The Art of Colour Blocking

If you've ever picked up a fashion magazine, you might have come across the expression 'colour blocking', which in everyday parlance is just a succinct way of describing the combination of two or more block colours in your outfit. By 'block' we mean your torso and limbs, so for example, blue trousers and a green shirt. There's nothing much else to it. It's a bold style of dressing, creating distinct blocks of contrasting colour that are undeniably eye-catching.

It's thought that the concept was introduced to fashion by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian whose style involved a very modernist use of groups of rectangular shapes painted in strident tones. This was a leap from the American painter Mark Rothko, who had pioneered a more surrealist exploration of morphic slabs of colour. The geometric art that Mondrian produced struck a chord with the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, who reproduced the style in his now famous 'Mondrian dresses'. 

Colour blocking Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent

It was modernism for the Pop Art generation, and fashion lapped it up to the point that it is now a tried and tested wardrobe concept that anyone can utilise to great effect. In menswear, it was probably the Mods of the 50s and 60s who popularised the style. 

How to colour block

Colour-blocking is abstract, which is another way of saying it's difficult to get wrong! The rules, if you can call them that, recommend wearing two or more bright, contrast colours (but not too many colours at once), glued together with a more neutral tone.  The colours should be solid rather than patterned or a with a gradient if you're going to be strict about it, but we say go with what feels most comfortable for you. The summer naturally provides more opportunities to colour block given that our collective wardrobes brighten up significantly, but the autumn months are actually our favourite to colour block, since there are so many deep, rich tones you can wear. 

A flat lay of articles of clothing showing how to effectively colour block, all by Oliver Spencer.

 Blenheim Crew Ingram Multi

BLENHEIM JUMPER INGRAM MULTI

JUDO TROUSERS EDEN GREEN

JUDO TROUSERS EDEN GREEN

PARABOOT MICHAEL BUFFALO GRAIN LEATHER

PARABOOT MICHAEL BUFFALO GRAIN LEATHER

LINFIELD JACKET PENTON CORD NAVY

LINFIELD JACKET PENTON CORD NAVY

The simplest form of colour blocking would be to wear a bold top with contrast trousers and neutral shoes, but you can also use contrast layers too (a blue overshirt worn with a white tee and tobacco trousers for example). Knitwear often comes pre-colour-blocked, such as our Blenheim Jumper Ingram Multi, which saves you a job!

The art of colour blocking by Oliver Spencer.

 Bermondsey Bomber Pion Ochre by Oliver Spencer

BERMONDSEY BOMBER JACKET PINO OCHRE

DRAWSTRING TROUSERS LAWLEY CHARCOAL

DRAWSTRING TROUSERS LAWLEY CHARCOAL

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD GINGER

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD GINGER

BROOK SHIRT ABBINGDON FAWN by Oliver Spencer

BROOK SHIRT ABBINGDON FAWN

 

Thankfully, the colour palette of Oliver Spencer's Autumn collection makes colour blocking a breeze thanks to the rich navy, green, ochre and caramel tones combined with the classic neutral hues. Even better is the diversity of fabrics this season, which helps to differentiate the various blocks. The three flatlays we've created here show you exactly how easy it can be, but also just how effective the style is when it comes to modern menswear. Give it a spin.

The art of colour blocking by Oliver Spencer 

 

 HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

BRITTEN CARDIGAN FAIRWAY OCHRE by Oliver Spencer

BRITTEN CARDIGAN FAIRWAY OCHRE

FISHTAIL TROUSERS BUTTRESS NAVY

FISHTAIL TROUSERS BUTTRESS NAVY

 

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