Dressing to Match Your Complexion: What Colors Go with My Skin Tone?
Table of Contents
People come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. Fashion trends may or may not always fit your color profile. Knowing what colors go with my skin tone helps to prevent the unintentional clashing of colors.
The color wheel provides a good foundation for how to pair colors together, but skin tones can be tricky. As you may have noticed, skin tone doesn’t really count as a neutral, especially for very fair skin. There is no true right or wrong way for pairing colors with your skin tone.
It does help a lot if you have some sense of theme or balance that compliments your skin. Certain colors can also make your face look more vibrant and youthful. The first thing you need to do is learn which colors flatter your skin tone the most.
Let’s take a look at some ways to test out your skin tone and then figure out the wardrobe.
Testing Skin Tones
Judging a person’s actual skin tone is tough for amateurs. Professional make-up artists know that skin tone goes beyond the surface. Skin tone can even vary from day to day based on sun exposure.
What you actually need to look at is the skin’s undertones. These are more consistent and allow you to choose the best types of foundation, lipsticks, and clothes. To find the most accurate undertone, strip all makeup and lotion from the face.
Next, take a black sheet of paper and hold it up to your face. This stark contrast is what will give you a semblance of where your skin tone lies. Look for warm or cool colors in contrast to the paper. You should see greens, yellows, and browns for warm undertones. Pinks, blues, and grays fall into the cold undertone category.
There is no good or bad skin tone here, we’re just trying to find what our foundation is so that we can compliment our colors. After we have a general idea of what our skin tone’s main undertones are, we can really get creative.
People are really going to be impressed with the subtle highlighting of your undertones. When your wardrobe starts to compliment and bring out your skin tones, you’re on a new level of fashion.
Veins, Imperfections, Sun Burns
Because nobody’s skin is flawless (underneath that foundation), we have to account for these features. Veins are often overlooked when pairing colors with skin. Some people have more prominent veins, showing through blue, green, or purple.
These are like little accent lines and should be embraced, not feared. The same goes for people with cellulite, stretch marks, moles, or scars. All of these variables provide an opportunity for expression.
Freckles and sun splotches are also just fine, you can still find your ideal color range. Some people’s undertones vary, others are predictable. There’s no wrong or “safe” method for knowing what colors go with my skin tone. You just have to go with your gut.
Our skin tone tests are meant to find the most accurate matching without anything on. We aren’t expecting you to suddenly stop using makeup, but it is worth noting how much your makeup impacts your look. It’s important to choose a foundation that compliments your skin tone, not hide it.
For more information on how to match your makeup with your outfit, read our complete guide here.
Darker Skin Tones
Whether you have warm or cool highlights, dark skin tones can compliment many different colors. The most obvious pairings for darker skin tones will be pastels and neons. These stark contrasts make rich, ebony skin tones look infinite and luxurious.
For warmer undertones, try going with violets, mahogany, or even the vintage mauve. These bring a very sexy and mysterious look to darker skin tones. If you’re looking for brighter shades, pink and yellow are two colors that never grow old.
We can’t go anywhere without mentioning the colors of true magic: gold, silver, and bronze. Silver and bronze are especially intense choices for cooler undertones. These colors of fine jewelry demand reverence and steal attention when wrapped around dark skin.
Now, for colors that can be pulled off, but are much more difficult to pair: solid blacks, dark brown, dark blues, and grays. Not to be confused with silver, most neutral grays are just going to come off as unremarkable on black skin. Black and dark brown dresses are the same thing.
Tan/Medium Skin Tones
Most women see themselves as “medium” skin tone, but it’s important to know your spectrum. Are you a darker tan? Caramel complexion? Is your undertone leaning towards the cooler side of medium skin tone?
For some women, they can play in a bit from each category or dark brown or light olive levels. The sun can change what is defined as “medium” a lot. It’s hard to figure out what color matches your skin tone when it can change so easily.
Fear not, medium skin tones do have some structure along with the flexibility. For starters, don’t weird too much beige, light brown, or orange. Gold may not be the greatest choice, either, despite being such a beautiful material.
There are lots of great alternatives to gold, though. Silver and platinum are amazing, along with some common crystals and gemstones for energy. Medium skin tones are actually lucky in this regard, they can display a multitude of colors without it getting lost.
Medium skin works perfectly with every primary color. In contrast, fair skin tones have to moderate the number of colors. Enjoy outfitting your wardrobe with a little bit of everything under the rainbow.
Light Tans and Olive Skin
Now we’re getting into the skin tones that can really start to enrich those in-between shades and neutrals. These skin tones lean more towards yellows and browns. Greens are your friends, obviously. Orange is a color that will not only look flattering but will enhance your skin’s glow, too.
Try looking for clothes that combine gray with a bright pastel or bright primary color. Reds and pinks can do wonders for olive skin tones. It can almost make the skin more flush, just by nature of how our eyes process colors. We like going to places like Morning Lavender for vibrant pieces.
Blue colors can definitely work, try to shoot for navy blue, aquamarine, and even denim materials. It’s one of our favorite clothing trends this year. Blue colors can bring out hair and eye colors a lot.
Yellow would probably rank the lowest for our olive skin tone pairing. It’s not that yellow cannot work, it’s just difficult to make pop. Too bright and it will overshadow the beautiful skin undertones, too dark and it can look muddy.
Fairer Skin Tones
Contrary to popular belief, those with pale skin aren’t the easiest to dress for. Again, it’s the undertones that are so often overlooked that matter most. Pale skin can have a cool, blueish etherial character. It can also have a pinkish, reddish undertone that is further pronounced in the sun.
So, if your skin is very sensitive to the sun, you’ll want to compliment this with reds, browns, and oranges. Olive and yellow-greens also work nicely for hugging warm undertones. Shop for summer clothing, even if it’s not technically in season. Having warm undertones on fair skin is like glowing all year round.
For pale blue skin, lean more towards purple, dark green, and gray. Black is also a nice color for all fair skin tones, of course. In fact, black should be a staple for highlighting undertones with accent colors.
For example, a black scarf to go with your primary color. Black belts, shoes, bags, bows, and lingerie are amazing against pale skin. Use this to your advantage if you feel like there’s too much of one color in your outfit.
Don’t go too wild with black colors, unless you’re trying to go for a goth look.
Finding What Colors Go with My Skin Tone
Knowing what works and what doesn’t for your skin tone is a lot of trial and error. Some outfits look totally different in person, as opposed to the pictures online. It’s difficult to get an accurate representation of color through pictures.
That’s why it’s a good idea to always have a range of what colors go with my skin tone. Never feel like you are adhering to a strict set of rules because fashion is always evolving. Skin changes hues and darkness frequently, especially if you’re outside a lot.
Remember, skin care is key to maintaining a consistent range of skin tone. Take a look at our skin care archives to improve your skin care regimen. Achieve a healthy balance of prevention and treatment for the best results.