What Goes and What Clashes?

I received this a while ago, & I’ve been thinking about it ever since:

What clashes? What colours don’t go together? What can’t you wear with what? Stripes and polka dots? Stripes and more stripes? Mixing patterns? Not to say I would follow said fashion laws to a tee, but usually they exist for a reason, namely to prevent an unflattering, aesthetically confusing ensemble. So please enlighten me, what goes with what?

This is a tough question to answer, as there are very few hard & fast rules. Even old rules like “don’t mix your tartans” or “spots & stripes don’t go” can be thrown out if a good balance is struck. Successful pattern-mixing truly elevates your outfit to the next level — it says you’re a person who likes to take a risk, has confidence in their ability to assemble an outfit, & pays attention to the details.

The key to the whole affair is HARMONY. Ideally you want to go for different scales (say a wide check with houndstooth) in complementary colours. This could mean putting blue with orange, or it could mean staying to similar shades. The colours really should be harmonious — at least when you’re first starting out, anyway! Another important point is that the patterns must be dissimilar enough that you can see their differences from at least a couple of paces away. Otherwise you will look very “busy” & swamped by the outfit.

Colour Wheel

If you want to mix colours, complementary colours (those that are opposite one another on the colour wheel) will always work. So will analogous colours (those that sit next to each other on the colour wheel). Now, mixing colours that typically “clash” can be done, but again, it is a matter of balance. When you do this, I would suggest using small amounts of each colour & off-setting it with a large amount of neutral colour (like white or black). So if you were trying to mix pink & red, you might want to wear a neutral outfit with accessories in pink & red, or you could wear a pink top, black skirt & red leg-warmers. Another good way to incorporate “clashing” colours is to find an item that has both colours in it. This can be difficult, but it makes coordinating your outfit easier. I have a pink tube-top with red apples on it, & while I tend to wear it with black pants, the colours in the top means I can get away with having pink hair & wearing red lipstick.

It’s best to play around with it. Your mirror is your friend, & learning to trust your own judgment will be a great help. If you don’t like the way your outfit looks, change it, take it off or try something else! Good luck!