“Do I Have to Get Rid of All My Clothes?”

Maybe you’ve come close to booking a personal color analysis (PCA), but then you’ve had the thought, “What if I find out that none of my clothes match my color palette? Will I have to get rid of them all?”

First of all, you don’t have to do anything after a PCA. But let’s say you want to have a wardrobe that is primarily made up of your best colors.

Most of us have two limiting factors – time and money. 

So how do you get a color-coordinated closet without spending tons of time and money? I’d like to share some strategies that have worked well for me:

1)    Swatch your closet

This step might sound obvious. Before you start getting rid of clothes, pull out your new swatch book and go through your closet to figure out which items harmonize with your new colors. You might be surprised (I speak from experience here). Keep in mind your season’s characteristics (hue, value, and saturation), especially the most important one. For instance, if you are a Soft Summer, you want your colors to be muted most of all, so you could start by identifying your brightest clothes and letting go of those first.

2)    Make a list

What items of clothing do you wear most often? What are your favorite things in your current closet? Think about where you spend your time and how you dress in different settings. Maybe you wear jeans and t-shirts most of the time, and your favorite items are funky scarves and jewelry. Maybe you work in an office and wear suits during the week, but you live in casual dresses on weekends.

Make a list of priority items based on how much time you spend wearing them and/or how much you like them. Your list can be general (e.g., a pair of jeans in one of my neutrals) or more specific (e.g., a striped cotton sleeveless top). Once you have a list, mark the items on it that are worn closest to the face (e.g., tops, jackets, scarves, necklaces). These are the things I suggest you look for first.

Extra credit for those who want to put more time into this step: Download and use the wardrobe fashion app Stylebook. This can help you figure out what you wear most often (so you know what to buy in your new colors) – and what you’re not wearing (so you can get rid of those things or start wearing them). When you’re building your wardrobe in your new colors, you can add to Stylebook and use it to plan outfits, shop your closet, and save looks that inspire you.

3)    Do some research

When you first get your swatch book, it can be hard to envision what the colors look like in a wardrobe. Taking some time to research and get to know your palette really helps – and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In my experience, Pinterest is the best way to do this. There are many wonderful Pinterest boards showing your colors in clothing, jewelry, makeup, etc. You can spend as much time as you want looking at different images of your colors to get ideas and start to visualize how you want to express your colors. Check out my Pinterest boards to get started. I also recommend the Shopping for Your Season board by Christine Scaman of 12 Blueprints.

4)    Look for deals

Start with less expensive purchases. Not only does this save you money, it can also help you ease into your new color palette. Thrift and consignment stores are my favorite places to shop because they are low-cost, eco-friendly, and I get excited by not knowing what I’m going to find. If thrift/consignment isn’t your thing, look for sales at your favorite stores or go to places like Target that tend to have good basics at relatively low prices.

Online shopping can be tricky because colors often become distorted by photos and screens, but you can often find good deals and a much wider selection. To improve your ability to find your colors online, good lighting – preferably indirect daylight – is important. It can also be helpful to look at contextual clues in product photos. For instance, if you’re looking at a dress on a model, look at the coloring of the model and the background colors. How dark or light does the dress look next to the model and background? How warm or cool does it look in context? How bright or muted? (Hint: if it’s popping out and making the model and/or background fade, it is probably quite bright.) I recommend reading this post by Christine for a more thorough guide to shopping for colors online.

If you decide to shop online, always read the return policy and ask yourself if you are truly willing to take the time and effort to return something if it doesn’t work for you.

5)    Have fun!

This is the most important step, in my opinion. Are you familiar with the KonMari Method? As you’re going through each item in your closet, ask yourself if it sparks joy. So you’re a True Summer, but that bright orange top still makes you smile from ear to ear? I say keep it! Or maybe you’re a Dark Autumn and you found a patterned skirt you just adore with a few Autumn-y colors, but the background color is a pastel blue. Can you picture yourself rocking it anyway? Then get it! Or does it feel like too much of a stretch? Then save your money for something that you have no doubts about.

Choose joy! We’re talking about colors after all.

Note: I am not getting paid by any of the companies mentioned in this post. All recommendations are my own.