Don’t you hate it when your yellow-top, pink-jacket, blue-jeans situation is a fashion blunder, while pretty ladies on your Instagram-feed own their fans with the same color choices?
It could be because of proportions. The same palette can create very different looks depending on which color is dominant, and which is muted.
But it could also be the tint/shade of your colors. Maybe you’re taking your pink from the pastel family, and your yellow from the neon family, and wasting a real good styling opportunity. So, here’s a beginner’s guide on how you can use Color Theory in fashion, and transform the way you dress. We will help you decide what to wear, and what to tear.
Keep an eye on the Color Wheel below as you read.
1 Complementary Outfits
So maybe there *is* a soulmate out there for everybody. But you can go all your life without meeting them. Don’t put your clothes through the same fate. Marry them with their soulmates, and get hund(red) blessings straight from pantone heaven.
Open a color wheel on your laptop, and start match-making. I mean, matching. Get your most favorite clothing pieces out (You may have a little problem here if they are all black). Now whatever their color is, find the color right opposite to them on the color wheel. That right there is their comple(mate).
What complementary colors do is they add contrast to your look. Red & Green is one of the most common duos. They’re the colors of Christmas; they’re the colors that pop up when somebody calls you; but most importantly, they’re the color of Papa John’s Pizza.
Oh, let me warn you that Complementary colors make you look conspicuous. So, unless you’re planning a bank robbery, these combinations are great for you. They’re bold, they make a statement, and they attract all the attention.
But if it’s your friend’s big day and you don’t want to rain on her parade, don’t worry. You can still own a Complementary themed look, by using muted tints of the colors. Replace your blue with a light blue and your bright yellow with a pastel yellow.
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2 Analogous Outfits
Contradictory to Complementary schemes, where you choose a color downright opposite to the base color, an Analogous scheme is where you choose colors next to the base color. Here, instead of contrast, there is cohesion and harmony. Think Green, Sea Green, and Blue. Or if you’re a devotee of warmer colors, think Yellow, Mustard, and Orange. You get the idea.
An Analogous color scheme makes your outfit look layered and synchronized. There is some element of every color in the other. There is some maroon in the brown, some brown in the tan, and so on. This illusion of layers brings together a thoughtful and important outfit.
You can play with colors while putting together an Analogous-themed outfit. If you’re feeling particularly experimentative, you can even look beyond similar colors. Take any 3-4 colors lying next to each other on the color wheel.
Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to give equal prominence to each color. Make one your base, and add splashes of the rest.
Pro Tip: If the colors you chose are a little jarring and not exactly consistent, then feel free to take inspiration from the picture above. Colors like Violet and Red have been repeated twice across the outfit, to give it an illusion of consistency.
3 Split-Complementary Outfits
A Split Complementary color scheme lets you replicate the beauty of Complementary schemes, without replicating their contrast & tension. Here’s how to create it.
First select your base color, say, red. Now instead of picking its complement (green), pick up colors to the left and right of the complement on the color wheel. In this case, you want to go with Lime Green and Light Blue.
These combinations dissolve the tension between opposite colors, and make them more cohesive. Of course, they’re still as conspicuous as Complementary outfits if not more.
While trying out Split-Complementary combinations, you can end up with some lovely pieces that you couldn’t have thought of yourself. Choose a top you like, and look for its Split-Complementary colors. Do you have pieces in these colors? If yes, it’s time to slay. If not, then you know what to get the next time you’re shopping.
Beginning to like this color scheme? Then you’re not alone. You’re in the company of a beautiful fairytale princess who loved to deck her wardrobe with these lovely pairings.
No brownies for guessing it, it’s The Little Mermaid.
4 Monochrome Outfits
You’re familiar with this one. It’s all over your Instagram feed. Every Fashion Blogger has told you it’s the best way to look put-together, and your mirror agrees. Wanna know what we think? We think they are absolutely right, and you should start Monochroming right away!
Dressing up in one color, top to bottom, gives you a lot to play with. Just choose one color and throw in some tints and shades. After being considered a fashion faux pas for years, Monochrome is back in style, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that. No longer Fomo when it comes to Mono.
Just like trying a monochromatic vibe with your color-y colors, you can also try it with your neutrals, to get a professional ready-for-Monday look.
5 Triad Outfits
Now here’s a scheme full of surprises. A Triad is formed with three colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel. While this scheme can sometimes lead to questionable choices, it’s mostly interesting and fun to play with. This scheme will make you pair purple with green and mustard, while being happy about it.
See what we meant? No? It’s alright, Snow White saw what we meant.
And that was it! Your complete guide to acing your style game using the Color Wheel. Now you can confidently let go of that black t-shirt and embrace colors. Here are a few things you can do today to get started:
- Re-organize your wardrobe: Grouping your clothes into warm tones & cold tones, and further into separate colors will give you a good idea as to what kind of outfit possibilities you have.
- Start Pairing: We suggest you start with your favorite pieces. See what combinations you can try with your favorite pink blazer, and start recording them. A good way to keep track of your outfit ideas is by writing them down separately in flash cards. Another equally good idea is to lay them down, click pictures, and put them in a special ‘Outfits’ album in your phone.
- Fill the Gap: While pairing, you’ll figure out combinations that you like, and would definitely want to wear and flaunt. But you may fall short of just that one piece, or that one color. Note it down. Once all your requirements are noted down, buy the ones that are more functional, and are needed to complete more outfits. Not only will this save you from spending extravagantly, but will also make your shopping stress-free.
On an ending note, we’ll leave you with a detailed color wheel, to find the perfect matches to your Dragon Fruit Pinks, Peanut Butter Yellows, and Basil Greens.
About the Author: Jagruti Jaiswal is a member of the 9AM Risers army, and an equally important one of the 10AM Shiners. You’ll always find her either coloring her books or writing in them about colors.