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How to Wear a Black Column with Neutrals in Spring and Family Resemblance Matching

Although we are clearly past the original time frame for my fall/winter capsule wardrobe based on a 7-color palette, I have continued to draw on this capsule with the warmer weather. Today I have two recent spring outfits of the day based on a black column of color from my capsule. I was a bit surprised to see myself creating all-neutral outfits because I am such a color lover, but neutral-based outfits are a timeless option that works in all seasons. The black column is not the most obvious or popular choice for spring and summer, but there is no reason black can't work in the warm seasons with weather-appropriate pieces, fabrics, and styling.

Fall/Winter Wardrobe Capsule Color Palette
Fall/Winter Wardrobe Capsule Color Palette

For my 39th capsule outfit, I wore a black short-sleeved top as part of my inner column of color (indicated below in lime green).

Warm weather capsule wardrobe

I paired the black top with black skinny pants for a simple, sleek silhouette to wear under the oversized aloe vera/olive cardigan. This is a piece that has sometimes tripped me up when wearing it with a looser bottom half (like in the outfit with a voluminous skirt here) but I like it with a more fitted pair of pants/skirt. This outfit formula is not trendy right now but I consider it a classic combination and continue to wear it because it suits my body and my aesthetic. But of course an inner column of color can be worn with any two pieces that you like...or a dress, to make it even simpler...and can be topped with an over layer like a cardigan or worn alone. I really like the color combination of black with olive and it suits me well; the olive is sometimes considered a neutral, sometimes a colored neutral, but either way, it definitely has a "color-y" quality that adds interest and works well with my own coloring.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Capsule OOTD #39: 4/19/24

In place of a necklace, I wore a long thin scarf (well, a medium-long thin scarf) in black with a multitude of softly colored polka dots. The aloe vera/olive color of the cardigan is not actually present in the scarf, but I thought that the mint polka dots were pretty close, and I decided that the overall impression of soft spring-like colors in the dots coordinated well with the cardigan's muted green.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

The cardigan's green color wasn't present in the scarf, but it readily could be in the scarf, if that makes sense...it would fit in quite well with the other muted colors. In addition to matching colors (either exactly or sort of), tonally matching (using darker/lighter versions of the color), and adding a color that is "in the span" of the other colors, putting together a print with a solid color that could be in the print because it shares the colors' overall characteristics is a nice option for color mixing. You can think of this as a "family resemblance" approach to matching: the color isn't a twin, or even a sibling, of any of the other colors, but you can see it as part of the same family.


As with any kind of non-exact color matching, this is particularly easy to do when the colors are not directly next to each other (so they aren't automatically compared) and/or there is only a small amount of one of the colors. In this case, each of the colors on the dots is present in only a tiny amount in the outfit.


For a very low-key print mix, I added my grey leopard wedges to the look. The ankle length skinny pants help show off the shoes.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I inexplicably failed to photograph my exact bracelet stack, but it looked very much like this image from my digital closet of the all-DIY bracelet set built around two paper bead bracelets in a black, orange, green, and gold color palette. {page to bead images} {bicone paper bead tutorial} {stretch bracelet tutorial}

DIY paper bead bracelet stack

My earrings are a DIY stack pair that I made using my bead soup specifically to coordinate with this scarf. I used glass beads in several colors drawn directly from the scarf: black, bright pink, rust, mint, and light pink. All the beads are round, mimicking the polka dot motif of the scarf.

DIY bead soup earrings
Design earrings for a scarf

For my second outfit, I started with a black column consisting of black skinny jeans and a black long-sleeved T that I layered under a dark grey vest.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Capsule OOTD #40: 4/27/24

And while I know that this kind of high value contrast (dark with light) isn't my best look, I just couldn't resist adding this pretty lightweight scarf in white with embroidered little grey birds. It was just giving me spring vibes, what can I say. Because the t-shirt has a scoop neck, I had the room to add a 30-year-old necklace with grey/black beads made by my friend RB. I'm also wearing grey leopard shoes again, this time a pair of flats I've had since 2013 (current cost per wear $0.26!).

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

My all-DIY bracelet stack is a combination of various beaded bracelets in black and grey, all of which I have shared before. Both of the black beaded bracelets have mixed metals, which nicely supports the hematite with silver spacers and the snowflake obsidian with gold spacers.

DIY beaded bracelet stack

My DIY earrings in this outfit were also made to coordinate with a scarf, though not the specific one I'm wearing. I have plain black glass beads, plain grey glass beads, clear crystal crackle beads with black lining, and silver-and-black multi-colored beads. Because these beads are all in neutrals, I added silver bead caps to dress them up a bit. The darker shades of the beads stood out nicely against the white scarf in this outfit.

DIY bead soup earrings
DIY bead soup earrings

I added quite a few accessories to my neutral capsule with these two outfits: two scarves, two pairs of earrings, a necklace, a bracelet set, and a pair of shoes.

Accessory capsule to date: Neutral colors
Accessory capsule to date: Neutral colors

Demonstrating that a neutral color palette can be quite lovely, here are some female wood ducks blending together warm brown, grey, white, and dark blue/navy into a wonderfully subtle but chic combination.

Purple flower photo
Woods ducks at Wood Lake - Richfield MN - 9/11/2016

Do you like to wear a neutral column of color? Do you wear black in the spring/summer? What are your favorite colors to pair with black in the warm seasons? Do you ever pair solids and prints using the "family resemblance" approach?


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6 Comments


Di Cook
Di Cook
May 18

Sally, you have created two great bridge season outfits using your winter wardrobe capsule. The scarves and matching earrings add such a nice, light spring touch! I have mostly switched out my winter to spring wardrobe, but have been rummaging back through those winter boxes for sweaters, as to weather here has been very wet, chilly and uncooperative most days. Come on spring! I definitely wear a neutral column of color during all seasons. Black and white together is trending this spring, and is an easy and accessable combination. Thanks for sharing and hope you have a great weekend!


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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
May 20
Replying to

I hear you on the changeable weather! I am planning to switch out my closet this coming weekend, and I hope that the chilly weather is past us. I actually prefer cool to warm weather but I'm starting to feel the spring/summer vibes and am ready to dress for it consistently. Interesting to hear that black + white is trending for spring since it's an unusual color combo for this season, but it is something most of us can pull together from our closets.

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mlrbanks57
May 18

I do like to wear columns of color all year long. And, if I have the right top layer, I'll wear a column of black in the spring or summer. I love how your bead soup earrings almost perfectly matched your scarf (loved the description of it)! It's amazing how many different outfits you've created from your capsule wardrobe.


https://marshainthemiddle.com/

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
May 20
Replying to

Having the right top layer can really make the black column work in the warmer seasons, I totally agree. It's funny but I kind of ran out of cold weather before I ran out of cold weather outfits from this capsule to share; I hope I remember to post about them when it (please, not for a long time) turns cold again!

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jodie filogomo
jodie filogomo
May 17

Only you would include ducks (or any animal) to prove the color combination.

Love how you put these looks together, Sally, XOOX Jodie

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
May 20
Replying to

Haha, thanks, Jodie! I love taking inspiration from nature, including the female ducks with their subtle beauty :)

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