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How to Incorporate Orange Into Your Fashion and Wardrobe

Updated on May 8, 2012
A woman wearing a modern orange dress.
A woman wearing a modern orange dress. | Source
A woman wearing an orange blouse.
A woman wearing an orange blouse. | Source

Orange is a bold and beautiful color that is making quite the comeback in modern fashion in recent years. It is also a color women often believe to be too brazen and vibrant for their wardrobes. There is nothing wrong with wearing a little or even a lot of orange regardless of your size or ethnicity. There's also no better time to start incorporating orange into your wardrobe than now!

Five Myths About Wearing Orange

  • Orange wouldn't look good with my (pale) skin tone. Orange comes in a plethora of shades, from bright construction worker orange to burnt red-oranges. For paler skin it's recommended to start with the darker shades and work your way from there. Sometimes bright oranges can wash out or "melt" into very pale skin so experiment until you find what works for you.
  • Orange is just for Halloween. Orange does get a bad rap, especially when coordinated with black, for being "Halloweeny". Odds are no matter how much orange you wear somebody's going to make a Halloween comment. But orange is more than just Halloween decoration - it's a bright and happy color that transcends the costuming it's often associated with.
  • Orange will bring me too much unwanted attention. Being such a bold and vibrant color, people often think that if they wear orange that everybody will stare and make fun of them. This isn't so. People may stare, but it's usually in happy awe. Comments may come, but it's usually "You're so orange! I love it!" Orange brings happiness and it's usually a treat instead of a nuisance.
  • Nothing matches orange. False! Orange is a match-happy color, but in large amounts orange should be treated as the star of the fashion show. But if it's an accent color, orange goes well with the bases white and black, but also red and pinks. When wearing a lot of orange, try yellows and pinks to balance it out.
  • Orange is a seasonal color. Orange often makes the summer and even autumn color lists, and they're definitely great times to bear the orange. However, orange also makes a great winter color if you're as bold as it is. Orange can bring some bright cheer to those around you on those particularly dark and dreary winter days. It may not be the biggest hit at Christmas gatherings, but on other days it helps bring out the colors around you.

The next few steps show a gradual incorporation of orange into your wardrobe. You are of course free to start with any step you please based on your personal comfort level.

Step 1 - Lingerie

If you're a bit apprehensive about wearing orange but want to give it a try, then lingerie is a great place to start. Since "nobody" sees it but you (and anyone else you deem allowed to) it's the perfect way to experiment with shades without feeling like everyone is staring at your "odd" choices. Wearing orange lingerie can help you gain confidence in wearing bolder colors. It also helps you get used to seeing yourself in orange before you try it out in public. (Just be careful about wearing orange bras under light-colored shirts and blouses, unless you're making some other fashion statement!)

Step 2 - Accessories

Now it's time to start wearing orange on your exterior clothing...but you still may not be ready for a brazen orange T-shirt for everyone to immediately look at. This is where accessories come in. Various orange accessories, paired and used in certain ways, will help you gauge its matchability to the rest of your existing wardrobe and style. Since there are many kinds of accessories, here's some ideas to help you get started:

  • Purses and handbags. An orange purse is a purse you can distance from yourself if you think it's getting to be a bit too much. Since you don't physically "wear" it most of the time, it's also still practical with an outfit that may not otherwise match it. An orange purse lets you appreciate the color with your ensemble without necessarily wearing it.
  • Belts. Pair an orange belt with a sundress or your everyday jeans to get a similar affect to orange shoes but with more visibility. Pair the belt with the shoes and you're gradually getting to your orange outfit! (See if you can get the orange handbag in there too!)
  • Scarves. Most scarves can be adjusted to show as much or as little as you want. They also give you a chance to try some "off-season" orange in the winter and see how it makes you feel.
  • Hats. If you're a hat person, then an orange hat may become your big statement at this stage. Your hat is going to attract a lot of attention and may help you gain confidence in incorporating orange in more permanent clothing that you can't take off when you want.

Step 3 - Jewelry

Orange jewelry can add that perfect balance or touch to the rest of your accessories, or try them on their own to see how it works for you. Try some thin and light earring studs, string necklaces, petite bracelets, and ring bands to add a bit of orange to your look, or go for the full-deal and have gallant orange beading, in-your-face rings, and earrings that could signal an airplane in. The best part about jewelry is that it's one of the most personalized additions to your wardrobe. Take a white outfit (such as blouse and skirt) and combine orange jewelry with your orange accessories from above for a totally new look without going beyond your comfort level - that will come later.

Step 4 - Shoes

It may seem a bit early to include orange shoes in your wardrobe, but if you're still not ready to start sporting full-orange outfits then the shoes will help you, ah, get your "foot through the door". Shoes are both unnoticeable, as people rarely stare at your feet, but also make great statements once they are noticed.

  • Sandals. Sandals take up less material (to be noticed) and are associated with summer fun, just like orange is. Orange sandals are more likely to get positive comments when out and about given their seasonal appropriateness.
  • Heels. Add some orange color to your formal and office wear along with all your orange accessories. Wearing a light-colored dress to your next formal gathering? Pop on some orange shoes to make a subtle statement.
  • Sneakers. If heels aren't your thing, then some orange tennis shoes or Converse may be more up your alley. Whether working out or just running errands, orange tennis shoes are sure to get noticed.
  • Boots. Nothing says "I'm ready to take the next step" like a pair of orange boots. If paired with shorts or a skirt everyone who sees you is going to have an opinion or two to share. Take their advice and plunge on.

Step 5 - Tops & Tees

Alright, time to finally jump in and start actually wearing orange clothes! By this point you're feeling confident enough to walk around with one or more article of orange clothing on your person. What better way to start than with a tank, tee, or blouse?

  • Tanks. Orange tank tops can be layered beneath darker or lighter tops, depending on your style.
  • Tees. An orange T-shirt gets the looks but can be balanced out with blue jeans or a dark jacket.
  • Blouse. An orange blouse can make the best statement of them all, whether form-fitting or flowy. They're the most accessory friendly as well.

Step 6 - Skirts and Pants

For some reason, people seem to note the orange jeans and long skirts more than they do the T-shirts. Maybe it's because they're just so unique. Many people don't stray far from the blue jeans, khakis, and "staple" colored skirts like black.

  • Shorts. Not as noticeable as the other two and are "seasonally" appropriate with the color. Some cute orange shorts may be the ticket with your next beach ensemble. (Don't forget the sandals and hat!)
  • Skirts. Skirts are a great way to incorporate orange into your wardrobe. They're fresh and flirty and are prone to coming in great colors and patterns. People tend to be more open to uniquely colored skirts than pants.
  • Pants. Personal experience says that the moment you put on orange pants you've got everyone's attention. Seriously, orange pants! Orange pants! Who saw that coming?

Step 7 - Dresses

The dress is the ultimate orange fashion statement. There's nothing to offset the bright or dark color unless you're an expert accessorizer. When you walk into a room wearing nothing but an orange dress, everyone is going to take note. Of course, depending on what type of dress you're wearing...

  • Everyday dress. Sun dresses, work dresses, all dresses that you'll commonly find in shops are a great way to start wearing orange dresses. Accessorize with jewelry, shoes, bags, and even other-colored sweaters.
  • Evening dresses. This also includes your prom dresses and bridesmaid dresses. No party is complete without somebody showing up wearing an orange evening dress. Next time it could be you!
  • Bridal gowns. ...Do it!

Accenting and Beyond

Your wardrobe is now infused with enough orange to light up any room you enter. What's next? Well, there's always more to explore when it comes to wearing this great color. Accenting is a great way to have fun with orange. As mentioned before, yellow and pink are great accent colors for orange.

There are other types of clothing to wear as well, such as jackets, sweaters, and even bathing suits. If you're artistically inclined you can even try orange nail painting or make-up. No matter how far you go in incorporating orange into your wardrobe, you're sure to see a positive turn in your style.

Hildred is an (super pale) avid orange-lover whose wardrobe is comprised of a looooot of orange. To the point that people get weirded out when she's not wearing any orange.

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