The Yin and Yang of Style

September 19, 2007

Balance is crucial to stylish dressing: getting the right mix of colors, the best blend of prints and fabric types, the correct hem lengths and the proper proportions. The perfect outfit is one that hangs together; harmonious in color, form and content. The various elements of the outfit complement each other. This may sound like a highly intuitive art but in fact the secret science of style is easy to grasp. Whatever your style of dressing, you can look well-put together. Here are some tips…

Yin and Yang
Beware of over-doing or under-doing mix and match. “Matchy, matchy” is uninspiring and contrived (a one color outfit, a full set of matching jewelry, or a striped suit, shirt and tie). Conversely, mixing too many colors, styles and designs causes the individual features in an outfit to compete for attention.  The result: garish and over-the-top.

Any style maven will tell you that clothes, shoes, bag, jewelry, watch, spectacles, sunglasses and even hair and make-up must work together.  “Boring”? Not at all. The savvy dresser combines different elements of color, line and design in unique ways that assert individuality, and gets it right by following rules of balance and proportion! Counterbalance colors, textures, prints, fabric weights, lengths and ornamentation. It gives a sense of harmony to an outfit. Call it the “yin” and “yang” principle of style.

Contrast, complement and off-set your clothes, accessories and cosmetics by combining:

Lighter with darker colors
E.g. a black outfit with silver accessories

Strong with neutral colors
E.g. red lipstick with a black dress, a dark brown belt with a beige outfit

Bright colors with neutrals
E.g. a Hawaiian print shirt with white trousers

Visually advancing colors with receding colors
E.g. a yellow T-shirt with dark blue jeans

Textured with smooth fabrics
E.g. a velvet jacket with a silk dress

Matte with light-reflective fabrics or detailing
E.g. a wool crepe dress with a satin sash and beading at the neck-line and cuffs

Transparent with opaque fabrics
E.g. chiffon blouse with a fine wool skirt

Patterned with plain materials
E.g. a striped shirt with a plain suit

Heavy or eye-catching detailing with a plain or less detailed one
E.g. an embroidered top with a plain skirt

An outstanding accessory with less eye-catching pieces
E.g. fun glasses with stud earrings

Multi-color with monotone
E.g. a loud print shirt with plain bermuda shorts

Larger with smaller
E.g. an oversize shirt with skinny jeans

Thicker with thinner
E.g. a heavy cable-knit sweater with wool gabardine trousers

Long with short
E.g. a long jacket with a knee-length skirt

Wide with narrow
E.g. a full skirt with a camisole top

Loose with tight
E.g. a blouson top with a fitted skirt

Follow these “yin and yang” rules of dressing and your outfits will have a sense of congruence. Style is not all about fashion and top brands: what’s in, what’s out, what’s covetable…Well-balanced lines, designs, scale, proportions and color are fundamental to creating a great outfit and the starting point to developing your own personal style!


Learn More » read ‘Dress Sense for the Style Challenged

The writer, Denise Ng, is a certified image consultant in Singapore. Her consultancy Imago Image specializes in personal and corporate image, offering advice on style, the art of dressing, wardrobe, color, grooming, etiquette and protocol and communication skills.


8 Responses to “The Yin and Yang of Style”

  1. Fatma Noureldeen on April 15th, 2008 9:54 am

    I am so impressed by the organized and simple way that you have put all those info. written.
    and I am lucky that I found your website today.

    Thank you

  2. Warren Chan on April 10th, 2009 2:35 pm

    My thoughts exactly! What you call the yin and yang I correlate that with a well balanced alcoholic beverage. It is not always about the amount of alcohol but the well balance mixture of the ingredients that makes a perfectly mixed or blended beverage. Thank you for your thoughts they are very inspiring.

  3. Aileen Lane on October 14th, 2010 9:40 pm

    Hi Denise,
    I love your concept of Yin & Yang – It puts the concept of balance so beautifully – Never knew you had a blog – Just found it from Imogen’s post. Keep up the blogging – Your articles are beautifully written

  4. Private Krankenversicherung Vergleich on October 29th, 2010 2:31 pm

    You made a few good points there. I did a search on the topic and hardly got any specific details on other sites, but then great to be here, seriously, thanks.

    - Lucas

  5. Blogs by Image Consultants on July 11th, 2011 4:02 am

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  6. M.C.L. Provost on February 12th, 2012 6:26 pm


    There are several types of similar consultancies. . . . .Can you put me in touch with someone in New York who does this training?

    Wishing you the Best,

    M.C. Lois Provost

  7. Elisa Negro on June 14th, 2016 1:00 pm

    Very interesting article. Very good blog.
    I love you job.
    Consulente d’immagine e personal shopper Elisa Negro

  8. Ali Imam on November 4th, 2017 7:04 am

    your blog adds value to- person’s styling really I found it useful with good knowledge as I also have started my blog and I welcome you and everyone to visit my blog on life and personality development

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