Spring begins on March 20th, but in my neck of the woods, it often hides underground until mid-April.  So while many women are shopping for breezy blouses and capris pants, I’m often still reaching for my winter coats and scarves.  So what’s a fashionista to do, when she’s ready for spring, but mother nature isn’t?  If you’re not ready to pack away your winter wardrobe, the easiest way to introduce spring into your closet is through color.  

Flatlay of Pantone color fan, notebook, magazines, red flowers, purple cushion and dots of color.


Who Decides What Colors We Should Wear?

Pantone is the authority on color for most of the design industry.  The company was founded by Lawrence Herbert in 1963, to establish a system for matching, communicating, and cataloging colors.  Though brands often adapt the colors to their own style (for example, lingerie brands may soften colors, while athletic brands may brighten them), Pantone helps to direct the fashion world in their choices for the season.  They release two different sets of colors each season: New York and London.  They’re guides, not rules, of course.  Designers use whatever colors work for their vision and their clients.  For example, orange is not featured in Pantone’s color palettes, but designers like Tory Burch and Calvin Klein used some brilliant shades of vermillion and tangerine in their collections.  Fashion influencers also weighed in, by continuing to wear pink from head to toe, so expect to see even more shades of pink this season.  


But Wait, There’s One More Color Authority

If you are looking at Pantone’s color palettes and screaming “I can’t wear that”, as I did when I looked at Meadowlark (bright yellow) and Blooming Dahlia (peachy pink), hold on.  There is another color authority.  Her name is Carole Jackson.  She is the author of Colour Me Beautiful, a 1981 publication that introduced the idea that certain colors complemented certain complexions.  According to Ms. Jackson, you look best in one of four groups of colors, (Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall) based on the color of your hair and skin. Even though the photos in her book are outdated,  the content is relevant and still referenced by stylists and fashion editors today.  The book is available on Amazon.com, and most likely at your local library.  

If you don’t want to wait to get your hands on the book, her website has a basic test.  Warning: the website includes the same dated photos from the book, so be prepared to imagine yourself with 80s style big hair and blue eyeshadow. If that era makes you cringe, here are more recent basic quizzes from InStyle magazine, and POPSUGARBeauty.  A professional color analyst can give you much more detailed information,  but if you need some quick answers, these are easy places to start.  

Come right back to this post read about the 3 colors that you need in your closet now!  

How to Merge Two Color Palettes

Don’t despair if you find a color that you love, but it isn’t one that suits you.  Here are some ways to incorporate that trend color into your outfit:

  1. Wear the color away from your face.  
  2. Find a print that mixes colors that work for you, with trend colors that don’t. 
  3. Buy an accessory like a handbag, shoes or jewelry in that color.

Or, be your own designer and choose a shade that works for you.  Wear a version of the color that does suit you.   For example, I’m a “Winter” so PANTONE 11-0608 Coconut Milk doesn’t flatter me as much as a pure white, so I am planning to keep buying pure white.  

Top 3 Colors To Buy Now 

So now that you know which colors are on trend and which work for you, how do incorporate them into your winter wardrobe? If you already took stock of your closet, you know what types of clothing to look for.  For example, I know that I need more sweaters and long sleeve t-shirts, especially because spring here is quite chilly.  Those are the items I am looking for, in these top 3 colors.  


Pantone’s Spring 2018 red is Cherry Tomato, which is very similar to the Grenadine that they selected for Fall/Winter 2017.   What this means for us, is that there are already lots of options in these brighter reds, already on sale!

I just bought this sweater from Banana Republic from their winter collection.  It is now sold out, but there is a cardigan in a similar color that also works well for spring.  



Red sweater with bow cuffs, gray skirt, brown heels, printed bag, and blue wallet.



This red t-shirt with a ruffle trim is on sale at Anthropologie.  

Red t-shirt with ruffle hem, embroidered jeans, boots.


Pantone also selects a color of the year.  This year, it is Ultra Violet, a brilliant shade of purple.  If this is not your color,  there is also a softer Pink Lavender.  This shade works well with both dark (black, navy, chocolate) and light (gray, white tan) neutrals.  

I found my lavender sweater last fall, and plan to keep wearing it through spring. 


The runways were filled with blues, from navy to periwinkle to light icy blues.  Blue works for almost every complexion (think about washed denim).  

Club Monaco has a beautiful pale blue trench coat that is already on sale.  

This periwinkle crewneck sweatshirt from J. Crew is currently 30% if you use the code DIYUMSN.

This silk scarf from Echo design includes red, light blue, yellow and peachy pink from this season.  The base is a dark blue which is a flattering color for most complexions. 

This pale blue handbag from Rebecca Minkoff is compact, edgy and effortlessly cool.  

This chart gives you some color combination ideas for red, purple and blue.  To the left are the darker colors that we tend to wear in the winter.  To the right are lighter colors inspired by trend forecasts and spring collections that have already arrived in store.  

Dots of winter and spring colors and how to combine them.

For more color inspiration, check out my new Pinterest color boards, and follow me on Instagram.  My What To Wear With Red post will give you more ideas of color combinations that work with red (other than the basics like black, navy, and gray).  You can also find inspiration for red outfits on this Pinterest Board. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch using the form below.  I’d love to hear how you are adding spring colors into your closet.  


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