This is part 2 of the Conversant In Color: Buying Fabric post from earlier this week.
Colors: Gather your friends
If you don’t know what colors work best for you, check out my posts on Warm/Cool and what that means, Observing Your Favorites, and Harmonizing with Your Environment. I don’t have a slick system for choosing colors, I think the process is too individual for that. Time and observation are your best bets.
Once you have an idea of a few colors that work for you and you want to apply that to sewing with a purpose, you’ll need to assemble some colors into a “team.” These are the colors you shop for.
Simple = attainable
- Start with a neutral- black/white/ivory/khaki/brown/raisin/navy. Pick one to build your wardrobe around. It is the anchor. I suggest picking the one that suits your personal coloring, your taste and your environmental needs the best.
- Fill in two other colors that you favor the most.
- Then choose ONE accent color- this can be a color you LOVE but can’t wear much, or a brighter-than-usual shade. This keeps things simple.
Here’s mine for Summer 2013:
If you’ve been keeping an eye on me for a while, you’ll notice it’s very much the same as Summer 2012. I leaned heavily on bright reds and blues, with aqua and pink for accents. This year, I’d like to lean on blues/aquas/seafoam and introduce some gold/yellow/orange as an accent color. This will help me refresh my Summer 2012 wardrobe with new pieces that I can mix in easily.
These colors worked really well for me- my temperament, environment and lifestyle. Oh yes, and with my coloring! I used white as my neutral then, and white is my neutral this summer. I like it. Besides, I need to replace some of my ruined whites.
Keep It Simple, Sugar
I plan my fabric shopping like some plan their grocery trips. The planning prevents over-buying and simplifies the process of sewing outfits and dressing myself. At the same time, I try to stay flexible.
This is a very, very simple breakdown of how to use color in wardrobe planning- intended as a starting point (I used my colors from the palette above):
- Neutral: Workhorse garments- 40-60% of the sewing. Tops, bottoms, and a jacket/vest/topper.
- Color 1: 25-30% of your fabrics. The best color near your face. Shop for shades or tones of the same color to avoid looking too monochromatic or “matchy.” This color should look well with your neutral, as well as your face.
- Color 2: 20-25% of your fabrics. This is a color you like, looks ok on you, and one that works well with Color 1. If you feel timid use a complementary color, like the seafoamy teal in my wardrobe palette. If you feel a little more confident, go for a contrasting color, like the red I used.
- Accent Colors: These will make up about 5%-10% of your sewing fabrics, if that. An accent color may be any color you like that mixes well with your other colors. I’m choosing yellow/orange as my summer accents because I like them but can’t wear much of those colors.
The Importance of an Accent Color:
When I’m sewing a wardrobe I may need just a tiny bit of color on a project- maybe threads, buttons, embellishment, or a nice clash-y lining. It’s nice to have some accent colors already in mind and to hand, and using a consistent accent color creates continuity in the sewing.
This also makes it simpler for me to thrift for belts and bags. If it’s my accent color, decent quality and a good price, it goes home with me. If it’s one of my other colors, I might consider it. Otherwise, it stays put even if it is a steal. I don’t need that much stuff in my house.
Use four colors in your wardrobe- Color 1 + a complement and Color 2 + a complement. The trick is to make sure all the colors are wearable together, even if you wouldn’t necessarily wear them every day. Try working with a larger wardrobe concept, too. Do set yourself a few basic guidelines so you don’t end up with five tops and no bottoms! (Unless that’s what you need, then do it.)
Basic Wardrobe Planning for Beginners:
If you’re new to the process of wardrobing, I suggest starting with:
- a basic topper with a bottom in a neutral (a suit, or a casual jacket/cardi and a bottom) (Use the Neutral Color)
- a simple blouse/tee (Use Color 1)
- a more “interesting” blouse/tee (Use Color 2)
- another bottom (Use Color 1 or 2)
- maybe with a dress in a color/fabric that harmonizes with the rest.
This would give you two tops, two bottoms, a “topper” and maybe a dress. That’s eight outfits. (Did I count right?) If the idea of sewing a “topper” sounds scary and weird, then don’t sew it. With the dress, that’s still 5 different outfits.
This is manageable.
Mix it Up with Prints
Find a print that uses more or less the same colors you like to wear/look best on you. Be sure to buy it in an appropriate weight for your project- lighter, softer fabrics up top and heavier or more textured fabrics below. In general. You could build your color story for a wardrobe around a great print, and don’t forget the neutral!
I know we had a LOT to say about the use of novelty prints and quilting cotton for apparel sewing last time. I did not intend to create guilt or raise any hairs- just a simple bit of advice because I’ve been there. Switching to solids/stripes/checks was the one thing that lifted the overall tone of my sewing. Dramatically.
I LOVE prints, when used well. If you want, I can work up a nice post about that… Some also asked for information about fibers. I’ve written about them extensively in the past, I can look back through the archives and re-publish/re-work/update those articles as a regular series. Yes?
Speaking of improving the overall tone of sewing- did you see Tanit-Isis’ post on Homemade Legitimacy? She builds a good argument for striving for sewing excellence while questioning the standards we hold ourselves to as sewists.
Sunni is rallying the troops to sew wearable wardrobes that provide free range of motion, too! Everyone is doing it! “The Everyday Wardrobe is about building that wardrobe that you can wear every. single. day. And feel good in, look good in and still move in.”
What do you think? Would you put color together in a wardrobe differently? How do you do it? Which of this week’s palettes catches your eye?
Be sure to vote for the Tiramisu Covergirl’s name! Penelope is ahead by a small margin. I think you can vote as many times as you like, though it only counts as one entry in the Polka Dot Jersey Giveaway! It closes in four hours, so do get in!
Next: Tira Lady Named and The Winner, with an online source for navy or red polka dot cotton (limited supply!)
Later: Lila’s wardrobe project progress- A Trio of Tiny Shorts and Quantifying My Sewing