One color palette

A book from my childhood — Photo from Amazon.com

I read this book when I was a young Brownie Girl Scout myself.  I didn’t even remember the book at all until I started this minimalist adventure — nearly two decades after I had known the book in the first place!  Amazon provides a synopsis of the book, but the only thing I honestly remember is that the babysitter is described to wear black and white clothing, and the sole source of color in her wardrobe comes from her jewelry and accessories.

I remember being fascinated by that as a child.   I wondered if people really did that.

They sure do!  I recently read an article about actress Jamie Lee Curtis, in which she describes her style as an evolution, a distillation:

My style is a distillation. I’ve etched out who I am through myriad haircut attempts, outfit attempts, beauty attempts, diet attempts. It’s been an evolution. I’ve let my hair go gray. I wear only black and white. Every year I buy three or four black dresses that I just keep in rotation. I own one pair of blue jeans. I’ve given away all my jewelry, because I don’t wear it.

My partner recently pointed out to me, “You have a lot of jewelry.  That’s not very minimal.”  Like Ms. Curtis, I really don’t wear much jewelry, but I have accumulated quite a few pieces of it.  That will be changing soon!

Jewelry aside, I wrote this post to talk about a black and white, simple, clean wardrobe.  While I don’t think I’ll be a strictly black-and-white girl anytime soon (or ever), I have culled my wardrobe (so very nearly) to one where I can reach into the closet and pull together an outfit that works.  I’m not as minimized as I would like to be, but I will get there one item at a time.  Fortunately, I recently ripped a pair of pink plaid shorts, so I can replace them with a black pair that goes with more tops!

Anyone else aspire to a one-color-palette wardrobe?

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28 thoughts on “One color palette

  1. I don’t have a black and white only w’robe, but I do have a dress that I call my “uniform” – in 5 colours! It doesn’t need ironing and always gets me complements. So I got it in all different colours haha. Very simple to wear – can be casual with fflip flops or dressy with pearls.

    • What a great idea! I tend to buy a couple of something in different colors if it really works for me. And accessories really do a lot to dress something up or down! Thanks for your comment :)

  2. Many times in my life I’ve worn black clothes exclusively. I think much of the time it was more from a psychological desire not to draw attention to myself with color, but I enjoyed the simplicity of it… everything went with everything! These days I have 5 pairs of blue jeans, four cardigans in green, purple blue and black, a white cotton button up top, a few tank tops in black / blue / purple and several t-shirts that are black. My wardrobe is both simple and colorful enough to fit my personality, and it makes me happy :)

    When it comes to clothes, I prefer to find a few things I really, really love and wear them until they wear out, then buy something new that I really love to replace them. It satisfies both the minimalist and the bit of fashionista in me.

    • That’s a great policy. I recently discovered one of my favorite tops was getting threadbare from so much use, but I’m looking forward to allowing another top to become a favorite and eventually replacing it with something else fabulous :)

      While I appreciate the simplicity of an all B&W wardrobe, I like color too! I have a few tops in bright colors that I wear when I feel like being colorful. I’m getting very into layering now, so my green shirt looks different with a pink, grey, or black tank underneath it… it’s like mix and match!

  3. If I had to choose a base color palette it would be denim. We train horses so the biggest item in the whole family’s wardrobe is jeans & denim shorts. We buy nice shirts to wear to shows/school/town and as those wear out they become barn clothes and the cycle continues. I own very little jewelry because all I wear are my wedding rings and a pair of earrings that were an anniversary gift. Same goes for makeup, I spend too much time sweating in a dirty barn to use much. I only have a couple dressier outfits because I hardly have need for dress clothes. It really simplified my wardrobe when I realized I can wear jeans to church and nobody cares and we rarely go anywhere that requires fancy clothes so I could cull out shoes & accessories too. Now if only we lived in a more moderate climate so I didn’t have to stock coats for way below zero temps to clothes for 110+ degree weather, I’d be set!

    • Whatever works for your lifestyle is the right wardrobe for you! :) I’m with you on makeup; I hardly wear any and just threw out a ton of old cosmetics I hadn’t used up.

      Thanks for your comment, Kathy!

  4. Caitlin, over the years I often wondered if something was wrong with me because I lost interest in shopping. I would go shopping with friends and be bored ,finally I got the nerve up to tell them how I truly felt to my surpise they were very understanding. When they call me now its for events that I feel has meaning like art shows,concerts and parties I find I’m much happier now.

    • I understand that too! I did take a friend shopping with me on my quest for a black dress and some new shorts, and she became increasingly aware that we had very different approaches to shopping. She wound up not buying a sweater because “she didn’t need it” and I was secretly very proud :) It’s great your friends want to go to other cool events instead of shop with you now!

      • I used to do this, too, i.e. go shopping with one friend or another and usually they were looking for something and I’d spend the time talking and sharing with them. If I ever bought something myself, it was usually a thing or a piece of clothing I didn’t actually want or need, it just seemed like the thing to do…In fact, the best finds in my own style (mostly black with some fuchsia or purple thrown in) I’ve found whenever I wasn’t actually looking for something; those tend to be the pieces I wear until they’re reduced to rags ;)

  5. I this with brown neutrals in my work wardrobe – brown and khaki trousers, brown, yellow and red shirts. I think I would have to actively try to pull together an outfit that didn’t match.

  6. I’m a huge fan of grey because it comes in SO many shades (perhaps 50? Haha).  I also like navy blue (including dark denim). So my base colors are grey and navy blue. I mostly wear dresses, so I just look for ones in those colors and ignore everything else. Makes shopping easier and more focused. 

    I still have black in my wardrobe, but I’m trying to slowly switch over to my base colors. Black looks harsh on me. 

    I also have a small collection of jewelry and accessories. 

    I think it might be fun to have a bold colored coat, purse or scarf to liven things up like the babysitter in the book!

    So I guess my wardrobe is a lot like Jaime Lee’s: dresses and a pair of jeans. 

  7. I don’t do a single colour palette, but I follow the rule that everything I buy has to go with at least 3 items from my existing wardrobe. This means there are a lot of things in either black or dark, earthy colours like brown, dark green, plum, aqua or orange … you get it. I wear dark blue jeans most of the time, almost everything I own goes with them, may it be a checkered blouse or a tiny summerdress. This habit mostly stems from the times when the clothes budget at home was pretty tight, but was reinforced by the go-with-3 rule I found on some advisory website. I mostly own single-coloured articles of clothing, and just a handful of chosen ones with patterns to mix and match with former ones. I don’t wear much jewellery, most of the time it’s just big, colourful earrings (the plain silver engagement ring and my old watch don’t really count).
    I died my hair with henna some times, because they already have a slightly red shine naturally (and henna is really good for your hair), but I’m going all natural now, even though the first grey hairs are appearing (at 23!!), and the really red hair also made the choice of clothing more difficult – red just doesn’t go well with plum, while making me look too pale! I don’t use much make-up. All natural look + simple style of clothing = little time needed to get styled. If it wasn’t for this crazy hair resisting all efforts to be braided, while I’m refusing to use any hair product aside from shampoo most of the time. But hey, because of this I recently down-sized my travel toilet bag to one like less than half the sized I used before.
    I’m off to the local thrift store now ;)

  8. I’m still working on paring down things, but for most of my adult life: I have jeans and colored t-shirts and tan colored shoes. I don’t have to think about what goes with what – I grab a top, I grab a bottom, and whichever shoes are “in season”, and go. I’m lucky in that I can wear jeans to work. I’m horrible at putting things together, so I go for comfort over any sense of “style”. The only thing I “worry” about when dressing is that all but one of my bras is white, and I have to remember to wear the black bra under the black shirt :)

  9. I wear black, white, navy, red and some purple with a splash of hot pink. I am really trying to move away from black, as I get older, it’s seems a little harsh on me now. I also have let my natural grey/white/brown grow in. It’s been very freeing and my hair is much healthier and my natural coloring finally works with my skin. I want to hit 40 in 2 years and really OWN who I am. LOVE LOVE LOVE Jamie Lee Curtis-she is an inspiration. I use only Dove bar soap on my face and body and a good old washcloth. I do use a light moisturizing cream and once a week, I use a chocolate/strawberry mud mask. A little bit of hair oil in my hair and on occasion, a touch of spray. I wear mascara, blush and lip balm. I make sure I am manicured but not high maintenance. I found as I get older, nice toes and fingernails are a must along with eyebrows. I do make sure I do this every 2 weeks but it makes me feel good and pull together. I am also growing out my hair long. It’s how I look best and like Ms. Curtis, after years of trying multiple styles, it’s what works for me. I do keep it trimmed every 8-10 weeks and layered. I own my wedding ring, a watch, 5 bangle bracelets, 1 cuff, 2 leather type bracelets, 3 necklaces and 2 sets of fake diamond studs and 1 set of pearl earrings, 2 sets of dangly type earrings. I wear my ring and earrings all the time, adding when I feel like it. I am also purging my closet of any shoe over 2 inches in heel height. Just don’t feel like killing my feet anymore and with the plethora of cute flats out there, it’s becoming very easy. I even went to a black tie event in sparkly ballet shoes. :)

    My at home wardrobe is either jeans and a button down or tank top, bermuda shorts for summer with the aforemention tops with either flip flops or cowgirl boots. If I have to go somewhere nice, I wear my clothes for work.

    • That sounds great – I, too, am trying to be my “best” natural self as I get towards 50.
      Capsule wardrobes have always fascinated me although those with black put me off track for a while – while I used to be able to wear it, I dislike wearing it and prefer colours, so the minimal wardrobe means a bit more planning (and some restrictions!). Now it also looks harsh on me so I am phasing out all my black, it’s no longer necessary, even for funerals and I don’t necessarily even think it always looks chic, as they say. It doesn’t suit some people at all and often not on older skin/hair.
      At the moment I seem to have a lot of purple-berry/mustard/burnt orange and some green, though I still love red and blues and a bit of pink now and again… I often find a scarf I like and then I can marry some pretty exotic colour combinations. Jewellery I’m also getting rid of, as I seem to wear mostly the “real” stuff my husband has given me over the years…

  10. It’s a rare day when I’m not wearing something black. For work it’s normally black dress pants (have 4) or black skirt (have 2), black dressy T/top (have 7) and either a cardigan or jacket in a bright colour (fushia, purple, turquoise, lime green, etc). I have a large selection of scarves/wraps in the same colours. Everything matches everything else. For casual I have black yoga pants and capris, and 5-6 sport (spandex) tops in my standard bright colours. I have black pumps, flats, boots and flipflops. I have a black knapsack style purse I use every day, and a black clutch for fancy occasions. I have one long black knit dress I can dress up or down. I can wear it to the beach with flipflops or to the theatre with heels, jewelry and a pashmina wrap. I only wear silver jewelry and all my earings and one bracelet fit in the 3×3″ box the bracelet came in. I have a black windbreaker, trench coat, wool winter coat and ski jacket. I wear my hair a la Jamie Lee (short and spikey). It’s fine so I wash, airdry, gel and go. I’ve never coloured my nearly black hair, and at 48 with my first few greys just appearing, I’m unlikely to start now.

    I do own a pair of beautiful charcoal grey slacks which I wear about once a month. I love the fit, I know they look good but sometimes I think I only wear them to reassure those around me that I’m not wearing the same black pants every day of my life. The 4 black pants I have are different weights, cuts, lengths, but maybe I’m the only one who thinks they look different.

    I purged my wardrobe about 8 yrs ago and decided to only wear what I loved going forward. There must be something about turning 40 that gives you permission to finally please only yourself. No more keeping past poor choices that were lovely, but not my taste. Now I wear everything I have and feel great it it. I only replace an item when it is worn out or damaged beyond repair. This means I may not buy any clothing for a year or more. I don’t even have clothing as an item in my budget.

    This year I replaced some socks, and then on vacation last week I bought a new scarf, but don’t plan to toss out an old one. I’m such a rebel! I just couldn’t resist. It’s black with abstract designs in fusia/purple/turquoise/lime… Ok maybe not such a rebel.

    • I love it! Your wardrobe sounds great for you, and don’t listen to anyone who accuses you of wearing the same pants! :) And you keep that scarf if it makes you happy! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  11. That sounds really well organised and simple for someone who enjoys black and it probably suits you, in that case.
    My summer handbag that goes with everything is a deep burnt orange…! As my palette alters a little with the seasons, my winter coat is red with tiny pink spots and I wear a pale pink pashmina and knitted beret, so much more cheerful in winter than all the dull colours I see. Safer to be seen, too, in the darker seasons. Then I do avoid the orange but most of my other colours go with this coat without me looking like a clown!

    • Sounds like you have your wardrobe down to a colorful science :) I enjoy color a lot, and I still have many colorful tops in addition to my army of black tank tops!

  12. Five years ago I opted to change the color of my wardrobe. I now only wear black, grey, navy or white – I do have one brown tshirt as well. It is so much easier & though it may seem boring to some, I think just the opposite. Everything matches, sorting laundry is a breeze – I’ll never change! I do carry a fabulous pink purse in the warmer months that I love and know it will always match my outfit. If anyone notices my lack of color no one has ever mentioned it!

    • One awesome thing about my minimized wardrobe is that, for the most part, I can just do one load of laundry with everything in it – shorts, tops, underwear, socks – because I don’t have too much of any one thing in the hamper and it’s all similar fabric. Delicates get washed separately, of course, as do jeans, but it’s nice to just wash and dry and go!

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