Having your own signature wardrobe colour palette allows you to build a cohesive, versatile wardrobe that flatters your’ skin tone and suits your personality. It will allow you to mix and match items easily and it might just save you some money – no more poor colour choices.
Colour has a surprising effect on our mood and how we feel. It affects our emotions, our behaviour and it influences the first impression we give to others. I think most of us have purchased something, only to realise that the colour doesn’t make us feel great or that you have nothing to wear it with. You know what I mean – every time you put it on, the colour completely overwhelms you or washes you out. Finally, unworn it becomes yet another unwanted item in the local lifeline bin.
Colour is a language that can be used to express many things about you, that aren’t immediately expressed in words.
So let’s get down to it. Let’s create your own signature colour palette to help you feel great about getting dressed every day.
DREAM IT + PLAN IT + DO IT
STEP 1: DREAM IT
1.1 YOUR GOAL
Ultimately, the goal is to always feel our best in our clothes and to do this we need to stop making poor clothing choices. Our mission is to select a group of colours that will all work together, look fabulous on and provide you with endless variety. This group of colours is not meant to restrict you but to simply inspire the colour vibe of your style. It will give your wardrobe the cohesion you’re after and ensure that you always feel fabulous.
1.2 REVIEW COLOUR ANALYSIS
There are all kind of colour theories out there suggesting rules and guidelines, but colour analysis can be subjective and like me, you may not fall into one exact category. The 4 season theory allows you to be either warm or cool, and light or dark. This works for some people, but not everyone. I have warm skin tone with naturally dark eyes, light hair and black eyebrows, so I have never fit the rules perfectly
COOL SKIN TONE
WINTER – Dark Eyes and Hair
SUMMER – Light Eyes and Hair
WARM SKIN TONE
AUTUMN – Dark Eyes and Hair
SPRING – Light Eyes and Hair
A more complex 12 season colour theory includes the depth of colour (saturation) and brightness (chroma). If you want to be analysed under this system, it will determine:
- If you look best in cool or warm colours? (Cool or Warm)
- If you look best in light, pastel colours or dark, intense colours? (Light or Deep)
- If you look best in clear, true colours, or soft, muted colours? (Clear or Soft)
I believe there are always exceptions to the rule (surely it can’t just be me) so, instead of formally analysing your colours, have fun experimenting with the colours that make you feel fantastic. Choosing colours that suit your style and skin tone is much more important than following trends or a particular set of rules. So, let’s understand skin tone and from there you can experiment with a simple palette of colours that make you feel great.
The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.
STEP 2: DREAM IT
2.1 UNDERSTAND SKIN TONE
The first step is to determine your skin tone. If you’re not sure, look at the underside of your arm in natural daylight. A pink undertone and blue tinted veins mean you have a cool skin tone and will suit colours with blue undertones best. A golden undertone and green tinted veins mean you have a warm skin tone and yellow-based colours will flatter you most.
If you still aren’t sure try comparing gold and silver jewellery against your skin. Which shade lights up your complexion? If it’s silver, you have a cool skin tone. If it’s gold, you have a warm skin tone.
Below I have put together some samples of warm and cool colours. You can clearly see the yellow base coming through in the warm neutrals and the blue base coming through in the cool neutrals. There are a few colours in these palettes that have a neutral base that can be worn by either a warm or cool skin tone. These include the navy, merlot and stone.
STEP 3: DO IT
3.1 BUILD YOUR WARDROBE COLOUR PALETTE
According to the experts, we can all wear virtually any colour – it’s simply a matter of figuring out which shades of each colour suit us best. Know your tone – warm or cool and then experiment with the depth and intensity of colour. These are key! You want to ensure your clothes don’t overpower you by being too dark or bright nor should they wash you out by being too light (pastel) or soft (muted).
There are no set rules for your colour palette! What is important is that you understand how you feel and look when you’re wearing certain colours and that you implement them in a strategic way rather than buying every colour you see. When you wear a colour that flatters close to your face it will light you up and make your hair and eyes ‘pop’. Further down your body though – anything goes!
The wardrobe colour palette template below includes 10 colours and is made up of 2 base colours, 3 neutrals and 5 accent colours. If I was to wear 3 of these colours in each of my outfits that gives me 120 different colour combinations! You can see that even though the colour palette is limited, it is never going to get boring. There are endless combinations.
REMEMBER YOUR GOAL
You want a versatile wardrobe where everything suits your personality, your colouring and mixes and matches together. Your wardrobe colour palette should have enough variety and contrast to inspire lots of different outfits and options, yet, still express the cohesive overall theme of your style. Use it as a guide to ensure that new purchases compliment your overall style vibe and work back with your existing wardrobe.
You can download a blank pdf workbook below or my completed workbook if you want a little more inspiration for how you might go about answering the questions.
3.1 STEP 1 I ASSESS YOUR COLOUR PREFERENCES
Once you’ve printed your Wardrobe Colour Palette Workbook, we’ll begin by answering some simple questions to assess your colour preferences and the colours that make you feel great.
3.3 STEP 2 I SELECT YOUR COLOURS
Now, for the fun part. Using your preferences and thoughts from the questions follow these three simple steps to create a colour palette that you love. Take on board all of your thoughts from the questions above.
SELECT YOUR BASE COLOURS
You will begin by selecting two base colours. If you could only dress in two colours for the rest of your life, what would they be? Your base colours should be colours that you can’t survive without. These colours will support and balance every other colour within your palette. I also find they dominate my wardrobe. They can be used for anything including key pieces like jackets, pants, shoes, coats and bags.
Each base colour should complement every other colour in your signature wardrobe colour palette.
SELECT YOUR NEUTRAL COLOURS
Next you will select three to four neutral colours. Your neutral colours are central to your wardrobe and will be used for essentials that you see yourself wearing a lot. They should transcend seasons so that they can be worn year after year. Good examples are neutrals like black, white, olive, navy, grey, beige, tan, mustard and camel. If you wear royal blue or hot pink frequently you might include that as a neutral colour in your palette. It’s completely up to you but remember that neutral colours are meant to give your wardrobe a versatility and timeless appeal that will be easy to work with in the long run.
Each neutral colour should complement the foundation colours and most of the accent colours.
SELECT YOUR ACCENT COLOURS
Finally, it’s time to add some fun, personality and interest to your colour palette with some accent colours. Once you have some well-fitting essentials in your base and neutral colours you can pick out some accent colours each season to refresh your palette and style.
3.4 STEP 3 I PREPARE YOUR SIGNATURE WARDROBE COLOUR PALETTE
It’s time to prepare your signature wardrobe colour palette. There are many different ways you can create this and here are some ideas:
- insert images of your chosen colours into a word document electronically
- simply colour in the boxes in my printable pdf,
- lay out fabrics from your existing wardrobe and take a photo, or
- for a more hands-on approach, simply cut and paste images from magazines, fabric samples etc.
Most importantly – have fun with it!
You might like to create a different wardrobe colour palette for the different seasons as I have on my completed signature wardrobe colour palette workbook. You will see that I’ve completely switched up the feeling of my colour palette from winter to summer just by tweaking three of the accent colours to brighten and lighten the overall feel.
I also wear blue and green in summer and I’ll make sure that if I purchase anything new, the colours will be warm, and will have a similar depth and muted intensity to the colours in my palette so that they complement each other. I have realised that too much bright colour overwhelms me and too much pastel washes me out.
If you need more inspiration Anuschka Rees has written an informative article titled, ‘How to Choose a Colour Palette For Your Wardrobe’. You can access it HERE.
I’d love to hear how you go creating your Signature Wardrobe Colour Palette and don’t forget that this is part of a mindful style series. Check out CREATE YOUR ULTIMATE PERSONAL STYLE GUIDE to complete your mission: to help you buy less, shop better and feel your confident best all of the time.