How To Choose Colors When It Comes To Fashion And Style
My ex-girlfriend once looked at my closet and said, “Wow everything in here is so black and white!”
Up until then, I had never noticed it before. But she was right; my closet was indeed pretty dull, with most of my clothing being either dark or neutral colors. Contrast that with my girlfriend’s closet: a rainbow of purples, pinks, and reds.
A lot of guys have issues with colors and for some reason like to stick with neutral colors. While it’s hard to go wrong with neutral tones, too much of them can come across as bland and boring. Colors are associated with emotions and passion, so it’s important to expand beyond “safe” colors like black and blue, and experiment with more daring hues like red or even pink.
Remember Mr. Unstylish from previous articles. You don’t want to be the guy that’s known for only wearing black, blue, and khaki brown. Those colors are safe and boring. You can’t build attraction with style by being boring, so experiment!
Emotions and Colors
A lot of people underestimate the power of colors, but psychologists and advertisers have known about the emotional properties of colors for a long time. Just looking at certain colors conjures up emotions, which make them a powerful tool in your style arsenal. Here is a list of common colors, and the emotions that are associated with them:
• Blue — Peaceful, stable, professional, loyal. Not all of these traits are bad for attraction, but having “stable” as the only thing going for you is a bad strategy. Use blue as the backdrop to layer on other colors, or experiment with different shades of blue such as baby blue or turquoise. Blue probably has the most diverse range of shades that can work in your styling.
• Green — Safe, reliable, environmental, calm. Again, these are not bad emotions to have associated with you, but they don’t exactly trigger any Style Attraction Switches either.
• Yellow — Energetic, happy, optimistic, hunger. (Have you ever noticed how one of the primary colors of McDonald’s is yellow? This is why.) This color has more energy and can be a good addition to your style arsenal if used sparingly.
• Orange — Cheerful, creative, stimulating, attention grabbing. This is a great color that is overlooked by a lot of guys. Orange is a very powerful color, so don’t overdo it. However incorporating a bit of orange into your outfit can help you stand out and grab people’s attention.
• Red — Warmth, anger, danger, boldness, courage, desire. Red is a very strong color with a lot of powerful emotions associated with it. Recent psychological research has even shown that women find men who are wearing red to be more sexually attractive than those who aren’t, so use that knowledge to incorporate more red into your wardrobe.
• Purple — Power, royalty, nobility, mystery, magic. Purple is a color that has historically been associated with power and nobility. Across cultures, there is something a little mysterious about purple. Adding purple to your outfit can be a very powerful touch. However, don’t overdo it, as purple (especially brighter purples) is also seen as a feminine color.
• Pink – A stereotypical feminine color. But a pink dress shirt can look great on the guy who can own the clothing piece. Contrast it with other masculine items for a polarizing look.
• Grey — Conservative, serious, dull, peaceful. Grey by itself is one of the most boring colors there is. Don’t overlook it though. Because it’s so bland, it can be mixed with pretty much any other color in an outfit. Just don’t overdo it, or you yourself will end up looking plain and dull.
• Brown — Confident, casual, earthy, reliable. Brown is a very solid color that doesn’t get used often enough. Black tends to be overused, so consider mixing up your wardrobe by getting brown shoes, a brown belt, or a brown leather jacket to bring this stable and masculine hue into play. Brown is often a more casual version of black.
• Black — Elegance, power, sophistication, strength. With emotions like these, it’s no wonder that wearing a nice suit is so powerful. Unless you are wearing an all black suit, don’t overuse black though, or you’ll end up looking Goth or gloomy. Mix black up with other colors to break up the darkness and monotony.
That’s just an overview of some of the colors that are out there. Colors are not an exact science, and different people associate different emotions with different colors, but there are usually some commonalities. Colors in the real world are rarely as simple as the primary colors presented here, so just pause and reflect for a moment when you see a colorful piece of clothing in real life, and ask yourself what emotions it conjures up.
Colors and Skin Type
The color of our skin can change the way a color looks on you. While a bright green might look good on someone with darker skin, someone with very pale skin might look sickly wearing the same color. Here are a few rules of thumb regarding color and skin tone:
Fair Skin (Whiter skin complexion with lighter hair and eyes) looks good in:
• Turquoise [Complements blue eyes and blonde hair]
• Baby blue [To be honest, baby blue looks good on everybody]
• Light brown and green [Calming, smoothing colors]
• Off-white [Specifically creams and light blues to add contrast to an already white skin]
• Cyan/fluorescent blue [Adds confidence and flair very well]
Medium Skin (Tanned skin) looks good in everything.
White people can achieve this type of skin via tanning, like the cast of Jersey Shore. However most Southeast Asians and some Southern Europeans have this tanned color naturally. Many Brazilians will fall into this category.
Tanned skin is the most versatile, and can look good in just about any color (except maybe tan).
• Purple [I remember going to Brazil for a vacation and seeing the color purple everywhere. There were different shades of purple, from purple shirts to purple sarongs to purple dresses. It was so beautiful!]
• Crisp white [looks beautiful in contrast to the slightly tanned skin. A clean white shirt shows of the shirt itself as well as the skin color]
Darker Skin looks best in:
• Pink [Anybody can look good in pink, but darker skin looks great in it]
• White [Adds contrast to those darker skin tones]
• Blue(s) [Any blue would look good, particularly vibrant blue and baby blue]
• Gray [Almost like layering a lighter color on top of a dark skin tone]
• Red [All shades again, bright reds to rich burgundy and magenta]
• Light Purple [Purple is one of those colors that you have to experiment with, but the effects can be breathtaking]
The colors that look good on you depends on more than just your skin tone. Not every color works for every man. Also, a slight change in the shade of a color can have a subtle but dramatic effect. The key is to experiment and remember that the final decision is up to your own calibration. Your measure of success should be positive attention and comments from women about your style.
The general rule of thumb is that, if you have light skin, wear darker colors, and, if you have dark skin, lighter colors will look good on you. You can also use techniques such as layering to help you utilize colors that otherwise might not look good against your bare skin.
One of the marks of someone who is a master of style is that he knows how to match colors in a way that is appealing. There is actually a bit of science behind this, so we’ll explore this topic in detail.
The Color Wheel
If you recall back to your high school art class, you may remember a tool called the color wheel. The color wheel is a diagram that artists and graphic designers use to find colors that are complimentary to each other. It is also a tool that you can use to match the colors in your outfit for the best effect.
This is what the color wheel looks like:
First, there are the Primary Colors. There are three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. These are the basic colors from which all the other colors in the wheel are made.
The second are the Secondary Colors. These are the colors that are made by combining the primary colors together. If you remember playing with paints in kindergarten, you’ll recall that the following combinations make up the secondary colors:
Red + Yellow = Orange
Blue + Yellow = Green
Red + Blue = Violet (Purple)
Pretty simple stuff so far, right?
Things start to get a little trickier when we get to Tertiary Colors. These are formed by combining a Primary Color with an adjacent Secondary Color. If you’ve been keeping track, this gives us:
Orange + Red = Red-Orange
Orange + Yellow = Yellow-Orange
Green + Blue = Blue Green
Green + Yellow = Yellow-Green
Violet + Blue = Blue-Violet
Violet + Red = Red-Violet
As you can see from the diagram, all of these colors can also be shifted in terms of lightness or darkness. This gives us the rich variation of colors found in everyday life. But there are two more pieces of color related terminology.
The first is Analogous Colors. These are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, for example blue and green, or orange and red. These colors match well because they are similar to each other.
Working with analogous colors is a good start for matching colors. Remember, the more similar the colors are to each other in hue, the better they will go with each other. So a really bright blue might not look good against a darker green.
The second is Complimentary Colors. These are colors that are directly across from each other on the color wheel. Because these colors are opposite from each other, they really stand out against each other. Use complimentary colors to create strong contrasts, but don’t overdo it, or your outfit can appear too busy or overpowering.
The final tip for matching colors is the most simple but useful: colors that are the same match up quite nicely with each other! Matching the color of different elements of your outfit can help create a sense of wholeness and symmetry, which really brings your look together. For example, wearing black shoes with a black belt, or maybe complimenting an orange scarf with daring orange socks. Play around with matching the colors of different items of your outfits to create more cohesive and thoughtful look.
Women notice when the colors of your clothes match nicely. Here is another color wheel which you may find helpful when putting together your outfits:
A Final Note About Colors
Colors can be a very powerful tool for your style arsenal. Because different colors have different emotional associations to them, you can use colors to communicate the message that you want, including several of the Style Attraction Switches. Keep in mind that different colors go well with different skin tones, and keep in mind the color wheel when mixing and matching colors.
Finally, color can be a powerful tool, but don’t overuse it. As a general rule, try to have no more than 3 distinct colors in a single outfit. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but any more than that can be confusing and overwhelming to the eye.