The use of color is one of the most important tools when it comes to your personal style. Finding colors that flatter you is just part of the challenge, though. Understanding what colors work well together is a whole other battle. For this I have a couple of tricks to share, based around the color wheel.
The color wheel is the rainbow spectrum of colors, organized in a ring or circle. Many individuals in creative fields use the color wheel and color theory to better understand what shades are harmonious together. There are numerous principles to the theory of color; of them, there are four that can help you feel confident when getting dressed this summer.
The use of one or many values of one color styled together is called monochromatic. On the color wheel this would be represented by one wedge and the variations of that color from light to dark. This concept is most often used with neutral colors such as black and white but can pertain to any color of the spectrum. You can use it subtly or for a dramatic effect, depending on the color you select. An outfit in shades of pink will make a different impression than, say, an outfit in black and grey.
Colors that fall next to each other on the color wheel are considered analogous. I like to describe this principle as colors that are different, but in the same family. For example, navy and turquoise are different colors but they’re within the same “family” of blue. This is great option for a more conservative look because it allows for some variation in color, but it’s not dramatic.
On the color wheel you’ll find complimentary colors directly across from each other, often in direct contrast to one another. This color principle is often a pairing of one warm tone with a cool color, such as a red with green or orange with blue. If you’re just starting out with combining colors, this is the principle I suggest starting with. It’s simple it makes the sense to novice fashionistas.
As you would suspect by the name, the triadic principle is the use of three colors from the color wheel that are equally spaced apart. An easier way to understand this is, if you were to draw a peace sign in the middle of the color wheel, in any direction you choose, you’d create a triadic color scheme.
I find this technique the most difficult to pull off, especially when wearing color is new to you. Combining more than two shades can give rise to a concern that the outfit will look “too colorful.” This is a possibility, so I advise my clients to add one neutral to the group to ground the three colors. It helps make a triadic color scheme look colorful, but not like you’re a walking rainbow.
If the color wheel isn’t your thing, but you still want to learn how to combine colors don’t hesitate. Aesthetically pleasing color schemes are all around us. Artists use them in paintings, textile designers use them when creating fabrics and jewelry designers use them in their creations. Just identify a combination you find attractive and use it as a template. Any palette that appeals to you can inspire an outfit you can feel confident about.