Crafting the perfect outfit is an art, just as painting or music is. One key component of this art is understanding how colours work together. For the sewing community, mastering colour harmonies can transform your creations from ordinary to outstanding. Let's dive into the world of colour harmonies and explore how they can enhance your outfits.


colour wheel fashion


For the focus of this blog post, we'll delve into a print by Mel Armstrong, dissecting the various colour harmonies within.


What is Colour Harmony?

At its essence, colour harmony is a visually pleasing arrangement of colours. Think of it as notes in a song. When they are harmonious, they create a melody that's appealing to the ears. Similarly, the right mix of colours creates a visual melody for the eyes.


Analogous colour harmony

Definition: Colours that sit side by side on the color wheel.

Application in Sewing: Analogous colours provide a harmonious and unified feel. For instance, using shades of blue - from navy to sky blue - can create a calm and seamless look.

Outfit Example: A light green blouse paired with a darker green skirt, and even darker green accessories.

Why It Works: The primary reason analogous colours are harmonious is their close relationship on the color wheel. They share a common base colour, which ensures that they work seamlessly together. The result is often calming, serene, and easily digestible to the eyes.

How to Identify Analogous Colours

To identify analogous colours:

  • Pick any colour on the color wheel as your starting point.
  • Select colours directly next to your starting color (usually two to three colours on either side work best).

For example, if you start with green, the analogous colours could be yellow-green, yellow, blue-green, and blue.

Application in Sewing and Fashion In the context of sewing and creating outfits, using an analogous colour scheme can provide a rich and layered look without creating jarring contrasts. Here's how you can incorporate it:

Gradient Looks: Start with a deep shade as the main outfit piece and use lighter or darker adjacent shades for accessories.

Layering: Use different pieces of clothing (like scarves, cardigans, shirts) in analogous colours to create depth and interest.

Mix Textures: Even if the colours are similar, varying textures (like silk, denim, or wool) can add dimension to an analogous outfit.


complimentary Colour Harmony



Complementary colours are pairs of colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. This arrangement creates a natural contrast and is why they're named "complementary" — they complete or complement each other.

Why It Works

The vivid contrast between complementary colours makes each color seem more vibrant when placed next to the other. This is due to the way our eyes perceive color; the juxtaposition causes each color to stand out and become more pronounced.

To identify complementary colours:

Choose a color on the colour wheel.

Directly opposite this colour will be its complement.

Some common pairs include:

Red and Green

Blue and Orange

Yellow and Purple

Application in Sewing and Fashion

Complementary colours can be used to create eye-catching outfits with a dynamic flair. Here's how:

Bold Contrasts: A dress in one primary colour, complemented by accessories or shoes in its opposite colour.

Subtle Combinations: If a full contrast feels too bold, consider muted or pastel versions of complementary colours.

Pattern Play: Use fabric patterns that incorporate complementary colours, ensuring neither color overwhelms the other.


Balance is Key: While complementary colours are vibrant and exciting, they can also be overpowering if not balanced properly. It's often beneficial to let one color dominate and use the other as an accent.

Tonal Variations: Using tints (lighter versions) or shades (darker versions) of complementary colours can create a more subdued, sophisticated look.

Context Matters: Consider the occasion. A highly contrasting outfit might be perfect for a summer party but might feel out of place at a more subdued event.

Popular Complementary Combinations in Fashion

Red and Green: A classic holiday combo, but with the right shades, it can be versatile. Think of a muted olive green dress with deep red shoes.

Blue and Orange: A navy blue suit with a subtle orange tie or pocket square can be striking.

Yellow and Purple: A lavender blouse with a mustard skirt creates a sunny, playful look.


Monochromatic Colour Harmony

Monochromatic Colour Harmony


Definition The term "monochromatic" originates from two Greek words: "mono" meaning single or alone, and "chroma" meaning color. In this context, monochromatic refers to a colour scheme derived from a single base hue, which is then extended using its shades, tints, and tones.

Why It Works Monochromatic harmony creates a visually cohesive and unified look. There’s a sense of consistency that can be calming and orderly. The subtle variations within one hue provide depth and sophistication without overwhelming the viewer.

Breaking Down Monochromatic Variants

  • Shade: The original color made darker by adding black.
  • Tint: The original color lightened by adding white.
  • Tone: The original color that’s been muted by adding gray.

Application in Sewing and Fashion Monochromatic colour schemes can make a powerful statement in fashion. Here’s how:

  • Elevated Elegance: A monochromatic outfit can give an elevated and refined look. Think of an all-black evening dress ensemble or an all-white summer outfit.
  • Layering and Texture Play: With the colour staying consistent, playing with different textures becomes crucial. Mixing materials like silk, leather, and wool in the same colour can add interest to a monochromatic outfit.
  • Accessorizing: In a monochromatic outfit, accessories in the same colour family can enhance the look. Alternatively, neutral-colored or metallic accessories can break up the consistency without detracting from the theme.


  • Depth and Contrast: It's essential to ensure that there's enough contrast within your chosen hues to differentiate between different elements or layers of an outfit.
  • Avoiding Flatness: Ensure the outfit isn’t too uniform; introducing various textures or patterns can prevent a monochromatic scheme from looking flat or dull.

Popular Monochromatic Combinations in Fashion

  • Greyscale: From pure white to deep black and every shade of gray in between, this is a timeless and versatile option.
  • Blues: Navy pants, a mid-blue shirt, and a light blue scarf can give a sense of calm and consistency.
  • Reds and Pinks: A deep burgundy dress with rose-tinted accessories can create a warm, passionate appearance.

Monochromatic colour harmonies offer a harmonious yet versatile approach to fashion. Through subtle variations of a single hue, one can craft outfits that are both cohesive and dynamic. This harmony, coupled with thoughtful texturing and accessorizing, can lead to truly captivating fashion statements. Whether you’re aiming for understated elegance or a bold proclamation of style, the monochromatic palette has something for every fashion enthusiast.


Split Complementary Colour Harmony

Split Complimentary Colours


Definition A split complementary colour scheme is derived from the basic complementary scheme. Instead of using a colour and its direct opposite (or complement) on the color wheel, the split complementary uses the base colour and the two colours adjacent to its complement.

Why It Works The split complementary scheme offers the contrast of the complementary scheme without the risk of being too jarring. It's a more nuanced approach that provides visual interest and balance by softening the potential intensity and adding variation.

Identifying Split Complementary Colors

  • Start by selecting a base colour on the colour wheel.
  • Instead of picking its direct complement, select the two colours on either side of the complement.

For instance, if you pick yellow as the base colour:

  • The direct complementary colour is purple.
  • In the split complementary scheme, instead of purple, you would select blue-violet and red-violet.

Application in Sewing and Fashion The split complementary scheme can be exciting and vibrant, giving designers an expanded palette to play with:

  • Diverse Outfits: Choose a primary garment in the base color and accent with pieces or accessories in the two split complementary colors. A yellow dress can be paired with blue-violet shoes and a red-violet clutch, for example.
  • Patterns and Prints: Fabrics that incorporate split complementary colors can make for intriguing designs that are cohesive but full of energy.
  • Subtle Uses: If you want the balance but not the boldness, use muted or pastel versions of your chosen colors.


  • Dominance and Balance: To avoid overwhelming the eyes, it can be effective to let one colour dominate, using the other two for accents.
  • Tonal Variation: Using different shades, tints, or tones of the selected colours can help in achieving the desired mood or sophistication.

Popular Split Complementary Combinations in Fashion

  • Green with Red-Orange and Red-Violet: Imagine an olive-green jacket, a red-orange scarf, and a red-violet bag.
  • Blue with Yellow-Orange and Yellow-Green: Consider a navy suit, a pale yellow-green shirt, and a burnt yellow-orange tie.
  • Red with Green-Blue and Green-Yellow: A deep red dress paired with teal shoes and lime-green accessories can be a real head-turner.

The split complementary colour harmony provides fashion enthusiasts and designers with a balanced yet lively palette. It's a wonderful way to introduce contrast without going to the extremes of the direct complementary scheme. Experimenting with split complementary colours can lead to outfits that are vibrant, harmonious, and sure to make a statement. Whether used in everyday fashion or runway designs, this colour scheme has the potential to turn heads and capture attention.


Triadic Colour Harmony

Triadic Colour Harmony Fashion


Definition A triadic colour scheme involves three colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel, forming an equilateral triangle when connected. This configuration ensures that the colours selected are diverse, providing rich contrast and energy to designs.

Why It Works The triadic scheme works because it strikes a balance: while the colours are distinct, their even distribution around the colour wheel ensures harmony and a sense of cohesive vibrancy. Each colour can be used in varying amounts to create visual interest and emphasis.

Identifying Triadic Colours To identify a triadic colour scheme:

  • Start with any primary colour on the colour wheel.
  • Move to the third colour from your starting point to find the second colour, then another third for the third colour.

For instance, using the primary colours:

  • Red, Blue, and Yellow form a triadic colour scheme. Another common triadic scheme involves secondary colours:
  • Green, Orange, and Purple.

Application in Sewing and Fashion Triadic colour schemes can be visually stimulating and are great for creating standout outfits:

  • Balanced Ensembles: To ensure harmony, one colour can be dominant (like for a dress or suit), while the other two can be used for accessories or secondary clothing items.
  • Patterns and Prints: A fabric design incorporating all three triadic colours can be both lively and harmonious.
  • Accent Play: For a more subdued look, use two colours from the triadic scheme and sprinkle in the third as an accent.


  • Intensity Control: Triadic schemes are vibrant by nature. To tone it down, you might opt for muted or pastel versions of your chosen colours.
  • Distribution: Distributing the colours in the right proportion is key. Too much of all three can be overwhelming, so consider balancing by letting one colour dominate.

Popular Triadic Combinations in Fashion

  • Primary Triad: A red dress, paired with yellow shoes and a blue handbag.
  • Secondary Triad: An orange skirt with a purple blouse and green accessories.
  • Tertiary Triad: Think of blue-green, red-orange, and yellow-violet combined in an outfit. For example, a blue-green jumpsuit with red-orange earrings and a yellow-violet clutch.

Triadic colour harmonies provide a palette rich in contrast and energy, making them ideal for fashion statements that resonate with vibrancy and life. While they demand a careful balance to prevent visual chaos, when executed with thoughtfulness, triadic schemes can produce outfits that are both captivating and harmoniously tied together. It's a dance of colour that, when choreographed right, can lead to truly stunning visual displays in the world of fashion.

Wrap Up

Colours can speak volumes, even before the first stitch is sewn. By mastering colour harmonies, you'll be able to design and craft outfits that not only look beautiful but also resonate emotionally with those who wear and behold them. As you experiment and grow in your sewing journey, you'll find that the magic often lies in the colors you choose and how you weave them together. Happy sewing!

Melanie Coultas