How to Dress for your Skin Tone

Ever wonder how some women always wear the perfect color and look fabulous every day. Let’s talk about dressing for your skin tone. You may look at your skin and think “I’m tan”, but what does that really mean? Generally, when it comes to skin tone, most people fall into 1 of 2 categories (to keep it very simple). These categories are: Warm and Cool. There is a quick and simple way to determine this: Take a peek at the inside of your wrist, what color are your veins? If they appear to be blue or purple, you’re likely Cool toned. If your veins appear to be green, or have a yellow hue, you’re likely Warm toned.

Cool vs. Warm

It’s pretty simple – cool undertones tend to look better in ‘cool’ colors. What are cool colors, you ask? Simple; black, white, cobalt blue, greys, etc. and when it comes to metallic, silver. That leaves our warm colors being; brown, yellows, oranges, tans, etc. and when it comes to metallic, gold. It all seems simple enough however; you can run into colors that cross over. Great examples of cross over colors are green and pink. The best way to understand color and what compliments you is to get familiar with colors on the color -wheel. It’s fairly simple, but can make a world of difference when you’re getting ready.


Understanding the color-wheel

For the most part, you can see that this color-wheel is split between warm and cool colors. If you were to draw an imaginary line down the center, you’d have blues, and purples on one side, and on the opposite side you’d have your oranges and yellows. And do you see what I see??? Sort of in the middle of both, you have pink and green. As we all learned when we were in grade school, colors opposite one another on the color-wheel are ‘complementary’ colors, and as a result, look great together. If you’re looking to mix colors this way, start with the color that looks best against your skin tone (cool for cool and warm for warm) and then choose the color directly across from it to ‘sprinkle in’. For example, I’m warm toned. I’ve chosen orange (at 1 o’clock) as my primary color, so perhaps my top will be orange, and as a great accent I can choose a scarf or necklace in blue (at 7 o’clock).


The other way to choose colors that work is to ‘keep it close’. Again, using my orange primary, if I look to the left and right I find a more vibrant orange, and a more yellow-orange which are ‘analogous’ colors. This is a safer way to play with color, as they all remain within my skin tone palette. I won’t necessarily make all my pieces these colors, but when considering accessories and what works with my skin, I know all 3 of these colors can work well on me.


What to avoid

Of course there are always exceptions, but generally cooler tones (fair skin, blue/grey eyes, and blond hair) should stick with pastels and brighter neutrals. Strong/bold colors (like oranges) will dull the complexion and are often too harsh. Warm tones should stick with earthly colors, and should avoid pastels as they will ‘wash out’ the complexion. Of course, all color and fashion is experimentation, so have fun with it! Try a few things out and see how these color guidelines apply to you!

With a résumé that includes Club Monaco and Chanel, Candace Hanna knows the secrets to always looking fashion-forward. After leaving Manhattan for her native Los Angeles, Candace founded her eponymous agency to make personal styling accessible to everyone.


Guided by the mission to enhance—not change—her clients’ style, she works with each individual to create a look that complements his or her unique preferences and lifestyle.

Leave a Reply