The simplest way to figure out what colours suit you is to start with the clothes you already love. Why reinvent the wheel? One of my favourite ongoing series here is about wardrobe colours palettes, and this spring I’m going to update some of those posts.
Today I’ll show you how to use pictures of your favourite outfits (or fabric) to build a colour palette for your wardrobe. I’m using Google Docs and a Google Chrome extension which you can download for free here. I use the Google Suite for work, so that is what I’m most comfortable with, but you can do this in almost any word processor, or I’m sure there is an elegant way to do it in Photoshop! (When I wrote a similar post in 2014, I used Mac Pages.)
STEP 1: Using the Google Chrome browser, click this link to see my blank template as above. Make a copy for yourself. Make sure you have installed the colour picker extension that I mentioned above, found here.
STEP 2: Import a photo of yourself wearing an outfit you really like. Find an image where you think the colours make you shine, and you feel like your skin and hair all look better because of the clothing. In other words, choose a picture where you feel your best! If you don’t have photos of yourself in those clothes, take a detail shot of the fabric in good light.
STEP 3: I’m starting with a picture from this post where I like the colours of the pants and floral top. Click on the colour picker extension above the address bar (top right), and use it to select a colour. Copy the colour code, and click the X to close.
STEP 4: Select one cell on the black colour palette grid, and use the tilted paint can icon in the tool bar to change background colour. Paste in the colour code you copied, and the cell should turn to that colour.
STEP 5: Continue on using the colour picker tool to select colours from your photo, and paste them into the cells of the grid.
STEP 6: Adjust the colours if you want. See how I changed the hot tomato red from the previous image into this softer orange clay colour? The print has a vibrant red but I know I prefer wearing terracotta. I also go back later on and make the dark forest green in the top left brighter.
STEP 7: When you have all your favourite colours from one image, upload another and keep going! I wore this jacket a lot this winter and the colours went with everything, so I know it is a good base for my palette.
STEP 8: As you go, take a step back and think about what colours you might be missing. I thought my palette was getting dark, so I added a soft rose brown (which is actually colour-picked from a freckle on my arm!) I know black doesn’t make me look my best, but it is a foundation of my wardrobe, so I added it in, faded slightly to a dark grey.
Looking at my palette, I can see I have two dark “neutrals” (black and denim blue), some bright mid-tones softened with grey (pine, ochre, peacock blue, terracotta and red), and a few light colours (soft white and light grey). I know I like to wear clothing with a mix of dark, mid-tone and light, so that balance seems good for me! You may look best in all light colours or all dark colours, and hopefully your photos will lead you to that type of palette.
STEP 9: Take a minute to re-arrange the colours in an order you find pleasing. If you didn’t use all ten cells in the grid, delete the rest – or add more if you want. There are no rules here about how many colours you use. It could be just black, white and grey, like Emilia, or all shades of blue. There is no right or wrong!
Next, you might choose to collage the pictures you used below the palette, and add your name somewhere on the page. When you are ready, download your doc as a PDF so that you can save it and use it as an image.
VOILA! Now you have your own personal colour palette!
You can use it to:
- guide your fabric purchases
- put together harmonious outfits or create a capsule collection
- sew clothes that make you feel your best
The reason I’ve stuck with this method for so many years is that you don’t have to figure out if your skin is warm or cool, if you are a soft summer or cool winter, or anything else! Just start with what already makes you feel great. I think most people intuitively choose colours they like over the years, and this palette just organised what you already love into a cohesive reference.
Have you ever made a colour palette before? There are tons of methods, and this is just one. Next in this series, I’m going to talk about how dyeing my hair red has changed my own colour palette, how makeup helps me wear colours outside my palette, and how my spring/summer wardrobe puts my palette into action!
p.s. If you found any of this confusing, check out my similar post from 2014, and maybe it will click better for you!