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Rust Color Combos: A Color Wheel Digression

This is part 3 of the rust color combo series inspired by Bettye's "colors of fall" post over at Fashion Schlub.

I had initially envisioned including all the accent color possibilities in one post but quickly realized that such a post would reach mammoth proportions if I really covered all the options. So I'll be breaking this up into several posts, based on the warm and cool overtone areas of the color wheel. But first, a slight digression...

So, the color wheel.

I have the one pictured above and it's fun to play with, but I'm not entirely sure it's the greatest way to figure out color combinations for outfits. I have done some reading up on the many different color schemes--analogous, triad, tetrad, complementary, split complementary, double complementary, triple axel (wait, maybe that's not one)--and it seems that every hue on the color wheel goes with every other hue on the color wheel when all those various options are taken into account. Yellow goes with Violet in a complementary color scheme; Yellow goes with Red-Violet and Blue in a triadic color scheme; Yellow goes with Blue-Green, Blue-Violet, and Red-Orange in a tetradic color scheme; and so on. Using the color wheel, is there any color Yellow doesn't go with? It seems not.

That's an unhelpful finding, especially when I reflect that I know some colors go well together and some do not! There's obviously something missing in my "spend a while clicking on links on the internet" self education in using the color wheel, but there's also something missing in many of the discussions of color-wheel-based color schemes. When I look at the clothes in my closet, only some of them are the basic hue on the outer rim of the color wheel. Maybe I have something that's a variety of blue-green, but it's got more green in it than the color wheel's Blue-Green, and it is lighter and dirtier-looking somehow, maybe it's a got some grey or brown in there or...? Knowing that the prototypical Blue-Green and the prototypical Red-Violet are in a triadic color scheme together doesn't really tell me much at all about what to wear my own light, "dirty" green-blue-green garment with.

Nevertheless, I do have a theory about about color combinations: every color goes with some version(s) of every other color. Does orange go with burgundy? A particular orange goes with some version(s) of burgundy. Does maroon go with turquoise? A particular maroon goes with some version(s) of turquoise. Et cetera. To quote the fictional Alexander Hamilton discussing the value of marrying a Schuyler sister in "A Winter's Ball" from Hamilton: "Is it a question of if, Burr, or which one?" Does green go with red-orange? Sure, but which one. Or, since we do not expect our clothing to form monogamous romantic relationships, which ones.

So instead of exploring rust + accent color combinations using the color wheel, I'm going to use a much more simple and empirical method: Hold up my rust garments against other garments and see what they look like together and whether I like the result. Whoa! What is this madness?!

I joke, but I kind of don't...because it can feel a bit crazy, or almost scary, to be like, "Uh yeah, thanks, color theory, but I'm going to just trust my own instincts on this!" But I think it's a worthwhile experiment to try. We might surprise ourselves at the combinations we uncover lurking unrecognized in our own closets if we embrace the wildness and trust ourselves a bit to know whether we like something or not.

Note that I am not claiming that the "hold up my garments against other garments" approach is my own invention; obviously it's not! But I am interested in exploring what happens when this method is applied systematically. My plan for the rest of this Rust Color Combo series is to (digitally) hold up my rust quilted vest and rust pants to all the various accent colors in my wardrobe, in all the versions of those colors that I have. I can then evaluate whether each specific combination is good, bad, or uncertain...according to my own preferences. From the good and uncertain combinations, I can build some outfits from my closet, bringing in accessories and other garments.

I am interested to discover what I might learn from this experiment: Are there any common denominators to the combinations I like? Or the combinations I dislike? Is there a pattern in what kind of accessories improve the combinations...or make them look worse? Rather than starting with a principle (like the color schemes generated from the color wheel) and applying it to generate specific examples, I'm going to start with some specific examples and see if any principles arise from analyzing them.

I hope you join me tomorrow when I start pairing my rust garments with items in the warm overtone color family of reds, oranges, and yellows!

I link up with:

Nike at Life as a LEO Wife (Sundays)

Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge (Mondays; 3rd Thursday)

Michelle at My Bijou Life (Mondays, Fridays)

Mica at Away from the Blue (Mondays)

Debbie at My Random Musings (Mondays)

Leelo at Beauty by Miss L (Mondays)

Roxanne at Glass of Glam (Mondays)

Claire at Claire Justine (Mon, Wed, Fri)

Laura at I Do deClaire (Tuesdays)

Emma at Style Splash (Tuesdays)

Jess at Elegantly Dressed & Stylish (Tuesdays)

Gail at Is This Mutton? (Wednesdays)

Shelly at The Queen in Between (Wednesdays)

Jodie at Jodie's Touch of Style (3rd Thursday)

Carrie at Curly Crafty Mom (Thursdays)

Ada at Elegance and Mommyhood (Thursdays)

Jacqui at Mummabstylish (Thursdays)

Nicole at High Latitude Style (Thursdays)

Suzy at The Grey Brunette (Fridays)

Nancy at Nancy's Fashion Style (Fridays)

Erika at A Little Bit of Everything (Fridays)

Lucy at Lucy Bertoldi (Fridays)

Kimberly at Being a Wordsmith (Fridays)

Rena at Fine Whatever (Saturdays)



Liz Klebba, AICI-CIC
Liz Klebba, AICI-CIC
Oct 29, 2021

The color wheel is helpful, but it cannot make up your mind for you, for sure! I think knowing your personal Color and Value Contrasts and how those play with your personality is one of the best starting points for color combining...

Oct 30, 2021
Replying to

Liz, that makes so much sense! I love that you emphasize the personality piece in this.


jodie filogomo
jodie filogomo
Oct 13, 2021

I love this idea Sally!! OXOX


Oct 13, 2021
Replying to

Thanks, I hope to get some good ideas from it!

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