Most people have a favorite color, but your favorite color may not be the best for your wardrobe. Everyone has a unique group of colors that they look best in, and another that has the opposite effect. The combination of the right colors can mean the difference between a stunning outfit and a terrible one.
Part 1 of 3: Determine your color profile
Step 1. Determine the base tone of your skin
It's usually best to stick to colors that match your base shade. There are many different skin tones, but there are only two basic tones: warm and cool. Warm skin has a yellow or orange hue, while cool skin has a blue or pale pink hue. There are two main ways to find out which category your skin belongs to.
- Veins test: Look at the veins on your wrist or palm. People with warm undertones have green-looking veins, while people with cool undertones have veins that are more blue or purple.
- Jewelry test: Under natural light, wear a silver bracelet on one wrist and a gold one on the other. Look at each hand and ask yourself which one brings out the best in your complexion. If it's gold, you have a warm undertone. If it's silver, you have a cool undertone.
Step 2. Learn what warm or cool colors are
A rule of thumb is that warm colors have a yellow tint while blue colors are cooler. Understanding this dichotomy takes some practice. A general list of warm and cool colors:
- Warm: red, orange, yellow and green.
- Cool: true green, blue, purple
Step 3. Keep your skin tone in mind
In addition to the undertone of your skin, your main skin tone can also determine which color suits you best. A good rule of thumb is that colors that contrast in brightness with your skin are more flattering. If your skin is dark, saturated oranges and yellows will almost always look great, even if your undertones are cool. Likewise, bold "jewelry colors" such as emerald, ruby and amethyst, will be more flattering on paler skin, regardless of undertones.
Step 4. Wear shirts and scarves that bring out the color in your eyes
If you want to make your eyes "stand out," make sure a flattering color is nearby. Choose a color that matches your eyes exactly, or produces the greatest contrast. Deep reds also bring out the richness of brown eyes and serve as a wonderful complement to pale eyes.
Part 2 of 3: Picking out your neutrals
Step 1. Take six objects, each of a different neutral color
In this regard, the six neutrals are light and dark gray, light and dark brown, navy blue and black. Gray and brown come in warm and cool variations, so choose the colors that match your color profile. Make sure the object is about as long as your face and almost completely flat.
Step 2. Keep your face next to each object
Do this under bright natural light with a handheld mirror. Try to decide which color will look your best. The right color will brighten your eyes and give your skin a healthier appearance. Neutral colors that make your skin look ruddy or sallow should be avoided. If you find it difficult to choose, ask a fashionable friend for their opinion.
Step 3. Choose one or two neutral colors
These colors are the workhorses of your wardrobe. The majority of your pants, dresses, jackets and shoes should be in neutral colors. Try not to mix neutral colors in one outfit.
Part 3 of 3: Assembling your wardrobe
Step 1. Choose clothing colors that match your undertone
Pick a few of your favorite shades from your color group and make them your main colors. This part can be tricky, so do the mirror test to make sure these colors look great on you. Theoretically, you can choose as many colors as you want. However, the number is limited by the size of your budget, your wardrobe, and your patience for putting together outfits. A good outfit is usually made up of a neutral color and one of the main colors, with possibly a small part for an accent. More colors than these at once tend to make an outfit look busy.
Step 2. Pick a few accessories to complement your accent color
Use these sparingly if you want to brighten up an outfit. An orange tie or handkerchief can make you stand out in an otherwise conservative navy blue suit. Likewise, an aqua colored belt wrapped around a salmon colored dress can be an unusual yet stylish choice.
Step 3. Stick to some kind of metal for accents and jewelry
Although they are a small part of your outfit, the shine of metal quickly attracts attention. Two different colors of metal can clash or look crowded, especially if you're already wearing a few different colors. Silver and platinum are metals with cool colors, while gold and bronze are warmer.
Step 4. Practice putting together outfits
A fun and easy way to do this if your current wardrobe is limited is through online photo panels. Combine each piece until you find the perfect look. Pick a few different combinations before you start shopping to get an idea of what to look for. Once your wardrobe has matured, you can do it in real life with items you already own. If you're planning an important interview or a night out, you want to make sure your outfit "works" ahead of time. Wear all the clothes and accessories and see how it looks in front of a mirror. When the weather outside lends itself to it, match your outerwear to your ensemble for a sophisticated look.
Step 5. Keep in mind what you want to convey with your colors
Earth tones and light, desaturated and warm colors can give you a friendly and approachable appearance. Bright red is an attention grabber. Dark, solid colors can make you look stern or bold. Wear muted or pale colors if you want to be less noticeable. Bright, bold colors, especially purple, can give you a more creative look.
- Finding the right color profile for you can be difficult. If you're not sure if a color is right for you, it's best to just try it out.
- Pay attention to what you wear when people compliment you on your colors. This can give you a good idea of which colors suit you best.
- Your best neutral color is often closest to your natural hair color.
- Avoid choosing clothes that are too close to your skin color.