What Color Combinations To Wear – Q&A with Reachel Bagley of Cardigan Empire

Choosing the right colors when you’re getting dressed can make your skin glow, your figure look amazing, and your outfit stand out for all the right reasons. Learn how to create interesting color combinations and wear color strategically with these helpful tips from blogger and fashion consultant Reachel Bagley.

How To Choose Complimentary Colors

SB: You do such a phenomenal job creating colorful outfits. Do you have any advice for someone looking to incorporate color into their wardrobe?

RB: I love to experiment with color harmonies (complementary, analogous, monochromatic, etc).  Complementary (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) are great when you want a pop.  But to avoid looking like a seasonal decoration or an homage to a sports team, choose tints, shades, or other variations on primary hues, for example- burgundy & mint rather than red and green, or powder blue & flame in favor or blue and orange.  Buy a color wheel from the art store, and start playing around with it.

Color Combination Ideas

SB: How do you come up with your color palettes? How can people develop their own color palettes?

RB: Many mornings I start by holding one item alongside a series of others in my closet.  If I feel like wearing a top, I run the color against my skirts or pants until I see something I like.  Don’t be afraid to cross pollinate your closet.  Break out of the box that “one top shall only be paired with one bottom.”

SB: What are your favorite color combinations?

RB: I’m drawn to color triads, which means the colors are equally spaced from each other on the color wheel.  The most classic option is red, yellow, and blue, adding the yellow immediately breaks the Patriotic connection. But I also love teal, magenta, and chartreuse. Whether the colors are pale, dark, bright, or muted, doesn’t matter.  When you have all three hues in a single outfit, it immediately feels balanced, yet unexpected.

SB: How can our readers use color to make the most of their figure?

RB: Darker colors minimize, brighter colors enhance.  So if you have an area of your figure you want to spotlight, apply bright, bold colors.  I also highly recommend knowing which colors work best with your complexion.  Wear the colors that make your eyes sparkle and your cheeks glow, closest to your face.  Even if a color isn’t your best match, you can always wear it on the bottom, or as an accessory.

SB: How can I make sure that my colors and prints work together without being overwhelming?

RB: Overwhelming is definitely something you need to identify on your personal style spectrum.  What is garish to one person is gorgeous to another. Find out your own range and then push the edges.  If you’re a neutral-solid gal, push yourself to experiment in monochromatic tones: pairing lavender and wine is still technically monochromatic since both colors are from the same purple family.  Another option for the easily overwhelmed would be a a neon bit of jewelry or a printed belt.  A little pop can make a big impact.

SB: How can color and pattern be incorporated into a small wardrobe without feeling limiting?

RB: We’ve already discussed how to expand your options with color, but don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns.  Choose one dominant pattern, like a floral or plaid, something with more colors, a larger scale, etc.  Then select a supporting pattern like gingham, polka dots, stripes, supporting patterns  have fewer colors, a smaller scale, a simpler aesthetic.  Then link the dominant and supporting patterns with a common color.  Remember, it doesn’t have to match, in fact, I like it better when it doesn’t.

SB: What is your advice for integrating texture into a colorful wardrobe outfit?

RB: Color and texture are two components of the five-set fashion categories of interest.  The remaining three are pattern, shape, and shine.   I recommend adding at least three points of interest to any outfit to ensure a compelling combination.  So…you could combine a lace top (texture), bright modern skirt (color), and animal print shoes (pattern) or assemble distressed jeans (texture), a draped tee (shape), and mismatched bracelets (shine).  It’s a simple formula that everyone can follow regardless of their shape or style.

SB: If someone has a wardrobe full of good basics, how do they take the next step to inject a little personality into their outfits?

RB: Basic doesn’t have to mean boring.  When you’re putting together an expressive outfit, it’s not that different than writing an expressive statement.  You don’t need a lot of fancy vocabulary, you just need it to be honest and fresh.  Choose items that are true to you, then pair them unexpectedly (ie something fancy with something casual).  Or make minor adjustments, cuff your pants, tuck or tie your shirt, make it your own.
Get more style inspiration from Reachel at Cardigan Empire

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