Apr 092015

You walk outside, look down … aaaaghh! It “matched” in the house! Now what to do? Unfortunately, not much. Maybe mutter under your breath that you’ll never try to match beiges again.

Pairing orange and purple, or chartreuse and teal, is not usually the source of the stealth clash. No, usually it’s something like trying to put orange-brown with purple-brown, or wearing chartreuse-taupe with teal-taupe. They’re neutrals, right? And neutrals go with everything, right? Uh, not exactly. Even blacks don’t all go together.

This has been on the metaphorical front burner ever since my very practical daughter decided she wasn’t going to buy green pants, because she likes to wear green shirts (and she should – she has green eyes). The hero also avoids green trousers, either from fear of clash or fear of looking like a green bean 😉

Some thoughts on building a wardrobe without clash:

  • Always buy the coordinating piece if it’s available. Lol
  • Be very careful in trying to assemble a do-it-yourself suit. It may be better to choose another color the contrasts or blends.

  • Consider undertones. Interior design color expert Maria Killam says there are three types of beige: pink-beige, green-beige, and yellow-beige. They don’t blend; they clash. Grays and browns also have undertones. I recently ended up, via thrifting and the clothing exchange, with a (purple) gray pair of ankle pants and a three-quarter sleeve (green) gray blazer. So close, but yet so far …
  • Using a pattern with a small amount of the color you are trying to match allows being less precise.

What thoughts would you add?

Captain Obvious says: save this link and use it when you shop Thank you so much!

From 4/23/2007, originally. I am gonna go out on a limb here, in April, 2015, and declare my neutrals: yellow-beige (goes with my hair), purple-gray (for the ring around my iris), and orange-brown (the other day, one of my little grandsons saw my eyes in the sun and said they were orange!). Making the statement should clarify my shopping.

  9 Responses to “How to Avoid Clashing”

  1. Well, one thing I *don’t* do and I see my friends do while shopping – is I don’t peer closely at a print and then pick out a small bit of color to match exactly to a larger dose of the color in a major piece. This never works unless you’re going to hold the two things in front of your face. When people see you at any distance, the print as a whole usually give a totally different impression as to color.

    Another thing that makes a big difference and often makes for an easier “match” is the finish of the fabric, whether it’s matte or has a sheen. Two things that are similar but not a match will often look like a deliberate match because one of them shades lighter or darker because of the sheen or the nap.

    The other thing I do, and this doesn’t have to do with that near-miss business, is that I follow the rule that you can “match” any top to any bottom so long as you bring up the color of the bottom in a major accessory near your face. I do this all the time. Makes everything look like “an outfit.” OTOH, when it is cool to look like your closet fell on you and have nothing match then this trick can make you look overdressed.

  2. LOL.

    A very useful rule that is new to me. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’m guilty of pairing purple with orange and self-assembled suits. Even though both worked out for me, I caution against the assemble-it-yourself suit unless it’s black. I got very lucky with finding a matching skirt for a beige jacket months after I bought the jacket, but luck is not always on our side; I only did this because I got the suit jacket for $25 instead of the 10 times as much at retail. Before that, I tried to pair the jacket with a pair of dark beige pants. It was ugly.

    Some neutrals just don’t go together (like beige and light gray) since pairing them makes the entire outfit looks washed out. Tone-on-tone might work if the contrast is significant–for example, a beige jacket with dark brown pants, or a gray jacket with black pants. In most cases, it’s better to have the bottoms be darker, but it’s not an absolute rule (your magenta jacket/pink skirt is a good example).

  4. SRR, those are all good guidelines, but I wonder if with my coloring I could make beige and light gray work, either by combining it with white or by adding big dark brown beads or something. In general, I get what you’re saying though, and I would probably be more likely to put together beige and black.

    I love light gray, but it has been so hard to find until recently that I am just starting to re-think how I’m going to combine it when it becomes my main summer neutral. For sure it’ll look good with magenta, coral, and all the rest of my reds and pinks.

  5. I agree with your approach–I think adding accessories will tie together colors that normally don’t go together. I looked down and just realized that I’m wearing a dark brown v-neck sweater and off-white cargos with burnt orange shoes–I’m even going against my own “rules”! Maybe it’s not so much the “clashing” colors that makes an outfit look good or bad, but whether the details/fit/cut of the clothing that makes the outfit interesting.

  6. I’ve been experimenting with non-matching matches. I got the shirt and the flyaway cardigan I ordered in my cheek (blushing) color. Somewhere in the few days when they claimed they had the turtleneck in stock and when I received the package they couldn’t fulfill it. I hate when they do that.

    The thin cotton cardigan was a surprise. I had not noticed that it was thin ribbed. I normally avoid all of that as clingy. But I’m in love with the color. The first thing I notice is that the texture – the natural dark/light shading of the ribs that would be a bit similar to corduroy – would let me pick up another turtleneck that I might find and it could be a half shade lighter or darker or even “off.”

    The next thing I notice is that this sweater and the shirt go with some reds. In a way, though it doesn’t look it straight on, with reds it takes on the characteristic of Nantucket Red – a faded red!

    Also, if I put the cardigan with a cap sleeve satin scoop neck tee I have that is iridescent and shades to a brown/burgundy and with a satin skirt in that brown/burgundy shade with cream, rose, pale green flowers, it works. It not only works in with the roses of the skirt but the iridescence of the top reflects the “red”/peach of the cardigan and you think you see that color in the satin tee.

    I have the same tee that shades from deep blue to wine. I normally don’t like peachy pink and wine but when I put the two together with my deep wine corduroy jeans you still see the predominant blue of the top but it brings out the wine more and somehow the “red” cardigan makes it all better tho’ I can’t say how. 🙂

    I will really like wearing these pieces this way because I’m not so interested in the more common matches using browns or greens. Though the cardigan is very good with a thin horizontal stripe sleeveless shell I have in navy and off white and even with a scarf added in dark navy with medium red roses. I rather like a lot of pattern mix sometimes.

  7. Oh, going back to your original point:

    “Using a pattern with a small amount of the color you are trying to match allows being less precise. It’s amazing! A small amount of pink, for example, can look magenta when paired with a magenta jacket.”

    This was what got me pairing the pieces with unusual colors in the first place. I tried the shirt out under a favorite jacket as a lark. The jacket is a Chanel type knit with navy, gray and some warm cranberry. Sure enough it worked. The shirt warmed the cranberry even more and the little bits of darker red color seemed to put the shirt into the red family.

    So, as usual, thanks again!

  8. Thank you, Vildy! That’s awesome that everything is working together for you.

    Getting dressed can be quite creative!

  9. I did this just the other day. I had on a lovely brown skirt with knee high brown boots. Unfortunately when I went outside the boots looked a purplish brown and the skirt and very chocolate brown. It looked terrible.

    Today I wore a sage green tank, under a short sleeve bright pink jacket and brown pants. I really didn’t think they would look good together until I tried them on. But, they were really nice. Especially when I found a scarf with sage green, pink and tan.

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