What colour to wear? — planning your wardrobe with complimentary colours

Complimentary colours that work well as base work wear outfits are:
Green, purple, blue and navy


Green can come in a variety of shades and tints. You may suit a dark green or a yellowy green.

Green and red are complimentary but tread carefully due to their relationship with Christmas.

Green and yellow work well together. A smart dark green dress with a yellow brooch is enough to add a touch of personality but retain a work based look.

Green with a splash of orange looks great. Again, it needn't be much orange to make an impact. Some orange beads on a necklace or an orange handbag would look really good.

You can choose from a variety of greens as a base dress colour - your skin tone and hair colour will determine which green will suit you.

Green can work as a base for many other colours to be added:


A dark purple dress looks good on many skin tones. It is also a versatile colour to work as a base when building up an outfit.

The complimentary colour to purple is yellow. This colour match is vibrant and striking when you match a dark purple with a bright yellow. When you match a light purple with a light yellow the look can be more delicate.

Purple is made up of blue and red and you can easily wear a purple skirt with a blue or red shirt. Orange and purple are also a lovely combination. To highlight your waistline- use a belt in orange over a deep purple dress.

Purple as a base with a green accessories works very well but equally you could invert this colour combination with green as a base and wear a dark purple cardigan over the top!

There are many purples to pick from: and here you can see purple works well with it's complimentary colour yellow:


There is a blue to suit everyone; whether it's a pale tint or a dark shade. Blues with a touch of red in them take it into a warmer spectrum which might be more for you — or blue with white make a blue icey and colder. You can add a smart red cardigan or jacket over a blue dress.

A lovely taupe colour could work with a brighter lighter blue — grab a camel coloured bag, a white suit jacket and a pair of nude shoes for summer in the office.

Blue and orange are complimentary colours and you can use the orange to add the highlights to your outfit.

If a terracotta shade of orange works well on you then turn this around and wear a terracotta dress with dark blue shoes, bag and jacket!

Something from a range of blues is bound to suit you:

Navy is great base colour for a professional work outfit. A great dark alternative to black and is more complimentary in its depth of colour for mature skin.

Navy works as a base for many colours to be added:

Bright Ideas - try natural colour tights with navy dresses. or glam up with navy and pearls!

Originally the term 'Navy' blue came from the dark blue worn by officers of the Navy.

If you have a Navy suit you may find it to be a tricky shade to match with other Navy items. The name 'Navy' covers a variety of dark blue shades and even the USA Navy now has changed to black uniforms due to difficulties in matching Navy shades from their variety of suppliers!

Because Navy is just a dark shade of blue you can apply a bit of colour theory to colour matching and outfit building. Red and yellow are in the primary colour wheel with blue. Both red and yellow colours in shades (like crimson and mustard) and tints (like pink and cream) go well with Navy blue.

Some colour ideas to wear with navy:


— many shades of pink go beautifully with navy: bright florescent, coral pink, baby pale pink, dusty rose pink or bold cerise pink.

Bright Ideas - colour combinations for the office


— Terracotta, cardinal crimson, burgundy or a brick red would all look lovely next to navy. Some of the tones are orangeier which is red with more yellow in and others are darker shades of red so have more black in them. The darker shades will give a wintery feel next to deep navy whereas a bright bold red next to Navy has more summery connotations.


— This is a safe tonal option — choose a pale blue or try a contrasting fabric finish. A matte coloured navy skirt suit with a silk satin pale blue blouse would be very nice and lend itself to wearing in the evening without the suit jacket. Or a navy dress with a pale blue cardigan works well as an outfit.


— Being able to wear yellow often depends on finding the right shade of yellow. If you hit on the right yellow for your skin tone then you will find it goes beautifully with navy. Lemon yellow, sunshine yellow, mustard yellow, pale yellow, creamy yellow or golden yellow all look stunning with navy. You don't need to wear the yellow next to your face/neck area. Try wearing a yellow belt or a yellow bag.

With a Navy dress or suit you may wonder what to wear on your feet. I would suggest investing in a pair of nude shoes. You will find they'll lend your wardrobe to be more versatile overall.

Bright Ideas - see nude shoes and navy dress combination

If you are bold a bright pair of red shoes looks great with a navy dress, as does a pair of coral coloured shoes.

Bright Ideas - make a quick change with coral scarf and shoes - adds lift and draws the eye to a navy outfit.
Colour palette with complimentary colours opposite each other - orange against blue, yellow against purple, green against red.

Other colour bases to work into your wardrobe - black, grey and brown.

colour matches swatch of colours of everyday objects