Theory of colour – chromarmony

Colour theory is now really widespread, (and I’ve made up the word chromarmony, or armochromy to copy the italian one… laaaame!) but for those who have no idea: concearning your looks, colour theory is there to create harmony between your natural colours (hair, skin, eyes) and the colours of your clothes/makeup/etc. Carol Jackson found four main types, associated with seasons, and each type has three subcathegories a light a strong and a deep one, just to give you an idea.
Pointing out your own type is tricky, but fun: you take a sunny day, makeup free, and you determine your colours: natural haircolour and eyes is pretty simple. But then you have to look carefully to your skin and spot out the undertones: look at your lips, at your nails, at your veins: we are all, usually, some shade of brown (from birch to ebony) but we have yellow undertones and green veins, or pink undertones and blue veins. So, back to that sunny day of ours, take a mirror and tons of coloured scraps of fabric. Tie back your hair (because it’s not always true that Mother Nature gifts you with the perfect palette) and place, one at a time, the different colours near your face: the ones that stand out the most, making you look sick and ill, are definately not your colours, the ones that blend with your tones and make you look healthy and well rested, are the ones you should look for. (If you sneak peek the book I’ve linked you can see some details, or you can go here and read a copy of what the book said ^_^).

There are colours that work well with everyone: other than white and black (and look out, because there are warm or cold undertones in black and white too!) we have true red, indian teal, eggplant purple, or true purple, and rosy pink, that powdery/fleshy pink. They work because they are some sort of “pure” colours, not too warm nor too cold, they’re like coloured neutrals, if this sentence makes any sense to you! (Here‘s the original article).
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to forget about that electric blue you love so much but that makes you look simpson-yellow, or that sugarplum pink that makes you look nauseated. You just need a couple of quick tricks because, luckily, Johannes Itten‘s colour theory comes to rescue.
To start off we need just some common sense: if a colour you love makes you look sick, just don’t use it near your face (i.e. keep your aunt’s mustard yellow cardigan, but place some scarf between it and your face, in a colour that suits you). Easy peasy. Or choose a different hue of the colour you love, warmer or cooler depending on what you need.
But I get it, matching colours can be such a nightmare that a total black looks safe and easy. And there’s nothing wrong with a total black, really… though watch out because it can be a real pain in the… to match different blacks (ex goth-y girl word), and if you don’t move it up a bit it may look boring (as you may learn here, they’re so inspiring!)

Back to colours, you have to know some things: a colour has (mainly) three qualities: tonality, saturation and brightness. Playing with these qualities will allow you to afford any colour.
Let’s go on: there are primary colours, red, blue and yellow, secondary colours, orange, purple and green, and third colours that come out the mix of a primary and a secondary. (If you where wondering, mixing three colours gives you brown/black).
Take a colour wheel, you’ll notice how each and every colour has a warmer or cooler version: red, which is the hottest colour ever, can be warm if it goes towards orange, or cold if it tends to purple.
Warm colours catch your attention, they tend to be first liners, whilst cool colours tend to stay back, giving a feeling of distance.
If you take a tonality and take out some brightness but not saturation, you’ll have a darker or more opaque colour (if you add it you have it brighter or intense), if you do viceversa, taking out saturation but not brightness, you’ll  have a subtler and weaker colour that tends to gray (if you add it you’ll have a brighter and more vivid colour).
Complementary colours are the ones that are opposite in the wheel of colours, when they are close they reinforce eachother. Colours that are close in the wheel are called analogous, and create harmony between them.
Usually to match two different colours you want to stick to a defined “temperature”. Wherehas with similar colours you want to keep at least two of the three qualities (Colourlovers is a great help!). Neutral colours, like black, white, gray and “nudes” help a great deal in toning down strong colours. And remember that bold colours are eyecatching, so you may want to use them wisely šŸ˜‰ (check out the blogpost about shapes. I’ve added useful links :))

And talking about links, I’ve used tons in this blogpost, to sources and to useful and super well-made websites, if I were you I’d save some time to check them all!

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2 thoughts on “Theory of colour – chromarmony

  1. Siobhan Hanlin

    This is a FANTASTIC article! I've learnt so much, i never knew that you should take into account vein colour, but it makes total sense!
    I am simply loving your posts right now!

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