Color Coordination Basics

Fact: Men have a higher tendency to be colorblind than women.

Issue resulting from said fact: Men have a higher tendency to do a poor job of coordinating colors in their wardrobes.

Like many behaviors, this is one part nature, one part nurture. As for nature, just take our word for it that there’s a scientifically verified, DNA-based explanation for why men have this issue more often than women. As for nurture, comparing our childhoods as boys to those of girls offers an interesting glimpse into why this happens.

Answer this question: when was the last time you, a man, were shopping for shirts and held one up to your face to see how the color looked against your skin?

Please, don’t interrupt the sound of crickets chirping to say “never.”

Many women, on the other hand, have been doing this for years. To fortify their color-coordinating skills even further, remember that their mothers teach them to put on makeup as early as their teens, meaning that they’re trained to study and understand the colors in their face and how they’ll interact with other colors from girlhood. In the meantime, boys are told to go to the park and play football. Big difference.

Color Coordination Rules

Thankfully, color coordination is just like any skill in that it can be improved with practice and knowledge of some basics. To that end, here are some tips:

  • Regardless of the color of your skin, there are undertones in your face. These are colors you can see just underneath the skin; people with “rosy cheeks” have pink undertones, some are more yellow, peach-colored, etc. Mimicking these colors in the garments that surround your face (i.e. shirt and tie) will enliven your countenance and make you look better.
  • Easier to discern is the color of your eyes and hair. Got blue eyes? A blue tie will make them brighter. Do you have sandy blond hair? A tie with an earth tone like rust will bookend your face wonderfully.
  • A white shirt serves as a blank canvas for suits and ties. Use this to your advantage when starting out.
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  • Red, blue, and yellow are primary colors and generally work well together. Try a blue shirt with a red tie to see how that works. Another illustration of this is the Philadelphia Union’s colors: blue (dark and light) and tan/gold (an earth-toned variation on yellow).
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  • Orange (red+yellow), purple (red+blue), and green (yellow+blue) are secondary colors and generally work well with each other and with primary colors. While they’re hated around these parts, the Knicks’ colors are blue and orange, and the Lakers’ colors are purple and yellow. Blue shirts go well with orange ties, and if you ever find a yellow tie with purple pin dots, purchase it immediately. Then pair it with a lavender paisley pocket square and listen to the compliments roll in.
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As with any skill, you have to crawl before you can walk. Start with the basics, gradually expand your color palette, and in time you’ll look forward to pairing shirts and ties.

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