Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

  • Mood:

How to Explore a Color in Fashion

In the course of discussing clothes with friends who are sorting their closets or trying to figure out a personal style, and researching clothes for various characters and contexts, I have encountered many different ways to explore color ... but I haven't seen them collated. So here are my thoughts on the topic ...

It's a good idea to have a core of basic clothes that you like which go with many different things. Usually these will be in some neutral color(s), although it's perfectly possible to choose a brighter color. My main colors are black and blue. I have a ton of others, but those are the colors in which I most often duplicate items because I wear them so often.

There are all kinds of structures for a core wardrobe of various sizes. I'll show a few of my favorites here.

The Common Wardrobe started out as just that: a list of garments that almost everyone wears, usually mixed with other things for interest. It has since been riffed into slightly different colors and styles:
* Black, gray, and blue
* Black and white for autumn
* Black and white for warm weather
* Mostly black for cool weather
* Brown shades
* Gray and white
* Navy and white for autumn
* Tan and ivory for autumn
* Warm tones for summer
Here is a template for the Common Wardrobe.

The French 5-piece Wardrobe is not only 5 pieces. It's meant to include a core of classic clothes to which you add 5 new items per season. Depending on your tastes and budget, that can mean twice a year (Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter) or four times a year (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter). The core can be smaller or larger too.
* French chic in 7 neutral pods
* French modern
* Parisian
* Summer wardrobe
* Travel capsule
Then you just add 5 or so items, which can be any mix of garments and accessories, in some accent color(s).

A given color can be a small or a large part of your wardrobe. Essentially, you start with one piece to test whether you like that color and look good in it, then add more pieces to increase your ability to mix-and-match them. For the colors you love and wear the most, you will have many pieces.

Starting with one piece as an experiment, for example in green, you want something you can wear easily. A shirt is the most popular, but a scarf is just as good. This is often the best bet for colors that are difficult to match and don't come in sets. If you're not sure about wearing the color next to your face, consider shorts or a skirt.

Moving up to two pieces, now in navy, look for a set so you can wear them separately or together. A sweater set has an outer top and an inner top. A pantsuit or shorts suit has a top and a bottom. One clever trick here is that you can choose a print if you buy the pieces as a set, like this navy and white tile print 2-piece jumpsuit. This is frequently the best way to explore a color with options but not too much investment. It's also easy to expand from a pair to a Core of Four.

For three pieces, this time in purple, an excellent approach is to choose a matched set that has two tops and a bottom, or a top that goes with either of two bottoms. This set has a jacket, camisole, and pants. For women, a 3-piece suit often has a jacket with pants and skirt. However, you could also get three tops in different styles. Accessories work too. Here you can see the same purple top with different pairs of scarf and shoes.

Once you've decided that you like a color, such as red, the Core of Four from the 4x4 Wardrobe becomes an excellent choice with two tops and two bottoms. These mix-and-match well with each other and different colors. It's a good choice if you want lots of flexibility. Another option is the Mileage Four of tops. Here you get a range of warmer and cooler, dressy and casual tops. It uses a different strategy of varying a single type of garment across different features. In between is a clothing cluster of one bottom and three tops.

At five, the French 5-Piece Wardrobe comes into play. You could choose five garments. But you could also choose a blouse with four accessories, or a blouse and a cardigan with three accessories. This tends to cost less than buying all garments. It's a great approach with current "fashion colors" or seasonal colors, because you can usually find those in different items even if they aren't sold together. Let's explore some combinations in different colors.
* Cardigan, solid T-shirt, striped T-shirt, pants, skirt in navy
* Blouse, T-shirt, shorts, earrings, sandals in turquoise
* Cardigan, blouse, sweater, scarf, earrings in blue
* Cardigan, blouse, earrings, scarf, purse in blush
* Cardigan, blouse, earrings, scarf, purse in green
* Cardigan, blouse, necklace, purse, shoes in red
* Cardigan, dress, earrings, scarf, socks in yellow
* Cardigan, earrings, necklace, scarf purse in blue
* Tank top, T-shirt, earrings, scarf, sandals in purple

Six invites you to cover all the lengths, such as in white: strapless, spaghetti straps, tank, short sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, and long sleeves in tops; or shorts, capris, pants, miniskirt, midiskirt, and maxiskirt in bottoms. Put the two together, and you have twelve: a very respectable core wardrobe in that color.

Seven gives you one for each day of the week. This is convenient for a favorite type of garment, such as blue jeans or flannel shirts. Consider making a batch of these for your favorite seasonal garments that you want to wear often.

With eight, you can make a Crazy Eights Wardrobe: a first core of four and a second core of four in the same color, such as gray. This gives you even more flexibility for mix-and-match outfits. Here is a look at accessorizing this kind of core, shown in both gray and navy.

If you really want to intensify, you can do a whole 4x4 Wardrobe in the same color, like black. Sixteen garments will give you a wide range of length, material, texture, dressiness, and so on. The accessories can be completely different: pearl and gold, silver, turquoise and coral, pink, green, amethyst, wine, or assorted bright colors. This is another opportunity to diversify a core wardrobe with clusters of different accents that match each other. Choose this for your neutrals, or if you want to stand out, your favorite bright color.

Consider what items you want to choose. For a color they like, most people prefer a mix of garments and accessories. What do you wear the most or enjoy the most? What do you rarely if ever wear? Especially, what do you care about matching? Everybody wears tops and bottoms. Hats and scarves are things that some people wear a lot, but others rarely do. Some women (and most men) never wear skirts or dresses. Some people want to match their tie or shoes to their outfit, while others are content to stick with neutrals that match pretty much anything. Some possible accessories: belt, bracelet, briefcase, brooch, coat, earrings, fingernail polish, hat, lipstick, money clip, necklace, pocket square, purse, ribbon, ring, scarf, shoes, socks, stickpin, tie, tie tack/bar, umbrella. Here is a checklist of recommended accessories for all seasons. There are options for women, men, and everyone. Know how to use accessories effectively.
Tags: art, gender studies, how to, life lessons
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.