Wardrobe Architect 6: Wearable colour

This is getting harder! I thought the colour bits would be easy but actually I’m finding this really hard. For the shapes and style questions, I had things I questioned because I’d never worn them, but for colour, I’m just finding that perhaps the colours I wear aren’t as flattering as I thought they were and that now that the whole world of colour is – theoretically – open to me for clothes, it’s all a bit overwhelming and confusing. To add to the disruption caused by the rose pink and my crisis-of-red mentioned yesterday, I’m now wondering even about the metallics I want to wear. I’ve never liked gold – always been a silver person – but wearing my grandmother’s gold watch lately, I’m finding it’s actually starting to suit me. I still feel mentally that gold is a bit ‘mature’ – I don’t feel old enough to wear it, really – but maybe I need to set that idea aside and try it a bit more?

So. The next exercise is about categorising the colours I came up with last time to come up with a palette of wearable colours for me and identify what I have too much of and what too little. Sarai suggests the following categories, which I’ve plomped my various colours into:


black, greys, white, cream, greyey beige, camel, linen tones

Nearly Neutrals

dark navy blue, inky blue, blue-black, dark indigo, very dark brown, rose pink

Statement Colours

bright red, orange, salmon, goldenrod, chartreuse, mint green, bright spruce green, teal, peacock blue, pale blue, bluey purples, hot pink


argh. silver, clearly. But I also love some copper, even though I don’t own any and have been avoiding it because it’s so massively on trend at the moment that it’s starting to feel a little trashy? Metallics for me are almost exclusively to do with jewellery and maybe buttons. Metallic fabric for the most part a huge no in my wardrobe.

Having done this, Sarai’s question is whether I feel my colour choices are balanced. I’m actually not sure. I think on paper the answer is no because the statement colours are things I wear or wish I had available to wear often, but I don’t really think about the neutrals. But in practice, I almost always pair a statement colour or colours with a neutral or nearly-neutral for balance. Again, I think the way I think about these things is not so much in terms of colour as in terms of pattern/solid and perhaps style. So neutrals I’m more likely to happy wearing a solid colour, but the statement colours I like to combine and use patterns. Possibly for this reason, I’m unlikely to wear neutral/nearly-neutral tones all over because I find that a bit depressing. Interesting to find that I seem to consider proper blues as ‘nearly neutrals’. Maybe because I’ve always thought of blue as a nothing-colour, needing something else to propel it out of the realm of awful?

That said, I think this attitude is probably at least partly a factor of not having had access to clothes that actually fit and flatter my figure, so often the neutral things are basics – black and navy tshirts, black pants and skirts, jeans, trench coat – that I’ve bought specifically because I needed something for a gig or a job (or in the case of the trench coat, a costume party), or just something that would go with everything in times of wardrobe crisis. I think the only neutral thing in my wardrobe that I bought specifically because I really loved it is my greyey beige cotton jacket – and that one (until it started to get a bit big on me and it also started to rain all the time so it was usurped by the trench coat) I wore with pretty much everything any time I left the house. I loved the shape, I loved the cut on me, I loved that I could just chuck it in the washing machine when it needed it, I loved that I could wear my grandmother’s brooches on it without it looking silly. And it just went with everything. And then I made a black Lou Box Top which is also getting plenty of wear, so maybe I need to rethink the whole neutrals thing and specifically plan some pieces which are neutrals in really nice fabrics and shapes and then see how I feel about wearing them. Maybe this obsession with statement colours is a response to feeling bland and frumpy because my neutral clothes have been bought out of necessity, not love???

I’ve been thinking a bit about Polyvore, which I wrote about a couple of days back, and while I can see it’s a useful tool, I very much doubt I’m going to be bothered to trawl through and find theoretical garments in it. This morning when I was failing to get back to sleep after Djelibeybi left for work at 4am, though, I was reading some blogs and came across a reference to a wardrobe-organising app. Wow. What a kitten-vortex that was! And there are some completely insane people out there (apologies if you’re one of them – but seriously? One commenter said she had 1000 items in her wardrobe? Another mentioned she had 37 tank tops like that was a normal thing??? From my perspective as someone who can’t get through 2 weeks without significant laundry, this is bananas) but actually, some of these look pretty useful for the silhouette exercise because they allow you to photograph your actual clothing and make outfits from them, plus some also have a shopping section like Polyvore too, so you can base your silhouettes in clothes you actually own and – I feel – get a stronger idea for what might be missing from your wardrobe and which items are the most flexible and perhaps one could do with more similar things. So I’ve downloaded one called Smart Closet for Android and will be testing it out. Nice to have it on one’s phone too, for futzing in an idle sleepy hour on the train 🙂

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