Olive green and forest green are both earthy, natural green colors that are quite popular in interior design and fashion. However, determining whether these two shades of green actually “match” requires looking at the specific shades and tones of each color and the overall effect when paired together. There are no definitive rules, so it often comes down to personal preference and color theory.
Defining Olive Green
Olive green sits in the yellow-green to blue-green range of greens. It gets its name from the olive fruit, which ripens from green to various shades of purple and brown. True olive green has a strong yellow-green undertone compared to forest green.
The hexadecimal code for olive green is #808000. Olive greens can range from a bright, yellow-based green to a dull, grayish-green. Popular olive green shades include:
|Bright olive green||#9DC183|
|Yellow-tinged olive green||#A3B66C|
|Deep olive green||#5F5D4E|
|Drab olive green||#79734F|
Olive green takes its name from the olive fruit, but it also closely resembles the color of green olives themselves. It looks natural paired with brown, tan, cream, and lighter greens.
Defining Forest Green
Forest green refers to the typical lush, verdant green of healthy forests and woodlands. It sits between yellow-green and blue-green on the color spectrum but leans towards the cooler, deeper blue-green side.
The hexadecimal code for forest green is #228B22. Forest green is considered a shade, not a singular color. Popular forest green shades include:
|Traditional forest green||#014421|
|Dark forest green||#013220|
|Grayish forest green||#5FA777|
|Blue-toned forest green||#3B7A57|
Forest greens are deeper, cooler, and often darker than olive greens. They resemble lush coniferous and deciduous forests. Forest green goes well with other nature-inspired colors like brown, tan, cream, moss green, and slate blue.
General Color Theory
Understanding general color theory helps determine if two shades like olive and forest green match and coordinate well. Important factors include:
Hue – The position on the color spectrum. Olive and forest green have similar yellow-green to blue-green hues.
Chroma – The intensity of a color from dull to vibrant. Olive green can be vibrant or dull, forest green is usually deeper.
Value – How light or dark a color is. Olive green varies in lightness, forest green is usually darker.
Temperature – Colors are either warm (red, orange, yellow) or cool (blue, purple, green). Olive and forest green are cool colors.
Complementary Colors – Complementary color pairs contrast strongly. Olive green’s complements are red-violets while forest green’s are red-oranges.
Comparing Olive and Forest Green
Although olive and forest green share similar yellow-green to blue-green hues, they differ in other attributes:
|Olive Green||Forest Green|
|Tends towards yellow-green||Tends towards blue-green|
|Medium to light value||Deep, dark value|
|Dull to vibrant chroma||Deep chroma|
So olive green is typically lighter, brighter, and warmer than the darker, deeper forest green. There are exceptions, but generally olive green has a strong yellow undertone while forest green leans blue.
Do Olive and Forest Green Match?
Whether olive and forest green complement each other depends on the specific shades used and personal taste.
Some ways olive and forest green can coordinate well:
- Using dark forest green and bright olive green together provides contrast
- Pairing soft sage greens with fresh lighter greens
- Combining muted olive green with muted blue-tinged forest green
But the colors can clash if the shades are too different:
- A vibrant yellow olive green and dark blue-toned forest green would contrast too sharply
- Muted olive green alongside vivid forest green may look dull and uneven
It’s best to pick olive and forest green shades that are similar in tone and chroma. The safest pairings use greens with the same undertones, either yellow-based or blue-based. Mixing green undertones can make the palette look disjointed.
Whether pairing, contrasting, or matching tones, use colors sparingly. Too many competing greens can feel overwhelming. Neutral browns, tans, whites, and grays help blend forest and olive in a soothing, naturalistic palette.
Olive and Forest Green in Interior Design
Both olive and forest green can work beautifully in home interiors. Here are some ideas for coordinating the colors:
- Paint walls a soft sage green and use olive green accents in pillows, throws, vases
- Use a rich forest green velvet sofa as a dramatic accent against light olive walls
- Choose a warm grey-green for an accent wall paired with olive green decor
- Make a bold statement with high-contrast dark forest green cabinets and bright olive green tile backsplash in a kitchen
When decorating with forest and olive green:
- Use olive green in energizing high traffic areas like entryways, kitchens, and bathrooms
- Use forest green sparingly in meditative spaces like bedrooms and studies
- Tie the palette together with natural unstained wood tones
- Add pops of orange, gold, or cream as accents
Both colors pair beautifully with marble, granite, and hardwood floors in brown and grey tones.
Olive and Forest Green for Fashion
Olive green and forest green offer versatility in fashion. Both colors complement a wide range of skin tones. Ideas for coordinating the shades include:
- Pair an olive green shirt with forest green pants or skirt for a modern take on camouflage
- Wear a medium olive green jacket over a darker forest green top
- Make it casual with an olive green t-shirt and forest green shorts
- Amp up contrast by layering vibrant yellow-green olive with dark blue-toned forest green
Olive flattery flatters warm complexions with golden undertones. Forest greensenhance cooler skin tones. Both colors make blue and green eyes pop.
For makeup, choose an olive green eyeliner with a forest green eyeshadow. Or sweep olive green shadow across the lid with deep forest to line the eyes and define the crease. Match lips and nails to shades in your green palette.
Olive and forest green can work beautifully together in both design and fashion when coordinated mindfully. Choosing shades of similar chroma and tone creates a cohesive, harmonious palette. But don’t be afraid to experiment with bolder contrast either. Olive and forest green offer versatility for everything from subtle earthy elegance to dramatic statements.