Color Block Styles Call for Bold Jewels

One of the hottest trends of the season is the use of bright color. It takes on a special intensity when it appears over a large portion of a design, an effect heightened when a bright color is combined with other bright hues. With color block designs, bold hues appear side by side, intensifying the eye-catching effect of each individual color. Sometimes the mix of colors occurs in one garment or accessory, but the look is also easy to achieve with a juxtaposition of garments and accessories of bright solid hues.

Color block looks are especially easy to accomplish with sporty apparel and activewear, as bright colors are prevalent in such garments. For instance, here is a recent ad from Lacoste highlighting casual apparel in eye-popping primary colors.

The January 2011 issue of Elle notes that “simple doesn’t have to be bland” in this montage of brightly colored and color block casual wear, tracing the trend to Balenciaga, Adam, and Bottega Veneta. As is typical for the sporty personality, jewelry with these styles is fairly minimal, largely as a practical consideration: It requires pieces that will not interfere with an active lifestyle (see my blog post of Oct. 10, 2007 for a discussion of the characteristics of the Sporty Personality).

The November 2010 issue of Marie Claire, in contrast, ups the style ante of a sporty color block look by adding a bold necklace and cuffs from Alexis Bittar. If they look familiar to readers of my blog, you will recall seeing the cuffs in my Dec. 9, 2010 post on matching cuffs and the necklace in my Dec. 13, 2010 post on rigid necklace designs.

The more cutting edge uses of color block occur with dressier sportswear, daywear and evening looks. While jewelry may be kept to a minimum with the sportiest fashions, for any other color block styles, bold jewelry is de rigueur.  

For instance, in this photo from the December 2010 issue of Vogue, the singer Rihanna combines color-contrasting sweater and pants with huge gold hoop earrings, a sizable cuff bracelet and gold metallic platforms. Her bright red hair adds a third hue to the color block mix. The jewelry is bold enough to stand up to the bright hues.

The November 2010 issue of Lucky magazine highlights color block looks in a multi-page spread entitled “The Clash,” anchoring this look of related warm hues—red, bright pink, and purple—with a huge brooch from Dinosaur Designs. The scale of the brooch is large, which emphasizes the bold strokes of design in the ensemble. 

Here’s another look from the Lucky spread, this one utilizing simple navy pants as one of the color elements, along with a green sweater and bright orange shoes. What pulls the ensemble together, however, are the leather cuff and “tinted bone ring,” both from

The January 2011 issue of InStyle urges its readers to embrace brights, commenting: “Vivid separates in contrasting hues (such as this fusion of tangerine and plum) feel modern when accented with a structured purse and wood accessories.” The wood bracelets shown are from Pono by Joan Goodman.

In the December 2010 issue of Elle magazine, the editors employ a long, single-strand color block necklace of “pavé and coral Bakelite” from Mark Walsh Leslie Chin to adorn a color block dress from Celine that cleverly incorporates not only three colors, but also three textures:  cotton, linen and leather.

A superb example of color block styling is seen in this photo featuring designer Prabal Gurung and his designs in the January 2011 issue of Marie Claire. The bright tangerine-colored long skirt (illustrating the freshest skirt length of the season) is accompanied by a bright turquoise-colored top and a matching narrow belt. The large cuff bracelets have enough oomph to adorn the ensemble. Notice that the bracelets, while similar in their parallel bar designs, do not match – they are from Yves Saint Laurent and Jennifer Fisher Jewelry; the wristwatch and rings are the model-editor’s own. Notice also that the parallel bars of the bracelets relate to the multiple straps of the loosely ankle-wrapped footwear, adding a satisfying cohesiveness to the overall look.

Bold jewelry itself can inject significant color into an ensemble to support a color block effect. This trio of bright bracelets from Derome Brenner is featured in the December 2010 issue of Marie Claire.

Think big, bold shapes with clean lines and plenty of personality when choosing jewelry to accent color block ensembles. This is no time for your jewelry to be shrinking violets.