Color Scheming


A friend recently asked, “So, is green your favorite color?” It was an entirely valid question. I was wearing my green linen dress. A green sweater spilt across my lap as I knit another row. It was a great deal of green in a compact space.

And, honestly it was only the tip of the iceberg. In the past six months, every piece of clothing I’ve made is green: a sweater, dress, pair of pants and a shirt. I have even considered whipping together a green linen scarf from some scraps. I admit, it does look a bit obsessive. But, there is a reason behind it, and it’s more than an affinity for the color green.

I've been refining my thinking about color’s role in my wardrobe all year. Reading Curated Closet early in the year started my wheels turning. Using a rough approximation of the author’s suggestions, I put together a color palate for my Unhurried Wardrobe project. It wasn’t a particularly scientific process, nor was it influenced by latest trends. I simply looked at the colors that I enjoy wearing and compared how I liked the various combinations of those colors. Some colors I like on their own, but didn't feel at home with the others I was drawn to. Other colors looked great with the colors I was choosing but I don't actually enjoy wearing them. Based on this entirely subjective process, I pulled together a tiny collection of hues. I’ve been using it to direct my wardrobe’s trajectory.


A Color Palette as Liberation

I imagine it looks a bit restrictive to constrain myself to so few colors. In practice, though, it feels like an immense relief. Operating within the constraints of a limited color palette gives me traction.  By narrowing my choices in the beginning, my creativity has more freedom to play once I begin creating.

Each piece of clothing I make represents a hundred tiny decisions.  I have to choose the type of fabric, fabric color, where to source the fabric, type of thread, color of thread, facings, construction techniques, finishing techniques.  That doesn’t even broach the conundrum of embellishments.  This bevy of decisions quickly devolves into a quagmire that can keep me entirely paralyzed indefinitely.  Bumping up against the constraints of a limited color palette saves me from the abyss of indecision.

My Color Palette in Action

It also lays bare the obvious gaps in my current wardrobe.  A quick survey of my closet reveals which colors need my attention.

















Which brings me back to my current green infatuation.  It was the first glaring deficiency in my wardrobe.  So, I jumped in with both feet.  But, I’m equally anxious to add some red, a bit more white, eventually even a little pink and aqua.  Because I’m starting from such a small wardrobe, my color palette is more instructive of what to add then what to remove.

First Steps

Once I saw where I wanted to focus my making efforts, I combed through my stash to find any and all apparel fabric in those colors. I even pulled in a few pieces that I hadn't considered for garment sewing, but that I think may work. Scouting my stash with the specific parameters in mind allowed me to see possibilities I hadn’t considered before.

Then, I thoughtfully ordered a few more fabrics with specific projects in mind.  Now all of these live on a couple of shelves in my studio.  Most of them represent specific project intentions. 

All of this categorizing and planning doesn’t solve the perennial problem of finding more time to do the actual making.  But, it does make it a lot easier to take action in the little pockets of time I have.