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How do you color coordination?


Color coordinating your outfits and home decor can seem daunting, but with some simple tips it can be easy and fun! The key is understanding color theory, finding your base colors, and learning how to combine them in pleasing ways. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to start color coordinating with confidence.

What is Color Coordinating?

Color coordinating simply means putting together colors in a way that is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing. The goal is to create outfits, rooms, and spaces with colors that complement each other.

Some benefits of effective color coordinating include:

  • Creating a pulled-together, cohesive look
  • Making spaces feel harmonious and peaceful
  • Enhancing your style and decor
  • Showcasing your personality through color

Color coordinating takes a bit of knowledge and practice, but the payoff is outfits and spaces you feel confident and happy in.

Understanding Color Theory

Before coordinating colors, it helps to understand some basic principles of color theory. Here are the key elements:

The Color Wheel

The color wheel shows how colors relate to one another. Complementary colors (opposite on the wheel) create high contrast when paired. Analogous colors (next to each other) create harmony.

color wheel

Color Temperature

Color temperature refers to whether a color appears warm or cool. Reds, oranges, and yellows are warm while blues, greens, and purples are cool. Combining warm and cool colors together creates balance.

Color Value

Color value indicates how light or dark a color is. Pairing light and dark shades creates contrast and depth.

Color Saturation

Color saturation refers to the intensity or vibrancy of a color. Pairing saturated colors with muted, softer colors helps prevent overwhelming combinations.

Color Context

The context a color is used in impacts how it is perceived. A color can change in appearance based on what colors it’s combined with.

Determining Your Base Colors

Once you understand color theory basics, the next step is choosing three base colors that will form the foundation for your color coordinating. Consider the following when selecting your palette:

Your Tone

Choose colors that flatter your skin, hair, and eye coloring. Warm tones suit warm coloring best while cool tones suit cool coloring.

Your Style

Select colors that align with your personal style and preferences. Your base colors are key for expressing your style through color coordinating.

The Space

Consider the existing colors and tones in the space you are coordinating. Your base colors should complement what’s already there.

The Season

Some colors align better with certain seasons. For example, warm tones for fall and winter, cool tones for spring and summer.

Once you’ve considered these factors, land on three base colors that cover one warm, one cool, and one neutral shade. These will anchor all your color combinations.

Combining Your Base Colors

With your three base colors chosen, you can start combining them into cohesive palettes. Here are some tips for blending your base colors successfully:

Start with One Dominant Color

Pick one of your three base colors to take center stage as the dominant color. This will be the primary color used.

Accent with Your Two Supporting Colors

Use your other two base colors sparingly to accent the dominant color. Too much of the supporting colors takes away from the lead color.

Observe the 60-30-10 Rule

This guideline suggests using your dominant color 60% of the time, secondary color 30%, and accent color 10% for pleasing combinations.

Vary Color Values

Work in light, medium, and dark values of your three base colors. This creates depth within a cohesive palette.

Add Pops of Complementary Colors

Complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) add visual interest when used sparingly. Just take care not to overdo it.

Check Colors in Different Lighting

Colors can look different in various lighting. Be sure to view palettes in daytime and nighttime lighting conditions.

Color Coordinating Your Outfits

With your base colors and combinations selected, it’s time to start color coordinating your outfits! Follow these tips for fabulous results:

Match Colors in Same Outfit

When creating an outfit, pick colors from the same pre-planned palette so they complement each other seamlessly.

Use One Dominant Color

Build outfits starting with your dominant base color as the main piece, like a top or dress.

Add Accents

Accent with pieces in your supporting colors, like shoes, jewelry, scarves, or jackets. Limit accents to 1-2 for balance.

Vary Color Values

Use different values, saturations, and shades of your colors for interest. For example, pair a light blue top with medium blue pants.

Repeat Colors

Repeat your color palette across all garments and accessories for cohesion. For example, red dress, red lipstick, red earrings.

Use Neutrals

Don’t forget neutrals like black, white, gray, tan, and brown to anchor brighter colors.

Check Outfits in Different Light

Just like palettes, outfits can look different in various lighting. Preview your looks in daylight, office lighting, evening light.

Color Coordinating Your Home

Your base color palette isn’t just for outfits – use it to coordinate the colors in your home decor too! Here are some tips:

Establish a Dominant Room Color

Paint the walls in your dominant base color to set the foundation for that room’s scheme.

Add Accents

Use accent colors from your palette for details like throw pillows, rugs, blankets, artwork and accessories.

Repeat Colors Throughout

Repeat your color palette across rooms for continuity. For example, use the same throw pillow colors in the living room and bedroom.

Vary Color Values

Introduce different values of your colors room to room. For example, light blue walls in kitchen, dark blue walls in bedroom.

Use Neutrals as Bridges

Tie colorful rooms together with neutral hallways or entries. This creates cohesion and flow.

Display Color Swatches

Hang paint strips or fabric swatches of your palette in each room for easy reference.

Key Takeaways

Color coordinating is more approachable when you break it down into simple steps:

  • Learn basic color theory
  • Choose three versatile base colors
  • Combine colors using the 60-30-10 rule
  • Build cohesive, harmonious palettes
  • Apply color palettes across outfits and decor

Remember to have fun and embrace trial and error. Not every color combination will work perfectly – if something doesn’t feel quite right, tweak it until you find your own winning color coordination formula. The reward will be stunning outfits and spaces you can’t wait to show off!


Color coordinating your wardrobe and home may seem intimidating initially, but it becomes easy and enjoyable once you understand the fundamentals. With the right base color palette, a grasp of color theory principles, and some simple guidance on blending colors, anyone can begin assembling beautiful, harmonious combinations. The ability to use color intentionally to complement your style and spaces is an invaluable skill. So embrace the process, get creative, and have fun seeing just how fabulous your color-coordinated life can be!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many base colors should I choose?

Three base colors is ideal – one warm, one cool, and one neutral. This gives you a versatile foundation to work from.

What are some examples of base color combinations?

Some examples include:
– Navy blue, blush pink, tan
– Olive green, coral, cream
– Plum, mint, white
– Camel, sky blue, black

How can I coordinate colors if I don’t know my base palette?

If you don’t have a pre-determined palette, look for one dominant color in a space and pull accent colors from the existing decor. Let the space guide your coordination.

Should I coordinate every room in my home?

Consistency throughout a home creates a put-together feel, but it’s fine to have one or two rooms diverge from your main palette if desired. Just use neutrals to transition between color schemes.

Can I wear colors outside my 3 base colors?

Yes, you can absolutely wear additional colors! Just try to wear one piece in your base palette to maintain some cohesion. Accent with colors outside your palette sparingly.