This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
Try experiments with colored papers and fabrics and discuss the results.
This law of simultaneous contrast should have important consideration in choosing the hues for a costume in relation to the wearer's coloring for the complexion is always affected by the complement of the neighboring color.
Balance expressed in area of chroma; unity in repetition of contours; variety in lines
Area is a means toward balance. A small area of warm color will balance a larger area of cool. A bright spot of intense color is sufficient for a much greater area of dull color. This gives accent or emphasis to a design (Plate III, Fig. 7). The more closely the areas agree the closer should be the hues, values and chromas. Contour in color design may be used to add emphasis by attract-ing attention to a color spot through interesting form; it is a means toward variety in color masses (Plate V). Thus, a well-made bow of color may add much more to a gown or hat than the same thing poorly arranged. A pointed colored girdle is often better in a design than a round belt.
The characteristics of different materials sometimes make or mar a color scheme. Cotton and woolen fabrics will be seen to absorb light and are dull, velvets reflect light and are lustrous, silks have the greatest play of light and dark. Often in a combination of colors the subtle qualities of texture modify the whole composition. Transparencies, like tulle and chiffon, are the designers' most precious assets; they restore unity to almost any combination of colors and fabrics; they lend variety and sometimes control elements of area, position and contour.
Originate color arrangements by draping fabrics to illustrate the elements of area, juxtaposition and texture.
Make four tracings of a fashion figure illustrating a gown:
1. Apply a color design taken from nature or art.
2. Originate and apply a color scheme in one hue with change of value only (Plate VI)."
3. Originate and apply a scheme showing unity through related hues.
4. Originate a design in colors illustrating variety in complements and unity in chroma (Plate II).
Similar exercises may be used to illustrate many other principles of color harmony. To show the importance of color in different dress designs, they are most valuable. Sometimes a gown looks mediocre in one scheme and when traced and colored in another combination it is quite distinguished (Plate VII). The color scheme must harmonize with the feeling in the design of the dress. Hence in selecting a design the color of the material should be kept in mind. In the foregoing study of color theory an eye for color and color harmony should be acquired, and the natural instinct much accelerated and refined. But the aim of all this knowledge is to be able to express oneself in color by means of clothes. Color applied to 6 clothing cannot conform to definite rules. Some of the many variables which cause this difficulty are touched upon in the succeeding paragraphs.
The effect of color on the wearer cannot he too much emphasized in choosing materials for a costume. First, in relation to her outward appearance in regard to hair, eyes, complexion and figure. Many color suggestions have been made for different types; for instance, blue used to be ascribed to blondes, and pink to brunettes, etc., and color fashions change often, so the only safe guide is one's own judgment, or taste and experience. Always enhancing the best features and subordinating the less attractive ones is the only fixed rule in clothing. Hair of a defined blonde, brunette, or reddish hue becomes a part of one's color scheme; light brown hair does not become an important feature in the design, but calls for a more colorful background.
Health, age and the weather change the appearance of the complexion, hence hard and fast rules are not applicable. Experimentation is the only means of solving this problem. A clear, healthy complexion will look well in almost any setting. Pallor and sallowness are two bugbears to be dealt with. A pale complexion usually appears better in juxtaposition with a warm hue, but the color must not be too dark nor too intense. Sometimes sallowness is counteracted by dark blue or warm brown. Eyes, if clear, and of good color, should be featured; if light, with a pale complexion, they should be considered in connection with the principle of simultaneous contrast.