Color Theory: Cayenne

To be honest, I’m not really a summer person. If I don’t have a reason or an intense urge to be outside in the heat, I’m perfectly content spending endless hours inside sometimes not even seeing the light of day. I hate humidity and I’m a big fan of layered clothing. Summer makes me hermetic, in a non-depressing way, and I’m completely cool with that.

However despite my reluctance toward the obvious joy that summer seems to provide, there are some things about warmer weather months I can’t help appreciating, including: snow cones, tanned skin, and, for the purpose of this blog post, a new color palette! Woo! Inspired by long days at the beach and bright flowers, oranges, yellows, ocean blues and now cayenne dominate summer colors.

Like Radiant Orchid, Cayenne was named one of Pantone’s colors for Spring 2014, and I’ve seen it everywhere. From the low end to the high, cayenne is practically inescapable, especially this season. So why not know how to style it, and or, work it in to your wardrobe. Right?

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The combinations that can come out of cayenne are absolutely gorgeous. With it’s red color base, cayenne is a perfect warm weather and ultra feminine color. I’ll admit, cayenne does look a hell of a lot like coral, and if I wasn’t analyzing this color so intensely I wouldn’t necessarily notice too much of a difference. However,  instead of the orange tones that can be found in coral, Cayenne contains hues of peachy pink which in turn makes it a good pair for bright teals, sandy oranges and lime greens.


Aside from these colors, cayenne does well standing on its own with simple pairings of white, cream, black and beige (as pictured above). Through different color blocking techniques or layering, pairing cayenne with simple neutral colors can result in any style from retro to country club classic.

Complementary Color Scheme

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As I’ve mentioned before, complementary color schemes are bold and this one is no exception. The brightness of the lime-green color make the cayenne seem even stronger and louder than it already is, which, depending on what you’re going for, can be a really good thing.

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Outfit suggestions:

1. Pastel cayenne shift dress + lime (emerald) statement necklace

2. Cayenne loose knit sweater + dark lime shorts

3. Cayenne maxi dress + dark lime bomber jacket

Triad Color Scheme

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Adding one more color to the complementary combination, the triad color scheme is comprised of cayenne, lime and a beautiful teal. The teal can be an unexpected pairing with the cayenne and provides even more styling options.


Outfit suggestions:

1. Dark teal jumpsuit+ pastel lime clutch + cayenne sunglasses

2. Cayenne shorts + pastel teal button up + dark lime belt

3. Dark cayenne midi skirt + dark teal tank top + dark lime heels

Tetrad Color Scheme

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My absolute favorite color combination for Cayenne is the tetrad color scheme pictured above. The vibrancy of the teal and lime when paired with the subtle nature of the light orange, almost sand color, coincide nicely with cayenne and create a well rounded combination. Statement jewelry (pictured below) is an excellent way to combine as many colors from this combination as possible.


Outfit suggestions:

1. Dark orange capris + pastel cayenne blouse + dark teal heels

2. Dark orange skirt + pastel teal tank top + dark cayenne clutch

3. Cayenne maxi dress + teal heals + dark lime head scarf

Accented Analogic Color Scheme

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 6.22.12 PMSimilar to the tetrad color combination, the accented analogic color scheme is comprised of four colors. However, instead of featuring teal, radiant orchid is a part of this combination. Fun prints, such as the Christina Siriano look pictured below, are a great way to play out this combination, However, because these colors are so diverse, and its not always possible to find prints like this, focusing on creating a solid look with three of the colors then using the fourth one as a “pop” accent color is another solid option when styling an outfit.


Outfit suggestions:

1. pastel lime blouse + pastel purple shorts + dark  cayenne sandals

2. Cayenne blazer + orange shift dress + radiant orchid (amethyst) bauble necklace

3. Dark lime pants + cayenne tank + radiant orchid clutch

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 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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2 Comments on "Color Theory: Cayenne"

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Emma Klug


Thank you for your question, we’d love to answer it in greater detail in a Q&A post format. Can you possibly send over higher resolution pictures of the color combinations you’re asking about? You can email us at

Thank you!

Deepa kcl

Hi brilliant site thanks for explaining, I get hideously confused at matching colours in my closet, I’ve uploaded a link to a pic, each row is a different colour scheme taken from looks I’ve found online could you explain to me in colour theory terms why these colours work together? Are they tints hues shades or tones? I would really appreciate your help I’m in desperate need of it!