Color Theory: Marsala

Somewhere on the color wheel between the reds, pinks and browns, lies Marsala, the 2015 Pantone Color of The Year. Yup, the oddly named color that’s more reminiscent of Italian food than anything fashion/beauty related is carving a name in the spotlight for itself this year, and everyone’s taking notice. Seriously. From Chanel, Valentino, DVF and more, some of the fashion industry’s leading designers have already locked in on the power of Marsala, so it’s about time you get with the program too.


Marsala is definitely unique, especially when compared to previous Color’s of The Year – Radiant Orchid, Emerald, Tangerine Tango, etc. Marsala is obviously more conservative than these colors, which makes it perfect for glamorous looks. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a boring color. In fact, Marsala can actually be quite edgy, eclectic and versatile depending on the way you style it.


Dior SS15, Nina Ricci FW14, Jenny Packham SS15, Alexander McQueen pre SS15

For starters, a simple monochromatic outfit that’s accentuated with neutrals, such as black and white, can be stunning. The photos above clearly demonstrate that Marsala can hold its own. However, there are a ton of other options for styling Marsala, as you’ll see in the color combinations below.

Complementary Color Scheme


As explained in Styling 101: Color Combinations, complementary color schemes are extremely bold. These colors sit directly across from each other on the color wheel, which makes them complete opposites. However, as the saying goes, opposites attract for a reason, and this Marsala and muted-green combination are a prime example of this.


Louis Vuitton Resort 2015

Using all forms of the Marsala and muted-green, you can create a lot of different outfits. Just remember, because this is such a bold color combination, try not to pick silhouettes that are too stuffy. The colors are already loud enough, and adding fussy details to your look can make it appear over the top.

Outfit Suggestions:

1. Dark green pants + Marsala blouse

2. Green pea coat + dark Marsala denim + Marsala sweater

3. Marsala pencil skirt + Dark green heels + Light Marsala button up

Triad Color Scheme


Taking it a step further, the triad color scheme is much more dimensional than the complementary combination. With multiple shades of a olive green and dark teal supporting Marsala, this combination can naturally lend itself to playful or classy outfits, depending on how you style it.


Valentino SS14

As shown above, the darker colors of this combination create a rather moody vibe, which is great for edgy or timeless looks. However, if you’re looking to put together an outfit that is more playful or relaxed, experimenting with the lighter shades in this combination is a good way to go. The light teal, light olive and Marsala can look ultra-feminine, and are right on trend for the spring and summer.

Outfit Suggestions:

1. Light teal cardigan + Marsala T-shirt + Dark olive cargo pants

2. Light olive green sweater + Dark teal pants + Dark Marsala booties

3. Marsala lipstick + Olive green army jacket + Teal a-line dress

Tetrad Color Scheme


Bringing a warmth to Marsala, the chestnut brown is what seals the deal on this color combination. Paired with the teal and muted green, the tetrad color scheme is dynamic in every possible way. While the amount of colors the tetrad color scheme holds may seem intimidating at first, it’s really quite easy to navigate.


Burberry Prorsum FW14

You don’t have to fully utilize every single color in this combination to create a successful look. The look (above) clearly demonstrates that less is often more when it comes to styling complex color combinations. The Marsala lace dress is accentuated with a scarf, bag and shoes that are fitting within the limits of this color combination. Remember, accessories, and even makeup, are your friends and can help tie your whole look together.

Outfit Suggestions:

1. Dark teal circle skirt + Dark muted green sweater + Chestnut heels + Marsala lipstick

2. Dark Chestnut Maxi dress + Long Marsala cardigan + Marsala booties + teal & green handbag

3. Marsala jumpsuit + Dark teal blazer + Dark chestnut booties + Dark green envelope clutch

Accented Analogic Color Scheme


Although the dark violet and muted green are both considered “cool” colors, when paired with the brown and Marsala they create a very warm and full color combination. The accented analogic color scheme is ideal can be the hardest to style, but when done correctly it can look amazing.


Emilio Pucci SS15

A great way to include a lot of colors into one outfit is by wearing a piece with a fun print, like the Emilio Pucci look, above. Prints are great for effortlessly infusing a punch of color into your wardrobe and can be extremely fun to accessorize.

Outfit Suggestions:

1. Chestnut booties+ Marsala shift dress + Muted green and purple belt

2. Dark Marsala sweater + Dark muted-green button up layered underneath + Dark chestnut corduroys + purple

3. Dark muted green heels + Chestnut trench coat + Dark Marsala and purple print wrap dress

More Inspiration

While the above color schemes are great tools for creating successful Marsala color combinations, don’t forget to experiment. There are a ton of great colors that can be paired with Pantone’s 2015 Color of The Year, and you never know what will look best until you try it.

The Pantone-declared Color of The Year, tends to serve as major an inspiration for designers, retailers and fashionistas, and we expect nothing less from Marsala. In fact, the abundance of Marsala merchandise has already begun, and if memory of Colors of The Year past serves us correctly, we can only expect to see more hitting the shelves as the months progress.


How do you plan to style Marsala this year? Leave your answer in the comments below, and be sure to check out Styling 101: Color Combinations for more color inspiration. 

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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