Shopping your closet: How to mix and match colours

I’m going to try something out where instead of creating a whole other style blog, I’ll do little bits of what I wear and how I figure out what to do under a new series called: Shopping your closet.

I don’t want to create another style blog because:

  1. I already tried it
  2. It’s a LOT of work to take photos, crop them, upload them and make notes
  3. I’m a workaholic and I will stress about not having posts scheduled a year in advance which puts too much pressure on me
  4. I don’t think I can really do a post 3x a week on the subject to give it my full attention

So there you go and here we go!

I was asked how I thought up of these colour combinations by mixing and matching ‘unexpected’ combinations, so here’s my thought process.

I begin with a piece that I want to wear, like a skirt, a top, a dress, a necklace, a pair of shoes… etc

I had picked up this Forever 21 skirt recently for $23 in mustard yellow.

I love the retro look of it and .. POCKETS!!!!

I didn’t think I could wear it because:

  • the colour is really awful against my face
  • …but if it’s worn on the bottom, I think the colour works
  • it’s a bit shorter than my other skirts, although it isn’t a miniskirt
  • ..well, mustard yellow!?, I didn’t think I had anything to match in my wardrobe

Turns out, it’s a super colour. Not only is it neutral and not as bright as the rest of my wardrobe, it goes with almost every colour, as long as I choose the right tone.

There are two methods I use to mix and match colours:

  1. Experimentation: Just try anything I think that works, looking only at cut and style
  2. Inspiration: Looking at what I already wear and own

METHOD #1: EXPERIMENTATION

I basically grab the skirt and lay out all the tops that work with the skirt.

Since the skirt is a bit flared and not tight (which balances out my shoulders), I need simpler, cleaner lines and/or something that is ruffled, but not so much that it fights with the quiet beauty of the skirt.

The following tops are all simple, in a t-shirt style, tank top, vest, or with a simple ruffle that won’t detract from the skirt.

(Incidentally, as I was doing this I realized that I almost own the entire saturated rainbow, I don’t own any orange tops and I forgot to add WHITE in there as a neutral with the grey.)

Here are my notes on the combinations of what I’d like as colour combos out of what I’ve pulled:

(It can be hard to see why I made certain notes, like with the light blue top, but that’s because it really is too light/bright to match with the skirt, it’s just hard to take a photo of it)

All the shirts could technically work with the skirt with the exception of the red, yellow and the light blue top, but the fact that all these tops COULD work doesn’t mean I’d wear the colour combination, so I have to place the tops against it to check how I feel about the combination.

For anything that is very neutral or ‘boring’, I can just add one of my many patterned obi belts or think of a bright necklace.

My favourite combinations up there so far have been with the violent magenta top and the cobalt blue. The pops of such a bright, saturated but still dark colour makes the skirt look even better.

METHOD #2: INSPIRATION

Seeing as I own a yellow-green ruffled dress that has a blue/purple/grey bottom (Anthropologie Seaside Fields Dress), I have an instant colour combination that I can pull from.

The top is a bit more green than the mustard skirt, but look at how well the blues and purples go with it!

It’s the reason why I think I prefer blues against the yellow (and also if you learned about complementary colours in the colour wheel, it helps with matching pieces).

AFTER THE COLOURS HAVE BEEN PICKED

Then I just decide on the combo I decide to wear, then the easy part comes.

If I pick a bright combination like the mustard yellow and pink, then I keep it neutral in the accessories (although I have been known to wear a really bright bold chunky necklace with a bright outfit, so it all depends on my mood).

I never do something like wear a bright outfit with a bright chunky necklace and then finish off with really bright shoes. It just makes your head hurt. I try to keep a nice balance between neutrals and brights.

Or sometimes, I just let the outfit speak for itself and I don’t wear any accessories at all ๐Ÿ™‚

If I wear something more neutral, I am more likely to go wilder in my accessories and colours.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.