How to Match Clothes With Color

Updated March 23, 2017

Matching clothing by colour may seem like an elementary thing to do, but many people get it wrong. With the numerous undertones and variations on the market for simple colours like black and grey, coordinating shades correctly can be challenging. But by following a few simple colour tips, it will be easy to put together outfits that don't clash. Better yet, start when shopping to minimise your work at home.

Find the undertones of your wardrobe colours. Pick a favourite garment and hold a piece of white paper underneath it in the sun. If the clothing tone looks yellowish or ruddy after looking at the white paper, it's a warm tone. If a bluish effect comes out, then the garment is cool. Do this for all garments except for neutrals: white, black, grey and khaki.

Separate clothing by colour temperature. The cool shades mix best with like colours, as do the warmer shades.

Next, look at the neutrals in sunlight to find their true tones. Sometimes, these are also cool or warm. Black can also be deceiving because the colour may actually be navy or a very deep green. Sunlight is the most reliable test for these tricky shades.

Coordinate colours by thinking of the colour wheel. To do this while shopping, bring along a Pantone Shopping Color Guide, or use a printout of a colour guide. Shoot for analogous (adjacent on the colour wheel) shades or complimentary (opposite) colours.

Remember that one shade can come in light and dark variations. These coordinate well together, but can seem monochromatic if unbroken by a neutral.

When coordinating patterns, pick only one colour in the pattern that you'd like to emphasise and seek to match that shade. Wearing more than one pattern can sometimes work, but may be risky. If you try to combine patterns, one should be larger than the other, and all colours must be analogous or complimentary.


Analogous shades are much simpler to match up, while the complimentary ones take you into yellow and turquoise territory; they can work, but it may take some bravery.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with colour printer
  • Pantone Shopping Color Guide or colour wheel printout
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About the Author

Gigi Starr is a freelance fashion writer. She previously served as the blog editor for a major online fashion blog and has more than a decade of backstage experience in the beauty and high fashion industries. She has worked for businesses like an internationally renowned theatrical touring company and events such as the Mercedes-Benz N.Y.C. Fashion Week.