Wardrobe Architect Week 5: My Color Story

I like stories. I like telling them, especially through writing but also through conversation, although I’m definitely prone to rambling and vigorous arm-waving while I’m doing it. I like listening to them—I like experiencing them. A compelling story is paramount for me when I’m considering what to read or watch. The story doesn’t have to be unique or original, it just has to be told in an engaging way. I see narratives not only in books, television, film, and video games, but also in what the news chooses to report, in how my coworkers and I talk about our relationships with clients, and in how I understand my own life.

Despite this fascination with stories, it had never occurred to me that color can also tell a story. I’ve appreciated the harmonious color composition of a piece of art or the striking contrast of elements in nature, but I’d never considered that colors, with their various associations, could in combination create a sort of through line for my wardrobe.

I’d always assumed that the point of having a clothing color palette was to make shopping and getting dressed easier, because the more items you have that keep to that palette, the easier it is to mix and match to create outfits (and the less likely you are to get bored and feel like you have nothing to wear). Practical, sure, but if wardrobes were only about pragmatism than we’d all have own uniforms that we never deviate from.

It’s much more interesting to imagine that color works with shape to form a visual narrative, where the most often-worn pieces are an exposition of one’s strongest or most enduring characteristics, specialty or special occasion clothes offer dramatic turns, and accessories or unique pieces are lyrical passages or poetic turns-of-phrase that enliven the prose.

(I…might have stretched that metaphor a bit, but hey, even metaphors need a little exercise now and then to stay healthy.)

My palette features a heavy dose of neutrals, with black being the only one not represented. I have a considerable amount of black in my wardrobe, but I find it rather harsh and would prefer to browns, greys, and navy instead. Blue and green is my favorite color combination by far—so much so that we used it for our wedding colors. I find a have more than a little purple in my closet, although I often struggle with what to pair it with. Most of the red in my closet is closer to an orange-red, but I’m trying to slowly weed it out and replace it with truer reds, which I find more flattering and easier to coordinate with. Mustard, mint, burgundy, and pink are all colors that I’d like to bring into the mix more, since they work well with navy and my neutrals


Laid out like this, my palette actually seems to have some cohesion, and there are some obvious and some not-so-obvious combinations that I can see even among this small grouping. I’m looking forward to further refining everything next week.

What colors are you most attracted to? What colors do you like to wear? Is there a lot of overlap between the two? If not, how do you reconcile the difference?

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