Color Theory: Radiant Orchid

Inspired by the unexpected success of the Color Combinations article I posted last winter and countless follow up questions I’ve since received on how to dress using color theory principals, I’ve decided to start a new segment on The Style Note entitled: Color Theory. Although I think that’s a straightforward enough title, let me explain. Each month I’ll pick a new color (or maybe you can pick, like, you can send me suggestions on a color you want to know more about) and I’ll break them down by their color wheel pairings, outfit suggestions, inspiration pictures and whatever else seems necessary.

Naturally, to kick off this new segment, I’ve decided to begin with the 2014 Pantone Color of The Year: Radiant Orchid. While I originally mentioned being sick of the color a few months ago on twitter when the color of the year was first announced, I have to admit, Pantone’s pick has really grown on me. You can’t step foot into any retailer today without seeing the splashes or orchid and for good reason. It’s perfect for the warmer spring and summer months ahead of us, it makes a statement, and it’s feminine while still being extremely bold.

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When you first take a look at Radiant Orchid it may be difficult to decipher what color it actually is, and that’s because it’s actually both hot and cold colors and a mix of fuischa, pink and purple tones.  However, don’t let this scare you. While Radiant Orchid isn’t for timid dressers or wall flowers, it can easily be mixed into your wardrobe in a natural and organic way.


And don’t forget! While there are a ton of different combinations, some of the best color combinations for this crazy color are neutrals such as steel gray, black, and creme. A monochromatic look is also easy to pull off and chic due to the strong variation in radiant orchid’s various shades (pictured above).

Complementary Color Scheme

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Because Radiant Orchid is essentially a mix of red and purple hues, its complementary color isn’t green or yellow but a mix of the two, yellow-green, aka lime, or whatever you want to call it (pictured above). Radiant Orchid’s complementary lime counter part can be styled with many different pieces. Whether it’s accent jewelry or a full garment, this color combination is by far on of the easier ones to put together.


Outfit suggestions:

1. Dark lime pant + pastel radiant orchid blouse

 2. Dark radiant orchid dress + lime green pastel belt

3. AND because this color pairing is only a mixture of two colors, it’s sometimes possible to find a single garment that has both colors in it, like the one pictured above.

Triad Color Scheme

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This color scheme steps things up a bit more and gives you more options on how to wear radiant orchid. Adding a yellow to the Radiant Orchid and lime mix, can give outfit pairings even more of a summery-bright edge.


Outfit suggestions:

1. Yellow dress + radiant orchid head scarf + emerald jewelry

2. Dark yellow (mustard) shorts + light lime tank + radiant orchid clutch

3.  Light yellow long sleeve + dark lime midi skirt + dark radiant orchid manicure

Tetrad Color Scheme

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The tetrad color scheme for Radiant Orchid adds warmth to the possible color choices with a pink-coral color. While it’s definitely possible to combine all of these colors to come up with an outfit, using two or three of the colors to create an outfit, such as the outfit pictured below, can be extremely flattering and unexpected.


Outfit suggestions:

1. Lime sweater + pastel yellow-lime short + dark radiant orchid slip on sneakers

2. dark yellow-lime trouser + dark lime oversized T-shirt + radiant orchid stacked bracelets.

3. Dark Radiant orchid jumpsuit + lime green heels + dark yellow-lime clutch

Accented Analogic Color Scheme 

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Using a mixture of almost all of the colors from the previous combinations, the accented analogic color scheme when executed, like the tetrad color scheme, can often produce unexpected results. Taking inspiration from these colors and their different hues, these color combinations are often bright and bold.


 Outfit suggestions:

1. Dark pink midi skirt + pastel radiant orchid top + dark purple shawl

2. dark radiant orchid colored denim + light pink tank top + dark lime jacket

3.  Radiant orchid sheath dress + light pink cross body bag + pastel lime booties

For more on color combinations, check out my post Styling 101: Color Combinations, and like always, feel free to comment below, visit my Tumblr ask box or shoot me an email at with any questions you have about this week’s color.

Emma Klug started The Style Note in the fall of 2012. Her writing has been featured in DBusiness Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Nothing Major, The Working Wardrobe, Chicago Talks, Inexpensive Chic, and The Wayne State University student paper: The South End. When she’s not writing you can find her eating pizza, binge-watching Netflix and working her day job as a magazine editor.

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