30 Color Combinations That Prove Rules Don't Matter

For anyone dipping a toe into truly outside-the-box clothing colors, it seems that step one is to pair it with a neutral. You'll style one fire engine red piece with black — just black — and nary a hint of other hues. It's the beginner's approach to color play, and it's a great way to make a statement piece shine. But, from the hints we've been getting from last Fashion Week, we all could stand to step it up in a big, bold, and rebellious way.

As expected, there was no lack of neutral-meets-vibrant pairings in last February's runways, but the strangest palettes were the ones that stuck. Purples and orange, fluorescents with saturated shades from the opposite side of the color wheel, and marsala with just about everything. We'd happily lay out all the "pair this with that" rules for you, but unfortunately, they no longer apply.

In fact, the idea of "matching" is gone. Instead, we're aiming to find two (or three or four) shades that clash and contrast just enough so that every outfit looks intentional, thoughtful, and screw-the-rules cool. These 30 looks master this approach with aplomb.

For more ways to "Fuck The Fashion Rules," click here.
Advertisement
1 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Orange & Grape
It looks ever better on Balmain's other unexpected combination of pleated palazzo pants and wrapped blazer.
2 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Antonoff.
Pale Pink & Emerald
This Rachel Antonoff outfit might just convince us to bring back daytime pajama dressing.
Advertisement
3 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Rust & Sand
This is one of the more reserved combinations you'll find in this slideshow, and Céline proves the two neutrals are a natural fit.
4 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Cherry Red & Pale Purple
Emilia Wickstead goes from a cool pink to a fiery red.
5 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Baby Blue & Brown
When it comes to brown clothing, most have a love-it or hate-it reaction. But, we think this sweet pastel pairing, as seen at Antonio Marras, could even convince the haters to warm up.
6 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Navy, Lemon Yellow, & Brown
Some of the coolest color combinations come in threes. And, as rag & bone shows, they can be illogical and awesome all at once.
7 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Prada.
Pea Soup & Aquamarine
Prada and weirdly wonderful combinations go hand in hand. And, this outfit is just one of many in the fall collection that inspire us to clash with confidence.
Advertisement
8 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Royal Blue, Baby Blue, & Red
To start stepping up your color combinations, try two contrasting shades of the same color. Once you've mastered that, add a third that's a wild card, as seen here at Lacoste.
9 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Oxblood & Bright Teal
For the more advanced in the bunch, add in-your-face graphics to your combinations, like these Andrew Gn florals.
10 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Bright Pink, Yellow, & Kelly Green
Sure, these colors are combined in a rug-like print at Sacai, but you can also pair them together piece by piece.
11 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Marsala & Sapphire
Seen here are Burberry, jewel tones are better in multiples, just like actual jewels.
12 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Mustard, Tomato, & Teal
There's really no rhyme or reason to this Miu Miu tricolor creation. And yet, it's an obvious win.
Advertisement
13 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Bright Blue & Muted Green
Blue and green share some similarities, so when styling them together, be sure to look for two complementary shades, like this combo from Stella McCartney, just different enough to be weird...in a good way!
14 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Mary Katrantzou.
Hot Pink, Light Pink, Red, & Moss
In our book, pink and red are already a don't that's a do. So, go one step further and toss in a shade outside the family, like the pale green skirt of this Mary Katrantzou outfit.
15 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Bally.
Barney Purple & Crimson
Red and purple are such powerful colors that we usually let them stand on their own. But, that's not the way Bally does it.
16 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Misha Nonoo.
Metallic Silver & White
Is it the most adventurous color combo? No. But, we still think Misha Nonoo's pairing of a shiny metallic and stark white feels so modern, intense, and quirky, it's worthy of a few reinterpretations from our own closets.
17 of 30
Photo: MCV Photo.
Grape & Orange
Once again, purple and orange are happy bedfellows. This time, at Roksanda Ilincic.
Advertisement
18 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Isa Arfen.
Marsala & Celery Green
This Isa Arfen combination is incredibly cool and unexpected, especially for a color combination that kind of sounds like a stew.
19 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Tibi.
Gray & Chocolate
Neutrals are not that rule-breaking. But, for a new take on how to wear your most adaptable of shades, take a cue from Tibi and pair two contrasting neutrals.
20 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of J.Crew.
Blush & Indigo
This J.Crew ensemble has so much vibrancy and power, you might need a pair of sunglasses to handle it all, too.
21 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Dior.
Seafoam Green & Yellow Green
These colors are close enough to be in the same family, and yet this Dior print has the perfect amount of contrast.
22 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Delpozo.
Highlighter Yellow & Pepto Pink
Delpozo's fantastic designs are not for the faint of heart, and neither is this color scheme.
Advertisement
23 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of MSGM.
Sherbet & Pastel Yellow
MSGM's citrus mixture is as sweet as dessert.
24 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Marni.
Pale Pink, Brown, & Red Orange
Pink and brown seem like a contradictory pair. But, it's the flash of the Marni belt that makes all the difference and ties the two together.
25 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Balenciaga.
Scuba Blue & Hot Cheetos
Don't the accents of this Balenciaga jacket remind you on a certain cheesy snack?
26 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Karen Walker.
Cobalt & Cotton Candy Pink
We're convinced many shades of pink and blue can pair well together, as seen at Karen Walker...
27 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Derek Lam 10 Crosby.
Dusty Pink & Teal
As well as in more muted tones for Derek Lam 10 Crosby.
Advertisement
28 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Topshop Unique.
Powder Blue & Clay
The printed, darker, contrasting button down makes this Topshop Unique suit a bit less prim.
29 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Kenzo.
Plum & Blood Orange
Here's one last iteration of purple and orange, this time at Kenzo and with just a hint of the accent color. Beginners, take note!
30 of 30
Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Williamson.
Pastel Blue & Lavender
Think of this as an edgier way to wear spring's ubiquitous pastels (ie: wear them all together at once like this Matthew Williamson look.)
Advertisement

More from Fashion

Watch

R29 Original Series