in hearing more about it, I figured I’d write a post about it anyway. Hey, it’s Sunday: the three of you reading this clearly have already run through all of the interesting stuff that got posted on the internet this week, and scraped the bottom of your social media feeds, and this is surely better than scrubbing your toilet, yes? So. Let’s talk about how I bumbled my way towards wardrobe colour harmony.

There is no particular reason why I needed to figure out a colour palette for my wardrobe. I’m neither looking to replace my current one, nor re-configure it to any significant extent. I feel like I’ve spent so much time – and, let’s be honest, money – doing that in the last few years, that I have little desire to keep pursuing the unattainable – the perfect wardrobe. What I am doing is trying to refine my overall presentation (more sophisticated, more grown-up), and pare down some of the emotional baggage that’s hiding in my closet (sentimental items from decades past, impulse buys gone horribly wrong, you get the idea). Trying to find a unifying colour scheme to the eclectic bazaar that is my current closet is something of a fool’s errand too, so I took a different approach. My colour palette is not something that represents my wardrobe as it currently is, or as it will be next month, next year, or ever. I think of it more as something I’m evolving towards … even as it is evolving too.

Clear as mud?

Let’s leave the mumbo jumbo aside for now, and get into the details a bit. I mentioned that I was looking at some of Into Mind’s sample palettes, and while I found her posts interesting and thought-provoking (as always), none of the actual palettes really spoke to me. So, I decided to try putting together one of my own. Anuschka suggests choosing 3 main colours, so that’s where I started.

And got almost immediately stumped. Because I have only 2 main colours in my life, really. Black and blue. And by “blue”, I mean all of the blues under the sun, which basically defeats the whole point of a colour palette. After abandoning the whole project for a week or so, I decided to give it another, more pragmatic try. For my mains, I ended up picking black, cobalt blue, and navy – mostly because navy seemed like a better choice than light blue (think dark wash denim over light denim) for my work wardrobe, which makes up 70% of my closet.

wardrobe colour palette
black, blue, navy

I know, this is ground-breaking stuff. Honestly, I’ll always be cheating a little when it comes to the main colours because, while I do have a fair bit of cobalt blue (or close enough) in my closet, it will never be my only blue.

Moving on (don’t worry, there’s more rule-breaking ahead).

Next, Anuschka suggests picking two neutral colours. Here, I had another problem. I couldn’t pick only two. So, I decided to go with three. Camel and white were no-brainers. Or, well, almost. I hesitated a bit over picking tan or cognac, and ended up splitting the baby (so to speak) with camel, a sort of in-between colour. (To be honest, I’ll probably be lumping in all three colours under the category “camel”.) For the third neutral, I wavered a lot. I thought about brown. I thought about navy (before bumping it to a “main colour”). I ended up going with grey, which seemed the most versatile and suited to my complexion. The problem is, I struggle with grey, you guys. I have a hard time picking the right shade(s), as exemplified by this effort:

wardrobe colour palette
with the neutrals
(camel, grey, white)

I was going for a warm, medium grey and ended up with … that. In retrospect, maybe a warm, light grey would be better? To be determined …

Last but not least, there are the accent colours. Anuschka of Into Mind suggests choosing 4 so, of course, I went with 6. Three guesses as to who’s the minimalist here? Anyway, this was actually the easiest part of the whole process, even though, as we’ve established, I love All The Colours and hate to give any of them up, even theoretically. As with the rest of this exercise, I sucked at picking decent representations of my actual picks, which is why the final product looks like this:

wardrobe colour palette
everything together

I know, underwhelming. Since you probably can’t really tell, the accent colours I chose were burgundy, aqua, teal, red, plum, and yellow. In hindsight, the aqua might have been overkill. I don’t have a lot of it in my closet right now, although I love the pieces I do have. It’s not an essential accent colour for me, though. The others I feel really good about; are “power colours” still a thing? As suggested by Into Mind, I tried to stick to colours that would all (or mostly) work with each other. One of my current fave combos is black + white + accent colour, and any of the ones above would work great. I think they also pair nicely with each of my other two main colours, so there’s that.

And, so, now I have a wardrobe colour palette, which will come in handy next time someone asks me if I have a wardrobe colour palette. And hopefully the next time I go shopping and find myself distracted by All The Colours and All The Prints. Focus, Adina, focus.

Your turn: do you have a colour palette for your wardrobe, and if so, what the hell do you do with it?


23 Comments on Wardrobe Colour Palette

  1. I tried and failed to make a wardrobe palate. My instinct is always to get the orange-est possible thing, then I over-correct and buy the most basic, boring clothing in the universe. (Head to toe navy? It’s happened more than once.)

    That said, in my previous life as an art major, I took a color theory class where I was taught that all shade of blue go together- no shades of blue clash (with each other). So far, I feel like that’s held true.
    My point is I think you could totally count a blue gradient as one color.

    • This is one of the things I love about BCRL readers: I always end up learning something new from you guys. So thanks for that – good to know about blue.

      And, listen: I hear you. I tend to always *try* to buy neutrals, and somehow I always end up with florals. Kinda like the opposite of your situation 😉

  2. You got a lot further than I did! I attempted to follow Into Mind and develop my color palette, but I got stuck pretty quickly. I also realized I look best in bright saturated colors (red, pink, orange), so I just try to stick with those and cobalt (just because I like it) and black and white as my neutrals when I shop. And of course my most recent purchase was a navy and citron striped skirt, so that shows you how much I follow my own rules!

    • Rules are, like, an invitation to breakage 😉

      I’m a fairly new convert to the power of black + white as “power neutrals” (as I mentioned in the post), but I am a huge fan now. I used to be afraid of white (because I’m clumsy – hello, stains! – and because of my pastiness), but I now I think it can be quite flattering … in small doses.

  3. I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS. I kept mental notes when I started shopping for fall about the color palette I wanted to work in so that my clothes would be really easy to remix, and it totally worked. I’m working on a post about this for hopefully later this week or next, so stay tuned. I’m interested to see how this will play out for me in spring/summer, because since we have so many more of those warm days than the cool ones in the fall/winter months, I’ll need significantly more items of clothing than I did for the last 3-4 months. For fall (and winter, which, doesn’t really exist here), I did burgundy/berry, teal, grey, cognac, black, navy, emerald, and a rust/mustard gold. I didn’t do a breakdown like you did, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about how the different colors go together and can be layered, and which color becomes the focal point. Again, full post on this coming soon.

    Also, FWIW, I definitely still buy into in power colors.

    One last thing — I’m really glad you included aqua in your palette because I feel like some of these colors are more fall/winter focused and you won’t wear them as much in spring/summer, so the aqua helps lighten and brighten the other shades, both in a casual and work setting.

    You’re the best. My heart is starting to get very hungry for an Adina/Nicole meet up, even though I have no idea how that would happen. I just want everyone in the world to know how funny and charming and smart your blog is. I may as well hand out your biz cards at TxSC instead of my own with as much as I’m sure I’ll be talking about you.


    • Yes, yes, yes, yes! Oh, a meet-up would be so lovely. If you ever want to travel into the heart of winter, come to Edmonton! Or, better yet, come in the summer and enjoy all of our festivals – I think you would love The Fringe. We could eat our way around town – it would be grand!

      As for your colour palettes – I loved the fall one. Those are colours I really, really love. I CANNOT wait to read your post!

  4. Hi Adina, I had my colours ‘done’ by ‘colour me beautiful’ many yrs ago and basically haven’t looked back. I was wearing all the wrong colours before, (pastel tones pinks, baby blues etc) as soon as my colours were ‘done’ (based on skin tone, hair colour) I could see immediately where I’d gone wrong! Now shopping has never been easier as I’m instinctively drawn to autumn and soft muted tones ( salmon/coral pink, earth tones etc).
    Have you heard of ‘colour me beautiful’ consultants where you are? – or dressing according to ‘your colours’ (loads online about it). Makes dressing so much easier!

    • No, I don’t know if there is something like that around here, but I will definitely hit up the old Google as you suggested. Although, I’m a little bit scared I’ll find out that I picked all the wrong colours for myself, LOL!

  5. Yay! The colour palette post! 🙂 Love the colour palette you ended up with – you have a lot of variety and can put together some excellent outfits with it. It’s nice to have a colour palette to help you focus with shopping – although if a piece “speaks” to you, you should buy it, whether or not it fits in your palette.

    I did my own palette, based on what is currently in my closet and using the same system as you. I think I cheated a bit though – I lumped all the blue things I own into one category of blue. I did separate out navy, however. 🙂 I ended up with my three main colours as red, blue, and grey. Black and white neutrals. Accent colours of pink, mustard, purple, and navy. So I’m a little all over the place too.

    • No, no – I think that sounds pretty cohesive. As in, everything works well together. I wish I liked pink more on me – I love it on its own, and on others. But I don’t think it does much for me 🙁
      How do you feel about green? I can imagine you’d look smashing in some deep jewel-toned green …

      • I like green, but it’s not something that I have a lot in my closet right now. I’m figuring that it will cycle back in at some point. Maybe displace the mustard or navy, as those are fairly recent additions. I do tend to cycle through colours, so I’m sure I’ll hit a green phase eventually. Like you, however, blue is one of my faves and it is a permanent fixture! Good to hear that all shades all of blue go together as well!

  6. I do have two color palettes for myself, one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter. It’s mainly to get sure that the clothes and accessories I add to my wardrobe will be able to mix and match with what I already own. Though I do have items that doesn’t belong in my palette, but they at least match with my neutral colors.

    My winter palette :

    In your case, instead of adding colors to the “into mind” template, you could do two or three color palettes and try to get their colors matching with each other. My trick to get colors that blend well together is to find some seasonal color palette on Google image and pick those the closer to what I already own.

    • OMG, that is a gorgeous palette! I find it really … soothing, if that makes sense. I would so dig a closet that looked like that palette come to life. Of course, I would also probably immediately go out and buy something loud and yellow 😉

      I think the idea of seasonal palettes is an interesting one, although I haven’t really thought about it before. Spring/summer is so short here … sigh. But the main reason is work: I work, year-round, in an office for 10+ hours a day, so I wear more or less the same things all the time. I don’t have seasonal clothes, apart from my outerwear and summer casual clothes (like shorts, maxi dresses, etc.). I probably tend to wear more florals and some lighter colours in the summer, but that’s about it. With that said, it’s something I will have to give more thought to.

  7. Hey – more than 3 readers! I think this is pretty cool. I’ve never had (or even thought about making) a wardrobe color palette, and I think I’d run into a lot of the same issues as you when it comes to accent colors because I love all the colors, and I kind of want my closet to have all of them in it. The only ones that are usually easy for me to avoid are pastels and the more fall-ish tones (maroon, olive, mustard). But all the bright colors need to live in my closet!

    • LOL! It’s always a (nice!) surprise when a lot of people comment on a post 🙂

      I want to have a closet that resembles the rainbow; like, every item in 6 or 7 or 10 different colour versions (and I’ve come close to that on some things, as embarrassing as it is to admit). But I also want a closet full of things I can actually wear, because that much colour is also kind of exhausting when it comes to putting together outfits, you know. Ahh, contradictions!

  8. I would love to have a palette done — though i fear i would just pick black with more black. I hate browns but love jewel tones on me but always default back to black for everything.

    I do kick things up with my accessories only because i am afraid to do anything other than black…. forever and always.

    • Hey, nothing wrong with black! Most people working in the fashion industry wear black almost exclusively, for very good reasons. Just think: you’re actually more fashionable than you know!

  9. I love this…sometimes when I’m shopping I have a hard time deciding what color I should buy something in because I love so many of them (my closet is half black and white and half Willy Wonka threw up in here). I like the idea of a palette to give me some focus!

    • Try it!! And let me know how you find the process. I’ve actually already started thinking about my palette whenever I browse online. It does simply the process, for sure!

  10. yep I have a colour palette… Every colour under the sun!

    In all seriousness I don’t wear brown as against brown hair, brown eyes I just look like a splodge. Not a huge fan of black either so blue is also my building block – most shades. Then I’m happy to wear most colours to be honest.

    Great post though, the sort of thing I’ll come back too & give some more thought.