Color combinations are seemingly endless in fashion and when done well can be gorgeous and memorable. Many people are comfortable with traditional color-pairing combinations such as black and white or tan and blue, but are not as familiar with another attractive match; purple with dark gray. All colors have symbolic meanings and cultural connotations, and how they are paired sends out distinct style messages. In its many tones from smoke to steel, gray suggests seriousness, reliability and stability From pale hues such as lilac to deep shades like eggplant, purple is associated with independence, mystery, creativity and royalty. Together, gray and purple merge the serious and fun sides of your personality.
In suits and dressier garments, dark gray can be worn all year long. However, this color is most at home in autumn and winter, looking best with deeper tones of purple, such as grape and eggplant. When spring arrives, pale hues such as lilac and lavender lighten up the look, making dark gray more season-appropriate. Brighter shades of purple are ideal for summer; think of an orchid silk blouse with a charcoal pencil skirt. A wide, dark purple patent leather belt can make a dark gray dress look chic in the winter, while a lavender cardigan over a crisp white shirt with dark gray trousers will make a fellow debonair for a summer garden party
Used tastefully, purple can accompany a dark gray suit to work as an accent color. For women, a purple blouse is a pretty and professional touch with a skirt, suit or pantsuit. Purple can also be worked into an outfit via shoes and a handbag -- the key is to not have them match identically. For example, go with solid purple shoes and a handbag with purple as one of its colors, or carry a purple bag and wear shoes that incorporate purple as a color. Other ways to work in purple are in a scarf or jewelry, particularly amethysts. Men can pull off purple by pairing a purple shirt with a dark gray suit or wearing a white shirt and sporting purple in a necktie, pocket square or both.
Resist the temptation to go overboard with purple makeup to complement a dark gray and purple ensemble. Steer away from purple lipstick and mascara. They are too runway-dramatic for the office. However, a rich purple nail polish or a demure hint of purple in eye shadow and liner can be tasteful cosmetic touches. For eye shadow and liner, be sure to stay in the color family and blend to soften the look.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Purple is a strong color, so limiting purple accessories to three helps prevent overkill. Limiting the amount of purple with dark gray is necessary because, although a neutral, gray is still a strong color that insists on anchoring a look. Tights or socks in the right shade of purple can be a nice accent, but save the zany prints and whimsical patterns for weekends.
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- “Colors For Your Every Mood”; Leatrice Eiseman; 1998
- “More Alive with Color”; Leatrice Eiseman; 2007
- “The Beauty Workbook”; Cynthia Robins; 2001
- “Marie Claire Makeup”; Editors, Marie Claire Magazine; 2007
- “Harper’s Bazaar Great Style”; Jenny Levin; 2008
LaMont Jones was an award-winning fashion and beauty editor for a decade at the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette." A five-time nominator and judge of the CFDA Awards, he covers New York Fashion Week regularly. Jones is a 2011 inductee into the Pittsburgh Fashion Hall of Fame and coaches fashion models.
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