Fashion is a form of creative expression; did you know we can apply various principles of art to obtain an aesthetically pleasing outfit? It often happens that colour is overlooked by many people when it comes to dressing. People often choose to wear neutral colours out of fear, but mostly because they are not familiar with the colours that we can combine. This guide aims to change how you use colours to make you stand out with your outfit.
The Chromatic Circle of Colours (colour wheel)
To know how to combine our clothes we must familiarize ourselves with the chromatic circle of colours.
Another thing to keep in mind about colours is the temperature of each one. We can classify colours as warm or cold. Warm colours have gold undertones, while cool colours have blue undertones. The easiest way to understand this is to think of warm colours as the colours that evoke sunshine and warmth and cool colours as those that impart a sense of calm and coolness.
This is especially important in the context of fashion as our skin tones need to be considered when dressing. Generally speaking, if you have a warm skin tone you will look better in warm colours and vice versa.
Now comes the fun part. In colour theory, there are a lot of colour harmonies, but we'll focus on just the basics: monochromatic, complementary, analogous, triadic, and semi-complementary.
Monochromatic colour schemes are made up of shades of a single base colour. A colour scheme of fuchsia, rose, and lemonade is a monochrome scheme.
Contrary to popular belief monochrome colours do not mean grayscale or black and white. Technically speaking, dressing in grayscale and black is monochrome, but the term does not apply exclusively to just those colours. A better term for black and white colour schemes would be achromatic, which means colourless.
Complementary colours are colours that are directly across from each other on the colour wheel. There are six complementary colours on the wheel. This double scheme is very attractive to the eye and is often used in films.
A word of warning: complementary colour combinations may be too strong or too bright for some. A good way to try out a complementary colour scheme without making it look too loud is to use a muted shade of one or two colours.
Analogous colours are three colons that are next to each other on the colour wheel. It is often confused with monochrome schemes. Usually there is only one dominant colour, while the others are used as accents.
Analogous colour combinations are easy, safe and reliable combos, but using different shades of each colour gives a more sophisticated hue palette.
A triadic colour scheme uses three colours equidistant around the colour wheel. Triadic colour combinations look very vibrant. A classic example would be your primary colour scheme of red, blue, and yellow.
Another triadic scheme can be orange, violet and yellow (secondary). Again, if this seems too bright for you, you can go for muted tones of triadic colour schemes to make it more workable.
The semi-complementary colour scheme is a variation of the complementary colour scheme. You take a colour from the colour wheel and look at its complementary colour, then take the two colours next to it, as shown in the diagram.
This is a rather unusual way of colour matching and although it is difficult, the impact is worth it if done correctly.
When talking about colour in the context of fashion, we can't forget neutral colours. Neutrals often make up the bulk of our wardrobes and some are content to have a dresser exclusively in neutral colours. Think of neutrals as colours that can be paired with just about anything. Common neutrals in fashion are black, white, navy blue, grey and brown, along with myriad shades of each. Less common are olive, brown, and some very dark, muted shades of plum.
It is important to remember that there are thousands of colours and therefore thousands of possible combinations. This guide is just a simple introduction. Look around you and you'll see all sorts of unexpected colour palettes.