At a good friend's request, I give to you a teeny tiny (and very basic) guide on clothing colors...
DISCLAIMER: there are exceptions to every rule, so don't feel constrained. If you already mix colors like a pro, you don't need this entry.
First: tint, shade, and tone are WAY more important than the color itself.
I will explain. Unless you live in a cave, you are aware that purple is totally hot this season. What that means for you is not that you should run out and buy the first purple outfit you see. That's hideous and a gross disservice to yourself. Instead, think about what you already own. If you wear a lot of neutrals, then the shade of purple/lavendar/violet/berry simply has to be pleasing to you (and on you).
If you already wear a lot of color, then the color wheel starts to mean something for you. For example, if your go to pants are olive (a psuedo neutral), you can find that color on the outside of the color wheel. Also on the outside in the purple "slice" of the wheel are slate blue, eggplant, and plum. This is your cue that the deep, rich shades of purple will be lovely with your pants, while fushia (on the inside of the purple slice) will not.
Second: wearing complimentary colors is more modern than head to toe in one color.
Here's the thing about head to toe color: it just doesn't work most of the time and it tends to look dated. If you have a fab all yellow outfit and you beg to differ with my advice, more power to ya (and please send me a pic, because I don't believe you). For the rest of us, it just looks off. To be purposeful about your color choices, choose complentary shades.
In this scenario, you could choose any two colors either in the same slice or spoke of the wheel or one from the spoke and one from either side of it. For example, you could wear a midnight blue skirt with a blouse in another shade of blue (powder blue, blue-violet, blue-green, etc.).
Third: contrasting colors can be awesome, but beware of black.
Black does NOT go with everything. I may be met with skepticism, but hear me out. If you are a big proponent of black, you understand that black pants with your rich jewel toned sweater is lovely. You may not be aware, however, that black with super bright or pastel colors is actually cheapening the color and making your whole outfit look cheap.
All those myths you learned about black- "it goes with everything," "it's slimming," "it's sophisitcated"- get over them. A certain about of black is useful, but use it on purpose, not as an excuse not to care.
I will give you several examples.
Black pants, red top, black shoes: Snore.
Black pants, red top, gray shoes, gray jacket (yes, that is what I'm wearing today): A+
Red and black looks fab if you add another neutral to the mix. It looks retro in a bad way if you don't. The ONLY exception I have found to this rule is the LBD + red shoes.
Black sweater, eggplant skirt: lovely.
Black sweater, pale lavender skirt: looks like you are confused about which season it is and had nothing else to put with that lavendar skirt you just got on sale.
Another contrasting color scenario: colors from different spokes of the wheel. How about mint and lemon this spring? Notice that both colors are in the same position in their respective spokes. Mustard and rust may sound super 70s, but technically they work.
That brings me to my final point for now: Use some discretion and trust your instincts. I have an aunt who must have a detailed color wheel in her head, because she can tell what works and what doesn't from a mile away. If you don't think that way, consider playing with the colors you have on a day when you aren't rushed to get dressed. You might find that your teal top looks amazing with a khaki skirt and your new red-orange pumps.
P.S. Part 2 will include pictures of awesome and god-awful color choices.
P.P.S. For more info, check out: