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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Colour Theory: Mixing and Matching in Home Dressmaking

Anyone who knew me up until about the age of 15 will readily tell you how little I understand of colour theory. To an outsider looking in it would seem that I used to go out of my way to wear clashing colours, and it drove my mam crazy on a day to day basis. However, it genuinely was just the fact that I had little to no concept of what colours matched and which didn't, absolutely no idea what 'warm' and 'cool' colours were and just couldn't understand that wearing neon green eye shadow in the middle of the day is pretty much never going to be a good look, no matter what else you're wearing.

Thankfully I've moved on slightly since my sullen early teenage days, and have picked up the odd thing here and there about colour theory and the gorgeous results it can produce in fashion. One of my favourites at the moment is monochromatic fashion, where different shades of the same colour make up an entire outfit. I often try and replicate this in the winter by matching my tights and shoes to the dress i'm wearing, or in summer by matching cardigans and accessories, although to do it fully head to to is really only for the brave!

Some examples of monochromatic dressing on the catwalk

Another concept I just love is pairing neutral colours such as greys, beiges and browns with eye catching, bright complementary colours to give new life to an otherwise quite plain outfit. I find this is especially nice when contrasting fabrics are used as well, such as a light brown tweed next to a soft teal silk. This can really highlight design elements in the outfit/garments, and I'm hoping to be able to use this as accents in the next dressmaking project i'm planning (post about that coming very soon!), as it looks classic but not dated, and can really make an outfit stand out. 

Gucci, showing that there's a very good reason they are very well known designers, and that is very likely at least partly because of their amazing use of complementary colour pairing.

 A few more (slightly more doable!) examples of this theory in use. The picture on the left particularly shows what I love about how this can be used to highlight fabric/texture differences. 

The ways in which colour theory inform professional fashion designers are of course, endless, but how useful is it really to interested amateurs? Well, it is of course always good to take risks with clothes, whether that's in making them from scratch or simply picking them out of a wardrobe. I've met people who would look incredible in multi-coloured bin bags frankly, so if that sounds like you, feel free to do whatever you like! Personally, I like the feeling of togetherness complementary colours can lend to an outfit, and the slight touch of professionalism it can lend to homemade garments. There is a whole lot more to colour theory, and there are some excellent websites and books available if it is something you are interested in learning more about. In the end though, personal taste is always going to prevail for me over what supposedly looks better in theory, so personal experimentation - and the inevitable fashion disasters that likely follow - is sticking around for a good long while yet ;)

What do you think? Do you religiously plan your outfits and garments based on colour wheels, or do you think it's unnecessary? Would you wear or sew and entire outfit in a singular colour? Let me know what you think in the comments!

- Natalie XOX