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    The Real Color Wheel & How it Can Help You Get Dressed

    The Real Color Wheel & How it Can Help You Get Dressed

    Color is amazing.

    It can evoke feelings—it can calm us, excite us, make us hungry, and more.

    Unfortunately, a lot of what people are taught about color is just wrong. This article will give you a few little-known color facts, and it should give you some new ideas of how to work with color.

    The Real Color Wheel

    Most people were taught that red and green are opposites, or complimentary colors. That's false.

    Correct Color WheelThis is a color wheel that matches Sir Isaac Newton's original idea for how the spectrum is divided. This clearly shows that red & cyan are opposites.

    If you're not really familiar with the word cyan, then this next section should be helpful.

    Cyan vs. Indigo vs. Azure

    When our ancestors were surviving in the wild, they didn't really need to tell apart different blues. Aside from the sky, the ocean and some flowers, there isn't much in our world that's blue.

    That's probably why we refer to a full 25% of the color wheel as blue (the lower left quadrant), and we're generally not that good at telling different blues apart. Here's a cheat sheet for the different blues, plus turquoise which gets easily confused with cyan.

    Indigo ColorIndigo (the "indigo" in ROYGBIV)

    Azure ColorAzure (halfway between indigo & cyan)

    Cyan ColorCyan (the "blue" in ROYGBIV)

    Turquoise Color

    Turquoise (halfway between cyan & green)

    A Word on Olive Green

    This is one of the strangest things I've discovered about color. Olive green is actually dark yellow.

    The two blocks of color you see here are the exact same hue. The only thing that makes them different is the amount of black. To fully appreciate this, understand that black and white do not change hue, they only change lightness and darkness. This is simply what dark yellow looks like.

    Olive Green ShoesIf you take this photo of these Harris Tweed shoes into any photo editor with an eye dropper tool, you can easily find out that their hue is yellow and not green. In fact, it's a canary yellow that's bordering on amber. How amazing, then, that our eyes see this as green.

    I saved you some work. The bottom block in the image below is the actual color I pulled from the suede on this shoe, using the eyedropper tool in a popular photo editor. The top block is what I get when I remove all black and white.

    Canary Yellow compared to Olive DrabSo why does this matter? Well, you can use olive green like yellow, for one thing. Whatever looks good with yellow, might just look good with olive green, too.

    Olive Green Harris Tweed Coat for Women with Indigo Lambswool Scarf from Scotland

    Putting it All Together

    So you learned that the complimentary colors widely taught are wrong. You learned about the difference between the various colors we call blue. You also learned that olive green is just a shade of yellow. Now what?

    You can try using this knowledge to put together complimentary color schemes, analagous color schemes, triadic color schemes and more. The outfits shown in this article were complimentary, made of direct opposites on the color wheel. An example of an analagous color scheme would be pairing indigo with cyan, because they're adjacent on the color wheel. An example of a triadic color scheme would be pairing cyan with yellow and magenta (which forms an equilateral triangle on the color wheel).

    If you were using the color wheel that most of us learned as kids, with red across from green, it means all of your color schemes would be a little off. Hopefully this article will give you a bit of an advantage and a fresh perspective the next time you're getting dressed.

    What Tartan Should I Wear? — All You Need for Choosing a Tartan

    What Tartan Should I Wear? — All You Need for Choosing a Tartan

    "What tartan should I wear?"

    There aren't really any rules about which tartans you can and can't wear, but here's some info to help you pick one.

    The first step in choosing a tartan is to look to see if your surname is actually associated with its own tartan. For many last names, even Scottish ones, that's not the case. If your surname has its own tartan, then you're done, and you've found yours. Keep in mind though, you're under no obligation to choose your own family's tartan, and you might even have several other tartans connected to your family.

    Assuming there's no tartan by your name, that brings us to the next step: see if your surname is associated with any clan that did have a tartan.

    For example, someone with the last name Kene would have been most likely to wear a MacDonald tartan, according to our resource book, Tartan for Me!. A Kird would have probably worn the Sinclair tartan. Larger clans formed alliances with smaller groups who in turn adopted the larger clan's tartan.

    Let's say you had no luck finding a clan relationship for your surname. The next step would be to look back through your genealogy for any Scottish name and try again. If all else fails, there are a number of district tartans, associated with locations rather than particular families, and then there are universal tartans like Black Watch, Royal Stewart, and Flower of Scotland.

    Another option is to just pick any tartan that you like. There's no rule that you need a reason to wear a tartan. Maybe you just like the colors. In fact, there are thousands of people wearing variations of the the Buchanan and Thompson tartans who don't even know they're doing so (check out where the Burberry tartan came from!).

    You might wonder, regardless of what you decide your tartan is, what is the difference between modern, ancient, weathered, hunting, dress and other variations on each tartan? Not all tartans will have so many versions, but larger clans tend to have several. We'll go through the types one by one:

    Tartan Color Variations

    MacAlpine Modern TartanModern - Modern tartans are the standard and usually the most well-known versions. Their signature rich and bold colors only became possible in 1860 with the invention of aniline dyes. If you're looking for the official tartan for any given clan, this is it (generally speaking).

    Clark Ancient TartanAncient - The ancient tartans that are woven today are created to simulate what tartans looked like before the invention of modern dyes in 1860. This is achieved by dying in lighter shades that are more true to the plant-based dyes available to the earliest tartan weavers.

    Gordon Weathered TartanWeathered - Weathered tartans are dyed in strongly muted colors in order to simulate the effects of sunlight, rain and the elements upon the colors of a tartan. Full of greys & browns, they're mostly neutral in tone. Some colors like red and yellow are unchanged, adding a pop of color.

    Graham of Menteith MutedMuted - Muted tartans are just a less extreme version of weathered ones, where the colors still retain more of their original hues. To make matters more confusing, some vendors and retailers will use the terms weathered and muted interchangeably.

    Tartan Pattern Variations

    Unlike Modern / Ancient / Weathered, which are all color variation only, the Hunting & Dress versions of a tartan may be completely different, pattern and all.

    Buchanan Hunting Modern TartanHunting - Hunting tartans are not, as the name suggests, specifically worn while hunting. They're named that way because many of them contain a lot of earth tones, and would be good for hunting. It is perfectly acceptable to wear a hunting tartan to a formal event.

    Stewart Dress Modern TartanDress - Dress tartans contain a large amount of white in order to better match formal wear. Some clans like MacPherson have actually adopted their Dress variety as their main tartan.

    Wear the tartan you want to wear.

    Even if you're not of Scottish descent, or you can't find any tartan that's specifically connected to your family, there are plenty of tartans that are considered universal. Furthermore, there are a lot of tartans that were made purely for the sake of fashion, and, yes, you can wear another clan's tartan. It's really OK.