I have been a personal stylist long enough to say that I have been a personal stylist for a long time, 16 years to be exact. In all my years of doing this, a client’s recent request was definitely the most interesting I have ever gotten. She told me she wanted to create a wardrobe inspired by the colors the cult members wore in the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. Have you seen this six-part documentary yet? It’s a MUST and truly one of the most compelling true stories I have ever watched.
If you’re familiar with the documentary, or even just watched the trailer, you will have noticed that the Rajneeshees, followers of Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, stuck to a pretty tight color palette, wearing colors like burgundy, purple, red, shades of pink, orange and saffron. The way these people mixed these colors was even more inspiring. It wasn’t made clear in the documentary why these were their colors of choice, but despite their wackadoo beliefs and practices, you couldn’t help but get swept up in the palette.
This is what happened to my client, who is a Vedic meditation teacher in New York City. To protect her identity, I am giving her the name Ms. Vedic because, as you know, it’s common practice for me to shield the identities of all my clients when I blog about them. The first time Ms. Vedic and I met earlier this year we had both just binged the documentary Wild Wild Country and couldn’t stop discussing it. The story was just too wild and unbelievable not to. That said, I never could have anticipated she would actually ask me to help her build a wardrobe inspired by the colors the Rajneeshees wore.
The first time Ms. Vedic texted me about her desire, I laughed and shrugged it off, thinking she was joking. While I did find the colors in the documentary hypnotizing, I didn’t really think she was serious. Then she called me for fall shopping and brought it up again, actually sending some inspirational wardrobe pictures. “Wow, she is serious,” I thought, “Can I really pull this off?” You have to understand the variables that would have to be perfect to make this happen. First, designers out there needed to have designed clothes for the season using shades from this limited color palette. Second, these designers had to be brands in Ms. Vedic’s price point and, third, these clothes also needed to fit her body and be right for her lifestyle as a meditation teacher. I felt like I had a better chance of getting three cherries at a slot machine in Las Vegas on the first try.
Well, as luck would have it, it seems like every designer out there must have binged the documentary too because the Wild Wild Country Rajneeshee color palette is everywhere this fall, and, even better were done by designers perfect for Ms. Vedic. I seriously don’t know what I did to deserve such good fortune.
Shopping with a Client Inspired by the Documentary Wild Wild Country
Below are all the pieces that Ms. Vedic purchased. After that you will see some outfits I put together using the Wild Wild Country Rajneeshee color palette. At the end of this post check out some additional shopping pieces for more.
Looking at the pieces Ms. Vedic purchased it’s important to understand that the color palette from Wild Wild Country was inspiration. We weren’t looking to be literalists or to create a style that looked as if Ms. Vedic just walked off the Oregon commune. What you will find in the purchases is a strong influence from the colors, not an exact replica. To bring in another neutral, I introduced navy into the color story, a color not typically worn by Rajneeshees, to complement the colors they did wear. Lastly, that soft green kimono comes out of left field a bit, but we selected it for how well it brought in a new color that worked with the rest of the palette. As far as hitting the nail on the head, however, the Rag & Bone sweater is basically comprised of every color the Wild Wild Country cult wore.
Outfits Inspired by the Wild Wild Country Color Palette
So inspired by our day together, I put these outfits together using the color palette to show how these colors can work together. The way the Rajneeshees combined these colors together was so fascinating. Few would think that saffron and burgundy go together, but after seeing the colors combined you can’t help but get inspired by it. Take a look at these outfits for a more updated, non 1980’s cult-y, way to wear them.
One of the more fascinating things the Rajneeshees from Wild Wild Country did with their color palette was to combine warm and cool burgundy shades. It’s hard to visualize them not clashing, until you see it. The folks over at Vince must have watched the documentary because that is exactly what they did with this sweater. I styled the sweater with one of their skirts in a warm burgundy, a pair of their cooler toned burgundy boots. I finished the look with Stella + Ruby fringe tassel earrings.
To make your life easier, stick with one brand if you are looking to work tonally. It can be challenging to match the shades of one color from different designers.
Wild Wild Country spans the course of many years. If you watched the documentary you probably noticed that, while tight, there was definitely an evolution to the color palette the Rajneeshees wore. In the early years there was a lot more orange and saffron. In the later years the color palette moved more towards plums and bright pinks. I guess we can call the outfit above “early Rajneeshee” because the burgundy pants and top is warmer and the saffron colored cardigan is a shade that lessened in wear by the Rajneeshees over time. For punch of Wild Wild Country inspiration I popped this outfit with a bright orange pair of Rothys to really capture the way the Rajneeshees would put these colors together in a way that shouldn’t have worked but did. The look is finished with a beaded necklace from Nakamol.
The warmer based Wild Wild Country palette is one that Ms. Vedic didn’t lean into as strongly, not because it didn’t work but because she had already had plenty of options and we needed to edit. She did almost purchase a soft orange sleeveless tunic that looked stunning with her burgundy cardigan.
In the later years of Wild Wild Country the Rajneeshees seemed to favor cooler, blue based burgundies and plums and particularly liked wearing these colors with magenta, hot pink and light lavender. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, just wait until you see a bunch of the male cult members walking around in burgundy suits with light purple shirts, it’s a gas.
This last outfit is inspired by this palette. I styled these hot pink wide cropped pants from Beatrice B with a plum Polo Ralph Lauren cardigan and sleeveless top from Eileen Fisher. I finished the outfit with purple tweed block heel pumps from Louise et Cie and beaded necklace from Chico’s.
Shop for pieces in Wild Wild Country Shades
What had me nervous turned into one of the most inspired shopping days of my career. It was so much fun and interesting pulling off this request for Ms. Vedic. After all, it isn’t everyday that the term “cultwear” can be used in way that makes you giggle with inspiration. I have to admit, the days leading up to this shopping session I was prepared for this appointment to be the one where I failed my client. Wanting to be ready, I even did some preliminary shopping online to make sure that what I needed to find in stores even existed. Here are some of the pieces I found, plus some more, proving again that the documentary inspired a lot of people and not just my client.
Many thanks to Ms. Vedic for allowing me to share her story.