Wardrobe Color Guide

To see my wardrobe, click here. Click here for a natural dye chart.

I believe in un-neutral neutrals. For years, jewel tones and primary colors formed the basis of my tiny wardrobe, which never hovered above 40 items (this includes everything- underwear, socks, swimwear, special occasion dresses, etc.). Accessories were leopard print, emerald green, and purple. I paired gingham with floral prints and floral prints with stripes.

Then I moved here, a melee of navy blue, grey, tan, and beige (I didn't know tan and beige were different, but French women made the distinction very clear; heaven help you if you wear khaki). Beyond that, Parisians' preferred colors are red, forest green, and pink. In this city, wardrobes require refinement and subtlety. The M.O. is to dress quietly, simply, never stand out too much. Subdued colors, I've learned, have the desirable effect of making clothing look much more expensive than they are.

If, like Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, you're not sure of your own taste, refer to the guide above for successful combinations. Solid colors stand repetition better than patterned materials- people are less likely to notice you have a tiny closet if you wear the same navy dress every week, instead of a fluorescent pink houndstooth one. When creating outfits, try limiting yourself to one basic color, plus one or two notes of a second color, or another shade of the basic one. If your outfit is patterned, it's best to wear accessories all in one shade, preferably the darkest color figuring in the pattern.

The concept of "seasons" is outdated and doesn't work for multiethnic skin like mine, but red and sky blue are universally flattering, and all the jewel tones and pastel shades can be mixed together. Establish your own palette, choosing multitasking shades for accessories. When adding new pieces, make sure the shade, pattern, or print coordinates with at least three items in your closet.

Never rule out trying a particular color because of some "theory." There's too much mystery around colors- with so many nuances and shades of each, one is bound to work. At the same time, it's fine to rule out something that doesn't match what you already own. Click here to read about my wardrobe, here for a carry-on travel packing list, and here for natural stain removal.

Paris to Go

10 comments:

  1. oh thanks ! I was looking for a guide adressing multiethnic skins. I really need to downsize my wardrobe, I don't buy much, donate often but never sell the pieces I actually like but never wear. I'll start the selection with this guide

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  2. What a helpful guide! Love your blog.

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  3. Thanks for sharing a link to my natural dye chart on my blog!

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    1. I'm so interested in natural dyes (although I've only used onion skins so far) and your chart is beautiful and helpful! Thanks for putting it together!

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  4. Can you elaborate on the difference between beige and tan?

    The more I search this topic the more confused I become...

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    1. I see what you mean about searching the topic. I searched it really quickly and got a lot of conflicting information! As people seem to wear it here (I'm generalizing of course, and this is based on the color names on clothing tags) tan is browner, darker, and beige is lighter and pinker. What Wikipedia calls beige is labeled "ecru" here on clothing tags.

      I would call my pink dress and bow shoes beige, my shirtdress tan :)

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  5. In the row that starts with purple, is it all shades of purple?

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    1. Hi, sorry for my late reply! Yes, any shade of purple :)

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  6. which will suit with a fox orange shoes?

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