Repeating the same colour in different parts of an outfit is a simple and effective styling tool. It often helps pull together an outfit by creating a cohesive and attractive visual balance between the components. I specifically used the word “outfit”, not “ensemble”, because outfit = ensemble + YOU. In other words, you can use your own features as colour repitition tools. 

Bookending is just colour repetition when the repeated colours are near the top and bottom of your outfit. This is particularly powerful because of the emphasis created by items that bracket, or “bookend” your look. But note that subtle colour repetition of items that are far apart on your outfit might not register, so bookending is most effective when the repetition is obvious.

Here are 13 examples of colour repetition and bookending that I often employ, either on myself or on my clients. Some are obvious and others are more subtle. The list is by no means exhaustive.

  1. Bags with Footwear: This is a traditional way to create outfit cohesion. Although mismatching bags and footwear has been all the fashion rage, matching the items never went out of style. In fact, the matchy-matchy integrity of bag and footwear looks fresh to my eye. 
  2. Belts with Footwear: Another traditional way to create outfit cohesion when fully tucking a top, or casually semi and faux tucking. I repeat colours in this way quite often.
  3. Belts with Bags: A little more subtle than belts with footwear, but just as visually effective.
  4. Tops with Footwear: We’ve probably all worn a top in a dark or light neutral and matched it with the same colour footwear. 
  5. Tops with Bags: This is less common, but pretty fun, especially when the repeated colour is a bright.
  6. Footwear with Hair Colour: This bookending strategy works like a charm. Blondes wear light and white footwear with ease. Redheads rock orange and cognac footwear. Dark haired ladies look great in black footwear. And burgundy footwear looks amazing with burgundy highlighted hair. 
  7. Footwear with Eye Colour: I learnt about the power of this method this year. One of my clients can wear a pair of light turquoise ballet flats with all her Summer outfits because they bring out her vibrant, light turquoise eyes. 
  8. Hosiery with Hair Colour: Gals with black hair look great in black opaque tights. 
  9. Bottoms with Hair Colour: Black haired gals wear black skirts and pants with ease. Redheads wear rust bottoms with ease, and light blondes in particular have little trouble putting together outfits with white and cream bottoms. 
  10. Scarves with Belts: A great option for Team Scarf, especially when scarves are kept on indoors. 
  11. Scarves with Footwear: This method works particularly well with brights.   
  12. Scarves with Bottoms: This creates a colour blocked effect when the items are high contrast against the top. 
  13. Scarves and Eye Colour: Another subtle method that is quite stunning when you have bright green or blue eyes.  

Bear in mind that colour repetition that relies on a handbag is lost when you put your bag down for the day at your desk. I also use my white specs to bookend white items in my outfit. Of course, this method will only work for Team Specs. 

Colour repetition in outfits is certainly not essential, but it is useful. Sometimes when an outfit doesn’t look quite right, it will come together when you bookend two of the components. Over to you. Do you employ colour repetition or bookending in your outfits?