Every morning, I open my closet and stare, hands on hips. It’s a 15-minute-long staredown with my clothes, till I throw on something I probably wore the week before. It will do, I think, because ‘I have nothing to wear’. Does this sound familiar?
So, is something wrong with the way we shop because there are lots of clothes around but none to wear! Or so it seems....
Elin Mai, Dubai-based British stylist of 20 years and founder of styling consultancy Style Doctors, has some advice.
“When you stick to a colour palette, you'll find that your whole wardrobe always works together. Have you bought something, taken it home, tried it on multiple times and you can only seem to pair it with jeans?” Mai told Gulf News. “Chances are you bought something that didn't work in harmony with what you already own.”
Mai says every cohesive wardrobe needs a colour palette. Let’s look at her top two reasons:
1. You’ll shop better: A colour palette will help you reduce textile waste by buying what is going to work with the rest of your clothes. So nothing is banished to the back of your closet after a couple of wears and you get multiple outfit combinations.
Try this handy rule the next time you shop: Ask yourself if you can see yourself wearing the blazer, shirt or pants in four different ways. If yes, Mai says it can go into your shopping cart.
2. You’ll look better: A colour palette is going to elevate your fashion game. You’ll be able to create complete outfits that work in harmony, plus experimenting with a variety of palettes can be fun, too.
Oscar Kraye, a 22-year-old Lebanese model and fashion student at Esmod Fashion Institute in Dubai, loves playing with monochromes.
“A monochromatic palette consists of different shades of the same colour. Whenever I’m not in the mood to get creative with my outfit, I’ll throw on my favourite pair of jeans, a baby blue button-down shirt and layer it with a navy sweater,” said Kraye. “The outcome is a clean and polished look.”
How do I create my wardrobe colour palette?
Step 1: Check your closet
Before you begin, Mai says to look at what you already own. Does your wardrobe reflect your lifestyle?
“If you spend 80 per cent of your time at work, your closet should reflect that. Once you realise this, picking a palette will become much easier,” said Mai.
If you spend 80 per cent of your time at work, your closet should reflect that. Once you realise this, picking a palette will become much easier.
Now look at the colours you’re drawn to; the clothes you own will give you a solid idea. Are these mostly black, white, beige and grey? Then there’s an excess of base colours. For an extra oomph, a palette is usually balanced out with accents or pop tones.
“Base colours are like a canvas. You start off with something very simple then add on to it. For instance, if you’ve got a black dress, you could layer it with a sequin blazer, statement heels and a clutch bag. Items in base colours will form your core pieces,” she added.
The colours that you lean towards will make up the base of your palette.
Step 2: Pick additional colours
Now that you know what’s in your closet, you’ve probably been wanting to try out other colours as well. What does your Pinterest board say? When we look for inspiration online and bookmark, it says a lot about our most desired colours. “Nine times out of 10, you’ll feel good in the colours you like,” said Mai.
There is another way of knowing what could work for you. Essentially, though, any colour can. It just depends on where you’re wearing the item.
“Put a colour close to your face and see how that looks. Does it make your eyes sparkle or do they look dull? Close to the face is where it makes the biggest impact as light bounces off the colour and on to your face. If you’ve got red undertones, for example, then shift the red to the pants, away from the face, with a navy top, maybe.”
Step 3: Put down your base and accent colours
Bring your colours together – they should have an overarching theme. Here’s the palette breakdown: You should have your base colours, accent colours and a bit of metallics.
The extras are accents or strong colours that you’ve decided to include. An accent piece can be a bold pair of shoes, accessories like belt, handbag and jewellery or a fun leather jacket.
I personally like combining pastel green with pastel purple. In autumn I’ll opt for darker colour palettes with maroon, navy and burnt orange.
Say you prefer earthy tones, you can switch it up with burnt orange and forest green accents. Kraye gravitates towards pastels in spring: “I personally like combining pastel green with pastel purple. In autumn I’ll opt for darker colour palettes with maroon, navy and burnt orange.”
Then there are metal colours like gold, bronze and silver to save your outfit of the day from looking flat. “You’ve put a fuchsia top on with white jeans; elevate that look with golden heels or earrings,” added Mai. “These tones make outfits look a lot more luxe.”
What’s in? Colour blocking!
We asked the experts to tell us what’s hot right now in the world of fashion, to inspire you on your palette journey. A German Dubai-based style coach of eight years, Silke Ahlden, says we’re all going across the colour wheel this year, and it’s totally cool.
From pairing bright green and purple to orange and royal blue, which sit on the opposite ends of the wheel, the fashion industry is currently in love with colour blocking. Luxury brands like Coach and Versace walked the runway with their spring/summer 2022 collection last year in bold primary colours.
High contrasting tones can come from your shoes, hat or handbag, too. If you want to try your hand at it, Mai says you can never go wrong with electric blue. “It suits a lot of different skin tones. When people are afraid of colours, I tell them to try out electric blue.”
There’s no pressure to follow trends, though. It’s all about having fun with the colours you like. One thing’s for sure – with a fixed palette in mind, your shopping spree is going to be a breeze.