Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe Check-In and Tips for Including Color and Prints in a Capsule
Many people believe that the only way to have an effective capsule wardrobe is to focus on simple neutral pieces as the bedrock of the capsule and either completely ignore or relegate to second tier status garments with color and prints. That may be true for people who like wearing mostly solid neutrals day in and day out, but it’s definitely not the only way to do it!
My fall/winter capsule was specifically created to include 4 neutrals and 3 rainbow colors (aka accent colors aka non-neutrals) with a good representation of each color using my trio/color-based row system. I also included several print pieces in the capsule because I like them and they make it easy to tie colors together in individual outfits.
Capsule tip: A great place to start in adding print garments to a capsule is simple two-color prints, in neutrals and/or rainbow colors from your capsule palette. Stripes, polka dots, windowpane/plaids, and other simple geometric prints add interest but are very easy to incorporate in outfits. They can more readily be worn on repeat because they are less noticeable and memorable than many other prints. They also are stalwarts for print mixing.
But don’t dismiss other prints from consideration! Using more noticeable or unique prints is a great way to add excitement to your outfits and to introduce a personal touch to your capsule.
I also included 3 print garments that span several of the capsule’s colors, and I find that these pieces are extremely important in creating a sense of cohesion across the capsule as well as being wonderful starting points when putting individual outfits together.
The hard-working multi-color garments in my capsule are:
#1: Black floral print top
This was the inspiration for my capsule, so of course it includes many of the 7 colors in it. Specifically, 6 of them: black, olive, beige/white, red, bright blue, and purple. The only capsule color missing is denim, which is of course the ultimate neutral and works perfectly with this top.
Capsule tip: Adding print clothes (or accessories) that have colors with a high degree of overlap with the capsule palette is a great idea, and the higher that overlap, the easier it will be to put outfits together. Print garments are often statement/hero pieces in a wardrobe, which is a common place to start when building an outfit. Prints are a terrific starting point for using the easy and highly effective “road map styling” color selection technique in which you draw on the colors in the print for your other pieces to create cohesive outfits. And if you like to add some color complexity to your look, you can start with that print piece and use something like Jodie’s color recipe to mix things up.
#2: Circus striped skirt
This fun skirt is definitely a statement/hero piece! It has 3 colors from the capsule: black, red, and bright blue. It adds touches of other colors as well: pink, emerald green, and golden/mustard yellow.
Capsule tip: Don’t be afraid to add print items to your capsule that have some “extraneous” colors! These off-palette colors introduce a bit of variety to your outfits without sacrificing the efficiency or mix-and-matchability of the capsule. And you absolutely don’t have to include anything else in your wardrobe in these off-palette colors to make your outfits cohesive and coordinated; the little pops of extra colors from these prints can easily stand alone within the context of the outfit.
Of course you’ll want to use some judgment in what proportion of the print is in capsule colors vs. off-palette colors; if it’s mostly off-palette colors with only one color from your palette (and especially if that is a rainbow color rather than one of your neutrals), that piece might not be very mix-and-matchable. Then again, if it’s a favorite of yours and you can see it working with enough pieces of the capsule, it can still earn its place. Mix-and-matchability is important in a capsule wardrobe, but it’s not the only factor to consider!
#3: White striped button up shirt
This shirt also shares 3 colors from the capsule: white (and beige), red, and bright blue. It contains 3 other colors in addition: mint, bright pink, and yellow. In this case, since the background color is in the palette as well as 3 of the 6 stripe colors, this one is a very good choice for the capsule.
Capsule tip: It helps when the dominant color of your print piece is in the capsule palette, and that’s even more true when it’s one of the neutrals. Even those of us who are big on color end up with a good number of solid neutral garments in our capsules, so print pieces that readily work with those neutrals will create a lot of outfit options. I think a print that shares 1+ neutral and 1+ other color with the capsule’s palette is likely to work in a lot of outfits because we often use the formulas Neutral + Print, Color + Print, Neutral 1 + Neutral 2 + Print, or Neutral + Color + Print in building outfits with prints.
It’s also becoming increasingly clear to me that the outfits I create from this capsule do not sample from all colors in the palette equally, and that’s totally OK! This fall I’ve been wearing a lot of black, white/ivory, red, and bright blue from my capsule; olive and denim are also well-represented. True beige/tan and purple are colors I turn to less often and in smaller quantities in my outfits.
I can modify my original color palette, which just shows the colors, to a version that also indicates whether the colors are dominant or secondary in my outfits. (I am also going to split out white/ivory and true beige/tan because I seem to be treating them differently in wearing them even though I combined them when I added items to my capsule.)
This weekend, temperatures dropped to highs in the 30s F and will warm up a bit to a high of 48F on Friday, which puts us in the cool fall weather zone. I think I've worn my last skirt/dress without tights until next May!
Do you wear a lot of print clothing? How about print accessories? Do you like to create outfits starting with a print item? Do you prefer simple two-color prints or prints with many colors? Do you wear more/fewer prints in different seasons or on different occasions?
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