Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Can I Wear Warm and Cool Colors Together?

It came up yesterday - can the capsule wardrobe based on grey be combined with the capsule wardrobe based on beige that I showed back on Friday? The larger question here revolves around combining warm and cool color palettes, so it's well worth addressing.

Of course, I believe that it's more than possible! If you have clothing in both of these colors, it's quite desirable that you wear them together if necessary to wear them frequently, with the goal of eventually wearing them out...

Our original painting inspiration combines warm and cool to great effect:


Little Harbor in Normandy by Braques with style ideas and a neutral color palette

So what if we just try combining the neutrals? As a reminder, these are the two groups of Capsule Wardrobe Building Blocks (aka simple, timeless garments)

9 cool-hued Wardrobe Building Blocks

9 warm-hued Wardrobe Building Blocks

So my first thought is just to arrange everything together and see how it feels. While it's clear that we're working with colors from both ends of the "temperature" spectrum, the styles of the clothes are very compatible, and the degree of intensity of the colors is pretty harmonious. The black pants might be somewhat too dark, but they might be fine. Everything else shares a gentle, rich color value that feel comfortable together.

18 Wardrobe Building Blocks in a mix of warm and cool colors

Just for a bit of additional material with which to work, I grabbed a literal handful of accessories that combine warm and cool. These kinds of pieces reinforce that the mix of temperatures in your outfit is intentional, and not just a "nothing else is clean" accident!

Accessories that combine warm and cool colors

By my way of thinking, mixing these palettes can work 3 ways:
  1. Wear a "suit" in one color family, and wear a blouse, sweater or tee shirt from the other family;
  2. Wear a "column of color" from one grouping, and then add a second layer from the other, or
  3. Wear a "twinset" from one of the palettes, and a "bottom" from the other.
So here's how they would work out, first using the warmer-hued garments as the primary color, and then using the "cooler" garments as the main neutral.

I've included a pair of shoes and a bag in each set of outfits, just to show that you can sort of go either direction with what you choose for them. Mostly I just looked at the outfits and pondered what felt more balanced. For example, in these first two outfits, I thought that some additional soft grey or silver would balance the grey tee or blouse - give them a partner in the outfit, if you will!


combining warm and cool colors - 2 outfits

Here, I thought that I wanted to continue the long column of warm camel, so I chose camel loafers. But for the second outfit, I thought that the grey sweater could use another touch of grey so that it looked like it was chosen deliberately. You could still wear them camel shoes here - shoes and bags don't need to match, so long as they look as if they were chosen for a reason!

combining warm and cool colors - 2 outfits

Here, I wanted to lighten up the dark pants with a bit of ivory below the waist...

In the 2nd outfit, I'd wear black shoes, and let the scarf do the real "blending" work of the outfit!

combining warm and cool colors - 2 outfits

Ivory shoes would look really light-weight with the sweater in the first outfit, so I thought that grey boots were a better option. I'd probably wear grey shoes or boots with the 2nd outfit, too, since the great taupe tote helps strike a balance between the warm and cool...

combining warm and cool colors - 2 outfits

I like to wear dark shoes with dark pants, usually, and I felt that the grey were excellent here; the jewelry picks up the warm notes from the sable sweater..

I would wear dark shoes with the 2nd outfit too, even though the bag is ivory. (the bag also comes in dark grey, if that feels better to you!) Again, with a scarf that includes all of the outfit colors, you don't have to worry too much about the color balance.
combining warm and cool colors - 2 outfits

I love the idea of wearing an Hermes scarf with canvas shoes... Both of these outfits feel casual enough to me that the idea of color balance isn't as critical.

combining warm and cool colors - 2 outfits

Questions about an outfit feeling balanced are very personal - someone who really feels comfortable and snazzy in a pair of bright shoes will have a different opinion from someone who is self-conscious about the size of their feet, or who has a tough time finding shoes that fit properly. You just have to experiment... I did a series of posts last April about proportions and colors that might be interesting for you.

And what about the jade/teal and dusty rose accent pieces (as well as the silver and gold?) Those can definitely be incorporated into a combined wardrobe, but I'd personally be pretty careful about bringing THREE colors together into any single outfit. (something like a rose blouse, camel pants and a grey cardigan...) While you might be able to make it work beautifully, it requires a pretty careful eye. 

But if it appeals, go for it! I don't make rules about what to wear - nobody really does, any more.

love,
Janice

p.s. I'm heading off to a nice quiet interlude in Florida for Thanksgiving, but I've left you a few pretty things to see. They're reviews of old posts, so if you're all tied up this weekend, you'll be fine...

p.p.s. I think it's in my blogger contract that I'm supposed to remind you that !!!!! FRIDAY IS BLACK FRIDAY!!!!!!! and !!!!! MONDAY IS CYBER MONDAY!!!!!!!!

As if you wouldn't know unless I told you. If you're going to shop online, I'd be grateful if you clicked through the occasional link from The Vivienne Files, and threw a wee commission my way. But I'd much rather that you shop smart, and remember what's really important.... hugs!

p.p.p.s. - This entire sentence is a link to Paula's Choice, for my friend who requested one!
  


Can I Wear Warm and Cool Colors Together in a Capsule Wardrobe?
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29 comments:

  1. My basic outfit formula actually is 3 colors in an outfit: two neutrals and accent color. One of these colors is light, one medium, and one is a dark piece. Or, if my clothes are just two colors, say navy and grey, you will certainly find some color from my accents. I look best when there's a good amount of contrast in my outfit. I know most women prefer softer looks with less contrast, so maybe this formula isn't for everyone.
    I think that the warm/cool issue also depends on one's own coloring/taste with color. Some people are warm OR cool colors only-types. Others, like myself, are in between, and happy to play a bit with both warm and cool shades. I'd never wear very warm autumny colors or strong jewel tones such as cobalt or fuchsia, though. So being in the middle doesn't mean that anything goes...

    Happy Thanksgiving and safe trip!

    -Sara K-

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    1. I am with you, Sara! Always some contrast, even if I am wearing all black and just pearls for contrast. While I could do some warm colors, for simplicity's sake I decided a few years back to stick with cool colors. The only warm tones to be found in my closet are ivory and light camel. Makes life a lot easier!

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    2. I am with you, Sara! Always some contrast, even if I am wearing all black and just pearls for contrast. While I could do some warm colors, for simplicity's sake I decided a few years back to stick with cool colors. The only warm tones to be found in my closet are ivory and light camel. Makes life a lot easier!

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  2. These look great. One of my favorite combos of all time is baby blue with beige/tan/khaki. The gray gives a similar feel to the blue.
    Another sighting: Woman in canary yellow pants, orange (like the fruit) sweater, with dark red fingerless gloves and dark red bag, black coat and black and white spotted scarf. Very daring combo. Very color-blocked--the only pattern was the scarf. Dangling earrings were yellow/red/orange. She looked great. (BTW she was 60-ish).

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  3. The black pants aren't too dark for my taste. Preferring to dress in neutrals with high contrast (think black with white or navy with beige) I really like combinations of black with light gray, cream, or beige/tan. Accessorizing with items incorporating both warm and cool tones adds an element of quiet sophistication that I find very appealing. And the accessories you have selected are perfect - Santa take note: just box them up and send them to me for Christmas!

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  4. I think gray and camel or ivory is the most sophisticated and 'rich' combination possible. Not sure why, but it always seems like a Lauren Bacall sort of choice!

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    1. Exactly my thought, CK! (And, Janis! :-)) I love color in general, but the idea of wearing camel and gray and ivory really calls to me--so classy and sophisticated! Reading this post, and feeling such a pull towards this wardrobe's low-key, subtle elegance, makes me want to have more of these neutrals in my wardrobe, and stop trying to find pretty purples, teals and blues! Maybe a core of these neutrals, with a few colors in my closet for days when I'm feeling a bit more flannel-shirt-and-jeans-ish--ie, not so "elegant"! (A must for my wardrobe!) Fun to imagine these possibilities. :-) Thanks, Janis and CK.

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  5. The Hermes scarf (or any scarf) combining the sets of colors really makes a difference on what works here. By the way, I was able to get one of teal tops from prior post for 40% off...sale still on site.

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  6. The Hermes scarf (or any scarf) combining the sets of colors really makes a difference on what works here. By the way, I was able to get one of teal tops from prior post for 40% off...sale still on site.

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  7. I have been hesitant to combine grey and camel but, with a beautiful scarf, it certainly works. My brown bags and loafers can be worn with grey or navy. I love to visit your links, put certain pieces on my wish list and then take time to consider. I have found LL Bean to be great for casual retirement clothes and House of Fraser to provide many choices for some other occasions. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  8. Thank you, Janice, so much! Of course -a scarf! I'll be looking for that and some other rounding out items on Friday. And a silver and gold necklace and earrings would be lovely with everything. Will definitely start by clicking on your many links. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving
    Thanks again. Janice Collins, Washington DC

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  9. When I wear prints, I often wind up with three or more colors on just one garment. For example, I have a skirt with a black background and purple, blue, gray, and white in the floral pattern. I'll happily wear that with a white top, gray cardigan, and blue and purple jewelry.

    And then there's the blue and green print pullover blouse (two shades of blue, two greens, and white). Turns out I love wearing it over my purple dress - the dress looks more like a skirt, one way I increase the versatility of my dresses - with leggings, boots, and colorful blue or green socks. I think it works because the greens, blues, and purple are all at a similar saturation level.

    And then there's the cream-ish skirt with big pink flowers, green leaves, and a brown animal-print backgroundish pattern. With a green t-shirt, fuschia cardigan, and big fluffy sparkly white scarf, and boots with fun green socks.

    I don't tend to wear this stuff to work, but I've found that pretty much anywhere else I sometimes enjoy a sort of playful style that's just this side of "I'm in kindergarten and dressed myself." (And other days it's the most straightforward jeans, sweater, and simple jewelry one could want.)

    -Kaci

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    1. Prints are like scarves - they pull everything together. I'm so glad that you posted, because I didn't mention that option, and it's a good one!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  10. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. This is what I have been doing-mixing cool and warm- as I transition from all black/gray to warmer colors. I was advised to do this and it has changed the way I feel about my wardrobe. But giving up my gray was hard, so your collection is just what the doctor ordered. Actually, I have been pretty successful in weeding out what didn't work and adding in some warmth without breaking the bank. And I agree with CK above, that gray, camel and ivory are a sophisticated combo. Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving.

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  11. Nothing beats mixing neutrals, and this combo is so beautiful. Most elegant, as others have said.

    While the scarf is wonderful, to my eye it isn't even necessary. As I see it, combining quality pieces in mixed solid or textured neutrals (warm/cool making zero difference), is a lucious dressing strategy requiring nothing at all to pull it together, unless it's just to try to support personal coloring that is fighting with one of the neutrals.

    Thanks for something lovely to look at and think about.

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    1. That's what's so much fun about all of this - everybody gets to make up their own mind! If you're comfortable without a scarf, don't wear one; it's always individual choice.
      hugs,
      Janice

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  12. I realize that I instinctively go for the mix of warm and cool with warm being dominant. I have yellow toned skin with blue eyes so I need the mix. The scarf is so lovely and amps up this grouping so well.
    Deb from Vancouver
    PS Happy US Thanksgiving

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  13. Janice,
    While I don't wear 3 colors in an outfit, unless it's the darker and lighter versions of a neutral, plus an accent color, I do wear 3 values within a monochromatic scheme -- light, medium, and darker, not necessarily darkest. As you pointed out the shapes and intensity levels in the two groups of warm and cool are similar, so the warm/ cool contrast is not that much of an issue. What I cannot do, and be happy, is to have a combination of the darkest color, even if a neutral, juxtaposed with my lightest color -- it then becomes too high contrast at that point.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving, safe journeys, and happy warmth in Florida ! PA is now cold, and very blustery the past 3 days.

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  14. I love to mix warm and cool neutrals, but like Sara K above, also like plenty of contrast. So dark chocolate + silver-grey, or charcoal with ivory are favourites. I think you can add an accent colour (although the above examples show how sophisticate the mixed neutrals can look). For example, there is a touch of orange in the scarf, which works well with the grey and with the beige. It would be great if you did a series which added touches of colour to the above combinations!
    Alice

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  15. This is lovely; subtle and sophisticated. I gravitate to three colors or a bit more contrast, so I found myself thinking of those white shirts and wanting to put them with the gray and beige, especially with the scarf to tie it all together. In my own wardrobe, while I have many solid color items, I do love a good pattern in a skirt, top, or accessory. - nancyo

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  16. My neutrals have been black, gray and tan/khaki/camel for several years. I use ivory instead of white for tops. I love gray and ivory or camel. I also love black with ivory or camel/tan. I wear my leopard shoes with those black and tan outfits and gold jewelry. I also have black and silver jewelry. I love mixing warm and cool! I find myself dressing a lot in combinations of my neutrals. Love this post. Have a great Thanksgiving Janice!

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  17. Interesting. I am beginning to see how different shades and texture can be so interesting and pleasant in an outfit.

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  18. I love all the muted colors here. I love to dress in very soft colors so this appeals to me. I think the scarf definitely helps pull all this together. Thanks for helping me think outside the box. I dress "cool" but I have a little gold in my eyes, so I think I can do some warmish tones as well.
    Happy Thanksgiving Janice. Enjoy the warmth. It's all of a sudden winter temps here in Michigan!

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  19. There have been so many great comments already, so I'll limit mine. First, thank you for including shoes this go round, and for mentioning your more detailed post from April that I somehow missed. Those two things have helped me to understand and clarify what will work for me. Second, you mention clicking through your post to websites for online shopping. I would be quite happy to do that, and I am ready to order some Paula's Choice products, but I don't really know how to get there.... instructions please!
    Enjoy your time in Florida! Mary

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    1. Sorry for the delay - central Floral does NOT have good internet. (frankly, my mother's home has none at all!)

      The last post-script at the end of the post, above, has a link to Paula's Choice.
      Thanks, so much, for thinking of me!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  20. I love this. It reminds me of my favorite Vivienne Files post ever. Sadly, I never acquired this fantastic scarf:
    http://www.theviviennefiles.com/2014/08/a-four-by-four-wardrobe-in-black-grey.html#comment-form

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    1. Keep your eyes peeled on the resale sites - Ebay is good, but places like Poshmark or The RealReal are better. Your scarf is still out there, no doubt...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  21. What a beautiful post Janice! Loved seeing these further possibilities for this Hermes scarf. I'm a two-color-only dresser and--thanks to you!-find that adding a scarf is all the accent I need.
    Enjoy your well-deserved break! We'll all be enjoying re-visiting your posts while you're away.
    xxGaye

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