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How to Combine Colors in Clothes

By Mary Smith. Updated: August 30, 2017
How to Combine Colors in Clothes

Combining colours in clothes sounds easy, but often the subtlest of tone changes can offset our look. By combining our clothes we must take into account different factors. It is not just the color of he clothes we wear, but the colour of our hair, the tone of our skin or even the color of our eyes. On the other hand, individual style (colour-blocking and neon colours operate differently) and taste will have a bearing on the colors you want to combine. Color combination should be based on our particular tastes and style to make us look effortlessly cool. Even if we have to make a bit of effort to get there. oneHOWTO proposes some hints and tricks so you know how to combine colors in clothes to suit your own unique style.

You may also be interested in: How To Combine Grey Clothes
Steps to follow:
1

To combine colors in clothes in a flattering way, there are two basic rules which must be taken into account according to the chromatic wheel (see pic below). The scale distonguishes primary colors (blues, yellows and reds) and secondary colors (oranges, greens and violets). This wheel chart helps you see how colors break down and relate to each other. It will help you know which colors you want to be combining and which colors you want to avoid.

The two main rules so you never fail with colors in your look are:

  • Cameo: Combining clothes items that are close together in the chromatic wheel, such as beige and brown. This allows the tones to meld with each other.
  • Contrast: Combining clothes items that are completely opposed in the chromatic color wheel. When it comes to combining colors for your look, opposites attract. This is seen most evidently in the classic combination of black and white, but it also includes tints and hues.
How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 1
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There are other basic tips that will help you combine colors in clothes in a simple way. These allow you to find the perfect outfit for any occasion and season. Take into account the following tips:

  • Black, white, grey and light beige are perfect with nearly all other colours and combine very well with each other.
  • Beware of prints. It is not advisable to wear two printed items at the same time. Prints clash with each other as the lines draw the eye in different directions and can be nauseous to look at. Instead, combine a printed clothes item with block colored items. If you do want to combine two prints, make it subtle and use it on one accessory.
  • Use your prints. Rather than avoiding prints, one of the best ways to combine color in your outfits is to use them. Take a look a the different colors which make up the print and match your other clothes items to them. For example, if you have a largely red and blue paisley design, you can wear some block red shoes with blue pants.
  • Know your jewellery. Accessories are very important when combining color. Mix cold colours with silver accessories and warm colours with golden accessories.
  • Have a good basic wardrobe. There are basic clothes which are useful to combine colours. Keep a white and a black shirt or t-shirt. Keep tights in various tones and and a couple of pairs of jeans. White and black will go with almost anything, so having them as your building blocks for your outfit makes combining color easy.
  • Be careful of blue jeans. When you are thinking how to combine colors, jeans can be great, especially if they are black or white. However, blue jeans can complicate things as they have different hues and tints which can affect your overall look. Also, although double denim comes back in fashion from time to time, it is notoriously tricky to pull off.
  • Wear your shoes and bag in the same colour. It is not at all compulsory, but if your look is of a single colour, combining the shoes and the bag may give a fun touch to your outfit. It will stop you looking too plain, unless this is what you were going for.
  • Avoid combining more than three different colors that don't belong to the same chromatic range, as the effect could not be very flattering.

Picture: demon-media.co.uk

3

When creating your daily looks it's also useful to have a small guide to what tones combine with each color, this way you won't have as many doubts when it comes to combining the clothes in your closet.

Although it is argued that it is not actually a color at all, due to the absence of color, let's start with black. As it is commonly said, black combines with nearly everything. It's perfect to look elegant on any occasion and it will boost the intensity of bright colors.

However, there is a school of thought which claims you can never match navy blue and black. This is because other dark colors when added to black can look like they are just the wrong shade of black. It can be pulled off, but almost always only in an understated way. If you're wanting to sparkle, black with dark colors like navy blue, dark brown or similar should be avoided.

Of course there is one color in particular which goes great with black; black. The Swedes have been noted[1] for their love of an all black minimalist style and it can work for you too. All black also looks elegant, stylish and slimming. Just make sure the black matches as even different shades of black can look off.

If you are thinking of changing your look, you may be interested in how to look effortlessly hot.

How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 3
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Similar to black, white goes perfectly with all colours and when combined with black, we can get one of the best possible combinations to sport a sophisticated, elegant and sensual look. Combine your white clothes with the colors you like best, but avoid wearing tones that are too light, for example with a light tone of yellow, as it won't stand out as much, you'll look pale and it won't suit you.

This is where skin tone and eye color can affect your look. As white is almost like a blank canvas, it's more about the colors you add which makes the difference. Make sure the other colors you add to white pants or tops go well with your hair and eye color.

How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 4
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Blue is another of the main colors in most wardrobes, and you must know it combines perfectly with white, as it's ideal to create a fashionable navy look, but it also looks good with beige, camel, grey and red, burgundy and burdeaux tones. However, you should take into account the tone of blue you're going to combine, as not all combinations will allow the same tone.

You should be careful when matching blue with colors like pink or red orange as they can make you look like a footballer, but not in a good way.

You can also check our articles: what to wear with blue shoes, how to wear electric blue pants or what accessories can I wear with a blue dress if you'd like to see more combinations.

How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 5
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Though brown is one of the most difficult colors to combine, a safe option that you'll love to wear is to combine it with other tones in the same chromatic scale such as beige, cream, earth, sand or camel tones. You can also combine it with warmer tones such as orange yellow or mustard.

Brown is associated with autumnal colors and, if we're honest, we think it should really be relegated to the fall season. Brown also has connotations of being stuffy and old. Not a problem if you want to dress like an intellectual professor, but it might look like you just don't know how to have fun.

You can find more detailed combinations on our article how to wear brown boots.

How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 6
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Green is not one of the most common colors to wear, but there are certain tones such as olive green, aqua green or bottle green that combine with colors such as earth, beige, crude, sand nude, etc. It can also look great in contrast with basic colors such as black and white and with certain tones of grey.

Green is a great color to have different tones and can really make blue, hazel and green eyes spark.

If you want to find out more, you can read our article on What to wear with green trousers.

How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 7
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When shopping keep in mind how to combine the item you want to buy with your existing clothes. It is very easy to let yourself go and buy something which does not combine with anything in your wardrobe.

How to Combine Colors in Clothes - Step 8

If you want to read similar articles to How to Combine Colors in Clothes, we recommend you visit our Fashion & Style category.

Tips
  • If you have any items which you do not know how to combine run a search on google to get some ideas for similar pieces
References

1 https://www.vice.com/sv/article/5gey3x/why-do-swedish-people-constantly-dress-in-black-345

Write a comment about How to Combine Colors in Clothes

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8 comments
Grace
Thanks a lot. The article is useful for me.
OneHowTo Editor
So glad we could help Grace!
Odunlami Dare Samuel
How Do I Combine A Native With An English Dress?
Xtianah
I really find this page interesting
OneHowTo Editor
Thank you for your kind comment, we're glad you found our article useful!
Rating:
blessing
how can I use cap to wear clothes
Rating:
Ammy
great..learnt alot..thank you!
Rating:
Oluwaseun
please I want to know how to combine pin cap with clothes to church on Sunday. So also how to combine different colour. Thanks
Sal
Does black long sleeve go with blue jeans
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Sal,
It depends on the shade of blue. If it's light blue then black will look more or less fine, but navy blue doesn't really suit black.
Hope this helps
precious
can a yellow top match a teal green pant
OneHowTo Editor
Totally! just make sure you accessorize properly with not too many colors. Keep it simple

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