Hey, Beauxs! Spring is definitely in the air which means that its time has come for us to give our wardrobes the warm up they deserve! The average Beaux normally doesn’t commit a lot of time addressing the idea of seasonal colors, but luckily that’s exactly who we’re here for. That’s why we’ve dedicated April’s Style to giving an in depth look on how to step into the spring season using the technique commonly known as color blocking. Whether or not we like to admit doing so, a lot of us dress to reflect the color of the seasons.
We see this in the warm dark colors we wrap ourselves in during the fall. The deep reds, oranges and brown accurately reflect the season’s hues. Winter heralds the arrival of cooler greens, steely blues, darker grays, and blacks while summer welcomes lighter colors with cooler tones. Summery greens, blues and purples are generally on tap for what some consider as being the best season of the year. However we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as spring has only just sprung a few weeks ago. Ancient Greeks celebrated spring by honoring Persephone, daughter of the god-whore Zeus, and Demeter, goddess of fertility. Persephone’s annual return from the underworld is marked with warmer pastels and any light and warm color we can imagine. Color blocking isn’t something that we have to reserve for any particular season, but since the season is upon us and is the first chance we get to showcase colors, we figured it’d be best to start where we stand.
For those of you who aren’t sure what color blocking is, it's the method of wearing multiple solid colors in an outfit. It’s a pretty straightforward method as it only requires adding blocks of solid colors to an outfit. As simple as the effect of color blocking is, there are those of us who fall short of properly achieving the look. That’s why we’re giving you a list of the do's and don’ts! G.I. Joe taught us that knowing is half the battle so let’s jump into this with what contrast means. Contrast refers to the difference in color value between two or more colors. Think red versus green, black versus white or yellow versus violet. These colors appear as opposites of each other on the color wheel, which makes them excellent considerations for color blocking, but there are always exceptions to this rule. And while we’re on the subject of rules, let’s spend a little time looking at a few of the most basic color blocking guidelines.
THE GOLDEN RULES
Rules. There are always rules. While we’re free to either bend the rules of style as we see fit, or to create our own style standards, rules are always going to be a thing. You’ll find no exception here. The first rule to color blocking is to decide whether you’re going to select a color-block ensemble with colors that complement each other, contrast or if you’re going to go monochrome. The most important rule is to know your colors! Are they tertiary? What’s the temperature? Are neutral colors, colors? What’s the shade (*giggles)? And lastly, how dense are the colors?
Tertiary colors are colors that are formed when there is more of one primary color in a secondary blend. Orange-red or violet-blue are tertiary, for example. When thinking about color temps, remember that warm colors look warm, and cool colors, well…they look cool! Warm colors start at the tertiary color reddish-purple, move through red, orange, and yellow, to reach yellow-green. The cool colors start at green, and include teal, blue, indigo, and purple. Neutral colors aren’t technically colors, but they still matter. Neutrals exist outside the color wheel. Black is the absence of color, white is the absence of hue and is the color of sunlight, gray is a mixture of the two.
Shade comes from reading, but reading came first. Regardless, shade is the result of mixing a particular color with another. For example, if you mixed red with black, the red becomes darker. That’s the shade. Now read that. Mixing a color with white will make it a lighter version of itself. That’s tint. Saturation, which is how dense, heavy or intense the color is. Instagram has done well in teaching us that heavily saturated filters are strong, and the same can be said of, and applied to, style.
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Incorporating patterns in your color block can be done, but it's a crap shoot, so be careful. We suggest that you start your color blocking journey by using solid colors as they create daring looks without the need of any patterned assistance. So until you feel comfortable with patterns, stick to pure solid colors. Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, we can move on to this month’s suggestions in color blocking!
Get primal! Color blocking can be done with any color but the best are often the brightest, and the brightest are often primary colors. If you're really ready to mix it up, begin with the primary colors: blue, red, and yellow. You can make a bold style statement when pairing any of these three colors with the other, but don’t get too stuck on them because from these three colors come an astronomical 16.8 million others. So don’t limit yourself. One of the best considerations we can give to pushing the color limit is to look between the colors. For example, orange finds itself perfectly positioned between red and yellow, so a red, yellow and orange color block will create a cascading color block worthy of attention. Spring is a season filled with pastels, so you shouldn’t be afraid to include them in your color blocks. Step into the season by color blocking with pale and golden yellows, moss and mint greens and Carolina and electric blues.
Again, the options are nearly limitless. You don’t have to limit your color blocks to pants and shirts. If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a thousand times- ACCESSORIZE! The list of men’s accessories might not be be limitless as those designed with women in mind, but we’ve got a few things to play with. Play around with different styles and colors of watches, hats, ties, shoes, wristbands and rings to add an additional pop to your color splash. It’s not always going to be about the colors you select, but the way they’re styled.
FROM HUMBLE HUES TO RICH DEBUTS
Color blocking is about more than sporting colors that can be seen a mile away. While any of us should feel free to color block ourselves into a rainbow explosion, we can always consider toning things down with a neutral base. Fashion neutrals are colors that can go with anything, which is probably why they’re considered to be essential to any wardrobe. Try picking bold shades and pairing them with neutral colors. This will make the bold color stand out without being too overwhelming. Just remember that some neutrals perform best when paired with certain patterns and colors. Key neutral pieces include jeans, jackets and pants. Keep this in mind when selecting your core neutral colors and remember that darker colors recede to make you look thinner, and light colors advance and will almost always look bigger. Consider this when planning your outfit as a neutral toned shirt paired with a darker colored bottom might make you look top heavy.
Interested in taking this route? If so, consider starting with a tan, white, navy or black base and pair it with whatever color gives you the look you’re going for. You can always spice up a pair of khakis with a brightly single or tri-colored colored top. Some might find neutral colors boring, and they might be onto something. However, these same people may not know that true metal colors (copper, gold, pewter, silver, etc) are also considered as neutrals, which gives you more to work with.
DEAF TONES AND MONOCHROMES
Monochrome is lit. Its stylish. It’s sophisticated. It might read as being something that doesn’t take a lot of thought, but anyone who has ever pulled the monochrome look off can tell you that attention was paid! However amazing this look might be, there are plenty of opportunities to get it wrong. Monochromatic is more than just wearing all black, red, blue or yellow, it’s about creating a look so solid that the lines of distinction are almost invisible. Some might not consider monochrome as a form of color blocking, but dude, it literally involves wearing solid blocks of color...although their shades may vary. Consider adding a pop of color to accentuate the monochromatic look by playing around with complementary colors or by highlighting colors with a white t-shirt. A second color won’t hurt, and will help to finish the look off.
The joy of the monochromatic look comes from wearing different shades and tints of the same color. This is why we should never assume that it doesn’t require more that just a little thought. Do you know how much effort it takes to perfectly match true red, cherry and rose? Or how trying it can be to triangulate a triad of parakeet, shamrock and emerald greens. A simple mistake made by some who attempt the monochrome look is the absence to texture. You must have texture! You must! Remember that you don’t have to limit yourself with this look, so feel free to experiment with neutral beiges, whites and blacks. Neutrals are probably going to be easier to pair together than colors, because again, matching true red, cherry and rose can be a painstaking task. Whether you’re going for a monochrome color pop or a monochrome neutral, make sure you’re having fun with your style.
The weather is getting warmer, but we’re not in the throes of summer yet, and using textured layers gives us the chance to use these spring like temperatures to our advantage. But don’t be a fool! Add texture to your monochromatic look by pairing a set of layered t shirts with a nearly weightless jacket, or a sweater that compliments whatever shirt you decide to wear beneath it. When (and not if) the temperatures rise, wrap that sweater around your waist. Doing so won’t take away from the look and will keep you prepared as the temperature drops. Consider adding a solid black or white to your monochromatic color block. Doing so will prevent you from looking washed out and will create a slight division between the colors.
Nothing screams spring like pops of colors, and the time to pop is now. Spend a little time experimenting with color blocking this spring by trying out some of our suggestions. Its always a good idea to start with the things you already have in your closet. Style is all about having fun, but even a fun doesn’t always mean the absence of rules, so here are a few last minute protocols for you to follow. First, be careful with your pairings because some things just won’t won’t work. Practice almost always make perfect, so remember that an eye for color isn’t something a lot of us naturally have, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It can always be developed. Lastly, give yourselves the chance to be inspired. The internet is such a wonderful place, and believe it or not, there’s more out there than porn! Inspiration can be found almost anywhere your eyes will lead you, so pay attention, take control and try to contrast!