Historic Color Combos: Black and Yellow

Black and Yellow Clothing

Court Coat, circa 1750-90

Evening Dress, circa 1818

British Silk Dress, circa 1836

Evening Dress, circa 1867

Fancy Dress (for a Costume Ball), circa 1880

Corset, circa 1880

Corset, circa 1890

Black and Yellow Accessories

Purse, 18th century

Mourning Ring, circa 1820

Fan, circa 1870

Stockings, circa 1882

Brooch, circa 1880

Gloves, circa 1920

The wild combination of yellow and back wasn’t always just for bumblebees! The pairing sprung from the luxurious combination of black and gold, a favorite for centuries. Substituting brilliant saffron for the more subdued glimmer of gold turns ordinary evening gowns into graphic, comic-book heroine style outfits! The effect is undeniably seductive and bold, traits that helped boost the combination’s prevalence during the late Victorian period, a time of can-cans, night life, and high hopes! Lighter, less shocking colors replaced such brash combinations around 1900. The color combo became rather unfashionable until the late 1960s and 1970s when mod and disco lovers picked it up.

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Historic Color Combos: Red and Blue

Red and Blue Clothing

Men’s Suit, circa 1780

Men’s Waistcoat, circa 1770-90

Russian Sarafan and Jacket, circa 1840

Evening Dress, circa 1841

British Silk Dress, circa 1830-40

Evening Cape, circa 1860

American Dressing Gown, circa 1870

Rodrigues Dinner Dress, circa 1875

Girl’s Ensemble, circa 1876

Darlington Evening Dress, circa 1880

Wool Dressing Gown, circa 1890

House of Worth Evening Ensemble, circa 1893

Lady’s Gym Suit, circa 1893-1898

Swimwear, circa 1900

Elizabeth Hawes Gown, circa 1937

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Red and Blue Accessories

Brisé Fan, circa 1700-30

Silk Mitts, 18th century

French Revolutionary Cap, circa 1791-94

Shoes, circa 1790

Shoe Rosettes, circa 1824 (great history with these!)

Beaded Purse, circa 1830-60

Turban Hat, circa 1850

Silk Pumps, circa 1873

Giuliano Brooch, circa 1896-1912

Art Deco Pin, circa 1925

As you can tell, red and blue were in fashion in the 18th century (due to surging patriotism) and then faded out until the 1870s when chemical dyes made richer, longer-lasting colors possible. Red and blue are a dynamic duo. You cannot be a wallflower in an outfit that contains both cool blue and blazing red! The combination of the two creates visual resonance especially if the shade and tint are similar. When you put these colors together, your brain has to analyze two separate wavelengths: one long and one short. In other words, looking at a red-blue combo makes your eyes and brain pause, so you have to take a slightly longer look at a red and blue dress than you do at other color combos. You will literally be a showstopper for 1/100th of a second longer than any other person at the party!

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As with all my articles, all of the images in this article are either linked to larger versions, articles explaining them, or other fact-filled sites to help you explore, so please feel free to check them out!