Capsule Wardrobe Color Palette 101: A Step-by-Step Guide

The joy of having a capsule wardrobe goes beyond easy morning routines. It also extends to perfect outfits that highlight your natural beauty, rather than clashing with it. In this guide, we will teach you how to choose your ideal capsule wardrobe color palette, which revolves around patterns, hues, and contrast levels that let you shine.

Are you ready to dig into the color wheel, where a myriad of color choices awaits you? Let’s dive right into it.

capsule wardrobe color palette instructions

How to Choose Colors for Your Capsule Wardrobe?

To develop your ideal capsule wardrobe color palette, you should analyze your skin complexion, choose complementary colors, and build outfits around a certain color season. By this, you will enjoy enough flexibility in your capsule wardrobe without compromising on the vibrance of your outfits.

Truly, colors can either work for or against you. The key is determining your perfect palette, which should correspond with your complexion, hair color, and eye color. This way, you will identify the very shades of lipstick, blush, jewelry, or clothing that will highlight your best features, and you will make more sound decisions for your capsule wardrobe items.

Step 1. Conduct Color Diagnostics

When exploring how to choose a color palette for your capsule wardrobe, you may or may not look for an image makeover. However, it is crucial to identify your color standing and evaluate your current situation before investing in new items or revamping your fashion taste.

Use the following questions to identify whether or not you have a color problem, so that you can make wise decisions regarding your color choices:

  • Can you identify certain garments in your wardrobe that fit well but you still haven’t worn?
  • When dyeing your hair, do you overlook whether the dye is cool- or warm-toned?
  • Do you find it difficult to color coordinate your clothing?
  • Do the everyday basics in your wardrobe feature accent colors that overpower your outfits?
  • Do some of your garments only look good with a tan?
  • Does one component of your makeup clash with the rest – e.g., a certain shade of blush that does not match your favorite eyeshadow?

If your answer to these questions is “yes”, then you may have a color problem, which can distort the way the world perceives you. Not knowing your color season, undertones, or the ideal palette can dim your natural beauty, preventing you from leaving the best first impression.

The wrong colors may throw your entire outfit off or make you look lackluster. So, before revamping your wardrobe, it’s right about time you solve the most pressing color problems in your makeup, wardrobe, and image curation.

Step 2. Find Out What Colors Suit You

When selecting a color palette for your capsule wardrobe, it’s time to address and solve your color dilemmas. Let’s start with the most important part – assessing your complexion.

Different skin tones exist, and specific hues may either work well with or against your complexion. In order to choose colors that accentuate your best features, it is crucial to know if you have warm, cold, or neutral undertones.

As such, people with warm skin tones appear best in earth tones like warm browns, oranges, and yellows, whereas people with cool skin tones look great in blues, greens, and pinks.

When visualizing warm undertones, think of a desert landscape with burnt orange sand, golden camels, and green cactuses. Now, when picturing cool undertones, imagine the Arctic with its gigantic white glaciers, soft blue colors of the sky, and midnight blue waters. Which one of these two sceneries aligns with your capsule wardrobe color palette? Let’s find out.

Warm vs Cool Undertones: Which One Are You?

Although you may not know this, your undertone is either warm, neutral, or cool. To find out which one it is, you need to take a closer look to your hair, eyes, and skin tone – they hold the secrets behind your ideal color palette.

Examine Your Eye Color

Make sure to face natural lighting and take a look at your eyes in the mirror. Does your iris feature any gold, hazel, or brown flecks? Are your eyes reddish, brown, amber, or olive green? If so, they are most likely warm.

Yet, if your eye color is ambiguous, you may have to think twice about its undertones. Eyes that look blue-ish may actually feature turquoise, aqua, or teal hues, which are considered warm.

Assess Your Skin Tone

While it can be challenging to determine your skin tone, you should know that it never changes with a tan or a certain shade of foundation. In other words, your skin tone is innate to your complexion.

capsule wardrobe color palette - exploring your undertones

To evaluate your skin tone, use this simple trick: take a look at the inside of your wrists, where your skin is thin and transparent.

  • Are your capillaries blue or purple? then you probably have a cool undertone.
  • If they are green, your innate undertones are warm.
  • If they are light green, your undertones are neutral.

PRO TIP: if you are a regular user of fake tan or sunbathe often, note that tans may overpower your skin tone, making it appear golden, dark mustard, or olive. However, this does not determine your innate undertone that you’re born with.

how to choose colors for a capsule wardrobe - experimenting with gold and silver hues

Experiment with Gold and Silver Fabrics

Another way to determine your innate undertones is to wrap silver and gold fabrics around your face to see how it looks against them. The right tone of fabric will make your eyes ‘pop’, smoothen out your skin, and highlight your teeth. It will also reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark eyebags.

So, simply alternate between silver and gold fabrics – consider whether they make the whites of your eyes clear and bright while complementing your overall complexion.

If the silver fabric completes your look, that’s an indication of having a cool undertone. However, if you look better with the golden fabric, you most likely have a warm undertone.

Examine Your Hair

To do so, think about the hair that you have right now as an adult, rather than as a child. Warm hair tends to feature golden, orange, and red hues, which are common among copper, auburn, strawberry blonde, golden blonde, flame red, deep chestnut, and ginger hair.

Cool hair tones, on the other hand, can encompass anything from platinum blonde to blue black. Featuring no golden undertones, jet black, pearl grey, silver, ash blonde, ash brown, and dark brown are considered cool hair colors.

Step 3. Match Colors with Your Undertone

Once you’ve done the tricky part of determining your undertone, you can move on to color selection. The nuances of your undertones can help you select the most flattering colors for your outfits – hence, determining the ideal color scheme for your capsule wardrobe.

Cool Undertones

Skin with blue or pink undertones is indicative of a cool undertone. It is advisable to choose cool shades like blue, green, and purple when choosing colors to compliment them.

Silver, gray, and jewel-tones like sapphire, emerald, and amethyst are hues that go exceptionally well with cool undertones.

Yet, make sure to avoid warm hues like orange and yellow, as they can clash with the cool tones of the skin and result in unpleasant color combinations.

Warm Undertones

Warm undertones directly reflect the skin’s underlying golden or yellow hues.

Olive, rust, and mustard yellow are examples of earthy hues that go blend well with warm undertones. So are orange, crimson, and coral, which are unique examples of warm shades.

Having warm undertones, you should avoid using cool colors like blue, green, and silver, which could dim your complexion and steal your innate sparkle.

Neutral Undertones

Skin with neutral undertones features a synergy of cool and warm tones. That is, as a wide range of colors, neutrals encompass both warm and cool tones. They’re also known as adaptable colors, which include beige, white, taupe, and black.

Earthy hues like brown and gray, in tandem with jewel-tones like emerald and sapphire, complement neutral undertones exceptionally well.

capsule wardrobe color palette for summer, winter, autumn, and spring seasons

Step 4. Determine Your Color Season

Identifying your “color season” is a common strategy for choosing the colors that go well with your skin tone. This entails determining which seasonal color scheme best matches the hues of your complexion, hair, and eyes. Each of the four color seasons—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—has a distinct palette of hues that flatters persons with a particular undertone.

You can put together a capsule wardrobe color palette that complements your natural characteristics by figuring out your color season. Being aware of your color season will ultimately streamline your fashion decisions – making it easier for you to style, purchase, and revamp your clothes.

Assessing Your Color Season: Contrasts and Undertones

As you have figured out your skin undertone, now you should move on to identifying your color season, which takes into account not only the undertone of your complexion but also contrast levels.

If you have warm undertones, your color season belongs to the category of either Spring or Autumn. If your undertones are cool, you are automatically considered either a Summer or a Winter.

Yet, apart from undertones, you must identify your contrast level to pinpoint your unique color season – that is, you must determine whether you’re a ‘light’ or a ‘deep’ contrast.

If your hair is brunette, auburn, or black, your contrast is considered ‘deep’ by default, as your hair stands out against your overall complexion. However, if your hair is light brown, blonde, or light grey, your contrast level is low, that is, ‘light’, since your hair blends perfectly with the rest of your features.

From here, you can now identify your exact color season, which will help you choose the best colors for your capsule wardrobe. Here’s a simple set of rules to track it down based on undertones and contrast levels:

  • If your undertone is cool and contrast level is deep, you are a Winter
  • If your undertone is cool and contrast level is light, you are a Summer
  • If your undertone is warm and contrast level is deep, you are an Autumn
  • If your undertone is warm and contrast level is light, you are a Spring

Color Season #1: Winter

Cool and deep, Winters look great with colors like taupe, icy pink, navy, magenta, raspberry, icy yellow, turquoise, icy blue, and teal. This color season is characterized by bright, vibrant colors that stand out.

Winter’s Hair

Winter’s hair feature deep contrasting tones like brown black, jet black, and blue-black. It also can encompass medium to dark brown hair with ash highlights, silver, white, and salt-and-pepper.

Keep in mind that you can’t be blonde as a Winter.

Winter’s Skin

Winter features a wide range of skin tones – from porcelain, white, and beige, to almond, cocoa, and mocha with blue or reddish undertones. Many Africans, Asians, Latinas, Native Americans, and Middle Eastern people can identify with the winter color season, as cool winter shades brighten up their skin and makes them look more put together.

Winter’s Eyes

The color season often features deep, dark eye colors, including black, blackish brown, red brown, as well as blue and green tones.

Color Season #2: Summer

This color season features colors like light navy, deep rose, soft fuchsia, watermelon, mint, light lemon yellow, lavender, as well as powder baby blue.

Summer’s Hair

A person with the summer color season will have grey, brown, or blonde hair – with light, low-contrast hues, or ash highlights. This means having no golden tones in their hair color with a more dusty, muted look.

Summer’s Skin

The primary undertones of Summers tend to be reddish, including pink and rose. However, they also range from the lightest porcelain to pale, which includes blue-ish undertones. Besides, they often have rosy cheeks and sometimes, cool beige skin.

Summer’s Eyes

Having brown eyes is a big no-no when identifying with this color season – all Summers have blue, grey, or blue-ish eyes (or sometimes, cool hazel with blue hues).

Color Season #3: Autumn

The Autumn color season complements colors like ivory, bronze, coral, gold, turquoise, golden brown, mahogany, coffee brown, tomato red, salmon, lime, and mustard.

Autumn’s Hair

With golden brown, burnt orange, and desert-like colors, this color season features hair colors like copper red, bright auburn, and chestnut brown, which leave red and golden casts.

Autumn’s Skin

All golden undertones belong to this color season, which tend to appear more orange, rather than blue, purple, red, or green. This includes skin tones like caramel, beige, copper, bronze, maple, latte, and golden brown, which are more common among Native Americans, Africans, Latinas, Middle Eastern, and Middle Easterners.

Autumn’s Eyes

Autumn eye color ranges from golden brown to amber, featuring not only brown and golden but also greenish hues. In terms of the iris of the eye, Autumn’s eyes feature golden, brown, and hazel flecks. However, rarely, it’s possible for an Autumn to have bright aqua or turquoise eyes, which occurs among redheads.

Color Season #4: Spring

The ideal color palette for the Spring color season includes muted yet warm colors, such as mango, light orange, buttermilk, salmon, pastel green, clear red, bronze, coffee brown, and gold.

Spring’s Hair

Picture Spring’s hair as luscious, warm, and rare – whether it’s strawberry blonde, caramel, champagne, or copper, Spring’s hair colors feature peachy and golden hues.

Spring’s Skin

When it comes to skin color, the Spring color season carries a warm or even golden undertone.

The most obvious indicator of the color season are light, golden freckles. Be it ruddy skin or light blonde pigmentation, Springs’ complexion tends to be light, soft, and delicate.

Spring’s Eyes

Springs feature a wide array of eye colors – namely, blue hues like green or aqua, as well as golden ones like warm hazel, golden brown, green gold, topaz, warm amber, or even caramel eyes. However, you can’t be a Spring if you have dark brown eyes.

capsule wardrobe color palette outlining complementary colors

Step 5. Choose Complementary Colors

According to the color theory, opposite hues on the color wheel provide a striking yet pleasant contrast. Color combinations like red and green, orange and blue, as well as yellow and violet, may craft beautiful outfits for your capsule wardrobe. After all, opposites attract, and this also applies to fashion.

Complementary colors activate the retinal cones in our eyes, which are in charge of perceiving colors in the environment. They stimulate the cones in contrasting ways simultaneously, which produces a captivating, visually striking effect.

When incorporated in outfits, equal amounts of complementary colors can cancel out each other’s saturation. Neutralizing each other, they produce a relaxing effect. For this reason, artists and stylists alike use complementary colors to add depth and aesthetic intrigue to their craft.

So, as you learn how to choose colors for a capsule wardrobe, consider picking out your favorite complementary colors. But first, read on to find out how to spot them on the color wheel:

How to identify complementary colors?

Complementary colors help tremendously with curating a balanced and unified appearance. Yet, they’re difficult to determine. Putting together eye-catching color combinations requires the knowledge of color theory – particularly, the use of the color wheel.

To ensure a unified and aesthetically pleasing outcome, it is crucial to invest the effort in finding complementing colors, experimenting with seemingly clashing hues, and exploring relationships between contrasting tinctures.

Using the Color Wheel for Your Capsule Wardrobe Color Palette

To identify complementary colors on the color wheel, simply look at colors that stand opposite of each other. The combinations of red and green, orange and blue, yellow and violet, as well as yellow-orange and blue-violet, are considered complementary colors that always go well together.

Do complementary colors work for all capsule wardrobes?

Choosing complementary colors for your outfits shouldn’t be taken as a strict rule. Since they craft a high-contrast look, these contrasting tones may not even work for low-contrast people with neutral hair, skin, and eye colors. In fact, complementary colors may overpower and ultimately, dim their features.

So, before centering your outfits around complementary colors, make sure identify your personal contrast level.

how to choose colors for a capsule wardrobe - high vs low contrast levels

Step 6. Optional: Find Your Personal Contrast Level

Besides undertones, we all have our innate contrast levels, which correspond to the difference between the depths of our eyes, lips, hair, and other features.

With distinct features, some people flaunt a striking contrast between the depths of their hair color, eye hues, or the entire complexion. Yet, some exude a homogenous look, with all the features blending into the rest of the face in a harmonious manner.

For this reason, low contrast faces with blonde hair, light skin, and muted eyes look more put together with muted, low-contrast outfits. This way, the vibrance or depth of clothing won’t overpower their innate muted hues.

Given that, it’s worthwhile to prioritize contrast levels when choosing your capsule wardrobe color palette – especially if you belong to the low-contrast club. When building the wardrobe of your lifetime, the last thing you want is getting washed out by your clothing.

Assessing Your Personal Contrast Level

To evaluate your personal contrast level, take pictures of yourself both in color and greyscale. Put them side to side and observe the depth and intensity among your strongest features, especially hair, eyes, and skin.

If you notice a lot of depth in your overall look, you most likely have a high contrast. Yet, if you notice that your greyscale picture looks a bit bland, indicating a certain uniformity of depth, you have a low-contrast look.

How to Dress if You’re Low-Contrast vs High-Contrast

If you’re low-contrast, anything bold or vibrant can overpower your look. This is why it’s crucial to curate a capsule wardrobe for blondes carefully, as bright colors, contrasting patterns, and too much depth can throw off your pale or muted look entirely.

For instance, as a pale blonde with platinum hair, you would get overpowered by bright colors, such as magenta or cobalt blue. Yet, you would benefit from pastel shades or monochromatic designs, which would match with the subtlety of your low-contrast features.

If you’re a high-contrast person, on the other hand, you would look amazing in bold colors – so, the key is tailoring your outfits to the contrast levels of your hair, eyes, and overall complexion.

PRO Tip: Pay extra attention to the colors around your face, as they can draw attention towards or away from it. A bold, colorful garment won’t clash with a low-contrast person’s face, if and only if if features deep cleavage or an off-shoulder design (that is, if it exposes the skin around the face), and vice-versa.

Capsule Wardrobe Color Palette Q&A

How many colors should I include in a capsule wardrobe?

There’s no fixed number of colors to include in a capsule wardrobe, as it all depends on your existing clothing options. To create a clothing collection that’s both cohesive and eco-friendly, it’s crucial that you identify overarching color themes and experiment within them. So, make sure to leave rigid capsule wardrobe blueprints behind and work around what you already have in your closet.

What are basic colors for capsule wardrobe?

If you’re cool-toned, you can center your wardrobe around blue, grey, or silver hues like mint, navy, or porcelain, while if you’re warm-toned, it’s wise to incorporate reddish, yellow, or golden hues like copper, beige, or burgundy. Overall, the primary colors of your capsule wardrobe should depend on what you wear the most often and what complements your color season the best.

Can your color season change?

Your color season won’t alter with external changes like dying your hair or getting a tan. However, it’s possible for your ideal palette to shift toward low-contrast color seasons, as our innate colors begin to get washed out with age. Around 40 years of age, our pigmentation (particularly, melanin-producing cells) starts to fade away, which lowers our contrast levels as a result.

Should I invest in gold or silver jewelry?

Consider your personal style and the colors that you wear the most often first. Gold jewelry can warm up and lend richness to an outfit, while silver jewelry can give it a cooler, more subtle appearance. Silver may be the best choice if you want something that goes with neutral or cooler undertones, while gold grant those with warmer color palettes a touch of sultry elegance.

How do I assemble outfits based on my contrast levels?

If you’re someone with low contrast features, consider wearing garments that feature the same saturation or intensity together. This way, they will blend in with your soft look in perfect harmony. If you’re someone with high contrast features, on the other hand, play around with striking contrasts and the boldest color combinations.

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