Thinking about clothes colours

A woman in a red cardigan, dark blue top and cream skirt with red and navy print.
I'm still not bored of this outfit. You'll see it again this summer.
Perhaps it’s because of sewing that this has only just hit me, but I’ve never really thought about the colours of the clothes in my wardrobe. Browsing fabrics the other day – I know I don’t need any more Liberty fabric, but this season’s ‘Jude’ print is the perfect 60s-does-deco design – I was trying to work out my favourite colourway, and it hit me that the one I liked best probably wasn’t the one I’d wear.

Why? Not enough things to wear it with.

In my goth days pretty much everything I had was black, and everything that wasn’t went with black, so I never really had to think about the colours in my wardrobe. When I started knitting, I found I invariably honed in on the teals and turquoises. And since then I’ve amassed a kaleidoscope of clothes, but I don’t own as many as a lot of bloggers and often struggle to find things that match in terms of colour and ‘mood’. (Yeah, my clothes have moods. Hippie mood, witchy mood, smart mood, space-age mood…) One solution would be simply to buy more clothes so I have more to choose from, but I’m not sure that’s a good plan. I don’t have space for them, and I don’t need them. What I need to do is make sure any new acquisitions or makes fit around the existing ones, that they match in colour and mood.
Liberty Jude fabric with a green and teal print on a navy background.
Liberty Jude fabric. I'd wear all these colours.
Navy and red are easy for me to build outfits from, as I have a decent amount of both, and they generally fall into the smart/office/mod moods. Navy's also one of the few colours where I have a decent amount of vintage/repro, with 20s beach pyjamas, a 40s-style House of Foxy dress and late-40s cardi, and my Modshoes and boxy bag. I do have garments that are navy or have elements of navy in that I bought for last year’s India trip, and they’re slight misfits as they’re more casual in feel, but generally fine with linen trousers.
A woman in a white blouse and wide-legged trousers in navy with a broad white stripe
Hippie holiday clothes. Yeah, navy...
Black is tricky because over the years I’ve come to realise that the 1980s maxim of black going with everything isn’t actually true. Okay, it’s not going to actively clash, but it can really suck the impact out of the rest an outfit. And that’s not the colour’s fault, it’s because I’ve been lazy in how I use it. When I used to wear mostly black, any other colour would have more impact, so I’d work it in carefully, perhaps echoing it in other accessories, or accepting that it would be used in the statement piece. I don’t treat black like that. Navy’s pretty much a neutral too, but I treat it with much more respect, using it in accessories or ensuring it’s echoed in whatever other garments I’m wearing if I choose solid navy skirt or trousers. My poor old black skirts and trousers just get slung on as an afterthought. So, I need to think about blouses and tops incorporating an element of black – and perhaps some of my other favourite colours, for versatility. My black pieces tend to be more 30s-40s in shape, so that's something to bear in mind when picking fabric to wear with them.

Teal, turquoise and green are oddities as these cover most of my clothing moods. I probably have more actual vintage incorporating one or more of these colours than anything else. However, I do have a few garments in these shades that I’ve hung onto because ‘they’ll do’. I also have a lot that doesn’t fit. And my greens are mostly dresses or tops – that’s where the black trousers get dragged in. No more! My 2019 Make Nine includes some skirt ideas, so let them be, or contain, green or turquoise!

There are a few outliers in the wardrobe – a grey and pink skirt, grey knits – but I’m not planning to get rid of them. I will, however, be wary of buying/making any more in those colours or yellow. I’ve got brown accessories and tweeds but no daywear; that’s a gap to fill in.

So there’s sort of a plan in there: prints containing black or brown, solid greens and turquoises. That’s good? This weekend the plan will go right out of the window anyhow as I'm hoping to make my rocket top (MORE DARK BLUE).

I know loads of bloggers are way better at combining colours than me. Do you have a lot of clothes? Or a lot of a few particular colours?


  1. I cannot deny I have a LOT of clothes! I am constantly buying things & selling things and my wardrobe has certainly evolved from the days of nearly all black. In fact I tend not to wear much black these days as my skin tone has definitely changed and all black does nothing for me. Indeed I have found certain colours that I used to wear no longer suit me, like maroon for example. I think it's quite a good idea to try on certain colours, I've been surprised by what does and doesn't suit me. having said that like you I'm go back again and again to green, blue & teal.

    1. It is funny how skin tones change, isn't it? I'd always assumed it would stay one way for life.

  2. My wardrobe is swimming in various shades of brown. I use it like a neutral as it goes well with almost everything. Black has been inching back into my outfits bit by bit, but only worn with brights for contrast. Emerald green and black is a current favourite.

    Unconventional combos like beige and red can look chic and fit with a 60s style. Easy to find accessories too. Good luck.

  3. Hi Mim,lovely outfits on this post. You always look so put together. I am feeling your pain. I am.unpacking just now and realise that much of my wardrobe is no longer close to fitting, is fit for the rag bag or just doesn't suit my style (or have style to be honest).
    Have you heard about "Sewing with a Plan" (SWAP)? It is usually a combo of garments & fabrics that form a lot of combination outfits. The Stitchers Guild website usually holds an annual challenge with variations each year. I was toying with the idea of doing one once all my exams are over. Trouble is I don't seem to have any solid fabrics as I have a magpie"s eye for all the prints in all the colours.
    Navy is a lovely neutral and I think that is works better for red hair. You look great in it. Can't wait to see your rocket top. The fabric is glorious. Xx

  4. Blimey - who knew getting dressed could be so complicated!

    I love your red/white/navy outfit in the first photo - you look fabulous!

    I think the sound of more green, teal and turquoise items sounds lovely - all wonderful colours in their own right and of course all will be perfect colours with your beautiful red hair.

    I try very hard, now, when I purchase an item of clothing to think how many other items in my wardrobe I could combine it with before I decide to buy it. Partly this is to do with colour. But I've realised because I have SO many clothes I have items in all colours! Despite this I still have several pieces that I don't know what to pair with and interestingly one of these is green and another turquoise - I feel a post coming on...

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Oh that Jude fabric! How could you resist? I used to wear black almost exclusively too and for years shied away from navy as it reminded me of school uniforms here in Belgium. And I never even had to wear a uniform ... Now, I've got both in my wardrobe, together with any other colour under the sun. Funnily enough, I too never really think of the clothes in my wardrobe when I'm out shopping. And in spite of the fact that my wardrobe is full to bursting, I still have days when I'm assembling an outfit and I think, oh, a pink blouse would go well with this skirt, I'll have to look out for one. Your plan sounds good, Mim, and I'm looking forward to see your rocket top! xxx

  6. A few years ago I decided that I would try to have one set of clothes that could be used both winter and summer. Bad idea. The temperature difference in Norway is just too big for that to be possible. At least if you like me tend to get cold easily. So I quite a lot of clothes. Dedicated winter clothes and summer clothes, and clothes for spring/autumn. I had a great purge of the closet about 18 months ago, and mostly I've been good, but last summers lasting heat wave broke my good intentions and I ended up buying 2 new summer dresses, and sewing 1 dress and 2 skirts, as well as 2 or 3 new blouses.

  7. My wardrobe is limited to whatever we find readymade when we go to Delhi once or twice a year. I've not had any luck having suits stitched by tailors here (they either do not fit or fall apart after 2 washes).
    If I were to wear western-style clothes again I'm afraid I would fall into my comfy 'everything black' rut - but with sparkly metallic, bejeweled and beaded shoes.
    I like your navy-based ensembles- it really sets off your red hair and has that classic mid-century vibe you are going for!

  8. This is the kind of in-depth wardrobe analysis that really organised people apparently do, so that everything goes with everything, and they never have that panic of "I have nothing in vermillion!" whilst running late.

    Your approach sounds very sensible, I admire the thought you're putting into this! Good luck. xx

  9. your first photo (top photo) of outfit look beautiful.
    have a great day

  10. I love hippy Mim and I'm not surprised that you love the first outfit, that's a perfect Summer look, chic and naturally stylish. That Liberty print is a stunner.
    I haven't got as many clothes as people think (although I do tend to borrow from the stockroom!)
    Over the last few months I've had a massive cull but went a bit mad in Anokhi and FabIndia when I was away! xxx


Post a Comment

Popular Posts