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Do’s and don’ts of color blocking

When color blocking is done right, it will make a fabulous and fashionable ensemble but you don’t want to get caught wearing it wrong.

The main principle of color blocking is to combine different solid colors and shades. Contrary to popular belief, color blocking doesn’t mean you have to be walking around like a bright rainbow. Color blocking can also be accomplished by placing pastel shades against each other. The main rule of color blocking is to avoid sharp contrasts. Make sure the color pair remains within the same sentiment. Major colors go with major ones, while minors create a beautiful union with minor ones.

Color blocking isn’t only about wearing contrasting clothes, but accessories too. So If you don’t feel comfortable of wearing contrasting colors then accessories like bags, shoes and belts are great ways to make color blocking work.

Understanding the color wheel

In order to understand how to combine colors, it is important to understand how the color wheel works.

  • Primary colors: With these three colors, you can create any other color on the visible spectrum.

  • Secondary colors: these are colors that are created when you combine two primary colors.

  • Tertiary colors: these are colors that are formed when there is about more of one primary color in a secondary blend.

  • Warm & cool colors: one half of the color wheel is warm. The warm colors start at the tertiary color reddish-purple, move through red, orange, yellow, to reach yellow-green. The cool colors start at green, and include teal, blue, indigo, and purple.

  • Shade: When a color is mixed with black, making it darker, that’s a shade. Navy, for example, is a darker shade of blue.

  • Tint: When a color is mixed with white, making it light, it makes a tint. Pink, for example, is a lighter tint of red.

  • Saturation: Saturation is what defines how dense or intense the color is. Heavily saturated colors are very strong, whereas colors with low saturation are much more subtle.


Monochrome Color Blocking

This is the easiest color blocking technique to pull off. Simply pair items that are all of the same color. Your shade and tint could change from item to item, so you could wear dark blue jeans, a sky blue shirt, and navy shoes.

Analogous Color Blocking

Analogous colors are colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel, and to really rock them in a color blocking technique, you are best off opting for three colors, two colors and a neutral, or two analogous colors and one shade or tint of one of those colors.

Complementary Color Blocking

Complementary colors are simply two opposite colors on the color wheel. For example: purple and yellow, or green and red. This effect can be eye-catching, but it can also cause an unflattering clash. There are a few ways to make complementary colors work: the easiest one is to have one of the colors dominate, and add its complementary color as an accent. The other way of rocking complementary colors is by playing with tints and shades, and avoiding overly saturated colors. For example: a pale pink can work very well with a pastel green.

Split Complementary Color Blocking

This is actually a variation on the complementary color scheme. You pick one color, and then instead of choosing its opposite, you add the two colors analogous to its opposite. This means that if you chose green, you add to your outfit the two colors that sit next to red: violet, and red-orange. This creates the same contrast you would get from pairing complementary colors, but it is more balanced and understated.

Triadic Color Blocking

The triadic scheme for color blocking includes three colors that are at equal distance from each other on the color wheel. The three primary colors, when put together, make up a triadic color scheme. Avoid wearing all three colors at full strength and to opt for darker or lighter shades, rather than something overly vibrant. Personally, I prefer triadic color schemes with tertiary colors, like reddish-purple, greenish-blue, and yellow-orange, because they seem more sophisticated and subdued.

Tetradic Color Blocking

Drawing an imaginary rectangle on the color wheel will give you the four-color tetradic color scheme. Color blocking with tetradic colors is an expert level fashion choice that can create really interesting yet balanced looks.

One way to think about the tetradic scheme is as two color pairs – have one color pair be dominant, and the other color pair act as an accent. So for example, if you are color blocking with yellow, orange, purple, and blue, you can choose the warm shades as the stars, and the cool shades as the accents. It could be a yellow top, orange bottoms, purple shoes, and blue jewelry.

As always, the more saturated the colors, the higher the chances of clashing, so by avoiding symmetry and having a mix of tints and shades, you can guarantee a fashion win.

So now you have the tools it is up to you to experiment with your own wardrobe. Still have questions? Just drop me a mail or message on social media.


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