The Color Wheel: How to use the color wheel to incorporate color in your wardrobe

The color wheel is used in art to teach about color and the relationship of color families. Fashion is a form of art. Even if you are not interested in the technicalities of art this basic tool can change the way you view color theory and incorporate it into your wardrobe.

Before you can use a color wheel you must understand primary colors, hues, secondary colors, tertiary colors and complementary colors.


Primary Colors and Hues:
The primary colors are blue, red, and yellow. These are the only three colors that can not be made by mixing other colors. All other colors are hues of these three colors. For example, pink is a hue of red. As you move around the color wheel you change hue.

Secondary Colors:
Secondary colors are a result of mixing two primary colors
Yellow+Blue=Orange
Blue+Yellow=Green
Red+Blue=Purple

Tertiary Colors:
Tertiary colors are created by mixing primary and secondary colors.

For examples of primary, secondary and tertiary colors see the above color wheel.

Color Complements:
Color complements are colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. These colors truly compliment one another and bring out the best in each other. Color complements make for great color contrast in your wardrobe because these colors enhance and intensify each other. See the chart above for examples of color complements.

Neutral Colors:
Brown and gray are a result of mixing all three primary colors along with black and white. These colors are the neutrals and are the foundation of a good wardrobe. When building a wardrobe it’s a good idea to build your wardrobe on neutral classics and style staples. Items that can easily be dressed up or dressed down. This way you can easily incorporate color trends into your wardrobe from season to season.

Warm Colors vs. Cool Colors:
Warm colors are vivid and energetic colors. These colors produce emotions of warmth, happiness, and romance. Examples of warm colors are yellow, red, magenta, and greenish-yellow.

Cool Colors are calm and soothing colors. These colors can give feelings of peace and tranquility or withdrawal and sadness. Examples of cool colors are turquoise, green, blue and shades of purple. See the above color chart for warm colors vs cool color examples.

Pantone is the world’s authority on color and each year they survey New York Fashion Week’s designers to discover the seasons direction on color. Every season Pantone releases a Fashion Color Report and it’s free to download directly from the Pantone site. Click here to download the Spring 2011 Color Report.

Below are Pantone’s color trends for Spring 2011

That is the breakdown of how to use color the wheel to update your wardrobe.

~Ariel B



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5 thoughts on “The Color Wheel: How to use the color wheel to incorporate color in your wardrobe

  1. This blog for very useful. I am one who’s wardrobe consist of white, black and gray even during spring/summer. I will definitely put this color wheel to use and incorporate some color into my spring wardrobe. Thanks doll!

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