How to Rock Bold Color Combos in Your Outfits

match outfit colors

With the rollout of vaccines across the country, we’ll soon be saying goodbye to months of being stuck at home. Before long, we’ll all be able to go out for both work and leisure. The world is beginning to open up, and so should your options when it comes to your outfits.

It’s understandable to feel some anxiety when it comes to dressing for the outside world once again. After a year of wearing nothing but pajamas, putting on anything a little more put-together can seem challenging. However, this is also the perfect time to expand your horizons and experiment with a little color in your life. You can even take this as an opportunity to buy more tights, tops, socks, shoes, and other items to give yourself more options to work with.

But where do you start? How do you avoid looking like an abstract painting? Read on for some tips and tricks on mixing and matching clothing colors.

Color Combos 101

The easiest way to figure out how to match colors is to study a color wheel. Invented by Isaac Newton, a color wheel is a circular diagram that illustrates the relationship of colors with one another. You may remember it from your early school days. If not, don’t worry. Color wheels can be found online and are easy enough to use.

The color wheel is broken down into three sections: primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. When any two of these primary colors are combined, they form secondary colors: green (yellow and blue), orange (red and yellow), and purple (red and blue). Combining a primary color and a secondary color results in a tertiary color, such  teal (blue and green) and magenta (red and purple).

While there’s a lot more to go on– from color temperatures, color harmony, and color context—you don’t need to know all of that to start mixing up your wardrobe. Essentially, what you need to know is that the colors in the color wheel work with—and against—one another. Choosing the perfect pair may take some time, but the easiest way to start is to understand their relationship with one another.

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are colors that are grouped together because they share one or more primary colors. This means that colors with an analogous relationship can be found next to each other on the color wheel.

For example, red can be found between orange, purple, and magenta. Meanwhile, yellow can be found between green, orange, and amber. Lastly, blue can be found between purple, green, and teal. Understanding where to find a color on the color wheel can help you pick out its analogous pair easily.

Complementary Colors

If you want to take your hues up a notch, try playing around with complementary colors. A color’s complementary partner is found exactly opposite it on the wheel. For instance, red is directly across green, blue is directly across orange, and yellow is directly across purple. 

Complementary colors are a fantastic way to add some visual contrast to your outfit. Are you a fan of green clothes? Try throwing a red accessory on top and see how you feel about it. If you’re wearing a purple top, try matching it with a yellow vest and make your whole ensemble pop.

Play around with complementary and analogous colors for a while, and see which ones match your personal sense of style. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s time to move on to triadic colors. 

Triadic Colors

Triadic colors are a combination of three separate colors that are evenly spaced throughout the color wheel. For example, the primary colors red, blue, and yellow form one triad. Meanwhile, the secondary colors green, orange, and purple form another triad.

To work with triadic colors, pick one layer for your outfit. Start with a top or a pair of pants in a specific solid color and work from there. When it comes to working with triadic colors, only one color should take the spotlight. Meanwhile, the other two colors should act as accents. For example, if you have a red top, try matching it with some blue jeans and some yellow accessories.

Think Outside the Wheel

You can also venture out of the color wheel entirely by mixing and matching neutral colors. Browns, whites, tans, and blacks play well with one another and with other colors. Throwing a splash of neutral color in between your bold, bright layers can help cut down on your outfit’s brightness, allowing the more vibrant hues to stand out.

If denim is the only color you’re familiar with, treat it as its own color and match it with other denim pieces. Better yet, mix and match other colorful pieces with your denim and add a zest of style to an otherwise drab outfit.

You can also venture down the monochromatic route and stick to just one color. All you have to do is mix up the shades in your outfit. For example, you can pair a brighter top with darker bottoms of the same color. Additionally, don’t be afraid to accessorize and create a “break” in your chosen colors with some jewelry or a belt in neutral tones.

A Quick Tip: Organize Your Closet by Color

To make it easier to create color combinations with your existing pieces, fashion experts recommend organizing your closet by color. That way, you’ll be able to save yourself the hassle of spending too much time rummaging through your clothes. Try arranging your pieces in order from bright to dark, or vice-versa. You can also place similarly colored tops or bottoms next to each other and go from there.

Color combinations may seem a bit overwhelming to master, but with some know-how, you’ll have no problems pulling them off. While nobody wants to look like a rainbow exploded on them, keeping these tips in mind should make it much easier to come up with color pairs that work well together.

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