A fashion evolution

I’ve chosen my color palette and I’m sticking to it

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Grace Schutte

In middle school, my style was an edgy hodgepodge of young adult dystopian novel fandom t-shirts and ripped skinny jeans.

Like most people, quarantine was a transformative time for me. 

I spent hours on YouTube watching influencers declutter their closets, redecorate their rooms and build hammock swings with power tools in their backyards. They were taking up aerial yoga, pole dancing and opening virtual bakeries from their kitchens.

Meanwhile, I was rewatching “Avatar the Last Airbender” for the third time (not including when it first aired on Nickelodeon). 

Their energy seemed endless, at great odds with my small triumphs of going on quarantine walks or quarantine trips to the grocery store or taking quarantine naps. 

I wasn’t upset by this, everyone handles worldwide pandemics differently, but I began to wonder if I could be taking better advantage of The Lockdown™. What else was there to do other than think about making bread? 

In my endless scrolling and video cueing, I stumbled upon a lady talking about something to do with clothes. I don’t remember the specifics — who really remembers May 2020, anyway? 

Whatever she said struck a chord in me and the next thing I knew, I was determined to find style. 

Pre-pandemic, I dressed like a 40-year-old lady because the kind of clothes I got for Christmas, birthdays and back-to-school shopping was all from nice, good quality, 40-year-old-lady stores. 

This didn’t bother me one bit at the time, because I was in my #notlikeothergirls era and I didn’t give two hoots about what other people wore. But maybe now was the time, with eyes turned elsewhere, to give the whole fashion thing a go. 

I watched even more YouTube, subscribed to bestdressed and pulled everything off my hangers and out my drawers. The Pinterest boards were washed and started anew. I was a blank canvas. I was the artist with brush in hand. 

The first step in this makeover was pinning down “the vibes.” Or, rather, picking just one, singular “vibe.” 

For as long as I can remember, I have been the type of person who is greatly influenced by the things they like. When it came to fashion, movies were the big movers and shakers for me.

In my younger years, “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” was a staple: denim jackets, big headbands, layered shirts and striped scarves — this was peak fashion in my books. The 2010s were a magical time, truly. 

Over the next several years, I would go through many fashion phases inspired by “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It” and an edgy hodgepodge of young adult dystopian novel fandom t-shirts and ripped skinny jeans. This was a less magical time. 

All this plus the aforementioned 40-year-old-lady clothes made for an eclectic assortment. 

What I needed was to streamline it down so that all the items in my closet complemented each other. If an item didn’t go with the rest of my closet or couldn’t be worn in several different outfits, it had to go. 

Something that helped tremendously with this was picking a color palette and sticking to it. 

If you’re working with only five or six colors, this makes putting outfits together much easier. Everything goes together, more or less. No more staring into the depths of your closet bemoaning you have nothing to wear. 

I spent a good long while deciding what I wanted my vibe and color palette to be. I daydreamed about what I could be wearing. I did research. I took note of what outfits or staple pieces jumped out at me. The pandemic made sure I had ample time to do this. 

What I settled on was “academia.” On the scale of light to dark, I’d say I lean closer to the former with my palette including lots of whites, beiges, browns, black and the occasional warmer, red-toned sweater. 

I was drawn to the cozy-yet-put-together-ness of this style. As a certified Bookstore Girl, I felt this complimented my interests and personality. I felt intelligent and classy, confident in my clothes, something I couldn’t say with confidence before. 

When I studied abroad a year later, I used this same strategy when creating my capsule wardrobe. Packing one suitcase meant to last you five months is intimidating, without a doubt, but this approach was immensely helpful. 

Once I had all the basic elements I needed, putting it all together and styling them came easily. I don’t know much about “dressing according to your body type” — something about that feels a little off to me, so I just wear what I like in a way that makes me feel good and confident. 

It has been a journey getting to this point, and I can tell my style is still evolving and ever-changing but that’s okay with me. Wear what you want however you want and let people live. That is all. 

Schutte can be reached at [email protected].