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Colour harmony in clothing with help from the Natural Colour System.

Posted on: 22 Aug 2017

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Colour harmony is a term that is often used, by image stylists among others. Colour harmony is more than intuition, and can be objectively established with the right knowledge about the 'who and what' of colour. The best dinner is ultimately also made by following a good recipe, know-how and intuition.

Colour combinations come across (unconsciously) as pleasant if there is a certain consistent, mutual coherence. We refer to this as colour harmony. If this colour harmony is lacking, then a colour combination often does not feel right.

In order to achieve colour harmony, it is important to know how the colour is structured. The degree of saturation and brightness (addition of black and white) has an effect on the perception of harmony. When giving personal colour advice, as a stylist you can use this knowledge when composing a range of colours. After establishing the colours and grouping the colour samples, you can look whether there are common factors in the recipe for the colours. You can use these common factors as a guide for combining colours.

Colour coding
Exploring the composition of colour and the need to classify colours using codes has been around since Antiquity. One of the first artists to organise colours was Leonardo Da Vinci. Many famous names followed him, each with their specific vision of the organisation of colours, such as Newton, Harris, Goethe and Chervil. More recent names are those of Munsell, Ostwald and Itten, as well as colour institutes like Pantone, RAL, CIE and NCS, which have their own 'code'.

These 'codes' make it easy to analyse colours, 'to know the recipe for the colour' as it were, and this enables you to communicate better about colour. It also offers a guide for making a colour composition.

Composing colour combinations in clothing
One of the easiest systems for identifying colour and communicating about colour is the Natural Colour System (NCS) which comes from Sweden. It is also very easy to make colour ranges for clothing with this system.

The code that NCS uses to compose a beautiful colour range
Cool and warm combined. In today's fashion look, colours with a yellow undertone and colours with a blue undertone are combined, something that was previously unimaginable in a personal colour analysis. If you want to combine cool and warm colours, it is important to look for a certain harmony. You begin from a starting point. For example a light blue, which is cool, has not much chroma and not much black, but a lot of white. A combination with a warm pale yellow would work. The common factor with the blue is that they also have black, white and chroma. Another example, a royal blue combined with an orange/red hue. The common factor here is not just as much black or white, but also chroma.

In the clothing that Jeannette is wearing, it was intended to produce a warm/cool contrast, as well as a split-complementary contrast due to the warm green in the chain. The NCS codes of the colours that Jeannette is wearing are: NCS S 3065-R90B | NCS S 1085-Y90R | NCS S 2075-G30Y. The colours contain almost as much chroma, which creates a reciprocal connection and a harmonious colour range.

Jeannette Hanenburg

Consultant @ S.I.P.&C.O.lour

Jeannette Hanenburg

Jeannette is a consultant at S.I.P.&C.O.lour. She provides colour advice and interior design coaching there. She founded the Centre for ColourProfessionals. This is a training centre where various courses are given about colour. She is a member of the prestigious, scientific, international organisation AIC colour and the international study group The Language of Colour and co-founder of the Belgian colour association ICA-Belgium.

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