Knowing how to use the color wheel can make a HUGE difference in how you wear your clothes. With just a little creativity, you can make a little do a lot yet still look like you have ton of clothes. So grab a pen and take some notes. You’re not going to want to miss anything.
The color wheel was developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666, and has been used in the decorative arts ever since. From painting and landscaping to fashion and home décor, you can use the color wheel to determine which colors “go together” in any of your projects. With just a little imagination, you can find all sorts of fun ways to breathe new life into your old favorites with color.
How can you do that?
Let’s start with the basics.
The three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.
When you mix them with each other, you get orange, green, and violet, which are referred to as secondary colors.
Each secondary color sits directly opposite a primary color on the color wheel. That opposite relationship is called complementary.
When you mix the three secondary colors with the three primary colors, you get six tertiary or intermediate colors, which are lighter variations of the secondary colors.
Colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors.
These twelve basic colors are called “hues.” You can darken them with black (“shade”), mute them with gray (“tone”), or lighten them with white (“tint”) to get different variations of the same color. So how does this translate to clothes? You can wear black or white with any hue on the color wheel. That’s why I often show black and white in my combinations – because they’re so versatile.
But if you take the tint very light or the shade or tone very dark, it becomes harder to combine them with black and white. Just keep that in mind moving forward.
Color Wheel Combos
So what colors go together?
The primary colors all go together…
…just as they all work with black and white.
Notice how many grade schools, high schools, and popular logos use primary colors with black or white.
The secondary colors all go together, just as they do with black and white.
They also work with their complementary or “opposite” color on the color wheel.
Notice how many professional sports teams use secondary complimentary colors for their uniforms.
Tertiary or intermediate colors also go together, along with their complementary colors.
Different variations of the same color can create a monochromatic look.
Analogous colors – those that are next to each other on the color wheel – also create visual interest.
So how can you make color work in your wardrobe?
- First, if you haven’t already, organize your closet by color. It’s the fastest way to see what you have – and to play with different color combinations.
- Secondly, either print off this color wheel chart and hang it in your closet, or buy one at a crafts store like Michael’s and keep it near your clothes for easy reference.
- Next, start playing with different color combinations. Start with the primary colors, then add black and white.
- Once you feel comfortable, play with secondary colors. Then their complementary colors.
- Then try tertiary colors and their complementary colors.
Have a scarf, belt, or shoes with a variety of colors? Use that as the element to pull different colors together.
See how easy this is?
Once you get the hang of it, you’re only limited by your imagination. You can come up with dozens of combinations from just a handful of pieces.
Another perk? If you work in a creative industry, you can wow others with your color sense – including your boss and clients. Use is to spice up your wardrobe and build your resume. It’s totally “win-win.”
So what’s the bottom line here? Stop wearing the “same old, same old” combinations all the time. Mix it up a bit with color and see how much fun it is!