This is my year for adding new (to me) colours to my wardrobe. First olive, and now burgundy. Neither have been “go-to” colours for me in the past. But I learned something about my style over the last few years: I crave a change in colour more than a change in silhouette. As a result, I’ve steadily been building a moderately sized wardrobe with a large assortment of neutrals and non-neutrals.
The building process involves as much emotion as it does precision.
1. I listen to my feelings
For years, I didn’t feel like wearing olive or burgundy, despite their popularity. Items in these colours looked just fine on me, but they didn’t make me happy. I felt blah in olive, and burgundy reminded me of not so fab school uniforms. This year my emotions about both colours changed, and I listened.
2. I have a high affinity for colour mixing
I enjoy combining all sorts of tonal, contrasting, complementary and “clashing” colours. Combinations that I find harmonious and happy, you might find unflattering, ugly or loud. Horses for courses, always.
3. I own a large assortment of neutrals
Having an assortment of both light and dark neutrals across a range of wardrobe items allows me to create a grounding support act for just about any colour. This is handy, versatile, and satisfies my need for outfit variety.
4. I think in terms of complements and capsules
I think about my wardrobe and outfits in terms of complements and mix-and-match capsules. My wardrobe items relate well to one another, and this makes the outfit creation a LOT easier. I make sure I add more than one item in a new colour to my wardrobe. That way, I can repeat the colour in a few places in the outfit, or create a tonal vibe from head to toe. These styling strategies make me feel more pulled together, and allow me to make a statement with a new colour.
The addition of burgundy was an accident at first. I fell in love with a pair of boots in my favourite shoe shop in Arnhem in the Netherlands while shopping with Inge a few months ago. In the bad light of the store, I thought they were dark brown, which would bookend my new dark brown specs perfectly. But as I walked into the natural light, I saw that the boots were a very rich Bordeaux. Well, they still bookended my specs, and I decided right then and there to add “burgundy” to my wardrobe.
Building a complement with the boots was the strategic plan, so I bought a burgundy patterned scarf. Now I had matching specs, boots and scarf to incorporate into outfits. I then unexpectedly found a belt with gold hardware that was a tonal match to the boots and scarf. Jolly lucky, and got that too. And being the bag lady that I am, I wanted to add a burgundy bag to complete the complement.
I thought about leaving the burgundy component of my wardrobe at that, wearing the colour in footwear and accessories only. But I’ve decided to try some burgundy tops and bottoms too. To start with, a simple turtleneck and a pair of trousers.
I’ve been wearing my burgundy items quite a bit already. My new boots are extremely comfortable, and have become workhorses. The complement of booties, belt, scarf and bag have been very easy to match with the navy, ink blue, dark blue denim, cream, white, tomato red and orange in my wardrobe. I don’t like burgundy quite as much with black and olive, but wear that combination too.
Here are the exact items in my wardrobe that I’ve been wearing with burgundy to create outfits.
You have to be emotionally ready to add a new colour to your wardrobe. Once it feels right, you can begin the more strategic process of building complements and capsules so that you can easily integrate the new colour into outfits.