As a visual merchandiser for multiple retailers, I’ve dressed hundreds of mannequins from women, to men, to kids. And though they have been as different as dressing to go biking or hiking, to dressing for a graduation or wedding, they all have one thing in common: they follow a specific color story. This means, that between the groupings of mannequins, they all have one or multiple colors in common, in different outfits. So, a female mannequin could wear an aqua cocktail dress with oranges pumps, and standing beside her, a male mannequin could be wearing an aqua and orange print tie with a aqua pocket square. The same goes for a grouping of same-sex mannequins. It’s just more pleasant to the eye to see a common color thread throughout a presentation instead of a jumble of hues that may or may not go with each other.
This is a great rule to apply to your wardrobe. Have you ever looked in your closest and felt overwhelmed by seemingly incoherent choices? How many times have you brought an item home thinking you’ll have something to go with it, and find that nothing quite goes. Color plays a major role in wardrobe choices, it’s the first thing your eyes compute. So to create a color story is to create a wardrobe that encompasses a range of colors that work well together. I.e. making choosing an outfit easier.
At first this might sound limiting or matchy-matchy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to be strategic about your foundation pieces, so you’ll still have the option of adding an unexpected color if it tickles your fancy. Though you could start with choosing your neutral colors, I personally like to start with the fun colors that I always find myself drawn to. I call these my signature colors. Whether you know it or not, you probably already have a signature color, it’s the color that you have the most in your wardrobe, or is the color of your phone case, or favorite nail polish. You may even wear so much of this color, that people start to associate the color with you. The reason I like to start here is because how devastating would it be to plan your whole color story, only to find in the end that your signature color doesn’t fit into it. And this color doesn’t necessarily have to be a vibrant or unique color, it can be whatever you’re drawn to, even if it’s just classic black. And again, you may have one or two signature colors.
After designating your signature color(s), you will choose other colors as secondary colors (they’re kind of like the back-up dancers to your signature color). They could be in the same family, creating a monochromatic look, or complimentary, meaning they would pop off each other. I’ll talk more about how to mix these colors together to create monochromatic and color-blocked looks in upcoming posts.
And lastly, you can incorporate your neutrals, the perfect backdrop to your signature and secondary colors. Even though neutrals are designed to go with pretty much everything, there are definitely preferable choices to certain colors. Like khaki typically doesn’t go well with yellow, since they’re not similar enough or different enough (make sense?).
Once you become a pro with the whole color-coordinating thing, it becomes easy to envision whether or not a unexpected color can be incorporated into your color story, as well as seasonal colors you wish to adopt to make your wardrobe feel more “summery,” “wintery,” and so on.
Let’s recap; to create a color story for your wardrobe, you decide what your signature, secondary, and neutral colors are for a cohesive wardrobe. Got it? Got it. Having cohesion in your wardrobe will make picking out outfits effortless, because we all know, an effortless wardrobe makes for a happy girl.