Adding Color To Your Wardrobe

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Adding Color to Your Wardrobe.

Ask someone with the instinct to put together a stunning outfit why those colors work and they might answer, ‘they just look good together’.  Even when we’re successful, we may not know enough to explain why it works.Mannequins_04-25-12 For most people matching different colored items is hit or miss. Store mannequins, catalogues, and some sharp dressers can show you what a matched outfit looks like.  But it is hard to translate that experience into knowledge of how you can put an outfit together on your own. That is a shame because color theory for fashion can be easily taught and learned. There are some basic concepts that can be easily changed into logical guidelines and rules (see Color Theory 101). Like everything worth learning it requires some practice, but it is really not that hard.  You can learn enough on your own to make a huge difference in how you buy and how you wear clothes. dark-green-tea-and-tulips-dress-yellow-tea-and-tulips-blouse_400 2   In an earlier blog I introduced the metaphor of a color bloodline to explain why certain colors match.   For instance, a shared color bloodline explains why green goes well with yellow.  Parent yellow and parent blue make offspring green.  The shared color bloodline makes the parent and offspring a natural match.       Red and yellow make orange.  Since orange is the offspring it will match well with either the red or yellow. NanetteRunway-7There are many other factors to consider when matching colors like warm and cool colors, complementary colors, color intensity, ratio of one color to another, texture,  etc.   Whether you can match colors by instinct or by mimicking what you see it’s all good. But when you understanding why the colors in the outfit work you will have the added confidence to create and explore new combinations in your wardrobe.  And knowing how the color was created will give you the big picture of what you need to know.

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Color And Fashion; How To Use Warm And Cool Colors

(This site sells and is sustained by MyClothingHelper. The product that tracks and organizes what you wear.) Understanding warm and cool colors is the icing on the cake of color matching. In this third article in my series on color matching outfits, I’ll explain how you can add another layer of color harmony by matching warm colors with other warm colors and cool colors with other cool colors. It may be worth going back to check out my original articles where I explain the color bloodline and complementary colors. What Are Warm and Cool Colors? If you were to place a dozen red blouses next to each other, you would notice that each one was actually a slightly different version of red. This is because all colors have at least a small portion of other colors in them. It is this smaller portion of the overall mix that controls whether the color is considered warm or cool. Warm and cool are terms that are best understood in comparison. Looking at two red blouses of the same value (how light and dark they are), one blouse will appear to have more yellow, or more blue, in comparison to the other. The blouse with more yellow is considered to be warmer. The blouse with more blue is considered to be cooler. Why is this important? Because when matching clothing, warms are more naturally matched with warms and cools are more naturally matched with cools. Can Yellow and Blue Also Be Warm and Cool? If colors are warmer or cooler based on the amount of yellow or blue they contain, what about yellow and blue themselves; can they be warm and cool too? Yes, they can. If we put two blue skirts of the same value together, one blue will be warmer or cooler than the other. The same would apply for two yellow skirts. Leaving the realm of fashion for a moment, a lemon peel is a cool yellow because it has a hint of green. A ripe banana peel is a warm yellow with a hint of orange. In comparison to each other, the color of the lemon is cooler than the color of the banana. In fashion, traditionally the best matches are made when you match a warm top with a warm bottom or a cool top with a cool bottom. Matching warm with warm and cool with cool brings your outfit into harmony. That harmony can make you feel and look great. All Colors Lean Either Warm or Cool Think of the sun, a warm yellow with a touch of orange. Now imagine the sky, a cool blue with at touch of red or green. In every color, we can see the other colors that help create the dichotomy of warm and cool. Consider a warm yellow dress. The natural match for this dress is a color that shares a common bloodline. Green shares a bloodline with yellow because green is the offspring of yellow and blue. So we know that green is a good match, but what particular green would be the best match for a warm yellow dress? Let’s now consider the two green sweaters. If one has more yellow in it than blue, it can be called a warm green. If one has more blue in it, then the green sweater can be called cool. The better match for the warm yellow dress is the warm green sweater because the warm green sweater shares more of the yellow color bloodline with the yellow dress. Warm and Cool in Blacks and Whites, Browns and Greys Blacks and whites and browns and greys are very versatile colors that are considered easier to match than other colors. However, warm and cool still applies here. A bleached white shirt is cooler than an off-white shirt with a touch of cream (that is, a touch of yellow). A brown pair of pants with a touch of yellow or orange is warmer than a brown pair of pants with a hint of blue or green. Therefore, an off-white shirt is a better match for pants with a touch of yellow or orange because they are both warm.  Conversely, a bleached white shirt would be a better match for a pair of brown pants with a hint of blue or green because they are both cool. Putting Warm and Cool Matching to Practice Think of warm and cool not strictly as either more yellow or blue but rather as a combination of yellows (yellow-orange, yellow-green) and a combination of blues (blue-green or blue-purple). Make it a practice of trying to see the warm or cool within your own wardrobe, in magazines, when shopping, and in all painted items. Trying to grasp the distinction of warm and cool in words is a lot harder than looking at and discovering it in everyday items.

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Color And Fashion; How To Match Outfits With Complementary Colors

(This site sells and is sustained by MyClothingHelper. The product that tracks and organizes what you wear.) In an earlier article, I explained that the trick to matching clothes based on color was to think of color as a kind of family bloodline. All colors have either a small or large portions of other colors in them, and the mix reveals their color bloodline. Understanding the bloodline will tell you which colors are a natural match. Colors that share a common bloodline are a natural match, but what about colors that don’t share common bloodline? Complements are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel and they do not share a common color bloodline. Complements stand out very distinctly against each other and, generally speaking, are more difficult to match compared to colors that do share a common color bloodline. The complements of the primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—are, respectively, the secondary colors—green, violet, and orange. Complements represent visual dissonance in that the eye will not readily flow from one to the other. Because of this effect, complementary colors in clothing are generally perceived to clash.

Left: yellow and purple are complementary colors and create a stark contrast. Right: modified complements of orange and purple-blue make for a more pleasing match.

The complement of a color represents the missing primary color that is not part of its bloodline. Green—a mix of blue and yellow—is the complement of red because red is the missing primary color that was not used in creating green.  When you consider the bloodline of green and red, all three primary colors are found. In this sense, green visually completes red, ergo, it is the complement of red. Traditionally, complementary colors were used mainly in graphic arts and advertising. However, contemporary fashion sometimes takes advantage of the dissonance of complementary colors to draw attention to an outfit. Matching Color Complements in Outfits and Modifying with Another Color While the color wheel is objective, color matching is subjective. That means there are always ways to make colors a better match. For example, the relationship between blue and orange can easily be changed by adding another color to both. Add a bit of yellow to orange and you get a yellow-orange. Add a bit of yellow to blue you get a yellow-blue. In the image below, yellow has been added to both the blue top and the orange bottom. Since both colors now share a bit of a common color, and have been reduced in intensity, they are now more easily matched. The same holds true if you add a bit of red to both colors; the resulting red-orange and a purple-blue would be a better match.

Complementary colors blue and orange become a better match when yellow is added to both.

Modifying with Tints, Tones, & Shades You can create a tint of a color by adding white, a tone by adding grey, and a shade by adding black. Making any of these adjustments can also help to increase the visual harmony between colors. All of these mixes affect the color and thereby modify its relationship with other colors. You can also modify a color by adding a bit of its complement. For example, if you add some green to red you will soften the red and push it towards a red-brown.  The resulting muted red-brown is more in a traditional harmony with the green because the two colors now share a part of a common bloodline. Visual Proportions Affect Color Relationships A large bright orange article of clothing against a bright blue can be overwhelming. On the other hand, a smaller portion of one color against another can be quite appealing. The proportion of one color against another is part of their overall color relationship. Below, a yellow purse with a purple dress (two complements) can be a visually interesting dynamic and a blue shawl on an orange dress is also workable. Check out our next article on getting the most out of your wardrobe by understanding warm and cool colors.

The MyClothingHelper Blog is dedicated to producing quality content on practical and fashionable living advice. If you liked this article, please take a minute to explore our website and visit the store page.