It’s happened to most of us at one point or another: we look in our closet and see what’s essentially a palette of three different colors to choose from, and then we vow to add more color variety to our wardrobe. The next shopping trip comes around and we can’t resist buying that new top in navy, even though it comes in orange and red and jade. What gives? It turns out there’s a reason we gravitate towards the same colors over and over, some colors just look better on us because of our skin tone. So how can you tell which colors will flatter you best? It’s super easy if you follow these tips to help determine your best colors.
1. Determine Your Undertone
There are many different shades of skin, but there are only two undertones. Lucky for us, it’s the undertone that counts, making this process much simpler. Go ahead and turn your hand over, palm up, taking a gander at the underside of your wrist. What color are the veins? If they look blue or purple, you’re cool toned. If they look green or have a yellow cast, you’re warm toned. That’s it. Simple.
Cool Rider: Cool toned women, not surprisingly, look best in what we call “cool” colors like white, black, royal blue, gray, navy, etc. Think of colors that remind you of water, sea, and sky. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with one of these. When it comes to metallics, silver is your go-to.
Warm Up: Warm tones look beautiful in “earthy” shades like burnt orange, cream, saturated sunny yellow, brown, dark leafy green, and that shade of red maple leaves turn when autumn comes your way. Taupe, heathered brown, and camel are also in your wheelhouse. Again, when in doubt, these are your basics. Heap on the yellow and rose gold, it’ll make your skin glow.
It’s A Shade Thing: Basics will help you out in a pinch, but when it comes to color theory and experimentation, you should know that different shades of colors can create a cool-warm crossover. For example, there’s warm-red, which has an orange cast to it and there’s cool-red which has a blue undertone. This is especially important to consider when you’re picking your signature color of red lipstick. Think January Jones (cool) versus Jessica Alba (warm). Green and pink are two other crossover colors. What color tends to look good on everyone? Plum. For warm toned women, it’s less harsh than black and for cool-toned ladies, it coordinates well with those blue and purple veins.
2. Get to Know the Color Wheel
Ever notice when someone puts together two colors that you would never have thought looked good together? Chances are, she’s up on her color wheel and knows her undertone. Color mixing is a huge trend for the past few years, so it’s worth taking the time to understand how colors work off each other. If you split the color wheel in half with an invisible line, one side will be warm and the other cool. Super convenient.
Pick a color, any color. Trace your finger over that line to its direct opposite and you have two complementary colors, one warm and one cool. If they complement on the wheel, they’ll look complementary in your wardrobe. For your most flattering look, place the color that works best for your skin tone closest to your face and work the other color in further away. For example, if you’re cool, choose the cool tone for your earrings, necklace, or top and the complementary warm tone for your bottom, shoes, or bag. Get it? Good.
Now, pick another color, any one. Look to the color directly to the left and to the right of it. These are the original color’s analogous friends. If it’s analogous on the color wheel, it works in your outfit. Here, you can stick to your side of the color wheel to ensure the best possible palette for your skin.
So, two undertones, two sides of the color wheel, get to know each and you’ll be less afraid to go for neon green the next time you’re in the store. You can also save your besties from otherwise disastrous decisions, for which they’ll forever be grateful.
images: Michael Carpenter/WENN.com; hgtv.com