Posted by: RoddyJones | September 12, 2008

Five Lessons in Color Coordination for the Urban Professional

Color coordination is tricky. Wear too little and you make Morticia Adamms look cheery in comparison. Wear too much and you look like you just walked off the circus. Your college might not have required you to take a course on color coordination but the ability to dress professionally and coordinate colors wonderfully – if not decently, at the very least – matters just as much as who you interned for and how.

Below are five simple tips for becoming color coordination-savvy. Master them and you can get away with buying very few workclothes and recycling your existing closet items.


1. White goes with everything.

There’s nothing wrong with raising the white flag – in fashion, anyway. White shirts and blouses work with anything, especially those boldly colored pieces you’re puzzled what to match it. Look sharp and coordinated with white; wear with a patterned tie or underneath a colored V-necked sweater.


2. Gray sets off bright colors to perfection.

Experiment with color but use gray to rein the hues in and pull the effect together. Gray tones down vivid colors. So if you want to stand out with bright pink or make a statement with red, toss something gray into the outfit. By itself, gray is a classic color that exudes timeless chic. When paired with brighter colors, it manages, flatters, refines, and complements.

3. Never wear colored pants.

Yes, the operative word here is NEVER. No matter who you are or how high up the corporate ladder you’ve climbed, it is not okay to wear colored plants. Even Brad Pitt would not be able to pull off colored pants.

Here’s a rule that’s worth passing down from this generation to the next. Pants are items in your wardrobe that would be better off without any color infusion. Colored pants – loudly colored pants, to be more specific – are clownish and crass. Your pants should never try to grab more attention than your shirt or your tie. Because they are the foundation of an outfit, they should always look understated. So men and women everywhere, if you value your reputation at all, stick to regularly-colored jeans and neutral-hued slacks.

4. Wear different colors of the same intensity.

Intensity – or value – refers to how dark or light a color is. Look instantly polished and refined by wearing different colors of the same intensity. This saves others’ eyes from unnecessary torture. For best results, combine colors that have a similar gray scale. And if this tip on colors is only making you feel disoriented, it won’t be a bad idea to go running for the color wheel, either.

5. Pick complementary hues.

Pull the varying elements of your outfit together by using complementary colors. If you don’t know what complementary colors are, visualize the color wheel. Colors that lie directly opposite each other are complimentary hues. Think green and red, orange and blue, purple and yellow. Complementary colors create a color-rich but nevertheless elegant palate.

Don’t be afraid of color. The typical urban professional’s wardrobe may be built around the classically dark hues but with these five tips, you can be a dapper, elegant dresser who dresses beautifully and dresses for results.

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