Color combination is really an important part when it comes to making a first impression, because it confers a personal touch. Through colors, you communicate more about yourself and most people process color interpretation faster than other aspects of your look. It is a very refined way of communicating information about you. Nevertheless, it should always come down to your personal judgment, and how you look at colors.
There are, however, some guidelines that can be used to make a color combination that is interesting and pleasing to the eye.
How many colors?
It is hard to give an exact answer to this question, but in general one can say that the risk of using too many colors is greater than the risk of using too few.
Too many colors will make you look hard on the eye, as there is a crowd of colors demanding for attention, so it is really tiring to the eyes.
On the other hand, wearing just a few colors, makes your look boring, but this does not always need to be the case.
One commonly used rule that you cannot go wrong with in these matters, is to use three colors. You will need a:
Primary color: This is the main color of the outfit. It will occupy most of the area and set the tone for the outfit as a whole i.e black suit
Secondary color: This is the second most used color on your outfit and is usually there to “back up” the primary color. It should be a color that is pretty close to the primary color or a color that makes a good contrast i.e. white shirt
Highlight color: This is a color that is used to emphasize certain parts of your outfit. It is usually a color which contrasts more with the primary and secondary colors, and therefore, it should be used with moderation. It is common to use a complimentary or split-complimentary color for this (see below)
You can and should use these types of colors for every outfit you wear, if it’s a casual outfit, a work outfit, or, of course, a formal outfit. There are some combinations that go for more formal outfits, while some combinations go with casual or sport outfits. Usually darker colors are seen as formal, while bright color combinations are seen as sporty and fun. The color wheel is not something used just in art, it is used for clothing too and it’s the result of many, and we mean many years of experience.
The Color Wheel
The color wheel is very useful when you want to combine colors in a way that is pleasing to your and everyone else’s sight. Below we will demonstrate some of the most common ways to combine the colors of the color wheel. Choosing colors by looking at the color wheel is highly useful for people who don’t know how to choose colors. Of course, some people can choose colors from instinct, but if you analyze the combinations they make, you will see they follow the same rules, just that in an unconscious way.
The analog colors are those colors which lie on either side of any given color. Often these are color schemes found in nature. An outfit that makes use of analogous colors usually feels harmonious. The secondary color, as described above, can often be an analog color.
The complementary colors are the colors which are directly opposite from one another on the color wheel. Complementary colors are contrasting and stand out against each other. Often it is a good idea to use a complementary color as the highlight color, as described above.
Split Complementary Colors
Split complementary is a color and the analog colors to its complement color. Using split complementary colors can give you an outfit with a high degree of contrast, yet still not as extreme as a real complementary color would. It also results in greater harmony than the use of the direct complementary.
Triad colors are three hues equidistant on the color wheel. When you want an outfit that is colorful and still balanced, a triad color scheme might be the way to go.
(Keep in mind that the combinations above only illustrate the hues that are combined. In most color schemes you will also introduce variations on saturation, tint and shade.)
Other color combinations
Besides the color combinations described above, which are based on the position of the colors on the color wheel, there are also a few other ways of combining colors.
A monotone color scheme is just one single hue and its variations in terms of tints, shades and saturation. Using saturation and tint/shade variations of a color is always good. However, in most cases we would advise against using a fully monochromatic scheme, as there is a risk of monotony. We wrote a while ago an article on the fact that tendencies in fashion are to use only monochromatic schemes, but we would advise you to create your own style and maybe use a glimpse of color. Using it with pure white or black can be efficient though! This is the only way it can look good!
A monotone achromatic color scheme is a special instance of the monotone scheme which consists of only neutral colors ranging from black to white. A scheme like this can be efficient on an outfit, but it can easily look boring. Using an achromatic scheme with just one bright color for highlight can be very effective.
Also, we need to also talk about wearing black and white. Black and white are not colors, and in fashion, we put them in the “neutrals” category, along with beige, gray, etc. As you know, we recommend that you don’t wear just neutral colors, but here we need to say that black and white is the only combination of neutral colors we recommend! Brown is also a neutral color in fashion. Brown belts, shoes, jackets also go with anything. In fashion, silver and gold are also neutrals, so you can mix them: a gold bracelet goes with a silver one, even though it’s not something very common.
There you have it, color wheels, examples and all the information you need! Next time you will be putting an outfit together, if you follow these rules, you will most certainly stand out in the best way possible!
Using this information will definitely help you and improve the way you look for good!
Fraquoh and Franchomme
P.S. What do you think? How do you mix your colors? Do you have a favorite color? Share your feedback, questions or thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, don’t forget to subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on Facebook or Twitter!