Does the intensity of the accessories (necklace, earrings etc.) have to match with one another OR does their intensity have to match with the clothing worn? Or, both of the above? I’m not sure if the intensity of everything is the same, then there’s no focal point?
If I were to wear a warm red top, does my necklace need to be in warm red too? Could I wear a cool red necklace? Eileen
There are three questions here, one relates to undertone of the colour, the second to intensity and the third to mixing colours.
1. Colour Undertone
Every colour has an undertone – that’s how the colour is made – what is mixed together to make it.
We ascribe ‘warm’ to colours that have elements of warmth (mixed with yellow – sunny and warm, or sometimes red – hot hot fire).
We ascribe ‘cool’ to colours that have elements of coolness (mixed with blue – cold water).
When you are mixing colours, you want to mix colours with related undertones for the best, most harmonious effect, otherwise they can easily clash (and look like you got dressed in the dark).
You can see that the cool red sneakers, necklace and handbag don’t go with this warm orange-red top. Instead, when you match the undertone, the colours harmonise easily.
Find out more about clashing colours here:
2. Intensity of the Jewellery vs Clothes
If your palette is for more muted clothes can you wear brighter jewellery?I think yes! My easy formula is that as long as the colour/intensity that is not related to you is 10% or less of your overall outfit, then you can happily wear it. Now I don’t know of too much jewellery that is more than 10% of most outfits. It’s a small proportion of what you’re wearing so the extra brightness won’t overwhelm you.
You can also go the other way, where the jewellery is more muted than your outfit, this is particularly useful if you want to wear a larger scale piece, but it’s outside of your natural scale or personality. The more subtle colour will make it look smaller and less obvious. But if you are wearing a brighter colour and a very muted piece of jewellery, it may just disappear.
Here I’ve matched the brightness of my top with my necklace. You can see that the necklace still provides a focal point.
3. Colour Scheme
Now of course you can also consider the colour scheme you’re using. The more similar (monochromatic) it is, then the less obvious the jewellery becomes as a feature. If you work with triadic or complementary pieces, you’ll find that even a more muted item with lower intensity will stand out, just because complementary colours play off each other and look brighter.
You can see how when the scheme is monochromatic, a brighter piece of jewellery becomes more of a focal point and stands out.
When you are working with analogous schemes, similar intensity is quieter but you could go brighter if you chose to quite easily without overwhelming your clothes.
When you are working with Triads (or 2 parts of a triad), the colour of the jewellery starts to become more bold and obvious, even when it’s a larger scale piece. In fact, a brighter piece in a triadic colour will look larger and more prominent even if it’s a smaller scale as the colours start to play off each other more, just like in the orange necklace above.
Complementary (opposites) always create the boldest colour scheme naturally, this is why if you work with a brighter piece than your outfit, it really becomes very obvious, so you may want to match the intensity of the jewellery with your outfit when using this scheme (unless of course your personality demands drama).
And of course, you may want to consider which colour scheme suits you based on your personal colour contrast.
Get more tips on colour schemes and co-ordinating colours
Want more tips on choosing necklaces? Download my free guide here.
This article is so informative and helpful, Imogen! When shopping its usually hit or miss without understanding why. Your thoughtful article will always remind me to be consciously looking for a certain intensity of color to achieve my comfort level of conspicuous .
You are the best!
A faithful fan,
Oh, I forgot to add. Thank you for featuring Olive, one of my favorite colors!,
So glad that it helps and that you love the olive!
What a great picture of you! Where did you get that necklace, it is amazing!!!
I made the necklace – Keep your eyes peeled on the blog as I’ll soon be sharing instructions on how to make it yourself – it’s super easy!
I love the necklace too! I used to do a bit of jewellery making when I couldn’t find what I wanted in the shops. Now I usually just do repairs and alterations. I’m really interested in making one like this though its really gorgeous!