Do's and Don'ts of Color Blocking

These expert tips on the art of color blocking will help you confidently sew a brand-new color palette into your wardrobe.

By Jo Everhart

Aug 2021

Three girls wearing bright colored outfits
Photo courtesy ShutterstockTransition your summer look into the fall with color-blocking.

Do: follow these simple steps

“Start with a base of your favorite neutral, whether that’s a black, navy, gray or whatever and then add another piece that is in high contrast to that color. I’m personally a fan of adding brighter colors. One of my favorite combinations is olive and neon yellow.” —Tammy Kirks, Harem & Co.

Do: start small

“If you’re not sure, you can always add a punch of color under a jacket to show that pop of a new color combination. Or if you’re really not confident about wearing bright colors, do it in a handbag or add a bright belt or bright shoes. Just think of each piece as one block of color.” —T.K.

Don't: add too many colors

“Avoid adding too many colors. I would say keep it to maybe three colors tops. If you add too many colors, you might begin to lose the essence of color blocking. It will begin to look like a hodgepodge.” —Delaney Reese, Staxx

Don't: use a complex color scheme

“Be careful with using blacks. Of course, you can use pieces that are black and style that into your outfits, but we try not to make it generic. Right now we have lots of bright and dark pinks with accents of burnt orange and can throw in slight accents of black.” —Hannah Butler, Olive & Ivy

Do: layer your boldest color on top

“Make your boldest color your outer layer. It looks weird if you have a nice bright top with a lighter neutral color on top of it. This is generally a great rule for beginners to try to follow, but once you begin to feel more comfortable with color blocking you could play with other ways of layering.” —D.R.

Do: be careful with the colors you select

“Stick to a color scheme. We have a very boho theme with lots of neutral colors going with a lot of our outfits. We do a lot of sage greens with peachy orange colors that complement each other and are really in style.” —H.B.

Do: intentionally place the pop of color

“Use it thoughtfully and think of highlighting your best assets. Like if you have nice, thin, long legs then maybe that’s where your pop of color goes. If you love your waist then why not have a skirt that highlights it? Because if you place a bright color you’re going to draw the eye there.” —T.K.

Do: transition the look into the next season

“When you’re talking about late summer going into fall those jewel tones in color blocking really come into play because you take those bright colors of the summer-like fuchsia and can add a darker tone like burgundy, and you have an outfit that will transition into a new season easily.” —T.K.

Don't: be intimidated

“Don’t be afraid of color blocking because really anyone can wear it. I don’t care how old you are, I don’t care how thin you are or how large you are. This is something that can be worn by anybody. It’s just a matter of tailoring it to your taste.” —T.K. 

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