Reader Request: Combining Colors


Lisa asked for “favorite colour combos and some tips on how to combine colours in unusual ways,” and as a self-proclaimed color fanatic, I’m happy to oblige!

But first, a confession: I cheat. Although I keep a Pinterest board of my own bold color combos, I mostly pin images of color combos I’d NEVER have dreamed up on my own. And I use this as a cheat sheet. It comes in especially handy when I have a solid-colored garment staring me down and cannot think of any other colors that would complement it.

In terms of my favorite color combos …



Two trendy colors that work beautifully together! I never thought I’d dig a neon color after living through the 80s, but really do love how the tangy brightness plays off of the bold, rich blues. I generally round out this pairing with neutral accents, but love how pink and red create an even wilder mix.



Pairing different shades or values of the same color is usually a good bet, and I’ve really loved doing bright reds with rich burgundies. Orange, tan, and yellow all add to the overall warmth of this look. Brighter accents can recall flames, while subdued ones create a dusty, autumnal mix.



Clearly, I’m a fan of blue-yellow pairings. I couldn’t find lots of examples of mustard yellow with a specific blue, or robin’s egg with a particular yellow, but there were lots of outfits that put yellow with some variant of pale blue. I wouldn’t do black with this pairing, but browns, grays, and burgundys all work beautifully.

Besides those three, I couldn’t find any other pairing trends in my own dressing habits. BUT! I do default to color families when I dress. Such as …



Piling a bunch of jewel tones into an outfit is one of my fallbacks. These rich hues look marvelous together, and doing three or more in a mix still works. There’s an outfit above that utilizes black, but I’m more apt to reach for gray if I’m bringing in a neutral. It creates a less harsh contrast with the dustiness of the jewel tones.



 I think I default to multiple pastels in an outfit because I am new to this color family. I loathed pastels for so long that I’ve had very little practice wearing them! As with jewel tones, it’s nearly foolproof to put multiple pastels in a single outfit. Especially for summer, white is my neutral accent of choice.

For tips on how to combine colors in unusual ways, check these previous posts:

Originally posted 2013-07-19 06:25:23.

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11 Responses to “Reader Request: Combining Colors”

  1. Jennifer

    Loved this post, and I love how you combine colors. Although, seeing all those wintery outfits made me yearn for cooler weather since I’m living through the wet wool blanket that is a DC summer.

  2. Danielle

    Love these, especially the blue/yellow and red/burgundy!

    I have been all blues and oranges lately: teal and coral, navy and neon. Of course, I’d wear orange with almost anything.

    Other combos I adore:
    Turquoise & red (sometimes w/ yellow)
    Pink and springy green
    Orange and springy green
    Burgundy and darkish yellow (Condiments? or Gryffindor?)

  3. Anna

    I love jewel-tone mixes and have gotten compliments on my combinations of reds, purples, and dark blues. I flee from pastel mixes, however, partly because I am not fond of pastels and partly because I am of the gray-haired generation that loves putting pastels together in a seemingly random manner that comes across as utilitarian, clueless, and dowdy. At this time of life, I do not wish to be dowdy!

  4. Roxane

    Pairing colors is definitely something I learned from your outfits, Sally. I’ve come to love wearing cool brights together – particularly combinations involving greens, blues, and raspberry/magenta/fuchia. Black used to be my only neutral (especially when my shoe budget was more limited), but there’s been a recent explosion of gray, silver, and pewter taking it’s place. And even though brown is a neutral, I’ll mention that I love brown and blue together

  5. Barbara Pádua

    Love your combos! I think may favorite is “red/burgundy”!
    Other combos that i like: turquoise and magenta or purple, turquoise and cobalt or navy, or turquoise and red, well… I love turquoise!

  6. Sara

    I usually have two “main” colors, and sometimes add small accents in third color

    Lately I’ve loved
    -pistachio green and bright green, maybe some lemon yellow
    -pink with burgundy
    -light yellow and cream with purples and violets
    -red and turquoise, maybe with some bright green

  7. No fear of fashion

    Gosh I love this post. Combining colours is not my strongest point and it makes an outfit so much more interesting. Thank you very much for this tutorial.

  8. Molly

    My favourites at the moment are:

    – mustard + moss green
    – chocolate brown + burgundy
    – petrol blue + deep orange
    – burgundy + rich olive/khaki

    What I like best, though, is finding an item with a pattern on it, like a scarf and using that pattern to suggest a colour scheme. I’m completely over colour blocking now.