A reader writes: "I have a question on how to combine my lighter colored pieces. I am trying to keep the contrast level low/medium but ran into a problem: If I keep everything lightly colored and with a low/medium contrast level, I am missing the "spice" in my outfit and end up looking very monochromatic (and boring). When I add a darker color, the contrast level changes too much, and I am cut in half with a light-colored blouse and light-colored jacket combined with darker pants or vice versa."
Such a good question and a challenge that many women with medium value contrast have (including me). So what's the answer? I'm glad you asked.
If your natural coloring (hair, skin and eyes) are a medium value contrast, the bulk of the colors on your palette will most likely be of medium value. But you will also have some darker and lighter value colors.
In general, you will want to include at least one medium value color if you want to pair it with either a darker or a lighter color from your palette.
Now let's look at some of the ways you can create interest and maintain the right level of contrast when wearing your lighter colors
1. Use Different Textures:
Sometimes when you are pairing light - medium colors an outfit can look and feel quite boring. But by mixing different fabrics and textures you'll create more movement and interest. The crocheted skirt, peasant style embroidered blouse, leather belt, straw hat and sparkling earrings, bracelets and sandals create so much for the eye to see.
Repeating the medium value color of the skirt in the hat and embroidery on the blouse helps to tie the whole the outfit together. And note how the belt connects to her hair color and the metallic sandal to the earrings, bracelets & belt buckle which is yet another way of pulling the whole outfit together.
2. Use prints and patterns:
Wearing your lighter colors in a print or pattern will add more interest to your outfit as well.
The pairing of two different size checks in slightly different shades of green and proportions of white keep this outfit fresh. Choosing interesting design details and eye-catching accessories help to elevate the look. The gold provides a third color. Definitely nothing boring about this light-medium value outfit.
And a combination of different textures, sheens and prints will also activate a lighter hued outfit.
3. Step your way from Light to Dark
You can sometimes get away with pairing your light and dark colors together if you add a medium value color in between.
The light pink turtleneck would be a higher contrast with the dark denim, but by adding in the medium pink coat, the gap is bridged and the overall look of this outfit is one of medium value. The lighter shade in the weave of the coat also connects nicely with the lighter sweater.
By repeating the turtleneck color in the shoe (although in a darker shade) our eye is drawn back up to the face.
#4. Choose vertical contrast lines over horizontal ones.
By wearing a column of your lighter color and adding the medium color on top the contrast line becomes vertical, not horizontal which helps to avoid the issue of appearing like you've been severed in half.
You can also reverse this by wearing a column of your medium-value color and topping it with a lighter jacket. This can also help to avoid drawing a more defined line across your tummy or hip if that's an issue for you.
Choose the hem-length of either a lighter or darker value jacket carefully so the horizontal line between the lighter and darker color floats away from your body.
# 5. The use of an ombre effect can also gently join medium and lighter shades together without any harsh contrast lines as is shown in this coat/pant pairing.
6. Use a statement necklace and accessories to add a pop of a stronger color and interest to an otherwise quieter color combination.
Your Seasonal reference, personal contrast and personal style will provide additional guidelines for wearing your lighter colors such as fabric choice, accessory pairings, as well as the number of colors you can wear together in your outfits.
If you need any help figuring out how to wear your lighter colors, book a virtual style or in-person style or shopping session with me and we'll discover how you can wear & pair your lighter shades to reflect your own beautiful color harmony.