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Rust Color Combos: Purple & Aqua

This is part 6 of the rust color combo series inspired by Bettye's "colors of fall" post over at Fashion Schlub.

Today I'm going to evaluate my rust quilted vest and rust pants when paired with a variety of purple and aqua garments in my wardrobe. (I was initially going to include teal in this post, but due to length, I will address teal separately.) To increase my level of difficulty, I am going to build full outfits around some promising, questionable, and very challenging combinations.


As a reminder, I am going to be working with the specific rust items in my wardrobe...which may be a different color from any rust garments you have, and that's OK! The evaluation process will work in the same way, we just might get different results based on the particular items.

Today I will be working with all three "rust" garments in my wardrobe. The pants and quilted vest are between the red and red-orange colors on my color wheel, and the knit tank is closer to red than red-orange (while still not a true red).


Purple is a color that would work better with a more orange-y rust than the reddish rust that I have, I think, but I do like it with the very dark plum vest. The others are too bright, too cool, too soft, too...something...for me to be into the combination with this rust.

Continuing with the theme from the Rust & Pink post, I'm going to look for a scarf to use as a bridge piece between the rust and purple...while not re-using any of the scarves that have already appeared in this series. Of course, it's actually wonderful for our wardrobes if we have scarves that can be worn again and again with different base outfits, but I am going to push myself to seek out some combinations that are less obvious.

This busy floral-and-bird print scarf has a lot of different colors in it, including a light purple, a magenta, and a medium orange...which don't match the rust pants and dark plum vest but will probably coordinate well with them. Our bridge pieces needn't be perfect color matches to tie the garments together. Similar is good enough, especially in something like a scarf!

With the scarf selection made, Outfit #1 came together very easily, using the black background of the scarf to choose the color of the t-shirt and ankle boots. This created a low value contrast between the top and vest, which I like, but I think a high contrast option like a white T would also look great.

Outfit #1: Rust & Purple (Dark Plum)

In addition to solid color pieces, we can also consider our print garments as possible pairings with our focal color items. Today that means clothing with prints that are predominantly purple to wear with rust. Going through my wardrobe, I found this floral-and-bird print blouse (heh, a variant on the theme of the scarf above) that has a background that is somewhere between what I call purple and what I call wine (which has more red in it and is similar to the Red-Violet color on my color wheel). And hey, bonus, the print even has some red, rusty red, and salmon-orange type colors that are in the same general color range as rust!

The rust pants and print blouse coordinate very well...almost to the point of matching, I'd say...and don't require any supportive styling to look cohesive. So in Outfit #2, I chose warm-toned leopard smoking slippers that look good with the rust pants and add a distanced print mix to the look and finished everything off with gold-toned jewelry as well as DIY purple and orange seed bead bracelets for an extra kick of coordinating color.

Outfit #2: Rust & Purple (Purple-Wine Print)


My first reaction to rust with aqua was not all that great, as you can see by my X and ? marks. I didn't care for rust with the lighter versions, I was quite iffy with the medium shades, and I was rather iffy with the darker aqua. Will I find bridge pieces that will turn these unfavored color combinations into workable outfits?

I started with combination I found least objectionable...the dark aqua. I specifically selected the darker aqua lace tank at the right and the cardigan that coordinates well with it to form my base outfit with the rust pants because including a modern "twin set" like this in the outfit automatically boosts how much I will like it. Then I scoured my scarf collection for a promising bridge piece and found this polka dot one that has a lot of colors on it...and not all colors I would have considered to work well together. I generally figure the textile designers know things about color that I don't, and indeed, the result of this mish-mash of colors in this scarf is lively and attractive!

I thought the lightweight skinny scarf was a good choice for this warmer weather Outfit #3. With the scarf in place, I remembered these resin earrings with a variety of colors in them, which I thought a good companion to the scarf. Playing off the gold on the hoops, I added gold loafers and gold bracelets. Once again I supplemented the gold bracelets with DIY bead bracelets of coordinating colors.

Outfit #3: Rust & Aqua (Dark Aqua)

For the aqua sweater + rust quilted vest Outfit #4 combo, it was time to find a heavier, cold weather scarf...and this paisley pashmina with the aqua, orange, and rust-maroon color palette looked promising.

Because the sweater + vest color combo is a bold one, I knew I wanted to wear it with a neutral denim skirt. The orange in the scarf encouraged me to choose the tall cognac boots, to repeat the warm tone. The rose gold leather earrings can look like a matte camel-cognac in some light (including the photo), so I went a bit matchy-matchy with the boots. I finished the outfit with more DIY bracelets in teal, dull orange, and multi-color. (I've been enjoying a bracelet stack since I got into making simple bead bracelets, but I don't think they are necessary for giving the outfit a cohesive look.)

Outfit #4: Rust & Aqua (Medium Aqua-Teal)

We've established that scarves and print garments can do a great job as bridge pieces, so let's try something else. How about a necklace? When I saw this beaded necklace with two shades of light aqua, poppy red, and dark rust-red, I had to try it out.

In Outfit #5, the necklace is used to tie together the rust pants and mint-aqua lace-front T, a combination that I had earlier rejected. But with the necklace added to it, I started to warm up to the idea. The gold bracelets and DIY red glass pearl/gold hoops continued the gold theme from the necklace, and I added the leopard flats to add a print to the look. What do you think? I'm surprised by how much I like the final outfit! If the color blocked top and pants are still feeling a bit intense, a topper piece like a white cardigan (picking up the white beads in the necklace) or a denim jacket would dilute the impact of the color combo.

Outfit #5: Rust & Aqua (Light Mint-Aqua)

As I continued scouring my wardrobe for pieces that would coordinate with aqua and rust, I came across this tropical print knit skirt that is a surprisingly easy garment to create outfits from because of its color palette: navy and white neutrals plus a range of aqua/teal in the foliage and a range of pink/orange/red in the flowers. It's so easy to blend specific shades to this skirt because of that range of colors.

Although this skirt would work with the aqua sweater + rust quilted vest above in Outfit #4, I decided to do a summer look instead using the rust knit tank instead. A lot of different topper options would work, but I was feeling the neutral navy shirt-worn-as-a-jacket this time. Because the navy shirt has silver buttons, I put together an all-silver #neckmess and chose the pearl/silver rabbit studs. With bare lower arms, a fun summery mix of DIY seed bead bracelets feels right, and further links the red/rust and aqua colors.

Outfit #6: Rust & Aqua (Tropical Floral Print)

So now we've looked at print scarf, multi-color necklace, and print garment bridge pieces for bringing aqua and rust together. But what about doing some variations on the aqua piece? How about instead of a solid aqua garment with the solid rust piece, we substituted an aqua + neutral print garment? It seemed like I'd read about styling a color + neutral print like a solid, but couldn't remember where. I decided to try it with this aqua/white check shirt.

I actually liked the check shirt + pants combo right away, more than I did any of the solid light aqua pieces. I think the addition of the white in a check/plaid print, in which the aqua and white overlay each other in places, softens the visual effect of the aqua so it looks more harmonious with the somewhat de-saturated rust pants. That actually totally makes sense to me, but it's not something I would have thought of were I not doing this whole experimental process. (That said, it's not always going to be the case that a color + white print will have a softer appearance! Some color + white prints have a very stark, optic, high contrast look this one. But with this check/plaid, the aqua and white are blended in places, so the white definitely has a softening/de-saturating effect to my eye.)

Outfit #7 was starting with such a great shirt + pants combination, I didn't think much in the way of bridge pieces were needed, so I opted to add a white vest and accessories in aqua and silver. When it came to the shoes, I realized that these floral print ballet flats have just the slightest touch of both aqua and rust-brown in the print, and since I love a good top + shoes print mix, they were the clear choice.

Outfit #7: Rust & Aqua (Aqua/White Check Shirt)

OK, I really wanted to give the blogger who put the "style a color + neutral print like a solid" idea in my head her due, so I did some googling and found the relevant post: "How to treat two color prints like solids" from professional stylist Bridgette Raes. In her last 3 example outfits, she adds a solid to a color + white print to great effect, using green + white with pink, yellow + white with slate blue, and coral + white with green. It's interesting that her green with red (pink) outfit is based on complementary colors as is my rust (Red-Orange) with aqua (Blue-Green) outfit.

For my final foray into rust + aqua color combinations, I wanted to try one more variation: this toucan graphic T with the rust pants. The background of the T is grey, which we have already established is a very easy combination with rust. The toucan image is mostly aqua with some bits of yellow, bright pink, and orange. Again, this print has a soft rather than optic appearance due to the pixelated watercolor-like look of the toucan. (Pixelated watercolor is probably not even a thing but that's what comes to mind with this image.)

Outfit #8 was very interesting to put together! First I reinforced the relatively small amount of aqua on the T with DIY aqua earrings and necklace, to create a better balance of color between the aqua and rust. Looking through my shoe options, I was thrilled to see these sometimes-awkward-to-style print ballet flats that include rust, grey, and yellow...all included in the T + pants color palettes. With two small bits of yellow in the outfit, I decided to add more yellow in the form of DIY bead bracelets in various shades of yellow with gold.

Outfit #8: Rust & Aqua (Grey/Aqua Toucan T)

I am kind of blown away by how coordinated Outfit #8 looks, given that the T and pants don't just not match...they don't really relate to each other much at all. The accessories take it from "looks like I picked up a couple random garments from the floor this morning to get ready to run errands (and I don't think anybody is going to openly mock me in the grocery store)" to "actual coordinated outfit (if perhaps not to everyone's personal taste)." I would absolutely wear it. Huh!

Do you use any of the combination strategies from today's post? A focal solid color (here, rust) with...

1) A solid accent piece + bridging scarf, necklace, or print garment

2) A two-color accent + neutral piece

3) Hah, I'm not sure how to summarize Outfit #8! An accent color print piece + accessories that relate to one but not both colors.

In my next Rust Color Combos post, I will experiment with rust and teal combinations!

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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