I love it when my bag and my belt and my shoes all match. Not because I feel like I’m adhering to a strict rule, but because it’s such a rarity for me. When I am piecing together an outfit, I don’t match colors. I match color palettes.
WHAT DO I MEAN?
It’s a simple concept. Instead of matching color for color (black with black, one color top with another color bottom that matches your bag), you pull together a collection of colors that mesh well together.
You may subscribe to the age-old rule that requires your bag and your shoes to match. Let’s say the color of the day is black. When you are searching your closet for an outfit in the morning, you may reach for a black belt that matches your black shoes and bag. You grab a white blouse that has a unique black detail over a breast pocket and select a pair of basic black slacks. You think, “I need a bit of color,” so you add some pale green earrings to pair with a matching necklace.
Now, what do you have? A black and white outfit with a hint of color. And that’s all well and good. But it could be more interesting.
Rather than confining your outfit options to strict matchy-matchy (this is a word, right?) color rules, I suggest you use color palettes. Use a group of colors that goes well together and that allows you a little more freedom to combine different pieces in an interesting way. (A note: if you are wearing a belt, bag, and shoes, I do still suggest having at least two of them match. I typically don’t wear belts, so I normally just play with different bag and shoe colors).
WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?
Using color palettes rather than matching specific colors to each other helps to make your outfits more interesting and gives you some creative leeway to combine more pieces together. Just because you are wearing a shirt that is red, pink, and white does not mean you must wear bottoms that are red or pink or white. Instead, try a color palette that has several feminine colors in it. Mix it up and try a beige or taupe pair of bottoms or, depending on the shade, maybe surprise us with purple.
HOW CAN YOU START?
Let’s take the outfit at the bottom of this article for example. I chose a blue and white vertical striped blouse. If I was focused on matching specific colors, I would have selected either a white or a blue pair of slacks or a skirt. My shoes would’ve been white or navy or maybe nude (feeling dangerous). My bag would’ve matched my shoes. Basically, this outfit.
The outfit would’ve been fine. In fact, there are a multitude of outfits on this very blog in which I chose to match specific colors in an outfit. But I also know how to branch out on occasion and create a beautiful color palette.
What I did below was select a color palette that included a group of muted colors, some neutral, some not. White and nude are neutral and since the shirt added in a pale blue, I matched it with another muted color: blush pink pants. Together, these colors mesh well. They match without being the same color.
General rule of thumb: two neutral colors and two standout colors are typically my limit. If you have a piece that has a pattern on it, that usually qualifies as a standout color and you may still be able to add another standout color and two additional neutral colors to your color palette. Example: a skirt that has a pale blue, pink, and yellow pattern can be paired with a blouse that is one of those three colors, a white blouse or you could possibly add a little more interest and color and try pale green or orange (this is a big maybe and would obviously depend on the specific piece).
OTHER PALETTES I LIKE:
–neutrals (white, black, nude, gray, and navy, not necessarily all together)
–one color in different shades plus a neutral (ex. forest green with mint green and white)
Try it out, mix it up! Happy paletting.