How to Choose Colours for a Capsule Wardrobe


I have a style challenge that I need help with. I am a Spring according to the color theory websites. I am the one season that does not look well in black, in fact, I have given away my black garments with the exception of a black dress that I only wear to funerals. My neutral is camel or warm sand. My tops for the spring and summer season are aqua, turquoise, peach, or salmon. I feel like I am so limited in my colors. I also have trouble putting together a capsule wardrobe or travel wardrobe, because I cannot seem to mix and match the colors correctly. I would appreciate any tips and suggestions. Thank you, Adonna.

How to Create a Capsules Wardrobe Colour Scheme When You Don’t Wear Black

When you work with a colour palette it makes it easy to put together wardrobe capsules as your colours naturally have the same colour properties which means that they are easy to mix together.  Spring’s colour properties (or Zesty and Radiant variants in my Absolute Colour System)  are warm, bright and lighter.   You may find that if you get a colour swatch from an image consultant that it opens up a whole range of extra colours that you hadn’t thought about (in my swatches there are around 50 colours and neutrals and I call them 50 of the 50000 colours available to you).

So when you’re putting together your wardrobe, you want to look for colours that have these colour properties so that they easily mix and match, which gives you more outfit options.

If you are choosing colours that have similar colour properties it should be fairly easy to put together a capsule wardrobe for travelling.    Remember that your tops need to go with your outer layers (jackets and cardigans) and your bottoms, but they don’t need to work with each other, unless you are planning on layering them.  This gives you more colour options to play with in your capsule.

Here is an example of a warm coloured wardrobe capsule using the tan, brown tones as the neutral basis.

Creating a wardrobe capsule in warm colours

And if you’ve got cool colouring, but you don’t want to wear black (or it just doesn’t suit you either as you don’t have the depth or clarity in colouring to make it work) then here is an example of a capsule based around the neutrals of grey and navy.

Building a capsule wardrobe without black

When you’re putting together a capsule it’s all about finding colours that work together.    If they’re smoky, then choose all smoky colours, if they are warm, then only choose other colours with a similar level of warmth.  How to create a capsule wardrobe colour scheme using your colour swatch

The reason many women find it so hard to mix colours and create a capsule is because the clothes in their cupboards have different colour properties and they just don’t go together (no matter how hard they try)!

When mixing your colours it’s often easier to choose colours with a similar value (lightness or darkness) and then create your ideal value contrast using your neutrals.

Discover more about creating attractive colour schemes here.

Read all my posts on creating wardrobe capsules here (which include different colour scheme options)


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  • Warm, clear Spring colors are what I need. Unfortunately I live in a country that tends towards Winters. As a result I have 4 capsule colors: warm browns (cognac, warm camels), indigo / medium navy, warm pale grey (dove gray) and black. I’m constantly on the lookout for the first 3 colors. For bottoms I can be deviate a bit. For example silver grey jeans instead of warm grey. I also learned from this blog to use different textures. Plain smooth tops need to be the right color, but tweed, bouclé, etc. combined with a flattering color near my face work great.

  • I am a light spring, and like Adonna, cannot wear black. I also only kept one black outfit for funerals when I cleaned out the closet a while a go. It really helps to have a good, solid core wardrobe in your neutrals. I use sandy beige and powder blue as my neutrals in the summer, and can mix in ivory, peach, blush, light green, light orange,aqua etc, as accents. In cooler weather I use camel and light navy and accent with ivory, light teal, salmon, even a little dash of poppy red. It really gets easier with practice! I do carry a color card in my purse, which helps a lot when out shopping.

  • Thanks for your question Adonna. Such useful capsule pictures, Imogen. Love every items in the warm capsule and have a few pieces in my closet which are similar. Thanks from all the gals who cannot wear black! I guess we are like the Impressionists, no black on our palettes!

  • Thank you for all the information you’re putting out here.
    I found this blog, because I wanted to have more different combinations with all the clothes that I’m having. But I’m having a hard time to figure out what is ‘wrong’ with it or me :p
    I do have a lot of colours, almost none neutrals for my upper body. So maybe that is the problem. For instands, I have a aubergine cardigan, but I can’t find 6 different coloured shirts with it for a capsule.
    I’m figuring out what to do. Maybe make smaller, but more capsules. Or that I just have to buy more (to me boring) neutrals 😀

    Hope this make any sense, because English is not my native language.

  • Hello imogen, thank you for all the very useful and practical information. I am sophisticated palette, and I love the option you have presented above. I am having a hard time figuring out what colors they are from the picture. If it is possible, I would love a written list of the capsule colors. I really appreciate learning about colors from you. Your teaching style is very clear and fun to follow.

    • Hi Anne, thanks so much! As colour names are arbitrary (and every time I do a print run they change slightly) I wouldn’t put colour names in as they mean different things. But if you find three colours you like from your palette that you think work well together then use these as a guide. You will always be limited by what you can purchase at any moment in time when putting together a capsule which is why many are built over a period of time. When I’m looking to do this I just see what I can find that fits into a palette and works well together. You may find that you can choose a scheme from a patterned scarf that is in your Sophisticated palette and work to that range of colours.

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