I received an email from a reader asking for further explanation about my three part method for putting stylish and colorful outfits together called the Base, Accent, Pop Formula. You can read more about it here. This reader, who has softer coloring, was a little confused about what this meant because when she read the word ‘pop’, she assumed this meant that it needed to be bold, which doesn’t work for her. I realized that some further clarification was necessary and that it was probably a good idea to address it in a blog post.
Further explaining the Base, Accent, Pop Formula
Essentially, what the Base, Accent, Pop Formula is is a three part way of looking at getting dressed. As you may have already read, but to clarify again, the base of an outfit is the majority of your look, or the foundation, on which everything else will be sprung from. Typically, these pieces are comprised of your more basic or classic wardrobe items, neutral pieces or hard pieces, like tailored items, or, simply, what is covering the majority of your body.
The accent is what you wear with the base. These two pieces will relate to one another. A simple example is your tops that you wear with your pants or a jacket that you will wear over a monochromatic column foundation. These pieces are usually a bit more exciting, sometimes trendier and maybe a little more fleeting in wear.
Lastly, your pop. Your pop is usually your accessories, like your shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves, and more. These are the finishing elements of a look that give an outfit polish and finish. You can choose colorful pops that work and relate to your accent pieces, or they can also be more basic. The pop is the part most women forget about when they get dressed, and is also why they are usually terribly bored in what they are wearing.
Now, as far as color is concerned, what you choose to wear is all up to you. The pop doesn’t have to be bold or outrageous, it can be more muted, subtle, classic or softer. Choose your pop based on your coloring, personal style or situation. In some cases, a bolder pop might work and, in others scenarios it is just better to keep things simple.
Stylish and Colorful Outfits That Work for Your Personal Coloring
Illustration always being the best way to explain things, below are five outfits using the Base, Accent, Pop formula in completely different ways for different personal coloring types. Any more questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below!
Outfit #1- For bolder coloring
If you have bold or high contrast coloring (read what high contrast coloring is here) you have enough energy in your coloring to pull off bolder color combinations. Here, for example, the base of the outfit is these black skinny pants from J. Crew and cardigan from Alice + Olivia. For the accent, I added this Rebecca Taylor tank in cobalt. Lastly, for the pop, I used these bright yellow flats from Nine West and further finished the outfit with pops using this gold necklace from Bauble Bar and Philip Lim bag. In this outfit, the base and accent complement one another and they both are sprung off the black base. In the case of the handbag and necklace, these are more understated pops that are still exciting despite the the fact that they don’t add further boldness.
Outfit #2- For darker, warmer coloring
If you your can wear darker colors, but you don’t look good in cool, brights, like the colors in the first look, but look great in warmer, earth tones, you can still use this formula to create interesting outfits, like I am in the ensemble above. This look also shows that your base does not have to be boring or basic. In it, I started with this autumnal print skirt from Reiss which gave me the perfect map to introduce accent and pop colors. The other base piece is this ivory top from Theory. From there, I used this green cardigan from Boden for the accent and, for the pop, this rust necklace from Kendra Scott, tan handbag from Lauren Ralph Lauren and heeled sandals from Kenneth Cole.
Outfit #3- For soft coloring
If your coloring is super soft and light, you can create this same softness in your outfits using the Base, Accent, Pop Formula. This look above perfectly illustrates that pops don’t have to be bold or in high contrast. The base of the look is the khaki work pants from BOSS Hugo Boss. For the accent, I used this Elie Thari top in a soft, sage green and, I used this blush pink jacket from Karen Millen for the pop, along with the nude pumps, blush bag from Lodis Accessories, statement bracelet, that picks up all the colors of the outfit, from Nordstrom and cluster studs from Ann Taylor.
Outfit #4- For bright, warm coloring
If you look good in light colors, but you can’t wear pastels, clear, bright, light, warm colors are probably your best choice. And, of course, you can still use the Base, Accent, Pop Formula to create an exciting look. In the outfit above, I started with this kelly green dress from Topshop and white cardigan from Theory for the base. Next, for the accent, I worked with the base of the dress and complemented it with these coral strappy pumps from Anthropologie. With this combination created, I further expanded it for the pop by using these colorful earrings from Modcloth and printed clutch from Anuschka Handbags.
Outfit #5- What to do if you don’t want to wear a lot of color
Maybe color just isn’t your thing, or, maybe, you need to dress for a situation where you can’t wear a lot of color. You can still use the formula to put an outfit together. Just think in threes, your base, your accent and your pop. In the outfit above, this Tory Burch dress creates the base. For the accent, I used these nude pumps from MICHAEL Michael Kors and the outfit is finished with a pop, using this layered necklace from Ann Taylor and statement handbag from Aldo. In this case, the base piece is a style that is more timeless and the accents and pops can be easily changed out for new ones over time or when you might want to add more color or interest.
I hope this post further helps you create dynamic outfits that have the perfect base and finish.