Personal style (part 2): Creating a Spring Colour Palette - S/S14 image

Colours have a powerful effect – they can be uplifting or depressing,  a whole language of their own. Some speak in whispers and some like to shout…or even sing.


Although each fashion season has it’s favourite hues, the so called ‘in’ colours, for yourself only pick colours that you love and find uplifting to look at. If you live in a northern climate, you don’t have to wear your favourite brights top to bottom. Small doses.  In fact I approach my wardrobe seasonal colours, the same way as my house decoration. Mostly neutrals and beloved colour sprinkled here and there for effect.

How to create the autumn wardrobe palette.
Daily colour co ordination, should be a breeze. Mornings are frantic and I have been known to dress in the dark! (so I don’t want surprises…) My primary aim when choosing colours is that they work with each other and with my existing clothes, they need to share the same tonal value. That means limited colour palette, but do not fret. You can always change it next season. Wouldn’t it be lovely to open the wardrobe and find ONLY clothes that are a delight to wear?

I have a couple of tweed jackets in traditional heathery colours which form a starting point for my colour palette. Then anything I add has to work with them and with jeans. The colours are very calming and quite rich looking, this sort of simplicity looks best in lovely fabrics, like silk and cashmere.

Wardrobe colour palette definitions
Unless you are the sort of person who likes to dress top to bottom in black, you need a colour palette. A consistent colour palette, can be intimidating at first, but no need to. Start by arranging an outfit or two on a hanger, complete with accessories, faux bijoux etc. Sticking with a neutral base and no more than 2-3 colours is a good way to start. It’s best to avoid heavy handed colour matching, things should look non chalant.

Base colour
These are the  neutrals, and they may be from the family of Warm or Cool greys, black, chocolates, bottle greens,  and indigo/denim/navy. The ‘base neutral’ colour would form the dominant shade in my outfit.  As a rule, darker colours recede, so wear the darker shade where you want to appear visually slimmer. This trick works with any base colour, not just black.

Accent colour
Secondary colours, can be a shade of the base colour for monochromatic chic, or a pattern picking a touch of colour, or even a contrasting shade. Contrasting shades are very much a fashion of the moment, for example it would have been unthinkable to wear a purple coat with green trousers a few seasons ago. Now it’s ‘the look.’ Everyone can wear any colour they have their heart set upon, though in general, the professional advise is to keep the shade closer to the face, to one that flatters skin tone/hair colour. An attractive necklace or scarf could do the same job, and brighten up the face. In the winter, gloves, pure wool/cashmere scarves and hats act as my accent colours and this is where I use the colours I love the most.

Highlight colour
Bright colours or whites for winter look more chic in small doses. For example I favour an all navy outfit, cashmere skirt, tights and sweater, with a crisp white collar framing the face. (The easiest way to do layers without the bulk is to get a ‘faux’ collar from CARVEN. I use those for work all the time and they save on the ironing bills as well.) Pearls and other jewellery are often my preferred choice for the highlight colour. Consider faux jewellery when you dress as part of the overall colour scheme…

Quick autumn wardrobe palette (the shortcut method)
Although on a budget, I still like to look divine, so  starting with last seasons favourite clothes and see how I can update them. Perhaps a new silk shirt? White shirts look great with tweeds. Or a piece of quality knitwear? (Brora has the best complex colours) Consider your real life needs. Not everything I own is expensive but I try to go upmarket and add two or three pieces of clothing bought from the same collection. For simplicity and style, you only need one or two well cut pieces of clothing but  choose top quality fabrics. Don’t waste your money on ill fitting, brightly coloured bits and pieces from the discount stores. If you buy only colours you love, you will also want them next year, so a quality long term wardrobe with personal style starts to emerge…

To summarise
Do not overthink it and do not over co-ordinate, keep it fresh!

© Ladysarahinlondon

Quality Cashmere takes colour beautifully.

Quality Cashmere takes colour beautifully.

Related posts:
Personal style (part 1): defining the silhouette.
Shopping the classics (and still looking cutting edge)
CHANEL colour palette
Love thy wardrobe
London shopping strategies (green, ethical & well educated)


6 thoughts on “Personal style (part 5): Creating an Autumnal Colour Palette – A/W14

  1. gsl64

    There is a lot to like about that top pic; ladies stay away from shiny, metallic, and black on black…look to how mother nature groups colours; she never gets it wrong…Lady Sarah, have we been re-thinking those drapes and rug….?

  2. Virginia

    I love the tweed, silk shirt, blue jeans look. Now I need to find a tweed with a bit of stretch for me. Researching now! Everyone has already heard my colors , Navy, Grey, Wine, Jewel tones for fall winter. I love the idea of bottle green, but I have olive skin and green just doesn’t flatter my coloring. Also love the pink/light grey in the first photo.

    1. ladysarahinlondon Post author

      OOoh I like the sound of this – would love to see what you come up with. Tweeds, jeans and silk shirts is one of my favourite divine looks. You can always wear army green trousers, any colour you like is ok, as long as away from the face.


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