Colors and Neutrals

Be forewarned: this one’s a little long-winded. Because color. 

On my quest to become a more organized sewist, and to not wastefully buy pretty fabric that never gets used (or worse: used but never worn!), I have been trying to be much more selective with my shopping and planning to begin with.

This sounds easy enough, right? The problem is that some fabrics are just not suited for garments, no matter how pretty they are. Or at least not suited for garments for everyone. As much as I embrace all beautiful things and every glorious color, I want to also feel like I look good. I love color and prints, and get inspired when I look at fabric, but I put a lot of time and love into the things I make and really don’t like when I’m disappointed by the end result. For years I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly what I was doing wrong. It turns out that a lot of it comes down to color and neutrals.

Because I love bold bright colors, I spent years assuming that eventually the colors would somehow work together to make a cute, but cohesive wardrobe. I’d see women wearing prints and try to mimic their ensembles. I actually used to take literal notes on the wardrobe of someone I went to high school with because her sense of funky, colorful style was inspiring (totally not creepy at all, right?).

The truth is, neutrals don’t have to be boring, but the wrong ones or too many of them usually are. Additionally, too much color takes away from cohesiveness. Really. Green skinny jeans that go with one floral blouse, one solid t-shirt, and one jacket, and absolutely nothing else in your wardrobe, are essentially useless. If you try to compensate by buying more floral shirts to go with the jeans you are on the right track, but missing out on some variety. If you try to compensate by buying an orange pair of skinny jeans to go with all the other floral shirts that don’t look good with the green jeans, you’re missing the problem. And if you are like me, you buy the green jeans and an orange sweater and a purple jacket, because they are really stinking cute, and are then heartbroken when they actually look bad with absolutely everything else in your wardrobe (including your shoes)! Don’t be like me.

The opposite can be worse,though. I tried to rein in my patterns and colors for a while and ended up with grey, oatmeal, and khaki solids that were boringly partnered every day. 

I went from one extreme to another, without considering  what actually looked good on me. I think I just saw myself as the universal blood donor of skin tones despite the fact that I’ve never once found a foundation, powder, or concealer that looked natural on me.

I’ve determined that, for me, it comes down to balance and a color palette. My color palette, more specifically. To start off, I went through a lengthy, and pretty nerdy, color study on myself to determine what colors actually look good on me using the directions from  this article. For some people, this may seem silly or overly complicated, but those people probably don’t have trouble formulating a wardrobe. I do. 

After everything is said and done, I’m very happy with the resulting color pallet. It reads a little duller than I’m used to, and a little winter-y. I’m not sure how I’ll summer it up, but at least I have a guide for knowing if something should look good on me, and can shop accordingly. The colors also go well enough with each other that things make or bought SHOULD be a little more universal in my wardrobe. *Fingers crossed.*IMG_7098

After I developed my palette, my next step was to cull my stash more using the palette as my guide. Here’s how that looks:


These look good. 😉


Some bolder prints I’m hoping work with the rest of my wardrobe.


The one on the left is a stretch so it’s going away. The right one’s great.


This sweater I’m knitting is a near-perfect match!


Some good solids, though the green is iffy.

The final thing I don’t have figured out quite yet is how I’m going to balance prints with some good neutrals. Not necessarily boring neutrals, but some strong bones around which everything else can fall into place. I think items like my newly made purple pants are definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe this will finally be the thing that actually works intuitively.

Wish me luck! And do remind me if I seem to fall back into my terribly chaotic (or exceptionally boring) color ways!! 😉


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