Beat the Winter Blahs With Colour Blocking a La Celine and Marni

Remember that colour wheel that was on the wall in your high school art class? It seemed so theoretical, but it can help you lift your spirits and stay on trend as you get dressed in the morning - two tasks that are often rendered more difficult by winter. As temperatures plunge deeper below zero, we find it harder to resist the siren call of the drab black and grey sweaters that claim more space in our closets than we'd sometimes like to admit. How can the colour wheel help? By giving you ideas for colour blocking, the style technique exemplified by such designers as Gucci, Celine and Marni. This trend, which was popular in the 60s - think mod sheath dresses - made a comeback in 2011, which is continuing again this year, giving the more colour-cautious amongst us another chance to finally learn how to pair colours in bold combinations.

What is Colour Blocking?

Colour blocking is the pairing of two or more bold colours together.

A single item can incorporate colour blocking, as in:

a recent three-tiered shift dress combining orange with purple and white from Gucci

pants (last year's martial-arts inspired pants from Celine in blue, white and green)

tri-colour wedges (Pierre Hardy, Marni)

color block skirts (Sonia Rykiel, Celine)

But you can also create your own colour blocking, by following the example of Katy Perry, who last year appeared on the cover of Elle magazine, wearing a green suit jacket with a turquoise shirt and bright purple pants. Pulling the look together: a wide tasseled belt in a neutral metallic.

Where Does the Wheel Come In?

The colour wheel, friend to such designers as Gucci, Celine and Marni, consists of colour families, including:

red, orange and yellow



There are different ways to combine colours using the wheel to reproduce the looks on offer from such designers as Celine and Marni this spring.

To begin, you can play it safe by combining colours that are next to one another on the wheel. One way to start: Pair a red-orange jacket with a red blouse.

Ready to take it up a notch? Try combining colours that are directly across from one another on the colour wheel. These are called complementary colours. Give a violet dress a pop of daring in the form of a yellow belt. Rein it all in with a leopard-print scarf.

Designers like Gucci, Celine and Marni also combine colours that:

make 90 degree angles with one another

form an X

form a T

What about accessories?

Some accessories use colour blocking (many designers, including Celine and Marc Jacobs, have colour block handbags).

When pulling together a colour blocked outfit from scratch, it is best to follow the example of Katy Perry and use neutral accessories: a taupe heel or an animal-print scarf.

Any colour combinations to avoid?

Well, Gucci, Marni and Celine are unlikely to pair red with green, but other than that, have fun!