When I first started capsuling I set a limit to the number of clothes per season. Quite a few blogs suggest a limit (the most well known being 33 from Project 333, and 37 from Caroline Rector’s Un-Fancy), but even with those restrictions I still only ended up wearing a small percentage of that careful selection. I thought perhaps I would try Jennifer L Scott’s 10 item “French” wardrobe theory. That didn’t work either as I tired of items quickly and craved variety.
Over time and with constant re-writes I realised I pretty much dress by colour. My basic style is exactly that – basic. Unembellished tops, solid colours, fitted jerseys, no graphics or prints.
Now I don’t worry about the final edit, and instead gather items of clothing based on their colour and how much representation they have in the wardrobe. My 2015/16 summer colours were cream and white, navy, tans, sage green, and denim. Since summer was the first season I tried dressing by colour, the palette was conservative and unimaginative.
Now I know better.
Having a basic shape and organising by colour means I don’t need to worry about silhouette. Instead, I can spend time on visualising by colour and working on complimentary pieces. If you’re an artist or a make up junkie, you’ll be aware of colour theory and that opposite colours on the spectrum work the best together. You know, blue eyes pop with yellows and oranges, green eyes with browns/rusts, brown eyes with violets and purples etc.
Dressing by colour is a similar theory.
I start with my base (whatever I’m wearing on the bottom) and then pair two colours that are opposite to each other but which still individually compliment the base. If this sounds way too technical to get dressed then you’re right, but I’m breaking down into words what our eyes and brain processes in a matter of seconds.
My constant base throughout the years has been bootcut jeans; mid and dark washes near exclusively. Apart from trousers that I only ever wear to the office, jeans were and have been the only other type of long pants I wear, and since denim goes with most things, pairing colours on top is easy.
You, however, may be into colourful skirts or shorts, and as a result may find your base colour being red, teal, mustard, white, khaki, anything. Perhaps you’re into grey or black skinny jeans, or marled leggings exclusively. Whatever it is, I use what I wear on the bottom as the base and work upwards.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, Pinterest is actually good in this department. Sometimes Pinterest can be too editorial and cleanly perfect, utterly inapplicable to reality. For colour inspiration though, it’s not bad.
Say in this case I have (or want) a green olive shirt and I’d like to find out how versatile that colour is. I’d search olive+shirt+style and the results should include all manners of how to wear that colour and what it goes with. Through this method I now know that olive goes well with chambray/denim, maroon/burgundy, cream, a rich cognac/rust, and charcoal or grey, and so I can dress accordingly.
Similarly if you want to see if chambray and burgundy go together (chambray+burgundy+outfit) or research a particular item (cream+jumper), then you can get a better idea of how to style your clothes and what suits different shades or colours.
Do you put much thought into how you wear colour? What are your fall back colours that you always revert to?