I talk a lot here on my blog about my own personal colour palette, and how it helps guide my fabric stashing and sewing. It’s really changed the way I shop and dress – suddenly I know exactly what’s worth buying, and what will never get worn!
Well, it’s finally time: A how-to guide to make your own personal colour palette!
Now, fair warning: There’s no science to this. It’s got nothing to do with skin tone or season or that stuff… it’s just a way to reflect on what colours you already wear and look good in!
Ok? Ok. Let’s do this!
1. Open up a word processing document. (I’m using Pages because I have a Mac.) Choose a shape you like, either circles, squares, or rounded squares like me, and paste in a bunch of identical shapes. These will form the basic structure of your palette. Don’t worry about the fill colour yet!
2. Open up your blog so that you can see both windows at once. If you don’t have a blog with lots of clothing pictures, you could take photos of your favourite clothes, or use your Pinterest inspiration boards!
3. Click on just one of your shapes, and go to your option to change the fill colour.
4. Hopefully your program will give you the option of a colour selector wheel like this. There are other ways to pick colours, but I like this view because it allows for easy tweaking of saturation, tint and shade to get just the right colour!
5. Click on the colour selector tool. It’s the magnifying-glass shaped icon about the rainbow colour wheel. Use the colour-selector tool to pick a colour from your picture. For example, I know I wear a lot of bright pink, so I selected a colour from one of the flowers on my dress. Can you see the magnifying glass icon selecting the colour from my shoulder?
6. Keep looking through your pictures and selecting colour that you see appearing repeatedly. If you like prints, you can often get more than one colour from a picture! In this case, I pulled both the blue and lime green from this one dress, and the hot pink and purple from the first maxi. Bonus: It’s proof that you like to wear those colours together!
7. Sometime you need to tweak the colour. For example, when I selected this emerald, it came out greyer than I wanted. It actually looks kinder nice in the palette to tone down the other brights, but I know that I feel prettier in brighter turquoises…
8. Instead, I’m going to change the colour I selected to this more vibrant colour. I can think of at least 3 or 4 things I have in that colour, and I always like wearing it.
9. Keep going until you palette is full! Look for colours you wear often, and well as colours that you wish you wore more. Of course, you can have as few or an many colours in your palette as you choose!
10. Change accent colours to smaller swatches, or include several versions of your favourite colours. I know that I like this light green or white in small doses, but not on their own, so I’ll make those shapes smaller. At this point, step back and check that you’ve got some basic neutrals that will coordinate with your other colours. I prefer navy and dark grey to black or khaki, but it’s up to you!
11. Add text and a picture! I like to put a name or blog name on a palette as well as a picture that captures at least some of the palette colours in action.
12. Or go wild and add a whole lot of pictures! In this case, these are all pictures of things I’ve made over the summer, which helps me visualize how this palette reflects my summer wardrobe. When I made my sister’s palette, I used inspiration pics for her Pinterest board. Whatever works for you!
13. Last step! Take a screen capture of your palette, or export it as a pdf. Now you’ve got a snapshot of your favourite colours to wear and create with!
Now what? Well, here’s a few ideas…
- If you see fabric (or yarn, for knitters) in “your” colours, buy it! If it’s not your colours, think about whether it will really fit into your wardrobe. (I’m on a budget, and this is a great way for me to walk away from impulse buys!)
- Look for colours in the palette that you wish you wore more, and buy, thrift or make things to fill that hole.
- Go a little crazy, and try out new combinations of colours from your palette! (Hot pink and emerald together, that’s my new fashion goal from this palette!)
- Talk loudly and often enough about your palette colours, and the people who love you just might keep the colours in mind when they buy you gifts! (It worked for me! 😉
That said…You made the rules, you can break them!
- add or change colours anytime
- try out trendy new colours
- make palettes for different seasons
- wear brighter, lighter or darker versions of your colours
- WEAR OTHER COLOURS! Wear anything you want. Wear one of your palette colours, wear all of them together, wear none of them when the mood strikes you!
There is no right and wrong.
Here’s the palette I just made from recent photos…
and here’s the palette I’ve been following for the last year:
Similar? Yes. Different? Definitely! Neither is wrong though.. they just reflect a summer vs. winter wardrobe, and my shifting tastes over time. My point is, you aren’t going to get your colours “wrong”… It’s just an evolution in taste, style and preferences. So experiment, and have fun.
Have you ever consciously planed the colours in your wardrobe or stash? Do you make strategic projects to fill a gap, or make whatever the heck you want?
ps. Boy, if you read through all of that, CONGRATULATIONS! I hope it was helpful, at least even vaguely interesting!