Color Wheel
Knowing how to use the color wheel can make a HUGE difference in how you wear clothes.  Because with just a little creativity, you can make a little do a lot and save yourself a ton of money.  So grab a pen and take some notes.  You don’t 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. It’s a fun, easy way to breathe new life into your old favorites.

How can you do that?

The Basics of Color

The three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow.

Primary Colors

When you mix them with each other, you get orange, green, and violet, which are referred to as secondary colors.

Secondary Colors

Each secondary color sits directly opposite a primary color on the color wheel. That opposite relationship is called complementary.

Complementary Colors

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.

Intermediate Colors

Colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors.

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. Color Wheel 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.

Color Wheel with Black and White

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.


FREE Clothing Color Chart



Color Wheel Combos

So what colors go together?

The primary colors all go together…

Primary Colors…just as they all work with black and white.

Primary Colors

Notice how many grade schools, high schools, and popular logos use primary colors with black or white.


The secondary colors also together, just as they do with black and white.

Secondary Colors

They also work with their complementary or “opposite” color on the color wheel.

Complementary Colors

Notice how many professional sports teams use secondary complementary colors for their uniforms.

Football Team hats

Tertiary or intermediate colors also go together, along with their complementary colors.

Intermediate 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.



Everyday Color Combinations

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.
  • You could also grab my clothing color ebook to help you come up with even more unexpected color combinations.

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!


FREE Clothing Color Chart



Diana Pemberton-SikesDiana Pemberton is an image coach and author of the FREE Clothing Color ChartGrab your copy today!




Color Wheel Clothing Combinations

    7 replies to "Color Wheel Clothing Combinations"

    • Judy Salter

      An excellent article Diana – very informative and useful.

      • Diana

        Thanks, Judy! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Ann

      Wow, mind meld! I was just thinking about this topic the other day. Thanks for a great explanation!

      • Diana

        Hi Ann,

        You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Ann

      Diana, how do the browns, earth tones and warm and cool colors in general fit into the basic palette? Would those variations require the creation of multiple palette images?

      • Diana

        Hi Ann,

        I’ll be discussing warm/cool and neutral colors in a future post. Stay tuned!

    • Marian Rothschild

      Your explanation of the color wheel and what colors go together is exceptionally well done! Wonderful graphics, too, to show examples – great pictures.
      But some women might get the idea that they can wear any color combination, no matter what color hair or skin tone they have. That’s why, readers, it’s always extremely helpful to have a color consultation with someone like Diana or a trained professional in your area who can make up a customized color chart for your unique coloring.

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