Since I’m an artist and a designer, colours are a huge part of my life. This doesn’t just concern my creations, but also translates into what I like to wear and what colours I feel comfortable in.
One colour does not truly exist without another. Even when the other one is just it’s darker or lighter shade, it really stands out when it has company. Also, some colours are generally considered cool and the other warm, but you can really only tell which one is warmer or cooler relatively by comparison. That’s why I’m going to write about colour combinations.
Less is more
For example: I love red. I own about a dozen pairs of red earrings (Margot claims it’s an unacceptably small amount), two red necklaces, three red bracelets, three red scarves, two pairs of red shoes, about or six or seven red blouses and a cute little red umbrella.
Now, you would think that If I truly love red that much, then why don’t I wear the whole set at the same time: a top plus all the accessories. It’s because if I did, the red wouldn’t stand out that much from within everything else. It would be too overwhelming and too much of it to truly appreciate it.
And that’s why I mostly wear red accessories with dark blue or grey tops. These are the shades that make red really count and make a statement. The “less is more” phrase really does make sense.
It works the other way round as well. I match dark blue and grey accessories with other, brighter coloured tops, because only then I can fully appreciate their darkness and coolness. The darker and more neutral the colour is, the more space it needs to really have a meaning, that’s why I prefer dark clothes plus bright accessories than the other way around, but I sometimes feel like wearing a lot of bright stuff too. It depends on my mood, the weather, the season, the occasion and pretty much anything else. Incidentally, whenever I wear a red top, I like to wear a grey scarf with it.
A bit of colour theory
Here’s a picture of a wheel of colours. You’ve most likely seen one before. I was going to show you a lot of examples of what goes with what, but the truth is, every colour goes with every colour – it’s the shade, saturation, lightness and amount that make all the difference.
I know however, that what’s obvious for me, might not be understood by some other people, because if it was, I wouldn’t see so much really bad art online, or women wearing beautiful but badly matched clothes. So if you’re not sure how to match colours and you only stick with black or khaki for that reason, here’s a handful of tips:
- harmonious colours are the ones that are next to each other on the wheel. You can safely match two or three of those together, especially if one is darker and the other(s) lighter shade (dark blue and light purple, dark orange and light yellow, dark teal and light green etc)
- complementary or contrasting colours are the ones that are opposite each other on the wheel. Same as above – they’re best matched together if one is darker and the other lighter (purple and light green, blue and yellow, red and light green, dark green and orange etc).
- you can use three colours that make an equilateral triangle on the wheel (that are equal distance from each other). My favourite combo is lime green, blue and red or orange.
- if you want to match two similar shades together (a top and a skirt that are slightly different shades of dark green) it’s sometimes good to “break” them with something contrasting or much lighter/darker than they are (like a red, orange or ecru belt in this case).
- remember that all lighter colours go with black, neutral grey, dark “chocolate” brown and navy blue
- beige and ecru look great with warmer and darker colours, as well as with some of the cool ones (e.g. cooler shades of blue, purple, green)
My tips are just general guidelines to help you if you feel uncertain about colour matching. Remember that the most important thing is that you feel both comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing, so whether you feel like going colour-frenzy or want to keep it “colour safe” – do follow your intuition and taste. Bottom line is, you are the only person to have a final word.