If you struggle with how to wear colour and brighten your academic wardrobe, this article by Morolake Dairo is for you.

I confess, I am an avid lover of all things black (including nail polish). and if I had the chance to raid anyone’s closets, it would be Janelle Monae (Watch out Janelle).

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My wardrobe is filled with black, navy blue, nude and a few other mellow-coloured pieces.

Recently I have been more deliberate about stepping out of my comfort zone in various areas of my life; travel more, exercise more, do more leisure reading and make out more time for my friends. Now I want to try on more colorful clothes.

Research has shown that colour is a confidence and mood booster.

If you are thinking about adding some colour to your wardrobe, here are some tips you may find useful:

#1 Accesorise with colour

I am experimenting with colourful accessories: eye frames, brooches, belts, face caps, hair pieces and earrings.

I find that depending on the weather, a colourful scarf can be a handy companion to match with a monochrome outfit.

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In addition, colourful handbags and shoes can transform an outfit from boring to check-you-out.

#2 Pair a bright colour with a “safe” choice

Take out that orange skirt and pair it with something safe.

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Try colors that you find totally extreme – colours completely outside your comfort zone while still holding on to the familiar – for instance, an all-black ensemble.

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Think a bright pink top with a navy blue skirt, a black gown paired with yellow shoes, a bright green jacket and a black skirt and camisole. The possibilities are endless.

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#3 Add a pop of colour by lipstick

Even as a lover of all things black and minimal, I have always loved red lipstick.

I must admit that I have been less eager to try out other lipstick colors, but purple and pink hues seem to be growing on me.

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If you’re a fan of eyeliner, you could try brighter colours as part of the challenge.

You may also like to read: 7 lipstick brands academics love and Learning to love myself through lipstick

#4 Lighter shades count as color

A mix of block and lighter shades also count as a pop of colour.

This is a comfortable route if you would like to take baby steps and not go full neon at the first attempt.

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You can always start with soft colours; stay minimal with a touch of edginess.

You may even wear one tone as the dress, and the other as your lipstick or accessory.

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#5 Nail polish is like the icing on the beauty cake

If you are into nail care, it is another way to try out new colours.

Take a temporary leave from nude, black and grey nail polish.

Close your eyes and take the plunge. Your nails complement your look.

Try new colours over the weekend, and if you don’t like the varnish, make it vanish before the new week begins.

#6 Your hair is not off the limits

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Changing your hair colour is a bold move, but it doesn’t have to be something as drastic as bleaching and dyeing your hair.

You could decide to wear a wig in a different colour or go for other temporary options such as applying a wash-out hair color spray or hair chalk. A silver streak, a purple or gold tint – You decide.

Good practice makes perfect

Habits don’t break overnight, and a wardrobe colour overhaul is a bold step; more so if the dress code at work and school demand a more subtle approach.

Spend your weekends and holidays experimenting with how to wear colour in ways you find comfortable.

Wear that yellow dress you bought, but can’t give away because you know you loved something about it, or those red-colored boots you got as a birthday gift.

How do you incorporate colour into your minimalist wardrobe? Please share below.


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About Morolake Dairo

Morolake Dairo is a marketing communications professional and a PhD student at the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.

Her research interests include fashion communication, city branding, development communication and socio-cultural studies.

When she’s not at work or trying to complete her thesis, you can find her at a vintage singer machine sewing, reading a book or hibernating.

Feel free to read some of her short poetry on her Instagram page @rolake_dairo