Capsule wardrobe

Putting together a capsule wardrobe: why a color palette makes it so much easier

Aquarelle showing the colors you can find in my capsule wardrobe

Do you know your favorite color? I’m not sure, I have one. When I was a kid, it was blue. As a teenager, I still loved blue. I had blue everything, even blue eye-shadow. After I turned 16, my new favorite color became black. Suddenly, all had to be black. And then, after two years of deep dark black from hair to toe nails, I changed it to »whatever« and became kind of colorful. I’d be lying if I said that I ever was consistent with my style. Even as the minimalist that I’ve been since I was 18 years old, my style has always changed.

Today though, I am much closer to a simplistic wardrobe. I can even imagine it to be more or less like it is now for many more years to come. And I can’t say that I have a favorite color anymore. It is more of a set. A whole palette in fact.

My color palette helps me keep my wardrobe minimalistic

When I now look at pictures of myself that are more than five years old, I still cringe a little. However, I observed that my style changed a lot less within the last few years. It is probably due to that thing called age and wisdom and stuff… But I also changed one really important thing in my wardrobe, which is its color palette. After that, I basically had one consistent style – for the first time.

That is why I want to share this experience with you. And I really think, it can help a lot in finding the right capsule wardrobe and feeling comfortable with it for a long time.

How to pick the right colors for your capsule wardrobe

So, when I chose my capsule wardrobe palette, I asked myself: Which colors do I love most? But also: Which colors actually suit me? For me, that is mostly natural colors like browns and beige and off-white. However, I really do love yellow. So, when I put together my palette, all of those went in there.

Nonetheless, you have to be as careful with the number of colors you add as you got to be with the amount of clothes. I recommend to stick to no more than three base colors. Not counting black, white and blue jeans. Those are what I call »neutrals«.

What you basically want to find out is: What (amount of) colors makes my capsule wardrobe versatile enough that it does not bore me, and yet sufficiently compressed and small, so it will not be overwhelming.

The overall target of this exercise is to make all clothes match each other. Or at least 80% of them. There will always be some special pieces that might not follow this premiss. But that’s okay, as long as it is a minor number…

What are my favorite capsule wardrobe colors?

First of all, yellow was a must-have. Mustard yellow, to be specific, is my favorite. And it was for a long time. I was just dumb enough to listen to all those people telling me it made me look pale. Well, you know what, I like to look pale. And I don’t care what you want me to look like. Here I go, wearing as much yellow as I want.

The next color was beige or brown. And that is really like a palette in itself. Within this sub-palette, I try to be consistent in the warmth of those tones. I don’t want them to differ too much, so I can still match them. But I also want to maintain a bit of a variety, so it won’t look odd when I wear them together. (Having four different pieces with different textures but same color really only works with black, I think. Otherwise, I just look like a weird fashion ad.)

Other than those two colors, I have a lot of grays, which I kind of count as a superposition of black and white. I must add, that grays can be more difficult than you might think. They can be very different and thus not easy to match, especially when it comes to melange gray vs. unicolor gray and so on. This can become very annoying very fast. So, if you love gray, I really recommend to only go for very few melange gray pieces, and stick to your other colors first.

Now, once you have established what your real favorites are, you just have to stick to them. Whenever you shop, go thrifting, or also when you get rid of something: Just keep in mind, what your favorite colors really are. If you are about to get a new piece, picture those colors, maybe also think of some everyday basics you wear, and ask yourself: Is this a match?

I don’t buy much clothing, but when I do, this always works for me. So, to round this up, I want to give you a few examples of my favorite colors and clothes… Here is a small part of my capsule wardrobe.

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