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Colour Blocking Best Practices: How to Colour-Block Outfits

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While we all know an all-black outfit may look sleek, is instantly flattering, and will never go out of style, you might be surprised to find out that the opposite of this look is just as so. Colour-blocking can create a vibrant mix of solid colours in one go and is a fantastic way to wear and express your style personality, no matter if your fashion is edgy, romantic, sporty, or what have you. 

The colour-block method has been an underrated fashion style for years, and we’re glad to see its resurgence on the runway and on the street in the past year.

No matter the weather or season, colour-blocking is definitely a simple way to get creative, play around with your outfit, and discover a new and improved style for yourself. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the look and make it work for you.

What is Colour-Blocking in Clothing?

To colour-block in fashion is to pair two to three colors on the opposite ends of the colour wheel together to create a contrasting yet simultaneously complementary look. 

For example, one could wear bright, contrasting colours like pink, yellow, and blue in one outfit for a look that catches and interests the eye immediately. Colour-blocking can also still be done even if a few of the colours are not directly opposed, such as pairing yellow and orange with a shade like purple.

In fashion, Yves Saint Laurent is credited to have brought the colour-block trend to life through his famous Mondrian art-inspired dress collection in 1965, and the look quickly took over the world. 

We’ve seen different incarnations of colour-blocking in every decade — from the psychedelic 60s with its dresses that combine bright hues of green, orange, yellow, red and more, to the over-the-top and bold neon pink, blue, purple, and yellow we’d see in the tracksuits of the 80s, and more recently in the 2010s and now at the start of the 2020s through both high fashion ad street style.

We’ve seen people wear colour-blocked looks that feature the same colour family, ones that utilised it only through accessories like their jewellery, handbag, or shoes, and others that are just decked out in contrasting colours of purple, red, green, blue, orange, yellow, pink, and every other colour under the sun. 

While the trend has been partnered with the different fads of each time, the concept in itself is timeless and can be worked to your advantage no matter the year or season.

How Do You Dress a Colour Block?

Like an outfit filled with neutral colours, to dress up a colour-block outfit is actually quite simple and can give you a multitude of unique looks and opportunities to experiment. Colour-blocking can be done with casual and smart attire, so the world is truly your oyster when it comes to this method. 

To start, you can shop for individual pieces that come in solid but bright colours, such as a hot pink skirt, sunny yellow boots, a grass-green jacket, an electric blue handbag, and more. 

Colour-blocks are all about being loud and having more than just one bright pop of colour, so don’t be afraid of picking something out that seems a little daring. 

Colour-block outfits can be seen in street style to office wear, so you can incorporate the look in every facet of your life. We love seeing women walking down the street to head to work wearing a purple blouse paired with pink heels and an orange shoulder bag, or someone going to the grocer’s wearing a red skirt with yellow polka dots paired with purple shoes and a blue bag.

But if you are feeling some trepidation to dress in a ton of colourful clothes all at once in a single outfit, colour-blocking is also as effective when worn with more subdued and base colors like black, white, grey, or brown. If anything, these colors can also help make individual colour-block pieces and bold shades pop out even more.

An example of such a look would be to pair a colour-block dress that perhaps features stripes or a block pattern with colours like orange, pink, and blue and an equally bright scarf in green matched with a simple black coat or jacket. 

You can also incorporate the trend by looking into pieces that feature patterns or print, like a skirt or trousers with bright hues of green, blue, yellow, red, or purple, and matching these with more understated items like a black scarf, brown coat, white top, and the like.

To bring in even more to the trend, texture, layers, and silhouettes can be everything. From an orange coat with a fur lapel paired with green leather trousers to an oversized pink puff-sleeve dress paired with tight red leggings, different elements of fashion can be brought into colour-block looks to add even more dimension.

Is Colour Blocking Still in 2021?

Colour-blocking has been around for decades but is definitely making a resurgence in a big way this year. We’ve seen it utilised by various designers in different fashion shows, with refreshing bursts of pink, yellow, orange, red, green, and more on the runways, and on the street from all-green accessories, a statement red scarf, pleated orange trousers, to a mustard yellow overcoat. 

In both smaller print and full pieces, colour-blocked pieces are such great ways to make a look feel more energetic and enjoyable to look at. No matter the year, we think anyone can dress in vibrant colours to bring some enjoyment and playfulness back into what we wear.

Final Note

Colour-blocking is such a fun way to bring more excitement into how we dress up and brings a lot more personality into any outfit for any occasion. As much as we love a good all-black moment or a neutral fall/winter outfit, colour-blocked looks can be just as classic and flattering for your figure while making so much more of an impact.

No matter your style or how you dress, the colour-block method can easily dress up a look to bring it from boring to high fashion. So don’t be afraid to swap those black trousers for a red skirt or that white shirt for a pink blouse.

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Imani Jackson

Imani Jackson is a writer born, raised, and based in South London. She developed a keen eye for style through her habit of observing people’s clothes in the street every day. When she isn’t doing that, she likes to spend her time writing about the trends she sees, going out and dancing with the girls, or curating her R&B playlist for the next round of people-watching.

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