In April, we're working on color--specifically, how to use it to make our wardrobes more interesting. Let's start with a quick review of the basic color wheel, and then add in some more info that will help you understand how to use color to look fab, and not like a color-blind clown!
First, the basic color wheel has 3 primary colors, 3 secondary colors, and 6 tertiary colors.
The three primary colors (represented by the biggest dots on the wheel) are: Red, Yellow, and Blue
The three secondary colors (the medium dots on the wheel) are made from mixing the primary colors and are: Orange, Green, and Purple
The six tertiary colors (the smallest dots on the wheel) are made from mixing a Primary and a Secondary color and are: Red Orange, Yellow Orange, Yellow Green, Blue Green, Blue Violet and Red Violet
In between all of the dots are a million different hues that are made from combining tertiary colors and so on and so on but we're just focusing on the 12 big ones for now.
Now for the info that might actually be new to you!
Obviously we know that a color wheel is more than just 12 bright circles, right? No one has clothes that are nothing but those 12 bright colors--but where do those other colors come from? They're created with tints, tones, and shades.
First, those true, bright circles we see on the color wheel aren't technically called "colors". They're called "hues". Anything that can be made by mixing just the primary colors in different proportions is a hue. Calling something like teal blue a shade of blue isn't really correct. Teal is made by mixing green and blue together, so teal it's own hue. Hues on their own are bright and high contrast, and wearing nothing but true hues would be a quick way to get a job in the circus. We normally wear Tints, Shades and Tones of our favorite hues in order to not look crazy.
Tints occur when we mix a hue with white. The result is a softening and lightening of the original hue. All pastels are tints. Imagine taking a little puddle of white paint and adding blue drop by drop. First you're going to get a whitish blue, then baby blue, then brighter blue, and so on and so on until you have enough blue to return to your regular hue. This is a spectrum of tints.
Adding white is great for making pastels, but how do you make rich dark colors? Simple--add black. Adding black to a hue creates shades. Shades are darker and richer than hues. Let's take our puddle of blue paint, and add black drop by drop. We're going to go from primary blue to navy all the way to bluish black. Those are shades of blue.
I think most people would call the entire blue spectrum from whitish blue to blackish blue "shades" of blue. Don't be the annoying person who corrects people at the paint counter at Home Depot, or try to impress your friends with your new found knowledge---just file it in your head under "nice to know" and continue calling baby blue a shade of blue when really its a tint.
Finally, what the heck is a "tone"? A tone is created by mixing a hue with grey. Have you ever heard the term "Tone it down"? Well, adding grey to a hue makes it easier on the eyes, and less high-contrast to pair with other colors. Grey literally "tones down" a hue.
What does this mean for using color to elevate our style? Knowing how to mix shades, tints and tones is important. For example, let say you like red and blue, and wear a red sweater and blue skirt. In their original hue, the combination might be too bright or high-contrast for you. Instead, pairing your red sweater (hue) with a navy skirt (shade) produces a look that's less contrasting, and easier to wear.
Another example would be pairing green and orange together. These complementary hues work together, but the effect is bold. Try a toned down olive green skirt with a light coral (tint) sweater, and you still have an interesting outfit that uses color well, but is a little easier to wear.
This month I'll be showing how to use colors in different ways, and I'll be using shades, tints and tones (and maybe a couple of hues) to put them all together!