Friday, September 25, 2009

The Art of Color - What Colors Go Well Together

Picking which colors go well together is much easier than most people think. The key to choosing the right colors for the right occasions is all about the color wheel. If you imagine the color wheel when you are picking out the colors of your outfit you will have no problem making sure your outfit matches and the colors all go well together. With suits and most men’s clothes sticking to solid color ties and solid color suits makes it that much easier to play around with color matching. Color matching with a lot of patterns is very difficult to do well and something I would not recommend.

A couple of basic rules: Gray & White are neutral colors. They go with any color in the rainbow. If in doubt wear a neutral shirt (white) or neutral suit (gray). Brown shoes and Black shoes are both universal. They go with any color suit and any color combination. Personally I have my preferences with shoe color, but there is not a wrong choice. Also it must be noted that khaki pants & jeans in the fashion world are considered neutral colors, wear them with any colors and it will work well.

The most basic color match is to keep items within the same color family, but different shades. Wearing a navy blue suit a blue and gray tie and a light blue shirt will always work well. Wearing colors that are varying degrees of depth and darkness is considered a monochromatic look. This is a sophisticated and conservative look, but that is never a bad thing.

Looking at a color wheel you can see that each color has its opposite and complimentary color. Going around the circle the complimentary color is the one that is directly opposite it on the other side of the wheel. Purple is opposite yellow, blue is opposite orange, red is opposite green, etc. This is a simple complimentary color match and will always work in fashion. These color matches are often found in neck ties. Red and Green rep ties are quite common, as are blue and orange patterns. If you have a light blue shirt wear it with a dark orange tie and you will look very sharp. This also explains why light green and pink match so well.

Now looking at the color wheel, draw a balanced triangle in the color wheel and those three colors all match each other. Take for example: Blue, Yellow and Red. They form a basic color triangle that will match the colors well. This is why you can wear a navy blazer, a red pocket square and yellow tie with gray slacks or khakis and you will look great. Drawing the same triangle for any set of colors will result in an outfit that is very attractive without feeling like it was overly planned out and matchy.

Once you have mastered the color triangle you can make a two color match with any two colors at are connected by a side of the triangle. In the example above red and blue are connected with the base of the triangle. Those two colors are fantastic to match together. A blue shirt, a red knit tie and a double breasted navy jacket is one of the most classic and beautiful outfits a man can wear. I love that color combination for work and for a date. This will work with any side of the triangle as you rotate it around the color wheel. This is the reason blue and green work so well together.

Another color match is the wedge triangle, which is depicted above. In this case dark blue, maroon and yellow are all connected via the wedge. These three colors match well together and can have a great balance. As do any of the colors in a wedge triangle. Just like the basic color triangle you can match just two colors of a wedge triangle and wear those together. This is why maroon and navy blue are often found together in ties and shirts.


  1. I appreciate your color research; it's helpful in selecting my casual wardrobe. Ray Fields

  2. thanks this really helps when imtrying to put together the color scheme for my characters clothes or their back ground *thanks

  3. Thanks I'm horrible at matching clothes and this will help immensely.