Thanks for the Complement

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I know what you might be thinking…Grace, you used the wrong version of the word “compliment”! I appreciate your grammatical concern, but as it turns out, I purposely used the wrong homophone (that’s right—homophone. Remember learning about those in second grade?!). That’s because today’s blog post is alllll about how to style complementary colors. 🙂


I’ve talked about complementary colors on the blog before, and that’s because I’m a firm believer in pairing them together. Your outfits get so boring and conventional when your color combinations are always expected. Sure, sometimes it’s better to pair that in-your-face pink blouse with neutral bottoms to prevent looking like a crazy lady, but sometimes your outfit calls for a little experimentation and excitement as well.


To help spice up your wardrobe a bit and break away from wearing the same outfits over and over again, here are a few tips for styling complementary colors:

  • Pick subtle shades. If you’re just starting out with complementary pairings, I’d recommend choosing lighter shades of your chosen colors. These shorts, for example, are a peachy orange hue. Navy and orange together is one of my favorite ways to rock a complementary look. I could have paired this blouse with bright orange bottoms (like I did in this really old post), but you can see how that would be much harder to pull off. By choosing lighter shades, you draw less attention to yourself and can ease into more interesting color combos as you become more comfortable.
  • Add a print. Another way to try out complementary colors is by adding a print. Had this outfit been just a plain navy top with bright orange bottoms, a lot more attention would have been drawn to the color combination. Or imagine a different combo, like sky blue and hot pink. These colors look pretty together in art and interior design, but a bright blue blouse with a pink skirt might seem a bit severe (or 80s-like). That’s why adding a print detracts from the magnitude of your color combo and can make it easier to blend the colors together. My shirt already had flecks of orange in it, so it seemed natural to draw out that color by pairing it with more orange.
  • Start with the accessories. If you’re super timid about fashion and trying new things with your wardrobe, I encourage you style complementary colors with your accessories. Like I’ve said before, accessories are small and an easy way to test out a new style before completely committing. Had I worn this blouse with plain jeans, still pairing it with the bright orange purse would give me a taste of what complementary colors are like. If I liked it, then I could move on to bolder accessories or eventually clothing.
  • Tie in some neutrals. When in doubt, add some brown, black, white, denim, or grey. Similar to a print, adding classic, neutral colors can “calm” your look, so to speak, when many other colors are involved. Neutrals act as an anchor that can pull your look together and keep it from appearing too crazy.
  • Wear your hair down. This tip might seem a little weird and unconventional, but if you have long hair, you could consider wearing it down. I noticed while looking through these photos that my hair seemed really long and in the way. Hair can be a great way to cover up part of your outfit and distract the onlooker from any crazy colors you may feel insecure about. Just a thought, if you still feel shy about complementary pairings!


Here are some old blog posts where I styled interesting color combinations, such as orange and green, orange and blue again, olive green and red, pink and yellow, and red and navy. By scrolling through these posts, you can see all of my tips in action and some great examples.

Do you ever wear complementary colors? If not, why not? I’d love to know your reasons so I can address them and help you get out of your comfort zone. 🙂


On a completely separate note, this is an Ernest Exposed post! I haven’t done one of these in forever, so here’s a quick refresher: Ernest Exposed is like “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo?”. In four of the pictures of today’s blog post, a little elephant named Ernest is hiding out. If you can spot him, leave me a comment below letting me know in which picture you found him! 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!


Miles of smiles,



Navy Feather Print Blouse: TJ Maxx, $20 // Peach Shorts: Nordstrom Rack, $25 // Sparkly Espadrilles: White Mountain via DSW, $40 // Brown Sunglasses: hand-me-down // Orange Purse: borrowed from my mom

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