Matching colors in an outfit


A foolproof way to combine colors without making mistakes?

In a bold and ultra stylish way?

It’s now possible for you! And it’s all thanks to the principles of the color wheel!

You love colors in the store, it’s true that they are always very well presented: a beautiful red top, an emerald green blouse, a deep purple sweater … but once back home, you are completely lost in how to combine them with any of the clothes you already have in your wardrobe…

Is that not a “deja vu” feeling?!?

What next … this top, this blouse, this sweater with intense colors will almost inevitably end up with black pants or a black skirt… what a pure shame.

Here, an absolutely foolproof way to pair them with taste.

So that you can finally and definitely say STOP to the boring “color + black” duo…

To combine colors without looking like you’re going to Fashion Week, your lead wire is Harmony.

For some of us, it is gift, purely innate.

For others though, it remains a difficult task, a perilous exercise which we easily give up on by fear of outfit clashes.

But don’t panic, there are rational, almost scientific techniques that can help you out to tackle those potential clashes and give you the “techni-color” to look great.

Combining colors according the chromatic circle 

The what ?? The chromatic circle or the color wheel! 

The color wheel is and give an ordered representation of colors.

They follow each other following the order of the rainbow colors.

The color wheel is an essential tool to “understand” colors.

The color wheel allows us to act rationally without relying on our intuition.

The color wheel gathers the primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

Cercle chromatique - les couleurs

Color wheel



  • The primary colors: blue, red, magenta, yellow. They are difficult to associate with each other (except in small touches, with accessories, for example).


  •  Secondary colors: green, orange and purple. They result from the mixture of two of the three primary colors. They associate very well with each other. They can happily marry and that wedding will bring a  real touch of peps to your style.


  • Tertiary colors: purple, vermilion, indigo, turquoise, “chartreuse” green, ochre. They are the result of mixing a secondary color with a primary color.


What is this variation of colors from the outside to the inside of the color wheel?

Valeurs tonales d'une couleur

Tonal values of blue

These are shades or also called tonal values.

The tonal value of a color is the darker or the lighter side of a same color.

On the same slice of the circle, the closer you get to the center of the circle, the lighter the color become and the further away you get from the center the darker it becomes.

A lighter tonal value means that white has been added and a darker tonal value means that black has been added.

When you choose to combine several colors, it is important to choose identical tonal values for these different colors, you follow me?

“Clashing” associations are not the fruit of the choice of the colors themselves but more often from the lack of consistency in the choice of tonal values.

Combining colors : the options 

The monochrome

A monochrome outfit is made of  the same tonal value of a single color for all the different pieces that make up the outfit.

The most famous is obviously the black monochrome that we all cherish, but why not be more creative?

Monochrome is very bright!

It particularly highlights the different fabrics and textures of your garments. 

It is therefore important to vary them to give relief to the outfit.

Here are some examples of monochrome outfits:

couleurs - monochrome
Tenue monochrome beige  - les couleurs


Monochrome bleu

Anine Bing

Tenue monochrome prune - les couleurs


Monochrome blanc


Tenue monochrome bleu - comment associer les couleurs


Monochrome vert


Tenue monochrome rouge- les couleurs


Tenue monochrome rouge


Cameo/shades variation of a color

A cameo outfit consists in combining the different tonal values of the same color: all the shades from the same slice.

It is therefore a gradient of a single color in its light and dark shades (and not an combination of different colors of the same tonal value as we often and easily can confused ourselves ?).

Some examples of cameo outfits:

Cercle chromatique - camaieu de couleurs
Association rouge et rose

Tara Jarmon

Camaïeu de beiges


Tenue monochrome prune


Camaïeu roses


Camaïeu de roses


Camaieu de beiges


Camaïeu de bleus


camaieu bleu sezane

Complementary colors

An outfit made of complementary colors is a very contrasting combination by paring two colors  that are opposite one another in the …

Cercle chromatique - couleurs complémentaires


  • Examples of outfits with complementary colors
  • Adjacent complementary colors
  • Analogous colors
  • Which colors for your accessories with this kind of color block?
  • Colorful… and stylish outfit ideas !

Find the rest of this article in EBOOK “Matching colors like a pro”

*These are images for which the sources could not be identified on Pinterest.

If you are the author, feel free to contact me to add the credits.

Header picture credit:
Tara Jarmon