Clothing Colour Wheel: The Ultimate Wardrobe Colour Guide

Picture this: you’ve made a spontaneous plan with some friends and have just five minutes to throw together a smart outfit before heading out the door. Panic much? While mixing and matching garments can be tricky, mixing and matching colour palettes can either make or break your look. 

Crafting the perfect colour palette for your wardrobe is an art form in itself and can sometimes feel unnecessarily baffling. So if you’re looking to revamp your style and add some new shades to your daily fits, we are going to take you through the ultimate wardrobe colour guide! Let’s dive in!

Why colour matters

Learning to combine the ‘right colours’ is a skill that can only be developed over time and plays a huge role in developing your personal style. It’s a matter of trial and error to figure out what truly suits you. Dressing well does not only mean throwing on a high end designer jacket and a pair of expensive trousers, because if you fail to choose the right colour combination, or in certain cases an excess of it, the entire fit can look super unflattering. A hand picked colour palette is vital in giving your attire the desired effect you are aiming for. Not to mention the psychology behind the colours you wear and what it associates you with. The colour palette you are sporting should tell others about the person you are and create a harmonious blend in the eyes of the beholder.

Crafting a basic colour palette

  • No wardrobe is complete without neutrals. They are a must have and can either be dressed up, dressed down or embellished to fit the occasion. These colours can effortlessly be combined with other chromatic colours and help balance out your entire look. Start off by picking neutrals that would suit your basic pieces such as t-shirts, cardigans or trousers.
  • The main colours you choose for your wardrobe should be the colours you see yourself wearing very often. These are the colours that make you feel like the best version of yourself. They should go with your neutrals, other main colours and two to three of the accent shades you own. Main colours should be saved for the key pieces in your wardrobe such as jackets, blazers, shoes or coats.
  • Defining accent colours for men can be a bit tricky. However, it's always the tiny details that elevate your look. These colours should easily pair with your neutrals and key pieces. For example, you can try a scarf, watch or even sunglasses to create that emphasis and complement the other elements in your outfit.

Sample Colour Palettes

  • Neutrals - We’re talking black, beige, grey, white or brown. Not only are these colours convenient, but also classy and versatile. Neutrals always come to the rescue for a last minute outing where you aren’t quite sure what the vibe is.
  • Warm Tones - These include variations of red, orange, yellow and everything in between such as ochre or reddish purple. Warm tones are best for when you’re feeling bold and fancy that extra pop of colour. Not to forget they blend perfectly with most neutrals.
  • Cool Hues - These colours consist of shades of blue, green and purple. If you are ever aiming for an understated yet fun look, cool hues are the way to go. They can instantly brighten up your outfit while still keeping it sophisticated.

Colour and Perception

Now that you have an understanding on the basics of your color pallet, it’s time to look into color and perception. It’s no brainer that colors evoke different emotions. Each color consists of its unique charm, and this aids to create perception. 

  •  Colour black represents elegance, sophistication and authority while white represents purity and simplicity. If you’re unsure on what color to wear for formal events in professional settings, stick to black for a bold look. White is ideal for causal outings, and even a cool fun summer party!
  • Warm and vibrant colours such as reds, oranges and yellows create strong sense of passion, energy and optimism. It’s no doubt that reds are a hard miss on date nights, since it helps to set the romantic mood. You can also use reds and oranges as an accent colour with your accessories to create a pop of color. On the other hand, yellows are a perfect pick for summer vacations and casual outings. 
  • Cool colors such as blues, purples and greens evoke feelings of serenity, stability and royalty. Blue evokes trust and stability, so you can stick to blue for work attire and other professional settings. Purple is the color of royalty and mystery, so you can add purple attires for your special events or even as an accent color. Other cool tones such as green is a go to color for causal outings and outdoor activities.

Colour Palettes by Seasons

If you’re a fashionista and want to look cool on all seasons, take a look at what colours match well with each season of the year.

  • Spring - Spring is the season of growth, and light, fresh colours like pastels evoke the feelings of for new start. 
  • Summer - Stick to the vibrant colors in the summer since they represent warmth and optimism.
  • Autumn - It’s time for earthy tones when Autumn crawls in. Go for browns and oranges to create a sense of comfort. 
  • Winter - You can stick to blues and icey colours that represents winter in style. You can also opt for dark blues and purples for a sense of sophistication. 

Having the ideal wardrobe colour palette does take some effort but the results are definitely worth it. So go out there, experiment and find out what your best suited shades are. The fashion guru in you will thank us later! 

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About the author: Riaan Jacob George is a Mumbai-Colombo based content creator, and media professional. In addition to working with magazines like Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveller, he also collaborates on content with global brands like Longines, Emirates, Audi and Apple. His content focuses on menswear, grooming, cars, aviation and travel stories through India.