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How to Use Basic Color Theory to Create Matching Uniform Colors

Science of Colors

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Our Science of Color series gave you a good starting point into the intricate, sometimes confusing world of colors in fashion. We've established that red is a color of passion and blue is a relaxed color, but what happens when you combine the two? Do you get passionate relaxation? Or, perhaps, do you get something new entirely? Or should you just avoid mixing red and blue together? We hope to answer those questions (and more) as we take a look at basic color theory for your custom embroidered uniforms.  

Before we get too far, let me just start off by telling you this: color matching in fashion is an art. You can use basic color theory to find complementary color combinations, but you don't necessarily have to go with conventional color palettes. As always, try to evaluate each color with a critical eye and ask yourself how well the colors go together. Follow your gut on this one -- if two colors don't create visual appeal, then don't try to force them together.  

Complementary Colors   A complementary color is pretty easy to find -- just pick the opposite color on the color wheel. Purple complements yellow, orange complements blue, etc. What makes complementary colors so powerful is that they combine the three primary colors: yellow, red, and blue. Let's take red for example. If you combine the other two primary colors, blue and yellow, then you end up with green. Red and green are a powerful pair because they represent all of the primary colors.  

 

Complementary Colors

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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary   Okay, now we're getting into complicated territory. Red, yellow, and blue have a powerful visual impact when they're paired with each other. Think of McDonald's yellow-on-red logo -- it's nearly overpowering with how vivid the colors are. You can mix the primary colors together to get the secondary colors: orange, purple, and green. Pair those secondary colors together and you end up with tertiary colors. These sets of colors are all very powerful when paired with each other because there isn't much color overlap -- each color stands out against its neighbors.  

Warm and Cool   The warm colors are red, orange, yellow, and light green. The cool colors are dark green, blue, and purple. Warm colors go beautifully with other warm colors, just as cool colors match other cool colors. Warm colors are generally better if you want to create excitement and energy, whereas cool colors are good for elegance and sophistication.  

Warm vs Cool Colors Infographic

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Black and White   These two colors are incredibly versatile because they create contrast. Think of a sharp tuxedo -- the rich blacks and pure whites stand out against each other, but they still complement each other beautifully. There's a good reason why the tuxedo has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years: it's practically the perfect outfit. Black and white are great colors if you want to add a bit of class to your outfit. The important thing to remember is that you generally want to pair dark colors with white and light colors with black. Otherwise, the colors will become muddy as they blend together.

  Sharp Black and White Tuxedo

Image source: Mytuxedocatalog.com[/caption]  

So, What Does it All Mean?   Well, a lot of it boils down to personal preference. I highly recommend that you use online color charts like this one to find matching color palettes. Past that, there's a dizzying array of possible color combinations. Just look at the infographic below for a mind-blowing number of color palette options. As I said before, a lot if it boils down to personal taste. Some colors just go well together, while other colors clash horribly side-by-side.  

Matching Color Guide

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