My Simple Wardrobe “Color” Conundrum

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My Simple Wardrobe “Color” Conundrum

Simple Wardrobe

Black vs. Brown

I like both of these colors. I love them. I mix and match them, but my life would be simpler if I could just PICK ONE and stick with it. It would eliminate the need for both brown and black leather shoes, belts, and purses because although I mix black and brown in clothing, I NEVER mix black and brown accessories. Brown shoes with a black belt? I don’t THINK so! Blame my mother. She taught me this and it stuck like all the other OCD traits she handed down. 🙂

So, I’ve battled this choice for years, literally and I have been unable to figure it out.

At one point, I thought the answer would be to buy a purse and a belt that had both brown and black and shoes that would work with those. I never found any that fit that bill and I really prefer a simple solid color design that doesn’t scream “She’s carrying the same purse” or “She’s wearing the same belt again!”

This means that making my Clothing Bible/List has always resulted in a personal impasse. But, this time I figured it out. I don’t need to find a single piece and simply replace it with an identical piece when it wears out. Sure, that would be the simplest way — but it eliminates my ability to change my mind… ever. And although I’m a simplicity nut, I’m still female — so that won’t work.

It’s also alarming when you can’t replace something you love with an identical piece when it’s worn out. I had a taupe-colored, open weave silk v-neck tunic that I wore out over 15 years ago and despite my active search for many years, I’ve never found one to replace it. It was one of those items that I ALWAYS wanted to wear and hated when it was in the laundry. As a result, that item always finds itself on my “essentials” list when I try to hammer out the perfect simple wardrobe, even though I can never find it. If I ever DO find one, I’ll probably toss simplicity in purchasing beliefs aside and lack of duplication ideals and buy four!! I’m not really into duplicates, but that is an item I regret not having all the time… even this many years later.

Overcoming the Simple Wardrobe List Impasse

To bypass this color issue, I can create my re-useable basic clothing list by describing the essential qualities of the piece and give options. For instance, one of the items on my list is a “Mock Turtleneck Fine Gauge Sweater.” It’s there because it’s season-spanning, it’s flattering and it always looks polished. This piece is a longer length (but not so long that it can’t be tucked, nor so short that it can’t be worn out at mid-hip length with — or without — a belt). It has short sleeves that end at the elbow for the most flattering look. It will work under a suit jacket as well as it does beneath a jeans jacket. It will look as good worn solo as it will as a layer under a thicker sweater. What I don’t specify is the color. I say it is “Black/Brown.” I’ve had it in black, brown, red, purple, cream and white in the past. But, the only ones I ever really wore were the black and brown ones. Black most often. The others were never “quite” right — so they just hung in my closet.

Creating a simple wardrobe list means I may not be able to find exactly the item I want, so I need to build in a “general” list that will work with color and style options. The end result will still be a simple, basic wardrobe — but it may not be exactly the same this year as it will be five years from now. I may find a neckline I like better than a simple “v” for one of my pieces. If so, I’ll adopt it until I no longer like it or until it wears out. That piece may be brown or red instead of black when it’s replaced.

As long as it will “mix and match” with the items I have (and I DO wear brown and black together), then it’s all good.

Accessories Choices

Black leather accessories are the best choice simply because they are easier to match. There are so many different shades of brown leather that finding a brown purse that matches brown shoes can be an ordeal. I don’t want a shopping ordeal any more than I want a “getting dressed in the morning” ordeal.

With that said, I currently have a brown purse that I love. It’s DARK brown and I don’t anticipate giving it up anytime soon. I will be casually looking for a similar purse in black leather, but until I find it, I’ll carry this one. I also like brown leather sandals. I don’t know why I like them better than black ones, but I do. My current sandals and purse are an exact match. I absolutely LOVE Born brand sandals and the signature color brown leather they use is perfection.

This may result in a brown leather choice for hot weather (keeping my brown belt, brown purse and brown sandals separate from the winter pieces and packing them away together) and a black leather choice for dressier events and the fall/winter season.

That’s not as simple as a single purse, single belt, single shade of leather, but it’s still trimmed down. I may decide later to go with just black, but until that time, this cuts back the wardrobe accessory collection and keeps things simple without pinching me.

*Update* Decision Made

Following a little soul searching, I’ve decided to go with black. It’s just crazy to fight something of so little importance. Granted, my hiking boots may be brown simply because it’s nearly impossible to find black ones… but other than that, I’ll be taking the “simple” path to a wardrobe that doesn’t require daily decisions and duplicate beloingings. 🙂


  1. Food Should Be Simple – Diets Should Be Healthy and EASY! | Living Small says:

    […] the meantime, I’m enjoying the concept of simplifying my diet in the same way I’ve simplified my wardrobe. The wardrobe is still being tweaked (but not obsessively so) and I expect the same will be true of […]

  2. Sandra says:

    I love your blog! I just stumbled onto it because I plan to switch to a black wardrobe. I am into minimalism and simple living too. I am paralyzed by too many choices and I just can’t keep up very well with fashion so I never look ‘put together’. I am 39 so this bothers me. I think I should my age instead of constantly looking like a sloppy teenager. Anyway, I plan to read all of your wardrobe entries. Good job!

    • Angela Allen says:

      Sandra – Thank you so much for stopping by! I love my black wardrobe. I may add some color with scarves or something later if I’m feeling drab — but so far, I don’t. And, since I don’t usually like “fussing” with scarves and such, I’ll probably stick to just black. I love it most at two times — when I need to do laundry (and it’s one load per week) and when I am getting dressed, and I don’t have to do that “what to wear” dance. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll ever incorporate any colors that can’t be washed with my blacks.