We’ve been talking about color a lot this month – how it evokes emotion and how it can either positively or negatively affect your brand, depending on how you use colors together. All of this knowledge is crucial when designing an apparel brand. When it comes to crafting a visual identity for a brand, the color scheme is often the first decision a designer makes. This lays the foundation for the overall mood and personality of the branding, and guides the rest of the design choices. While it’s not in a designer’s best interest to blindly follow trends, looking at which color combinations are popular can help spark inspiration and kickstart the design process. 

Whether you’re a first-time t-shirt business owner, or you’ve been in this apparel decorating world for a long time, fresh design ideas are always a good idea. Using the knowledge of how color brings about emotion, and our color 101 review, let’s break down 10 color combos to try with your next apparel collection. 


When you think of the promotional products industry, it’s easy to think of a generic black tee with white text or vice versa. Well just because you have to order a generic tee, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Here are three design ideas for you to try next time you have to order your basic colored tee. 

Black with Texture (1)

When using a black shirt, I suggest you try adding texture to that shirt. So for this case, adding black foil. You may recognize this design from our design innovation series. Check out that video to see how to achieve this yourself.


Vintage Feel with Grey (2)

Grey on grey also has a similar feel of the black-on-black, however, for these designs, your graphics will appear softer and a little more washed out giving a more vintage feel. 

White With a Pop (3)

A clean, white tee is always a staple, but instead of going down the generic 1-color print, opt for a bright pop of detail to keep it interesting. 



Last week I explained what “hue” “value” and “saturation” are and showed how different shades of a single color, or how changing a color’s intensity, or, how light or dark you can go within the same color can all give a monochromatic color palette. This design look is super popular because of the high-end designer influences like from Versace, Off-white, Supreme, Louis Vuitton and even everyday retail brands. This is a great option when designing for your or your customer’s apparel line because it is simple yet interesting, causing people to take a closer look.  Taking inspiration from these looks I designed three graphics on BELLA+CANVAS fleece to see what it could look like for your next design. 

Monochrome Mustard (4)

Using only 1 color in your design is a guaranteed way to match your color scheme, and adding a printing technique such as embroidery will take it to the next level. When embroidered on a pop of color, such as our mustard color, this subtle design speaks volumes to a long-lasting piece that never goes out of style. 

Blue on Blue (5)

On our 7503 in Dusty Blue we went for a faux embossed tool. Of course you could do actual embossing for an even more elevated apparence, however, for the budget friendly viewers out there, this faux embossed design still achieves a similar effect. Check out the how-to video we did on this a while back! 

Military Green (6)

Shades of green will always be in style due to its connection to nature, placing it in a neutral category. If you’re looking to branch out into color but not ready to make such a big statement, try shades of green! 



When using complimentary colors, it’s important to understand the relationship between the colors. When colors are paired with their counterpart across the color wheel it creates a rebellious yet harmonious feel,  which draws the eyes in. 

Here are three designs that do a great job of using complimentary colors to catch the eye. 

Navy and Mint (7)

Navy has long been considered as a safe choice in brand design. It emanates trust, reliability and ironically, doesn’t rock the boat too much. In the era of daring modern design, navy can be at risk of seeming too ‘old school’ or boring. However, pairing navy with another cool hue like mint can breathe new life into this classic color. It creates depth and contrast and gives it a more contemporary feel.

Teal and Orange (8)

Sitting opposite each other on the color wheel, there’s no doubt that teal and orange creates a striking effect that’s hard to ignore. This color combination commands attention, but the colors also creates a fresh aesthetic that whets the customer’s appetite. It’s a clever design choice that’s sure to be channelled by many a food brand in 2020.

Pink and Blue (9)

Soft pink and Electric Blue are a rich combination and have been gaining popularity for businesses that want to show a little attitude—it’s fun, vibrant and full of character. It’s a colour combination that creates a strong visual identity in branding and captures attention from the get-go—while also leaving a lasting impression.



Now here is the fun part with color. If you are looking to design something with a playful spirit, then I highly suggest doing a multi-color print. Designs with a variety of color spark so much curiosity and intrigue, it’s almost impossible to not look at a colorful design for a longer time than normal. Here are a couple designs to showcase how multi-color designs can be done well. 

Multi-Color Fun (10)

Remember this design? We did this multi-color all over print in our street fleece design series. The majority of this design is printed in a more neutral tone but we added a layer on top with a variety of colors to keep it playful and interesting 

Artists Shelby and Sandy have a very unique aesthetic to their artwork so it only makes sense that their merch would reflect the same. We used embroidery to create texture with a pop of color on what could have been a basic black or white garment. 

It’s clear that color plays a huge role in the design process of apparel. Both the color of the blank, paired with the color of the designs are so important in representing your brand the way you envision it. We hope these design tips sparked some inspiration in you! What color theme resonates most with your brand or style? Monochrome? Complimentary? We’d love to hear from all of you creatives out there! And of course, if you’re looking for ways to achieve looks like this on your own, we have a ton of how-to videos on our channel. Subscribe and hit the bell so you don’t miss the next video!


Check out our color-forecasting article! Click here.

Have you seen our extensive 2020 Trend Report? Click here.

Want to learn more about BELLA+CANVAS? Click here. 

Interested in learning more about Color? Click here.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! Click here. 

Article Name
10 Color Combos to Try for Your Next Design
We’ve been talking about color a lot this month - how it evokes emotion and how it can either positively or negatively affect your brand, depending on how you use colors together. All of this knowledge is crucial when designing an apparel brand.
Publisher Name
Publisher Logo