How to coordinate accessory colors to your outfits – tips from a personal stylist

Fashion Style Tips – How to coordinate accessory colors to your outfits

A great way to show your personality with your style is wearing accessories. These can include jewelry, shoes, scarves and hats. The strategy I like to use to coordinate accessory colors is a concept I call adding the “third color.” By that I mean adding a color that is not a dominant color in the outfit and may not be a part of it at all. I explain how in this post.

Does it match?

We typically select outfits by putting two colors together – think black and white, navy and khaki, pink and gray, etc. When it’s time to accessorize, we can get stuck because we aren’t sure how to add an additional (or third) color. You may ask if items “match.” Unfortunately, that is the wrong question to be asking as it is rather limiting in terms of elevating your look. The question you should be asking is: “Do these colors pair or coordinate?”

How do you coordinate accessory colors and what do you do to get out of a style rut or becoming too “matchy matchy?” My solution  is to add the third color. I do this by selecting either a background or less dominant color (this happens with patterns), consider the shoes I am wearing, use color theory, or sometimes it’s about how I feel that day. Some tips…

Tips to coordinate accessory colors to elevate your personal style

Start with the shoes to add the third color– I actually start most of my outfits this way. So let’s say I am planning on wearing my dark brown wedge sandals (see photos). I will think about what “brown” jewelry I have. Brown may sound dull, but in this case, I have a number of vintage amber and carved bead necklaces. I like to layer these for additional visual interest. See below – the red and blue dress with the brown accessories. Other times, I will play up the royal blue in the floral dress and pull that color out and instead add a gold necklace. What shoes do you have that you can use to change up the look of your outfits?

coordinate accessory colors
You can’t see them but even the earrings were coordinated. They are a faux brown tortoiseshell with coral and blue, yay!

Use simple concepts from color theory to add the third color or enhance a color –  If you’re wearing all solids, consider the color theory and use the color wheel.The color wheel allows you to visualize complementary  and adjacent (or analogous) colors. So let’s say you are wearing a pink top with jeans. What is complementary? Greens and turquoise blue- great, add those in as bracelets, necklaces or earrings.  In the examples below, I am using yellow to introduce the “third color” to the outfit and it is complementary to the blue. In addition to complementary colors, is the concept of analogous colors – those colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. For the outfit with the coral sleeveless top with the linen skirt, I have added analogous colors with the scarf and necklace.

coordinate accessory colors

coordinate accessory colors

Use an existing color in the outfit (typically from a pattern) and make it dominant – If you are wearing items with a pattern – pick up a non-dominant color. Let’s say it’s a a skirt with pattern (again see photo, below) so you can pick one color to enhance. In my example, I picked a number of colors for accessories, but you can see that there is a hint of yellow in the skirt and I pulled that out with my bracelet. I also accessorized with the brown amber necklace. I could do this with more yellow, coral, jade green or blue all present in the skirt.

coordinate accessory colors

Try this next time you’re getting dressed and ready. Before you reach for that same accessory you always wear, what is a different item you can wear that will standout against your outfit but still pair with it?

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