How to combine clothing colors using a color wheel

Updated June 05, 2017

Dressing fashionably can be a learnt skill. One tool that helps is a colour wheel. The colour wheel shows which colours go together well and which should remain separate. Using the colour wheel when planning outfits can lead you to explore new possibilities and to have confidence wearing new things. It can also alert you to clothing combinations that just don't work and help you eliminate potentially embarrassing looks from your wardrobe. In addition to applying to clothes, the colour wheel also helps you coordinate make-up and jewellery.

Master the basics. The colour wheel consists of 12 wedges of colour arranged in a circular shape. Colors that appear side by side go well together. Likewise, you may pair colours that form a 90-degree angle and colours that are directly across from each other. Three colours that form a T shape may be worn together. Likewise, four colours that form an X shape may be worn together.

Know your neutrals. Neutral colours include brown, white and black. Blue denim is also considered neutral. Neutral colours may be paired appropriately with any other colours on the spectrum.

Remember colour families. If you are curious about a colour that does not appear on the wheel and is not neutral, then identify its colour family. Any colour on the wheel may be substituted for another colour within the same family. Color families are formed from various different hues of the colours that exist on the wheel. For example, pink is found within the same colour family as red.

Things You'll Need

  • Copy of a colour wheel
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About the Author

Kelli Karanovich was internationally published for the first time in "Adbusters" in 2006. She teaches online at the Christa McAuliffe Academy and contributes to the blog Mama's Musings. Karanovich holds a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Georgia and a certificate to teach from Shorter College.