Colour is and has always been my favourite fashion accessory. Wearing colour shows confidence you can use it to attract or repel people, studies show that men are attracted to women in Red…don’t believe me throw a bright red scarf on one day and see how many head turns you get. Yellow is the colour of the knowledge of your own beauty people who wear yellow are confident and comfortable in their own skin. next time you are out and you see someone in yellow look at how they carry themselves. Or next time you feel down instead of putting on your usual black try putting on a shot of purple or red near your face and see how your mood changes.Once you start seeing how colour and wearing colour can change how you look and feel you will be cursing Chanel for your little black dress (eh hum black everything) addiction. Contrary to popular belief not everyone looks good in black and black does not make you look slimmer especially if you are head to toe in it, this can have the opposite effect by making you look like a big black hole. Often black looks far too harsh on naturally fair haired people especially red heads.
To understand how to use colour you need to understand basic colour theory. below is a colour wheel, for those of you who don’t know I am going to start at the very beginning. Why is this important you ask? Like anything; dressing well is a skill and you need to know the basics and colour theory is where it all begins. Knowing which colours will go well together and knowing which ones you can wear with your skin tone. Once you know this inside out wearing and using colour fearlessly will become second nature.
All colour starts with 3 colours Red, Blue and Yellow. these are called primary colours. If you mix red and blue you get purple, yellow and blue you get green and red and yellow you get Orange, purple green and orange are called secondary colours. Then if you mix orange with red you get orange/red, yellow and orange you get yellow/orange, blue and purple you get blue/purple, red and purple you get red/purple etc… these are called tertiary colours. From all of these basic colour variations you can add more or less of each colour to get different variations. By adding black or white you get shades or tones of the above colour combinations
Next step is understanding something called complimentary colours. The ones you would be most familiar with are the primary variations of Red and Green (Christmas) Red and Blue (Superman) Yellow and Purple (Easter). Unfortunately all of these colour combinations have associations with them that you may make you not want to wear them together; but you don’t have to use these colours in their pure form or in equal measure. For example combining A lovely jewel tone Royal blue dress with a coral red necklace or bracelet, coral being a variation of red with a lot of orange in it; you can get a lovely colour pairing with out over doing it.
The other way of wearing colour is combining variations on the same colour like the orange Vionnet dress below. Or pairing similar colours like pink and red, I know you say WHAT! That is a no no. On the contrary if they are done in the same tones both with the same level of colour saturation such as hot Pink and true Red. Re: the Giambatista valli dress on Stacey Kimmel below. This outfit wouldn’t look right if the pink was a pastel or blush pink, it would look far too Valentines day.
Tip: any colour can be worn together as long as they are in the same tone or have the same level of colour saturation. for example jewel tones look best together. Now that’s not to say you can’t pair a bright yellow bag with a mostly neutral colour pallet. once you know the rules and get comfortable with them feel free to experiment and even break them.
The next step is understanding Neutrals and how to use them. What is a neutral colour? Neutral usually means without colour so colours such as beige, ivory, grey, black and white are considered neutrals. I also consider greens with lots of brown, brown in light or dark shades and metallic like gold silver and copper as neutrals.
I use neutrals to ground a give a base to work off of. Wearing heard to toe Neutrals is Boring boring boring, now thats not to say it can’t be done but the way most people do it is incorrect. below are 2 examples how and how not to do head to toe Neutral
This Combo of neutrals is well done because there is no trying to mach colours. Generally the downfall of an out fit is if you try to match everything, My mother always told me never to match …only old ladies match, it makes you look dated. Here even though all of the colours are similar there is enough of a difference in the the shades and tones that it breaks up the look and gives some interest to an otherwise plain pallet. There are 5 different neutrals being used in this look, that is something you can’t do with bright colours but you should do with quieter ones.
Though I generally like how Mrs J-Lo dresses this look is just bad.! Why? Because it is just too much of one colour, and it is too close to her skin and hair colour, she almost looks naked. Also the sequins make it look like a cheap stripper store buy. Neutrals work best when you use them as as a grounding base for other colours.
the look below is a great example of how to pair 2 neutrals with a colour. The pop of colour works because it is again in the same tone as the neutrals. Thats not to say you couldn’t pair say a bright orange with a camel and grey combo, it’s just in this look the use of a pastel creates a more sophisticated and warmer feel, much more of a natural combination.
I am sure you have heard of something called colour blocking. If not Colour blocking is when you wear multiple colours together to create a sort of pop art effect on your body. I Love to use colour blocking and have for years in my own wardrobe and in shoots. This look can go very very wrong if not done properly. It can look clownish as you can often see on the hipsters walking around town. That is because colour blocking is as much about the colours used as the fit of the clothes, it’s all about proportions, proportions in the colours being used and in the items themselves. 3 colours are the maximum amount that can be worn together without making it O.T.T. There are several ways one can succeed at colour blocking.
The first way to do a colour blocked look is to pair colours in the same family such as red and pink and orange and keeping them bright and jewel toned (jewel tones look good on virtually everybody) and then pair it with brighter accessories in say yellow or peacock green This is a very 90’s look.
The second way to do colour blocking is with pastels and pairing complimentary colours. This look is fresh and light but pastels can be hard for some people to wear close to their faces. if you want to do this look but aren’t sure then put the brighter colour closer to your face, in the case of the picture below, the purple. Most people look fantastic in purple.
The third way and arguable the boldest is to pair primary and complimentary colours in their brightest and most saturated tones. again no more than three. This is a very ballsy but I think fantastic look and if you have the confidence to do this look then do it up. But don’t do it if you don’t feel 100% comfortable, Remember 90% of style is how you carry yourself, if the clothes look like they are wearing you it is never a good think. Be comfortable, confident and colourful!!
Here is a summary of the Colour wearing steps we coverd today .
1. Don’t fall on black as a crutch you aren’t doing yourself any favours with this. Black isn’t bad just use it in moderation.
2. Understand basic colour theory and how colours interact with one another, Primaries, secondary, tertiary and complimentary
3. How to wear Neutrals and how not to. Mix it up and DON’T TRY TO MATCH!
4. How to do colour blocking properly Three colours max try variations on colour combinations, keep colours either in the same family or use complimentary ones.
5. DON’ TRY AND MATCH!!!!! Matching is for grandmas and the hip hop look of the 90’s.
6. Accessorize with colour try a bold new one you were afraid to try previously.
7. Have fun with colour; colour is a wonderful way to feel fresh and fun and also to show your true essence. Use it as a form of communication. Try wearing true red and see how many looks you get, or put on some yellow and see how confident you feel, wear violet and see how calm and grounded it makes you feel.
8. It’s not rocket science folks and there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Break with convention don’t follow what “they” tell you, go with your gut. Next time you are out shopping try holding colours up to your face in the mirror and see how your complexion changes. You will be able to tell which ones work for you and which ones don’t, if you are having trouble ask your neighbour what they think. if it washes you out you know it’s a no right, if it brightens you up and makes you feel happy it’s a yes. When in doubt remember that Jewel tones especially cobalt blue and violet look good on almost everyone.
I hope you got some good information here if you did; and or have something to add please leave a comment and let me know. Conversely if there is anything I haven’t answered and you would like to know leave a comment.
Any thoughts are good thoughts 🙂