Style Psychology | Color Theory 101

Friday, January 31, 2020

Color Theory: When broken down, it's quite literally the study of color. Designers and artists use it regularly in their work, but something that may not be as obvious is that it also works in fashion, too. Fashion is an art form, after all, which means many theories in art still apply.

And guess what? You're already using color theory in your everyday dressing without even realizing it! When you mix colors together, even neutrals, you're using principals of color theory. What exactly are the principals?


As I said a minute ago, color theory is the study of color & how they change due to various factors, including light, value, and intensity. Basically, it's the science of using colors together. Think about it: When you pick out an outfit, you (I hope) look to make sure the colors and patterns mix well, as it can make or break a look.

There are three main groups of colors on the wheel: (which- fun fact- was actually invented by Isaac Newton)


I'm sure you remember hearing all about these groups in elementary art class, so I won't bore you with the logistics. Basically the main thing you need to know is that secondary colors are a combination of primary (which include red, yellow, & blue) and tertiary is a combination of both primary and secondary.

From then you can create different color schemes with complementary, analogous, & triadic principals.

COMPLEMENTARY colors are across from each other on the color wheel, like red & green. When we hear those colors we automatically think of Christmas, but you can combine them to create perfectly color blocked outfits as well. Complementary color dressing is a simple way to play with color, and you'll especially notice it used in spring/summer looks. 

ANALOGOUS colors are two or three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Think ombre! Whilst monochrome is just one shade from head to toe (which I love) analogous is matching different shades of the same color.

TRIADIC colors use three colors- hence tri. They should be equally spaced on the color wheel, meaning the way red, yellow, and blue are spaced. Playing with three colors can get a little ~extra~ if you're not careful, so try & stick with muted tones of the shades you're using!

As you can see, the color theory seems complicated, but it's really not. You can take the principals and use them in your everyday style to level it up.


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