This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Imitation of nature is the perfection of art. Whether we walk in garden or street, in store or shop, the eye is gratified with some glimmerings of this noble work—color completes the whole. No class or order escapes the snare of fashion and custom—from grasses and lichens to the beetles which crawl over them; from the whale which supplies the back-bone of our stays to the tiny shell which serves for adornment. We take our colors from every source, from "coral" to the "green water of the Nile;" the " peacock " to the " dead leaf." Each has its own peculiar charm, and each in its turn commands our admiration. So, in a peep at nature we behold endless shades, fading or deepening into each other; the sunset, with all its varied hues of red and gold; flowers of delicate tints, or birds of gaudy plumage; the landscape, with its contrasts of blue and gold, and green and brown—a combination of effect from an exhaustless store—a book of reference always open, offering continual rounds of instruction and pleasure. Nature is the source from which our colors are obtained, and an example of perfect harmony.
Color is by far the most effective means for attractive the eye, and a window dressed in colors secures the attention of the passer inevitably—far more readily than any merely ingenious arrangement of goods or fabrics in which color is absent.
Good color effects are difficult to obtain where fabrics of any great variety of colors are used; and window trimmers of the best taste and most experience strongly favor the use of but two or three colors, complementary to each other, and as a rule grouped in large masses. A clash of colors affects one whose eye is at all sensitive, much like the prick of a pin, and this fact should be borne in mind before one essays to dress a window. It is better by far to discard a half-dozen colors and use but two or three, if by so doing the pleasing effectiveness may be enhanced. Every woman knows at all times, and a man knows as soon as his eyes rest upon them, that pale blue and rose pink blend well; that black and scarlet are strikingly effective when seen together, and that yellow and brown may rest one beside the other without offense. In case the eye does not readily tell just what colors will bear placing together, the following rules may be given as final reference in case of all color disputes:
Black goes well with any bright color.
Blue and orange increase each other's intensity reciprocally.
Deep green and deep blue are fairly pleasing when seen together, but in the lighter shades the result is just short of disagreeable.
Red and violet are not pleasant companions.
This design can be duplicated in any window having a substantial frame work at the back of it. Seven feet above the floor attach two semicircles made of board to the frame of the window. Fasten the goods to these in pleats and drape to the bottom as shown in cut.
Orange and green clash.
Orange and violet are void of offense.
Tan and dark blue are very effective.
Orange yellow deepens the hue of indigo, and has its own brightness intensified by the contrast.
Yellow Tending To Green May Be Agreeably Associated With Violet.
Yellow And Green Go Well Together.
Light green and light violet are preferable, when together, to green and blue, though this is not saying much for either combination.
Yellow And Indigo Simply Melt One Into The Other.
Keep red and orange apart.
Red and green intensify each other.
A red that inclines to purple may be placed with propriety by the side of a greenish yellow.
A red that is suggestive of scarlet may be used as a pleasing contrast to blue.
Divorce blue and violet forever.
Black and white are specifics as modifiers of bright colors.
Orange and yellow accord incomparably better than red and orange.
Orange and violet accord passably.
Yellow And Green Form An Agreeable Combination.
The arrangement of yellow and blue is more agreeable than of yellow and green, but is less lively.
Green and blue produce an indifferent effect, but better when the colors are deep.
Green and violet, especially when light form a combination preferable to green and blue.
Orange-yellow, when placed by the side of indigo, increases the intensity, and vice versa.
Red and orange do not accord well.
Red and yellow accord pretty well, especially if the red is purple red rather than scarlet, and the yellow rather greenish than orange.
Red and blue accord passably, especially if the red inclines rather to scarlet than crimson.
Tan and dark blue, black and scarlet, yellow and brown, violet with light rose, deep blue with golden brown, deep red with gray, maroon with warm-green, deep blue with pink, chocolate with pea green, maroon with deep blue, claret with buff, black with warm green are each effective color combinations.
When two colors that do not combine well must needs come pretty close together, place a bit of white between them and the ill effect is neutralized.
Every color has effect by reflection upon its neighbor. Of two colors placed together, one of three results must follow: both may be improved; one may be improved while the other is spoiled; or, both may be spoiled.
The last effect will readily be observed by placing together two such colors as 1, red and orange; 2, violet and blue; 3, red and violet; 4, green and blue:
Effects produced by contrasting colors must have been made familiar to every one by certain card advertisements printed with letters in blue or red, which being looked at for a length of time, upon turning the head or closing the eyes convey impressions of the same in other or complementary colors. Every color has its completing or complementary, and it is these which when placed together, heighten and improve each other, as red and green; violet and greenish yellow; blue and orange; etc. Again if a number of pieces of woolen dress goods representing a given color (say, pale blue) are taken indiscriminately from the shelving and placed side by side upon the counter it will be found that almost every piece will bear a different hue. One will look green, another dull heavy blue, and another decidedly gray. It would be impossible to put such mixtures side by side in the window. No two lengths of goods should be placed together to the detriment of both. When a customer desires to see bright or trying colors they should be shown relieved by neutral or improving shades - blue, peacock, or green by cream, rose, cardinal, drab, brown, gray, or white, as occasion may require. The window trimmer must always endeavor to heighten and improve his colors in the same manner; he can judge the effect of one new shade by another as he displays them before his customers time after time, and each may have its place in his mind's eye before the work of trimming-up begins.
Black goods are affected very considerably by certain colors; some reds impart a green effect. Blue gives an orange gray appearance. When a dark navy is placed near black, the black assumes a shabby brown cast, and violet, green and orange also give very unsatisfactory results.
It is well for the window artist to remember that in arranging an exhibit of silk or dress goods in delicate colors, that each color alternating with white is an advantage. It may be that the use of black for mourning prevents the use of it in numberless cases where it would produce excellent effects. Black may be combined most advantageously not only with sombre colors to produce the harmony of analogy, but also with light and brilliant colors to produce the harmony of contrast.
The most striking feature of the above design consists in color combination. Unless great care is exercised in this direction, the result will fall short of expectation. But if the colors are chosen in conformity to the rules laid down on Pages 471-84, an excellent trim will be formed. The drums of the ordinary kind described and illustrated on Page 503. The back figures should be brought down and pinned to the back of the second tier. The addition of lace and gloves or even fans, will materially help the appearance of this window.
No combination of primary colors with black is disagreeable, but there exists among these a natural difference of harmony which is not shown, at least to nearly the same degree, in two combinations of white with the same colors. In fact, the brilliancy of white is so predominant that whatever may be the difference in lightness or brilliancy observed between the various associated colors, there will always be the harmony of contrast according to what has been said of the influence of white in raising the tone and augmenting the intensity of color adjacent to it. If the binary combinations of black be examined in this point of view, it will be seen that the deep tones of all the color scales, and even of the blue and violet scales (which are not properly speaking, deep), form with it harmonies of analogy and not of contrast. So likewise do the unbroken tones of red, orange, yellow-green scales and the very light tones of the violet and blue scale.
It may be added, according to what has been said, that the combination of black with sombre colors, such as blue and violet, whose comple-mentaries, orange and greenish-yellow, are luminous, may diminish the contrast of tone if the colors be juxtaposed with black, or one not far from it, and in this case the black loses much of its vigor.
Blue and black, violet and black, make combinations which may be employed successfully when only dark colors are required.
Light combinations, which exhibit the harmonies of contrast, appear in the order of beauty as follows:
Red or rose and black; orange and black; yellow and black; lastly, bright green and black. As to yellow, we repeat that it must be brilliant and intense, inasmuch as black tends to impoverish its tone.
Black, red, green and black is a good color combination, and is preferable to black, red, green and black, which contains too much black.
Black, blue, orange and black is prefered to black, bl.'e, black, orange and black for a similar reason.
The effect of black with blue and orange, is inferior to that of white. Black, yellow, violet and black forms a pleasing combination.
Black, red, orange and black do very well, but as orange and red injure each other, there is an advantage in separating them by black.
Black, red, blue, black do better than black, red, black, blue, because there are too many sombre shades in the latter, and because these differ too much from the red. The effect of black on the binary colors red and blue is inferior to that of white.
Black, red, violet and black is not a good combination, as red and violet injure each other, and it is therefore advantageous to separate them by black, but the latter does not produce as good an,effect as white.