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Tan France’s 8 Tips for Wearing Color
It's not easy to match clothes using color, but that doesn't mean you should stick to wearing black. If you're hesitant to embrace vibrant colors, consider Tan France's tips for introducing color to your wardrobe.
- Ease into trying new colors. If you typically dress in muted hues but want to incorporate new colors into your wardrobe, you probably don't want to go from always wearing neutral colors to suddenly sporting neon. “Go for a color within the same family that you're already wearing—just go for a different shade,” Tan says. If you typically wear navy blue, stay within the same color family and go for a different shade of blue. If you want to add another layer of color, like in a sock, choose a sock from that same color family that will still add a high-contrast pop of color, like a purple.
- Use the color wheel to guide your choices. According to Tan, the color wheel is one of the best tools at your disposal for choosing colors to wear. Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel and share a common hue. When incorporating new colors into your wardrobe, find a color that feels safe to you—for example, light blue. On the color wheel, blue falls between teal and blue-violet. If you feel comfortable with light blue, add on a teal or blue-violet for a subtle, two-color palette. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel and can make for a beautiful power clash: Think fuchsia and chartreuse, or burgundy and forest green. When you make bold color choices, both colors stand out.
- Wear the color that speaks to you. “Don't be fooled by what you hear—that your skin color dictates what colors you can wear,” Tan says. "Just because you're white doesn't mean you can't wear cream. Just because you've got red hair does not mean you can't wear red." Your gender, age, skin tone, hair color, and eye color don’t dictate the colors you can wear; regardless of current fashion trends, it’s important that you find a color that speaks to you.
- Treat denim as neutral. Consider denim a neutral color, and mix it with any other color, even blue. Wearing a blue top with blue jeans is a great way to pull off a stylish, natural monochromatic look. Treating denim as a neutral also means you can mix denims. "‘Canadian tuxedo’ is a term I heard when I moved to the States," says Tan. "It means that you are wearing denim at the bottom and on top. There is no shame in that. It's actually super, super chic." The easiest way to mix denims is to use shades that are similar to each other but different enough that your look won't be too matchy. Try pairing mid-wash jeans with a light-wash denim shirt, or dark-wash jeans with a mid-wash denim jacket.
- Go for the power clash. When you wear clashing colors the right way, it's what Tan calls a power clash. "Gone are the days where it's seen as a little bit off if you're wearing a pink and red," says Tan. "There was a whole collection done by Valentino that showed red and pink together. It's actually a beautiful combination." If you want to embrace a dramatic clash, start by limiting it to accents. For example, you might choose a bright yellow top with orange accents, keeping the rest of your look muted.
- Experiment in the fitting room. “The way you find your color is by experimenting with color,” Tan says. Before you purchase an item, try on as many colors as possible in the store fitting room and see what feels like you. For instance, if your favorite color is blue, try on different hues of blue than you're used to wearing. Do you already have a lot of dark blue in your wardrobe? Instead, experiment with a pale blue or an indigo.
- Avoid matching colors for an effortless look. Tan believes that when you match clothing colors, it looks too forced. As long as you're using neutral colors, he encourages you to avoid matching clothes and instead mix up your colors. So go ahead and wear a brown top with black pants—it's perfectly acceptable and will look chic. Tan maintains that your accessories shouldn't match colors either. Unless you're going for a full monochrome look, don't worry about matching your belt to your handbag and or dress shoes. These smaller accessories are actually a great place to experiment with bright colors.
- Color-coordinate your closet. You don't have to be a professional organizer to color-coordinate your closet. Tan believes color-coordinating your closet is not only a simple way to make it easier to find exactly what you're looking for, but it will also help you create new color combinations. Grab the piece that you want to wear and hold it up next to the other items in your closet; you'll be able to see which color families work best with your main color. This way next time you pull a blazer out of your closet, you'll know exactly where to find a t-shirt that goes with it. A color-coordinated closet enables you to throw a look together easily.
Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?
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