All colours are equal but some colours are more equal than others...When it comes to combining colours, that is. It depends on the effect you're after, of course. Do you want certain colours to stand out more than others? Or do you want all of the colours you're wearing to blend together? Are you using a particular colour as an accent, or is it supposed to fade into the background?
Now, compare these two pictures. The coat is very pale blue. So, not exactly a colour I would wear on its own...
But it's the scarf that makes all the difference: the scarf on the left makes the whole outfit look very bland whereas the scarf on the right adds some colour, and some contrast. We know it's the same coat, but doesn't it look just a bit brighter and fresher on the right (original post)?
So, it must be the scarf on the left that is wrong. Wrong colour, too dull, a bit blah, right? Or is it?
Look at the same scarf in the picture below. Not so dull and blah anymore, huh? (original post)
And doesn't the scarf on the right look more subdued, all of a sudden? (original post)
Yep, it's all about contrast again.You can have a wild array of colours creating a very calming and harmonious effect when the contrast is low, and the colours blend together without any of them standing out, like here:
And this is how it translates into an outfit (original post):
Or you can have a high contrast and make the colours stand out:
This outfit has a few very saturated colours (original post):
And here the less saturated blue / green / purple tones of the dress form a calm background for the more saturated magenta bolero (original post):
But in both pictures the contrast between the colours is high, and because of that the visual impact of the red-tones is bigger. In other words, the magenta top becomes the focus of attention.
But how do I decide where exactly to place the high-impact colour when I'm putting together an outfit? Well, that depends on the outfit and the wearer, of course. We all have body parts we prefer to 'hide' or play down. Look at these pictures: there's a reason why you don't see me wearing very colourful trousers, for instance...
Anyway, when combining colours you have to first ask three questions:
1) Do I want any of the colours to stand out?
2) Which colour do I want to highlight, be the focus of attention?
3) What amount of contrast do I want between my colours?
When it's done right, a high contrast between colours can be visually interesting, and it is certainly a very easy way to create a big impact.
And highlighting one colour while simultaneously playing down others is also an easy trick to focus attention where you want it, and can be adapted to many styles.
But there are colours that require special treatment. I'm of course talking about colours that refuse to share the spotlight with others... Let's talk about diva colours another time, in a week or two, OK?
Do you wear colour, and how do you combine colours?
Read the 1st part of this 3-part series: YOUR BEST COLOURS