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Does Eyeshadow Have to Match Your Outfit? Here’s the Answer

So, you’re going out on the town. You’ve got your favorite green shirt on and are wearing gold eyeshadow, but you’re thinking of that green quad you have from Charlotte Tilbury and are wondering “Should I have matched my eyeshadow to my outfit?”

Fear not! We’ll get into the details, but I won’t bury the lede:

You don’t have to match your eyeshadow to your outfit. In fact, if you do exact color matching with, say, a shirt, it can be a little over the top. But it’s always a good idea to coordinate your eyeshadow with what you’re wearing by using complementary or analogous colors.

By that definition, your green with gold is more than okay. Let’s talk about why and discuss some outfit and eyeshadow colors that go together.

What Colors Work Together: Complementary Colors

On something called the color wheel, complementary colors are opposites. Here’s what that looks like:

A hand drawing of the color wheel with opposites highlighted
Note the arrows showing which colors are complementary to one another.

Complementary colors are called as such because they complement each other, so they’re great options when coordinating your eyeshadow to your outfit!

Now, wearing a bright blue eye look with an orange shirt may be a little much.

That’s why you may want to work with more muted versions of complementary colors, like those listed below.

Complementary Outfit and Eyeshadow Combos That Work Together

Here are some complementary colors and ways you might wear them together.

All of these combos were made with Canva’s complementary color picker.

  1. Mustard eyeshadow with a deep, muted blue dress

2. A forest green shirt with eggplant purple eyeshadow

3. A brick red eye look with an aqua sweater

What Colors Work Together: Analogous Colors

If you want to take a more subtle approach, try working with colors that are analogous to one another, meaning they’re next to each other on the color wheel.

A hand drawing of the color wheel with "nextdoor neighbors" highlighted
Note the arrows showing which colors are analogous to one another.

Analogous colors are close to one another on the color wheel—think yellows and greens or browns and reds.

This can be a less in-your-face way to match your eyeshadow to your outfit than using complementary colors.

Check out the examples below for some analogous color combos.

Analogous Complementary Outfit and Eyeshadow Combos That Work Together

And here they are—some nice choices if you want to do analogous pairings.

  1. Sable eyeshadow with a maroon top

2. A green shirt with gold shimmer eyeshadow

3. Dark purple smoky eye to go with your plummy dress

What About Actually Matching Your Eyeshadow to Your Outfit, Color for Color?

Many would say it’s a faux pas to color match your eyeshadow to your outfit exactly. So if you’re asking “Do I have to match my eyeshadow to my outfit?” the answer is absolutely not—in fact, many would say your shouldn’t.

But what if you want to?

If exact color matching would bring you joy, no need to follow what others say you can or can’t do. It’s just makeup! There’s something satisfying about direct color matching, even if it is something “they” say you shouldn’t do. I abide by the saying, “know the rules; then break them.”

And there are more subtle ways of breaking this particular rule if you’re looking to not be too over the top.

For instance, you may want to stick to neutrals when matching. if you’re feeling the taupe eyeshadow with the taupe sweater, get after it! Aqua eyeshadow with your aqua shirt? Might be a little much. (But again, do you!)

Another idea is to just match part of your eyeshadow look to your outfit. Maybe you’re wearing a blouse with some orange florals. Instead of making your whole shadow look orange, maybe wear a purple look and blend out the crease and above with an orange.

What About Coordination—Do I Have to Coordinate My Eyeshadow to My Outfit?

I’ve advised in this article that you coordinate your eyeshadow colors to what you’re wearing. But do you have to? Girl (or boy), no. No way.

While I think it’s a good idea, and it’s fun to play with complementary and analogous colors, it’s almost certain that no one is going to notice if your eye look and your outfit clash (though they might notice if it’s especially harmonious and think about how nice you look!)

Like we discussed above, this is just makeup. Do the eye look you think would be enjoyable to create that day—go with what you’re feeling. Or pick the shadow you know looks beautiful on you, even if your shirt color doesn’t fall into the coordinating realm.

Remember: know the rules; then break them.


Okay! Today we talked about eyeshadow and whether or not you need to match it to your outfit. And the answer is…no!

It’s a great idea to use coordinating colors, like complementary and analogous ones, in order to look your very best that day. But no fashion police are going to come out and scold you if you just do what you want.

I hope this helped you learn more about the rules—while also empowering you to break them when you feel like doing so!