Do wear colour. Don't let it wear you {cobalt/navy}

Unlock your style in 14 days: Do wear colour but don’t let it wear you

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 38 Comments

If you had snuck a little peek into my wardrobe about two years ago you would have found a very different wardrobe from that of today.

I didn’t do colour.

Yes, that’s right. The chick who’s now all orange, chartreuse and hot pink crazy used to be a card-carrying member of the all-black wardrobe society.

Well, black and some white and a little beige thrown in for “variety” and good measure.

And you know what?

That was ok.

That was who I was back then. That was my style season. They were the colours – or non-colours – that worked for me.

I had clients who were very much like me and others who screamed colour.

I gave the ones who were like me permission to stick with their neutrals because I truly believe that if that is what makes you feel confident in your day-to-day life then go with it.

Should you wish to try something a little out there, then go for that too.

There was one particular client who I admired – still do – for her wholesale embracement of colour.

Not just any colour. Bright, zingy colour. The brighter and zingier the better.

Purples, greens, reds … no colour combination was out of bounds. And her outfits were show-stoppers. In a good way.

She wore the colour. She owned her style.

But … put those same outfits on me, or some of my other neutral-loving friends and our confidence would have zapped in an instant.

The colour would taken over and worn us instead of us wearing the colour.

And that’s the crux of today’s Unlock Your Style lesson.

Do wear colour but don't let it wear you

Don’t feel just because you think you should be wearing colour that that’s a good idea. It isn’t, if it’s not you.

And perhaps, like me, the real you is a work in progress. In which case, the colour will come.

Which colours?

Now, this is going to get me into dangerous territory … but a bit like my thoughts on body shapes and rules yesterday, I’m not one for believing we have a set of colours that perfectly suit us and that we can never stray from. Ever.

(Are you getting that I’m also not one for imposing too many rules?)

The way I see it is that getting your colours “done”, being handed a print-out or swatches of coloured fabric showing the colours that you should look for only adds to the shopping and change room angst.

What if you can’t find your colours in any given fashion season? Do you just give up and not buy anything at all?

Instead, we need to once again draw on that change room confidence we’re working on tapping into.

When you try on a garment, does the colour of it contribute to making you feel fabulous? You will either have that feeling or you won’t.

New colours and colour combination trends emerge every fashion season. I looked at some of this summer’s most popular here. Plus, I’ve featured chartreuse in just about every second post this season 😉

But what of the season ahead?

Autumn-winter is usually a time of more muted tones but those of us who love to splash a little colour around will be pleased to know that colour is still there. Think plum, mustard, olive green, burned orange and tans.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to freshen things up a little, one of the hottest trans-seasonal colour combinations hitting the stores right now is blue (shades of cobalt through to navy) – worked back with black, white and stone.

Do wear colour. Don't let it wear you {cobalt/navy}

1. Jacqui E blouse $79.95 | 2. Seed tank $79.95 | 3. Saba dress $269 | 4. Urban Originals bag (on sale) $34.90 @ Style Tread | 5. Target Moda top $24.50 | 6. Country Road top $79.95

Of course, the easiest way to add colour to a neutral wardrobe is via accessories (like that bag featured above). We’ll discuss more tomorrow.


Style work

Want to know which colours work best for you?

Open your newly organised wardrobe, which you’ve colour-coded. What colours do you see most of?

Tell me the colours that make you happy?

PS. Don’t forget if you want to share any of your progress along the way via photos, you can upload them in the comments or share via Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #unlockyourstyle and make sure you tag me so I can find it (@stylingyou). Facebook uploads to my page are welcome  too.




** The Styling You Holiday Style Camp {Unlock Your Style in 14 Days} is based on the Styling You Manifesto. If you don’t have your own, you can download it here. I’ll also be giving away a proper printed Styling You Manifesto from The Smile Collective every day to the reader who catches my eye with their comments and participation.

Unlock Your Style in 14 Days (Day 4 manifesto winner): Jools. Jools, could you please email me your postal address: [email protected]?

Comments 38

  1. Like you Nikki, up until last January, my wardrobe was missing colour. However, since then my colours have been updated with aqua (my favourite for summer), blue and pink. I now know not to wear black, but rather navy or charcoal, which are better for my skin tones. It is like a rainbow in the wardrobe now, and I love the look of it!

  2. I come from an Indian background so my skin is medium-dark. I find myself drawn to navy and grey, even though these colours don’t do much for me… My skin colour is about as dark as Beyonce – so I’ve been googling images of her to see which colours she wears, and which ones flatter her skin tone. I’ve been inspired to go outside my comfort zone and go for pink, orange, coral, watermelon, and lighter shades of blue and purple.

    1. That’s a great way to experiment with colour Marsha – find a celebrity whose skin and hair colour is similar and whose style you like – then Google away. I like the sound of the colours you’re keen to try too!

  3. About four or five months ago my wardrobe was mainly black and white, with a few key pieces in red. Then one day I stumbled across your blog, and I saw delicious colours and patterns and how to wear them, and then something amazing happened – I purchased a lime green handbag. Then about a month later I purchased a fuschia handbag. And I started accessorizing my black and white wardrobe with these colours, some bangles here, a scarf there… Suddenly there was still my basic wardrobe, but with some real interesting accents. And now I’m finding I actually wearing these colours scattered through patterned fabrics and how they look and feel on me.

  4. The colours I see most are purple and green. I only have a few blue items but they are on the darker side and I really like a rich blue and it’s a colour that brings the most wardrobe compliments. I could embrace blue, black and stone but the blue and black alone takes me back to the 80s in a negative way. I think purple is my happy colour.

  5. I love colour, but it can be very tricky. There is a lot of black in my wardrobe. And dark blues/navy. And a smattering of red, coral, khaki and beautiful emerald green. I have a lot of fabulous florals and patterns too, but mostly with black as the base. I’ve never really taken a colour stocktake before. And I have never really taken a big step with colour. I pretty much stick to what I think (or have been told!) looks good. Mmmm, bit of an aha moment going on here for me.

    About a hundred years ago I had my colours done……and was told that as I’m a winter I should go my hardest with purple, red, cobalt, emerald etc. And I did. Then four years ago I had an appointment with a wonderful stylist who came to the house, looked at my clothes etc who suggested the colours I was wearing were just a bit too bold and I should go for the muted versions e.g coral instead of red, khaki instead of emerald. I hadn’t tried these colours before and was thrilled when they looked great on!

    Maybe I need to look outside my colour box again. Thanks for these thoughtful prompts Nikki, they’re certainly making me think.

  6. I embrace colours that are on the blue side of things – navy is a favourite, so is a tealy/aqua green, any blue based reds (rather than more orangey ones) and a LOAD of denim!! Thrown in are a couple of pastel apricots and pinks and you pretty much have me, bar the obligatory black, white, dark grey and beige.

  7. At the moment lots of green, a bright blue skirt and fresh white are making me happy. You also just made me happy, Nikki, listing the new season hues that are coming! Yay – lots of warm tones! I loved getting my colours done a couple of years ago, mostly it confirmed what I already knew, but also gave me more confidence when shopping and sped up the process. But I do still go a bit brighter than I’m meant to – no way I’m giving up turquoise! xx

  8. I am trying to embrace some more colour in my wardrobe, but standing back looking at it, I can see lots of white, black and stone with sprinkles of red and pale pink. Maybe it’s about time I tried on some blue pieces again when I go on my shopping date, I used to love blues, but somehow haven’t bought anything in blue for ages apart from jeans and shorts.

    I am really enjoying this style makeover Nikki, you seem to be making all of us think a bit more about our wardrobes which really can only be a good thing. I have even started to look at updating old favourites like my everyday bag and casual sandals to something a little more colourful or different to what I would normally choose in the last few days and I know definitely without a doubt I am trying to make a bit more effort to put something together each morning now with what I have for now ( which I can now see better due to clearing out all the useless items) that says this is me and I am liking who I am even with all my imperfections. Thanks again Nikki, you are a wonder woman for sure.

    1. Oh, I don’t know about the wonder woman bit but it does bring me great joy to think that women across the country are looking at their wardrobes, thinking about them and revitalising them! Makes for way more confidence and happiness I think!

  9. I am just starting to embrace colour in my wardrobe, but I really love what you said about neutrals being an acceptable choice too. Sometimes I feel best in black ponte pants, a black tunic, tan boots and some coral or bright pink lipstick for a pop of colour. Loving the unlock your style series!

  10. I’ve just started feeling comfortable with more colour in my wardrobe but it’s great to hear you say that sticking with neutrals is also an acceptable choice. sometimes I feel far more comfortable in black Ponte pants, black tunic, tan boots and some coral or pink lipstick for a pop of colour. loving the style camp!

  11. I love blue! It’s my new black. I’ve almost stopped wearing black because for some reason unknown to me over the last year or two it suddenly seems to drain me but blue works.
    I know what work colours for me & what ones don’t. I don’t wear citrus tones, even though I love them. I don’t wear lots of white. I don’t wear any pastels. I love purples, blues, greens, greys & pink/reds but all in jewel tones, not overly bright or too light. This knowledge doesn’t stop me from trying things on in colours I wouldn’t normally pick, just to see if they work or I like them, but I know what I’m drawn to.
    What changed your mind about colours Nikki? I can’t imagine you being anything other than the colour, pattern, bright loving gal I see now!

  12. I never used to wear much colour either, but since reading your post about coloured jeans and following style guru And Andrea, I have gone all Carmen Miranda Otto and can’t get enough colour! It makes me feel very happy and my suggestion for people who want to dip their toes in the colour pool is to start with nail polishes, scarves and jewellery – an inexpensive and easy way to add a splash of colour to your day 🙂 Amy x x

  13. I didn’t colour code my wardrobe Nikki oops,very hard to do when you have limited space so it goes something like this tops,jackets,good dresses,think silk ones then everyday ones ,pants on a couple of hangers and then maxi dresses,I am going to pull it all out and ‘tidy” again when I have time.
    The colours that make me happy are orange,coral,pink and blue and a little bit of green and yellow,I really don’t care if it is “On Trend” or not as long as it suits me,but I did see some new seasons stock in a shop the other day and love the blues and the rust and tan and black looks very chic I think,I have always loved them together.I can see from your earlier posts how far you have come from wearing black all the time,your like a ray of sunshine now and I think colour suits you better I know I feel better when I wear colour.I am loving this 14 day style makeover.

  14. In the past few years, I have well and truly joined the colour band wagon. Black and white are still firm favs as I think they always look good. But I know colours like purples, emerald and blue suit me now and look at those as great options. I have embraced orange (perhaps a little too much!) and have a lot (aka enough) of it in my wardrobe. I too don’t really do pastels – I want and need something with a bit of kick.

  15. Oops missed the part about colour coding the freshly edited wardrobe! (I usually have things in groups according to their type – dresses, skirts, pants etc). Just went and did it and it looks so much better! Theres a lot of black but plenty of colour too. Mostly blues, greens and reds -bright, not pastel. and yesterday I laybuyed a royal blue blazer from Jacqui E.

  16. I’m graduating from the colour school as you know. I’ve embraced orange and yellow as my favourites and royal blue. I still love whites which make me look fresh and young and black will always be a favourite too. I feel I need bright bold colour rather than pastels which make me look wishy-washy.

  17. If you saw my instagram yesterday, I am embracing colour in shoes and bags… It is slowly creeping into skirts but I am steadfastly holding onto my black tops. I can’t see that ever changing.

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