Wardrobe Architect 6: Organizing Your Colour Palette

At last, we get to do something with the colours we collected last time! Bring out your hoard – gloat over them a little if you wish – and then proceed as follows.

Indian pigments
Pile up your colours!

Take each colour and put it into one of four piles: neutrals, nearly neutrals, statement colours and metallics (see the original Colette post for examples with labelled swatches!). I’ve added a fifth category of my own for reasons which will become evident when we get there.


Neutrals are the colours which go with everything. In my case, darker browns, and unbleached-calico-cream.
Two is not very many neutrals – Sarai Mitnick of Colette makes the point that the more you have in this category, the easier it will be – but in my opinion browns make a fairly good range, even if you exclude the lighter tan and orangey sorts.

My selection of neutrals…

Near-Neutrals are – well, what it says on the tin. Nearly neutrals, but not quite.  Sarai’s definition is whatever you “feel confident combining easily with other colours” – so it varies wildly from person to person. I’d say my near-neutrals are mahogany, forest green, and maybe aubergine.

The reason I say ‘maybe’ aubergine is that I don’t feel confident combining aubergine easily with other colours – but I do feel confident that I would be able to do so if I had anything that was aubergine in my wardrobe. It’s one of those “I know this would look good on me if I could only find it” things.

Next up are the Statement Colours, those which don’t necessarily play nicely with each other and tend to be more memorable and less backgroundy. I would classify my rich reds (blood, paprika, leather book-bindings etc), plum, hazel, deep rose and buttery yellow in this section – although buttery yellow might also work in the near-neutral section. (Again, if I could only find…)

George Romney - Portrait of Mrs Henrietta Morris and Her Son John - WGA20033
This is the closest I could find to the deep rose which may or may not exist only in my mind…
Finally (at least in the Colette classifications) there are the Metallics – silver, gold, that sort of thing. In my case, deep gold and coppery bronze.

The final, non-Colettey classification which I have added for the occasion is Colours You Like But Which Make You Look Like You Sicked Up a Cat (or Possibly Vice Versa). In this category I place the “calm lavendery blue” which makes me feel all peaceful and snuggly (it’s like the visual equivalent of a lavender pillow) but which when seen in connexion with my complexion is an utter disaster.

So where does that leave me? Well, frankly, that leaves me with very little overlap between the clothes I own and wear, and the colours that suit me – a couple of dresses in brown and one in forest green.
I’ll just have to wait till next month to see what I should do next…

2 Replies to “Wardrobe Architect 6: Organizing Your Colour Palette”

  1. i like to wear red with pink but my Mum thinks they are too much, then this season there are lots of red and pink clothes so I’m in my element showing her that designers are putting them into their designs.

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