Colour contrast tells you how many colours and what kind of colours to wear at a time, in the one outfit.
How Many Colours to Wear in One Outfit
Colour Contrasttells you if you should predominantly wear:
- Neutrals – and you can find out what is a neutral here and here – this is ideal if you have neutral hair, skin and eyes.
- Rainbow colours – which I will refer to as “colour” in this post vs neutral colours I will refer to as “neutrals” – this is ideal if you have colourful hair, skin and eyes
- A combination of both neutrals and rainbow colours (this is good if you have a combination of neutrals and colours in your natural appearance).
- What colour relationships work best on you (as in which colours schemes flatter you – analogous, triadic, complementary etc.)
What colour contrastdoesn’t tell you is:
- how light or dark the colours should be
When deciding upon your colour contrast you need to take into consideration:
- Hair colour
- Skin colour
- Eye colour
- Lip colour – only if your lips are noticeably coloured – like you never need to wear lipstick because it looks like you’re already wearing it, or if you always wear a dominant lipstick colour and constantly reapply
You can use my 3 Step Process for Discovering Your Ultimate Contrast to figure out what your contrast levels are. If you’d like my professional opinion on your colour (and value) contrasts you can get this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program (plus also discover your ideal colour palette and so much more).
Now, rather than thinking in the low to high way that works easily with Value Contrast. With colour contrast it’s often easier to think about just how many colours to wear at one time, and what kind of colours they are (rainbow colours, neutrals or a combination) and then which colour relationships/colour schemes to work with.
The most common colour contrast schemes are:
1. All Neutral
Here is an all-neutral colour scheme in browns. Neutrals (find out about them here) are generally the “off colour wheel” colours – browns, greys, black and white and beige. There are some on-colour wheel neutrals – such as navy that are also options here. Discover more about neutrals here and which undertone neutrals are best for you.
Monochromatic means just one colour at a time – such as all blue – or all green, but they could be a variety of shades of green in the one outfit, but just only green. Monochromatic is not black and white (that’s achromatic – meaning – without colour).
Here is an example of a monochromatic outfit in red (see more examples here)
Discover my tips on how to make a monochromatic outfit interesting here.
3. Neutral plus one colour
This is one of the easiest ways to add colour to an outfit. Pick a neutral and then choose a colour that works with it in your ideal value contrast (find out about that here). White and pink are the neutral and colour in this example.
4. 2 Neutrals plus one colour
Another option is to use 2 neutrals with 1 colour – another easy way of putting an outfit together. Here black and white are the two neutrals, with purple. This is a great way to add colour to your neutrals when you don’t have high colour contrast, but may be value contrast dominant and need a higher value contrast.
5. Neutral plus 2 colours
Want to get more coloured? If you are colour dominant then this is the way to go as you start needing to think about a scheme as you are adding in 2 rainbow colours. Schemes could be analogous, triadic, complementary, split-complementary etc.. Here the two neutrals – brown and navy – and colours – red and blue are used in my example below..
Red and blue – 2 parts of a triad create a medium-high colour contrast.
Beige and Navy – create a medium-high value contrast.
Get more inspiration and ideas on colour schemes for your outfits here.
6. 3 colours
Now if you’re truly colour dominant and really need to wear lots of colour at the same time (think blue eyes, red hair, peachy skin) why not try a colour scheme with 3 colours (and again, working with a colour scheme as described above). Here in this example, I’ve used 3 parts of a triad – which creates a high colour contrast. Orange, Purple and Green. Triads are one of the easiest colour combinations to use!
When choosing your scheme – refer to the colour wheel for which is the most flattering scheme for you.
For further examples check out these 9 real life examples of dressing to your contrast.
For more tips in combining colours check out these posts.
7 Important factors forworking with contrast
What are clashing colours
How to combine colours using the colour wheel