A Complete Guide to Color Blocking: Spring 2011 Best Fashion Trend

One of my absolute favorite spring trends is color-blocking. What is color-blocking you ask?  Quite literally it is wearing big blocks of color next to each other.  Simple, right?  Well not always.  To interpret this trend right, you need to understand the basic principals of color theory (I have given guidelines below) so that you don’t end up looking like this:

Yikes.  Although the dress on its own is quite attractive, Nicki Minaj had to take it to the nth degree (she is very consistent in her efforts to annoy my fashion sensibility) by painting bands of color onto her wig.  Not cute.  Less is more in color-blocking.  Bare legs, nude accessories and minimal makeup is the freshest, most versatile way to wear this trend.  However, there is always an exception to the rule and Rihanna is it:

Can’t say I have the bravado to pull of fuchsia hair, but this girl understands how a color palette works together better than most girls.  Love the whole look!

Speaking of celebrities embracing this spring trend, do you think Gucci could lend out this outfit a few more times?

Don’t get me wrong, Frida expertly chose her color palette and unusual styling (love the royal blue belt on Olivia Wilde’s jumpsuit) to make her color-blocking proposal unique, but whatever happened to celebrities not wanting to be photographed in a look already publicized by another celebrity?  I hope to never see another gold obi belt. Over it.

Other designers apparently also got the memo that color-blocking was in for Spring 2011.  Marc Jacobs in all 3 collections he designs (Marc by Marc Jacobs, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton) embraced the trend as did Jill Sander, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Dries Van Noten, and in a daring color pairing, Jason Goot:

Marc  by Marc Jacobs

Jil Sander

Marc Jacobs

Louis Vuitton

3.1 Phillip Lim

Dries Van Noten

Josh Goot

Anytime numerous designers embrace the same trend, my mind starts to wonder if they all had the same source of inspiration. If you happen to be a fan of modern art, I am sure you already spotted the strong references to two of the most prolific artists of their times: Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko.

Dutch painter Mondrian was a pioneer of his time in that he was the first to play around with arranging geometric shapes and planes of color in frame of the cubism movement started by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Although you may not be aware of Mondrian, I am sure you have seen his color-blocking work:

Mark Rothko, an abstract expressionist painter is best known for his color series.  Quite unique at the time was his approach of soak-staining canvases by applying thinned paint onto the canvas to create abstract fields of color, usually horizontal rectangles that resulted in intensifying the colors used:

Clearly, one can see the influence of Rothko’s work reflected in the Marc Jacobs dress featured above, no?  The color palette is even the same!

Now, wondering how you can get the color-block look without looking like a crayola box of florescent crayons?  Follow these simple rules:

On An Even Keel:

  • Team colors from the same family together for a harmonious look – think bright pinks with vivid fuchsias, turquoise with royal blue
  • Keep warmer tones like orange and red together
  • Go for a neutral-toned shoe to keep it simple

Opposites Attract:

  • Work regal purples in with contrasting, fiery oranges
  • Try lime green with melon or rosebud pink for a pleasantly jarring combination
  • Work accessories into the mix. Select a contrasting shoe or handbag
Require a visual? Head to your local Zara for casual yet chic color-blocked apparel.  I dare you to wear these bright hues and not smile.  Its impossible, I tried!
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