Capsule Wardrobe Essentials – Choosing Neutral Items & Adding an Accent Colour

In the July Style Club Magazine I wrote about accessory capsules in neutrals and colours to extend your capsule wardrobe pieces (you can sign up here to get yours) So this week I thought I would talk about what those core capsule wardrobe essentials are and choosing them in a neutral colour that will work with any accent colours in your palette you choose to add.

Neutral colours are the foundation of a good capsule wardrobe because they are so versatile. They are the place to spend your money on investment items; a winter coat, leather boots or court shoes for work, an everyday tote bag, suit, cashmere knit and a great pair of trousers. Whatever your budget is these are the pieces that work hardest in your wardrobe so don’t skimp on them. Spend less on the trend pieces and accent colours which, though they add the spice to your wardrobe, probably won’t be worn for as long or as often.

Neutral Colours for a capsule wardrobe

Let’s start with a few that everyone can wear:

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral colours

Taupe – Suits and Jackets for Lights, Warms and Softs and as accessories or mixed with darker or brighter colours for Deeps, Cools and Brights

Pewter – a good grey option for everyone especially Softs and Lights

Navy – Light Navy for Light, Warm and Soft dominants. Dark Navy for Deep, Cool and Clear dominants. Great when you want to project authority.

Charcoal – As dark as a Light should go, good for formal occasions and as a softer alternative to black.

When you choose a neutral colour for the basis of a capsule wardrobe you need to make sure it’s one you can live with and will be happy to wear a lot. Navy is a great option in business because it projects authority and commands respect. If you are Deep, Cool or Bright you may also choose black. If you want to wear black but know it doesn’t really do you any favours (Light, Soft or Warm colouring) why not opt for Charcoal. It’s that little bit kinder and still has the gravitas of black.

I’ve chosen a neutral for each of the colour dominants below and shown them with some accent colour options. For your core pieces I would recommend a version of trousers or skirt – either a suit if you work or a more casual version if you don’t – a knit which works for business dress down or as a cosy alternative to a casual jacket, a pair of smart shoes – heel height dependent on what works for you – and an everyday bag. These pieces can then be expanded on with accent colours in tops, other accessories, a dress a second bottom and jacket or knit.

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral capsule wardrobe colours,

Cardigan // Trousers // Jacket // Bag // Shoes //

Just because you have Light colouring doesn’t mean you can’t wear colour. Neutral stone looks fabulous with turquoise, blush, mint and especially red if you want to make an entrance.

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral capsule wardrobe colours,

Cardigan // Trousers // Jacket // Bag // Shoes //

Black is an obvious choice of neutral for a Deep. But remember you look good with two rich strong colours together or a vibrant accent. Mix your black with purple for the upcoming Autumn season.

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral capsule wardrobe colours,

Cardigan // Trousers // Jacket // Bag // Shoes //

Tan is a wonderful neutral for warm colouring especially in the cooler seasons. Bring it to life with golds, rusts, greens and red.

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral capsule wardrobe colours,

Cardigan // Trousers // Jacket // Bag // Shoes //

The obvious neutral choice for a Cool is navy because they look so good in most blues. So mix it with a lighter or brighter blue, pink, red or sea green.

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral capsule wardrobe colours,

Cardigan // Trousers // Jacket // Bag // Shoes //

Charcoal grey looks expensive on Soft colouring especially when mixed with soft reds, pinks and teals.

capsule wardrobe essentials, neutral capsule wardrobe colours,

Cardigan // Trousers // Jacket // Bag // Shoes //

Brights can choose black or a dark navy for their neutral but their bright and contrasting colours like cobalt, emerald and hot pink look fabulous with silver grey.

Below I’ve taken three of the upcoming season’s key colours and shown how they work with the different dominants.

For Light and Warm I have added red;

capsule wardrobe essentials, adding seasonal colour

capsule wardrobe essentials, adding seasonal colour

Red print skirt // Red knit // Red dress // Scarf // Red shoes //

For Deep and Bright I have added purple:

capsule wardrobe essentials, adding seasonal colour

capsule wardrobe essentials, adding seasonal colour

Print shirt // Purple shoes // Purple Trousers // Print scarf // Purple dress //

For Cool and Soft I have added teal:

capsule wardrobe essentials, adding seasonal colour

capsule wardrobe essentials, adding seasonal colour

Print top // Teal skirt // Teal shoes // Print dress //

I hope this gives you some inspiration for choosing a core neutral for your capsule wardrobe and some less obvious accent combinations.

If you would like me to create a capsule wardrobe for you order from my online capsule wardrobe service. New Autumn stock is already filtering in and I will also try to find you some sale bargains so you get more for your budget too.

For a detailed personalised colour analysis to show you your best colours and how to wear them, order the Colour Dossier service.Colour Capsules!

2 Comments

  1. Pamela Wynne
    July 24, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    Hi Maria, I love following your Facebook page and look forward to your email every Friday. The information is really helpful and interesting. One question I do have though is : I find it really difficult to clear out my wardrobes and get rid of clothes. Please could you give me any hints and tips on how to sort it all out once and for all. At the moment my wardrobes are in a bit of a mess and I know I have more clothes than I should have but what to keep and what to get rid of ??!! Please help !!

    • Maria
      July 26, 2015 / 6:54 pm

      Hi Pamela, thank you for your comment. Here are my suggestions: Firstly if you haven’t already, determine your colouring and body shape. This will mean that you can then decide from what you have what actually suits you and makes you look good (you can still wear something that isn’t strictly “right” but it will be a choice) then you can discard those things that don’t suit you.
      From what is left let go anything which isn’t in good condition because it isn’t doing you any favours. Finally be really honest with what is left and decide whether you actually feel good wearing it – if not why keep it?
      Checks to make – does it fit properly, does it suit you, do you love it, does it go with other things in the wardrobe. If you haven’t worn it for some time try and figure out the reason. If it is something you keep trying to wear but end up taking off then let it go.
      Don’t feel guilty about letting things go if you haven’t worn them – leaving them in your wardrobe just adds to the guilt – sell them and recoup some of the money or give them to a charity and feel good about that.
      Finally keep in mind that your wardrobe should give you confidence and make you look and feel your best – don’t keep anything that doesn’t, why wear something that doesn’t make you feel good?
      I hope that helps 🙂