The Joys of a Focused Color Palette

The past two days have seen two major projects come to a close both in my freelance design work and at my regular job.

Yesterday I got final approval on the show art I designed for an Atlanta performing arts organization's upcoming season of work. Today I sent final art files and invoice, which is such a relief. 

At the theater I work at, we finally announced our upcoming 2018/19 season, so now the art is out and in the world and we all move on into the next phase of the campaign. As the person responsible for the creation of all the show art images that we use throughout the season, this is another relief to be through with.

Working at a theater is fun but can be taxing, even in administration — half the year it feels like we spend running at least two seasons instead of just one as we finish up the current season and announce the next. One of the fun perks though is the annual costume shop sale. Every year the costume shop does some of their own Marie-Kondo-ing and invites the public to take things off their hands. Old costumes, hats, shoes, wigs, gloves. A mix of some vintage, some handmade, some storebought.

It was at one of the costume shop sales a few years ago that I purchased this cotton maxi wrap dress. The tag sewn inside says it was for Eunice during Act I, Scene 3 of A Streetcar Named Desire, production year unknown. I was attracted immediately to the bold but understated floral pattern, a design in rich wine color with colonial blue on an oatmeal background. Originally, the dress featured two big puffed-shoulder short sleeves, which I promptly chopped off. I altered the waist in somewhat of a haste in order the get the thing to fit in time for an event I wanted to wear it to (Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes tour at Aaron's Amphitheatre, 2014, if you have to know) so it's never really gotten it's due. Still, it has the perfect combination of vintage feel, unique personality, and oodles of potential.

What do you think, fit for a 1947 landlady?

What do you think, fit for a 1947 landlady?

It's a fabulous dress but I don't wear it because of its tendency to flap open in the slightest breeze. The downfall of every wrap dress (and why it's the only one I own). I need to reconstruct the bodice further to get it to fit how it needs to, and I have also decided to add some more fabric inside the bottom wrap panel in order to prevent unwanted flapping. Currently, I'm weighing whether it should be a panel of the same solid flax color or of a contrasting surprise in coordinating red or blue.

I'm reminded of this dress in particular right now because of my string of burgundy outfits last week. I felt really good about all of them! A big goal of starting this blog was to build up a portfolio of my daily outfits so that I'd be able to step back and start recognizing patterns in how I dress. What I'm finding amazing as well as I go along documenting what I'm wearing each day is that I have a number of beautiful garments that have been in my closet for years but that still fit the style goals and focused color palette I am working toward.

Like this dress. It's exactly something that I'm attracted to today, but instead of having the newest thing from the latest designer, I have the gift of this rich, historical thing that's already in my closet, ready to serve me well if only I give it a little attention. The red of the flowers and the hazy neutral of the background color fit perfectly within my wardrobe parameters today. It reminds me of something from Christy Dawn or Caron Callahan, both of whom I always drool over but stop myself from buying because how many filmy floral summer dresses does a girl like me really need?

In my closet, this dress peeks out from the folds of other garments, complimenting quietly the other items it hangs among. Since the beginning of my effort to streamline the color palette, my wardrobe has become more functional and satisfying. Seeing that visual reminder of the role burgundy plays in my wardrobe now has inspired me to make the necessary alterations to this dress so it can be worn with joy as well.

Garment among garments.

Garment among garments.

So let's hear it for small successes! I feel emboldened in my resolve to be more intentional with what I bring to my wardrobe so that I can continue to feel confident in dressing each day. For me, a focused color palette helps me achieve this goal.

In many ways, I feel like I've simply formalized the policies around my wardrobe instead of outright inventing them. My color palette — black, gray, camel, beige, blush, burgundy, navy blue — was already there in my closet before I decided that's what it would be. Mostly I've just weeded out the things that didn't fit.

Do you document or otherwise note what you wear each day? If so, what discoveries have you made in the process? Have you found that your ideal wardrobe already encompasses a lot of what you are currently wearing, or is it something more aspirational?