Monday, October 3, 2011

Q-Tips: How to Color Block

Color Blocking is back. Yes, the days of Pop Art, Whitley Gilbert, Liz Claiborne, and Nineties Hip Hop is resurfacing as the hottest trend of the season.  It is evident with the Spring 2012 Collections from New York to Paris, and with you having at least another year to execute this trend, you need to sharpen your skills to make your own color block look effortless.  Before I answer the most popular questions, let me give you a list of rules to follow:

In order to Color Block Successfully, you must:

1. Have at least two (2) colors, and not exceed Four (4)
2. Must KNOW your colors (if you need a lesson on what primary, contrasting, hues, mean, ask the nearest elementary student to borrow their box of crayons)
3. Block Solid colors! Colored prints do not constitute color blocking. Multiple stripes are not either.
4. Understand your body and what looks good on you - Larger men and women may not want to do any blocking with bright colors around the mid section.
5. Do it with confidence!  It has to look like you MEANT to put those colors together - I (and many others) can tell when your color blocking was a failed attempt.

Do the colors have to match?
This is a very tough question to answer, because while I want to say "no," that answer only applies to those who really exude their own sense of style and are commended for it. Sometimes the dissonant contrast of colors can bring forth a pleasing irony to style, but too many times it translates very unsuccessfully.
So, the best answer is this; The colors need to "go" - not necessarily match.  And you don't want to match primary with pastel; for example, Orange and dark blue may work, but A bold orange with a lighter shade of blue - say periwinkle or sky blue - would not be a successful choice. Pastels work best with other pastels, or darker shades of the same primary color. 

What are the hottest color blocking colors?
The hottest of this season is definitely shades of orange and blue.  This makes me very happy since I am a UVA grad (Wahoowa), but its an easy way to color block because most retailers are already giving you plenty of this option.  Coral and Cobalt is one of the best combos, but Coral and turquoise has also been an eye-pleasing combination.  Red and Purple (and their respective hues) are also an amazing color combination; Linda Fargo wore this blocking combination all of Fashion Week and it never got old!  Black and white is simple, and the easiest since most of you have these two colors in your wardrobe already. Belt it with a bright primary color and its a magical block!

Another great option is to block shades of the same color. A subtle shade change actually can add more dimension than you think. I took a chance and blocked kelly green pants with a neon green shirt, and it worked really well, especially because I threw on a navy blazer to had a dark color into the mix. Another fun combo would be purple and lavender, in which both men and women could pull this off.  A tip for the shade blocking is to darken the hues from top to bottom.  So in this last case, your top would be lavender, and you could go with a purple bottom (or Eggplant - this is an "It" color for fall)

Can accessories act as my block of color?
Yes, shoes and belts are the easiest way to color block, and they can be mixed and matched with different looks, giving your closet more blocking options.  Ladies can even wear a headband with a bold color to add flare, and everyone can throw in a block of color with a solid color bag.

What is the best execution of this?
The best way to do this (in addition to reading the top 5 rules) is to keep it simple, and stick to colors you feel comfortable with.  Alot of designers are making it easy for you by designing tops and dresses that are already color blocked.  Men will start to see alot of shirts with different color pockets or collars, so the only thing left is to find a pair of colored pants that work well with the top.

Also, adding a dark blazer will help pull most of your color blocking looks together, so you can slip in a few broken rules by simply adding a dark blazer to the mix.  Always try this in the mirror first to make sure you are 100% comfortable with the look.

Photos below, from the new Spring 2012 Collections further depict my Q-Tips, and will help inspire you and your color blocking adventure.

Men's SS12 (l to r) - Antonio Azzuolo, Tommy Hilfiger, Acne, Carlos Campos, General Idea, Patrik Ervell

Women's SS12 (l to r) House of Holland, Haider Ackermann, Sonia Rykiel, Hermes, Akris, RAD Rad Hourani



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