Five Ways To Add Color to Your Wardrobe

“Okay,” you told yourself. “I’m going to build a wardrobe based on versatile colors like grey, khaki, navy blue, and white.” And you did. You built up a nice wardrobe full of shirts, shorts, pants, belts, shoes, and all of the accessories to make you look like a proper gentleman.

Now what?

Truth be told, it’s one thing to pull off effective style while maintaining the utmost neutrality in your wardrobe. And that’s great to do. But how fun is it? Sometimes, you want to wear something that will help you stand out from the crowd, something that will show off your taste. And if the only problem that’s been getting in your way is having no idea how to pair colors together or how to add bright colors to your wardrobe, we’re going to fix that right now.

1: Learn some color-pairing basics first

It’s a simple fact that blue and red look good together; that’s why so many sports teams have adopted that basic color scheme. Blue is a great color for “rooting” your brighter colors into your outfit; for example, a bright orange looks great with navy. Know some of these basic color combinations first if you want to add color to your wardrobe, as you’ll find it easier to fit in one additional color at a time as you learn.

2: Use brighter colors on accessories and layering items

The best way to “sneak” in a bright color is not to go overboard with your entire outfit. Sneak in a nice red madras short once in a while, pairing it with classic whites and khakis and grays. In fall, maybe include a brightly-colored vest to match with earth tones. Or wear a plaid blazer with an otherwise traditional color scheme. The key is not to go too overboard right away.

3: Contrast the color “intensity”

A soft “salmon” pink/orange color isn’t a very strong color—it’s well-mixed with white, which gives it a sort of pale hue. Combine that with a stark navy blue and you’ve got a pair that really contrasts and yet complements each other. Remember to think about color “intensity” when you add a piece to your wardrobe. Bright, bold red with white is a classic combination; it works just as well with gray, which is another low-intensity color. If you’re going to pair a strong pine green with a blue, maybe make it a paler sort of blue to highlight the strength of your green.

4: Don’t forget about texture

Color is one “flavor” of an article of clothing, to be sure, but it’s not everything that your shirt or shorts have to say. A chambray shirt in a dark blue is different than a wool sweater of the same color. So as you get more advanced, try to also complement texture and fabric types.

5: Match the colors to the season

Pumpkin and maroon are fall colors. Light brown and blues tend to work better in spring and summer. Black is often suited for the cool winter months, as it absorbs heat better than its lighter counterparts. Try to take the season into account as you add new colors to your wardrobe, because you’d be surprised at how out of place fall colors can look in spring, and vice versa.