Colorblocking 101: How To Take The Trend Into 2023

Colorblocking fashion. We've probably all heard of it, but what exactly is it? Well, in the fashion world, colorblocking tends to involve putting multiple colors together in one outfit in big blocks (hence the name). Often, the best way to incorporate the trend into your look is to blend two primary colors and two secondary colors that create a contrast with one another.


We know the whole concept of colorblocking can bring up some, well, not-so-beloved fashion memories for some. The trend has been around for decades and had quite the resurgence in the early 2000s — which wasn't the most fashionable time for all of us. Yeah, guilty as charged. 

But, if the idea of returning to a colorblocking wardrobe fills you with dread, then don't worry. There are so many ways to bring this trend back into 2023 without worrying about its past iterations and slipping back into bad fashion habits. We have all the tips and tricks you need to nail colorblocking in a modern and chic way.

You can (and should) incorporate neutrals into colorblocking

Neutral colors probably aren't the first thing you think about when you think of colorblocking, but not only can you easily incorporate these shades into your outfit — it's actually encouraged. If you're a little apprehensive about trying out colorblocking in 2023, we'd recommend starting with a neutral garment and then working around it. Tammy Kirks of Harem & Co. shared a little advice with 417 for this, saying, "Start with a base of your favorite neutral, whether that's a black, navy, gray or whatever and then add another piece that is in high contrast to that color."


In fact, by putting neutrals into your colorblocked outfit, you'll actually help bring it back into the modern day. Arielle Siboni, RTW fashion director at Bloomingdale's, explained to TZR that one of the biggest shopping trends of the summer has been neutrals. Because of all the bright color we've been seeing pretty much everywhere, customers are also going the other way, picking out classic, subdued shades. "We are in a minimalist trend cycle, and we are seeing a great response to neutrals because of this. I personally love wearing a pop of neon with camel to combine the two trends," Siboni said.

But there's always plenty of room for bright colors

Though neutrals are always a good starting point for colorblocking, when it comes to your contrast colors, there's always room for something bright. One of the best tips we can give you when it comes to your brights? Keep them somewhat matching. That doesn't mean you have to match every shade. Instead, think about putting pastel shades with other pastel shades or vivid colors with other vivid colors. 


"Color blocking looks best when the colors are of equal vibrancy and saturation," fashion expert Samantha Brown told InStyle. Following this rule in your outfit will stop your look from feeling too dated. A mismatch of neons and pastels can easily take you back to the '80s or '90s ... just maybe not in the best way.

Another great way to determine what colors will and won't work together is by looking at the all-important color wheel. The best way to discover complimentary shades is to pick colors that are next to one another, such as green and yellow or pink and purple. But if you want to make more of a statement, you'll want to go for opposites. Colors opposite one another will create more of a contrast, bringing a little more distinction to your color blocking look. A few shades you could try? Orange and blue, pink and green, or red and turquoise.


You don't have to go all out, either

Though colorblocking may be one of the most colorful fashion trends of the past several decades, it doesn't have to be daunting. A lot of color in one outfit can be pretty intimidating, so if you're just dipping your toe into the trend that never really seems to go away, we'd suggest starting small until you feel a little braver. 


By starting more understated and maybe choosing just two shades, you can slowly develop a better idea of what works for you and which shades pair well, while still feeling comfortable and confident. Tammy Kirks of Harem & Co. suggested to 417 that putting something colorful under a jacket will mask it somewhat. A neutral jacket would be the perfect addition.

To bring a little 2023 to your outfit, we'd recommend focusing on this summer's boldest color trends. Of course, pink has been massive in summer 2023 thanks to the Barbiecore trend (coinciding with the release of "Barbie"), so something pink is a sure-fire way to be on-trend. Other colors we've been seeing a lot of? Red has been pretty popular in 2023, while yellow has also seen a modern day comeback.


Pick colors you actually like

Though there's no doubt that bold colors have made a comeback in 2023, that doesn't mean you have to bring every single popular shade under the sun into your outfit. For a modern twist on the classic, keep your color scheme simple – and without too much black. "Of course, you can use pieces that are black and style that into your outfits, but we try not to make it generic," Hannah Butler of Olive & Ivy explained to 417.


As for the colors you should be picking to keep your outfit simple and on trend this year, picking two analogous colors you really like is rarely a bad idea. The spring/summer 2023 runways saw Carolina Herrera try orange with pink, while Hermes showed off red and orange. Moral of the story? Choosing two colors close on the color wheel is a great way to stay modern, and picking colors that inspire something in you will make you feel more confident.

Just try not to be scared of color when it comes to trying out this concept. "Really anyone can wear it. I don't care how old you are, I don't care how thin you are or how large you are," Tammy Kirks of Harem & Co. said of colorblocking. "This is something that can be worn by anybody. It's just a matter of tailoring it to your taste."


If you want to go bolder, think of a colorblock triangle

Feel like you're practiced enough with colorblocking to be a little more daring with the trend? Then, boy, do we have an idea for you. We know, we know: colorblocking usually means sticking to two colors, but that's not a hard and fast rule. If you want to have a little more fun, three colors could actually be the way to go. 


Known as the triadic method of colorblocking, this concept involves looking at the color wheel and choosing a trio that would create a triangle if you dropped a pin on each color on the wheel. For example, keeping the wheel upright, you could pair red with green and blue. Another take? Something in yellow put with a green and pink garment.

The reason this method tends to work (if you're feeling bold and confident, of course) is because each color is equally spaced on the color wheel, creating a balance. We'd recommend keeping at least one of these shades as an accessory and incorporating a neutral if you're feeling a little overwhelmed with bold color.

Monochrome colorblocking is on trend for 2023

We've covered two-color and three-color outfits, but you don't have to go that far to be on trend for 2023. You can actually still do colorblocking in a super modern way by wearing just one color. Instead of looking to the color wheel for complimentary colors, instead stick to one and go for a monochromatic outfit with different shades. 


This look is a little more understated and chic for those who may find too much color a little drowning or too busy. To really nail the trend, though, you'll want to make sure there's enough of a differentiation between your shades. After all, we're going for monochrome colorblocking, not just monochrome! Some examples? Pairing fire engine red with maroon, or mauve with hot pink. 

Changing up the textures in your clothes is another great way to bring your colorblocking up to date. Different materials will stop your outfit from looking too matchy. A few ideas? A silk top with a leather or faux leather skirt. Or why not try a knitted sweater with some colorful denim? The possibilities really are endless. Monochrome dressing is a great way to start out with this fashion trend, as well. That's because it can be easier to pull off than something bolder. "If you're nervous about wearing colour, opting for head-to-toe in the same colour actually makes it easier," Kay Barron, fashion director at Net-a-Porter, admitted to Stylist.


Still hesitant? Bring measurements into colorblocking

We get it, dividing your body into sections isn't exactly the first thing you think of when it comes to colorblocking — but hear us out. TikTok fashion expert Claire Holt has an interesting theory on how to balance an outfit, which comes in handy for knowing how much space each color block should take up. 


"Visually, we would have one-third of the space of your outfit on top and two-thirds on the bottom," she explained, suggesting shorter tops that might be cropped or just tucked in. This theory works well when applied to the idea of colorblocking. Try wearing one on the top third of your body, and then another on the bottom with longer pants or a skirt. If you're feeling a little braver, you could incorporate your third shade as a statement shoe or bag.

The reason why this works? As Holt put it, "[This concept] is generally considered very aesthetically pleasing." It can make colorblocking, which can be more difficult than it seems, much less complicated. But while this idea is a general rule of thumb, there are still ways to make it your own, of course. "Experiment with different proportions and placement of colors for a chic and balanced effect," personal stylist and fashion expert Taylor Macdonald suggested on Instagram.


Remember that accessories count too

For those who are struggling with the idea of having three or more colors in an outfit without it all looking too mismatched, remember you can easily add a colorful accessory to get the colorblocking effect. By doing this, you can keep your clothing choices a little simpler and incorporate your third color as a much smaller part of your look. "If you're really not confident about wearing bright colors, do it in a handbag or add a bright belt or bright shoes. Just think of each piece as one block of color," Harem & Co.'s Tammy Kirks told 417.


In stay on-trend in 2023, try oversized bags, which can easily add some extra color. A big red bag, for example, is an easy and simple way to colorblock without the insecurities that can sometimes come with bright clothing. Another way you could bring in colorblocking with an accessory? Love them or hate them, bucket hats are still hot, so why not get one in a fun color to bring this trend to life? As they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.