Developing the Capsule wardrobe – Hila’s cool bright colour palette

Last week I discussed the Capsule Wardrobe with super blogger and maker Hila.

In the course of describing how to create a SWAP plan I suggested some colour schemes that might work for Hila, and slightly to my surprise (as I included some more conservative choices) she wrote this.

I will try my best to use stash fabric so that will most likely determine the palette I will use. Though if I didn’t have my personal rule on using stash fabric – I’d have loved Emerald green, shocking pink, red and orange.

For my own SWAP I too would prefer to use existing fabric, for obvious reasons (I can barely move for fabric and vintage patterns!). But it is not always possible. SWAP is special. You want it to be your best work, rather than just using up what’s in the cupboard. Previous experience suggests it is best to stick to the SWAP plan with conviction and to find/buy/procure/make the right fabric and colour for each outfit. This might mean you have to actually create the right fabric by printing/dying/recycling/knit/embroidering it.

We need some Kondo-inspired “joy” in our collection. Notice Hila says she loves the colours I suggested – love is more motivating than “I need to use up my stash”.  Please Hila, and everyone else, come up with a plan that excites and stretches you.  Better to create five items you love, than thinking “use the stash/complete the SWAP”.  I know many SWAP participants will focus on using existing patterns and fabrics only, and it is laudable. I feel that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well, and that means not compromising too much (when compromise might what you do all day everyday in real life).

I like to have an image or idea to kick me off. As Hila is a keen reader I had the old style Penguin book covers in my mind when I thought about her capsule. Can you see how this image influenced me?

Orange, black and white
Penguin books

“I do love a nice jacket and am thinking of a lightweight mac for one of my “overs”, Hila added.

I think two “overs”, in this case jackets, will give Hila loads of outfit choices. They are also practical in the UK as it is rarely hot enough to do without a jacket. I propose one working jacket – probably in a deep neutral, and a fun jacket or coat in a colour. A nice coat or jacket always looks smart, sassy and confident, and helps us make our way in the world. I recommend putting most SWAP time into the outwear/overs as I think you will get most wear from them.

The Hila colour palette includes dark navy and white as its neutrals. Gus, who has a much lighter palette might choose a light grey and white. Someone with warm colouring might choose tan and cream. I would always include three or four neutrals in a SWAP so you can play it down, extend the wardrobe,  and create an authority look when required. I find neutral clothes have less character and therefore are easier to wear, and go with everything else in your wardrobe.

By mixing navy and white Hila can create a high authority outfit if she needs it on one of her committees, or at work. There is navy trouser suit here (swap the jeans for trousers or a neat tailored navy skirt if jeans are unacceptable in your workplace). The main colours for the wardrobe are orange, shocking pink, yellow and emerald. I thought yellow might be more fun that red, but of course all of this is indicative and Hila can easily swap other bright colours eg. bright blue, vibrant purple, mint.

  1. Jeans (dark navy)
  2. Wide leg trousers (emerald green)
  3. Maxi skirt (yellow or patterned)
  4. Knee length flared or A line skirt (orange)

5. Slim fit shirt (shocking pink)

6. Clingy sweater (I would make (knit) this in orange (inspired by the old Penguin books), white and navy and maybe write HILA on it)

7. Important blouse (white) I love this top (from Finery) but if it is too fussy Hila might just prefer a well tailored white shirt with interesting collar and cuffs

8. Embellished blouse (navy with colourful embroidery, slimmer fit than my image)

9. Dress made with a bright patterned fabric

10  Glamorous jacket (yellow leather moto? Or maybe a bright pink or emerald raincoat? )

11. Practical jacket (navy)

Would this capsule work for Hila? She has lots of cool shoes – tan and white brogues, navy, turquoise, African fabrics, tan sandals, etc.

  • smart navy trouser suit with an important white blouse
  • wear the pink blouse for a change
  • emerald trousers with the embroidered blouse
  • orange full skirt and the orange graphic jumper
  • jeans with the orange jumper and navy jacket
  • pretty dress with navy jacket for a PTA meeting
  • emerald trousers or jeans with orange jumper to dash to shops
  • dress with yellow jacket for a summer wedding
  • yellow skirt with pink blouse and a navy belt
  • embroidered blouse with the jeans and yellow jacket
  • full orange skirt with bright pink blouse and navy jacket for a night out
  • emerald trousers. white blouse and navy jacket to take the children swimming
  • yellow skirt, embroidered blouse, yellow jacket for a music night
  • orange sweater over the dress for a summer barbeque
  • yellow skirt, white blouse, navy jacket, turquoise shoes
  • green trousers, pink shirt, yellow jacket for a gallery opening

Really, by sticking to colours in the same group (cool and bright), and a consistent silhouette,  everything literally goes with everything else.

25 Responses

  1. Ruth

    Lots of things to think about here. For me the goals are a bit different. Four months to make 11 garments, is a short time for me, so I need to make quick things, and thinking about whether I can make it work with existing stash is part of the challenge. Maybe I can use the other months of the year to make a more technically difficult capsule wardrobe. Your post has made me think about the use of neutrals and brights, and how they work together though.

  2. Naomi

    Some lovely ideas. I am totally going to use fabrics and patterns from my stash but did spend a voucher I had getting some very special fabric for this challenge. I also will use existing patterns. But I can see what you are encouraging Kate, and the reasoning for it. I am just lucky that I have what I need already.

  3. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    Love it! I love to see good use of colour, instead of [to me] boring old neutrals. I know, I know, they suit many people’s looks and lifestyle, but I find them deadly dull.
    I’m still floundering with inspiration for this SWAP, so unless I can adapt my wardrobe plans for the missus to fit the rules, I’ll let it pass me by.
    Maybe I should get you to do me a plan too? lol

    • Fabrickated

      I would love to do a plan for you, but I am hoping you will chose to do a SWAP for Dawn as it would be fun to compare your experience of making for someone else, with mine, as we go. I remember when you bought her African fabric and she said she wouldn’t be seen dead in it. Those kind of issues are interesting.

      Also your energy and fun are good to have in the competition.

  4. Hila

    Its quite unnerving how well you have my aspirational taste nailed down Kate despite the fact that we have never actually met in real life. You have articulated the sort of bold style vision I am trying to move towards. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, more than half of the images you use are also on my pinterest boards for things that I love and inspire me. I also had ordered a couple of wide leg trouser pattern during the current Burda half price sale (6573 & 6966) with a mind to one of them in the SWAP.

    I will use this as the template for my SWAP – the jeans are easy – Birkin flares and I have a navy fabric for it. I LOVE the knitted jumper idea – though I am worried my knitting skill may not yet be on a level where I can develop the pattern with the Hila motif. However I am a firm believer in doing what scares you a bit because thats when you know you are growing.

    As for the overs – ever since discovering Erica Bunker’s yellow blazers, I have always wanted one so a yellow over is a definite.

    “In for a penny, in for a pound” is what my mum always says. I wholeheartedly agree that it is to be done, it has be done very well. I am certainly a lot more energised with this colour scheme than I was with the ‘use my stash’ colour palette.

    Thank you again so much!

    • fabrickated

      Oh Hila! Thank you for giving me such warm and encouraging feedback. I know you will put your own stamp on this, and your ideas will develop as you go along. Of course I feel I know you because you have dozens of quality images on your blog and I can see what shapes and colours suit you. It’s great that we are on the same page. Once you have worked out how much yardage you need for the green trousers let me know as I may have some nice linen for you. I really hope we can meet up at some point.

  5. Sue

    I am becoming more and more intrigued with the concept of the capsule wardrobe and have found myself musing on what I would make. I really like the clothes/concepts you have chosen for Hila, especially those colours – she will look so chic in these clothes.

  6. Stephanie

    Really really fun capsule, Kate. These are the kinds of clothes I imagine wearing in my dreams but too bold for me and for my environment in the end. I am almost tempted to ask you to do one for me, but then I would get confused and lose track of my plan which woukd not be good at all. You are so good at this! 🙂

    I agree generally about doing things you like and doing them well of course. The only thing I found with SWAP is that the time goes by quickly and so sometimes compromises must be made when time runs short. That part is frustrating to me.

    • Hila

      Thank you for mentioning the time running out point – I am in danger of relaxing and thinking there is plenty of time to sew up the things, especially since I have never attempted anything with as long a lead time as this. Clearly I need to get on with it!

      • Stephanie

        Well you may be quicker than I am. I tend to have little time on weeknights and do most of my sewing on Sundays, and given that I like to make up vintage patterns the time gets away from me. I also can’t start before Christmas. If you can get going early, the more power to you. Good luck but most of all enjoy the glorious wardrobe choices you have in mind! Shall be a stunning wardrobe.

  7. Anne

    Yes, this is a great plan for Hila. Good luck, Hila!
    I love the idea of you doing Gus and Elaine doing Dawn. I didn’t read about the African fabric – so interesting.
    I’ve bought some fabrics but still lack inspiration, within my limitations. I’m in London at the start of Dec, so might find some suitable additions.

  8. Joyce

    Hello Anne….. I haven’t been around computer land for a while…my hard drive died…..working from tablet with temporary keyboard and I am lost without my normal equipment.
    You are,as usual, ambitious and I have just loved reading your blog again and catching up.
    I haven’t been sewing as too much calligraphy on hand but I was just handling my last purchase from The Cloth Spot today and wishing I had time to see.
    In my humble opinion the shoulder of your jacket is wide…. it’s the only part I feel I can comment on … wishes for a good outcome and hope you will use stunning lining to wow your friends.
    Great to read you again.

    • Anne

      Hi Joyce
      I’ve just seen this – it’s on Fabrikated’s blog rather than mine (were you aware?). I’d missed you. Thanks for commenting. Be a gem and hop over to my blog to comment there!
      Hope you have more time soon. Best wishes

  9. Siobhan

    Oh man, I can’t tell you how much I love the idea of a wardrobe inspired by Penguin classic books! I love the colour, the boldness, and of course the stories themselves 🙂 Sounds like a really good plan for SWAP IMO.

  10. Brenda Marks

    What a fun piece to read! One line stood out to inform and remind me, too: keep a consistent silhouette. That tip is golden.

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