Getting the Most From Your Wardrobe: Colour Combining, Part 1

Posted by Jill Chivers in Shop Your Wardrobe Strategies

Colour forms such a huge part of our wardrobes.  Some women’s wardrobes are chock full of colour, and others have eschewed colour in favour of a more monochromatic or limited colour palette.

Love or hate a lot of colour, it’s hard to ignore its impact.

And even those women who have a distinct absence of colour in their wardrobes are making a statement about their thoughts and feelings about colour.  They are, in my view, the “anti colour” women.  They’re still talking about colour in their outfit choices, even if what they’re mostly saying is “no”.

Personally, I love colour.  I wear a lot of colour, and it’s as rare as a sighting of Hayley’s Comet to find me wearing a monochromatic colour scheme (which is one where I’m wearing the same colour head to foot).

There’s already a lot written online about colour and how to successfully combine it (more in part 2 of this article on who my favourite stylistas are who do and teach about colour so well – I’m so blessed to know a few women who understand colour very deeply, and can teach us a lot about colour).

So I’m not going to recreate the wheel – I bow to the excellent contribution of those women who deal with colour every day in their professional work  and their work with clients.

What I’m going to share in this post is some personal examples from my own wardrobe about how I use and combine, and enjoy, colour.

And in part 2, I’ll share my top tips on getting more from your wardrobe by combining colours.

The Multi Coloured Casual Jacket

This multi coloured casual jacket was a 2013 purchase, and it included so many of the colours in my palette – I knew it would be a winner and work with so many items I already had.  Which has proven to be the case – I could almost choose any top combinations randomly from my closet and have a high chance of them coordinating with this jacket.

Plus this jacket is just so vibrant – it fits my personality so well, I just feel wonderful wearing it.

You may notice I’m holding my colour wheel, which has a range of colours in my particular personal palette (which is ‘warm light’).  I use my colour wheel when I’m considering bringing a new item into my wardrobe, even though I’m fairly educated and experienced when it comes to colour, and consider myself relatively ‘colour savvy’.  I find it gives me confidence that I am, in fact, on the right track when it comes to any new items I might be considering bringing into my wardrobe, plus it also is a fun thing to do – I enjoy using my colour wheel and checking which colours are included in this item, the one I’m considering right now.

So many colours from my palette are included in this casual jacket

So many colours from my palette are included in this casual jacket


The Casual At-Home Combination

This is a combination I hadn’t thought of wearing until I saw my friend Jo Shiers, who has very similar colouring to me, wearing it on a Skype call.  I thought it was a great combination – the mint green + orange combination is very fresh and a bit unexpected.

This is very much an at-home combination, it’s very casual.  I would wear this with dressier pants or a skirt + sandals if working from home or meeting friends or clients out, or with more casual pants such as Capri’s for the weekend.

An unexpected colour combination

An unexpected colour combination


The Single Colour With Signature Print Ensemble

I wore this outfit when I was MCing a weekend women’s networking event as it seemed to hit exactly the right note between ‘relaxed’ and ‘professional’.  I love the kiwi/apple green colour (technically I suppose this colour is in the ‘chartreuse’ vicinity) – it feels alive, and both crisp and natural, which you’d expect as it is a colour found much in nature.

I wear all my colours with my signature style of animal print (I wear animal print as a neutral, and combine it with everything).  So there really are only two elements to this ensemble: the colour (green/chartreuse) and the leopard print.

So in construction this is an exceedingly simple and straightforward outfit – it just looks quite snazzy because of the print, and it’s been accessorized with the two-strand glass bead necklace and those fabulous pre-loved green shoes.

A relatively simple yet statement-making ensemble

A relatively simple yet statement-making ensemble


The Same-Colour-Family Accessories

Accessories are the difference that makes the difference as to whether you are merely dressed, as in ‘not naked’, or whether you are wearing an outfit.   These are the details that bring an entire ensemble together, that add pizazz, zing, zest, interest, and yes – style.  The simplest of ensembles, such as dark denim jeans + a plain coloured t-shirt, can be dressed up with a few simple accessories.

This photo illustrates a portion of the accessories I was wearing this day (I also had on orange earrings and flat orange sandals).  None of the oranges match – the bag is a pumpkin orange, the bangle a mango orange, and the ring more of a true orange or tangerine orange.

And that’s what makes it interesting – none of these items were purchased together, in fact they were purchased years apart in very different stores.  And it’s intentional – they aren’t intended to match.  But they are intended to coordinate.

And you can do this with any of your accessories, or clothing items, too.  Items in the same colour family, but of different depths and tones, can look spectacular together.

Accessories in the same colour family - coordinating but not matching exactly

Accessories in the same colour family – coordinating but not matching exactly


So there’s a few personal examples from my own wardrobe and life.  In part 2 of this series, I’ll share my top tips on getting more from your wardrobe by combining colours.



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