I have never ‘had my colours done’, and to be entirely honest the concept of having a ‘personal palette’ and ‘building a wardrobe’ around a particular set of colours still makes me cringe inwardly a bit. And yet here we are …
Here are the relevant half-formed thinky thoughts.
- partly because it feels to me like fashion-speak, and slightly too often couched in a manner suggesting you need to organise your wardrobe around what colours are In, rather than vice versa;
- partly because, humans being humans, clothes colours have their own set of stereotypes – that old women are forever confined to a sort of beige/pastel cell, or that real men don’t wear pink, or whatever. Even well-meaning conversations have a tendency to drift from discussing what colour you ‘should’ wear (to suit your complexion/body shape) to what you ‘should’ wear (to suit the speaker’s preconceptions about your particular demographic box);
- and partly because of the slight semantic contamination from the language of branding and advertisement. Corporations, sports teams and political parties have signature colours that have usually been focus-grouped to the last milli-Pantone to have the most PR-friendly combination of connotations. I think it’s possible to over-analyse what colours you Should Be Wearing and end up dressing not to suit yourself, but to suit the image of You, Inc.
(All of these hold generally for properties of garments other than colour, of course. See also shape, coverage, fabric type, fabric transparency, print type, stripe direction, length, weight …)
Anyway, in a nutshell, I have my hangups about what colours I wear and what people must seekritly think of me. I am getting over these, but it’s a process (one that is being greatly helped along by being able to make my own clothes and not be entirely reliant on what Big Fashion thinks someone of my body configuration and income bracket ought to be wearing).
Which is why I was intrigued by this post here from Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow, who in it talks about how having a defined personal palette has helped “guide [her] fabric stashing and sewing”. Her tutorial in that post is, as she says, “nothing to do with skin tone or season or that stuff… it’s just a way to reflect on what colours you already wear and look good in!”
I am slightly embarrassed by how revelatory this was. What colours should I wear? How about colours I already know I like wearing? WELL I NEVER.
She goes on to give a simple tutorial for building a palette based on colour-picking from photos of existing clothes. I don’t have enough good photos for this, so instead just looked at my clothes rail and tweaked the colours and proportions (smallest squares I tend to wear only as accents; bigger ones I have whole garments in) until they looked about right. This is what I came up with:
Things this made terrifically obvious that I had not consciously noticed:
- I don’t wear green.
- Black is my preferred neutral, by some distance. All the other colours on there go with black.
- I love blue! And people say it matches my eyes. I should make more blue things. (I maaay have ordered some fabric today to help with this.)
- Ditto purple.
- No pastels. No beige. No brown. Grey is acceptable.
- I like to look bright, don’t I? I’d never quite realised.