Styling outfits

Hey everyone,


This blogpost is a requested topic: Originally, this post was going to deal with how one styles colours in an outfit. However, as clothing and accessories these days are made from not just colours but also different textures, prints and cuts and everyone’s physical traits are different, there’s no set formula to determine which colours best match on an individual. So this blogpost will deal with how to style outfits with an emphasis on colours.  However, we’ll briefly discuss some of this year’s popular as well as all time classic colour and shade combinations below.

Disclaimer: This post is quite subjective so some of the following tips may not work with all individuals – it’s all a trial and error process!


Trying to answer one question:

How do I style colours in an outfit?

is difficult without additional conditions/ information. Hence, to further develop and advance the ‘colour-matching’ process

  • What concept are you going for? / In simpler terms, what vibes are you trying to achieve in regards/regardless of the theme of the event you are attending?
  • Do you aim to style for your body type or are you basing it off a different body type? (i.e. a model’s proportions and body type)
  • Which colours/clothing pieces/accessories look best on you? (Optional)
  • Are there any areas/features of your body you wish to hide or accentuate?
  • What do you have/ What are you able or willing to obtain in order to achieve your final look?

Though the colour of pieces of clothing, accessories, footwear and/or makeup play an integral role in ensuring that the final outfit complements each other, they don’t guarantee that the final outfit will complement the wearer’s body figure(if that’s your intention).

The physical nature of the garment, footwear and accessories also play a large part in determining the final overall look and vibe of the outfit.

In female fashion, some general outfit tips include

  • Nude shoes elongate the wearer’s legs (Photos taken at a lower angle also elongate the wearer’s legs)
  • Long vertical lines elongate the wearer’s body
  • Horizontal lines widen the wearer’s body
  • Black clothing slims the wearer’s body
  • Shiny clothing accentuates any curves on the wearer’s body
  • Highwaisted pieces elongates the wearer’s legs, aesthetically improves the wearer’s proportions

Colour wheel

Still confused? By theory, there are several colours schemes that should guarantee you the perfect colour match! (But don’t worry if they don’t!)

Click here for the source of this image
  • Single colour scheme results from using different tints and shades from one colour – in simpler terms, think choosing colours from an ombre spread of a single colour. If placing two fashion items next together in the same colour and you don’t want your outfit to look too monotonous, different textures in the same colour can add visual and tactile interest to your final outfit.
  • Harmonious colour scheme occurs when you choose three neighbouring colours on the colour wheel (i.e. next to each other like neighbours on a street).
  • Contrasting colour scheme results from the selection of two colours opposite on the colour wheel.
  • Dynamic colour scheme occurs when a triangle of colours are selected from the colour wheel (and by triangle, an equilateral not a scalene triangle).

Popular colour combinations

* The following colour swatches may be slightly off in terms of the exact tint/shade

  • Pale blue and pale pink 

blue and pink

Pantone’s Colour of the year for 2016 was announced as Rose Quartz 13-1520 and Serenity 15-3919. Variations of these colours have been popping up in retail stores(especially fast fashion stores) where the blue is less ‘purple’  and more on the pastel blue side.

  • Grey and pink


Continuing with the pastel trend, this combo comprises of a colour and a neutral shade. The use of grey adds a subtle touch of formality to the outfit as compared to the pale blue and pale pink colour combo.

  • Camel and maroon


Tones of camel, sand and tan are often difficult to pair with light colours (if not done right) as they can wash out the accompanying colour. An intense deep colour such as maroon balances the neutral tints/shades in camel. This combo often echoes an Autumn/Winter vibe if it is predominant on the body as opposed to an all nude outfit(An all nude outfit in the same tone can be risky – it is either a hit or miss).

  • Tan and light blue


This colour combo, more often seen in men’s outfits comprises of a light blue and tan. The mustard/tan colour trend surged in popularity a few years ago especially in men’s Chino and jogger pants and have become a staple colour – often used as an alternative to blacks, dark navy blues, and greys in formal wear. Coupled with light coloured shirts such as light blue, the outfit is then rendered more casual but it can also depend on whether there is outerwear, and if so, what type of outerwear is worn over the light blue shirt? What cut is the shirt? (Neverending questions and neverending options of clothing pieces go hand in hand)

  • Light camel and navy blue


The slight tonal reverse of the tan and light blue colour combo, this combo is often associated with formal wear especially if the outfit comprises of a navy blue dress shirt and light camel pants – the reverse would look a bit funny – half park ranger half policeman vibes…

  • Brown and dark green


This look commonly comprises of green outerwear on the top half  of the male’s body and brown pants. For a more festive look, combine this combo with a red turtleneck/ red dress shirt/ whatever tickles your fancy. For a more clean cut fresh vibe, pair this combo with  white underneath.

What colour should the shoes be ?

Once again, there’s no set rule as to what colour shoes you have to wear as it all depends on the outfit and many other variables. The most common combination is the match, different, match / A B A (however you want to name it) which just involves no two touching pieces of fashion items matching in colour.

Some common shoe trends I’ve seen around on social media and in real life include:


  • Belt and shoes should match
  • The darker your suit, the darker your shoes


  • Formal wear: When in doubt, nude shoes(or shoes in the colour of your skin- there was this online store that should ‘nude’ shoes in all tints/shades and I thought that was really cool – Unfortunately, I forgot which site it was from.)
  • Formal wear: To elongate the legs, avoid heels that have ankle straps
  • Formal wear: Shoes should match the clutch

Please remember!

There’s no set guaranteed formula/set of rules for matching colours in an outfit! 

Note: This is my first styling advice blogpost – This blogpost was a bit of a challenge for me as I don’t consciously contemplate which colours match with what on a daily basis as I’ve grown up with a very aesthetic-focused mindset so outfit styling is my sixth sense – though I have days where the colour scheme is off but the end styling as well as the type of cuts and textures saves the look.

*Any sources which I derived information/ used photos from, I’ve carefully embedded links in the text itself! As I have little experience with styling men’s outfits in regards to colour, I had a browse around and discovered:

Disclaimer: I am not professionally affiliated with any sites mentioned in this blogpost. 

If you have any outfit styling advice/ or thoughts in general please share – any advice/feedback is appreciated!



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Design student | Sydney