Over on my 7 Steps VIP Facebook group, there is lots of talk about colour contrast (and value as well) and how to make sure you have enough colour contrast in an outfit, without ending up wearing lots of different coloured garments (which may not be appropriate in some workplaces or just don’t suit your personality either).
So how to do you get the balance of colours with neutrals right for you and then use multiple colours too, if your colour contrast is higher? Let’s look at some options.
What is Colour Contrast
Contrast = difference between two colours so Colour Contrast = difference between two colours and their relationship on the colour wheel (see here for more information about colour relationships).
You can have a neutral + 1 colour outfit -which is a fairly low colour contrast
2 neutrals (that are different from each other) + 1 colour – which can create the feeling of a little more contrast – particularly if the Value Contrast of the two neutrals is different (as it is in my illustration here).
And then you can add a 2nd colour to your 2 neutrals – the further away on the colour wheel each colour is to each other (more triadic or complementary – see below) the higher the clour contrast.
You may notice that even though the colour scheme above right is complementary (opposites on the colour wheel) the colour contrast doesn’t appear to be as high – this is because the colours are more muted, and so they all have a receding quality to them.
Colour Relationships and Colour Contrast
Here you will notice below that the colours are brighter – this makes the contrast appear higher as the colours play off each other more vibrantly.
An analogous colour contrast is much more subtle than a complementary colour contrast.
Whilst using 2 of the three colours in a triad (above 2nd from the right) is less high contrast than using all three of the colours in the triad (above right).
Use smaller proportions of a 2nd and 3rd colour to make the colour contrast more subtle. Large blocks of colour (such as pants in a colour, top in a 2nd colour and jacket in a 3rd colour) will make the colour contrast much bolder and less work appropriate. Think accents of 2nd and 3rd colours rather than large swathes of them if you want to look professional and serious at work, but still need to wear a higher colour contrast.
Create the Colour Contrast with Your Accessories
The easiest way to add some colour contrast to your outfits is with accessories – think scarves, necklaces belts, shoes ….
This way you will look business appropriate whilst still expressing your personality and your ideal contrast levels which flatter your natural colouring.
More Tips on Colour Contrast
Choosing Prints and Patterns with the Right Colour Contrast for You
How to Wear a Multi-Coloured Item When You’re Not High Colour Contrast
Imogen, your photo examples are the best!