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Does Color Matter In Your Wardrobe

There’s been a lot of talk about personal color theory on this blog over the last few years. It’s a subject that has always fascinated me, now more than ever. If we look at my wardrobe through the “way back machine” we would see that I wore no black until my late 30’s. And once, I did, I was all in. I wore head-to-toe black most days for many years and embraced it with joy. So why the interest now? Why does color matter in your wardrobe?

Here are a few images of me through the years on this blog-

Hanging onto the Grand Canyon south rim

NOVEMBER 2014, a column of black with a denim jacket and olive fedora

 

Marie Hell: The Perfect Little Black Dress

SEPTEMBER 2015,  black dress, black belt, black hat, and black shoes

 

JANUARY 2016 – black and white top, black pants, black boots, and black handbag

 

JANUARY 2017 – black coat, black sweater, black shoes, white pants, black and tan zebra print bag

 

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled life wearing lantern pants

FEBRUARY 2018 – black top, black wide-legged pants, black sandals, white denim jacket

 

Jennifer of A Well Styled Life wearing pink pants with black jacket

JANUARY 2018 – black jacket, black sunglasses, black shoes, black handbag, and surprise…pink pants

 

white sweater over black top and pants with leopard flats

FEBRUARY 2020, black tank top, black pants, black sunglasses, white cardigan, and leopard shoes

 

jennifer connolly of a well styled life wearing black and white houndtooth pants with black sweater and red handbag

JANUARY 2021 – black sweater, black and white pants, black shows, burgundy handbag…the only red item I wear

WOW, there’s a lot of sameness here, plus I still own most of these clothes and accessories!

The older I’ve gotten, the more color I’ve added to my wardrobe. This whole nightmarish lockdown we’ve endured is in no small part responsible. I love black for all the obvious reasons and expect to always wear it because I always feel put together wearing it. But now, color is critical in my wardrobe because of how it makes me feel.

I have experimented with more color over the last 15 months than I did as a little girl when my mom sewed my entire, colorful wardrobe. I wore patterns with abandon and every color under the sun. I have fond memories of a pantsuit my mom made me covered in bright florals of red and orange that I wore until it no longer fit.

It makes me wonder what role “professional color analysis” has played in narrowing or broadening my choices and my joy wearing color.

Today, the Over 50 Fashion Team will be LIVE on Instagram, talking about color and how important it is or isn’t in our wardrobes. I hope you’ll join us here.

How important is color in your wardrobe?

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

59 Comments

  1. Sharon
    July 25, 2021 / 6:28 pm

    While I also love black and it has been a staple in my wardrobe, I now find myself going for more color. In the last year, I stopped coloring my hair. I now have white hair, which I really love. But, I like some brighter colors now. I think they complement my white hair.

  2. Nancy
    July 9, 2021 / 7:43 pm

    I love and must have and wear color in my wardrobe, but there’s nothing like a classic black…and white. I go back and forth with wearing black. Sometimes I think it looks good and other times not. It may just be the piece of clothing in some cases. But I don’t think it does anything for my complexion. I’m apparently “a spring” which lends itself to color, and I love most of the summer palette. So, I say wear what you want, as you say because of the way it makes you feel!

  3. suzanstew
    July 9, 2021 / 5:27 pm

    I look at my clothing trajectory sometimes. Early in my career I wore lots of suits – first jackets with bows, then man-tailored suits usually in grey or navy. I still shudder to think about the hot pink business suit I wore in 1990. Eventually this changed to black skirts with a more colorful jacket and then black pants with a colorful jacket. And then business casual became the norm and it was black pants and a sweater. If you needed a suit, everyone had a black gabardine somewhere in the wardrobe. Kind of after this, the business casual wardrobe became black. All black or black with grey. Or a black and white or leopard print or a stripe somewhere and the rest black. That went on for a long time. At some point bright jeans and pants – red, royal blue, etc. became OK to wear with your sweater set. I hadn’t thought about how much black I wore until I saw this post. Perhaps it is coming out of the post- pandemic doldrums, but there seems to be a lot less black out there than in the past. That is a good trend.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 6:56 pm

      I remember those gabardine suits! I agree, this pandemic has changed the way many of us think of, and want color in our homes and wardrobes.

    • Maeve
      July 12, 2021 / 5:15 pm

      Yes, I hear you! I have found though, that wearing black differs by industry. I am in banking and payments, and the ‘uniform’ for an investment bank in NYC is black suit, Times have changed though, and senior level women execs can embrace color (often red) because they have earned it.
      I also agree that the post-pandemic (we hope!) wardrobe will have more color to it.
      b

  4. Kay
    July 9, 2021 / 5:08 pm

    Everyone knows my opinions on “experts” telling me if I look good or not. (And to each her own, of course.) I wonder if anyone has had the experience of being told they should wear some color they hate? I (for reasons unknown) loathe purple. No consultant could convince me to wear it. What do you do when you don’t like the pallet the consultant says you should wear?

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 6:54 pm

      I have been told certain colors are great on me, but I refuse to wear them because I actively dislike them and disagree with their interpretation of what flatters me.

  5. Suzy
    July 9, 2021 / 4:13 pm

    So while I know I’m going to be in the minority here, whenever I see someone who consistently wears black predominately as their wardrobe choice I tend to see it as a reflection if their personality. I know I shouldn’t “assume” anything but I get the impression of them being dark, or depressed, or unimaginative, boring, not confident or insecure. … as if black makes them invisible. I especially find it amusing when people think they can just add a scarf ir splash of color to spiff it up. Nope. Yo my eye it’s still all black with an attempt of color. I was at the InternationalGift Market filled with professionals and it was a sea of black clothing. I swear I was the only one in my sight wearing all color. Again, I know the rest of the world embraces the all black vibe as easy as classic. I’m the odd girl out.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 6:52 pm

      When I used to go to the garment “market” to buy clothes for the boutiques I managed, everyone was in black! It is also location-based. I see more people in black in NY than Florida

    • Keryn
      July 11, 2021 / 12:08 am

      Totally agree Suzy. To me black says unimaginative or insecure, or don’t know how to co ordinate an outfit so let’s play it safe with black. Especially unsuitable for people with fair skin and hair I feel as you tend to notice the outfit, but the person disappears. If you wouldn’t dye your hair black cos it washes you out then you shouldn’t wear it near your face

  6. Eve
    July 9, 2021 / 2:18 pm

    I look to nature for color inspiration, . If you live near the coast, the sand, sea, shells, rocks are beautiful. Our eyes tire of bright color quickly. But the softer colors in nature fit everyone. Having said that, nothing lifts the spirits like a occasional splash of color like cardinal red or a pretty bright blue bird. I love wisteria or lilac too. But i need my neutral base. It keeps me grounded.

  7. Ellen
    July 9, 2021 / 1:44 pm

    Color palette has helped me quite a bit! My mom adored black & white, a combo I always liked, but never looked or felt great wearing? When I realized I was a Spring, it was eye-opening for me. I still embraced black mainly because it was easy AND I was young and could pull it off better LOL, but lately want more color. Wearing clear spring colors makes me happy. New tee shirts = instant mood lift!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 6:50 pm

      New tees are a great pick-me-up that I love!

  8. Sharon
    July 9, 2021 / 12:56 pm

    You might be surprised how much the environment you live in also affects the colors you choose for clothing. Here in Florida bright colors are everywhere. Although crisp black and white works, drab neutrals and black-based outfits tend to look out of place. (In addition to being too hot!) When I visit family in Colorado, I see mostly earthy colors and I often feel like my own clothing is just too bright.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 1:22 pm

      Greta point. I wear less black now that we live in a hotter climate because it’s physically uncomfortable.

  9. Eileen
    July 9, 2021 / 12:42 pm

    P.S. This week, I liked the camel wrap top , and the green fitted cardigan, the colors looked good and the fit was great, 👍

  10. Elyse
    July 9, 2021 / 11:24 am

    Jennifer, these outfits are the bomb. They look sophisticated, pulled-together, and flattering. Plus you’re shopping your closet, as one can do with classics. Eco-mama! The earth thanks you.

  11. Marge
    July 9, 2021 / 10:04 am

    Wearing black and white is so chic so one one can go wrong with these colors. The Arizona photos are great . I lived in Arizona for twenty-six years and love the designer ” Alfredo’s Wife ” in the Cottonwood area. Check out the designs on your IPad . 🌵

  12. Dianne
    July 9, 2021 / 9:34 am

    I cannot wear black like used to, at least not near my face. Aging has changed my hair color from dark brown to salt and pepper, more salt 😉 and my skin tone seems to have become washed out. So now I am wearing many more bright colors, jewel tones and other brights. Look good on me and the colors make me happy when I wear them. Isn’t that what it is all about after all.

  13. Lin
    July 9, 2021 / 8:33 am

    When I was younger, I had more color to my closet.
    I have some color now, but gravitate to black, beige and army green. I do not pay much attention to pallet testing but more to what makes me look alive. I do like the Autumn colors. Oh! Yes, love my black and white or off white and navy.

  14. Lauren
    July 9, 2021 / 7:52 am

    Ok I am finally going to comment…..have refrained so far because this whole have your colours typed and stick to a strict pallet is not my thing for many reasons. I will say that when people flounder over what looks good on them having the colour system guidelines is helpful.
    Now for some background on me: I are up with a Mom that was a Fibre Artist so surrounded by colour/line/form my whole life. There was always a project or 5 in process and I would shop with her while she bought half a yard of 6 different reds to get the perfect one to add to her embroidery/stitchery project. With this going on around me it is no surprise that I got into spinning/weaving/dyeing.
    Now back to what this has to do with wearing colours. Let me start with the fibres and the dyes….each fibre takes dye differently so the same dye can look very different on polyester than it does on silk. This is not taken into account with any of the colour analysis systems that I have seen. The dyes themselves are also not as they seem…..most of the industry skews their dyes for what is often called a “Winter” pallet so even a colour that at first glance looks like it might be “Spring” or “Autumn” seems off somehow because the dye has more black, red, etc. added to work for the “Winters” (there are more of them in the world). So someone who struggles with colour is left confused and not understanding why the pink they ordered does not look right for their “Summer” swatches…..(it probably has more blue in it so it is “off”). If a person struggles with seeing colour for what it truly is then choosing natural fibres are better…..they take on a more accurate dye colour than the man made fibres. Online pictures and store lighting just add to the confusion…..most stores will not let you take an item outside and look at in daylight so you might have to buy it and take it home to evaluate…..helps to have a friend who is good with colour look at the item up next to your face in daylight (but not direct sun) and tell you what it does to your skin tone.
    I wish that the people who do these colour type systems were more able to tweek the colours for their client. I can “cheat” on most greens but if I went to a colour analysis person they would most certainly not consider this as a part of the consult. A colour analysis is a good place to start but please know that there are many other factors that influence what colours you wear best (I only described a very few here). Don’t give up just keep trying to find what you look good in!
    I could go on for hours about this but I have probably already bored most of you 🙂

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:14 am

      Thank you for weighing in. This brings up something I feel passionate about. I believe effective color systems need to be personalized. You can’t slot women into 4,8,12, or even 16 pallets. We are unique!

      • Sharon
        July 9, 2021 / 10:54 am

        Just as standard-size clothing may “fit,” it most often requires alterations to fit properly or “perfectly.” We are all unique. There is no color system that can accommodate everyone without some personal adjustments.

      • Jennifer
        Author
        July 9, 2021 / 1:19 pm

        I totally agree which is why I am a fan of personalized color analysis.

    • Eileen
      July 9, 2021 / 12:38 pm

      Not boring to me, I’m a weaver/ fiber artist, dyed yarn, and took art classes. The color consultant I saw did mention “matte” for myself, that would lend itself to natural fibers like cotton , linen, wool, and a dull silk ( not shiny). Metals brushed or matte ( not shiny)suede shoes ( not shiny) even makeup was matte. I agree manufactures skew towards winter pallet, and I agree that there many be more winters in the world.

    • Anon
      July 10, 2021 / 8:48 am

      This explains a lot. As a “spring”, I can go for years without finding suitable clothing colors. Some of those discount chains skew all their colors towards drab, greyed-down colors that don’t work for people who need clear colors, so I don’t even bother shopping there. Online shopping often proves disappointing, when colors that were enhanced on websites turn out to be drab and faded.

      I shop a lot in years when the colors are good, then take care of these items in case my colors don’t come around again for a while. I think this is why I favor natural fibres too. The colors are more “true”.

  15. Judy
    July 9, 2021 / 7:47 am

    I bought a pair of cobalt blue skimmers and was about to return them as I thought they were too bright. In the end, I kept them and have received many comments. I am now wearing brighter colors and I feel more energetic when I look in the mirror. Grey hair needs color.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:11 am

      Yes!! I’m glad you kept them.

  16. Julie
    July 9, 2021 / 7:47 am

    I loved looking at you in your black photos. Since I have been following you, I have tried more colors and more styles. Your dressing room diaries have inspired me to try different looks. Currently, your Instagram conversations give me new ideas. Aging and shape changing are a continual challenge, along with color and color intensity choices. Thank you for your work!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:11 am

      Thanks for being here, Julie. I’m so glad you’re part of our conversation.

  17. Linda D.
    July 9, 2021 / 7:42 am

    “Professional color analysis” was big in the late 70s, early 80s, then it went by the wayside because the fashion industry determines the colours and styles we will wear. This year is the year of the spring/autumns ( which it hasn’t been for many years) so now colour analysis has become popular again and as you found when you used the four companies those are the pallette colours being pushed so we feel we need to revamp our wardrobes. They don’t know any more than you do by looking in a mirror. Even my 9 year old granddaughter knows instinctively which colours look best on her and leaves those that don’t in her drawers. Trust me, I’ve bought some of those in the drawer, LOL. Wear what you feel best in and leave the ‘colours of the season’ in the stores if you have clothes at home you like better. This is especially true during the upcoming summer sales.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:10 am

      I agree!

  18. Sheryl
    July 9, 2021 / 7:31 am

    Although black is becoming on you, I feel color is so brightening. To me it lifts my spirits. We all wear different colors for our coloring, which makes for our differences.
    Do what makes you feel good!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:08 am

      Agreed! If we wear what makes us feel good it will also make us feel confident and that’s the best thing you can wear.

  19. Paulette Levy
    July 9, 2021 / 6:27 am

    I notice that in sone of the you in black photos there a bit of white that you’ve floated in as contrast and second in some photos you’ve got a lower neckline that shows sone skin so that all e is not right next to your face.
    I think that you are one of the women who can wear both black and a variety of colors equally well.
    Over the last few months you’ve worn a lighter blue quite beautifully as well as paler pink – very flattering!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:07 am

      Very observant! Having the back further from my face does help.

  20. MRSBEN2
    July 9, 2021 / 6:20 am

    For myself my wardrobe is broken down into two categories; Fall and Winter / Spring and Summer. The former consisting of more neutrals with texture for added interest and color injecting with accessories. Whereas for Spring and Summer due fabric type limitations, color and pattern play a major role in the garment itself. That said though; black is still my choice of neutral for both. i.e.: There is much to be said about ‘the little black dress’ or even ‘a sweatshirt’ … ☺. As to what makes me feel good,; it is about the design including its details as well as fit and quality plus avoiding color palettes that I know basically just don’t work for me. i.e.: Mustard yellow …. eeks! -Brenda-

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:05 am

      Well said, Brenda!

  21. Eileen
    July 9, 2021 / 6:17 am

    What did Chanel say…” the best color is the one that looks good on you”. After reading books on her life, I now know she designed for herself, her body, her coloring. And I can see that we copied her, so she must have done it well. We may be in a time when more color is popular, like the other generations of earth tone, or basic black. We may be influenced by media images or people, but that’s because something worked well on them. I’m wondering if our thoughts on color and it’s associations, may be outdated? If color OR neutrals actually look good on us, why limit ourselves? Interesting topic…..

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:05 am

      As always, your thoughts are spot on!!

      • Eileen
        July 9, 2021 / 12:29 pm

        P.S. This week, I liked the camel wrap top , and the green fitted cardigan, the colors looked good and the fit was great, 👍

  22. Nancy J
    July 9, 2021 / 6:14 am

    Interesting post, Jennifer. I’m totally opposite you on the color wheel, but I think some things are universal. As we age our contrast levels usually soften. If I were to guess, I would categorize you as a Summer and cool skin tones. I, on the other hand fall in the warm tones of Spring. As my contrast levels have lessened with age, I find the brightest hues of Spring no longer serve me well. I now choose the medium tones in the Spring palette these days. This journey with color changed my life in such a lovely way. I am enjoying your color journey and the introduction of color into your life. The black, and black and white together are dramatic, but can be overwhelming. Love the softness and very complimentary colors you have introduced. I’m noticing you have reduced your contrast levels in your cool palette and it’s very becoming.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:04 am

      Thank you Nancy. I’m also dialing back the coolness because my skin is neutral to cool and icy colors make me look pinker. Colors that are too warm look sallow and ones that are too soft wash me out. It’s a process I’m enjoying

  23. Jan
    July 9, 2021 / 5:54 am

    As much as I embraced black over the years, it’s showing up less and less in my closet these days. Today, my hair and makeup coloring has softened considerably and does not stand up to the hard contrast that black can create. I find it easier to add softer colors to my summer wardrobe. I am so much more comfortable wearing a neutral base and adding my fun, personal touch via accessories.
    I don’t want to be invisible. I am constantly discovering simple ways to stay current and modern without sacrificing my personal comfort level.
    I do have to say that following your blog has opened the door to so many new and fresh ideas!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:02 am

      Staying visible is so important and color is a great tool to get us there.

  24. Rose
    July 9, 2021 / 5:50 am

    I, like you Jennifer always embraced black. I was in real estate and it just looked easy and put together. Since I’ve let my hair go natural I really feel the need for color because I think I look washed out but I still think black looks great with silver hair. I just make sure I have a strong lip color. Really loved all your black outfits ❤️

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 9:00 am

      I have to bump up my makeup when I wear black. Luckily I love makeup so it’s never a problem to do. I enjoy it.

  25. Pamela Over 50 Feeling 40
    July 9, 2021 / 5:41 am

    I have recently discovered how powerful wearing the right colors can be! Black was aging me and making me look puffy and tired. I am thrilled to be on a new style journey embracing color. Yes…it matters!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 8:59 am

      It’s such a powerful tool! You look great.

  26. Leoni
    July 9, 2021 / 5:36 am

    I have always thought of the body as a palette…if one cannot paint, one can adorn! I have always loved color and appreciate all colors but wear what suits my coloring and style (winter and simple styles) but white hair has broadened the possibilities a bit into almost-peaches and soft, neutral, beige pinks. Accessories can add fun and flair to any basic color scheme and I always wear earrings and a scarf or necklace depending on season (too warm in summer for scarves).

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 8:58 am

      Adorn, adorn! One of my favorite things to do:)

  27. Diane B
    July 9, 2021 / 5:24 am

    I had a whole drawer full of black sweaters in some for or another, and now only have one. Really, with black no one really notices the style in most cases. Black seems too harsh for me now, and maybe it is just because I have faded in skin tone and eyes are not as bright as when I was young as well as the ever present graying hair. After the dressing room diaries, where we see you in multiple colours, you really do shine in colour.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 8:56 am

      I love how it makes me feel but I’ll always love neutrals too:)

  28. Pat
    July 9, 2021 / 5:12 am

    Hi!
    Love your site and your fashion taste! I’m having a hard time finding a place that carries fashions like yours. I’m not a shopper so not too familiar with good places to go. Right now I’m in a bad place with my body so some new concealing outfits would be great. I’m on prednisone which has blessed me with a rather large stomach! I’m 5’ 2 1/2 and can comfortably fit into an 18/20. If it’s a good brand it would probably be an 18! Any help would be appreciated! Thankyou

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 1:24 pm

      Check out Talbots! They carry plus petite which may be your answer for right now. Good luck with the prednisone. I know it’s hard on the body.

  29. Yvonne
    July 9, 2021 / 5:07 am

    I started following you in 2015/2016 when you were in your black and dramatic phase, which is exactly my style. I was also still in the workforce then, and loved dressing up for work. I’ve so enjoyed watching your evolution into colour the last year, and it aligns with my journey into more colour and more casual clothes. My style is Dramatic/Classic/Elegant and I’m a Winter, and trying to dress casually has always been a challenge for me.
    There has been so many warm colours in the market this year, that it has been difficult finding some of the cool based colours that I’ve wanted, but my closet now has many versions of royal and cobalt blue in tops, sweaters and scarves. I have a few navy pieces and will start to add more navy and grey in basics. The pantone colours for fall/winter has a blue and pink that are my colours, so I will be on the lookout to add those.
    There are so many Colour Analysis systems out there now and it was interesting to see you typed in 4 different colour groups. I think that each has some merit but each system is also very subjective based on the originator of that system. What one system sees as adding a sallowness to the complexion, another sees as adding warmth. Very confusing.
    I’ve never doubted my best colours as I can see the difference they make and how I feel in those colours and it suits my personality. And if there is a colour from another season that I like, I add it in to an accessory. Wear what you feel good in.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 8:54 am

      I share the classic/elegant style recipe with you and have a very difficult time dressing down too. I’m in total agreement about the systems. One “spring” is very different from another systems “spring” which makes for lots of confusion.

  30. Anne
    July 9, 2021 / 4:06 am

    Earth tones were king in the 70’s and black has been all the rage for the past 20 years. The lockdown has made me crave more color, too and I’m ready for a change. But there will still be days that I still prefer neutrals for their calming and grounding effect.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      July 9, 2021 / 8:50 am

      I do love that about neutrals too, Anne. Color impacts my mood dramatically.

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