Wednesday, February 4, 2009

color and the minimalist wardrobe

Coco Chanel knew the secret to elegant minimalism; so did Diana Vreeland, the famed editor and one of Chanel's best customers. The little black dress, black turtlenecks, black pencil skirts and well-cut black pants are all wardrobe staples that form the basis for hundreds of different ensembles. Not everyone can wear black. It's not just a matter of complexion; I have owned as many as three beagles at once, turning black into "black with a coating of short white hair". But the central truth is: pick a flattering neutral that is immune to fashion's whims. Black, gray, white, khaki, navy,brown. Acquire basic, season-spanning, well-made pieces in your chosen neutral. When an item wears out, replace it.

Then the fun begins. For the rest of your wardrobe, rely on colors that work together and with your own skin and hair color. There was a very big deal made of this back in the 80s, and there are still books, websites and professional consultants to help you out (see "Color Me Beautiful"). You need to work with current trends -- perhaps you've noticed it's easier to buy pink than red lately. Wear Palettes provides sample combinations from current fashion outfits; colr.org lets you create your own from flickr images or a photo you upload. (Also a cool way to create a color palette for a craft project.)

Don't go crazy; the more each individual piece works together, the larger the number of outfits you can create. I've used this approach for decades for my "conference" wardrobe: black (but not necessarily matching) pants, skirt and jacket with one top per day in red and/or white. Accessories provide additional color and texture, and dress the outift up or down. (If the beagle ever came with me, I'd have to re-think this.)

Thanks to Marybeth for the Wear Palettes and colr.org links!

1 comment:

MbS said...

Hi Jo,

Both these sites gave me HUGE freedom to remix the clothes I have in new and unusual color patterns.

Michelle B's lemongrass ensemble spiked with the muted jade gloves and shoes was another invitation away from the tyranny of matchy-matchy.

And, this inspired me to try mix and match options -- spiked with some color (scarf, mittens, etc) of my black and brown basics....how can you argue with the palette of
Cezanne or Mother Nature.