Color Theory and what it Means for your Wardrobe

The Loft Colors In FashionThe difference between clothing and fashion is intent. There is the obvious need to wear clothes for protection, modesty, and uniformity with the culture, but when we introduce new forms, patterns, textures, and above all color, fashion is born. Colors play an important role on the fashion scene, as they help us to coordinate within an outfit, as well as with our surroundings. The season, time of week, and even time of day help determine the appropriate colors necessary to turn standard clothes into fashion statements.

Read on to discover the science behind color groupings, learn the physiological associations of colors, and uncover color trends sure to show up in fashion this spring and summer.

Color Theory

Color Wheel

Understanding color theory will help transform the way you piece and pair your clothes. Each color is represented on the color wheel. Locations of each color show relationships between other colors on the wheel. For example, colors directly across from each other are complimentary colors. When complimentary colors are paired up, they make their compliments appear more intense.

To keep things simple, don’t introduce more than three colors paired together at a time. Below are a few ides for common color schemes that would be options for creating inventive wardrobes.

Split Complimentary – Choose your first main color then the two that are on each side of the color directly across are your split complementariness. This will help give your three colors balance while offering the benefits of intensifying each other.

Analogous – Choose two to three colors right next to each other on the color wheel. These can be more commonly known as cool – blue, purple, and green, or warm – red, orange and yellow color schemes.

Monochromatic – Use different shades of one color to create a monochromatic color coordinated arrangement.

The options are really limitless but regardless a good neutral base serves as the perfect backdrop for any color accent combination.

Color Associations & the Application of Color in Fashion

 If you’ve ever walked up to the wall of paint swatches in your local hardware store, you know that the variation of colors available is numerous and slightly overwhelming. Whether the hue has a tint or shade, it will always have roots in its original color. Let’s break down common color associations to help get a grip on the subliminal messages you are sending with your wardrobe.



Red has the longest visual wave length and leads the way in the traditional rainbow. It has its beginnings as a fabric dye as insects called cochineals were crushed to make it. Red typically is associated with danger, passion, love, energy, and confidence.

Fashion tip: In your wardrobe use red as a strong accent. A pair or red heels or a red undershirt can help an otherwise neutral palette pop.



Blue is found often in nature as our ocean and sky expanses dominate our visual fields in the outdoor environment. In the U.S. blue denim is one of the most common materials worn on our lower halves. Blue has a traditional, stable, and peaceful association.

Fashion Tip: Blue and white together make a clean and crisp statement. A simple white tee with a medium blue denim can serve as a neutral base when worn with jewel toned accessories.



The second most common color found in nature is green. This calming color can take many forms and is especially pleasing when mixed with blue to create teal. Tied closely with green are feelings of serenity, peace, and high value.

Fashion tip: Play with multiple shades of green to evoke all the emotions it has to offer. A chartreuse is more playful and fun and will advance to the eye, while a sage is going to be softer and less noticeable.


Purple Bag at the Loft

Purple has always been deemed the color for royalty, especially when tending toward the shaded tones. The softer lavenders are feminine and almost as relaxing as it’s cool colored cousins, blue and green.

Fashion tip: Paired with orange and green it becomes a split complementary color scheme. This helps create balance and can be an ordered way for colors to work well within an outfit.

Neutrals (Black, White & Brown)

Perhaps black’s best attribute is its power to slim. Black is considered to be serious, focused, and mysterious. White has the opposite effect, but also appears light and airy. Neutrals serve the purpose of giving us anchors and backdrops for introducing all other colors.

Fashion tip: There is nothing like a black dress to keep handy in the wardrobe for almost every occasion. White is a great color for tops and the summer as it reflects heat away from the body instead of absorbing it.

Colors for Spring and Summer 2013 Tangerine Chartruse Teal

Bright, fun, and energetic jewel tones will dominate the fashion scene this spring and summer. Remember when selecting your attire balance is crucial to successfully pulling off the brights. You don’t want to create unnecessary competition among your ensemble. Use neutrals to provide a solid foundational base and build from there.

Chartreuse – Pictured above, among its analogous partners, chartreuse will pave the way for the brights this season. This vibrant color is used best as an accent, as it could be overwhelming if worn exclusively.

Faded Jade Skirt at The Loft

Muted Teal – Tame down the bold vibrancy of traditional teal by introducing a tint of that color. This muted tone is relaxed and easy on the eyes.

Ruby Red Shoes at The Loft

Ruby Red – Red in the masses can be a bold statement. In small doses it is communicates confidence. Simple and sweet, this color will get you good attention.

Yellow watch at the Loft

Sunburst Yellow – Yellow is both a spring and summer color that is citrus like in nature. Like a tall glass of lemonade this accent will leave you feeling refreshed!

Orange accents at The LoftActive Orange – Variations of orange have been on the scene for a while now and they have stuck around for good reason.  When layered with blues, the color will pop out even more.

All products pictured and many more in these great colors, are available and ready for purchase at The Loft in Ames, Iowa.

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3 Responses to Color Theory and what it Means for your Wardrobe

  1. Pingback: Trending at The Loft – May Newsletter | The Loft – Ames

  2. Karen Van Buskirk says:

    Very nice! It’s important to understand what color(s) your wardrobe. I enjoy the cooler jewel tones myself.

  3. It’s so great to see fashion experts sharing advice that helps people accent their best color qualities. Your prediction about chartreuse is bold, we’re going to watch how this color plays throughout the season!

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