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Understanding Colour Matching – The Colour Wheel

Every man is an individual and colours that work for one, will not work for another. It is therefore vital that the gentleman dresser understands the Colour Wheel, first put forward in 1666 by Sir Isaac Newton.

Having a full grasp of the key aspects of colour matching will avoid clashes and ensure every outfit is harmonious.

                                           The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is made up of 12 main colours (hues) and by changing the tone of the hue by adding white or black to it, further colours are created.

The first important point to understand is that the closer the colours are to each other the more likely they are to be harmonious.

 Key Aspects of the Colour Wheel

Core Colour – This is the dominant colour in your outfit. Perhaps the dark grey suit, the block red jumper.

Accent Colours – These are the secondary colours which are used to accent the dominant or core colour. Accent colours are used for accessories such as pocket squares, ties, bow ties and scarves. Accent colours may be neutral, complementary, triad or analogous.

a) Neutral colours are colours that go with any other colours such as navy, cream, camel, olive, silver and gold. It is important that your wardrobe features neutral colours which can be paired with most outfits.

b) Complementary colours – these are colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. The effect when combined is that they cancel each other out. When not mixed, they are in sharp contrast to each other such as red and green.

c) Triad Colours – Three colours that are equidistant on the colour wheel in a triangle shape. Any three colours equidistant can be used such as red, yellow and blue.

d) Analogous Colours – These are three colours next to each other on the colour wheel and share a common colour. One should be the dominant colour so blue, light blue and baby blue.

However contrasting colours can also be harmonious.

Contrasting Colours That Work

High Contrast Men

This category covers men whose hair is in stark contrast to their skin colour, such as black hair and pale skin.

 “High contrast men” should use highly contrasting (but harmonious) colours in their dress sense.

An example would be wearing a white shirt with a dark blue or black suit, a dark grey suit with a light blue shirt, or perhaps a dark red tie on a white shirt.

Low Contrast Men

Men who are fair skinned and fair haired fall under this category, so do men with red hair and bald men.

Again, this should be reflected in dress sense and there should be single colour and low contrasting colours used.

Light grey suits, cream coloured chinos, light blue shirts, and pastel coloured ties are all good examples.

Medium Contrast Men

Men who are neither high contrasting nor low contrasting fall under this category. Light brown or tanned skin with brown hair for example.

This man has the greatest range of colours to use as long as he is careful not to go too extreme. A little contrast is ideal such as navy suits with light blue shirts paired with a yellow tie.

Wonder whether better dressed men achieve more? Take a read of our article here.

Your Next Step

Keep in mind the seasons and your surrounding environment / society when pairing your colours to ensure you are harmonious with the setting and in your outfit.

Take a look at for luxury mens' accessories in all colours to create your colour harmonised outfits today.


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