Five ways to mix and match colours to create stylish outfits

Stuck with how to pair colours tastefully? Love to freshen up your wardrobe and breathe new life into old pieces? Learn five ways to mix and match colours. 

Unless you’re a total fashion buff who knows how to breathe life into any outfit, there’s a fair chance you struggle to come up with the kind of stylish looks that turn heads for the right reasons.

Instead, you resort to the safety of your tried and tested colours and combinations. And at work stick to more conservative colours, like greys, blues and blacks.

Five ways to mix and match colours to create stylish outfits

However, you don’t need to play it safe to be stylish. Colours can be the ultimate attention-grabber, leaving a lasting impact, and lifting your mood.

All you need to do is to understand how to use colours to build creative, stylish outfits. And here are five tips to help you.

1) Keep it in the family

If you don’t feel comfortable experimenting with bold colour combinations, then try pairing colours from the same family.

Pair pastels with other pastels when you want to your look to be softer. Primary colours with other primary colours for a bold statement. And citrus shades with other citrus shades for a fresh, zingy look.

This strategy will also allow you to make the most of your wardrobe during different seasons. For example, wearing earth tones can make for a great autumn outfit, while solid jewel tones will bring the warmth you need in the winter.

2) Pair complementary colours

Before you head out to the shops, take a quick look at the colour wheel for colour combination inspiration.

When you’re talking about colours in colour theory, the word complimentary means ‘opposite’. So have a look at colours that are at opposite ends on the colour wheel, and then use the contrasting colours to put together a unique outfit that uses a refreshing combination of shades.

Some people can find outfits comprising solid, complimentary colours too strong or attention-grabbing. If that’s the case, pick combinations of prints and solids that lessen the impact of the colours.

3) Wear different shades of a single colour – the ‘ombre’ look

You don’t always have to pair different colours to create a rocking outfit. Instead you can use different shades of the same colour for to create an attempt an ‘ombre’ look.

The idea is to create a gradient effect, where you start off with a lighter shade at the top, and wear a darker shade at the bottom. (The other way around will also work.)

This tip works with all colours, so find a colour that compliments your skin tone and go for it. If you have shoes in a funky color, you can include them in the look too.

Again if you’re not comfortable with wearing that amount of colour, then you can soften the look by adding printed items instead of solid colours.

4) Break down your prints

The prints on your pieces can guide you on what colours to choose for the rest of your outfit. Look for the most prominent colours in your printed item, then create an outfit using those colours.

To further accentuate your look, you can also add colours using accessories, like jewellery and belts.

5) Copy the combinations in fashion spreads and catalogues

If you’re still unsure about how to work colours into your look, then take inspiration from fashion magazines and catalogues.

Many fashion brands shoot their models fully-styled, playing with the colour combinations of clothing items, accessories and shoes to embellish a look.

If you’re confused about what to pair a clothing item with, then flick through the catalogues of your favourite brands to check out what combinations they have come up with for that specific colour.

Or browse through the spreads in current fashion magazines to see how they’re working and pairing colours right now. This can be a great way to update old pieces, and create a stylish look without needing to buy a complete new wardrobe.

Sherley Alaba is an eagle-eyed wordsmith; a writer and translator, always interested in ways she can help people (especially youths and women) reach their full creative potential.