Today’s post is inspired by Chromecast, the nifty, and inexpensive, little device I use to binge watch all my favorite shows. Once 7pm hits, I shut down, eat dinner with my husband and spend the rest of my night blazing through a bunch of episodes of whatever series we are currently watching. Lately it has been Showtime’s Shameless. Have you seen it yet? It is so disturbingly fabulous.
Anyway, if you don’t have a Chromecast device then you probably don’t know, that when you aren’t casting something from your smartphone or laptop to your television, the device shows these absolutely gorgeous landscape scenes. Seriously, they are so beautiful that I highly suggest just casting the images at the next party you host. Yesterday, as one of these pictures flashed up on my screen, I thought about how beautiful the colors would look in an outfit.
I have always been good with color. This was first pointed out to me when I was at FIT studying fashion design and a professor remarked on my advanced ability to combine different shades. I come from a family of artists, therefore, having a creative eye is a natural gift. However, if color combining isn’t your strength, just like math isn’t mine, today’s post will give you help on how to create fashionable color combinations.
Creating fashionable color combinations using photography
By now, most people have a Pinterest account. If you have one, I highly recommend creating a board of color combinations you like, like I do. Being someone who has such a love of color, if I am not careful, I could easily get sucked into a color vortex on Pinterest and lose the entire day pinning. The beauty of this exercise of pinning beautiful color combinations is that it’s an instinctual process that requires no skill or knowledge. If you think color combinations are pretty, pin them.
Not only is this process fun but it is effective. In fact, when I was a fashion designer exercises like this were one of the first steps towards putting collections together for the season. Fashion designers always start with mood boards that set the look, direction and color palettes. Most designers can find inspiration anywhere. I once had a designer friend use a bubble gum wrapper for color direction.
Finding color inspiration via Pinterest, or other means, is just the first step. The next thing you want to do is look to them to create beautiful color combinations in your outfits. If color combining isn’t your strength, these graphics can act like little cheat sheets on how to do it. Additionally, when you see colors combined though these images, it can give you the confidence to know they will work, while also encouraging you to step out and take some risks.
Below are five beautiful images that I used to put five fashionable color combinations together, along with my tips on how I used the image to create each look.
Simple and Creative Ways to Create Fashionable Color Combinations
I love this photo by Elisa Contini. The color are bright, summery, playful and clean.
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Using this photograph, I put this outfit together consisting of a pair of coral pants from Boden, an ivory cable knit sweater from J. Crew, a yellow Vince Camuto handbag, teal Bandolino flats, Target denim jacket and Max & Chloe earrings.
With this look being so colorful, it was important for me to find the base neutral in this photo which is the ivory and sand colors of the buildings. In place of the soft blue, I also used denim for the base. From there I was able to pop the colors off of the accent of coral. A good tip to keep in mind is to have your base and accent make up at least 90% of the outfit with your pop colors being a very small percentage.
I am so in love with this photo by Iaian Bagwell, who creates stunning photos using food. What I like about this particular picture is how the red pops off the deep blues and grey shades.
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In the look inspired by this photo, I wanted to create the same energy of the red lifting off the deep, murky colors. My first step was to look at all the shades of blue and grey and build a base around those shades, which I did with the J. Crew pants, Tory Burch turtleneck, navy pumps from Calvin Klein, blue handbag from ZAC Zac Posen, ink blue scarf from Banana Republic and grey earrings from Max & Chloe. Next, for an unexpected softness that picks up the lighter and foggier, shades of grey, I used this coat from Reiss. Together, all these pieces create a tonal look that captures the rich, depth of the photo. And just like the bright red lobster jumps out from the murky tones, so do these red Lord & Taylor gloves. I bet you would never think to put red gloves with that coat until you saw this photo.
This photo by Joanne Coyle proves that you can find color inspiration anywhere, even on an old door.
Using the brown wood as inspiration for the base of this outfit, I used these brown ponte leggings from Lord & Taylor, easy tan top from Modcloth and brown boots from Nordstrom. From there, using the gorgeous patina green and purple found on the doorknob, I brought these purple and green colors to life using this sea glass colored handbag and added this Echo scarf and colorful earrings that both pick up all the color found in the photo. Finding pieces like this can be wonderful because all the colors are captured.
I’m not sure who took this photo, all I know is it is of a beautiful place in Chile. I would love to credit the photographer but, unfortunately, I can’t.
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While the beautiful blue shade is the predominant color in the photo, I decided to look back into the picture at how the bright yellow glowed off of the richer burgundy and green colors. When getting inspired by photography you don’t have to be literal. You can even take a small part of the photo to create a combination.
In this look, I used a green skirt from eShakti and belted this yellow top with a burgundy belt. To bring in the blue, I used these wedges from Macy’s and finished the look with a green handbag and burgundy stud earrings.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any credit information to give to this breathtaking photo. I can only wish to stand in a place so beautiful.
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Like the first photo, this picture lends itself to more of a summery look. Most women get more outgoing with color during warmer months. Using the coral base, I started with this dress from Modcloth and added a pair of turquoise shoes from Nordstrom. Wanting to encapsulate all of the colors from the photo without creating a clown look, I added this colorful necklace from Bauble Bar and printed clutch from Hobo. Lastly, while purple and coral may not be the most expected color combination, I simply loved the way it looked in the photo and finished the outfit with this lilac silk and cashmere wrap.
If creating fashionable color combinations just isn’t your thing, nature truly is one of the most inspirational places to learn how to do it. So start pinning your favorite color combinations and get busy in that closet!
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Absolutely fabulous! Pure genius Bridgette! I just had coral jeans delivered yesterday that I was not expecting to wear until spring or summer but your combo would suit the weather here now and be an cheerful change 🙂
Excellent! Thanks so much!
Nice work….love, love, love this! Jodie
This is brilliant! I now know what to do with all my pretty Pinterest pins! I love all the outfits that you have put together, but possibly the last one the best. One quick qn if I may. If liliac is not a colour I can have around my face, what would be a good substitute? Turquoise might be a bit much?
Thanks so much! It’s great when we can find practical uses for the pretty images we find! Regarding your question, I think a turquoise or even a deeper coral that tonally works with the dress would be perfect. You can also try a bright green shade, but it might be too much with turquoise shoes.
I’d consider a fir green (upper left corner). It’s rich blue/green/grey and more muted if the toned down colors work better for you. I have a gorgeous coral dress that fits like it was made for me and I’m going to use this combination to mix it up!
Ooh, I love that suggestion because I think that color would work even better if the turquoise shoes were to stay. Plus, I bet that fir green scarf would get a lot of other uses!
thank you both! i’m officially on the hunt for a fir green scarf. 😀 I have a coral dress that I want to style this way too. Now to gather all the “items”!!
Great resource for dressing colorfully! Regarding the picture in outfit 4, I think you were referring to the place Chile, rather than Chili.
OMG, how embarrassing! Thank you for pointing that out! I must have had warm comfort food on my mind when I wrote this. It’s so cold here! I fixed it.
This topic is brilliant! So Smart! Thank you!
WOW!!!! This is “Big Bang Theory” genius!!!! definitely graduate level color combining!!! All the photos and the outfits were beautiful!!!!
Hi Stacie! I guess you can just call me the Sheldon Cooper of color combining, then! Haha. It’s funny what we take for granted. I look at someone who can just sit down and play an instrument a total genius. For me, this post was so simple, so it is great to hear feedback and hear how helpful it was. I really appreciate your flattering comment!
This is wonderful. I love all your posts, but this one really stands out with its stunning images. How I wish you would see clients in person in California! I know you offer virtual services, but it would be so great to get to work with you in person. maybe I’ll just have to plan a trip to NY. 🙂
One of these days I really should get out to California. We can always work in a hybrid way where we can start virtually and then go shopping when you take a trip out. I have clients do that all the time. Or, of course, you can fly me out, which would be awesome this time of year. It’s FREEZING today! LOL!
This is brilliant! I love the correlation between the beautiful photograph and the outfit. What an expert eye you have. I would love to see more posts like this (hint).
Funny you should say that. I was just thinking I needed to do more of these. It was so much fun. Plus, if I get to stare at pretty photos, well, twist my arm! 🙂 I am thinking of adding a contest element to the next post where I post a photo and let readers put together an outfit or look, using the photo as inspiration. My wheels are spinning. Thanks for the lovely comment!
Beautiful combos! Other places I’ve gotten inspiration for color combining is when I’m cooking (that’s where I first saw how gorgeous cranberry and orange are together), my yarn stash that really should be better organized (but where the randomness sometimes strikes my fancy)–even the laundry basket before things get folded. Who am I kidding that I really fold stuff?
(I have a beautiful White House/Black Market skirt that is black with red roses, but all the leaves and stems are grey. Just the colors of your lobster photo…. 🙂 )
Totally agree, Wendy! I think when you have an eye for color, everything is inspirational.
Every great chef has to develop an eye for color, and texture as well. When was the last time you were in a restaurant and served a plate of food that looked like mud?
(Mixing textures–that is another whole topic, isn’t it? Adds as much interest to an outfit as color….)
What a fun and creative post!
Bridgette, this was such a fun post! The images are lovely and you’ve shared a really creative way to think about new color combinations. I agree with tgchi13 below….the coral jeans outfit would be a great way to work in some spring color when it is still cold outside. I always struggle in early Spring when the temps here are still quite cold, but somber winter colors feel “off”. Anyways – THANKS for all of the inspiration!
Hi Cheryl! Thanks. It was super fun to do!! Yes, the way the coral pants are styled is great for early spring. Nothing like getting out of the winter doldrums with some color, right?
I love this post So Much. A few questions: What search terms do you use to find such varied pictures? Where would I find the little color tabs (like paint chips) to copy/paste next to an inspiration picture to help me “see” the colors for translation to an outfit? Really an inspiring post; as always, I had to immediately purchase an item I didn’t even know I needed until I saw one of your outfits.
Thanks so much Tessera! All of those photos came from just looking through Pinterest. I pinned them a long time ago so I don’t remember what I searched to find them, but I think you can search color or color combinations or even nature. You would be surprised how many places you can find inspirational color. I remember being a fashion designer and updating my portfolio for interviews and using images from a calendar I had with 1950’s wallpaper graphics.
The best place to find color chips would be a paint store. I used to use them all the time when I would put color combinations together for clients. I hope that helps!
I think I found what I was looking for; it was a tech question more than anything. Sherwin Williams has a free online thingy called Chip It! that can be used to create virtual paint chips from any picture. I haven’t figured out how to use it yet, but thought I’d share.
oh wow, that sounds awesome! I am going to have to check it out. Thanks for mentioning!! I am sure others will benefit from this recommendation!