And back to a good old fashioned “what I wore” post! I’ve been enjoying bright colors recently, so I thought I’d share a recent outfits round up and some notes on how I style my colorful clothes. Of course I don’t try to apply everyone one of tips in every outfit I put together. They’re just examples of styling choices that I think contributed to certain item combos feeling more cohesive or are just details that I personally like 🙂
As usual, the item lists contain affiliate links, where I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through them at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting the blog!
- Bright colors with black and white: nothing is higher contrast than black/white! Despite them being neutral, as a combo they can really balance out the visual weight of even the brightest colors. I more often just use shoes for this but this look was a fun example with a clothing item.
Columbia raincoat via Poshmark, Free People “Stella Long Sleeve” M, Free People graphic tee XL via Poshmark, Comme des Garcons skirt purchased from zoyaohnoya’s closet clean out, Dr Marten Leona boots size 7
- High contrast: I love a soothing all-light outfit or some dramatic jewel tones, but similarly to pairing brights with black/white, I’ve liked how outfits with more candy colored pieces paired with more “colorful neutral” colors like navy or light blue work out. The starry print on the skirt here also brings some lighter color values to the bottom half of the outfit so it’s not a total split when it comes to brightness
- Casual accessories with some cutesy details: I have embraced the whole daisy trend since I love Aster family flowers! I throw on a lot of casual accessories and I like how the more playful motifs can tie them into a more whimsical outfit
- Bright-af socks when shoes and bottom piece are both muted neutrals (here washed black jeans and dingy sneakers) to add a coordinating pop
Hat from local garden center, no-tag cotton-acrylic fair isle sweater via Poshmark, Madewell Curvy Petite Perfect Vintage Jeans (these are ‘sumner wash’, linked similar ‘lunar wash’), Baggu crew socks, New Balance Classics sneakers, Baggu Giant Pocket Tote
- Highly textured fabrics: an interesting fabric or a structured piece can make colors like neons or pastels feel more mature than when they’re in something like basic t-shirt or hoodie fabric.
- Belts can be colorful too! I’ve not been too keen on my more classic leather belts recently but finding an embroidered option has inspired me to incorporate belts again (also might have something to do with these pants needing a belt to stay up until I can get the waist taken in)
- Retro flair: Going for a vintage influenced look gives outfits another aesthetic dimension in addition to color if they’re otherwise basic/casual. I say this all the time but if you want to tone down some aspect of an outfit, most of the time it will feel more organically styled if you turn up other parts of the outfit instead of toning them down (which just makes the original piece you felt weird about stick out more).
- Polish/icing: with outfits that may lean towards pajamas e.g. these magenta floral baggy trousers, if I want them to feel more “off the couch” I try to do something to my hair and opt for more structured accessories
- Match undertones: I’ve previously been more of an earth tones person, but I’ve been finding less muted colors more joyful and also seem more likely to brighten my complexion, so I try to have the center of mass of the colors be more in the pure colors / pastel range if there are a bunch of em, rather than colors with grays or browns or too much black mixed in. Of course crayola colors aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re often finding that your colorful outfits feel kind of random, consider if you don’t have a dominant color family in the pieces that you’re combining.
Chunks Shop “cupid matte claw” clip, Columbia rain jacket via Poshmark, Baggu nylon tote (similar print), Universal Thread corduroy pants, Converse Chuck 70 high tops 7.5, Target cactus graphic tee XL
- I am really loving turquoise corduroy, and I think that’s because it’s a color that could definitely just be normal denim, but it feels more fresh in a different fabric while still not being “whoa hey someone likes colorful stuff” (nice if you’re kind of just testing out how you feel in clothes that aren’t super default colors)
Madewell raglan balloon sleeve sweater, Wild Fable corduroy overall dress L (have since sold this one and got a M instead though), Baggu crew socks, New Balance Classics sneakers
- Shoes that mean serious business: A lot of the stuff I wear has a pretty youthful bent to it, so in the spirit of my How to Look Older in Casual Clothes post, if I’m not wearing something super classic like Converse, I like a good chunky platform lug sole option, whether they’re combat boots or sandals bedecked in plastic daisies.
Free People “put a stripe on it” bodysuit with the pinch-front ruching picked out (via Poshmark), Free People “wildflower cardi” M via Poshmark, Pac Sun corduroy skirt L via Poshmark, Melissa x Lazy Oaf “Kick Off” sandal US8
- Gotta talk about this watch again – since I’ve not been doing as many brown/earthy colors, my brown leather watch often doesn’t feel like it’s really doing anything for an outfit with the more pure/pastel-toned palettes. This watch has a plastic digital face and white leather strap and it just feels a lot cleaner with the rest of the black/white/lavender/grape-soda-purple/traffic-cone-orange/etc
Hat from local garden center, Free People “i’m still obsessed” dress S, Columbia “Popo Hip Pack”, Teva Terra II sandals, Casio watch
- I love a little something unexpected in outfits, and how the pop of color shows up is no exception. I have so many clothes I don’t honestly wear each pieces as much as I’d like to but this floral elbow patch cardigan is an A++ example of a pop of whimsical color
Sheep Creek cotton cardigan via Poshmark, We the Free “perfect tee” M, Madewell curvy petite “perfect vintage jean” (these are ‘sumner wash’, linked similar ‘lunar wash’), Baggu socks, New Balance Classics sneakers
- Get inspired by nature! Went all out on the desert theme here, but it doesn’t have to be traditional earth tones. I love purples+aggressively bright orange+greens and that’s definitely partly because that’s the classic California wildflower palette.
- In the vein of going for a playful but not literally toddler look especially when I’m using items like these plastic daisy hair clips with a fleecy tee, I try to mix in some more mature elements a lower neckline
- I feel like I mostly see mesh and tulle items in black, but a little sheer fabric can also be a fun way to mix a textured element into a colorful look when you want to turn up dimensions other than color.
And that’s all for today! I hope that gave you some ideas for styling your own colorful pieces. Especially if you’ve gotten out of the habit of wearing brights and are exploring your way back, it can feel weird! But just keep playing around with different combos and when something feels right, take a minute to put a concrete description to what elements of the colors or outfit styling you like 🎨
I’m not exacting on creating my outfits from color theory first principles, as like most other humans I usually just pull stuff from my closet and see whether it ~vibes~. But when adding to my wardrobe or figuring out why a piece does or doesn’t play well with my other stuff, having the vocab to talk through things is helpful! I recommend watching Zoe Hong’s videos on color theory for fashion.
And if you find it hard to figure out undertones, I recommend playing around with palettes on Try Colors. You can both go through systematically mixing colors (e.g. make a palette with one each of the pure/starter colors, then mix each one with white, then a new palette where you mix them all with green, then one where mix them all with yellow+red, etc) and also trying to recreate colors of clothing you have.