Fashion 101: How to Combine Colors: Triads and Analogous Colors

February 15th, 2009 § 62 comments

Module 3: Triads and Analogous Colors

After a week of soft yet rich neutrals, we’re ready to bring a little more color into our wardrobes. Week 3 of our Fashion 101 on Colors has a two-fold focus: triads and analogous colors. While the latter is a phenomenon found frequently in our ensembles, the prior will perhaps present the most difficult challenge yet.


Triads are hues that are equidistant on the color wheel. They can create a colorful and bold mix, but can also threaten to compete with each other for attention. Examples include blue, red, and yellow or orange, green, and purple. Of course, creating a triad with fully saturated, bright hues is often a formula for looking like a German Expressionist painting. Triads comprised of tertiary or intermediate colors, however, can be more subtle but still interesting. Examples would include: blue-violet, yellow-green, and red-orange or red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green.

Triads, originally uploaded by academichic.

Thus far, only S. has worn what qualifies as the closest to a triad outfit, by combining purple, green, and red-orange. Clearly, we are going to have to push our color-mixing tendencies this week to dabble in triad territory.

Analogous colors:

Unlike complementary colors or triads, analogous colors are not found far apart from each other on the color wheel. These colors are neighbors and play subtly off each other. While a blue and green scheme may seem like a natural choice, other analogous combinations — such as red and orange — may not be as obvious. If we include the tertiary or intermediate hues in the color wheel, an analogous scheme could also pair violet with red-violet or yellow with yellow-orange. Too close for comfort? We’ll find out.

Red and Orange, originally uploaded by academichic.

Analogous Colors – Blue, Blue-Green, and Green, originally uploaded by academichic.

A. and E. tend to wear analogous colors in the cool blue-green families, while S. gravitates to the warm families of red and violet.


For this week’s challenge, we are all excited to tackle the triad color scheme and see if we can translate it into compelling outfits. We will also dedicate outfits to analogous combinations, hoping to produce pairings not usually second-nature to us. If you do too, drop us a comment and let us know! And don’t forget to check back soon for Module 4.

If you missed Modules 1 or 2, click for background on this project after the jump!

Course Description:

It’s easy to fall into a rut and wear the same color combinations over and over again. A. and E. have put all of their art-historical training towards creating a useful color wheel of clothing, designed to inspire new color combinations in yours — and our — wardrobes. This is the second of several modules addressing different color combinations and providing examples from our own daily wear. Follow us as we navigate the color wheel and put color theory into practice.

The Color Wheel:

Color Wheel of Clothes, originally uploaded by academichic.

According to Wikipedia, a color wheel is:

an organization of color hues around a circle, showing relationships between colors

In this model, red, yellow, and blue are primary colors; orange, green, and violet are secondary colors; and red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet are intermediate colors. Color combinations can be built by using the color wheel to build particular color relationships or color schemes.

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§ 62 Responses to Fashion 101: How to Combine Colors: Triads and Analogous Colors"

  1. Sal says:

    Can’t wait to see what you ladies do with this … and really fascinated by this project overall. I push people to utilize color more in their outfit selections, but with no real sense of color theory. I’m learning a ton!

    • Geraldo says:

      And now in 2015, six years later, you’re still struggling with coordinating colors. Haven’t you learned anything, “Already Pretty?”

  2. [...] E.,  I felt a little experimental trying to create a triadic outfit for this week’s Fashion 101 module.  I kept pulling our different red, yellow, and blue pieces out of my closet but all the [...]

  3. [...] – UMMA Gift Shop Endnotes: Today is my first attempt at this weeks homework — triadic color combinations. Much like E.  yesterday, I  have paired purple, green(ish), and orange.   The green and purple [...]

  4. [...] yellow, and this rich saffron yellow-orange. I did not, however, realize until this week’s analogous color lesson, that I love yellow and yellow-orange together. I guess I’m a slow [...]

  5. [...] – Narrative Transvestism, Madeleine Kahn  Endnotes: Another take on the blue and green analogous color combo – only this time I’m wearing intermediate colors such as blue-green and yellow-green. This [...]

  6. [...] may be accused of cheating a wee bit on this week’s color combination challenge since I’m letting this print do the color combining for me. While this may not be as gutsy [...]

  7. [...] – gift from E. Endnotes: This mostly purple outfit is my first attempt at our analogous colors challenge.  I’m worried it might be closer to monochromatic than analogous, but I wanted to feature my [...]

  8. [...] superman tee-shits, costumes, action figures, limited edition prints, an awesome watch, etc! This triad of red, blue, and yellow are not a color combination I have worn outside of my superman tees and I have to admit I feel a [...]

  9. [...] of reading, getting creatively dressed this morning was low on the priority list. And this is where Fashion 101 saved the day. I started with the basics of a tee, jeans, and boots, but instead of picking a [...]

  10. [...] know this is cheating out Fashion 101 module, but it’s Friday and I’ve been cooped up indoors studying most of the day.  So [...]

  11. [...] – Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject, Fabio Cleto Endnotes: I had planed to try an analogous outfit made of warm colors but couldn’t resist my comfort zone today.  These blues are [...]

  12. [...] wonderful red and purple outfit and knew it was time to return to an old favorite. I love this analogous color combo – it feels rich and warm and familiar to me. I also drew my inspiration from E., who has a similar [...]

  13. [...] I’m wearing an analogous outfit of the blue and green variety. This is rare for me, as I tend to gravitate towards the warm color [...]

  14. Amy says:

    Here’s my go at Analogous colors. I never would’ve put this together without that color wheel and this tutorial. Thanks ladies, this is awesome! I hope you keep it up!

  15. [...] also realized that I have unintentionally created a triadic color scheme as well, which explains why the shoes, belt, and cardi all play so well off each other. To really [...]

  16. [...] checked the color wheel and saw that red-violet paired with blue-green, and yellow-orange make a triad. I threw on this turquoise necklace and had 2/3 of a triad (although one might argue the [...]

  17. [...] result. What do you think? I pulled out my yellow pumps to go with the orange and grey, creating an analogous color combination. The last time I wore this dress, I created a different analogous color combo (orange and maroon), [...]

  18. [...] This may seem like a strange feature to appreciate and certainly would be more fitting to one of our color modules than the proportion modules; but, reading everyone’s lists, I was reminded that my list should [...]

  19. [...] our closets but reaching for items and colors that make otherwise simple outfits more interesting. Ta da! It’s a triad. I mean, we’re academics, after all, and we love us some [...]

  20. [...] have included some accessories I wouldn’t have considered before.  I am wearing a  swath of analogous colors – blue-green, green, yellow-green, yellow (in color-wheel order). A Greensish, originally uploaded [...]

  21. [...] add to the Safari-ish feel. Although, what I’m more excited about is that I’m wearing a triad (a rare but always fun color combo!). [...]

  22. [...] more J.Crew items, like this red-orange button down, creating an analogous color combination with the yellow-orange shorts. And to tone down the bold color of the top, I added a fitted jacket [...]

  23. [...] at reviewing the two thirds rule, I have chose red and blue, two thirds of the red-yellow-blue triad.  While I have worn Crayola red and blue together,  like E. I prefer slight variations on the [...]

  24. [...] I tried  to make an outfit with analogous colors like the ladies at academichic have been doing for the past week.In my defense I must say that the shorts are green, not brown or [...]

  25. [...] recently reexamined Neutrals and Neutrals with a Pop, Complementary Colors and the Two-Thirds Rule, Triads and Analogous Colors, and are now left to go over Monochrome and Split Complementary Color [...]

  26. [...] Now we’re looking for examples inspired by our second portion of the review, which covered Triads and Analogous Colors and Split Complementaries and Monochrome color [...]

  27. [...] me.  So, I amped up the color palette and went a little layering crazy and ended up with this cozy analogous spectrum of greens and blues, accented by what better than caramel [...]

  28. [...] over another dress, for a more casual look over a button-down shirt, as a way to tone down a triad over a skirt and tee combo, and today, over this bright pink cowl neck top for a dressy-casual [...]

  29. [...] I paired it with gray for a monochromatic effect, but this time, I wanted to punch it up with an analogous pairing of a pink shirt and red belt. I think this color combo was definitely more festive and [...]

  30. [...] belts. I tried several scarf+belt combinations until I settled on this one, really liking the analogous combination of the orange fabric with the red [...]

  31. [...] purple tights create an analogous color combination with the dress. But, because the purple is lighter and more saturated than the navy, they [...]

  32. [...] didn’t post pictures because I came home in my running clothes and I was so excited about the triad color scheme that I am wearing today, that I put back on my clothes to take my picture. That explains the icky [...]

  33. [...] my photography skills lately, so the below image is a much better representation of the beautiful analogous color combination than either of the full body shots. Green on Green, originally uploaded by [...]

  34. [...] of a triad, as E. did with this eggplant and mustard example above, or opting for a softer analogous effect by mixing two colors neighboring each other on the color [...]

  35. [...] have worn this analogous color scheme several times before, and was even featured on academichic in this outfit. I don’t know why, [...]

  36. [...] kelly green (with a bit of blue undertone) to be one of the more flattering on me.  I made a tight analogous pairing between the skirt and teal belt and another, more distant, analogous pairing with the belt and [...]

  37. [...] add a bit of interest to my outfit, I looped this teal and silver scarf around my neck, creating an analogous color mix with the green top. I used to think analogous color mixes to be a little ‘too close for [...]

  38. [...] retired for a season. When I brought it out again post-baby, I used it to create a kind of extended analogous color palette of purple, blue, and green… 21 September 2009, originally uploaded by [...]

  39. [...] to offset the fullness of the skirt. I am happy that my stretchy purple/maroon belt creates an analogous color paring with the lilac tank, and the tiny ruched edge poking out above the belt adds to the ballet feel of [...]

  40. [...] week we’re reviewing triads and analogous color combinations. An analogous color scheme takes two (or more) colors that are next to each other on the color [...]

  41. [...] this week, we are reviewing analogous color combinations and triads.  I often find myself swathed in various shades of blue and green and blue-green, so an analogous [...]

  42. [...] yellow accents to create an analogous color combination with my accessories today. Since it’s analogous week over here, I took my neutrals outfit (black, gray, white) and added touches of green and [...]

  43. [...] was originally going to say that triadic color combinations — three colors that are equidistant from each other around the color wheel [...]

  44. [...] added this yellow bangle as a necklace (an idea stolen from E.).  As I’ve said before, the triadic color combo of red-blue-yellow reminds me of a superhero costume and I think the large open circle on my chest [...]

  45. [...] Friday’s fabulous item?  The shoes.  While they aren’t super fancy, they’re definitely outside of my comfort zone – I actually felt uncomfortable bringing them home, but loved them too much to let them go.  I wore them for the first time in Canada last week, and realized that I needed to wear them with startling regularity.  As the last time I wore them, they didn’t go with anything in my outfit (nothing in my outfit really went with any of my outfit, to be honest), this time, I wanted to wear an outfit of analogous colours (thanks to the lovely ladies at AcademiChic for their colour tutorials!). [...]

  46. [...] own any orange flower pins, I went with the closest and used two pink brooches, creating an analogous color combination between the skirt and pin [...]

  47. [...] I felt free to try experiment a little. This week, part of our Fashion 101 challenge is to master triadic color combinations. I am not a natural triad-wearer, so I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this [...]

  48. [...] mix by pairing something plum or deep purple with the black and maroon shoes, thus creating an analogous color combo. The above dress from Target could serve as an inspiration point for an analogous [...]

  49. [...] I’m going casual-comfy today with layers of jersey and a pair of flats.  However, I am taking my cue form E. and attempting to transform jersey with exciting color play.  The red-orange worn with green and blue make for a split complimentary, or if you count this as red-orange, blue-violet, and yellow-green, I’m sporting a triad! [...]

  50. [...] provide great tips on how to make the most of your wardrobe.  I took mental notes of their post on combining colors using triads and analogous shades waaaay back when I read it, but I had never put together an outfit with those combinations in [...]

  51. [...] hanger and added the orange skinny belt to it, I realized that I was one color away from creating a triad. So I reached for a teal (blue-green) camisole to complete the look. For any color theory purists [...]

  52. [...] look! It’s Mia putting into effect her learnings from Academichic’s posts on the color wheel and analogous colors. Bless those ladies for leaving up all their great information–I miss having new posts, but [...]

  53. [...] put on the cardigan and its addition made the outfit sing. Adding it created an analogous colour combination (man, I miss the ‘chics) of navy, dark purple and purplish rose. The texture of the cardi, a [...]


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  56. Kency says:

    Hi my name is Kency. I am blind and would like to know how to combine the colors without any help from a sighted person. Soon I will be getting a talking color identifier and I would like to start combining the colors on my own with the help of the talking color identifier so, can you please tell me the different color combinations that are out there? I will appriciate it! Thank you!

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  58. The colour combinations are very neat and enticing. Subtly settling with each other. Complementing each colour very softly.

    I’ve created similar critique on colours here, combining Men’s leather bomber jackets on sale from UK based online leather jackets stores –

  59. [...] out all of your green garments and accessories. Create a green monochrome look, some analagous looks utilizing blue-greens and teals and purples, try putting green with an unexpected neutral [...]

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