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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.
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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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