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30 Wears: Burgundy Birds Blouse - Part 3: Colors In the Span and My Matching/Blending Categories

I'm finishing up my three-part series on color combinations for a multi-color print shirt today with an approach that is a bit different from the others. Part 1 discussed pairing the print top with neutrals and/or matching the print's background color. Part 2 covered matching an accent color in the print and/or mixing prints. These four methods are very much centered on choosing colors that directly repeat a color from the print (or that can be worn freely, such as the ultimate neutral, blue denim).

color palette

Burgundy bird blouse - Loft - XXL - $25.00 - 2/2017

Total wears: 33

Cost per wear: $0.76

Additional wears to reach $1 CPW: n/a

Additional wears to reach $0.65 CPW: 6


So when I say "a bit different" approach, I should be clear that I'm not talking about the true wild card of choosing a color that's not in the print but that still looks good with it...however, that is an excellent way to really unleash your creativity and put together an outfit with a lot of visual interest and excitement! It also greatly expands the mix-and-match potential of your wardrobe, letting you create more outfits with fewer pieces. The "color that isn't in the print" is an important option in Jodie's 5 ingredient color recipe, and I suggest you check out her post if this approach intrigues you. (I discussed a way to combine Jodie's "color not in the print" technique with high priority wear outfits with the second outfit in this post.)


Today's slightly unusual color combination idea, that I think is an easier way to start moving past matching than the true wild card approach, is...


Choose a Color "in the Span" of the Print's Colors


I've mentioned this idea that I call a color being "in the span" of other colors before, but I've never really explained it. So let me give it a shot now.


First, the term "in the span" is used in linear algebra when talking about combinations of vectors, and when I was first thinking about this color concept, that's the phrase that came to mind for me. But never fear: no comprehension of college math is necessary to get this idea! The concept is really based on art class, not math class...and kindergarten art class at that.


Second, for simplicity's sake, let's consider the "other colors" in the print as two colors. Once we start going beyond two, the logic gets complicated and the metaphor can begin to break down. That said, if you had three or more colors that were similar enough, you certainly could apply this concept, but it is easiest to understand with two colors.


Third, the "in the span" idea works best for colors that are similar to each other, not ones that are diametrically opposed. Think red and pink, not red and green, for example. I'll talk about this in more detail below, but it's a good thing to remember.


OK...


When I say a color is "in the span" of other colors, there are two ways to think about it.


The first way is to consider the range of colors defined by the other colors as the end points of the range. Using the color wheel as an example, if you had a Red color and an Orange color in your outfit, that creates a range going from Red through Red-Orange to Orange. Shades of Red-Orange would be in the range of those two colors. That would place Red-Orange "in the span" of the other colors. Similarly, if you had Red-Violet and Blue, Blue-Violet and Violet would be "in the span" of those colors.

Color wheel

I think this really only works when colors are in hues that are relatively close on the color wheel; these proximate colors will have a lot in common. If the colors are far apart, you start defining a range that is too wide to make sense. For example, if you had Orange and Blue-Green, Yellow and Yellow-Green would be in the range created by those end points, but it wouldn't relate particularly well to the other two. I would not personally consider those colors "in the span" in any useful way. When thinking of colors that are far apart on the color wheel, I would instead recommend considering the particular color wheel combinations like triadic, split complementary, etc. rather than looking for colors that are "in the span."

Color wheel

The second way to think of this to view the span as the collection of colors you get when you mix the other colors. (In fact, the first link I found on explaining the linear algebra span idea uses a paint/color metaphor!) A color is thus "in the span" of the other colors if it's a color you get by mixing the other two. Again, we're talking about similar colors here, not mixing opposite colors to create brown or something like that, OK? The "in the span" idea is about blending colors that are not totally different.


For rainbow colors that are relatively close to each other on the color wheel, this method is very similar to the first. The Red and Orange defining a range with Red-Orange in it is the same as saying that Red-Orange is "in the span" because you can mix Red and Orange to get Red-Orange.


But for me, thinking of a mix of colors is helpful when considering colors that aren't basic color wheel hues. You can think about mixing a rainbow color like orange with a neutral like brown to generate rust, for example.


The mixing of colors idea also helps us understand why looking for a color in the range of two greatly separated colors on the color wheel sometimes doesn't make sense, as with the Orange and Blue-Green I showed above. If you mix Orange and Blue-Green, I don't know what exact color you would get, but I guarantee that it's not Yellow or Yellow-Green! It's probably some sickly version of brown. You could add brown to an outfit with Orange and Blue-Green, of course, but that's because it's a neutral, not because it's "in the span."


Based on this, I would think of "in the span" in terms of a mix/blend of (1) rainbow colors that are close to each other on the color wheel or (2) a rainbow color with a neutral. I haven't thought as much about option (2) so let's focus on option (1) today, which I've used quite a bit with my bird print blouse.


Looking at the blouse, I have that plum/wine color of the background and a related dark red color in the print. So I'm going to choose plum/wine and dark red as my two "other colors." What do I get when I mix them? A burgundy color.

A color "in the span" of other colors

To do this on the computer, I averaged the RGB color values for my plum/wine and dark red colors below to get the shade of burgundy that is precisely between them. But your color doesn't need to be precisely in the middle of the other two to be "in the span." I could use a color that's more on the plum/wine side or on the dark red side...which is like adding uneven amounts of your two colors when you mix them up. In the outfit photos, you'll see that I use a variety of different specific burgundy colors as my "in the span" choice.


Adding a color that's "in the span" of the print's colors works particularly well when that color is a semi-neutral/colored neutral, as is the case with burgundy. Colored neutrals tend to be darker, less saturated colors where a neutral like black, grey, and/or brown has been added to them. These colors are an interesting blend of a neutral with an accent color that can behave in outfits more like neutrals, depending on how you use them. But you are not limited to colored neutrals that are "in the span" of your print. You can definitely choose brighter, more saturated colors that do not resemble neutrals at all!


In these first two outfits, I chose burgundy pants to pair with the bird blouse: burgundy skinny pants and burgundy straight leg jeans. Both of these burgundy colors are closer to the plum/wine than the dark red, and they blend nicely with the background color of the blouse. I added a vest to each outfit because I love the combination with the soft collar on the blouse; it gives me 70s vibes in a good way.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 3/26/20
Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 4/20/23

Here I layered a maroon/burgundy pullover sweater on top of the blouse, leaving only the collar peeking out. You can see that the sweater is a distinctly different color from the plum/wine background - with more red in it than in the pants above - but it still coordinates well given the bits of dark red visible in the print.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/17/21

The pullover poncho is an even lighter, redder color than the maroon above, and it actually comes close to matching the dark red in the blouse's print.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 2/17/22

I also like pairing the blouse with my burgundy sweater vest that sits pretty well in between the plum/wine and dark red colors. I've tried a few different styles of bottoms with this combination, finishing the outfit with neutrals.


Wide-leg jeans in dark blue denim, a neutral not found in the print (but that is the ultimate neutral you can wear with anything). A low contrast, casual outfit that really gives me a 70s feeling.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 10/29/22

Skinny pants in grey, a neutral found in the print. A white/rose gold polka dot scarf adds subtle print mixing and ups the value contrast of the outfit.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 11/15/23

Skirt + tights in white and black, neutrals found in the print. The white skirt with the otherwise dark outfit is not for everyone, but especially with the black headband and Mary Janes, I am enjoying the Alice in Wonderland feel to the look.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/14/23

You might be thinking, OK, but why do you need a special phrase that basically means wearing colors are similar but don't match? That's a good question!


I often encounter the advice that it's okay to "blend" rather than "match" colors, and the imprecision in the concept of "blending" colors makes my analytical brain a little crazy. I think there are really several different concepts under the "blending, not matching" umbrella. Here's a summary of my categories of color matching and blending as it currently stands (it's a work in progress):


1--Truly Matching: A full-on matching color that might be in the same color name from a brand or a very lucky accident. This example shows a striped top, pants, and corduroy jacket all in the same shade of warm blue ("peacock blue" from CJ Banks). Note that even here, the colors do not look 100% identical because different fabrics take dye somewhat differently.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Truly Matching top, pants, and jacket (OOTD 11/28/23)

2--Matching Enough/A Match-ish: A very similar color that may not match in the most extremely rigorous sense of being part of the same dye lot, but that does basically match. I consider this fundamentally the same as matching, just in a more relaxed way. An example would be this wine quilted vest and purple skirt that are subtly different colors but make a good "matching enough" purple column of color.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Matching Enough vest & skirt (OOTD 12/6/23)

3--Tonal Match/Blend: A lighter or darker version of the same basic color. If your eye is very attuned to slight differences in hue (as you would have with the "match-ish"), in my experience, those differences are less obvious when making the color lighter or darker. The aloe vera top in this outfit has a bit cooler undertone than the olive pants, but because it's also a lighter value, it coordinates well.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Tonal Match/Blend top and pants (OOTD 4/10/23)

4--Color in the Span: A mix/blend of two or more similar colors that coordinates well with the overall look, such as plum/wine + dark red yielding burgundy.

5--Analogous Color: A color that is somewhat similar but clearly different in terms of its hue can be thought of in terms of color wheel combinations as an analogous color scheme. The various shades of Violet (lavender), Red-Violet (burgundy, magenta), and Red (red, pink) in this outfit are analogous colors.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Analogous Colors in Violet, Red-Violet, and Red (OOTD 10/13/23)

Overly complicated? Probably, but that's the way my mind works so I'm going with it.


Now that we're all experiencing color combination overload, it's a good time for me to wrap up this post and this short series on my birds blouse. I find it funny that I used it as an example of the in the span concept because I call it my "burgundy birds blouse" despite it not actually containing any burgundy in the print! When I first got the blouse, I thought that the background was a version of burgundy, but after I started wearing it, I realized it was actually a version of purple. However, by that time, the name had already stuck. But when you apply the "in the span" logic and mix together the wine/plum and dark red, you get burgundy on average, so I guess it all worked out, haha.


Do you have any preferences/tendencies around matching/blending? Do you like to match as closely as possible? Match enough? Wear similar but not matching colors? Wear wild card color pairings?


Blogs I link up with are listed here.


6 Comments


mlrbanks57
Jan 30

Now, that is color analysis to the nth degree! I would definitely have called your blouse burgundy (from the photos anyway). But, I call many colors burgundy because it's such a good catch-all name, probably because of the colors that go into it.


I am all over the place when it comes to colors. It depends on my mood and what I decide to start with. Some days, I start with pants. Other days, i start with the tops. I'm so fickle!


https://marshainthemiddle.com/

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 30
Replying to

I think that "all over the place" thing is part and parcel of an intuitive approach to dressing! But I get it about having a different starting place for outfits. Sometimes I start with a pair of shoes/boots I want to wear and build from the ground up. There's no wrong way to do it!

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jodie filogomo
jodie filogomo
Jan 29

Gosh what an amazing way to find other options of what colors to wear with this blouse! (And thanks for the shout-out)

Your realization at the end saying it was purple instead of burgundy is a great example of how what we call it doesn't matter as much as how it looks with other items.

I also think it would look amazing with pink which is the lighter version of burgundy in all reality (at least my reality 😜)

Xoxo

Jodie


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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 30
Replying to

You're so right that this is an example of how categorizing something...in this case by color...can potentially be limiting. I agree about the pink (both that it's a light burgundy and that it would work with this blouse)!

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Jennifer's Memory-Keeping
Jennifer's Memory-Keeping
Jan 29

Lovely outfits. I think the burgundy is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this post at the Will Blog for Comments #23 linkup. Looking forward to seeing what you share at #24. :) Have a wonderful week.

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 30
Replying to

Burgundy is a lovely color that doesn't get as much attention as it could. It pairs with so many different colors and works for every season.

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