How to combine colors

How to combine colors

Even though beautiful bright colors are part of our culture, when it’s time to dress up we often ended up asking ourselves “Do I look good in this color? Do they combine?”  And here is where the nightmare of trying to combine pieces to look great starts.

To combine clothing colors successfully, we need to go back to the basics, to kindergarten. I know this sounds silly but trust me; it will change our perspective of colors.

The A-B-Cs of Color

In kindergarten we learned that the primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Why is this so important to remember? Because all the other colors are made of a combination of these three!

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These three colors have the strongest personality and are the best option when choosing an outfit of only one color. Wearing a monochromatic color makes us look slimmer, but in order to look elegant we need to know how to combine these colors. Dressing up from head to toe with one color can be a big mistake! If you dress up all in red you can end up looking like a devil or if you dress up all in yellow you can look like a chicken.

You can combine two of these colors but avoid dressing up with all three of them in one outfit. They will be “competing” with each other and easily will make you look like a clown.

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Here are some tips on how to create an elegant look:

  • Use different tonalities of the same color.
  • Combine it with neutral colors like white, nude, black or gray.
  • If you decide to wear the three primary colors, use a neutral color that can balance your attire. For example, a good look would be a pair of classic blue jeans, a gray or white t-shirt, red jacket and yellow pumps.

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Example 2: Yellow blazer with a white top, red shorts and blue stilettos. (pinterest)

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The neutralcolors to combine with are: white, beige or nude, gray and black. These colors give a balance to any combination of color and are perfect when you decide to try a monochromatic outfit.

Complementary Colors                                                                                                  

To know which color complements another, we will review the color circle.

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As previously mentioned, the primary colors are red, blue and yellow.

The secondary color is the combination of two primary colors.  For example, if we combine red and blue, we will get the color purple. If we combine blue and yellow, we will get green, etc.

The tertiary color is the combination of a secondary color with a primary color. If we combine red with magenta, we will get pink. If we combine yellow and green, we will get a lime color.

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The color circle also splits into two different categories, warm and cool colors.

The warm colors are those that have a tint of red in them or that when combined, the red tint prevails. For example, when combining purple (remember purple is created by the combination of red and blue) with red, we get pink. Therefore pink is a warm color. The color yellow is also considered a warm color.

The cool colors are those that have a tint of blue in them or when combined, the blue tint prevails. When combining purple with blue, we get indigo. Therefore indigo is a cool color.

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So now that we have identified how the color circle works, we can start learning how to combine our colors.

There are different ways to do it:

  1. Combine different warm colors in one outfit.
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  2. Combine different cool colors in the same outfit.
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  • Combine complementary colors. The complementary colors consist of two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, i.e. blue and orange or yellow and purple.
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  • Splitting the complementary colors. This uses a color and the two colors adjacent to it. This provides high contrast without the strong tension of the complementary scheme.
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The big question is, how many colors can I can combine?

It is recommended to use 4 different colors plus 1 neutral color, giving a total of 5. If you combine more than 5 colors you take the risk of looking like a Mexican piñata.

A balanced outfit could include 2 warm colors, 2 cool colors and 1 neutral. Or 3 warm colors, 1 cool color and 1 neutral, or vice versa.

Gold & Silver

These two colors are beautiful but also risky to wear; if we don’t combine them properly we could end up looking like a colorful disco ball.

The gold color is part of the warm colors and the silver color is part of the cool ones. With that said, the same rules for combination apply for these two colors.

In jewelry it is common to see the combination of the two colors in one piece, and it looks great! So don’t be shy to try it in your outfit too, just make sure to give the importance and accent to one more than the other and to add a neutral color to balance your look. It will look fantastic!

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 perla picPerla Stortzum, a Bridal Consultant and a certified Floral Designer is addicted to everything fashion and shoes. Think shopping the latest trends in stilettos. With over five years of experience as a wedding planner, she knows a thing or two about people’s color choices! She lives in Milwaukee with her husband and is currently obsessed with updating and decorating their new home.

One Response to How to combine colors

  1. seyi says:

    Nice combination

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