Brace yourselves—we’re about to delve into the wonderful world of color theory. We may not have Leonardo da Vinci’s mastery, but we’ve got steady hands with nail polish and a few art degrees amongst our staff, so here we go. Clashing colors can ruin anybody’s would-be favorite look, so it’s important to make sure you’re matched perfectly from head to toe(nail). If you ever find yourself wondering which shades to choose, just refer to our simple guide to coordinate your outfit to your manicure, and you’ll be set!
Let’s start simple, with complementary colors. When two colors opposite each other on the wheel are mixed to create a neutral, they are deemed complementary. This means that they pair well together, and provide the perfect high-contrast look. We can’t say we condone wearing red and green together if it’s not the holidays, but you get the idea. Just be careful that the combo isn’t too loud—trust your judgment on pairings. Got it? Good.
Next, let’s take a look at a more subdued approach with analogous colors. These colors sit directly next to each other in groups of three along the color wheel. Many times, mixing them will help you achieve a monochromatic look that’s always be easy on the eyes. See? It’s not that hard.
Finally, we’re going to touch on split complementary colors. To find a split complementary color match, find a pair of complementary colors and choose one. Now, the colors that sit to the left and right of your selected shade are the split complementary colors. Go ahead and mix and match these three to your heart’s content.
Do you feel like a Renaissance master with that polish brush yet? We thought so. Time to move on to more advanced techniques!
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get serious. While complementary, analagous and split complementary colors will serve you well, you might find yourself seeking a little more variety from time to time.
So let’s examine the color triad. These are colors that form a triangle within the color wheel, as illustrated by the blue lines above. Like complementary colors, these can sometimes look jarring and a little over-the-top together. To avoid resembling a piñata, try and go with colors that won’t fight each other too much. If you take the example above, we’d suggest using a red nail to play up your blue jeans and yellow sandals. The perfect accent.
Tetradic color schemes, unlike the pairings detailed above, team four colors together. See? Told you we’d get serious. These can be found by forming a rectangle within the color wheel, as shown by our pink lines above. They provide a mix of analogous and complementary hues—ideal for when you’re having a little color indecision, but still want to match.
Now, go forth and polish.