Or would you find it dull?

Would Your Life Be Easier with a One Color, Simple Wardrobe?

TDS Reader Contributors

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A Simple Wardrobe

Almost a year ago, I made a change to my wardrobe that yielded unexpected benefits. I began wearing only black clothing. I'd read an interview with a celebrity who said that she had begun doing that very thing to simplify her life. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. With my husband's blessing, I stored every "non-black" piece of clothing I owned (in case I changed my mind) and began wearing only black. I had several long sleeved and short sleeved shirts, two skirts and several pairs of slacks and jeans. Not only did it free up time getting ready for work, but also it took my focus off "fashion" (I was never very fashion-conscious to begin with) and onto more important matters. I shop at thrift stores anyway and it has become a fun challenge to see if I can find an item to supplement my wardrobe. If I begin to have too many items, I simplify again. My motto now is "less is more." I have gained time, money, space, fun and peace of mind with my simple wardrobe.
Jari S. in Mason City, Iowa

editor's note: While we endorse the idea of a simple wardrobe, black is a little somber for our taste. How about a closet full of clothing in brown tones? Or blues? Comments anyone?

Would Not Be a Pick-Me-Up

Oh how I agree that one-tone clothing makes for a simple wardrobe more than mixing and matching several colors. However, I feel I'd be very bored with one color. It might be helpful to have colorful accessories. If the one-color wardrobe works for that particular person, that is wonderful. Even though I am not a fashionista, I am in a much better mood when I have an outfit that I look forward to putting on in the morning. Somehow I don't think, for me, the daily monochromatic wardrobe would be a pick-me-up. It would seem synonymous to a "cloudy day."

Stick with a Theme

How depressing! We all need color in our lives. She would be better off to stick with a theme of colors. I stick to fall colors and then everything in my wardrobe matches, but I still have the convenience of a simple wardrobe.

What Do the Designers Wear?

Check out what clothing designers wear. It's always black and simple. I find it amusing they don't follow their own trends.

Do You Want to Blend In or Stand Out?

It's a good idea to limit colors so everything goes together. Black's a tough color unless you dry clean a lot. Washing tends to "gray out" the black.

Black polyester (my opinion) tends to look cheap and limp pretty quick, while all wool or linen hold up better. An all black outfit drains the color from one's face, making you look like a shop girl in a fancy store, after a night of partying. I like the monochromatic idea for summer in ivory and white tones. If all black makes you happy and your life easier, go for it!

The main problem is if you live in a city like Manhattan where the rest of the population wears all black, gatherings begin to look like a convention of vampires no matter where you go! The occasional woman in a pretty colored outfit then tends to stand out from the crowd.

To Each His Own

I believe black clothing is very depressing. And as a person who used to wear black to cover up the bulges, it does not honestly work. I find colors are much more fun and uplifting. I have discovered something that works in a similar "fashion" (thanks to my hubbie). Hang all similar colors together in the same categories. For instance, hang all black slacks together, all tan slacks together, etc. Then my tops are organized in the same way. Not only does this help in picking out matching outfits, but also it helps me see what color I may be lacking. I am an avid thrift store shopper, and I make note of what I need to look for in the stores. I purge items that need repairs that I just do not have the time to do.
Deb in Virginia Beach, VA

Neutral Pants, Colorful Tops

While black is a favorite staple in my wardrobe, too, going all black every day is a little extreme.

What works for me is that I almost always wear black pants, and get my variety from tops in favorite colors. I'm a classic "winter" so I like the vivid tones like royal blue, fuschia, magenta, purple, etc. And I can dress them up with fancier tops or go more casual with t-shirts.

The same idea can be used with any other neutral color pants like navy, khaki or brown, or even jeans (think of how many people live in jeans and t-shirts and nobody gives it a second thought).

Not only does this save money and closet space, but it also makes getting dressed a cinch (half of your outfit is a given) and helps you pack lighter when traveling as well.

Not All Black Is the Same

Not every piece of black clothing goes with other black pieces. More often than not, one will be a little off and that does not look good together. I simplified my wardrobe by getting mostly solid pieces that can mix and match. I wear only brown, black or denim pants/shorts. Almost every top I have can go with any of these bottoms. An off-black t-shirt looks much better with jeans than black pants.

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What's Your Favorite Color?

I'm going to agree that black is too somber for the only color of one's wardrobe. Fashion research shows that black makes most people look older, accentuates wrinkles, and isn't very flattering to most skin tones.

I've been wearing cobalt/royal blue as my one color for about 30 years. Research shows this color is flattering to a large percentage of the population. This shade of blue has been found to be the most relaxing to wear and look at. Compared to navy blue (which is considered very authoritative and used for many uniforms), royal blue is considered non-threatening, as well. More research shows that when people around the world (no matter what country) were asked about their favorite color, the majority of people selected the color blue. Of those who picked something else, blue was the second favorite of most of those people.

I am very in agreement that a wardrobe based on one or two colors keeps one's life simple. When I find something I like that fits, I often buy five to seven of the same pieces for my simple wardrobe. If something gets damaged, I always have others that match the same tops/pants/shoes/socks!

Have Your Colors Done

Go to a department store or see a Mary Kay representative. They both offer free facials. Ask the person that does your facial which colors would look good on you. I did and now my wardrobe consists of orange, brown, green, and purple hues. I no longer wear red or blue. It's a fun and cheap thing to do on a Saturday.
Jenni in Omaha, NE

The Experts Agree

I personally agree about the black, especially considering lint and pet hair, which are both issues for me. However, the idea of a single wardrobe color or at least a primary color and one or two complementary colors is actually a long-standing fashion expert tip.

When I was a teen (and I'm now in my fifties!), a friend was going to be in a state beauty pageant. The advisor instructed her to select one color for the wardrobe she'd use in the competition, which would not only simplify things for her but would also make her distinctive and memorable to the judges.

Many years later, I attended a conference where I was assigned housing with other attendees, none of whom I'd previously met. One lady was quite wealthy and quite fashionable. She shared that she had a professional buyer who purchased her entire wardrobe for her every season, and it always revolved around one main color with two accent colors. That particular season it was turquoise with black and white accessories.

I've done the same thing when traveling, choosing items of the same color that would allow for taking only a few pairs of shoes, jewelry, etc. that would match everything.

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Black Can Be Elegant

I used to work for a woman who only wore black. One time I asked her why, and she said that it was to simplify her life. It really worked for her, and she had the reputation in the office of being a very elegant dresser! She looked fine. It didn't seem to somber. It may have been a little "Coco Chanel" maybe, but not somber.

Half Black Wardrobe

I do a "half" version of this simple wardrobe. All of my pants (with the exception of my jeans) are black. I own eight pairs of black dress pants, which is two weeks' worth (I work four days a week). They are all the same, and I rotate them to evenly wear them. I no longer have to match tops and bottoms, as everything matches black!
Lorie in St Louis, MO

Think About Accessories in the Simple Wardrobe

I thought this was an interesting article. My mother was European and told me that the girls in France (Paris in particular) only had a few items of clothing after the war (WWII), but their accessories were phenomenal and creative. She also told me that everyone owned at least one "Little Black Dress." Jari S has taken this idea to an extreme, but then why not? When there is no money, little money or what money there is isn't going to clothes, this idea is creative and smart. I have only one small rule for this fashion, however. Avoid white sneakers and a pink bag with an apricot poodle. I saw this combination and wasn't too impressed with it. Even black can be messed up if your accessories aren't well thought out.

Reviewed July 2017

Take the Next Step

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