How to match colors like a professional stylist

Written by rachel reeves
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How to match colors like a professional stylist
You don't need to be a professional stylist to learn how to match colours. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Some people are naturals at matching colours -- others are not. If you are one of the latter, but don't want to pay a professional stylist to show you how to colour coordinate, never fear: you can learn. Matching colours like a professional stylist simply means following basic colour-coordination rules and learning a bit about fashion. Once you understand certain colours complement other colours, and how to put them together, you are well on your way to being just as much a trendsetter as someone with her own stylist.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Colour wheel
  • Fashion magazines

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  1. 1

    Learn how to use a colour wheel. A colour wheel shows you how each colour is created from the three primary colours: red, blue and yellow. Understand a colour wheel's basic layout and how secondary and tertiary -- or third-stage -- colours are created, and you will soon see the colours that complement each other and those that should never be paired together.

  2. 2

    Wear three colours or less in every outfit. If your dress is blue, complement it with two matching colours from the colour wheel -- for instance, wear emerald-green shoes and carry a light-green purse -- but don't add a yellow scarf. Two to three colours is ideal. Four colours is overkill.

  3. 3

    Pair an analogous colour with another. Analogous colours sit next to each other on the colour wheel. They are similar to each other in hue and tone, so you are perfectly safe wearing an outfit combining two or sometimes three analogous colours.

  4. 4

    Avoid mixing black and brown, black and navy or white and cream. These colour combinations do not match. The only time you can get away with using one of these colour duos is if the brown you match with black is a light brown. Choosing the correct brown can be difficult to judge, so if you are not a professional stylist, stay away from it.

  5. 5

    Think of colours as fitting into one of four categories -- neutral colours, cold colours, warm colours and warm neutrals -- and learn the rules for choosing colours from different categories. For instance, two colours and one neutral -- like blue, yellow and white -- work well together. Two neutrals -- like black and white, or black and grey -- can create a stunning outfit.

  6. 6

    Match lighter and darker shades of the same colour to create a chic, stylish outfit. Dark green and light green, or navy blue and pale blue, are simple, but stylish, combinations.

Tips and warnings

  • Accessories like belts, shoes, scarves and purses should be similar colours to your outfit. Don't pair a perfectly matching cream shirt with a brown skirt and add red shoes.

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