fashion ‘What we’re getting wrong about bridesmaid dresses, as a colour theory expert.’ Shannen Findlay

What is colour theory?

Colour theory is all about choosing clothes in the colours that work with your skin tone and highlight your features — which means that not all shades will suit all people. And that’s okay!

Colour matching can help determine which shades “harmonise” with your skin, eye and hair colour. With clients, Crowley uses fabrics in different hues to help them see which colours make them either look vibrant and healthy, and which wash them out or make them look dull. She also assigns people a seasonal colour palette (summer, spring, autumn or winter) and a dominant palette (deep, light, warm, cool, clear, soft).

“The more that you shop into your palette (and the more you ignore all of the noise), the more your clothes will interact together,” Crowley says.

It sounds complicated, but the process is fairly simple, and you can either go through experts like Crowley — who uses colour analysis as a tool to help her clients shop for garments that suit them — or you take a self-guided colour analysis quiz. There are even apps like Dressika or Vivaldi Color, and filters on TikTok to help you find your best colour match.

How does colour theory help dress your bridesmaids?

Okay, back to the wedding chat. Crowley explains that allowing bridesmaids to move outside of the matchy-matchy colour palette fundamentally changes the game.

“If you’re suddenly trying to wear a bridesmaid dress that is completely outside your season, it’s possible that nothing could look or feel right for you because you’re trying to make something suit you that simply doesn’t,” she says.