I’ve been asked to show you some examples of using contrast – what is high medium and low contrast, so here are examples and the 7 essential elements you need to know about using contrast. You need to understand your personal contrast levels to then choose the clothing/garments and create outfits using a similar contrast so that you are in harmony.
1. Value Contrast
How the lightness and darkness of the clothes you are wearing together create contrast
Here are 6 outfits, created with a light top and dark (high contrast), medium (medium contrast) and light (low contrast) bottoms.
High value contrast – light and dark colours or neutrals together
Medium value contrast – medium and light or medium and dark
Low value contrast – light with light, medium with medium or dark with dark
Simple! But what about colour contrast?
2. Colour Contrast
Here are examples of the varying colour contrasts.
Low colour contrast: Monochromatic – which means wearing one colour at a time, or neutrals plus one colour up to analogous colour contrast
Medium colour contrast: Analogous to 2/3 Triadic – wearing colours that are adjacent on the colour wheel to those that form 2 parts of an equidistant triangle
High colour contrast: Triadic to Complementary – wearing multiple colours at the same time from triads to complementary (opposite on the colour wheel to each other)
All the examples pictured here are a low value contrast, but vary in their colour contrast. Next onto mixing value with colour contrast!
3. Mixing Colour and Value Contrast
Here is where people often wonder about how to mix their colour and their value contrast together. Here all the tops are light, but the scarf colours change in contrast, as does the value of the bottom piece (pants or skirt) to create the different value contrasts.
Notice how the neutrals change from being lighter (low contrast) to dark (high contrast with the light coloured top/jacket), but the colour contrast also changes from low to high.
The easiest way to work with value contrast is to work it with neutrals, and mix colours for the colour contrast, that way you won’t clash the colours.
4. Medium Value Colours
So when you wear a medium value colour, such as this one pictured. You can make a low to medium value contrast but not a high value contrast, as the medium colour is only one step away from light and deep values.
You can see that this is a low colour contrast – they are all blue (monochromatic) but vary in their value contrast.
So when you take the medium value blue top in the centre, you can create a low contrast by pairing it with the jacket on the left, a medium contrast with the jacket above or a medium high contrast with either of the two jackets on the right, but one is created with a darker colour, the other a lighter colour.
5. Low Value Contrast
This blue top, jacket and jeans outfit is a low value contrast, starting with medium value colour, but the colour contrast varies from low to high and so you can see the effect of how it changes the appearance of the outfit.
6. Playing with Contrast
You can play with contrast levels, both value and colour contrast and see which you think looks the best on you. Try using scarves or accessories to do this.
Remember that simultaneous contrast will change the way a colour looks – you can make it look brighter or duller, depending on what you put next to it.
7. Contrast and Patterns
The easiest way to work with contrast can be to find patterns with the right contrast levels for you, both value contrast and colour contrast.
You can see that you can find prints with all different contrast levels, both colour and value. If you have a print you don’t wear, look at the contrast levels and compare them to your contrast – maybe there is a disconnect at the contrast level, whether it’s colour or value.
Discover Your Contrast
Not sure of your contrast? Then go through my 3 Step Process to discover your contrast. If you’d like my professional opinion (plus a personal colour analysis) then why not try my 7 Steps to Style program that includes this plus so much more (body shape, wardrobing, how your personality influences your style choices, your style values).