This question was asked on Quora. My response:
The colors we call “beige” are light, very weak oranges. The complement of orange in traditional color theory is blue…but the “color wheel” definition of blue has quite a lot of red in it. I prefer the complementary pair found in the Munsell system, which uses a blue that has no red in it whatsoever.
To get the best results from a complementary pairing, you should consider the area that is being occupied by each color. If they are about equal, then you want to pair your light, weak orange color called beige with an equally weak blue. If the beige color is going to occupy more space, you can afford to increase the strength of the blue color without upsetting the balance.
Just for fun, here are some of the definitions of “beige”.
The authorities consulted for that list are:
- Top row: Standard Color Reference of America, British Standards, educator & author Faber Birren, U.S. Federal Standards;
- Bottom row: yarn-maker Mary Maxim, educator & author Elizabeth Burris-Meyer, Australian Standards, Pantone Fashion Home & Interiors.
Here are those same colors, paired with a complement of similar chroma from the Munsell System.