Capsules, colors and my inventory (a long novel)

Lately the forum was swamped with capsule and color posts. Sneaky Angie, how she is making us think and ponder and take the inventory of our closets...Isn't it amazing how thought provocative these posts are!
Anyway I got bitten by the same bug. I don't think I will do a capsule post, not yet anyway but I am beginning to think in terms of capsules (new thing for me) - at least for the colors.

Some time ago I posted color palette question (aka not having one) and a lot of you (and Angie) told me that I don't need to worry about this because my closet is pretty heavily mix-and-match(able). However I keep returning to this color dilemma again and again in my head. The main reason is that I think it will make it easier for me to shop but also I really like the thought of signature neutrals and colors. Just find it very appealing somehow so I guess I need this exercise!  

So phase one for me is to take a stock of which colors are represented in my closet right now and I was quickly done the inventory using my wardrobe spreadsheet (less time consuming than pulling everything out and less messy too!). For clarity sake I considered patterns as a color either covering the larger area or having the biggest impact and I counted everything including footwear and coats.
Well, it was eye opening for me for sure, see for yourselves:

Most heavily represented neutrals were white / cream and black (pic 1).  This did not come as a surprise because I like the graphic drama of black and white. They are pretty much equally represented. It is also interesting that I have more black for cool season but more white for the warm one. However the surprise was in the number of them: combined they represent whooping 38% of my total wardrobe! I guess we can safely say that black and white are my signature neutrals, no? :-)
That was easy but determining other "signature" neutrals was not as easy. This is what I have:
Navy / ink   - 4
Light grey   - 8
Mid grey     - 10
Dark grey    - 3
Brown (including tan, camel and cognac) - 7
Taupe          - 7

If I combine all greys together they are coming pretty close to black / white count so it looks like grey is my other signature color, right? On the other hand it is not very flattering on me and I have trouble styling some of my grey items (especially mid grey). See pic 2
In comparison dark saturated navy and especially ink blue are much more flattering on me but I have just a few items of this color. Pic 3 to illustrate :-)
Brown is a complicated color for me. It usually looks good and for a pure flattery beats black every time...but I find harder and harder to incorporate it into my outfits. Maybe it is because my hair is not brown as before but a much darker almost black shade now? Or maybe it just lacks drama I can get with white and black? I still love my dark brown leather blazer though and will no part with it! (pic 4)
Taupe is a strange animal, a hybrid between grey and brown. I am not even sure the things I consider taupe are really taupe (pic 5 - both jacket and booties).
So I cannot really go by sheer number of items in each color I currently own to determine which ones should be my other "signature" neutrals. I guess I can use your help here :-)
If you are still reading my novel you deserve a medal! I would appreciate your opinion  - which neutrals you see as "mine"?
Thanks a lot!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    Very interesting post, Sveta.  I have an ambivalent relationship with neutrals.  I have long fallen back on black --- as a high-contrast coloring girl and a performer, it seemed a natural choice........and then there was the whole decade of the 90s.  Blacks and brights, anyone?  I avoid taupe, except in accessories and occasionally on my bottom half (too soul sucking on me), but I have your same love of ink blue and mixed feelings about grey.  Perhaps we need a grey challenge!  For right now, I won't add a grey item unless it's amazing.

    I'm loving you in ink blue and cream as I review recent posts.  Of course, blues are so hard to harmonize and match, but they are so amazing!

  • Adelfa replied 5 years ago

    When I think of you, I think of white. There's always white contrasting with something. Like black!

    For your purposes, I wonder if it would work to put gray and taupe into a group as your mid-tone neutrals for when you want something softer? Sort of interchangeable, neither being a signature but a means to an end when you want that medium value in an outfit.

    As for ink blue, I've been buying it too and enjoying it as an alternative to black. However, it's a lot harder to find than black, and can be quite hard to match. For that reason I'm considering it as something fun and even useful for now but not a long-term workhorse.

    And I decree that everyone gets one free brown leather jacket.

  • Joy replied 5 years ago

    You wear all these neutrals plus blush, red, leopard, denim, and other neutrals very well. Black, white and red drama is fab on you, but so are softer neutrals. I've wanted to pick out signature neutrals and colors, but just can't stick with it. Sometimes the ones I want just aren't very available, like navy and even brown right now. Sometimes adding a new neutral feels like it freshens the whole wardrobe, like blush.
    How about black and ink for your main dark neutrals and white and light to mid grey for your light neutrals?

  • Jeanie replied 5 years ago

    I like you in the high contrast neutrals like black, white, navy, dark brown (possibly charcoal, but would have to see an example). These would be the "signature neutrals" IMO.  

    On another note, I notice in looking at older posts that anytime something has a bit of black in it, it echoes your hair.  For example the taupe jacket in #5 seems to have some black in it (or is it just the picture?) so it combines so nicely with your hair.  So maybe the mid-toned neutrals like taupe & mid grey are nicest when mixed with flicks of black or color (like #2 & #5).  Hope this makes sense.

  • Lantana replied 5 years ago

    Sveta it seems to me that you have made some important discoveries already with this exercise. For one, the imbalance in your wardrobe between the greys, which you are diffident about, and the blues that suit you well.
    You suspect your changing hair colour is influencing how you wear brown and this might be because your skin tone is changing too.
    I wouldn't call the browns in #5 taupe. Taupe is more towards grey than that, for me anyway.
    You are dead right about Angie keeping us on our toes!

  • rae replied 5 years ago

    HMMM... very interesting point you bring up: are useful neutrals necessarily your neutrals? I am leaning toward saying that cream, black, and the light/heather gray are Your Neutrals and that the others are supporting acts. 

    Look how your taupe/brown jackets are paired with the cream/black combo in both pics you chose. And how the darker gray is far away from your face. Even the dark navy is softened by the cream buttons. At least when using these pics for the evidence pool, it seems you are following Angie's guidelines for colors that don't love you back with those neutrals. Wondering if you usually use those neutrals in conjunction with your most flattering colors, too. 

  • Scarlet replied 5 years ago

    I did not read the other replies yet, but what I find pretty interesting is if I close my eyes and ask what is a Sveta neutral, I would have said taupe. Maybe this is because you wear those boots and that jacket so well. Do you think the number of your garments is well coordinated with how often you wear them? There is a lot more black and white for sale than taupe. That navy and gray outfit really lights you up though too.

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Beth Ann, I wonder if amount of grey in my closet is a result of trying to buy fewer black items and grey is the next easiest neutral color to find!
    Adelfa, it is interesting on putting taupe and greys together. I find that I struggle to wear taupe and grey  in one outfit, more likely than not they do not play well together...
    Joy, it is nice to know I am not the only one struggling with neutrals...:-)
    Jeanie, you may be right about mixing mid greys and taupe with black...need to experiment more.
    Lantana, they are not browns for sure (in pic 5), more like grey browns or brownish greys which I believe what taupe is? :-)
    Rae, I think you are verry well on your way to become a great stylist! Your analysis is very thoughful and thought provoking. You are right that I try to apir taupe and grey with black and white...
    Scarlet, I think the availability of colors in the stores plays a big role too. This is the main reason why I have so few ink and dark navy itemd: they are just hard to find.
    I think this was a useful experiment for me. Now I want to do phase 2: review the pictures of my most favorite outfits to see which neutrals and their combination make sme happier. Stay tuned!

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, this is such an interesting exercise and do you know it represents the FIRST moment that I have ever wanted to spreadsheet my wardrobe? Yes! So, please, tell me -- what are your categories? Item, colour, price, times worn, date bought -- whatever? Season? I am all ears. 

    Okay. Onto your questions. 

    When I think of you, I think of drama, and that often (but not always) involves contrast. That is why black and white (or perhaps charcoal or ink and white or ivory/ cream) seem like such naturals. It's not one OR the other -- it is the interplay of tones. So it's possible that the colour itself matters less than the activity between the colours. 

    But there's drama of another kind in ton sur ton looks. And this suits you equally well. You can use colours or neutrals to get this effect. Or simply colours and neutrals of the same approximate value. When you wear the faded BFs with a white shirt and your taupe sweater over top, you get that a bit -- with a pop of bright in your bag. You've done many more outfits this way as well, and it works on you. 

    I think you are right that browns are not working as well any more due to your current hair colour. It is amazing what a change of hair colour can do. When I was a red head for a while, all of a sudden I HATED myself in black, and LOVED myself in dark chocolate brown. Now, I much prefer the look of black on me (even if it is not my best neutral.) 

    Your leather jacket and boots in these photos show more as dark taupe shading into brown -- closer to brown than most people think of, when they think of taupe -- but like grey, taupe comes in a range. But I do think they qualify as taupe. 

    It's interesting you say that taupe and grey often fight with each other. In my experience that is sometimes true, but I'm surprised how often I can make them work together. So what might be wrong is the lack of contrast when you try it. Either that, or the undertones are fighting with each other. A greenish grey will fight with taupe. 

    I actually think you look amazing in Pic 2 and if you don't think grey is good on you, maybe this is just a perfect illustration for Angie's post about wearing your less good colours with your good ones. That's a great outfit! 

    I understand the wish to narrow your colours. And I do feel it has been helpful to me to do this -- to a degree. But in my narrowing, I basically only took out one neutral -- brown! Well, okay, I don't wear olive, tan, or camel either. 

    But here are mine: 

    White (esp. winter white)
    Ink blue and navy
    Grey (from charcoal to light silver grey and pewter)

    Does that list sound familiar?  :-) 

    Seriously, I do not find that this makes it harder for me to buy. These neutrals play well together. I am aiming to increase the proportion of ink blue and navy and charcoal to pure black, over time, but I know I will include at least some black for a long time. 

    It's been more important and helpful to limit the signature or "best" colours. Again, I'm not dogmatic about this. If I find something in a colour I hadn't considered before but it works well into the wardrobe and flatters -- well, why not? (DVF blush sweater, I'm looking at you!) But on the whole, my colours are limited to: 

    Blues (in a vast range)
    Cranberry red
    Berry pinks

    It still gives lots of variety, but rules out quite a lot. 

    One question to ask: which colours love you most? And which neutrals work best with those colours? Maybe that will help you winnow. 

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    Funny, the first thing I think, thinking of your neutral colours, is grey! But it's definitely light grey.

  • Lisa replied 5 years ago

    Funny I also always think of you and grey.  Maybe becaue you pair softer colors such as the grey so well together? 

    I also shift more to white in warmer months.  And cooler months for me are very heavy with blues and greys.

  • nancylee replied 5 years ago

    Sveta, I completely understand your quandry about choosing your "best" neutrals.  So many neutrals are useful that it's hard to narrow down to just a few.  And it seems they sneak into our closets over time with less intention than brighter more statement-y colors, which somehow feel more purposeful.  Like yours, my closet is a mishmash of black, navy, white, ivory/cream, and browns...the only thing missing is grey!

    I hear you on brown being difficult to incorporate.  I like brown, too, but I just don't think it's as versatile (or as available) as black, white, and navy.  

    Maybe as an experiment you could pull all your brown out of your closet and see how you fare.  Then you could try removing the grey and see how easily you can get dressed.  By eliminating options one at a time (like when doctors are trying to isolate an allergy!) it might become clearer to you which are the most useful.  

  • Adelfa replied 5 years ago

    Hi Sveta, just to clarify, I didn't mean putting gray and taupe together in an outfit, I meant classifying them together as mid-neutral, from which category you could select one or the other when you wanted lower contrast color combinations. Sorry I was unclear!

  • Day Vies replied 5 years ago

    I agree Sveta you look fantastic in high contrast neutrals. I am glad you posted pics of you in brown because I agree it isn't dramatic, but it softens black and white is a very understated sophisticated and dare I say chic way. I am so taken by #5 I'll probably try to copy it this winter. I agree gray is not playing nice with your skin tone but I love the orange and gray outfit too. It's the contrast and drama of the orange that makes it work for you. I am a big fan of navy and think you should definitely incorporate more of it because it's so versatile and you look wonderful in it.

    As far as signature neutrals navy and ink blue are definitely my friends. Some taupes are too close to my skin tone and make me look flat. I find that putting taupe with a rich saturated color like coral, purple, fuchsia, or berry tones make it work for me. I have combined taupe with gray but I need cream or white to give the combination lift and make me feel better about not wearing any color.

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    Fantastic examples. You can SO wear high-contrast and actually look great in black. The navy looks to me like a super not-black dark neutral and much better than mid-tone grays when worn near your face due to the high contrast in your coloring with your darker hair. I'd play that up. I think clear, darkish colors plus the contrast with clear light neutrals is super on you. Also for grays, remember you can rock them as skirts and trousers and bookend with dark footwear.

  • Sveta replied 5 years ago

    Suz, my spreadsheet is very simple. I have 2 tabs - "cool season" and "Summer". I keep items by category there and mark how many times I wear each per month. Items with red background are the ones I decided to let go: I still keep them in the spreadsheet to make "one in - one out" easier. Items with red test are the ones I don't wear very often so they are "watch" items for me.
    that's it: nothing sophisticated at all but I like to have the inventory at my fingertips (see pic)
    As for greys and taupes fighting - I have the same problem with just greys: I usually don't like mix them together as well. It may be an undertone thing - or maybe lack of the contrast. I think it is easier to pair light grey and charcoal that any of them with mid grey: somehow lack of contrast in this case is just blah for me! :-)
    Rachy and Lisa - this is very interesting, and Scarlet said taupe - I don't think I wear these colors very I?
    Nancy, eliminating experiment can be useful!
    Adelfa, this makes sense, thanks for the explanation.
    DV, you and me both need more fab items in navy and ink!
    unfrumped, can you imagine I firmly believed just 3 years ago that navy is my worst color?! Mind you I am very particular about navy, it should be deep and saturated, not flat and dull.
    Thank you all for playing along with me. You musings and opinions are very helpful. I think I know better where I need to go now!

  • Marley replied 5 years ago

    Just getting around to reading this!  I'm curious - how many neutrals do you think that you need?  For some reason, when I think of neutrals in a wardrobe, I think of maybe 3 or 4 different colors, rather than 6 or 7.  From reading the comments in this thread though, I can see that I am in the minority here!  Hmmm . . . going to have to re-think that for myself!
    Also - I know that a lot of people have given you feedback that they like you best in dramatic colors/contrast - but, again I guess I'm in the minority, I love the outfits that are softer around your face.  I'm curious - what is your natural hair-color?

  • Scarlet replied 5 years ago

    I don't know, Sveta. Could it be I am thinking of outerwear and accessories more than clothing, since I think of you more as a colors girls than a neutrals girl? Ha, this was also the first time I felt tempted by the spreadsheet idea.

You need to be logged in to comment