I get this particular question quite a bit at my bellydance costume lectures. How do you figure out what color works best?
How do you keep from choosing your favorite colors (Purple and Blue for me!) over and over again?

The right color bellydance costume can make you feel a certain way, can make your audience feel a certain way, add to a performance, take away from, make a statement, so choosing the right color is very important. It can be a key part of your dance, so there is nothing wrong with taking it seriously.

In order to help you with this, the first thing I have to do is get science-ey on you: Basic Color theory.
This will help orient you as to where my ideas come from and then I’ll get into how to put these all together in Part 2.
The Color Wheel (all images are fromĀ http://www.tigercolor.com/, if you want even more detail, be sure to visit their site)
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There are many variations of this available but this is the most basic and includes all 12 colors. Any colors that you pick from this wheel will look good together. These are all based on the RYB model- those of you that use photoshop have probably seen that acronym before.

Now, to get to some of the shades that we are used to seeing, from the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) you can get secondary colors (green, orange and purple) by mixing 2 of the primary colors and then from that there are tertiary colors from mixing primary and secondary colors together. One example looks like this:
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Now, here is where it gets important for bellydance costume purposes: warmth, tint, shade and tone.
Warm and cool colors (pictured below) give different impressions. Typically cool colors are more soothing and warm colors give a more energetic response. So, what type of “response” are you looking to give with your look?
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Tint, shade and tones become especially important. Tint refers to when white is added to get the color you want, shade is when black is added to get the color you want and tone is when gray is added. How does that all work? A great example is below:
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For example, I may be fair but I have green undertones so taking a pure white and putting it against my skin may not be the best idea or using FFEED5, however, if I go to FFCC80 that is still “fair” in color but has some warmth to it. If I was more olive complected and had green undertones I would lean towards 553300 however, AA6600 is warmer and will actually reflect better against my skin tone.

This is the end of part 1. I know I’ve given you a lot to mull over and think about. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

Which color would I choose to match your skin tone and why?
Do I gravitate towards warm or cool colors and why?
Do all of the secondary colors look the same to me or do I gravitate towards one or the other?

Feel free to comment with your answers below. I’d love to hear what you are thinking and can’t wait to share part 2!