Color Blocking

By Ginny Frizzi

March 14, 2012 5 min read

Color blocking is one of the biggest fashion trends for spring and summer. No matter what the woman's age or personal style, color blocking can be used to inject a new look into her wardrobe.

According to the blog "A Chic Direction," blocking involves combining different colors that support and complement each other. With the bright colors being shown in clothing and accessories for spring and summer, blocking is a fun way to create a new look if done correctly.

Color blocking is not just wearing any colors together. A woman needs to look for colors that are complementary and look good together.

"You don't want to look like a box of crayons blew up on you," says Fanny Woo, a wardrobe and beauty stylist for Urban Darling. "You have to think about pairing colors or adding a color."

Many experts recommend that women should begin by looking at a color wheel.

Pamela Pekerman, an on-air lifestyle correspondent and host, says a color wheel is particularly helpful for a woman who can't decide what colors to use for blocking. "Google a color wheel," she says. "A color wheel shows what colors are complementary, such as blue and orange and yellow and purple. You can sometimes go a little bit off this, but a color wheel can be a good reference point. Try to stick to easy complementary colors."

Most women's wardrobes already include a neutral palette with separates in such colors as black, khaki and denim blue. These can be livened up through color blocking.

If you are a bit timid about embracing color blocking, "you can try it out in small doses with accessories," Pekerman says.

As an example, she gives a turquoise dress or blouse that could be livened up with colorful accessories like a ring, bracelet, handbag or shoes.

Pekerman also recommends trying out your look at home or with close friends. "If you don't feel comfortable wearing your ensemble in front of your nearest and dearest, it's not for you. Don't be compelled to fulfill all of spring's fashion trends," she says.

Proportion is key in color blocking, according to professional image consultant Beryl Pleasants of Style With Aplomb.

"There should be a one-third to two-thirds ratio. One color needs to dominate. The beauty of art and design are diminished when (they are) divided one half by one half. You are a work of art that you want to present at its most beautiful," she says.

Pleasants also advises that a woman should be sure her most complementary color is closest to her face.

"You can get away with a color that doesn't work as well for you, if it is away from your face. Bring attention to you by showing off your best color," she says.

A woman should choose a darker color for the area of her body where she prefers not to draw attention. "For example, if you have wider hips than your shoulders, choose the brighter or lighter color for the top and a darker, less obvious color for the bottom," Pleasants says.

Like other experts, Pleasants recommends getting the most for your clothing dollars when trying color blocking. "Get mileage out of your purchases. Rather than buy a color-blocked dress, try separates," she says. "Brighter and more unusual combinations will be very memorable so you won't be able to wear it as often without people thinking, 'Oh, she wore that to the last party.' With separates, you can pair the top and bottom with neutrals or other complementary colors to create entirely different looks."

One thing that makes color blocking so much fun is that it is affordable.

"Great pieces don't have to be expensive in order to be fun," says Pekerman, who recommends looking in discount stores such as T.J. Maxx for blouses, pants and accessories.

Simple color blocking can be achieved with colored denim, according to Fanny Woo. She recommends choosing a color that you can get a lot of use out of and that plays back to many other colors, such as faded red, olive or minty white and a basic top in chocolate, tan, black, gray or ivory. "Then throw in a bold colored clutch to round out the look," she says.

Nail color is another way to add color blocking. A woman can choose two or three complimentary colors to use on their nails.

"If you get a French manicure, you can add colors to the tips, perhaps several shades of the same color, like blue," says Woo, adding that older woman might find this too youthful.

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