In our last installment of the color series (back before Spring Break, Easter, The Flu, etc….) we talked about monochromatic dressing. If your memory goes back that far, we learned that monochromatic doesn’t just mean dressing in all black from head to toe, it also means using shades, tints and tones of a single hue to make an outfit interesting and harmonious.
In this color series lesson, we’re going to focus on another harmonious use of color, but we’re going to kick it up a notch. This time, we’re talking about using analogous colors to create interesting outfits and break out of our all-black (or denim with everything) ruts. Analogous colors are colors that live next to each other on the color wheel. They’re neighbors, so to speak. To create an analogous outfit, we’re going to use 2-4 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.
Creating interesting analougous outfits is easy, especially if you have a color wheel. Pick an item from your closet, find its color on the wheel, and then look to the left and right to see what you can wear with it.
Of course, this is much easier if you have some color in your wardrobe! If you don't, it's time to get some. Pick an item in your closet you love, find its color on the color wheel, then look to the left and right. Put one of those colors on your shopping list. Pick up a bracelet, necklace, scarf or a pair of shoes in an analogous shade if you're not ready to go all out with color.
Below are some analogous looks I found on Pinterest. They have more interest and contrast than monochromatic looks, but they're still harmonious and easily wearable.
I think a lot of people shy away from color, and wearing different colors together, because they're afraid the outfit will be "too much". So with that in mind, I want to introduce you to a concept called "Whisper, Talk, or Shout". A hundred years ago, I ran a chain of hair salons that focused on color. One of the questions our colorists asked was, "Do you want your color to whisper, talk or shout"--meaning, do you want your hair to have just a little more oomph than your natural color (whisper), do you want your color to be noticeable and stand out, but not be too bold (talk), or do you want your hair color to be the first thing people notice about you (shout)? There wasn't (and still isn't) a right answer, but it helped our colorists understand how bold their clients wanted to be.
It's the same thing with dressing in color. You can use color to be subtle and interesting (whisper), noticeable and interesting (talk) or bold and interesting (shout). If you want to whisper, that's fine. But know that you can whisper and look put together at the same time. If you want to shout, that's cool too--but know that you can shout and not look crazy. Here's how!
Using basics like denim and a white tank allow us to use color in a way that pops, but doesn't look to "out there". Using a scarf to bring the green of the cardigan and the blue of the shoes together is a great way to tie colors together and create a cohesive look. Even the most timid color users can recreate this look!
Analogous prints are so easy to work with--all of your coordinating colors are right there! This time, instead of a neutral bottom, we're using an analogous color on the bottom to up the wow factor a little bit. Analogous accessories complete the look.
This look is bold and high contrast, but still works because the red, violet and pink are neighbors on the color wheel. If you want to stand out in a crowd, this is a good way to do it! I've used a bracelet that has all the outfit colors in it to make it a little more cohesive, and a little easier to wear.
I've also used neutral bags in all three looks. There's a point where a look stops being an outfit, and starts being a costume. Only you can decide where that point is for yourself, but for me, coordinating bags would have been too much.
Do you have a color wheel yet? Would you like one? Leave a comment below, and one lucky, random winner will receive the same color wheel I use. Winner will be drawn on Monday, May 12.