More Color Building Blocks…

Today we look a little more at color and shape only this time, we’re looking at colors that are harmonizing rather than contrasting (i.e. complementary) than the example that we last posted. First, as described previously, we have contrasting colors which are colors opposite of each other in the color wheel:

Contrasting Colors

Next, we have harmonizing colors which are colors that lie between two primary colors. In this case, the arrow indicates colors between the primary colors of blue and yellow:

Harmonizing Color

In practice, the use of harmonizing colors can sometimes produce suboptimal results so often times, it’s a matter of seeing what works and what doesn’t which can be very subjective. Admittedly, the above explanation is somewhat of an oversimplification but it does illustrate something that we do almost unconsciously whether we’re selecting a color scheme for painting the house, new bath towels, or even fabrics for a new dress. Of course, what specific colors we each choose are completely subjective… 🙂

Turning to fashion, here’s an example of the use of harmonizing colors with this dress from circa 1885 – 1886:

Day Dress 1885-86 1

Day Dress, c. 1885 – 1886; Goldstein Museum of Design (1961.003.006)

Day Dress 1885-86 2

Three-Quarter Left Front View

Day Dress 1885-86 4

Right Side Profile

Day Dress 1885-86 7

Rear View

In terms of silhouette, this dress is relatively simple, consisting of an underskirt and combination bodice/overskirt/train (which appears to be a one-piece construction from examining the pictures). With a short bodice front, the bodice is reminiscent of a tailcoat and it presents a dramatic vertical sweep that shows off the fashion fabric to its best advantage. Interestingly enough, the dress is dates as being c. 1885 – 1886 but we would be inclined to think that it’s actually earlier (i.e. more Mid-Bustle Era), judging from the minimal train and cylindrical silhouette. Of course, there’s also the possibility that it was staged without the requisite underpinnings; sometimes it’s hard to tell only from photos.

As for colors, we see the use of a burgundy/wine silk for the base underskirt covered by a patterned silk brocade bodice/overskirt. The pattern itself is a burgundy/wine color that matches the underskirt and the background color is a light rose/gold. Below are some close ups of the bodice and skirts where you can really get a good look at the silk brocade pattern:

As can be seen from the above, we have to basic harmonizing colors, burgundy/wine and rose/gold and these can all be found in the color wheel between red and yellow. This is only one example but we thought we’d showcase it a bit simply because it’s a very dramatic illustration of this effect. Also, the combination bodice/overskirt further enhances the effect since it flows uninterrupted. Finally, we chose this dress simply because we love its aesthetics. 🙂

Stay tuned for more!

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