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How to Combine Colors in Menswear

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: January 20, 2017
How to Combine Colors in Menswear

We've talked about combining men's clothes before, but it is a subject that is worth returning to. Menswear might look simple enough, but it is all about matching pieces and colors, since it does not usually have loud patterns or rule-breaking shapes. Knowing how to combine clothes is a must for all fashionable men, but this requires taking into account materials, textures and patterns - such as striped or chequered - before turning to colors.

Color theory is, in fact, way more difficult than it looks like - it is still a mystery for many men, who might go out wearing light brown trousers with a purple shirt, for instance. Stay with us at OneHowTo to learn how to combine colors in menswear and not make such a faux pas again.

Combining colors in clothes: Color theory

When you wear a good combination of colors, it is something that you and the people around you notice. We all can tell when a shade looks good with another - but we often don't know why. This is something that happens unconsciously. To make it clearer, we'll go over some concepts of color theory from primary school and from there begin to understand how to combine colors in clothes.

The word "theory" may seem a little boring, but it will open your mind when it comes to combining colors in clothing, making art or simply painting the walls of your room. Trust us - color theory is very useful to know.

To know how to combine colors, we need the help of the chromatic circle or color wheel. The color wheel is the sum of the three primary colors - red, blue and yellow - and 9 intermediate colors. Try to find the primary colors in the wheel: With a little imagination you can see that they form an equilateral triangle.

The secondary colors are a mixture of the primary colors: Green, orange and purple. Green is formed from mixing blue with yellow, orange from red with yellow and purple from red with blue.

Now comes the interesting part: analogous colors. These are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. In the example below, you can see that yellow is surrounded by light green and light orange. Last but not least there are complementary colors. These are the pairs of colors in direct opposition; in the image, yellow and purple.

These are the basics of color theory - now comes the good part.

How to Combine Colors in Menswear - Combining colors in clothes: Color theory

Golden rules to combine clothes

  • Analogous colors only go well together when they have the same level of intensity.
  • Never combine primary colors (like flat red and yellow) or secondary colors (like flat green and purple). You'll look like a cartoon character.
  • Complementary colors create high contrast and the result can be either amazingly good or terribly bad. Purple and yellow are a very good combination for menswear as long as the intensity is different, as in light yellow trousers with a deep purple polo shirt. An example of a bad combination is bright green with bright red, something which doesn't go except in a costume for a Christmas party.
  • White and black are both "wildcard" colors and can be used in almost all combinations; grays as well to a lesser extent.

These guidelines will be your starting point when you're learning how to combine colors in menswear. You will soon notice that there are more rules, and that nothing is as simple as that. As you learn, always keep in mind the intensity and brightness of the color.

Examples of how to combine colors: Fall/Winter menswear

Here you have some excellent color combinations so you can start training your eye. Note that everything is based on combining pieces of clothing with analogous colors and an accent color or garment that is very different and thus catches your eye. Pay attention to the texture and intensity of the colors as well.

How to Combine Colors in Menswear - Examples of how to combine colors: Fall/Winter menswear

Examples of how to combine colors: Spring/Summer menswear

In the summer, color schemes tend to be less extreme. You can play around with variations on a single color palette instead.

As you can see in the picture, a combination of blue with some white accents combines perfectly. Combinations like blue and green, which in the winter don't go so well, look great in summer.

How to Combine Colors in Menswear - Examples of how to combine colors: Spring/Summer menswear

How to combine men's suits

Traditionally, when men dress up they tend to be more traditional and less risky than women. However, more and more people dare to include riskier elements in menswear, which nowadays is less muted.

It is now very fashionable to combine a dark suit with colorful shoes, like red or yellow. However, the classic combination is always a hit; grays or blues with a white or black shirt are always a guarantee of elegance.

How to Combine Colors in Menswear - How to combine men's suits

More examples of color combinations

To finish up, we have more examples of different combinations in a range of styles and formality levels. Note the excellent combination of purple with military brown. You can also see a model wearing an extremely light pastel violet suit, with very light duckling yellow trousers. The shirt is white - remember that it's a wildcard color - with creates a neutral canvas, while a handkerchief can enhance the color of a bag.

Do you have your own favorite combination? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

How to Combine Colors in Menswear - More examples of color combinations

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

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Such a great post.Thanks for the advice.
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How to Combine Colors in Menswear