Color Theory - Maqtha Art District


It is never just about wearing an outfit, it is about having an experience and then telling a story. Color, to date, remains cornerstone for providing a context to that story. I was so intrigued by the psychology and business behind colors that I audited a Color Theory course during my Masters! It was a fascinating, lowkey therapeutic class that opened me up to a world I didn’t know existed. There is a lot to know about the interplay between color, mood, behavior (conscious & subconscious), so this might be a long read for some of you.

Color Theory can be very useful in innovating and creating unlikely but flattering combinations. However, line, silhouette and texture all impact overall appearance of a garment, so color is not the single deciding factor. Hair, jewelry, skin tone, metallic colors (not included in the basic color wheel) also influence these rules. Most importantly, know the rules just so you can break them; because fashion should only be about how you feel.

color-wheel .jpg


Hue: The color itself, like red or blue

Tint: Hue + white

Tone: Hue + grey 

Shade: Hue + black

Saturation: How intense or vivid the color is (hot pink is highly saturated whereas baby pink is desaturated or lacks in vibrancy) 

Value: How light or dark a color is 


Monochromatic: same hue head-to-toe with different tints/ saturation. Results in a crispy, chic look 

Analogous: pairing 2 or 3 colors next to each other on the wheel, for a contrasting but comfortable look 

Complementary: combining hues opposite to each other on the wheel, to create a contrasting but bold look

Split complementary: first you choose a color (say, green), then pick its complement (red.) The second (purple) and third (orange) colors would be on either sides of the complementary color 

Triadic: created by using 3 colors equidistant to each other on the wheel, resulting in a contrasting, experimental look 

Accented neutral: adding a color to an otherwise neutral (black, white, grey, beige) look



There is a plethora of information out there on how colors can make you seem larger/ thinner/ taller but I don’t want to get into it. Instead, I’d like to focus on the psychology behind a few colors and the messages they can send about your intelligence, emotions, and even your state of mind. A general rule of thumb is that warm colors are transmit optimism and energy, cool colors convey calm and peace. These are just theories, not necessarily facts.

Blue: Blue is a safe, trusting color. Dark blue suggests authority (cop uniforms almost everywhere are blue), lighter blues suggest creativity/ open-mindedness

Red: A tricky color that can either suggest love, power, or rage depending on how you wear it

Green: Reassuring and comfortable by association with plants which convey abundance and growth

Orange: Supposedly a “happiness” color by association with sunrise/ sunset/ warmth

Yellow: Upbeat and friendly, unless you go overboard with it and it becomes an easily irritable color (referring to bright yellow, not ochre or mustard)

Purple: Royal and mystical, pastels are royal and soothing

Black: It really is all about how you wear it. It can go from clean to slouchy depending on how well-tailored the garment is



You have full control on the messages you’d like to send through the color you wear. The occasion and time of the day largely dictate color choices, but additionally, here are some questions I ask myself before I pick a color:

• How do I feel when I wear a color? Do I need more energy or calm today?

• What do I want to communicate? To whom? Do I need to convey authority or gain their trust?

• Does this color flatter me?

Hope you found that not-so-quick overview insightful enough to make an outfit decision when you are confused.

Today’s editorial that was shot in the warren lanes of Maqtha in Khairatabad. Hyderabad’s first and India’s third art district, 38 artists came together to paint murals with the aim of sharing art with everyone, and to transform “ordinary lanes into extraordinary ones.” This hand-embroidered masterpiece of a blazer-jacket is a 70-year old vintage piece (bought from Wasteland at Haight Street, San Francisco); draped dhoti skirt is from Alaya by Stage 3.