Reader Request: Color Pairing Inspiration

color pairings

Reader J had this request:

I know you’ve talked about it in the past, but I’d love some more advice on how to get inspired about new color pairings.

Mmmmm, color pairings. Even though I’ve shifted to neutrals myself, I still love a colorful, visual feast and seek out inspiration to help my clients create bold color mixes. Here are some resources and tricks that I use:


I hoard color-pairing inspiration on this board, but find that following a few fashion- or design-focused pinners is a great way to unearth unexpected combinations. Grown and Curvy Woman is a color fiend and has a color-focused board. The Perfect Palette pins lots of event-related groupings, but those can be repurposed for outfits, too.

Design Seeds

The subtitle of Jessica’s blog is “For all who love color.” Design Seeds offers photo-inspired palettes that can be used in home decor, outfits, graphic design projects, just about anything. Most are heavy on the dusty shades, but a few go bold. Subscribe to this blog for daily inspiration.


I’ve mentioned this several times, but am delighted to have a chance to call it out again: Printed, multi-colored scarves are a fabulous tool for palette creation. The person who designed the scarf put a lot of thought into its colors, and you can reap the benefits by looking at the grouping and pulling out individual, solid colors. Assemble an outfit from those solids, and add the scarf to tie everything together. Or don’t – just use the palette as outfit inspiration.

Textiles, logos, and existing designs

In fact, all textiles that feature multiple colors can show you groupings you might not have thought of on your own. And although you might not want to dress in the colors on your toothpaste tube, labels and logos have also been given long and serious consideration by professional designers, so you just never know.

Color-centric blogs

Design Seeds deserved its own shout-out, but there are GOBS of blogs that focus on palettes and color pairings. Here’s a roundup from HuffPost, and another from Colour Lovers.

I’d love some more suggestions! What gives you color pairing inspiration? Other resources or tips to share?

Originally posted 2015-06-23 06:11:19.

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7 Responses to “Reader Request: Color Pairing Inspiration”

  1. Wendy Mclaren

    Thank you for this — I’ve shared it with my friends! I’ve studied color theory and have long been a textile artist. I rarely put much thought any more into why I choose colors to go together, I just do it. I wear black at work (retail in a dept store), so the colors I accessorize with always “pop”. Here’s hoping more people will give color a try!

  2. wonkyone15

    I like to use Pinterest to find out how other people styled a similar item, which always includes interesting color pairings. For example, search for something specific, like “blush tulle skirt” and see how other people wear it. Very useful! I also have a folder specifically for good color pairings I happen to see while skimming, even if I don’t like the clothing itself.

  3. crtfly

    Nature! Kind of along the lines as design seeds but YOU extract the colors from a natural scene that are pleasing to you. Any flower is probably good, but I particularly like the variations and combinations on passion flowers. Google passion flowers images. You will get a huge array of passion flower closeups which clearly show interesting color combinations.


  4. Kate Brown

    The Vivienne Files is a wonderful blog for seeing how to add colors to your wardrobe. Lots of color palettes and wardrobes built from them.

    • Cherie Czaplicki

      I second the Vivienne Files – just visit until you find your basic colors, then look at the pairings she does!

  5. Erika

    Do love a good scarf. Other sources – plants, jewellery (I’ve got a chakra lace which has multiple colours in it), animal colours (when did you last see a bird or fish whose colours looked all wrong?) and art – be it a painting, sculpture, decorated plaque or quilt.

    Looking at them in detail and with the eye unfocused – both are ways of seeing what colours there are.