Mixing and Matching - Using Color Theory

When it comes to mixing and matching clothing or jewelry, people often tell us, “I like it! But I don’t know what I should wear it with!” We want to help! One of the easiest ways to match various items is to focus on the color(s) of each item. That is where some knowledge of color theory can help!

But before we dive in, we want to point out that fashion is unique to each person. So if you like something, and it makes you feel comfortable and beautiful, wear it! Don’t ever let “rules” or “theories” sway you. Additionally, rules can also be broken. (You see this happen in high fashion all the time!) So ultimately, take this information with a grain of salt. It’s just a tool to implement when/if you get stuck! 

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Colors

Before we can explain how colors can match or compliment one another, let's first go over the different types of colors. (Reference the color wheel below.) There are three “types” of colors:

  • The primaries: red, yellow, and blue. 

  • The secondaries: green, orange, and purple.

  • The tertiaries: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, red-purple. (Note that the tertiaries can be any color that falls between the primary and secondary colors.) 



Pairing Colors | Color Harmony

The term “color harmony” refers to aesthetically pleasing properties of color combinations. There are a few different color harmonies that designers will often employ within their artwork/designs.

  • Complementary colors

  • Split complementary colors

  • Analogous colors

  • Triadic harmonies

  • Tetradic harmonies

  • Monochromatic harmonies


The names of these color harmonies are based on where the colors fall on a color wheel. (See the picture below.)

When pairing different articles of clothing, jewelry and/or accessories together, implementing any of the color harmonies above can help guide you! 

(You can rotate the color wheel so that the different color harmonies will apply to different colors. For example analogous colors are any three colors next to each other on the wheel. In the example above, “yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange” are the examples of analogous colors. But another example would be “blue-purple, blue, and blue-green”.

Pro Tip: Slightly different shades will not always be “pleasing”! Also note, some people may not like a particular color. Therefore, they will never like a color harmony that uses the color they do not like! 

Final Thoughts

Again, this article is just meant to provide you with a tool when you’re stuck thinking, “what should I pair this with?” Do not let it rule your closet! And ultimately, do what makes YOU feel good. Because at the end of the day, that is the purpose of fashion!