Color blocking is an idea of combining two or more bold colors in an outfit to create complimenting and interesting color combinations.
This idea began in the 1940’s with a dress designed by Yves St. Laurent. It wasn’t really accepted as a wearable fashion piece but rather as a fashion forward statement.
In order to best understand the idea of color blocking, it’s good to start by understanding the color wheel.
The color wheel shows us how the colors relate to each other.
After understanding the color wheel, the next phase is to learn the different color blocking combinations by using the color wheel. These combinations are as follows:
Complementary Color blocking
This simply means pairing colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.
For example red and green or blue and orange.
Opposing colors stand against each other and can come out really bright. A way of toning it down is by selecting one color as a dominating color and the other as a complimenting color.
Analogous Color blocking
Analogous colors are ones that sit next to each other on the color wheel. For example, purple, blue-purple (violet) and blue.
When using this technique it is better to use three colors. This could either be three colors on the color wheel that are close to each other or two colors close to each other and a neutral color.
The three colors chosen should include a primary color, a secondary color and a tertiary color.
Split-Complementary Color blocking
This is a variation of the complementary color combination.
After selecting one color from the wheel, instead of using the opposite color, two colors analogous to the opposite color are selected. For example, if purple-blue (violet) is the initial selected color, then the complimenting colors would be orange and yellow.
This creates the same contrast gotten from the complementary color combination but the colors look more balanced.
Triadic Color blocking
This form of color blocking involves three colors equidistant to each other on the color wheel. For example, the three primary colors form a triadic color combination.
To avoid looking like a color palette, stick to one dominating color and use the other two to compliment it.
Rectangular/Tetradic Color blocking
Imagine a rectangle on the color wheel, with each edge on a color, and there you have the rectangular color combination.
A way to style this is to divide the four colors into two pairs, with one pair dominating and the other complimenting.
Rules to follow for Color blocking
- Avoid using too many colors especially if you don’t understand the color wheel completely. Stick to two colors.
- When using two or three colors, it’s better to use one main color and use the other colors to compliment it.
- Don’t shy away from neutral colors. These will help balance the colors out more.
- Try to avoid infusing prints, as the idea is to use solid colors.
- Don’t forget that color blocking is not just about clothes but the entire look. So avoid colors that clash with your selected colors; either the colors of your makeup or accessories or even your hair color.
Which is your preferred color combination? Share your opinions in the comment section below.
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