How To Match The Colors Of Your Clothes – A Color Wheel Guide September 7, 2017

Mapping colors to your clothes is as much science as it is an art. You can have all the money in the world and flaunt the most expensive wardrobe possible, but if you do not marry the colors in your outfit well, it’s a lost cause. You either need to have an eye for detail or understand the sensibilities of how colors work. Strike a balance, stay safe or go all out, whatever you choose to do, know the rules before you break them. Take your favorite designers and carefully observe their work; all of them have their signature shades that they tastefully play around with.

Even if you just scratch the surface of this one interesting aspect of styling, you will see a whole world of knowledge, and that’s what I’m going to help you with. Stay with me and read on.

How To Know What Colors To Match?

Using the right colors and matching them perfectly can be a deal maker. Choosing the perfect color for an outfit is what sets you apart. And, that’s why color and its theories continue to be the pivot for not just clothes, but everything else like interiors, hair, makeup, and much more.

To explain this further, let’s first understand the basis of this whole color theory.

The Color Wheel

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The color wheel was first invented by Sir Isaac Newton in the 18th century when he tried to condense the color spectrum into a wheel and visually represent the relationship between them. The wheel has been segregated into the following categories. While we will focus on using it for clothing and outfits, this theory is universal and applies to just about anything that deals with colors.

  • Primary Colors

These comprise red, yellow, and blue. No two colors can be mixed to achieve these shades. Everything else is derived from these colors.

  • Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are a combination of the primary colors. So, red+yellow = orange, red +blue = purple, and blue+yellow = green.

  • Tertiary Colors

These colors are a combination of primary and secondary colors. By mixing these, you get colors like mint, aqua colors, corals, etc.

  • Warm And Cool Colors

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Hues of colors like red, orange, yellow, brown, etc. are warm colors – they make things look smaller in size, and that’s why most of us prefer wearing warmer colors when we want to look slimmer. Cool colors, like hues of blue, purple, green, etc., are soothing colors.

  • Neutral Colors

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Neutral colors are self-explanatory. They are just muted, plain, and subdued. Black, grey, whites, off-whites, taupe, etc., fall into the neutral category.

What Are The Principles For Matching Colors?

One fundamental principle for matching your clothes, or for that matter anything, is combining colors that work in harmony. And, that’s what we need to remember while designing or putting our outfits together.

Here’s how you can match them.

  • Complementary

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Red and green, violet and yellow, blue and orange – complementary colors, as the name goes, work best when put together. These are exactly opposite to each other on the color wheel. They might seem bold to look at, but the outputs will be perfect. If you observe carefully, your spring and summer clothing is mostly designed using complementary colors. While some might argue against this concept, it is actually a matter of choice as some like making bold statements.

  • Analogous

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Matching two or three continuous shades on the color wheel that blend well with each other is called analogous color matching. When you put an entire outfit together based on this, it looks both striking and stylish. If you are wondering how to style that orange or camel trench coat of yours, pick a shade on either side of the color in the color wheel and work with that.

  • Triadic

The combination of colors that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel is called ‘triadic.’ They look great together, but some might argue that they can be OTT. However, you can choose the muted shades of these colors to make your outfit. A pair of green cargos with a pastel pink top and powder blue accessories or shoes will look sophisticated and tasteful.

[ Read: How To Match Your Shoes With The Dress ]

How To Mix And Match Clothes?

  • Keeping It In the Family

Keeping it in the family is a mantra you need to remember. The safest way to do this is by blending different shades of the same color. However, that will inevitably get monotonous and boring very soon. Remember how we discussed complementary colors? (Red and green, violet and yellow, blue and orange.) Play around with a combination of these colors; they will look great when put together.

  • The Ombre Test

Ombre is taking over everything from hairstyles and cakes to nail art and decor, and not to forget, outfits. Party-wear outfits, bridesmaid dresses or just a simple jeans and top in ombre can turn heads. Diminishing shades of the same color either in ascending or descending order works great. If you are sporting separates, you need to bring it all together with the top, bottom, shoes, and accessories being in sync. Wear ombre outfits for your Christmas or winter parties, goes perfectly with the theme, and the weather too.

  • Monochrome Look

It seems like a no-brainer because it’s just one color in the same shade for the entire outfit. However, it is the hardest to pull off, for obvious reasons. The good news is monochrome looks have caught up and are not considered weird anymore. Start with comfortable and neutral colors like greys, blues, whites, and blacks, then progress to pastel undertones. Monochrome looks can be customized depending on the season or occasion. If it’s a formal set up, stick to neutrals, blues or whites, otherwise explore the pastels, yellows or even brighter shades if you please.

  • One Thing At A Time

If it’s a printed or patterned outfit, let the print take over. Prints and patterns are usually a combination of one or more colors, so you must leave it at that. Keep the accessories in the neighborhood; more colors only makes it clumsier and unruly.

  • The Balancing Act

Another trick of the trade is to balance out any colors you choose to mix carefully. Anything done proportionately is a foolproof way of coordinating your outfit. Like they say, too much of anything is good for nothing.

  • Match It With Your Skin Tone

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If you are pale or yellow toned, opt for colors from the colder side of the palette, such as grey, navy blue, varying shades of green, aqua, emerald, burgundy, etc. If you have a deeper skin tone, you can pull off brighter or warmer shades of brown, coral, honey, gold, amber, taupe, etc., as they look amazing on this skin tone. All said and done, an ideal way to do this is to always to strike a balance between warm and cold colors. The same applies to your eye makeup too.

  • When In Doubt – Err On The Neutral Side

Some people just prefer being muted and subdued with their choice of colors, and end up opting for just the neutral shades. If this is you and you do not want to change drastically, go with one cool or warm color, and leave everything else neutral. It’s always best to keep it this way!

Hope now you got an idea on how to mix and match clothes the right way. Bringing it all together is what requires skill. Getting your basics right will help you make the right choices when it comes to colors, outfits, and eventually, your wardrobe. Get out of your whites-greys-blacks comfort zone – it’s liberating. Drop in a comment if you still have questions for us.

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