How To Combine Colours for Your Outfits

Before we get into colour combinations, let’s cover some basic things about colours and colour theory:

The Colour Wheel

……is the organization of colours (also called ‘hues’) presented in a circle.


Primary Colours……refer to red, yellow and blue (in their pure forms). Image

Secondary Colours……are created by mixing 2 primary colours together.

Blue + Yellow = Green

Red + Yellow = Orange

Red + Blue = Purple


Tertiary Colours……are created by mixing a secondary and a primary colour.

Purple + Blue = Blue-purple

Orange + Red = Red-orange


Tertiary colours are usually identified by the primary colours that are added to them, ‘blue’ purple (not just purple) or ‘blue’ green.  Sometimes, you’ll also find that these colours have exotic names assigned to them too – aquamarine, azure, teal…..

How to Combine Colours:

The trick to looking good in the colours you wear is in getting the right ‘HARMONY’.  In Personal Colour Analysis, the ‘right harmony’ also includes the colours found in ourselves – our hair, skin and eyes.  However, not to complicate matters, let’s consider some common colour combinations that are seen to be harmonious.

a)   Monochromatic

One colour, different shades  – light brown, medium brown and dark brown.  This is easy to do, and is a colour combination preferred in many corporate settings.


b)   Analogous –

Putting ‘neighbouring’ colours on the colour wheel together.  Eg.  Green with Yellow, or Green with Blue, or Purple with Red, Purple with Blue


c)    Complementary –

Think Christmas – Red and Green, Purple and Green, Orange and Blue

They are colours that are opposite each other in the colour wheel, and they bring attention to each other too. Image

d)   Triadic –

As the name suggests, this is a combination of three different colours, but they are equal distance one from another.  Eg.  Red, Yellow and Blue / Orange, Purple and Green.Image

e)    Split Complementary –

Two analogous colours and one complementary.  Eg. Red and Purple, Green


f)      Tetradic (Rectangle) –

Four colours – two pairs of complementary colours. Eg. Blue and Orange, Purple and Green.  The proportions used for these colours in one colour combination are rarely equal, unless one wants to risk looking like a clown.


These are some suggestions for you to combine the colours of your outfits and accessories.  Which combination do you sport most often and why?

In the next post, we’ll post some illustrations on these colour combinations.


Colour Wheel images from