Fashion: More Than Black and White

Choosing outfit colors strategically can have a big impact on one’s overall look and mood. Sometimes quickly throwing on jeans and a solid t-shirt may seem like the easiest way to get ready in the morning, but putting thought into what colors to wear and combine when making fashion choices can affect one’s total image.

“Color demands attention, of course, and knowledgeably wearing color helps establish in the eye of the viewer an appreciation of one’s mastery of color,” said Cynthia Sliwa, an image consultant and host of workshops that teach clients to select what colors work best for them in fashion.

Color choices in fashion can strongly influence one’s emotions. Each color possesses its own spectrum of shades and associations with certain moods and feelings.

Popular Colors and the Feelings They Draw:

  • red- energy, warmth, passion, love
  • orange: warmth, friendliness, enthusiasm, cheer
  • yellow: optimism, happiness, confidence, positivity
  • green: coolness, nature, peace, stability, wealth
  • blue: coolness, elegance, regality, spirituality, trust, relaxation
  • purple/violet: impulse, nostalgia, wisdom, creativity
  • pink: femininity, warmth, love, care
  • white: peace, innocence, purity
  • black: power, mystery, prestige

Each color evokes different sensations, but in fashion the key is pairing the best colors together. Bold colors may draw attention to an outfit, but it is important to not let bright colors overwhelm the entire look. Try using neutral shades such as white, black, gray and beige/khaki to tie an entire look together without being too flashy. Also, try sticking to colors within the same color family or spectrum when pairing different articles of clothing.

“Generally speaking, the color wheel is your best friend to finding color combinations,” said Justin Lee, Phoenix Fashion Week style team leader. “Complementary colors which are colors opposite on the color wheel will make each of the colors brighter and more intense. Analogous colors, or colors next to one another on the color wheel, will harmonize well together.”

Colors come and go every fashion season. Many Fall 2011 runways featured bright shades that drew attention. Past seasons highlighted color blocking with different hues, but according to InStyle magazine, matching clothing of the same color palette is a popular technique for fall.

“Honeysuckle which is a reddish-pink will be a popular choice for women’s fashion. Burnt Sienna, which is a warm orange hue, and Raspberry Wine provide alternatives to Honeysuckle for men with more reddish tones,” Lee said.

Black and white may be considered staple colors of wardrobes, but it is important to experiment with color too. Test out which colors look best with your complexion, hair color and eye color, then practice pairing one bold color with a neutral shade.

“People are often afraid to try color,” Lee said. “With that being said, I think it’s important to note that not all colors or color combinations look good on everyone. Have an honest friend drape different colored clothes or color swatches on you to see what looks best on your skin tone.”

For more information on using the color wheel in fashion check out or read The Color of Style by David Zyla.

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Article by Erin Kennedy for Phoenix Fashion Week

“The Resource For All Things Fashionable”


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