What is color blocking and how to use it

Colour blocking is a trend that is set to be big this year. Famous fashion bloggers, designers, and style gurus are embracing the trend and documenting the ways in which they are using it.

We asked the editors of the Vogue Living Style Blog what color blocking means to them, how they used it, and what they suggest you should know before you try it. Consider this your primer on color blocking before you start incorporating it into your wardrobe.

What is color blocking?

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the past year, you’ll undoubtedly have come across the hashtag #colordblocking, often followed by a series of photos of outfits worn simultaneously in different but complementary shades. The look has been gaining popularity thanks to prestigious fashion publications such as i-D, Mode, and Vogue; celebrity bloggers; and YouTubers who have millions of subscribers.

Colour blocking means wearing multiple colors, patterns, or textures of clothing or accessories at the same time. The practice originates from the African-American community and is famously known as ‘suit and tie comedy’. The fashion industry has recently recognized the look and style influencers are enjoying great success by incorporating it into their outfits.

Why is colour blocking becoming so popular?

The rise of TikTok and other social media platforms has provided a new platform for influencers to promote and entertain their millions of followers. Having millions of people who are eagerly following your every move – or at least, the moves they think you makes – can have its perks.

Thanks to TikTok’s expansive, user-friendly app, anyone can create a channel. This has led to a rise in influencers who have used the platform to create channels dedicated to documenting their outfits and lifestyle.

Whether you want to create your own style channel or just want to follow the most popular ones, you can find plenty of great outfits that incorporate color blocking. The catch 22 is that you’ll want to avoid going too matchy-matchy with your block colors. If you want to add a bit of spice to your colour scheme, you can never go wrong with a bit of pattern or texture.

If you want to give it a try, here are some of the best-looking Instagrammers who are walking the planet wearing this year’s most innovative and stylish looks.

Designers and fashion bloggers using color blocking

It would be remiss of us not to point out the sheer quantity of designers and fashion bloggers who are proudly incorporating color blocking styles into their outfits. This year, the look will be seen everywhere from the catwalk to the street and even inside fashion stores.

According to a report from Google, the phrase ‘fit chick wear’ is expected to reach 23.3 billion searches this year, which represents a 22% increase compared to 2021. The look is here to stay, and it will be seen on the red carpet and in fashion magazines alongside black-and-white looks. In fact, Vogue is encouraging their readers to try out the trend and even provide them with an extensive guide on how to do it properly.

Style influencers using color blocking

While some of the aforementioned influencers are walking the planet wearing only outfits that feature single-color schemes, some are going the extra mile to add a bit of drama and uniqueness to their outfits. With the rise of TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms and the subsequent explosion of fashion influencers, the look has become available to everyone.

Influencers are walking the walk and talking the talk. They have millions of followers, and their outfits are typically what you’d expect from people with that kind of influence – bold, eye-catching, and impeccably stylish. Yet, in addition to their outfit influencer walks, they have also incorporated color blocking into the designs of their clothing lines.

The results are nothing short of spectacular. Not only do you get to see a stunning array of colors, but you can also enjoy great detail in the design of the outfits. It’s like they’re art pieces in their own right and they bring a splash of color, pattern, and style to your mundane day-to-day life.

What do designers say about color blocking?

If you think that all the designers we’ve mentioned so far are just wearing pastels and polka dots, you’d be mistaken. As we’ve established, this year is going to be the year of color blocking, and it is going to be seen on the runway, in fashion magazines, and even on social media platforms. But how do designers feel about the trend?

We interviewed Holly Willoughby, CEO and creative director of the fashion brand Holly Willoughby, which has designed outfits that feature color blocking, and she had this to say:

“I love the way that it combines contrasting colors and patterns. It’s something that makes you think outside of the box and forces you to be creative and resourceful, and that is what I love about it. It’s the antithesis of what I usually see, which is very safe and traditional in terms of color choices, but it’s great fun to do things differently.”

While Holly’s designs feature vibrant color blocking, we also asked Kate Young, fashion director of Future Inc and fashion columnist for the New York Times, what she thinks of the trend and if she thinks it will be around in 2022. Her response was as follows:

“I think it’s a great idea. In the right way, of course, which is how you would have to do everything else these days. It’s about being able to pull off something that is at once unique and a little bit cool, like adding a pop of color against a white dress.”

What should you know before you try color blocking?

While some may want to jump into using color blocking immediately, we advise you to proceed with caution. As we’ve established, the look is here to stay, and it will be seen on the red carpet and in fashion magazines alongside black-and-white looks. Yet, the fashion industry is still trying to figure out what color blocking is and how to appropriately use it. As a result, you may encounter a variety of faux pas if you aren’t careful.

Faux Pas

One of the most common mistakes that newbies make is wearing matching color outfits. For example, if you wear red, the chances are you’ll go perfectly matched with someone wearing the same shade of red. Yet, this is something that fashion commentators have noted and warned against. If you want to avoid this faux pas, the safest color combination to go for is complementary colors like orange and purple or pink and green.

Colourful Attire

If you want to avoid looking like you blended together your closet, don’t wear a mixture of patterns and textures either. Going for a patterned blazer combined with a floral dress is a good idea in theory, but you’ll end up looking like a mess. Similarly, if you wear a checked suit with a floral print, you’ll end up looking more like a lawyer than a CEO. Mixing patterns and textures is something that you should avoid at all costs.

Creative Lining

If you want to incorporate color blocking into your outfits, don’t do it on accident. You’ll end up looking like a magician’s assistant if you add a little bit of pink to your blazer and white dress combination. Designing an outfit that features color blocking is a lot harder than it seems. You’ll need to take extra care in ensuring that the colors and textures work well together and don’t clash.

Ombre Affect

Adding a bit of color blocking into your outfits isn’t something that you should instantly jump into. You’ll end up with an ombre effect if you don’t blend your colors evenly and sufficiently. For example, if you wear blue, your skirt will go from dark to light in a staggered pattern. This won’t add an element of style, it’ll just end up being a distracting element.

Balance Act

If you want to add a bit of color blocking into your outfits, go for something subtle. There are some hues that are easy to work with and aren’t potentially problematic as far as clashing is concerned. For example, you can wear fuchsia as long as you balance it out with white or pastel colors. Yet, if you go for a darker shade like navy or burgundy, you may encounter some complications. In these cases, it’s best to go for a lighter color as a base – white, cream, or pale yellow – and then add the rest of your hues on top.

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