Colour matching: the knowhow at your fingertips
If you have ever wondered why some colours seem to harmonise together beautifully while others just seem to jar, the answer is all down to colour matching. In this blogpost, we take you through the basics of colour matching to explain how colours work together and how you can use the principles of colour theory to vary your own look for any mood or occasion.
Once you have got to grips with a few important principles of colour matching, it is quick and easy to apply them to your own wardrobe and tweak them to suit your personal style. Knowing you look fabulous in your chosen colour combinations boosts your confidence and puts a spring in your step. So why not give some of our ideas a try and see what works for you.
The basic principles of colour matching
We tend to think that finding the right colour combinations to suit us is a very personal matter which depends on our individual looks, personality and preferences. And while this is absolutely right, colour matching lays out some important principles that explain why different combinations of colours have different effects on the way that we look and feel.
The colour wheel
The starting point when it comes to colour matching theory is the colour wheel, a spectrum that contains all the colours of the rainbow (and a few more!) in a particular order. When colour matching, you simply identify where the colours sit in relation to each other on the wheel. Depending on its relative position, your chosen shade may be harmonising, complementary or toning.
Each combination will project a different appearance, from nuanced and calming to vibrant and vivid. So by using the colour wheel as a handy guide it is easy to stay on track when you are weighing up your fashion options.
All the colours of the rainbow, plus a few more
The colour wheel consists of three different types of colours:
Red, blue and yellow are the essential building blocks of the colour wheel and all the other shades are based on different combinations of these primary colours. The reason they are known as primary colours is that it is impossible to recreate them by mixing other colours.
If you want to create a bright and cheerful effect for your outfits, different combinations of pure red, blue and yellow will always harmonise your outfit and give you a bold, confident look. Try using one base colour for your ensemble and add contrasting accents or accessories from one other primary colour—for example, a red clutch with a blue suit to make your look pop.
The secondary colours on the colour wheel are made by mixing different combinations of two primary colours. Green is a mix of equal amounts of blue and yellow, orange of red and yellow and purple of red and blue.
Worn together, secondary colours still have a strong contrast but are slightly more balanced and muted than the ultra-vibrant primary colour combinations. They still have a harmonious feel to them and are best at conveying a pleasing, eye-catching effect with a little more restraint.
Tertiary colours are created by combing a primary and a secondary colour in a 2:1 ratio. These shades effectively bridge the gap between the primaries and the secondaries to complete the full spectrum and include red-orange, yellow-orange and so on. These complete each colour family on the wheel.
Colour matching: making different combinations work for you
You should choose analogous colours when you want to project a discreet, harmonious style. These shades belong to the same colour family and sit next to each other on the colour wheel. You can combine different types of blue in your outfit and accessories for a subtle and pulled together look—for example, wearing dark, vintage denim jeans with a light blue top and accessorise with violet or indigo accessories.
To create a vibrant, stand-out look that is still harmonious, combine two complementary colours. These are shades that are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel and although they contrast starkly, they will work well together to really make things pop. Red and green is a popular Christmas combination, but yellow and purple or blue and orange are also eye-catching options. If you are concerned about the overall impression getting a bit “busy”, wear a single base colour for your outfit and use accents of the complementary colour, such as a bag, shoes or scarf, to pick out the second.
Warm and cool colours
The colour wheel can be split into two halves. On the one side are the cool colours including blue, green and bluish purple. On the opposite side are the warm colours of red, orange, yellow and red-based purple.
Wearing a combination of cool colours together is more likely to project a calm and professional image, so is a great choice for the office or an important meeting. On the other hand, a mix of warm colours conveys openness, enthusiasm and creativity, so is perfect for social or creative occasions.
Mixing warm and cool colours together in a single outfit is a question of personal style, as these different undertones tend not to work harmoniously together. So if you are aiming for a classically elegant style, this combination is probably best avoided, as it can be jarring. But if you are after a funky, edgy look with lots of personality, the warm/cool combo has bags of attitude.
Colour matching gives you a handy guide to help you tailor your outfit for any mood and the occasion. And to find the colours that will make your complexion glow and make your eyes pop, take a look at the helpful Team Artigiano blogpost: Colours That Suit You.