Hey Gents,

I get a lot of questions about how to match color, how to complement color, or how to put an outfit together with different colors.

I don’t think about this too often in my everyday life, but I realize it may not come so easily to everyone, so I did this little exercise. Feel free to try it out if you’re so inclined.

I went to Kuler, a color scheme generator web app I use fairly often. I scrolled through and chose a few color schemes I liked. From there, I hit up ShopStyle (a great tool for product browsing) and started searching for clothing that more or less matched the individual colors in the color scheme I chose.

By the way, I mapped it out in my head beforehand, so I had an idea of what to look for.

The following is what I came up with.

Three random color schemes, three (or four) outfits

Editor’s note: If you’re reading this at a date later than the publish date, there’s a possibility some of the products are no longer available via the links below. Search on ShopStyle for other options.

Scheme 1

Visit this color scheme directly: https://kuler.adobe.com/#themeID/2216979

I put together two outfit possibilities for this color scheme.

Outfit 1a details: khaki chinosred chambrayPolo striped rugbygray longwings

Outfit 1b details: navy chinos, red chambray, burgundy striped sweater (aff link), gray longwings

Scheme 2

Visit this color scheme directly: https://kuler.adobe.com/#themeID/2246791

Outfit details: gray pants, off-white check shirt, eggplant cashmere sweater, brown military jacket, burgundy boots

Scheme 3

Visit this color scheme directly: https://kuler.adobe.com/#themeID/2228604

Outfit details: teal sport shirt, heather sweatshirt, brown pants, gray blazertan loafers (aff link)

I did this to prove to you (and to myself) how simple it is to put color together. It really isn’t that difficult! I found clothing online so I can give you multiple examples, but you should do the same thing with the clothes in your closet or the clothing you plan on buying.

Sometimes it can be hard to step away from the tried-and-true color schemes you’re used to (blue denim, black shirt, for example). I always encourage you to experiment with color to keep it interesting.

Even more tips on killing it with color

Don’t immediately dismiss certain color pairs without trying them out, just because you think they don’t look right together… you’d be surprised.

Two individual colors in a scheme may not complement each other well on their own, but as long as the palette as a whole looks good, you’re fine.

Sometimes it’s about feeling. Do these colors feel good together? Seriously. For you analytical minds out there, this might be tough, but sometimes the “answer” is just a good overall feeling. After a while, you’ll know what feels right and what feels off.

Don’t overthink it. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t overthink things too much. This will lead to analysis paralysis, and eventually you’ll give up and revert to your usual color pairings. That’s boring. You’ve already picked out the outfit; just throw it on and walk out the door.

Remember, even if you think you messed up (you probably didn’t), no one will notice anyway, because everyone’s too concerned about themselves and lost in their own world.

That’s it! Any questions I didn’t already answer? Let me know below.

PS – I’m releasing a new mini eGuide soon! It is focused on helping young men (anywhere from ages 15-25 or so) dress more like a grownup, with a focus on affordability.

Sounds like something you could use? Make sure to get on the EG mailing list; I’ll be announcing its release there first. You can sign up here: http://exclusive.effortlessgent.com

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PUBLISHED February 26, 2013

Barron is a Lean Wardrobe Advocate and Founding Editor of Effortless Gent. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr.

  • j4

    What do u think of a navy blue crew neck paired with dark raw denim ? could that work ?

  • I’m really looking forward to the eGuide!

    • I’m looking forward to finishing it 🙂

  • Bo

    Love these looks, need to figure out how I can incorporate them into my wardrobe!

    • Pick a piece you like and start there, if acquiring everything at once is overwhelming (which it should be for anyone). I believe in you!

  • Great advice, you must have a textile design background as do I!

  • Danno

    I like what you said at the end of the article about just putting the outfit on and not thinking twice about it. I recently bought a pair of bright blue chinos, the first time I wore them I felt very self conscious, but in all reality, people didn’t really care. And standing out is how you distinguish yourself from everyone else.

  • Chris

    I found the links very interersting (thanks!), but based on the color wheel it looks like all colors go together??? http://www.collegefashion.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/color-wheel.jpg What are the rules…I need rules!! 🙂

    • AB

      A lot of those color wheels are about 45 degrees out and have too much orange and too little blue: You can spot a correct one if red is opposite cyan, NOT green.

  • Tim

    Hey Barron, what’s the brand of those loafers in Scheme 3? I really dig ’em but the link is no good anymore.

  • Darth2D2

    hi, barron! i believe i speak for everyone living in the tropics (i’m from the philippines), when i ask this question: how can i pull off tropical-friendly outfits in these color patterns? with the year-round warm climate we have, i’ll be forced to take off one to two layers from your examples here, which could then leave me with somewhat incoherent numbers. thanks!