Help Me Dress Myself: How to Choose Colors That Go Together


Are you one of those guys who wants to look stylish but finds it doesn’t come all that naturally? We feel you. But don’t fret: With some advice from McKenzie Dowler, lead stylist at Rag & Bone, we’re all going to learn how to dress a little better. In this edition, we’ll be looking at which colors go well together, and which will make you look like a clown.

Step #1: Know Your Primary and Secondary Colors

Arts & Crafts 101: Red, yellow and blue are primary colors, and orange, purple and green are secondary colors. Using those colors to put together a fashionable outfit goes like this: “The old rule says you shouldn’t wear primary colors with other primary colors and secondary colors with other secondary colors,” Dowler explains. “Generally speaking, it’s a good rule to dress by.” Especially if you want to avoid looking like a bag of Skittles.

Step #2: Know Which Colors Don’t Work Together

There are a few colors you should avoid mixing. “I would never wear black and brown together—that just starts looking muddy,” Dowler says. “I also don’t think purple and orange look great together, and purple and green reminds me of Barney—so that’s another absolute no-go.”

Step #3: Cheat

If you don’t feel confident about matching colors yourself, try going with McKenzie’s recommended pairings:

Pant Color: Navy Blue
Shirt Color: “My personal favorite pairing is a classic white shirt with a dark navy pant or jean. I also love navy blue with black.”
Shoe Color: “You seriously can’t go wrong here. Any shoe color works with navy blue plants.”

Pant Color: Light Blue
Shirt Color: “I would avoid fluorescent colors lest you want to look like a frat boy, and I would avoid light pastels or you might end up looking like an easter egg. Otherwise, anything goes!”
Shoe Color: “NO BROWN.”

Pant Color: Black
Shirt Color: “Everything goes with black pants except, you guessed it, brown.”
Shoe Color: “Same goes for shoes—avoid brown.”

Pant Color: Red
Shirt Color: “Black, white, grey and light blue are all good choices here.”
Shoe Color: “Keep it classic: black, white, grey or brown. You don’t want to get too crazy with red pants.”

Pant Color: Beige
Shirt Color: “Similar to the light blue pant pairings, you want to avoid fluorescent colors and brown—beige is just a little too muddy when paired with brown.”
Shoe Color: “Same deal with the shoes.”

Pant Color: Grey
Shirt Color: “Again, avoid brown. It’s just too muddy. Otherwise, there are no restrictions here—go wild.”
Shoe Color: “The same with the shoes!”

Pant Color: Green
Shirt Color: “This is similar to red—i.e., you don’t want to get too crazy. Stick to black, white, grey or light blue.”
Shoe Color: “Again, the same as red. Stick to standard colors like black, white, grey or brown.”

If you have any questions about getting the look you want—fits, cuts, colors or anything else fashion-related—email us at or leave it in the comments below. We’ll have McKenzie answer it in an upcoming post.