Over on nemosmom's thread about limited colour palettes, I mentioned my love of small complements to add variety and pops of colour to mostly-dark, mostly-neutral outfits.

I don’t think of myself as someone with a super tight or limited colour palette, nor do I see myself as an extremely colourful dresser. I do think of myself as someone with a strong sense of which colours I want to wear. I gravitate towards a base wardrobe of dark almost-neutrals (olive and navy/denim, charcoal, a bit of eggplant and burgundy) coupled with black and white.

Spending time on YLF, I’ve come to really appreciate the concept of colour capsules or “complements” as Angie calls them. In my case, complements add variety to a wardrobe that consists largely of neutrals. Allowing myself to think in terms of complements has helped me add colour in a focused way, paying attention to what I enjoy wearing and what’s available at retail. It allows me to engage in trends without going overboard. It’s also made me realize that I don’t need a lot of pieces in a given colour to feel like that colour has a presence in my wardrobe. I can think of three distinct colour capsules, or complements, that I have built over the past few years:

  1. Red. I have always enjoyed statement pieces in scarlet, crimson, cherry and cranberry and am rarely without a red top or two. Right now I have a breton top, a winter hat and mittens, a cherry-print graphic tee, plus red shoes for both cool and warm weather. I had a red sweater until recently but retired it due to unraveling elbows. (6 items)

  2. Pale/pastel. This includes mint green sneakers, a lilac crossbody bag and a graphic tee with a lilac print, a sky blue linen scarf, a blush summer hat, and a pearl grey cotton sweater. I try to add a couple of pale pieces each spring when they are widely available. I recently demoted a blush hoodie to at-home wear due to fraying cuffs. I would love to add a sky blue crewneck sweater at some point. (6 items)

  3. Earth tones. Three sage green tops (I’m such a sucker for this colour!), rust-coloured cropped pants, a mustard rib-knit top and a scarf with a mustard print, a leopard-inspired cardi, and a brown plaid vest. I don’t have any brown/earth-tone footwear or bags yet, but would be open to adding the right ones. (8 items)

I mix and match within each capsule, and to some degree between capsules as well. For instance, I might wear a red top and blush shoes in an otherwise black/white outfit, pulling from my red capsule and my pastel capsule. Or I might combine pastels and earth tones by wearing a sage green top and mint green sneakers with olive pants or topper for a tonal look. I’m picky about these combinations and don’t expect everything to go with everything else. At 20 items, these complements add a lot of variety without taking up a lot of space or budget.

I’m curious to know what colour capsules others have built. What items do you gravitate towards? Shoe/bag combos? Accessories? Do you have different accent colours for different seasons/occasions? Do you go matchy-matchy and wear multiple coordinating items at once?

I'm including a smattering of Finds below (I don't have everything on here, sadly) to give you an idea. Madewell is clearly my go-to for earth tones!