Mauve is a pale purplish-pink color that can be tricky to match perfectly. When trying to find coordinating colors for mauve, it helps to understand the undertones and characteristics of this unique shade. In this article, we’ll explore what color best matches mauve across different categories like pastels, deeper tones, and complementary shades.
What is Mauve?
Mauve is a light purple or lavender shade with a pinkish undertone. The name comes from the French word for the mallow flower which has a similar pale purple color. Mauve sits between violet and lilac on the color wheel, making it a mix of purple and pink pigments.
This elegant, soft color was hugely popular in the late 19th century after the accidental synthesis of the first mauve dye. Mauve remained fashionable through the early 20th century in costume and interior design.
Today, mauve is still widely used in fashion, home décor, and cosmetics for its romantic, nostalgic appeal. It’s known for being soothing, delicate, and feminine.
Characteristics of Mauve
So what are the key characteristics of mauve that influence what colors suit it best?
- It’s a light, soft, pale tone.
- Sits between pink and purple on the color wheel.
- Has a subtle cool undertone.
- Is relatively muted rather than bright.
- Feels romantic, delicate and nostalgic.
With these traits in mind, the best color matches will share similar lightness and softness. Complimentary shades with some contrast in tone and temperature also look beautiful with mauve.
Best Pastel Color Matches
Pastel versions of pink, purple and blue make gorgeous low contrast pairings with mauve. Try:
- Lavender – Slightly lighter and brighter than mauve, this soft purple is a perfect match.
- Thistle – A pale purple-gray pastel that coordinates beautifully.
- Wisteria – Has the same purple undertones but is a touch deeper.
- Periwinkle – A pale blue-purple that pairs nicely.
- Orchid pink – The pink version of mauve with similar softness.
- Baby pink – A lighter, more playful pink that sweetly matches mauve.
- Blush pink – Warmer and more peachy to contrast the subtle coolness of mauve.
- Lilac – Slightly deeper and brighter than mauve but a perfect partner.
Pastel shades are always safe choices with mauve for their similar lightness and prettiness. Different undertones in shades of pink, purple and blue provide subtle contrast.
Best Deep Color Matches
For a more striking look, pair mauve with richer, deeper shades like:
- Eggplant – A deeper purple with the same undertones.
- Wine – A rich burgundy red that complements mauve elegantly.
- Royal purple – Bold and regal alongside the softer mauve.
- Plum – Has similar purple notes but more intensity.
- Magenta – Vibrant pink-purple for an eye-catching combo.
- Fuchsia – Bold and bright against the muted mauve.
- Cranberry – Deep, cool red that pairs beautifully.
- Mulberry – Dark purple-red that coordinates well.
These darker hues share the same color family as mauve but have much more depth. Set against the lightness of mauve, these rich shades make a striking contrast.
Best Warm Color Matches
Although mauve has subtle cool undertones, it can also pair nicely with warm shades like:
- Peach – Fresh and cheerful foil for the nostalgic mauve.
- Coral – Vibrant, fruity pop of color.
- Salmon – Soft and luminous next to mauve.
- Terracotta – Earthy and grounding contrast.
- Butter yellow – Cheerful, sunny complement.
- Gold – Glamorous and shiney with mauve.
- Rose gold – Romantic metallic pairing.
- Dusty orange – Subtle, earthy contrast.
Though quite different in tone, warm shades add a bright energizing quality next to mauve. Peaches, corals, yellows and golds make vibrant pairings.
Best Complementary Color Matches
Colors on the opposite side of the color wheel make striking complementary pairs with mauve. Dynamic contrasts include:
- Emerald green – Jewel-toned green pops against mauve.
- Forest green – Deep and earthy complement.
- Lime green – Vibrant, zesty pairing.
- Chartreuse – Bright acid green for a bold combo.
- Mint green – Cool and refreshing contrast.
- Teal – Gorgeous blend of green and blue.
- Seafoam green – Soft, dreamy pairing.
- Turquoise – Vibrant for a lively contrast.
On the color wheel, greens and blues sit opposite mauve in the cool spectrum. These complementary shades make mauve ‘pop’ when paired together.
Neutral Color Matches
For a more subtle, relaxed look, pair mauve with neutral shades like:
- White – Crisp and clean next to the soft mauve.
- Ivory – Warm creamy white that flatters mauve.
- Beige – Understated earthy neutral.
- Tan – Golden brown complement.
- Taupe – Complex neutral blending purple, gray and brown.
- Silver – Cool-toned metallic neutral.
- Grey – Sophisticated and subtle with mauve.
- Black – Classic contrast creating an elegant look.
Crisp whites, earthy naturals and sleek metallics allow mauve to take center stage when paired neutrally. Black adds a sophisticated touch.
Avoid Pairing Mauve With…
Some shades clash with mauve and are best avoided. Stay away from pairing mauve with:
- Bright primary colors like red, yellow and blue. These bold brights overwhelm the delicate mauve.
- Neon shades like neon pink, green or orange. Too loud and vibrant alongside mauve.
- Muddy dark browns. Can make mauve look dull and lifeless.
- Mustard yellow or olive green. Contrast poorly with mauve’s cool undertone.
Keep mauve looking its romantic, nostalgic best by steering clear of colors that are too bright, overly warm or dark and muddy.
Choosing the Right Mauve Shade
With countless variations of mauve available, choose the right shade for your purposes when coordinating colors:
- Pale mauve – Pair with whites, soft pastels
- Lilac mauve – Match with deeper purples and blues
- Pink mauve – Compliment with peaches, pinks and corals
- Dark mauve – Contrast with rich wines, plums and emeralds
- Dusty mauve – Coordinate with earthy neutrals like tan, taupe
The depth and undertones of your chosen mauve will influence the shades that complement it best. Match lighter mauves with pastels, deeper mauves with bold colors.
Mauve Color Combinations
Some examples of stunning mauve color combinations include:
- Mauve and seafoam green
- Pale mauve and ivory
- Lilac mauve and royal purple
- Blush mauve and peach
- Dark mauve and emerald green
- Mauve and silver
- Pink mauve and fuchsia
- Dusty mauve and tan
Mix and match mauve with coordinated shades across the color wheel for gorgeous results. Keep light mauves soft, deep mauves dramatic and pink mauves feminine.
Using Mauve in Design and Fashion
Incorporating mauve into design and fashion projects requires some thoughtful coordination. Here are some top tips for working with mauve:
- In home decor, use as an accent color against neutrals like white walls and wood floors.
- Add mauve accents like pillows, throws and vases to a room for a pop of color.
- Make a bold mauve statement with an armchair or sofa.
- In fashion, pair mauve with complementary colors like emerald or blue-toned purples.
- Add mauve accessories like purses, scarves and shoes to pull together an outfit.
- Make mauve the focal point by wearing it head-to-toe in a monochrome look.
- In graphic design, use mauve as a background to make brighter colors pop.
- Opt for pale mauve in place of white to soften a design.
Mauve is versatile enough to stand on its own or complement bolder shades. Use mauve thoughtfully to create romantic, nostalgic looks across design disciplines.
Finding the perfect color match for mauve requires selecting soft, light colors that share its delicate femininity or bold contrasts that make mauve ‘pop’. The best matches include pastel purples, pinks and blues, deeper wine and emerald tones, warm peaches and corals, complementary greens and blues, or neutral whites and blacks. Avoid pairing mauve with bright primaries, dark muddied shades or brash neons. With the right coordinated colors, mauve can take center stage or add a sweet subtle touch across fashion and interiors.