How to choose a colour palette
In my previous post of the Five Piece French Wardrobe series I talked about getting started with the Five Piece challenge. An essential part in building up a Five Piece French Wardrobe is choosing a colour palette. While for some it may be the easiest thing to pick out an item in a certain colour and tell you why it looks good on them, for others it takes a bit more practice to get into the whole colour palette craze. Take me for instance. I can remember a whole lot of awkward teenage years where black and anything neon would be my colours of preference and thus the most worn colours in my wardrobe. It would take me years to understand that when a colour is your favourite it does not necessarily mean you have to cover yourself in it as much as possible.
Let us get back to the topic of picking a colour palette. A good colour palette will do two things: suit your complexion while simultaneously make all your clothes combine easily together. However, it is important to note that the colours in the palette should not be picked randomly. I am far from being a colour theorist, but any basic knowledge on the subject does help. Take for instance this article by Colour Matters on the basics of colour theory. Since the article is relatively simple and compact, it does not tell you how to find out which colours best suit your complexion.
This, however, is done by finding out whether your have a warm or cool complexion. Is the undertone of your skin pink and rosy or yellow and beige? Or perhaps you are considered neutral and find yourself right in between. The colour types are usually divided into seasons. Autumn and Spring types are known for their warm undertones and Winter and Summer types have cool undertones. They are then subdivided into a light or dark complexion, with Spring and Summer for light hair and eyes and Autumn and Winter for dark hair and eye colours. Sounds confusing? This article by Color Me Pretty provides visual aid and different methods for finding your undertone and then shows suitable colours for each type.
Neutrals, main colours and accents
According to this post by Into Mind, the easiest way to start choosing your colour palette is to divide your colour palette into three different sections, namely the following: the neutrals as the backdrop of your wardrobe, the main colours for the colours you wear most and the accents as colours for little details and accessories in your wardrobe.
The Neutrals are two or three colours that form the backdrop of your colour palette and they need to match every other colour in your palette. They are usually the colours that work best with your basic items, such as t-shirts, cardigans, simple tops and trousers. The main colours are the colours that you will see yourself wearing all the time. They usually come back in the bigger purchases you make, such as coats, jumpers and shoes. The accents are the details of your wardrobe: think of a purse, a scarf or a belt that compliments an outfit. If well executed these colours match your neutrals and main colours, but at the same time make your outfit stand out a little.
So, how does one select a wide array of colours but still keep a general sense of cohesion? A smart way to start is to look at the basic pieces you already own and take note of the colours of these garments. If many of your basic garments such as shirts, trousers and jumpers are navy, your best bet may be to build your wardrobe around this colour. Choosing a colour palette has nothing to do with having an excuse to throw out your old garments and invest in new ones. Rather, a colour palette can add a hint of consistency to an already existing wardrobe full of clothes and makes you buy for keeps and combine and wear everything that you own.
My colour palette
My colour palette
As you can see on the image, I tried my best to keep my colour palette as muted and basic as possible. And frankly, I think I succeeded. My neutrals are black and white, and most of my basics are bought in this colour (think: t-shirts and trousers). I do not really consider the accents a part of my colour palette as I tend to keep my outfits as basic as possible, thus leaving out as many details as I can. Usually my Cartier Tank watch and this leather belt are my only form of accessories. Therefore, I tried to select as many main colours as possible, ranging from beige and navy (for jumpers and jackets mostly) to light blue (the colour of most of my shirts). As you can tell from the pictures, you can clearly see me colour-repeating and wearing these colours in all my outfits.
In conclusion, I try to keep colour in my outfits as simple and minimal as possible. Still, I allow for a pop of colour every now and then, but these pops are in relatively muted shades such as navy or grey. Of course, keeping my colour palette this muted is a decision that is my own and I understand that there are a lot of people out there who just love experimenting with colour. But essentially, for me these four basic colours are enough and make it able for me to combine all my items together. In my opinion, when it comes to style and the Five Piece French wardrobe the saying goes: the simpler the better. For those of you who do feel like experimenting and adding a bit of colour to their Five Piece French Wardrobe, Into Mind gives a couple of examples of different colour palettes, ranging from very muted to very bright.
– The first post of my French Five Piece Wardrobe series explains how to get started with the Five Piece challenge.
– This article by Remodelista contains pictures of – in my opinion – the perfect wardrobe.
– These are all the items I purchased in 2015 – do they match with my colour palette?