Skin Tones and Complimentary Colors

May 23, 2013
Just when you thought you knew everything there is to know about choosing the best clothing for your body type and life style, I decided to take it a step further by discussing the various skin tones and the color clothing they look best with.

A topic and detail many men never think about; it’s time we enhance our image and wardrobes by delving deeper into the world of color. So, ladies, move over… you are no longer the only ones who know how to apply this essential aspect of “dressing” to maximize looking your best!

“Skin tone” means the color of skin, which is primarily determined by the amount of melanin it has – higher amounts in dark skin; lower levels in light skin. Look around and notice the many skin colors you see everyday. Everyone owns a different shade or tone, and each of these tones can be grouped into a category that specifies which colors complement it best.

This article only deals with clothing, but many people go beyond their wardrobe and choose furniture, wall paint, and even car colors that compliment their skin tone, in order to always look great. The colors that harmonize with or accentuate our skin color are valuable to know and utilize because, like great fitting clothing that boast our best features, complimentary colors enhance our entire look. Like turning on a light, complimentary colors have the ability to highlight eye and hair color, minimize facial blemishes and scars, take us from looking tired to well rested, and even make us look thinner. For the same reasons we blend and match colors within our wardrobe, the use of complimentary colors that flatter our inherited, natural born color gives harmony and unity to our entire presentation.

When referring to a person’s coloring, there are three things to factor: skin tone, hair, and eye color. Normally, all three are harmonious, since nature rarely gets it wrong; however, when determining your complimentary colors, base your choices on skin color only. The colors will most likely complement your hair and eyes, too. There are exceptions, but this guideline is safe to go by.

There are 3 categories or levels of skin tones: light, medium, and dark. There’s a lot of information about these tones and their corresponding “undertones” and “seasons”, but I’ve decided to keep it simple and straightforward in hopes of not being too confusing.

Skin Tones

Light Skin Tone: This is the palest skin color that typically has ivory, blue, or pinkish undertones. Typically found on Caucasians, this skin tone burns easily before tanning. Hair tends to dramatically contrast this fair skin color, and is often black or very dark brown; however, blonde hair is not uncommon. Eye colors typically include blue, shades of green, grey-blue, black, or light brown.

Complimentary colors are cool colors, which include blues, greens, pinks, purples, and reds. Pastels look great, although stronger colors, like dark blue or red look good, too. White and black clothing can wash light skin out and is best avoided. Silver jewelry looks best with this coloring.

Medium Skin Tone: Yellow, yellow/peach, and olive undertones make up this skin tone. Asians, Latinos, Mediterraneans, or dark, mixed race people normally have this skin, which tans more easily, without as much burning. Hair colors are normally brown, black, various shades of red (auburn, strawberry blonde), and blonde. Eyes are typically brown, hazel, or green.

Complimentary colors are warm colors, which include the earth tones: browns, tan, khaki, yellow, green, orange, gray, blues, and some reds. Other flattering colors are cream, black, and navy blue. Avoid pastels and bright whites that will make you look washed out, and lime and olive greens that can make medium skin look sallow. Gold is your color of jewelry.

Dark Skin Tone: Various shades of brown with yellow, red, or blue undertones belong to this skin tone. Typically found on people of African and Indian decent, this skin tans without burning. Hair colors are usually black or dark brown. Eyes are normally various shades of brown, including amber and black.

Complimentary colors are white, khaki, eggplant (dark purple/plum), red, gray, light blue, orange, pink, and gold. Black, dark brown, navy blue, and light green are not very flattering. When wearing dark colors, incorporate a complimentary color: black suit/eggplant necktie. Opt for clothing that contrasts skin color, in order to bring out dark eyes and hair. Gold is your best jewelry color, also.

These guidelines are not hard-set rules, so if you want to wear a color that’s not on your skin tone color pallet, please do. I’m not suggesting you clear your closet of clothing that doesn’t meet your color recommendations. This article’s purpose is to simply give insight into another valuable aspect of dressing for your type. The subject actually goes deeper than skin tones, which I’ll address next week for those of you wanting more detail. In the meantime, play around with colors in natural daylight to see which look good and which don’t. Most of us have a sense of which colors look best on us, whether we know the rules or not, but it would be a fun exercise to try.

Gentlemen, regardless of your skin color, make it an asset by dressing to compliment it!

by Aaron Marino

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