How to Match Clothes When You’re Clueless About Color-Matching

Editor’s Note: If you want to know ALL the ins and outs of matching clothes, check out my guide: Effortless Outfits: The Men’s Guide to Matching Clothes for Powerful Impressions in Your Personal and Professional Life. You’ll love it!

Well-matched outfit
Matching Your Clothes Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

So you don’t know how to color-match your clothes, huh?

I don’t blame you — it’s pretty confusing.

But you can’t wear color until you figure out how to do it, right?

You’ll wear colors that clash and look like a fool.

So maybe you just avoid colors for now. You stick to black, white and grey, with the blue of your jeans being the sole exception.

Well, that stops today.

Because you can wear colors — even if you don’t know how to match them. And you can do it without any chance of looking like a fool.

You just need to know how to match clothes in a way that avoids color-clashes, and you don’t need to know anything about color-matching to do so.

Color Matching is Confusing

Obviously, you want to dress the best you can, but keeping track of which colors match and which colors clash is hard.

Even if you ignore the full color spectrum, and only look at basic colors, you still have a ton of possible combinations.

Just look at the basic color wheel pictured above.

This color wheel only has 12 colors in it, but that means you can combine them in 66 different ways. (Yeah, you got me, I had to look that up)

Figuring out which of those combinations match and which clash would be a pain.

So Let’s Try Something Else Instead

Neutral outfit
An Example of a Neutral Outfit (They Can Also Look Quite Good)

Instead of racking your brain trying to learn color matching, you should use my secret trick for effortlessly matching your clothes.

But we get to that, you need to learn about neutrals.

Neutrals are colors that work well with all other colors. They are impossible to clash, which is why they make great supporting pieces. If you’ve already added some of the wardrobe essentials, you should already have a few neutrals in your wardrobe.

Examples of neutral colors are:

  • Black
  • White
  • Grey
  • Navy
  • Brown (including camel, khaki, beige, etc.)

(Note: Navy and brown are not technically neutrals, but work so well with such a high number of colors, they are considered as such in the world of fashion)

The One Color Trick

Since neutrals won’t clash, you can match them to any color you wish.

So instead of trying to match colors together, you simply wear a max of one color in your outfit, and keep the rest neutral.

This little splash of color will be enough to add a little pop to your outfit, and you’ll be completely safe from clashes. On little pop is enough to make your outfit stand out.

These are some examples of good outfits using the one color trick:

  • Red tie, white shirt, navy blazer, camel cardigan, khaki pants
  • Green shirt, grey sweater, navy jeans
  • White shirt, orange sweater, grey pants
  • Grey suit, white shirt, turquoise tie

Get the idea?

Here are some examples:

One color outfits examples

 

Examples of real life one-color tricked outfits:

One Color Trick Outfits

But Does That Mean You Can Only Wear One Colored Item At a Time?

Nope.

Wearng only one colored item in your outfit makes it easy… And yeah, it is enough to give your outfit a bit of pop.

But you don’t have to restrict yourself to just one colored item. You can also apply the one-color trick on more than one, as long as you keep it in the same color-family, like so:

Examples of outfits compiled of neutrals and one color family

Can’t make it any easier than that!

With this easy hack, you’ll never have to worry about wearing the wrong colors together again.

Real life examples of One-Color Tricked Outfits with Multiple Colored Pieces:

two-piece-one-color outfits

Now, Add Some Color to Your Wardrobe

So now I want you to go out and add some color to your wardrobe.

Go out and buy a colorful shirt, and then go home and try it on with some of your neutral items. You’ll see how well they play together.

You’ll be completely safe.

You don’t have to wear every color in the rainbow every time you leave the house. Just one splash of color is enough to add a touch of visual interest to your outfit.

One color per outfit is all it takes to look sharp.

It’s a pretty simple trick, and anyone can pull it off.

So now you have no more excuse.

Start rocking some colors, dude.

If you want to learn more about matching clothes, please check out Effortless Outfits: The Men’s Guide to Matching Clothes for Powerful Impressions in Your Personal and Professional Life. You won’t regret it.

  • Kaycee says:

    You really a genius!

  • Alesia says:

    Awesome!!! I love your simple color explanation! Super simple and practical!

  • Callie Collins says:

    What color goes with gray I thinks it’s any color but I don’t know

  • Marcus says:

    Hi, Robert

    I’m a huge fan of your blog and writing style and your products really changed my life (at least in a fashion awaraness sense). It almost feels like I’m walking around with a superpower nowadays because it really seems like most people have no clue what they’re doing ;)

    Anyways, I have a question for you….
    In one of your ebooks you talk in great detail about how one should go about matching analogous, complementary and triadic colors. However, after visiting some other sites I’ve noticed that “split complementary” occurs frequently as well. Apparently it is viewed as a softer version of complementary. How would you use this color scheme and do you recommend it for high or low contrast people? It would be awesome if you could explain this!

    /Marcus

    • Robert says:

      Yeah, split complementary is another option that’s kind of a mix between analogous and complementary. I didn’t include it because, well, I usually just stick to the three I explain in the book.

      But if you want to give it a try, you’d want to apply an analogous color scheme, and use the complementary color as an accent, maybe just as part of a pattern. Depending on how prominent the accent is, it could be applied by both contrast types. If it only pops up as the accent color in a patterned tie, that should be alright even for a low-contrast guy. If the full tie is a complementary color though, that’s a different story.

      Hope that helps. Glad you like the books! Enjoy walking around with your new-found “superpower” ;)

  • roy says:

    hey , can you write a page on matching colours for black men? Because all your combinations match for fair men.

  • lawal says:

    Please I want to get wedded I want to know what shoe and purse color that will march orange dress and purple dress. Thanks so much if you can inbox my mail [email protected]

  • Maahi says:

    Great article and helpful too. I am fascinated with black more but that is where I stopped my selection. Your advice is very helpful to change my style and thank you for such a clear representation which made my job of selection easier. Hope this time I push myself in an entirely new look.

  • Paul says:

    More great advice. I like wearing green. A dark green tie with a white, or even a light green shirt with khakis look good.

  • james Stier says:

    Colour combination is biggest issue with me, every time the clothes which i choose does not linked by my friends and family members and what they choose i don’t like. Now in upcoming month there is marriage of my brother. And i don’t like professional, so i was thinking that coat with the jeans would be good. But, what about the shoes.

  • lilian says:

    have a blue and white dress,was asking what colour of belt I should use cause its not a straight dress

  • Nathan Daniels says:

    I have a brown jacket. Will it go with a red and navy shirt?

  • laka says:

    i have brown trousers and black shirt how to match shoes

  • Ved says:

    universal yet simple style advice..

  • CP says:

    Not all colors look good on every body. But there’s an easy way to find some colors that look good! Look closely at your own body colors. The colors in your hair, eyes, lips, veins. For instance my veins are dark teal and i look awesome in teal. My best neutral is black because my hair black. Brown kinda makes me look dead, and yellow makes me look sick. My daughter on the other hand looks gorgeous in brown and gold, the colors of her hair. For more information, look up Caygill or Zyla color analysis.

  • John says:

    Hi,
    I have bought a lond coat dark brown colour. I have also shoes with similar colour. What choises do I have for combination?
    Thanks in advance

    • John says:

      Forgot to say, I have black hair and pale skin. I was in douth between that colour and black and now I have to seek wisdom :)

  • Himeer says:

    I do not know how to match clothes. Can you please help me.

  • mark says:

    hi robert. what should i pair with my grey long sleev . what jeans and shoes . what color?

  • James says:

    What colour trouser/Jean and shoes would work best with a dark green shirt? I’d prefer to wear sime shade of denim? Thanks

  • Jaye says:

    i like to match my top (shirt, blouse, etc) with my shoes, ALWAYS. is that the proper fashion style??

  • aailiyah says:

    I have a sky blue and beige kimono cardigan. what color shirt would I wear under it. white? black?

  • ann says:

    I have a red tennis I would love to wear it with a white jacket and a blue jeans, but I was doubting if that outfit is good.pls help me out

  • Kal says:

    Hey Robert. I want to know which tie would go with a black suit, white shirt, and tan pants

  • Rowaiye bosola says:

    hi Robert. can i wear a white shirt with splash of red,along with a green blazers on a deep blue jean?

  • Edward Bagwell says:

    Hey Robert, I need some advice on a outfit to match or go with these shoes I just bought they are Ferro Aldo 806278 white black brown. They are amazing shoes and I love them but I can’t seem to come up with a outfit.

  • Rio says:

    Hi Robert, looking for suggestions on the colour of shirt and tie to wear with grey Herringbone Vest and grey checkered pants for my brother’s wedding (No suit). Thanks.

  • Casey Bee says:

    I will be going on a European cruise and thought about wearing a red shirt with my navy blue suit on a formal night. Will this combination work?

    • Robert says:

      It could work, but a more understated red would work better than a bold, bright red shirt.

      • Casey Bee says:

        Hmmm…the red shirt I have is quite bold. I read somewhere to not be afraid to be playful and bold with fashion and I believe they even mentioned the red shirt idea. This was my attempt to do something different. Hope I didn’t overdo it!

        • Robert says:

          Well, you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to be playful and bold, but at the same time, you don’t want to go overboard. I have to admit my previous comment is influenced by a personal preference for more classic, understated outfits. I think the clothes should make the man stand out because they look good on him, not because they scream for attention.

          But I do like the combination of a red tie with a navy suit, so technically, a red shirt should work too. It shouldn’t look bad. I’m just not sure if it would look great. It’s hard to say without actually seeing the outfit, but I can’t really find any good examples of the combination where it does look great.

  • Erik says:

    Hey I have a farewell coming up and my girlfriend has an odd color dress just need a few tips please!

    • Robert says:

      Hey Erik, I’d love to help you, but I’m not sure what you mean by “odd color dress.”

      • Erik says:

        Well she told me that it is a “peacock blue” dress but it looks more sea green to me but the label says “peacock blue”

        • Robert says:

          It looks like it’s somewhere between green and blue.Just wear a neutral suit with a white shirt and a tie that complements her dress. You culd go for a similar color to her dress, or just go for blue or green.

          Also, you might ask her to just help you pick one out. I’m sure she’d be happy to help!

  • John says:

    This is certainly very good advice. I think it works very well. Not just clothes but say, painting your room.
    Or getting some stuff for the living room.

    So thanks.

    I’m in a bit of a quandary. The clothes shown are suitable for those below ~30.
    I’m 40+ with a paunch and thinning hair. I can’t pull off the clothes you’ve described. My kids will laugh at me.

    Any advice for old farts like me?

    I happen to like boat shoes. I have 3 pairs of Clarke’s a blue, a tan and a reddish maroon. Someone told me only retired millionaires wear them. I’m neither. Should I burn them all?

    I’m into sales.
    Please let me know how to look sharp.
    Please also advise me what I could wear to a bar with friends. Blue jeans look awful on fat middle aged people.

    Any inputs will be useful.

    Thanks again for the good information you’ve posted on this site.

    • Robert says:

      Hey John,

      the outfits shown in the picture might be more suitable for a younger crowd, but the advice doesn’t really change with age. Just apply it to clothes that you feel are more age-appropriate.

      As for your other questions… Boat shoes are totally fine. That someone is just sharing an opinion, not a fact… And if you don’t like wearing jeans to a bar, consider chinos!

      Hope that helps!

  • Walter says:

    How about a basic color for short and shoes that can match with any color of shirts/tops?
    Is there any that you can recommend to me?
    Thanks for this helpful post by the way.

    • Robert says:

      Hey Walter, the same rules apply. For shoes, black or brown are always a safe bet. (Or for sneakers, white or black).

      And shorts, any neutral will do. Grey, navy, camel, black, etc.

      Hope that helps!

  • john says:

    i have 2 different sets of clothes i think look good together. first i am going to a wedding. thinking of wearing black slacks black dress shoes light purple long sleeve shirt tie thats purple black light grey. is that to much purple you think? also i bought some pants that is a very light grey almost white but it is grey. would about mid to darker grey sneakers and a grey polo match? or is that ot much of one color?

    • Robert says:

      I don’t think that’s too much purple at all. Sounds like a fine outfit to me.

      And you can mix and match different greys to great effect, as long as you vary the shade.

  • Eric says:

    Thanks a plenty! This article was so helpful in helping me dress! Quick question however; before finding this article I did hours of research looking and trying to apply the color wheel to my attire. With fashionable men wearing complementary, analogous, and triad colors, it seems like any color on the color wheel could be worn together. What are the exceptions that I am not seeing? Sticking exclusively to warm and bright colors perhaps?

    • Robert says:

      Hey Eric,

      that’s an excellent question! And its actually quite a difficult one to answer :p

      Part of the answer is that not all those combinations always work. Green and red are complementary colors but not all types of red work well with all types of green. The same is true for triads.

      Then, when you’re wearing three colors or more, you want to pick a certain color scheme. You might pick a triad color scheme or a split complementary.

      Color schemes like these create a balanced look that’s appealing to the eye. But let’s say you picked two colors from a triad scheme, but then make your third color complementary to one of those colors, that probably won’t look that great.

      Hope that makes sense! I actually have a book coming out on this soon. I’ll make it available for free for a limited time. You should sign up if you want to check it out!

  • Johanna says:

    I am a lady, have a green and white Polo shirt striped. I am clueless what colour of a trouser that I should match with.

  • Blessings Mumba says:

    Thanks Robert. I will as per your help

  • Blessings Mumba says:

    Lucky I’m running across this blog, hope you’ll be offering me more and there will be no more color clashes in my outfit. I’ve a dark green side pocket short trouser and black canvas with a white heel, now what color should I match with?

  • Roger says:

    Hi, I recently came across your blogs and have found them to be really helpful!

    Would a pair of low top dark blue chuck 2 converse (quite a mouthful ha) look okay with khaki chinos (cuffed at the bottom), a white button shirt and dark blue blazer look good? If so what belt should I use? Or should I stick with my brown belt and brown chukkas? I’m pretty young, 18, and want to go for a more casual look with the converse.

    Thanks!

    • Robert says:

      Hey Roger, good to hear you’ve found the blog useful!

      Blue chuck would work great with the outfit you described. When it comes to canvas sneakers, matching your belt to you shoes isn’t as important. Just match your belt to the rest of the outfit. You might go for a canvas belt, or just wear your brown belt, which should look great with your khakis.

      All that said, I’d still favor the chukkas. But it never hurts to have options ;)

  • Israel love says:

    Hi, I’m a girl and I’m hoping that makes no difference. But I was thinking about wearing a red crop top sweatshirt, grey pants and deep blue shoes. A go or a no go? Please help.

  • Francis says:

    What about a Brown kirky jeans can I put on a black t-shirt please advise and if possible give avariety that can match with it

  • Zong says:

    Hi Robert,

    I like this article but i want a advice on what to wear on my friends marriage. I am planning to wear back by my skin tone is brown. Can you suggest what colour should i go with.

    • Robert says:

      Well, as the article explains, black is a neutral, so it doesn’t really mater that much which color you wear with it. Just pick a color that looks good against you skin-tone. Take a (preferably female) friend with you when you try some different colors on and ask which look good and which you should avoid.

  • Anushka says:

    If I am wearing a sort of dull yellow top with a mustard coloured shrug, should I wear an orange pant or normal jeans?

  • AnThentherewasone says:

    Hello!

    Great article, thanks so much!

    According to your definition of neutral colors, blue jeans is NOT a neutral item. However, I’ve come to think of blue jeans as something that matches with anything.

    Am I wrong here?

    So if I’m trying to apply the one color rule, would blue jeans be that one color?

    Thanks!

    • Robert says:

      Great question! Honestly, you shouldn’t worry too much about matching your blue jeans. Nothing will look unacceptable.

      That said, dark blue jeans are basically navy, and do look best against most other colors. Very light blue jeans are pretty safe as well. medium blue jeans, I’d personally treat as its own color though.

    • Percy says:

      Only time I see blue or dark blue jeans look off is when they’re paired with a top/jacket of exactly the same colour.

      Like navy jeans and a navy shirt.

      They literally do go with everything else though.

      It’s good to wear navy jeans, navy jacket and a top of a different colour like white or something.

  • Lilian says:

    what color of camisole do I wear with a black and white check jacket and pants

  • James says:

    Help! Going to a wedding (California) wearing grey suit, darkish red shoes,belt watch, etc. She wants to wear a black dress. What do you recommend for shirt , tie, hankie/scarf color. Somethings that pops and stands out!

    • Robert says:

      Okay, so first thing: You don’t want to wear too much pop and stand out too much. The worst style mistake a man can make as a wedding guest is upstaging the bride or groom.

      I’d recommend a white shirt, colored tie with a simple pattern like pin dots or stripes, and a pocket square that complements the tie, but doesn’t match exactly. When in doubt, a white pocket square always works.

  • Donta Williams says:

    I have some shoes the color is Triple Navy and it’s waxed pebble leather. I want to know what color hat would go great with it?

  • Karen says:

    Hello! Could you tell me where you made the graphics with the clip art men wearing different colors? I teach a life skills class of middle school students and one of my students asked for help on learning to match clothing and make outfits so she can dress herself and stop wearing outfits her mother picks out. I am making an activity for her to help her learn this. That clip art would be perfect for my activity if you can provide me with that info! Thank you!

  • sujit roy says:

    I have a black pant & A white Undervest .what t shirt will wear?

  • prashant says:

    I have grey coloured blazer. I want to know which colour jeans and shirt wil contrast with it

    • Robert says:

      Depends on the shade. Light grey will have more contrast with darker color and dark grey will have more contrast with lighter color. Ultimately though, grey can pretty much be worn with any color you desire.

  • Hollywood says:

    What color kilt could I wear with a black and purple shirt?

  • gwk says:

    I have several shades of brown trousers. What colour tops, sweaters, and shoes should I wear. I had forgotten to say I am female. ;-)

    • Robert says:

      Almost anything other than black :)

      It’s a neutral, so you can feel pretty safe wearing browns. Depending on the shade of brown, different shades of red, blue, green or purple can work well.

      Hope that helps!

  • gwk says:

    I have several shades of brown trousers. What colour shirts, sweaters and shoes should I wear?

  • Jitender says:

    Black blazer with red shirt please advice tie col

  • james middleton says:

    Is there any rules when it comes to matching color or shade of shoes with the rest of the outfit ? Assuming neutral color shoes if for eg they are dark should the pants be lighter to contrast and vice versa if the shoes are light ? Does it matter if shoes and pants are same color and shade ?

    • Robert says:

      Good question! Wear black shoes with black pants, avoid black shoes with brown pants, and you should be pretty okay :)

      You generally want there to be some contrast, but you don’t need a lot. For example, charcoal grey pants would look great with black shoes, but brown pants with identically brown shoes would look a bit off.

      Hope that helps!

  • Greg says:

    I have one question, does grey and Khaki match, or does it depend on what kind of grey? I have khaki pants and this grey sweater, so I was wondering if I could wear that without looking like a fool.

    • Harrison says:

      Khaki pants and grey tops go well in my thought. I wear Khaki pants with a white button down and a grey AEO sweater and just pop the collar out and let the bottom of the white shirt fly loose for a causal feel.

  • john says:

    I have recently bought a bunch of joggers from american eagle, (may help to look at the site)
    what can i match these with

  • Divyanshu says:

    I have a black jeans and a white half t-shirt with the superman amblem made of red threads printed on it.
    Which colour blazer should I wear with these? please suggest.
    what about dark green?

  • Johnny says:

    This is the most helpful article on the subject, period! Makes perfect sense and is super easy to follow and make stuff work. I have a pair of royal blue sneaks and I was always wondering how I could rock em… Sure enough, they looked super weird with green hoodie or red sweater… Now I can understand why

    • Robert says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Johnny :)

      Glad it was helpful to you!

      You could wear those sneakers with other colors, but you’d have to really understand color theory. I wrote a whole guide on the subject if you’re interested, which is linked to in the article ;)

  • kim Bandama says:

    What should I wear with a khaki trousers

  • vishal says:

    i have one black paint of jeans …what should i wear on it shirt or t shirt …..
    i have a black shirt, purple shirt, red tshirt and a blue tshirt ….plzzz reply me fast i have to go college ……..thanxxx

  • hiren says:

    hi robert,

    i have dark black color suit jacket with plain white polo t-shirt. can u plz tell me which color of jeans suits best. and also which type of shoes looks good with them.
    thank you

    • Robert says:

      As explained in the article, these are neutral colors and pretty much go with everything. Browns don’t always look great with black though, so you might avoid those.

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    What color goes with champagne dress kneed shoes. Help

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  • dorothy says:

    I have a pair of light green pants, purple pants, gold pants, red pants and brown pants, what colors go with these colors? help!!! do you have a book.

  • Johnny says:

    120 colour combinations? 12 colours, each can be paired with 11 others (12×11) then subtracting the 12 for colours that have already been paired?

    • Robert says:

      That’s what I first thought as well, Johnny,but found out it doesn’t work that way.

      Let’s say you start with red. You can make 11 combos with red.
      Then,when you go to blue, you can make 11 combos with blue,but you already made red-blue, so that leaves 10.
      Then, when you go to orange, you already made red-orange and blue-orange. So that leaves 9.
      And so on, and so on.
      So you have to do 11+10+9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1=66

      Or you can just use this.

  • zeshan says:

    i have a brown suit drk color can i wear black shirt with white smart lining

  • Allen says:

    i have white jeans, black blazer and a white tie , can u suggest a color 4 my shirt

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  • Rashmil says:

    I have purple pants. Can I pair them up with a green jacket and a plain white tee?

  • Tenisha Powell says:

    I have a black and white striped dress and need to figure out what color shoes and accessories I need to purchase. Thanks

    • Robert says:

      Haha, whats with all the ladies coming to my site, lately! :p

      Any color will do, Tenisha. White and black don’t clash with anything, so you’re safe to just pick any color you like. I’d suggest something bold to make the outfit pop!

  • Sara says:

    Hay, next week I have a wedding for my sister and I’m confused about what I’m gonna wear . I have a simple dress but I don’t know how to match the shoes, bag and accessories . Can you help me !

    • Robert says:

      Hey Sarah,

      I’m not really focused on women’s style, but since I’m pretty sure the rules are mostly the same for men and women… If you’re unsure, your easiest option is to keep them in the same color family. And keep in mind that they don’t have to match perfectly. So if you have a green bag, your shoes can be a different shade of green.

      Hope that helps. And congrats to your sis!

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  • Brock says:

    Love that one color rule, Robert! I’m not a total noob to the whole style thing, but there are plenty of mornings where I’m looking in mirror like “Does this even match? I have no idea!”

    Keep it simple, keep it real.

    Keep it real simple.

    -B

  • MyCsPiTTa says:

    Great advice. I love how you wean us into this, rather than expecting we’re all gonna go out and buy fluoro suits and blazers.

  • Vlad says:

    The most helpful, practical and universal yet simple style advice I could ever get!! Now I know!! A ton of thanks!! From Russia with love ;-)

  • Jason says:

    Nice post. Now, I’m no expert, but I think that a 12 item color wheel would give you 12! = 479,001,600 combinations…So the odds are definitely against a guy out there, thanks!

    • Robert says:

      Haha, teaches me not to publicly attempt math :p
      Yours isn’t right either though. I looked it up, and the right answer is 6 combinations.(See here)

      Gonna change it right away, before someone else calls me out :D

  • Gerard says:

    Your advice is awesome. This helps me out a lot because colors can get really complicated. So I’ll just keep one pop of color in my outfit until I’m comfortable with adding more of them. Dope.

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