How to Mix and Match Colours

Following on from my blog post on Understanding Colour – Tints, Tones and Shades, Sherilyn asked me:

When considering what colors look best on a person, (I look best in tinted colors) should one go outside that range for contrast…say a tinted blue blouse with a chocolate brown suit….or should one try and stay with in their best range a tinted blue blouse with a mint suit? Sherilyn 

Whether you want to mix tints, tones, pure colours or shades, you want to think about mixing colours of a similar value (lightness or darkness) and those with the same colour properties (tints with tints, shades with shades, toasted with toasted).  By mixing colours with similar properties (or resonance) together, you are creating a harmonious colour scheme.

 

mixing tints

As you can see from the picture above you want to mix all light colours together and then create your contrast level using a neutral.  Below are options of mixing pure colours, toasted colours and shades – just to help you get a visual picture of how colours with similar properties work so well together.

 

mixing pure colours

 

Mixing Toasted Warm Colours
mixing shades

Comments

  1. Wow, that is an extraordinarily useful explanation! I had a wee lightbulb moment – hadn’t truly understood the link between the contrast level and the neutrals before! I’m in the toasted colours (been assessed as exotic, though zesty was close second) but I’m still trying to understand my contrast level. Medium I think (auburn/toasted ginger hair, medium blue/grey eyes, pinky beige skin with brown freckles) I feel a bit washed out in low contrast.

  2. Im not sure why, but when I choosing colors I would never wear same intensity when it comes to pure bright colors or pastels. I often pair these with “toasted” colors to downplay them. Like a taupe top with black trousers and bright red blazer, I feel that that a bright blue would look too overwhelmed, not that it looks too much on me, just because Ive never liked the look of 2-3 brights together (on anyone) unless one is accesories. If wearing blue with red, I prefer a dark muted blue with it.
    One guess is that this has something to do with my personal style (the color personality post you wrote long time ago), because I love wearing one dramatic color with more subdued earthtones or classics. Pastels, I love wearing with cool earthy tones like babypink with burgundy. (overall, I must have an ecclectic style but with a classic silhouette because I often break these type of guidelines…ankle booties with longer skirts, clashing color properties etc). :P

  3. This & the linked post are so helpful! Would you please provide a fuller definition of “toasted”; I think I’m in that group but it doesn’t seem to be color mixed with black or white. Love your blog; completely unique and fun too! Cheers, TinaPete

  4. To create a contrast level can any neutral piece of clothing be used or does it have to be only bottoms?

  5. Imogen, thank you for this post i found it helpful to see the colours in action, so to speak. Good guidelines and ideas for colour combinations. I like medium colours rather than pastels or very dark colours, problem is i am a spring pear and wear dark colours on bottom and like to wear lighter brighter colours on top so i probably wear more med to high contrast. Does this mean i need to wear darker tops to be more low to medium contrast?

    • Robyn – not sure what your contrast level is – you can be a spring and have a high, medium or low contrast level – there are no rules as far as seasons and your contrast. It’s to do with colour of skin, hair and eyes. Any light/dark combination becomes high contrast. If you have fair skin and hair but medium eyes – then a medium contrast. It’s only if you also have very light coloured eyes as well that you would go for a lower contrast.

  6. Imogen thanks so much for this post. I am not real sure how to pull all the rules together, I am still trying to learn that but this post definitely helps. I’ve recently questioned whether I am warm or cool in coloring as I have been pegged both ways,(ironically cool when I was younger, and warm now, but I believe I am medium contrast (Medium dark brown hair, very fair skin, pink cheeks and light eyes that vary from usually gray or steel blue but can appear teal or green yes they really do change colors). I was told that you can tell if you are warm or cool by looking at the veins in your wrists to see if they are blue or green I have one that looks blue and the other green. I do know that the lighter colors flatter my face, not my figure that is why I was curious how dark a contrast I could pull off for my (problem areas)my guess would be a medium contrast color then right???

    • I never look at veins! I’ve seen people with warm faces and cool arms! I go with the skin on the face as that’s what makes us look healthy or unhealthy. You may be just warm, rather than being very warm.

      Just remember, even if you’re wearing lighter colours, wear lighter on the area you’re happier with and slightly darker on the problem areas. And yes – medium colours work for all, and a medium contrast can be worn by all!

  7. This post is fantastic. I’m a low-medium contrast depending on what I do with my hair. My one “concern” is that I feel darker colours are better for my shoulders (V-shape) and more professional -however I know lighter trousers are better for V-shapes. I’m a cool winter and personally prefer the look of say patterned trousers vs white trousers as they really stand out. Darker bottoms =smaller below. How can I work around that?

    • Patterns, even if they are darker will draw more attention they are a great substitute for very light bottoms. Also, you don’t have to go really light on bottom and really dark on top, just think about one being a bit lighter or darker than the other.

  8. Thank you so much

  9. This is so beautifully explained. Thanks!

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