Colour Capsules: Some Questions

Angie's and Bijou's and Opaline’s recent posts on building colour capsules have reinvigorated my desire to do the same. It is easy for me to dress in neutrals. I pick up items in blue and grey (and white) almost effortlessly (collections are visible in the links) and they always work easily for me.

But colour makes my heart sing. 

A few years ago I started building a red capsule. Red is my happy colour. I like all shades, from true and fire engine red through burgundy, although burgundy works better for me in accessories than in clothing. At any rate, I find most reds blend well together. This capsule includes patterned items that will "pick up" red in other pieces. 

The red capsule is coming along quite well, with a mix of tops, footwear, scarves, and bags. I do lack bottoms in red. I have something on order to try, although I must admit I'm doubtful. My last pair of red pants languished almost unworn. So we'll see. I might do better with a patterned bottom that incorporates red. In the meantime, I do have enough items here to use them in an easy "pop of colour" way with my mostly blue or grey outfits, and can also see what I need to add. I recently retired a few tops -- a plaid red shirt and a red sweater. A new red pullover and/or a shirt/ blouse in red or a pattern incorporating red would be useful. 


I would also like to build a few more capsules and those are slower to take shape. I'd like a fuchsia/ pink/ berry capsule; a purple/ lilac capsule; and a mustard capsule. In the links, you can see what I've got so far for each. 

Mustard is just beginning and will be confined mostly to accessories and patterned items that include a mustard tone. 

That's because mustard is one of my least flattering colours! But I happen to adore it. And it works great with blue and grey. This year, I am open to a scarf or a top with a mustard pattern, or a pair of mustard pants. Suggestions welcome! :) 

Purple, as several people have mentioned, is a super-flattering colour for me. It also reminds me of my mother, who wore it with the best. Bonus: it works with mustard. So I'd like to build a better capsule here. What items should I look for to round things out a bit and make it wearable? 

Ditto for the fuchsia/ pinks capsule. I seem to blend these pinks and berries quite easily (as with reds) and I can in fact put a few different outfits together with these items, but it still feels as if it is lacking a backbone (if that makes sense). 

Thanks for your thoughts! 

ETA: Items currently on order that might add to the picture....

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31 Comments

  • lisa p replied 2 weeks ago

    https://www.aritzia.com/en/pro.....color=8326

    The above scarf is quite a lovely combo of grey and mustard ,and looks more grey than mustard in real life.  How do I know this?  I just bought it :)  I am planning on wearing it against black and grey, and bet it will work really well with your navies and even reds. 

    There are a ton of sweater coats on the market right now - lots of plaids and prints as well as solids, and you could wear one to tie some of your color capsules together if you found one in the right mix of colours. I have one in mustard, rust , red and white for example that works for my capsules....

    How about a beret in red or purple?  

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    Great suggestions, Lisa! I am going to hit Aritzia next week, I think, and do a big search. I did have one of their scarves on my radar but not this one, which looks even prettier. I love the idea of a plaid sweater coat, too! Maybe it could combine purples, mustard, red! :) 

    ETA -- I think maybe key to making a few new capsules work is to find a piece or two that blends several of the key colours with at least one of one's core neutrals. Hmmm. Thinking cap duly on. 

  • FashIntern replied 2 weeks ago

    I'm new to this, so want to hear what you and others think, but it seems to me that your reds capsule is much more 'mix and match' than the others are. Yes, each of the pieces in the other capsules can be described by the color name of the capsule (and yes, that lovely tulips sweater fits everywhere!) but I don't see a central idea of what the color is. I don't mean that everything should be the same shade, but it is hard to find two items in your reds capsule that couldn't be worn together. With the fuchsia/pink capsule, that's not the case. Not having one central shade that everything else relates to would make it difficult to add a jolt of x to an outfit.

  • SarahD8 replied 2 weeks ago

    Super interesting, Suz, and great visuals. Thanks for starting this discussion, I'm learning a lot about my own process/closet by puzzling through your questions about yours.

    You are SO right about purple and mustard working well together. What about a patterned piece that incorporates both colors? I think that in addition to color + neutral prints, it can be really useful to have color + color prints. That might be especially helpful in the case of colors that you plan to use as a minor "pop" like mustard -- facilitates adding a mustard accessory (shoes/bag) in a way that feels coherent/intentional.

    The other thing I notice is that you have quite a few pieces that show up in both your purples capsule and your fuchsia capsule. Is it possible that these two capsules are really one bigger one? Maybe not. But maybe it would also be good to think a bit about where you would like to draw the boundaries between these two capsules. Like, just as an exercise, if you had to put each garment in only one category, where would you place it? That might spur some insights into how you want to use purples vs. pinks in outfits. 

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    Sarah, that's an interesting thought! You're right that I have in fact been using the pinks/ plums/ purples almost as one big category. But purple is vastly underrepresented and I'd like to beef it up into its own little capsule. Just a small one. 

    At least I think I do.  (LOL)

    Off to experiment a bit in Finds and with some online Find collection! 

    Fashintern, you're absolutely right -- the reds capsule is much more mix-n-match. Largely because I have a lot more pieces so it is easier to see ways of combining them. 

    The other capsules are so small, so nascent. And things don't necessarily "go" with each other; they "go" with other items in my closet.

    I wonder what the best way to anchor a capsule is. Angie did some posts on complements a while back. I should revisit those. The bag/ footwear/ scarf complement is the easiest way, maybe, to start building a capsule. So I'm beginning that with the mustard and now need the scarf element. 

    Thing is, I don't want purple footwear....so that's out. I could easily wear fuchsia or berry footwear, but probably wouldn't, in winter. So I need to find another anchor besides footwear for those. 

  • JAileen replied 2 weeks ago

    I did the same with mustard, mostly to better use a vintage Coach bag I’d had for several years. And it just happened at a time when mustard was having a moment. Anyway, I added shoes and scarves. I bought several vintage scarves on Etsy. Mustard was popular 40 or 50 years ago. I wear the mustard with blue and grey.

    I have another capsule - pink. And lots of it. I bought sweaters, jeans, mules, sandals, sneakers, scarves, a coat, a jacket, a hat, and a bag.

  • Katerina replied 2 weeks ago

    The mustard bag is gorgeous!

    I love your capsules, I think both the purple and fuchsia capsules are great. A good addition might be more scarves in purple colors and colors combinations. Gloves are good too to add an extra color element. Statement jewelry - like large necklaces, earrings, bracelets and brooches also work well beside the traditional scarf - shoes - bag - belt complements. You wear large earrings so well, how about a pair of violet large earrings?

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 weeks ago

    I think a pair of mustard or butterscotch pants would be super versatile based on what you have in your closet. I find bottoms are the easiest way to incorporate earth tones so that I don't have a big block of it near my face and can still bookend my hair using darker footwear (or, in your case white/silver/other cool-toned footwear). You have so many lovely denim-y, chambray, blue/grey tops that would look GREAT with mustard pants (or rust/cinnamon, which might be a good alternative to bright red pants for you? I feel self-conscious in red pants, but like rust ones just fine). 

    And I agree with you that red is about the easiest accent colour there is. It goes with nearly everything and all the tonal complements (blush, burgundy, etc) are easy and pleasing. 

  • SarahD8 replied 2 weeks ago

    What if a more general complement formula were something like:

    • 3 pieces
    • At least one piece that goes on the top half and one that goes on the bottom half

    So, Angie's classic bag/scarf/footwear formula would be one example of that.

    But for me who isn't really interested in bags it might be cardigan/scarf/footwear.

    And for purple where you don't really want to wear shoes that color, it could be skirt/bag/scarf. (or even tights/hosiery for the bottom-half piece.)

    ???

    ETA: Maybe there's also some need to balance items you put on/take off vs. those that you don't. Like if your complement were shoes/bag/scarf and you didn't wear shoes at home, the complement wouldn't be very functional if you're at home. Maybe this is somewhat specific to my work-from-home lifestyle but could bear thinking about. Even if you are out and about, if you take off your bag and scarf when you get to the office for example, you need something to tie the shoes into your outfit...

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    Sarah, right -- that makes sense. It's having the colour in more than one place on the body that makes it cohesive. 

    Angie also plays with belts this way. But it can be difficult to find belts in purple or fuchsia etc. Not impossible. It's just that you'd need to look for a while to locate the ones you wanted. 

    LaPed, I suspect you are right. The mustard or butterscotch or even cognac pants would work really easily into the closet. Not as confident about pure red. But we shall see! I'm going to experiment with an inexpensive pair of warm coloured pants or jeans and see how it works out. 

    Katerina -- love the idea of some purple/ lilac earrings! I have a big fuchsia pair that don't get much wear already -- must rectify that! I also agree about scarves. And gloves! What a clever addition!

  • rachylou replied 2 weeks ago

    Into my head pops the idea of a shirt with a mustard and blue print...

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    And I used to own such a shirt!!! But no more, alas it was that fun H&M that Janet and Lisa P also had....

    JAileen, your mustard bag is the ancestor of mine! I’ll bet it works with your olives, too.

  • Opaline replied 2 weeks ago

    Suz, do you ever do mint?

    I really love it with mustard too & forgot to mention that.
    I do mustard with a lot of colors I responded about on my thread.

    I love lilac and mustard too or mustard and fuchsia.

    I might focus on accessories and toppers. On knits with a pattern.

    That scarf Lisa posted is pretty. I rarely use grey but mustard loves it.

    In my car but can respond more thoughtfully later.

    I love your capsule colors.

  • lisa p replied 2 weeks ago

    Funny about that H&M blouse from a few years ago - I don’t have it either , and Infact didn’t wear often . I bet I would now . And - I think LaPed has a great idea in a mustard or butterscotch pant . I saw some great mustard jeans the other day that would look great on you . Basic wholesale indie store brand -

  • nemosmom replied 2 weeks ago


  • Angie replied 2 weeks ago

    Suz, I think that if you wear mustard on the bottom - PANTS/ jeans - WITH dark blue and silver grey on top - you're good to go. Get a mustard/grey and navy scarf. I saw this navy window pane scarf at Madewell today and thought of you and your NAS bag! 

  • Angie replied 2 weeks ago

    My outfit today to work with a client:

    • Column of mustard! Shirt + pants. Tucked top. 
    • Navy polka dot blazer 
    • Red boots 
    • Cream bag
    • Pearls & red specs 
    Came home to do errands and walk Sam - all on foot. Changed my shoes to the mustard hi-tops and wore a warmer jacket - the new NAS plaid :)

    Sooooo, my point is that if you are prepared to wear mustard and ketchup like me - it's a good idea to build your capsules around the colour theme. More versatility. 

  • lisa p replied 2 weeks ago

    I’m really liking the idea of mustard and navy . I haven’t worn any navy anything this season yet - feeling kind of uninspired by it . But this scarf really piqued my interest - and I’m thinking navy and mustard could be my new thing too .

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    Mustard and ketchup, ha ha -- LOVE it! 

    I'm totally prepared to mix mustard and red, yes. Also mustard and fuchsia or berry. Along with blue and grey. 

    So it's probably just a question of patience until the right pieces jump into my lap. That Madewell scarf looks perfect, Angie -- thank you! A lot of plaids do include both mustard and red so that is another way to go -- a shirt that is predominantly red and white plaid, with a mustard line. 

    Angie, that outfit sounds sooooo pretty! I'd have to do a version with less mustard...but I could do something similar with more "ketchup" (or berry) and mustard accents, and blue. Thinking cap duly on. 

    LisaP, I *did* wear that top a lot -- so much I tired of it, alas. It was so flattering to me when my hair was blonde. A bit less so when my hair became grey. But I still have a scarf in that pattern. Won't have access to it until November when I get the rest of my stuff from Ontario, though. I know I'll enjoy it once I get it back! 

    Opaline, I don't wear mint, no...most pastels wash me out too much. Though I find it very pretty! And I will wear a sagey/olivey green. 

  • Sal replied 2 weeks ago

    No special advice as I am not great at this. I have a navy and caramel capsule and that is about it..... maybe white?

    I think since mustard is trending you will find this easier than purple which can be hard to find aside from knitwear and scarves.

    You have done great jackets in your fuschia collection and the orchid print is great.

  • Mainelady replied 2 weeks ago

    Suz, your neutral and red color capsules give you so many options. You have done your homework here. You have many pieces I would happily add to my closet, but those red plaid boots.....oh my! I think I need a pair!
    I think mustard will be a great addition to your wardrobe and agree that accessories, patterns and wearing mustard on the bottom will be good choices.
    I think red pants could be a workhorse for you. The fit, of course, will be important, but I think the shade you choose will be the ultimate reason the red pants get worn. I can see red pants combined with your silver tops and Snow Queen jacket and from my corner of the world the look stunning!

  • Janet replied 2 weeks ago

    No advice from me either, as I don’t really think too much about color capsules, but then I am not terribly adventurous with color (almost too predictable, but I’ve learned the hard way not to get too caught up in color trends when the actual colors don’t suit me).

    I love the idea of a mustard with shades of blue palette for you. And I could see deeper purples being really attractive with mustard too. Sounds like you’re on the way!

    I still have the H&M top — actually tops. I liked that print so much I bought the short sleeve tee and the long sleeve popover. I took the short sleeve one to the ranch but somehow it doesn’t fit as well as it used to. The popover is in the donation review box. Somehow the long tunic-y shape is not what I seem to be wearing anymore, but I thought I’d give it another fall/winter season to see if I reach for it for layering. The print really is brilliant. I can’t find anything current that I like as well. I even wondered if it would be worth having it shortened and taken in a bit at the sides to make the silhouette easier for me to work with.

  • Marilyn replied 2 weeks ago

    Suz......J Crew's Stewart Plaid shirt contains red, mustard, and blue.  I got one a couple years ago and it goes with a lot of colours.  My find is old so I'm including the new link.  Looks like they tinkered with the fit and renamed it.

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    Marilyn, thank you. This might be the year I break down and get that J. Crew shirt. I've debated quite a few times! 

    Janet, I hear you on the dearth of options for those of us who are cooler complected. I'm happy for those who have been waiting AGES for their earth tones but wish there were a few more options. 

    Mainelady, that's a great observation. The exact shade of red I had last time was too orange and also the style wasn't one I really loved. So we'll see. I hope! BR actually sent me the WRONG pants so I need to wait on the ones I really want! 

    Sal, I predict you are absolutely right. I'll find mustard bits (though maybe not in patterns I like...) but purple may have to wait. That's okay. I could focus on mustard and fuchsia this year, or maybe just mustard, and improving the red. And worry about the other capsules another year. 

  • Sheryl replied 2 weeks ago

    Suz, you may want to try these pants, if they aren't too casual for you.  They are really soft and comfortable.  The red may work for you, too. There are different lengths available, and they are $32 today on the Canadian website. 

  • Suz replied 2 weeks ago

    Sheryl - thank you! Great price! I'll check them out!

  • JP replied 2 weeks ago

    Suz, you have a fabulous wardrobe.  I 'think' not so sure, that what you mean by lacking a backbone could be a couple of patterned jackets with some color that coordinate/match the capsule items you have.  I tried to put together some outfits from your Wardrobe items and each time I was missing a jacket. I'm new to the Collections section, so I wasn't sure that the items in your capsules belong to your wardrobe or just Finds? I am going to play around in that section, l think i will have some fun :)
    I'll share with you how I start creating a capsule & I hope it will be useful.  I use nature as my inspiration, for example Google Earth has gorgeous views from all over the world.  I pick one with the main color that I am interested in - for example teal green last year (pic #1) I loved that color combination so then I incorporated the cream & camel/gold as a capsule and start looking for the pieces (I think of it as a Designer collection) bottoms, tops, jacket, dress, & coat, mixing solids & patterns (pic #2) I make sure the coat works with almost everything, same with the jacket.  Then I add the accessories.  If I cannot find an item in the color or style that I need (or it's at a price range that's not in my budget) then I plan on making it if I find the right fabric (made to measure or custom made for anyone who doesn't sew). 

  • smittie replied 2 weeks ago

    How about a lilac Fitbit or iWatch?

  • shevia replied 2 weeks ago

    Well my way of forming color capsules is to take an interest in a color and then wait for it to show up, not efficient but adds to the game challenge at the thrift store ;) . 

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 weeks ago

    Ooh, Stewart plaid is a really good idea! Would give those mustard chucks a subtle tie-in, and the platform sneakers would help de-preppify the plaid. :)

  • Angie replied 2 weeks ago

    For completeness sake, I HAVE this shirt too. It's four years old...

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