• sallyinstpaul

Rust Color Combos: Reds / Oranges / Yellows

This is part 4 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 warm overtone (i.e., yellow through red-violet on the color wheel) garments in my wardrobe, and for some of the promising combinations, build full outfits around them.


As I mentioned in my color wheel digression post, for this accent color experiment, 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.

Here are the two garments I will be focusing on for this experiment: a quilted vest and a pair of pants. The two pieces are not the exact same color--the vest is a bit deeper and more intense--but they are quite close, and I would readily wear them together.

Rust Quilted Vest & Rust Pants

Rust is used to describe many colors in the Orange to Red-Orange to Red areas of the color wheel. I would situate my two rust pieces about halfway between the Red and Red-Orange areas. They are closer to brick red than to pumpkin orange. My pieces could be "shades" (i.e., a color with black mixed in) or what Imogen Lamport calls "toasted" colors (i.e. a color with brown mixed in). In either case, the red-orange color has been darkened and somewhat desaturated.

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Now let's get started pairing these pieces with warm overtone colors. (For a reminder of overtone vs. undertone, check out this Closet Play Biz post or this Imogen Lamport post/video.)

I want to make a caveat here that of course there may be combinations I like that don't work to your eye at all, as well as combinations I take a pass on that you might find appealing...and if that happens, it's totally fine. It's great, in fact, because the thing about personal style is that it's personal! My main goal is to give us all some ideas about a method for testing out a wide variety of color pairings and making our own decisions. All right, on to the main event...


When I made rust color combos with neutrals, I left out brown and gold, so I decided to include them with the warm overtone accent colors. With the three dark brown items, the rust color is gorgeous and is a definite yes from me. For the slightly faded brown capri pants, which I would never wear with a quilted vest, I pulled out my softer rust tank top, and that was also a yes. The taupe-beige pants, which have a neutral-to-cool undertone and are much lighter in value, I think could work with the right support pieces. The gold skirt feels a bit off, and I'm not sure if it's the colors or the difference in fabrics (quilted vs. silky), but could probably be improved with other pieces.

First, an easy pairing: rust and dark brown. It makes sense that these colors would be harmonious as they both are dark, warm, and toasted/shaded. I decided to emphasize the two colors by color blocking with a twin set look; by emphasize, I mean that having the stark division between the brown area and the rust area, the colors do not seem to blend in with each other, but rather appear as completely distinct colors. A soft white scarf with small shiny rose gold polka dots lightens up the look (and pops against the brown and rust). I finished the outfit with gold/beige accessories in a 3 piece top 'n tail configuration that works with my medium blonde hair (and yeah, I could not resist a double-dot effect with the cheetah print Oxfords).

Outfit #1: Rust & Dark Brown

For the more challenging rust and gold combination, I realized I wanted to do three things: (1) Add a dark neutral so that the rust was more a mid-value color rather than the dark color. This isn't based on anything like color theory or my personal coloring; it was just what felt right. (2) Roughen up the look by adding pieces that have a somewhat more rugged feel to them, to match the quilted vest's vibe and reduce the impact of the more refined feel of the silk skirt. (3) Add a bridge piece to tie the dark neutral, rust, and gold together. First I selected black as my dark neutral, adding the sweater and riding boots (and opaque tights). The boots also have that more rugged feel I'm looking for. I picked this scarf due to the colors, but was very pleased to realize that the fabric has some of the shine of the silk skirt but in a rougher weave, which was perfect. I finished the look with textured leather earrings painted gold and a couple uneven gold bead bracelets that are started to become ever so slightly pitted looking with wear. I am thrilled with this result!

Outfit #2: Rust & Gold

It's funny that I picked almost identical earrings for these two outfits. They actually came in the same set of 9 pairs of leather leaf earrings from Amazon (not an affiliate link). The distinction is subtle, but the pair in Outfit #1 are a more beige-y rose gold and the pair in Outfit #2 are a truer gold.


I have several shades of coral and one yellow in my wardrobe to try with the rust. I didn't particularly like the rust with the bright orange-coral skirt and sweater; it's not an awful combination, but the intensity of the orange-coral overpowers the rust. The two pink-coral tops looked quite good with the rust. I have several sandstone coral items, including the knit jacket and cardigan, and I thought they were OK with the rust, though not as good as the pink-coral. The peach T was a no for me; it just looked bland. The light yellow has some promise with the right accessories.

This particular shade of pink-coral is just wonderful with the rust, and it's a combination I would never have even thought to try were I not systematically experimenting with every color I have. Remembering how well rust and brown worked in Outfit #1, I added brown accessories to this outfit. The scarf was a lucky accident in that it has a variety of pink and red colors that coordinate nicely with both the top and pants.

Outfit #3: Rust & Pink-Coral

My plan for the more challenging rust + yellow combo was to add a variety of yellow/gold accessories and a scarf that had both yellow and orange in it. My thought was to create an analogous color scheme from Red-Orange through Orange to Yellow on the color wheel. The seed bead bracelet stack strengthens the presence of orange in the outfit, and I liked how it will be vertically centered between the yellow top half and the rust bottom half. This outfit turned out better than I thought it would!

Outfit #4: Rust & Yellow


I have been looking forward to experimenting with shades of red since Mica at Away from the Blue commented that she likes red with rust and Jodie at Jodie's Touch of Style showed a cute outfit with cinnamon-rust pants and a red top. Starting with my brightest poppy and crimson red items, I thought the red was too bright for the rust pants (similar to the bright orange-coral above). The candy red long-sleeved T is a lovely true red that I think has some outfit potential. The softer red skinny jeans and fleece top both look quite nice, and the maroon cardigan and short-sleeved T blend very well with the rust pants. If I were to look at these various reds with a version of rust that is more orange and less red (like the pants on Jodie's post), I might have evaluated them very differently. But with the desaturated reddish rust pants and vest, the softer reds look best to me.

I have been wanting to add a red quilted vest to my collection, but the one I bought on sale had a cut that didn't fit me well, so I returned it. I haven't been able to justify purchasing yet another quilted vest at normal retail price given what I already own, and I haven't come across one I like second-hand. So I was very happy to see how well the rust vest works with the red skinny jeans to create a casual "suit"/outer column of blended red-rust colors. I really like navy with red, so I added a navy pullover sweater and a bunch of matchy-matchy accessories.

Outfit #5: Rust & Soft Red

For the more challenging rust + candy red combination, I decided to turn to a favorite style hack of mine for pairing a top and bottom in similar but not quite coordinating colors: cover up part of the outfit and obscure much of the area where the top and bottom pieces meet with a layering piece. Even worn open (as I envision for this outfit), this long black sweater vest has a lot of coverage. Next I selected a scarf with black and oranges/reds in the print to help blend all three pieces together. Because the scarf is infinity style, wearing a long pendant is a go-to choice for me, and this black one is an obvious choice with the black vest. My instinctive choice for shoes was either the cheetah Oxfords from Outfit #1 or leopard print smoking slippers, but I elected to pull in these black Oxfords to bookend the black earrings and vest instead.

Outfit #6: Rust & Candy Red


Our last set of garments today are all variations on the Red-Violet hue of the color wheel. I wasn't sure what to expect from these combinations and was pleasantly surprised to see some workable pairings! Right away I hated the first combination of rust vest and burgundy skinny pants, and I did not at all like the combination of burgundy long-sleeved T and rust pants below it. I also had a strong "no" reaction to the wine cardigan and rust pants...which I don't fully understand, but I suspect may be due to the wine cardigan being a bit too desaturated/washed-out a color. It's interesting because I didn't dismiss those 3 pairings because the red-violet was too purple, which is what I thought might happen...the wine quilted vest and mulberry peplum sweater are more purple than they are, but those combos look promising to me. I also looked favorably on the possibility of the rust vest and burgundy skirt for reasons I'm not sure about. Finally, the two sweaters with the most reddish of the red-violet colors blended very ready with the rust pants.

In Outfit #7, I put together items in the general red/rust/maroon color family for a blended look. It had never occurred to me to consider the maroon sweater with the rust pants before, but I think they look good together. The sweater has a slight marl pattern to the knit that gives it a "shaded" (color + black) appearance that works well with the pants and adds a different texture, which I think makes items blend together more easily. I like that the multiple versions of red in the DIY seed bead necklace reinforce the idea that this is an outfit that intentionally has a bunch of different shades of red in it, rather than a sweater and pants that looked like they matched in poor light but really don't.

Outfit #7: Rust & Maroon

This was the most challenging pairing of the set, and I moved even further out of my comfort zone by selecting this scarf. The scarf contains both rust and burgundy, so should it should be good for blending, but it also contains quite a lot of orchid, which extends our color story from the Red-Orange + Red-Violet hues almost to Violet. The orchid and rust combination is a reach for me, but it's good to stretch ourselves sometimes. I would definitely be willing to give this outfit a try (on the right low-stakes day).

Outfit #8: Rust & Burgundy

Traveling through the warm overtone area of the color wheel brought up a lot of new rust color combos for me to try, and I declare this venture a success already!

It was interesting to see the different style principles/hacks that I used to put these outfits together, particularly the ones made from the more challenging color combinations.

1) Bookending/Top 'n Tail and the Power of 3

Outfit #1: Beige/gold accessories

Outfit #3: Brown accessories

Outfit #4: Yellow accessories

Outfit #6: Black accessories

Outfit #7: Dark red/maroon accessories

2) Emphasize the distinct colors in an outfit by colorblocking

Outfit #1: Brown twin set and rust pants

3) De-emphasize non-matching colors by covering with a layering piece

Outfit #6: Black vest

4) Bridge colors with a print that contains both and ties them together (like Road Map Styling in reverse)

Outfit #2: Print scarf

Outfit #3: Print scarf

5) Bridge colors by filling in an analogous color scheme

Outfit #4: Yellow and orange accessories

6) Blend colors by adding multiple items and/or multi-colored items from a general color family

Outfit #7: Red/maroon accessories

7) Blend colors by wearing items with varying textures

Outfit #7: Marl knit sweater

8) Bridge different levels of refinement by adding intermediate pieces

Outfit #2: Boots and scarf

Did you have a favorite color combination in this post? Do you use any of these style principles/tips regularly?

In my next Rust Color Combos post, I will tackle all the shades of pink in my wardrobe...there are a lot of them!

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)

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)