Does this go with that?

It’s wonderful to apply high-school knowledge to real life.  I’m glad I stayed awake in my art class when my teacher droned on about colour theory.  (To this day, I still need to think through my tints and shades though.)

Colour theory can be complex to understand.  But here’s my take.  I use electricity even though I don’t understand it. You too can use colour theory to create knock-out clothing combinations to reflect your mood and to inject some zest into your wardrobe.

On your right is a colour wheel – your menu for understanding how colours work together.

I’m not going to cover how some colours may look better on you because of your skin, eye and hair colour.  You can read more on colour analysis here.

Let’s just focus on how you can reach in to your wardrobe, pull out some items to create memorable outfits.

Choose combinations to reflect your mood and the occasion

Impression you want to make Select colours on the wheel that Effect Fancy term
Classic, graceful, quiet, expensive, tasteful, refined Stay in the same colour “slice”.  You’re combining different versions of the same colour (hue).  Soothing combinations of the same colour; little contrast resulting is subdued energy. Monochromatic
Creative, professional, credible, approachable, memorable Combine colours in neighbouring segments. Limit up to three colours. A harmonious flow of colour.  Is more interesting than monochromatic. Analogous
Dramatic, striking, energetic, bohemian, confident, playful, “out there” Select segments directly opposite to each other e.g. purple and yellow, orange and blue. Most striking combination because there is great intensity and energy.  This is modern colour blocking. Complementary


How to be creative yet avoid looking like a clown

In many cases you will work the bright or accent colours in with a neutral palette. This will break up large blocks of intense colour and calm down your combination.

I’ve found the 3-tip really useful. Here are three fail -safe combinations to get your started. (Sounds like a happy meal order.)

2 colours (any combo) + 1 neutral

1 colour + 1 neutral

2-3 neutrals


Have fun experimenting

2 colours + 1 neutral
1 colour + 1 neutral
2 neutrals