Playing with Colour Combinations

There are some colour combinations that simply seem to work. For example, khaki, white, red and navy seem to work well together, in virtually any combination.

So a navy blazer, white shirt, red tie and khaki chinos looks great. It looks equally great if you flip your blazer and chinos, i.e. khaki blazer with navy chinos. The self confident could go for red trousers white shirt navy tie and khaki blazer. The really fashion forward could go for red blazer, white chinos, navy shirt, tan belt. You see where I am going here.

Charles Tyrwhitt
Charles Tyrwhitt

You can do similar things with other colour combinations, particularly where navy is part of the equation. For example, navy, grey and blue, green, blue and navy or pink blue and navy.

So I got to wondering what other colour combinations can you play around with, particularly ones which exclude navy?

One somewhat unlikely combination I’ve been interested in exploring of late is pink, khaki and green. I can still recall seeing Seb Coe during London 2012 looking very cool indeed in an open necked pink shirt with khaki trousers with a green jumper (sweater, if you’re reading this in the US) draped over his shoulders.


So I thought I might try a different combination of those colours, a khaki blazer, pink shirt and green trousers. I have to say that it was slightly less successful than I thought it might be. Certainly, when I took off the blazer as the day warmed up, it left a little to be desired.

Indeed it was recently pointed out to me that that particular combination of pink shirt with meadow green chinos caused a few raised eyebrows. That I was wearing pink braces on that occasion which were exposed when I removed my jacket would hardly have helped matters.

It made the point that successful colour combinations are more complex than simply putting together appropriate colours from a colour wheel. It is also about proportionality and highlights.

In addition, certain colours feel very different when applied to different items of clothing. So you might be very happy to wear a pink shirt or pink tie but a pink blazer is a whole different ball game.

Orange jumper with white trousers

Partly this is also about proportionality. A tie is just a sliver of colour. Similarly a shirt under a blazer, cardigan or jumper is only a highlight. Trousers or a blazer are solid blocks of colour.

In culinary terms, it’s one thing to put a condiment on your meal. It’s another thing entirely if the condiment were the meal.

So play around with colour combinations. Some of them will work better than others. The upside is that you will increase the number of unique combinations. It could unleash a whole new wardrobe.


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