Yes, Orange And Purple Can Live In Harmony Stylistically

When putting together a color palette for an outfit or interior design, most people will take the safest route possible. This usually means they will pair together neutrals with one distinct color. Or, if they want to create something a little more dynamic, they'll combine cool colors with cool colors or warm colors with warm colors. People rarely venture outside their comfort zone to mix cool and warm colors.

If you're unfamiliar with cool and warm color categories, think of cutting the color wheel in half. The warm side consists of red, orange, and yellow, while the cool side is made up of green, blue, and purple. Because purple and orange fall on opposite sides, most people assume they clash. However, if you're intentional about how you use them, the two colors can actually be the perfect pair. With the right styling, purple and orange will make it known that you have a unique eye for aesthetics.

Color theory about combining orange and purple

For anyone who has studied design, one of the first lessons you likely learned was color theory. Color theory is a system that integrates art, psychology, and science to determine how viewers are affected by specific color compositions. According to Canva, "color harmony" refers to pairs or groups of colors that go well together aesthetically. Some of these color harmony categories include complementary colors, monochromatic colors, analogous colors, and tetradic colors. To many people's surprise, purple and orange fall into the triadic color harmony.

You can find a triadic color harmony by locating three colors on the color wheel that are an equal distance from one another. You'd have a perfect triangle if you connected the points between the selected colors. For instance, purple and orange belong to a triadic that also includes green. According to color theory, these three colors are all visually harmonious with one another.

Color blocking with purple and orange

Color blocking is a term used in design to describe when two colors that oppose each other on the color wheel (like purple and orange) or two colors that are typically thought of as clashing (like blue and black) are styled side by side. The colors are depicted in solid "blocks" of pigment. 

The popularity of this design method is typically credited to the famous Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. One of Mondrian's most notable works, "Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue," displayed the foundations of the "color blocking" technique. According to L'Officiel, the painter's innovative design found its way into high fashion in 1965 with YSL's dress named "The Mondrian."

Today, architects, interior designers, and fashion designers alike take inspiration from Mondrian when combining seemingly clashing colors. When combining purple and orange, you'll want to do the same. Ensure that each purple and orange section of your outfit or furniture has a distinct line of separation from the other.

Purple and orange were an iconic color duo in 2011

Just a little bit over a decade ago in 2011, purple and orange were one of the hottest color combinations in fashion. Mail Online featured celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, and Rose Byrne boldly dressed in purple-and-orange outfits. This clashing, color-blocking trend was likely initiated by Gucci's spring line that year.

If the world-renowned fashion house approves of the color combination, you definitely have no reason to fear it. In fact, the mixture was so popular in 2011 that Kim Kardashian even posted on Twitter saying, "Bright orange and purple! ... Do you guys like this trend?" For inspiration, take a look back at magazines from 2011, and you'll find the most prestigious design publications dressing models and celebrities in orange and purple.

Ideas for styling a purple-and-orange outfit

If you're feeling confident, step out of the house clad in purple and orange. We know it's an intimidating combination to pull off, but when it's done right, it'll make you feel like an 11/10. You can make your look extra bold and stylish with color blocking, but if color blocking doesn't feel like your vibe, don't worry — there are other options.

For a more subtle mix of orange and purple, you can try choosing just one of the colors as your primary choice and then accessorize the outfit with hints of the other. For example, if you're wearing an orange dress, try throwing in a handy canvas tote bag in purple. Or go even smaller, styling your hair with a bandana in purple. If you like the idea of purple and orange but aren't ready to fully commit to a loud, all-over look, feel free to mix neutrals into your fit.

How to style interiors with purple and orange

We know — at first thought, this color theme can sound overbearing for a room. But in reality, purple and orange might be the perfect color scheme for a home makeover. Whether it's your living room, dining room, kitchen, or bedroom, these two colors can add a sophisticated and warm ambiance to your space. Just as with an outfit, you have a few options for how you want to implement these colors.

However, unlike with an outfit, we recommend you avoid color blocking to ensure the room has more depth and texture. Instead of decorating with equal amounts of orange and purple, you'll want your choices to be more dynamic. For example, if you're styling a purple couch, embellish it with orange cushions. Or if the walls are orange to make the room feel energizing, make the details of the room purple. You'll want a central color and an accent color. Since green is the third harmonious color in purple and orange's triadic, adorn the space with plants for an extra cohesive look.

However you decide to style orange and purple, don't forget that it's not life or death  — designing is supposed to be fun! Encourage yourself to take risks with this bright, high-contrasting palette.