Since the time I learned about the 7 colors of the rainbow and all the colors in between, I have been fascinated by colors one way or the other. The color wheel is the phenomenon that explains it all. So here is the ubiquitous Color wheel, seemingly simple but hidden beneath it, the whole visual spectrum of a thousand colors and explanations.
The scientific ideology called the color theory is basically a guidance for you and me to choose the right color and its combinations. Knowing the importance of colors in our day-to-day life, no one would dare to ignore this theory, especially designers, creators, and artists, who are vastly concerned about the appearance of things. And the appearance of anything is very much dependant on its color or lack of it.
Also Check out this related post – What color should I wear? Wardrobe color trends for you. You will even learn which color is your lucky one.
We never look at color in isolation. It is a combination of colors and their proportion and balance which gives us the right perception of an object. For this, it is important that when we use color, we analyze how effectively it stands together with other colors used around it. Because at the end of the day it is not just the professionals who are concerned about color. It is for everybody.
Color is everywhere, and if there is a harmonious color experience, color theory is not far behind.
How to Match Clothing Colors
Here is a simple example showing the importance of color harmony in our daily life: when you wear an emerald color dress it is going to look more visually striking to choose a blood-red lipstick to go with it than if you were going to wear a dull mauve shade. If that is the effect you are going after, you will choose the red rather than the mauve, right?.
Color theory is nothing but common sense like this. But then, it is like my chemistry professor told me ( well, he addressed the entire class but at the time, it seemed like he told me) “Common sense is uncommon”; which is why we see atrocious color combinations. Indeed, common sense is uncommon.
By learning the color combinations mentioned in this post you will be having a better idea about what colors will go together for clothes, accessories, and even for embroidery and other embellishments.
The Color wheel is the visual representation of the color theory. Sir Isaac Newton invented the color wheel and then Johann Wolfgang Goethe elaborated on it so that we have a better time understanding various color schemes/color harmonies.
The basic Color wheel combinations
You would be using the colors in the color wheel daily like the obvious ones here – Yellow, yellow-green, spring green, green, blue-green, aqua green, aqua blue, turquoise blue, cerulean blue, blue, blue-violet, violet, red-violet, purple, Fuschia, magenta, blue-red, red, orange-red, orange, yellow-orange, orange-yellow, golden yellow. There are so many more that consist of shades, tones, and tints of these colors.
You have the primary colors and then combine them to get secondary colors. These groups are again combined in varying proportions to get the tertiary colors. But then these details are of interest mostly to an artist; you and me, who are more interested in the visual aspect of colors can skip this and check out the simple fashion color wheel charts/combinations that will help you coordinate clothes.
(If you like to know more about the colors, their mixing etc you can checkout the post on color in the fabric painting tutorial)
These are colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel. They are basically contrasting colors so will give you a striking high contrast effect.
Well, if you follow this color scheme you just may end up looking like a Christmas tree, if you are not too careful. Well, maybe not so dramatic, but these are bold and striking colors and should be used carefully, because of the high contrast effect. Designers usually bypass this problem by choosing small accents in complementary colors.
As you can see from the color wheel the complementary colors are
- Blue-green & red-orange
- Yellow & violet
- Blue and Orange
- Yellow GREEN and red-violet
- Blue Violet and yellow-orange
- Green and red
Complementary colors work with the greatest impact when bright versions of blue are used.
Split complementary colors
In this color combination, you take one key color and then combine it with the adjacent colors of its opposite complementary colors. The result is a toned down version of the high contrast complementary colors.
You get the contrasting effect but without the drama. They are stable and harmonious.
The split complementary colors are
Yellow-green, violet, red
Green, red-violet, red-orange
Blue, green red, orange
Blue, red-orange, yellow-orange
Violet, yellow-orange, yellow-green
Red, violet, yellow-green
Red, yellow-green, blue-green
Yellow, blue-violet, red-violet
Double complementary colors (Tetradic colors)
This color combination consists of two sets of complementary colors. In this combination, the complementary colors are further toned down. Instead of one key color, adjacent colors are chosen from opposite sides ie four colors arranged into two complementary color pairs. You have to draw a rectangle through the colors of the color wheel to get this combination.
The color spectrum is wider here, so it is difficult to balance if all the colors are used in similar proportions. You will have to find a good balance of these striking colors.
Analogous colors are any 3 – 5 adjacent colors sharing a common color. The colors have a unifying effect as they share the same color family. Some Analogous color combinations are red, orange yellow, orange; yellow, yellow green, green.
You may not get the high vibrancy of complementary colors but this color combination is rich and at the same time harmonious and soothing.
Ensure that you do not combine warm and cool colors in this color scheme. If you are not careful this color combination can feel a little flat.
Triad colors are equidistant from one another on the color wheel. You will get contrasting colors which are surprisingly harmonious.
The triad colors are
- Red, Yellow, Blue
- Yellow orange, Blue green, Red violet
- Red orange, Yellow green, Blue violet
- Orange Green Violet
This refers to a single color in a range of hues ie you get saturation of a single color. Simply said, from dark to light of one color. Eg violet, purple, lilac etc. The result is a set of colors which are very easy on the eye. They have a unifying effect.
But if you want to highlight a particular feature this color scheme is found lacking. Some may find this color scheme boring.
Other than these color schemes outlined in the color theory there are some more color combinations which you can use to end up with a pleasing harmonious visual experience.
Classic colors are versatile, timeless colors which never go out of style. You will not be able to pinpoint these colors to a particular style or era. But they are appealing colors nevertheless.
This is a monochromatic color scheme with variations of grey hue. They can turn out to look drab if you are not too careful. But this color combination can give a feeling of depth with the correct usage. Black and its different variations in this color combination can give a visual perception of thinness.
Neutral refers to a state of having no color. In color combination, it means hues which are toned down. When you want to play down some thing this color scheme is used. Black, white, grey, and Ivory, brown beige, tan shades of white, gold and silver are the prominent neutral colors.
Pastel colors and soft colors
These are color combinations you associate with all things pretty, delicate and wonderful. The first thing that comes to mind perhaps is a baby. They have a soothing calming effect but is somewhat limiting in its application because not everyone prefers them.
This is a color scheme which tries to mimic colors found on the earth (color of soil, trees, rocks, moss etc) It includes a whole spectrum of colors encompassing some shades of brown. It is a muted color scheme and can look dull if not careful.
Cool colors are dominated by colors in the blue family. These colors are very soothing and very easy on the eye. Cool colors are white, grey, blue and green and its varying shades.You can add accent colors from the warm color family to break the monotony of cool colors.
Lively colors and vivid colors
As the names suggest these groups of colors, can give a lively sporty look. These bright colors may not be everyone’s cup of tea but those who find them attractive relish the energy given by these colors.
These are deep colors with a strong vibe. These are colors you would associate with the traditional motifs of Asia and Africa and other cultures.
These are colors straight out of a Disney movie. The candy pinks and bright yellows and sea greens in this group fascinate people ie, those who dig these colors. They look for these combinations in every purchase they make. I have one such giddy girl at home, so I know.
No color combination is right or wrong, whatever the color theory and the media try to tell us. Whatever color combination you choose for your clothes, accessories, it is a reflection of your personality. You can wear the color of your choice with pride and celebrate life and its myriad colors.
Which is your favourite color scheme, right now?
Learn more on color combinations in this very detailed list on canva.com.
Know the names of a lot of colors in this world in these posts: Color names in fashion – A reference guide for 100+ colors; Red color in fashion; yellow color in fashion; Blue color in fashion; Grey color in fashion; Green color in fashion; White color in fashion.
You can also check out this related post on 55 different types of fabric patterns and prints