How To Figure Out Your Contrast

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When choosing how to put colours together you first need to figure out your personal contrast levels.

There are two sorts of contrast – Value (which means light to dark) and Colour (how many different colours are flattering to wear at one time).

Firstly lets look at your Value Contrast.

Now think about your Colour Contrast.

How To Figure Out Your Contrast

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15 Comments

  • Hi Imogen,
    I’ve watched the videos twice now, and still don’t understand how I would put colours together. Based on the videos, I think I’m low value contrast, high colour contrast. (naturally mousy with blonde hilights), pale ice blue or grey eyes, and light fair skin). So I’d wear colours of the same shade or different colours? – I just don’t get it. I’m trying to relate this to the coloumn of colour advice as I’m only 5’1″. Please help!

    • Hi Alison,

      OK you’re right –

      Low Value contrast (so wear light colours, or medium colours, or dark colours together, but if you want to wear light and dark you need to put a medium colour on as well.

      Medium/High colour contrast – so wear different colours at the same time, like pink and green, purple and green, or blue and red (etc.) rather than shades of the same colour.

      As you’re petite, you will find that the colours you wear in contrast will be smaller in proportion and up toward your face to create an upwards and face focus, rather than splitting your body with multiple colours in larger proportions which will wear you.

  • hi imogen. i’m a bit late chiming in with a question here. this was really helpful and helps explain why i gravitate towards high contrast patterns in my clothing (i am dark hair, dark eyes, fair skin). about color contrast – where do hazel eyes sit on the color wheel? more towards dark orange or more towards dark green? i’m trying to sort out whether to consider myself more monochromatic or more analogous. thanks!

    • Jenni – hazel eyes can either be down the bronze/orange route or the olive green route – so depends on what your eyes are – have a look up close in a mirror and see what the predominant colour is.

  • hi imogen! thanks for your last response. i’m confused about matching colors based on their value. i am high value contrast (dark hair, dark eyes, fair skin) and low/medium color contrast (brown hair, cool pinky skin, hazel eyes that look brown from far away). according to the video on value contrast i can look good wearing dark and light colors together (different values). but in another video on mixing colors, you say that one should always wear colors of similar value (and intensity) together. which rule should i follow? thanks!!

    • Jenni, if you have low color contrast, you should wear shades of one color (shades of blue, or shades of green, or shades of burgundy, or any other). Imogen didn’t say anything about wearing colors of similar value (and intensity) together.

      • You can think about wearing two colours of similar value and then a third colour with a different value (or that could be a neutral in a different value) too. No reason why we only have to wear 2 colours at a time!

  • Hi Imogen
    I’m like Alison (see above question and reply) with a low value contrast, high colour contrast.
    Naturally mousy with blonde highlights, pale blue eyes, and lightish fair skin. I’m also petite but curvy.

    So what would be good colour combinations to wear together in outfits ?
    Is it better to stick to plain colours or add small scale patterns to link clothes together?
    Are soft shirts a good alternative to cardigans as the third piece?
    I wear mainly trousers – rather than skirts/dresses.

    Many thanks for any advise you can give.
    Morfudd Lewis

    • Morfudd, Colour combinations depend on your personal colouring – without doing a colour analysis I can’t give you specific advice. Patterns are related to personality. If you like patterns wear them – as a petite a small scale pattern is the best idea. If you don’t like patterns don’t wear them! You can wear cardigans, vests, over shirts and jackets or even jewellery or scarves as your third piece. It depends so much on your lifestyle, your personality and dressing style and the climate in which you live as to what is most appropriate for you.

  • I know this is a very late reply. I have just found your website and it is fabulous! I am having a hard time understanding how I should wear my colors. I think I have a medium value contrast. As well I have medium brown hair and brown hair. So I have monochromatic color contrast. And I’m not sure how I am suppose to wear these contrasts. Am I suppose to wear all the same monochromatic color outfit? Please help!

  • Wow, this was great! I have light skin (warm tone) and warm golden hair, so I’m VERY monochromatic, but my eyebrows are very dark brown (almost black) and I’ve always known that’s the reason I’m able to wear black without looking washed out. I also have gray eyes which I have always thought contrasted nicely with my warm blond coloring, and I *love* wearing contrasting colors in my wardrobe, but only in small bits (a pair of shoes, or a necklace). I’ve also tried monochromatic dressing, but have never liked the way it looks on me without a punch of color. It all makes sense now. Thanks for providing the theory for what I’ve instinctively known. I was an art major in college, and love color, so I love all your color theory!

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