One of the many things I love about Paris is her colour scheme. Wherever you look, whether from street level or above, you’ll see consistent colours. Beautiful hues. The neutral sort.
There is no doubt about it – charcoals, mid-greys, slate blues, russets, taupes and sands dominate your view. These colours are everywhere – on buildings, in paths, on roofs, in decor stores. And I’m convinced that this colour chart not only adds to Paris’ charm but also underpins the city’s elegance.
The other place you regularly see what I’ve come to call the ‘Parisian palette’ is in clothing. These colour choices really are a signature of the locals, regardless of whether they are female or male.
There are plenty of benefits when you adopt a signature palette – Parisian or otherwise. But I’m sure that the Parisians don’t choose their clothing hues simply to blend into their city. There is wisdom in the Parisian palette – primarily because it makes style so easy. It’s something that virtually guarantees confident dressing.
Style Made Easy – The Parisian Palette
- Perhaps the greatest benefit of building your wardrobe around this particular colour scheme is that it takes all the guesswork out of pulling an outfit together. You know that these colours harmonise perfectly – Paris proves it every day of the week. This means that you will get a wardrobe that not only looks chic but works a whole lot harder – which leads to you receiving a greater return on your clothing investments.
- There’s sure to be a shade or tone within the Parisian palette to suit you, regardless of your colouring. Charcoal too dark for you? Maybe steel grey will be better with your skin tone. Taupe washes you out? Try sand or pebble instead. When it comes to neutrals there really are a stack of options – there’s no need to stick to the stalwarts of black and white.
- These neutrals also offer a great base for accent colours. Whether you prefer bright hues or something more muted, you can easily add a pop of colour to your neutral base. If you are seeking inspiration in this space, look no further than Paris in springtime. Whether it’s the bursting green of the new growth, the pink flowers in the Jardin du Luxembourg or the blue, white and red of the French flag, the stones and slates provide the ideal backdrop.
- Choosing accessories – scarves, shoes and hand bags – in the Parisian palette almost always achieves a stylish look. And again, because they all complement each other so nicely, you can mix them up. That way, you’ll never look too ‘matchy’.
- When you decide to base your wardrobe around certain colours, you get similar benefits to developing a signature style. These include less money wasted when clothes shopping, fewer ‘orphan items’ and easier decisions about what to wear.
But What If I Get Bored?
When it comes to sticking with a limited range of colours, there’s sometimes a perception that dressing and style might get boring. I know I used to feel that way, before I discovered my own signature palette.
The fact is, you are actually less likely to get bored because you can use all the clothes in your wardrobe to create so many different combinations. Let’s face it, wearing the same outfit over and over is almost guaranteed to get boring. And we tend to wear the same outfit regularly when we find that our wardrobe is full of orphans that don’t play well with others.
On top of this, you might find that the ease and confidence that comes from curating your colours far outweighs any boredom you might ever feel.
And I don’t know about you, but I can safely say that I’ve never found Paris remotely boring – no matter how many times I visit. I know you won’t go wrong if you start to experiment with these complementary colours.
Your Turn Now
Having said that, style made easy is such a broad topic – and using a Parisian colour scheme is only one tiny way that you can make dressing with confidence a reality. So I’d love it if you could let me know what you’d like me to cover in the future.
Please do me a favour and answer this question in the comments below.
What is your biggest struggle when it comes to dressing with style, ease and confidence?
I won’t answer all your questions in the comments of this post but I promise you I will use your questions to help generate more tips to help make style easy.
And until next time – au revoir.
Looking for more French inspiration? Then don’t miss the #AllAboutFrance Linkup over at the Lou Message Blog. Click this link and you’ll discover a diverse range of blog posts all about France.
7 thoughts on “Style Made Easy – The Parisian Palette”
Janice at the Vivienne Files is a great resource for wardrobes around limited palettes. As you say, by placing limits you avoid having “orphan” items that don’t go with anything.
The French women I see around me manage to run the gamut but have one thing in common–whatever they wear, it’s clearly thought out. Whether it’s color blocking with several bright colors, or something more subdued, it isn’t just whatever was clean. There’s thought and structure.
You raise a very good point Catherine. Thoughtful dressing is definitely a thing French women do well. In my part of the world, I tend to see the opposite. We have a great lifestyle in Australia but our general attitude is pretty casual, and this vibe seems to extend to dressing too!
I’m a big fan of Janice at the Vivienne Files – like so many DF readers. She and I tried to catch up in Paris last year, but unfortunately our respective schedules let us down. Another time perhaps. Have a great weekend.
Very thought-provoking, thanks! You’re quite right that there seems to be an element of dressing to (match? blend in with? it’s likely not that deliberate) your surroundings so city dwellers do seem to wear more greys and blacks and neutrals in general. That’s their landscape.
How would this work, however, for people in brightly-hued locations? Even in wintertime, doesn’t wearing black and grey in a place like Florida seem off? I’ve never been to Australia, but it also strikes me as a pretty high-saturated place for color. Do blacks and greys, outside of the big cities, seem too somber?
And another issue–I’m a high color contrast person (“diagnosis” thanks to another wonderful blogger: Imogen at Insideoutstyleblog.com) with red hair and blue eyes. So if I wear too many neutrals it’s off-putting. I don’t blend with my own clothes. I wish I did–neutrals make life easier and do look more sophisticated
Thanks for the insight! Erin
Thank you for such an insightful comment Erin – I appreciate it greatly. And I’ve got to tell you, your words really got me thinking. You are right that some of the ‘Parisian’ neutrals don’t always work for people of certain colouring – however luckily for us there are many variations of colours out there. Perhaps you could find a neutral that is reminiscent of Paris that suits your colouring – and then add a wow colour that really suits you and complements the base colour. Perhaps you could try a colour that Imogen has recommended. (I love Imogen’s work btw.)
In terms of the weather/coastal vibe informing colour choices, again I think if you want to bring the Parisian colours into your look, you need to be a little creative. I’m not sure about Florida, but yes, in most of northern Australia the darker Parisian colours would look out of place for most of the year (although where I am in Melbourne the dreadful weather we are experiencing at the moment could see us wearing dark colours all year round! We are all wondering what has happened to summer). However, Paris has a lot of slate blues, sands, silvers and ‘grieges’ that make an excellent base for brighter, weather appropriate accessories. And fabric choices can impact all of this too.
Thanks again for giving me some food for thought – there could definitely be room for a more comprehensive piece on how you can bring a concept like the ‘Parisian palette’ into a seaside/countryside/less sombre location.