Selecting a colour palette for your capsule wardrobe

wardrobe minimal capsule colour palette

image source; vanessa beletic

Early on in my first capsule wardrobe challenge (a blast from the past if there ever was one), I quickly grasped the importance of a cohesive and carefully edited colour palette. This has since extended through to the entire contents of my wardrobe, creating a solid backbone of core items and complimentary accents, with an occasional pop of colour (cliché, I know!) to keep things interesting.

There are several different rules you can use for building a colour palette, however the simplest, and easiest to navigate, is to select 3-4 main or neutral colours, and 2-5 complementary or ‘accent’ colours.

Using my own wardrobe as an example (and not my capsule), my main or neutral shades are: white, black, grey and navy; and my accent or complementary shades are: blush pink, cornflower blue, and the occasional smattering of cherry red.

wardrobe minimal capsule colour palette

As you can see, this makes for pretty easy early morning dressing, maintains a cohesive look and feel overall, and clearly defines aesthetic values. I do tend to favor the more neutral side of the scale (mostly as it is timeless), although you could just as easily start with a base of plum, evergreen and black, if you were so inclined (not my best colours, unfortunately!).

Can you detect a theme? The main colours generally tend to be muted – these are the backbone of your capsule; the accent colours on the other hand can be vibrant, vivacious, and as loud as you like – as long as they complement your base shades. One of the purposes of this exercise is to develop a palette which is virtually universal when it comes to remixing your wardrobe pieces.

Some of the things to ask yourself are what colours are dominant in your existing wardrobe? What colours do you most enjoy wearing? What colours suit your skin tone? All, important questions, and ones which will assist you in determining your final colour palette for your capsule.

A good place to start, is to look at the building blocks of your capsule. Which garments would you consider your key pieces, and what colours are they? Typically, I’d imagine these would be neutral shades comprising of mostly white, grey, beige and black. From here, start branching out. What garments are missing from your capsule? Is it a cooler month or a warmer one? A quick scan of your wardrobe, with these two questions in mind, should give you a fair idea of which colours you’ll want to include as your accent shades. Perhaps you like to follow trends, and a pastel winter is on the cards; or maybe you want to keep it classic a la the French, stocking up big on Breton stripes, camel trench coats, and delicate red ballet flats.

There’s two things to remember:
– No two capsules will be the same
– You should be able to put together a capsule with your existing items, assuming they are in good condition and can withstand another season.

If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to colour palettes, then Anuschka of Into Mind is your girl. Anuschka talks at length about various colour combinations, warm vs cool colours, and the virtues of keeping a streamlined colour palette within your wardrobe. Not to mention that her site is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to learn more about capsules wardrobes and minimalism in general.

7 Comments

  1. Jun January 27, 2016 / 8:03 am

    This is really helpful, thank you. I think you have a great sense of fashion style as well as writing style! So many people write badly. It is refreshing to read pieces by a good writer.

    • jamie-lee January 27, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words Jun – and I’m glad to hear that you found this helpful!

    • jamie-lee February 2, 2016 / 8:26 pm

      Thank you so much – that means a lot! xxx

  2. Lol January 27, 2016 / 8:15 am

    Brilliant post as always, Jaime – I always enjoy your posts on capsule wardrobes as they give so much inspiration. I’ve been trying one now for several seasons but have been concerned at having both navy and black as neutral colours, thinking that they were perhaps too close in hue. However, as you have helpfully shown in this post, it is entirely possible with the right accent colours! Thank you so much for your time and dedication, you always hit the perfect note! Enjoy your week, Lol xxx

    • jamie-lee February 2, 2016 / 8:25 pm

      I’m really glad that you enjoyed this – and I definitely think that there’s no issue wearing black and navy together. When I was at MBFWA last year I took a snap of this gorgeous woman wearing a navy top with a black skirt and she just nailed it. Rules are completely made to be broken! x

  3. Patricia Sophie February 3, 2016 / 12:24 am

    I truly love your YouTube channel and now stopped by here. I love your sence of style and all the fashion challenges you’re going through. I’ve started a complete shopping-ban last year until december, what feelt kinda weid but so refreshing. And now I am working on my own capsuale wardrobe. The first step was obviously to clean out my wardrobe, and now I am thinking about the perfect color palette for myself and others thousend times, cuz I think – like you wrote – a personal color palette makes everything so much easier, you can shop better, look better, style, mix and match all your clothes (best occasion) and it’s so interesting to see how other gurls do create their own capsuale wardrobe, color palette and signature look. So thank you so much fpor your inspiring input! 🙂

    Bisous from Berlin, Patricia

    • jamie-lee February 4, 2016 / 8:19 pm

      Hi Patricia, thank you so much for your lovely words. That’s fantastic! I think while having a cohesive colour palette is key, you should be sure to have a little bit of fun every now and then (you don’t want things to get too sterile!).

      I hope that your first capsule wardrobe goes well! xx

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