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How to build a capsule wardrobe around three colours

It’s been a few weeks now since I finished the capsule wardrobe challenge, and although I decided that a capsule wardrobe isn’t what I need just now, I’ve been thinking what I would do if I did want to create one.

What I’ve come up with is this: pick three colours and build everything around that. This will help guide and narrow down shopping choices, and will ensure that everything goes with everything, which is key to a successful capsule wardrobe as it greatly increases remix potential. If you have few clothes, there’s be nothing worse than being stuck with a dress that can only be worn in one way, for example. And limiting the colour pallette will really help define the style, without narrowing it down to a particular type of dress, i.e. you can still have anything from glitzy evening outfits to casual sunday afternoone ones, but everything is pulled together by the colours.

You could of course go for any colour combination, but a helpful formula would be to:
* start with a neutral colour: black, navy, charcoal, brown
* add either second neutral, or a slightly more muted/mainstream colour like purple, any kind of red, turquoise or a shade of blue that isn’t navy
* finish off with a bright, bouncy colour like yellow or orange or even just a bright shade of red

I’ve made a few examples to illustrate:

First up, navy, white and orange. Navy and white is such a classic combination, and the orange gives that lovely little pop of brightness.
navy- white - orange

Or, if you’re a classics kind of girl, how about black, blue and red? This shows red being used as the ‘bright colour’, but it could equally be the second colour of course.
black - blue - red

Green, red and yellow. This is my favourite, as it reminds me of sunshine and holidays and the yellow stops the red and green looking christmassy. It’s probably not hugely practical for putting together corporate work outfits, but I think it could be done as long as the green was dark green and the red on the burgundy side of things.
green - yellow - red

Finally, grey, purple and pink. This isn’t really my kind of thing, since pink is the one colour I can’t really get excited about. But I just wanted to show that colour mixing can be girly and cute too.
grey - purple - pink

So, what do you think? is this workable? I know I’d have a hard time sticking to just three colours, but that’s just because I am clearly not capsule wardrobe ready! Which colours would you pick if you were doing this?

UPDATE: If you enjoyed this post but thought this idea is a bit too restrictive, you may be interested in this post on how I am applying the idea in real life by building my wardrobe around a colour family

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sal 9 November 2009, 5:33 pm

    I did a bit of a capsule wardrobe when I took a trip to San Francisco last April … everything I took was black, white, or flame orange. It worked great! I like your more vibrant color combos here even better, though.

  • ambika 9 November 2009, 6:18 pm

    That first color combination makes me grin and wish I had more orange in my wardrobe!

  • Biba 9 November 2009, 6:29 pm

    I’ve presented you with a blog award, I hope you don’t mind! I really like your blog and highly recommend it to anyone who likes colours and pretty things!

  • Eyeliah 9 November 2009, 9:19 pm

    these are so dreamy, it reminds me of how Strawberry Kitten's Nadine dresses!

  • Make Do Style 9 November 2009, 10:03 pm

    I love orange, navy and white – I do it all summer long!

    Such a great thing to do I have not patience for this!

  • The Small Fabric Of My Life 9 November 2009, 10:10 pm

    I may give this a try. I love the grey, purple and pink. I might even try each palette for a week!

  • Teenysparkles 9 November 2009, 11:31 pm

    Hey, i loved your choices when you did the capsule wardrobe challenge. You pulled it off without looking samey every day- I wouldn't have known you were working off a limited wardrobe. Anyhoo, my favourite colours to look at would be the navy, white and orange capsule. But i don't suit white or navy. So i would go with green, red, and yellow.

  • Clare 9 November 2009, 11:53 pm

    These are such fab ideas! I really love the navy/white/orange one.

  • laura 11 November 2009, 5:54 pm

    das ist total süß, wär aber nicht mein ding – 3 farben wären mir echt zu wenig. (; ich mag auch am liebsten rot-grün-gelb, aber eigentlich sind alle sets schön!

  • hillary 11 November 2009, 6:52 pm

    eeeeeeeeeeeep Ok so the navy and red one and the purple and pink are for meeeeeeeeeee
    aRG I really want to go and buy the entire set and only dress in three colors!

  • pineapplemint 11 November 2009, 11:59 pm

    i love the combination of yellow, red, and green. but, i sort of hate red clothes! i like it for shoes and accessories, but otherwise no thanks.

  • Andrea 14 November 2009, 12:59 am

    I love the gray, purple and pink capsule. I might substitute white or lavender in place of the pink, though.

  • Eliza 14 November 2009, 3:18 pm

    Six months ago, I purged my closet of anything I didn't like to wear. Almost all my clothing is now olive green or dark brown with a few pieces of winter black or summer white. I have all sorts of colorful, patterned or embelished accessories to give variety, and I'm not sick of anything yet!

  • Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP 15 November 2009, 8:21 pm

    some great ideas here!

  • Rebecca 17 November 2009, 3:48 pm

    These are lovely combinations! I really like the idea behind a capsule wardrobe, but I don't think I could really do it. 🙂

  • Leia 27 November 2009, 4:38 pm

    Love your ideas!

  • Dneumann 18 April 2011, 10:54 pm

    Love, love, love your combinations!!! I think capsule wardrobes are so convenient and practical that I designed one for myself and now make them for other folks….guys as well. So far we do classic business clothes in neutral colours but they can easily be jazzed up with vibrant pieces from your own wardrobe. We designed these wardrobes for a week of business travel but have found they are perfect for the basic building blocks of the 'at-home' wardrobe too….compact, versatile, flattering, and durable. We are designing capsule wardrobes for other occasions as well….casual work; weekender; maternity and new mom; so many needs, so little time! Check out http://www.perfectlypackedinc.com or call me on our toll free line (US and Canada.) Cheers! DN

  • Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys 2 January 2012, 5:36 am

    Obviously this post is from quite a while ago, but I followed the links and found it interesting. While I have the least colour-organized wardrobe going, I definitely can see the benefits of a limited palette of colours. One of my favourite examples is the film Amelie, where the majority of her clothes are red and green. She looks amazing, and somehow not Christmassy, in everything. : )
    Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys recently posted..whitehern revisitedMy Profile

  • Shelly 7 August 2012, 10:59 pm

    I love the idea of limiting one’s wardrobe in terms of color! That would make shopping/sewing soooo simple!

  • Estela 21 July 2013, 4:12 am

    oh my gosh, I forgot I had done this one time and loved it. I need to do it again. I worked as a waitress and I stuck with black, white and denim (blue) it was so much fun! I really grey, pink and purple.

  • Ananasa 7 January 2014, 8:05 am

    This is by one of the best posts we have seen, the colors chosen are awesome and the idea is just amazing!

    http://www.ananasa.com- Home For Handmade
    Ananasa recently posted..Ananasa’s Journey in 2013My Profile

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