The first step in a capsule wardrobe is to identify the neutral(s) and the fashion color(s) you plan to use. I like to add a bit of random limitation to the project by choosing from the Pantone seasonal palette, which I’ve done again this season, but choosing colors because they’re trendy may mean that you don’t choose the colors you look best in.

The version of SWAP that I’m currently doing starts with the idea of “connection colors” — the colors you have in your skin, hair, eyes, and lips. These are going to be your best colors, because they’ll harmonize with your face and hair.

I had some trouble figuring these out, frankly, and I didn’t want to pay for color analysis (I mean, obviously), so I used a color palette generator. The colors above were generated from a photo of my face and hair outside in the sun. I find this a convincing collection. Gray hair, pink skin, wine shadows, a little brown and black for the dark bits of my hair.


The set of colors above were from a photo of my face and hair indoors. Warmer light, I guess, so I get all the orange and brown shades. I like these colors, though I generally assume that I don’t look good in them, what with being a cool-toned person. Note that Tony’s Pink shows up with completely different hex codes, in both. Sandal turns up three times, with different hex codes, in a single grouping.

I am ignoring the obvious lack of precision here, because I wasn’t doing that well in determining the proper colors on my own, so why not accept the machine’s results?


Noticing that neither set included my eye colors, I uploaded a picture of my pupil, with the reflection of my camera for good measure. Here I got all the blue greens. I think this group is pretty accurate. I am not using any of them this fall.

Basically, I should ignore Pantone’s seasonal lists, and go with five color groupings:

  • gray-> silver
  • taupe-> dark brown
  • rose-> wine
  • apricot -> terra cotta
  • blue-> green

I can choose a neutral and a fashion color and have exciting SWAP plans based on Hairy Heath and Stromboli or Storm Dust and Finn.

Or of course choose the colors on my personal list that show up in the Pantone seasonal color forecast.


This year, it’s Silver Chalice and Coral Tree, with a bit of Sandal and Woody Brown. Or Snakeskin, Dusty Cedar, and Warm Taupe, to use the Pantone palette terms above, which contains those three shades which also show up in my connection colors palette.

If you don’t want to use automatic tools, you’ll need to consider not just the hue — like “green” or “yellow” — but also the degree of saturation, the warmth of the shade, and so forth. Books for that include Color Me Beautiful’s Looking Your Best or Nancy Nix-Rice’s Looking Good.