Outfits STYLE // Spring

Color Palettes, a Basic Ingredient to Outfit Building

March 11, 2016

Seasons + SaltSeasons + Salt-4 Seasons + Salt-5[jeans / sweater (similar) / shoes / bag (similar)]

I’ve never been one to think about color palettes too much when building a wardrobe, it always seemed too much of a hassle for me. Too time consuming, and a little overwhelming. But lately, I have been thinking of color palettes when it comes to outfits. 

As I look back on outfits that are particularly pleasing to me, I’ve come to realize how much I like outfits with tonal harmony – where the colors are the same level of darkness or lightness. Basically all lighter shades in a pleasing palette or all darker shades in a pleasing palette. You can see here the light blue, the cream and the tan create tonal harmony. Further, the blue and the cognac create complementary color harmony as they draw from opposite sides of the color wheel.

Seasons + Salt-2 pallet

Let’s try to further break this down with the help of my trusty Pinterest boards:

The ever fabulous Alexa Chung sports a medium-dark tonal palette of black, navy, cobalt and gray.

Seasons + Salt-2 palette3

This gal showcases tonal harmony through light blue and grays.

Color Pallets4

This German blogger has split tonal harmony working for her with the cognac and red which contrasts to the white and cream.
Seasons + Salt-2 color pallet2

Image Sources: 1 / 23

When you break it down to the color palette of an outfit, you’re essentially taking it down to the basic ingredients upon which it is built. On this fundamental level it’s a lot easier to see if combinations work or not.

For example, looking back on outfits I did not care for, like this one, I can see it’s because it lacks any tonal (or color) harmony. The shades range from medium to deeply saturated, and the two main colors are not complementary.

I got started on this whole line of thinking when remembering one of my favorite looks from the fall (which I’ve sort of re-created above), and trying to dissect what I loved about it. Now I can’t stop thinking about color palettes when I get dressed.

Do you consider color palettes when building your outfits? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Cheers to a great weekend,


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  • Marloes March 11, 2016 at 8:20 am

    This outfit feels so ‘you’! I love how you combined the inspirational photos with the color palettes. I used color (base plus accents) for every wardrobe and recently realized a pattern: I like my outfits in high contrast.
    – X Marloes

    • Andrea March 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      So interesting! I’d love to see more of your outfits! In addition to what I’ve shared I also love me some black. ;)

  • Jessica Mironov March 11, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Oh man!! Yes, I think about this every single day. I’ve even made lists of color combinations i love. Blue, white, and cognac is one of my favorites. I also love light gray, white, with a pop of red.

    And I no longer buy clothes that don’t fit my overall color scheme, which is very helpful.

    P.S. I think it’s palettes, by the way.

    • Andrea March 11, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Yikes! Thanks for the clarity on palettes! 😆

      Smart! I think staying in your color palettes is key to avoiding buying clothes you don’t wear!

  • Rebecca March 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

    It is actually “palette” in this situation.

    • Andrea March 11, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Thank you!

  • Stacy March 11, 2016 at 8:59 am

    What a great way of thinking of it! Maybe I should pay attention to the outfits I keep going back to, to figure out why I love them so much as well. Really enjoyed this post!

    • Andrea March 11, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks Stacy! It was truly a learning moment for me!

  • Cassandra March 11, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Lovely color pallets! I’ve never given them much thought, but I love these – especially the cobalt!

    • Andrea March 11, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      The cobalt is gorgeous, isn’t it. At first glance it doesn’t really seem like there is a palette there but a second glance shows lovely color harmony.

  • Johanne March 12, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    This is a very usefull tool. I don’t really consider it too much, but maybe I will start – first with my favorite pinterest outfits to see if I can recreate some of these outfits from my own clothes

    • Andrea March 14, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Yay! I am excited to see what you come up with Johanne. And it seems you are a fellow neutrals enthusiast like me, and it’s interesting to note that palettes exist even amongst those colors!

  • TaniaS March 13, 2017 at 2:19 am

    This was really helpful, I’ll check out your Pinterest boards as well for more examples! Thanks!