Do you have a tough time matching clothes and figuring out what goes together?
If you do a Google search about how to match clothing well, most websites and blog articles tell you to use the color wheel to match… but who does that?
It’s not intuitive, and literally no one in the history of mankind has used the color wheel to successfully put together a good looking (and matching) outfit.
I put together a video on our YouTube channel with 5 easy tips for matching your outfit. These are tips you can use right now, and they’re super simple to remember.
Check out the video below, and / or scroll down a bit further for a quick summary of my 5 tips from the video.
I also wrote a COMPLETE eGuide on matching! You’ll find it super useful.
5 Tips To Matching Colors In Your Outfits
1. Complement, don’t match
I know I said you don’t need the color wheel, which I still believe, as long as you remember some of these basic complementary color combinations:
- Red and Green
- Blue and Orange
- Yellow and Purple
Here’s an image, just to help illustrate:
Simply put, complementary colors are on opposite sides of the color wheel from each other.
This means they’re high contrast pairs, so, the key to using two complementary colors and without looking like a clown is to make one of them a darker shade.
For example, if you want to wear green pants and a red shirt (and it’s not Christmas, and you’re not going to a holiday theme party), simply wear olive or forest green chinos.
That way, you’re using complementary colors without excess contrast, which is what happens when you wear two pure complementary hues together.
2. Menswear Neutrals are the key to easy mixing and matching
When you think of neutrals, maybe you think of greys, black, and white.
But for clothing, there’s a group of colors that I call Menswear Neutrals, because they look great together in practically any combination, plus, they serve as a great base for any other color you might throw into your outfit.
So the Menswear Neutrals are: white, black, grey, light blue, navy, tan / british khaki, olive.
So a few common combos from my own life:
- Olive chinos and a white OCBD
- Dark denim and a light blue chambray
- Light wash denim and a navy linen shirt
- British khaki chinos and a chambray shirt
You get the idea.
By the way, it’s easier to wear dark colors on the bottom, light colors on top… so if you’re ever unsure about your outfit color combinations, start with that and it should be much easier.
3. One pop of color
I think this is where guys get confused. I hear questions like, “But how do I know if this blue matches that red? What if I’m wearing this shirt with purple in it, will it clash with this green striped tie?”
The easiest way to wear color is to start with a #menswearNeutral base (see tip #2) and add just one pop of color. Just one!
Menswear neutrals go well with each other, as well as any other color you can think of. So if your base outfit (shirt, pants, and shoes) is made up of neutrals, adding one pop of color doesn’t mess anything up. In fact, it will look great together.
This is a bulletproof way of adding color to your outfits. Just have that neutral base and you’re golden.
4. Make your own color profiles
My friend Peter at The Essential Man wrote a great post on how to match colors in your outfits. He had this awesome analogy that equated colors in an outfit to flavors you’d create when cooking.
So just how certain ingredients and spices create flavor profiles for a cuisine, you can create color profiles that are reminiscent of a certain style, such as the “Americana” color profile above.
Instead of trying to reiterate what he says (he does it so eloquently), just check out his post here.
And if you want an easy way to visually experiment with color combinations for your profiles, Canva has a cool color wheel tool you can play around with (plus a bunch of great info you can read through if you really wanna geek out about color theory heh)
5. Matching stuff that matters
Believe it or not, there are a few things you do want to match as much as possible.
Match your leather
If you’re wearing leather shoes and a leather belt, make sure those match as closely as possible. Leather jacket? Best to match that as well.
They don’t have to be exact matching (no one’s gonna care), but get as close as you can. So black leather shoes with a tan leather belt… obviously not close enough. Medium brown belt with cognac shoes? Yeah, that can work.
If you find yourself wearing a lot of cognac-colored leather shoes, best to buy a cognac belt. Same goes for any other leather color you wear a lot.
Match your metals
Pretty self explanatory. I like to center my whole jewelry aesthetic around one central piece, usually my wedding ring or a watch.
If you have a yellow gold wedding ring, best to wear a yellow metal watch and a yellow necklace (if you’re wearing a necklace)… and to a lesser degree, your belt’s hardware should also match. Not that big a deal if it doesn’t, but if it does, all the better.
My way around this “rule” is to wear two-tone jewelry. So my wedding ring is white gold with a double milgrain edge in yellow gold.
Basically it has both yellow and white metal, so that gives me a bit of leeway when wearing jewelry. I have a thin gold chain and I (usually) wear a steel watch. It all works because my ring has both yellow and white metals.
That’s it! 5 Quick and dirty tips to matching colors in your outfits.
I think #2 and #3 are key. What are your favorites?
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