How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

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When choosing prints and patterns for your outfits – what’s the easiest way of knowing that a print is going to harmonise with you and your colouring?  There are two elements of this – the colour contrast of the print and the value contrast of the print.

If you’re new here on Inside Out Style – you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about when I say colour or value contrast (you won’t have read about them in a fashion magazine).  Simply put, contrast  – which is the difference between two things – in relationship to either colour (so more different colours versus more similar colours).

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Or value contrast (the difference between the lightness and darkness of the colours).  Below is an example of different value contrast prints.

How to Choose Prints and Patterns to Work with Your Value and Colour Contrast

 

You can find out more about colour contrast and value contrast and how to find your ideal contrast levels with my 3 step process here.

Low Colour Contrast

Monochromatic

Just one colour at a time – think shades of green together, or shades of burgundy and pink together (as these are actually shades of red).  Choose a pattern that is only one colour.  To stay monochromatic – team that print with another garment in the same colour.How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Here is a neutral/monochromatic outfit – shades of grey – the print and the outfit all in the same palette.

 

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Neutral/s plus 1 colour

This is super simple – you can wear the one colour in a garment, or choose a pattern with just one colour (monochromatic) or colour with neutral).  You can then add one or more neutrals to your outfit.

 

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Find a print you love that is monochromatic or neutral plus one colour, then team it back either with a neutral or a colour from the print.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Here is a monochromatic blue and white print which I’m wearing with grey (so two neutrals- grey and white, with a colour – blue).

 

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Here is a neutral plus colour outfit with pattern – both the houndstooth pattern in my tights and the polka dot pattern in my skirt.  Put together with plain red items.  The brightness of the red gives the outfit the feeling of a very high contrast.

 

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Another example of 2 neutrals plus colour – the black/grey leopard skirt and the white/grey butterfly scarf, worn with one colour – pink.

Medium Colour Contrast

Analogous

2-3 colours next to each other on the colour wheel – team your pattern with one of the colours in the pattern.How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Analogous schemes – like this blue/teal/turquoise/green one makes an outfit colourful but without being too overpowering, if your natural colour contrast is lower.

 

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

 

Here is another mostly analogous print and outfit – with a medium-low colour contrast print (there is a hint of soft pink in the flowers).  Notice how I’ve taken all the other garments colours from the print to keep the colour contrast from being overwhelming.

Neutral plus 2 colours

This could be two colours one or two steps away from each other, up to 2 colours from a triadic colour combination, worn with a neutral.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Here is a neutral plus two colours print combination.  Browns (light and dark) with an analogous print skirt – and again – I’ve teamed these colours back in my jacket and necklace.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Here is another example of two neutrals with a colour print outfit.  Scarves are a great way of adding in some pattern to your outfit – and this blended analogous (blue and purple with white neutral) then worn with pink (another analogous colour) brings together this outfits colours.

High Colour Contrast

3 Colours

This is often the easiest kind of pattern to find.  One that is multicoloured.  Look for one in your ideal value contrast level as well as being high in colour contrast.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

 

If you’re not naturally high colour contrast – wear a larger high colour contrast print on your lower half and then keep your top half to one colour (from the print) so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the print.

Complementary

Two colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, or even a split-complementary – which is one-off the opposite colour.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

 

Going opposite on the colour wheel creates a bright appearance – pink and green are the complementary colours here  – but because the green is only a very small proportion of my outfit and only in an accessory, it makes the high colour contrast print easier for me to wear.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

A more blended high colour contrast print (like this one in my bomber jacket) is also much easier to wear than a more stark print if your natural colour contrast isn’t high.

 

Colour and Value Contrast

Remember that prints have both colour and value contrast in them and you want to take both into consideration.

If you are lower in colour contrast – choose a pattern like the ones below – but take into consideration your value contrast when deciding on the best print for you.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

You will find that a one colour or analogous print is easy to wear if you have a lower colour contrast.

Here are some examples of different colour contrast and value contrast prints.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

And just because a high colour contrast print can appear more obvious or dramatic, it doesn’t always have a high value contrast.

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

Remember that stepping through the colours from light to dark (read this to understand more), lowers the overall perceived value contrast.  And the more blended a print, the lower the contrast appears.

Not sure of your colour and value contrast and would like my professional opinion so you know which kinds of prints and patterns to choose?  You can get this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program (along with a greater understanding of the kinds of prints to choose as well as your ideal colour palette to build your wardrobe around.  Find out more here.

More Tips on Choosing Prints and Patterns

How to Choose Linking Pieces and Accessories to Co-ordinate Your Outfit More Stylishly

How to Rock Patterns on Your Lower Half – X and A Shapes

How to Make a Classic Garment Suit a Casual Lifestyle

What to Wear: Prints and Patterns, Getting the Value and Contrast Right

How to Interpret and Choose Prints and Patterns For Your Personality

How to Make a Monochromatic Outfit Interesting

How to Mix Patterns in Your Outfit

Linking up with Visible MondayStyle with a SmileNot Dressed as LambShoe Nudge,  Top of the World

How to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour ContrastHow to Choose Prints That Work With Your Colour Contrast

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