[WANT THE SHORTCUT? I’ve got an entire Pinboard of color pairing inspiration!]
Many of you lovely folks have complimented me on the color combinations in my outfits, so first off, thank you! I’m delighted to hear that I don’t look like a circus reject. Well, at least not every day …
Many of you have also asked from whence my color inspiration springs, which made me realize that I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA. Which is to say that I don’t think about color pairings in an active, calculating way. And as impressive as I find in-depth explorations of color theory, I can’t often apply them in daily life. I’m a pretty organized girl and prefer to plan ahead, but when it comes to color, I generally improvise. I rely heavily on experimentation, my creative eye, and whatever looks interesting or compelling when I’m getting dressed in the morning.
But I can cite a few sources that seep into my psyche and influence my color combo decision making, and recommend them to anyone looking to spice up their own pairings!
Look for two things: The male of a species that relies heavily on display behaviors to attract a mate, or anything poisonous.
A performance-focused male will have bright, vibrant plumage or markings and you’re bound to see some really eye-catching colors mashed up together. Think peacocks, parrots, and other birds that engage in this type of courtship behavior.
Poisonous animals are generally brightly colored as a warning to possible predators. Frogs, snakes, lizards, and insects are your best bets, but plants do this, too. If it’s poisonous, it’s probably pretty!
(Little-known fact: I am a confirmed animal nerd. Ask me anything. No, really.)
I don’t have a graphic design degree, but the people who design candy bar packaging and laundry soap labels and boxes of cereal DO. And yes, some of those combinations are intended to be a bit garish as a way to attract consumer attention, but there are still colorful lessons to be learned. Especially from higher-end and women-centric products, non-foods, and boutique-y or handmade goods.
Graphic advertisements are another great source. Anything that is more focused on selling you a lifestyle or concept than an actual, physical product is best. But most splashy print ads will offer some inspiration. This Nike ad is a favorite of mine regardless of colors, but hey, I’m totally loving that magenta, purple, and mustard yellow mixture, aren’t you?
Again, leave it to the pros. Someone who is designing textiles has SERIOUS color-combining expertise. If you love a pattern, you probably love the colors within that pattern. Look around your wardrobe and see if you can’t recreate the grouping with solid-colored pieces you already own. And if you don’t own a ton of patterns but like this idea, cruise fabric stores, craft stores, or just Google Liberty Print and see what strikes your fancy.
I also draw tons of inspiration from my fellow bloggers, Pinterest, and from the various catalogs and magazines that land in my mailbox, but those are fairly obvious resources. And, for the record, ten years ago I was convinced that orange ONLY went with brown and that black looked great with everything. Although I’ve always loved color, my desire to explore and experiment with it has grown very slowly over the years.