Color-Based Capsule Wardrobes

Rachel asked – during a VIRTUAL Style School session – if she could build a capsule wardrobe grouping around a fashion color instead of a traditional neutral.  Of course she can – and so can you.  It may not be quite as versatile, but it still work fabulously.  Here’s an example I shared with the class …

I typically start a grouping with a Core Four – skirt, pant, under-layer top and over-layer top.  But lately I’ve been expanding to a Core Six.  As you’ll see in this exxample,  I included both a dress pant and a casual pair, both a layering top and a stand-alone one.  I’ve labeled the pieces with color names to indicate which ones are exact color matches and which are tonal blends.

Since the crinkle scarf includes many shades in this berry family, I added the softer rose shell and draped cardigan to what I consider the heart of this capsule.  Some pieces are ready-to-wear, others I sewed. (For my sew-it-yourself readers, I’ll list pattern numbers at the end of this post.)

The various wine/berry pieces can make 9 Color Columns.  Mixes with the long-sleeved tee can stand alone; each mix with the cami or the cascade cardigan can host a variety of completer pieces.

Consider the rose twin set as one of those completer items.  With the berry cords, it can work together as a set or split up to layer under the cascade cardigan or over the camisole. The multi-tone scarf can accent any one of thse combos.  And of course those same options exist with the dress pants and with the skirt – 9 new outfits for varying levels of dressy/casual occasions!

A quick check of the closet for print pieces incorporating the berry tones yielded these 2 tops and 2 scarves.  Their color schemes suggest additional solid colors to build out the capsule:  Navy, Chambray Blue and various shades of Gray.

And here’s the complete (for now) capsule.  How many outfits can your make from these pieces?  I’m not even going to count … but it should be plenty to pack for a lovely trip, when those are again “a thing”.

NOTE: As promised, patterns for the items I sewed are:

  • Pamela’s Patterns Magic Pencil Skirt, Pants Perfected, Versatile Twin Set (shell) and Drape Front Cardigan
  • McCall 6513 and 7538n (tops)
  • Vogue 7937 (skirt)
  • Details of those designs at – user name nancynrice.


About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Cassie on January 24, 2021 at 12:58 am

    I loved your Craftsy class, and I have been greatly enjoying your blog! I’m keeping it in mind as I prepare to join Seamwork’s Design Your Wardrobe session next month! I’ve finally come far enough in my journey recovering from an extreme mental health crisis a few years ago to start considering how to help myself feel better through my wardrobe… and of course most of my clothes pre-crisis don’t fit, and focusing on daily function led me to many comfortable-but-not-necessarily-uplifting easy wears in the closet to replace them. Now I find myself getting set to sew pieces to replace and/or supplement them, and your advice has been super helpful.

    I love your advice on color – and daydream about getting a color consultation from you – but of course I hadn’t been back at work very long when COVID eliminated all of my work as a home tutor (even with online tutoring, many of my parents have lost income and can’t afford it, or the students have so much screen time with their classes and classmate small-groups that they simply don’t have time), I don’t have the funds. Do you have any advice for determining your best colors without a color consultation? I know some, of course, that are staples in my wardrobe, such as navy, dark blues, blue-leaning teals and turquoises, and browns, but anything beyond that is beyond me. Anything advice you give would be greatly appreciated!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 24, 2021 at 12:14 pm

      So glad this blog has been helpful for you as you start to rebuild your wardrobe. About color – A few options:
      1. Study the color section in the Looking Good Every Day book to understand how your best colors should align with your own color temperature, value and intensity.
      2. Book a single hour of consulting time for me to review your fabric stash with you and help select a group of fabrics that are particularly flattering before you launch into a big wardrobe re-do. We can do that on ZOOM or via photographs.
      3. We can do a full color consult and break it up into 3 equal payments if that helps.

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