Sometimes it can be difficult to know which colors you should wear with that green shirt or that blue skirt… but there are some definite rules that govern which colors look best with one another. Of course, once you know the rules you can break them, but it’s good to get the basics down first. Here are some helpful ideas & tips! Xoxo Mod Girl Sara!
A good way to use complementary colors to good effect is to pair 1 complementary color with a paler tint of its opposite color. For example, pairing a royal blue dress with a pale gold shawl and shoes.
An example of using analogous colors to good effect might be a scarlet red dress with gold jewelry and pink shoes. Try to avoid putting no more than 3 analogous colors in one outfit. To use the above example you’ve already got 3 analogous colors (pink, red, gold), so you wouldn’t want to go overboard and add in orange too or purple.
An example for the monochrome look might be a white top paired with dark blue skinny jeans, dark blue ankle boots, and a dark blue jacket. To alleviate all that blue you might add in red or bright purple scarf.
An example of a good use of primary colors together would be to use it in conjunction with multiple neutral colors. So you might pair red chunky heels with blue skinny jeans and yellow jewelry, while breaking up the colors with a black jacket and grey top.
Black may go with everything, but there are two colors it does not go well with. Don’t pair it with navy blue. They are too close, but not quite to look good together. The other is brown. Don’t pair black with brown unless you’re really really certain. White and cream also do not go together, because it makes it look as though you were trying to match your colors and failed (cream and brown, however, go together very well). Brown and grey don’t go well together, either. They are both too neutral and more or less colorless to enhance one another.
Grey is a particularly good choice for your outfit. Pair a grey skirt with a dark purple top and pale gold scarf, or a pair of grey slacks with a white shirt, a blue blazer and a red tie.
Remember that a fitted white shirt is the perfect complement to most outfits and it can be dressed up with a pair of black slacks and a tie or dressed down with a sweater or blazer and a scarf. Avoid colored trousers, unless you pair them with a neutral top (like red skinny jeans with grey sweater). Usually, however, colored trousers can overwhelm an ensemble and take the focus.
For example you might pair a goldenrod tie with a pale blue shirt and grey or black slacks. The goldenrod is a darker value of color than the pale blue shirt (one is more pastel, the other is more bright).
Try and image the colors you’re using as part of a black and white photo. This will help you determine the gradations of the values so that you put the appropriate values together (darker with lighter for example).
While pastel colors with pastel colors tends to look a little sugary, you can make a bold statement with bright colors paired with bright colors. Take the above example of the goldenrod tie and pale blue shirt. Instead of the pale blue you might choose maroon to go with the goldenrod tie, which is more intense than the pale blue.
If you’re feeling unsure you could stick to using warm neutrals like brown and cream which go very well together and make you look elegant. You can also put these with a more earth toned color (the colors that have been mixed with grey) like olive green.
- Try to avoid going overboard with pastels. A good way to do this is to pair 1 pastel with a neutral color, or a pastel with the same color only on a darker, deeper scale.
- Limit yourself to 3 colors per outfit, including your neutral colors. This will make sure that you don’t go overboard with color.
- A good way to create a little bit of extra color is to add a small accessory in a matching value scale of your main color. So for example you might pair yellow earrings with a green shirt or a blue tie with a red shirt.