How to choose your best clothing colors

Last Updated: February 19, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Kathi Burns, CPO®. Kathi Burns is a board certified Professional Organizer (CPO) and Founder of Organized and Energized!, her consulting business with a mission to empower people to master their environment and personal image by assisting them in taking control, making change and organizing their lives. Kathi has over 17 years of organizing experience and her work has been featured on Better Homes and Gardens, NBC News, Good Morning America, and Entrepreneur. She has a BS in Communication from Ohio University.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Most people have a favorite color, but your favorite may not be the best one for your wardrobe. Everyone has a unique group of colors that makes them look their best and another that makes them look their worst. [1] X Expert Source

Kathi Burns, CPO®
Fashion Stylist Expert Interview. 31 December 2019. Coordinating the right colors together makes the difference between a stunning outfit and an ugly one.

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How to choose your best clothing colors

Most people make snap judgments about other people based on their appearance. When you’re applying for a job, it’s smart to bear in mind that you may only get to make a first impression, and that most people hiring you will not spend enough time with you to see past your appearance. It’s therefore important to let your appearance speak for you when you go to a job interview, and to carefully consider what you should wear to impress your interviewer.

In many industries, informal to formal business wear is standard for a job interview. In any type of office job, business dress code is the preferred way to show up for a job interview. Standard business-wear for men means a suit, white shirt, and tie, and a dress loafer shoe worn with socks. In most cases you needn’t worry about wearing suspenders, three-piece suits or the like, unless you’re applying for a job as a top-level executive.

You should give some consideration to color of your suit, choice of tie, and color of your shirt. The safest bet is to choose a neutral colored suit, with black, gray and navy blue being the top choices. Dress shirts should be white, and ties need to be fairly muted. A job interview day is not the day to wear whimsical ties. Standard tie colors should coordinate well with the suit; consider reds, blues or grays. Patterns in the tie should be understated like muted stripes, paisley prints or the like.

For women, either skirt or pants suits are the most appropriate for an office job interview. If you do choose to wear a skirt, it should be no shorter than knee length, and you must wear stockings. Shoe choice should be simple, with both high heels and flats appropriate. Closed-toe shoes are preferred until you can check whether office policy permits otherwise. Even with a pants suit, you should wear knee-highs or trouser socks with shoes. Jewelry should be understated and coordinate well with what you are wearing.

When you have a job interview for a more casual work environment, men should still consider wearing at least slacks and a neutral colored sports jacket, with the traditional white, or muted color shirt. A tie should still be worn. Women might choose pants and a twinset sweater option, or a skirt and a simple blouse instead, for a job interview with this type of company. Even if a work environment is casual, dressing well for an interview denotes that you are professional, and most interviews are much more formal occasions requiring at least slightly more formal clothing.

Sometimes you may have to change job interview apparel based on the type of employment you seek. A casual retail outlet selling rock posters might mean that wearing a miniskirt and keeping your nose ring in is perfectly acceptable. If possible, get a look at what other employees at a company are wearing prior to choosing your clothing for an interview. If you dress like these employees, you will automatically fit in better and seem like you already hold the job for which you are applying.

Some consideration should be given to hair and makeup for job interviews. For both men and women, hair should be cut and styled in a relatively conservative fashion: no mohawks, green or purple hair, or otherwise. Women should wear suitable makeup that is understated. Consider colored lip gloss instead of harsh colored lipsticks, minimal eye makeup and blush, and a good simple base foundation that matches well with your skin tone. Take out multiple piercings. Men, for instance, should avoid wearing pierced ears or nose rings. Women, if they have multiple piercings should consider wearing only one pair of earrings.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent InfoBloom contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent InfoBloom contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

How to choose your best clothing colors

Matching your clothes to your skin tone can be tricky – you might want to follow a few styling tips.

Wonder why Naomi Campbell looks so good in white? Or why Anne Hathaway avoids pastel outfits and favours dark dresses? Some clothing colours seem to make you look overly pale, or make you appear too stark, or just flat out look horrible on you. Wonder why that is? Well, the colour of your skin can play a huge part in making your outfit work.

Skin tones can vary from warm (yellow or olive-based) to cool (pink or blue-based). Some lucky people have a neutral skin tone that works well with both warm and cool clothing colours. There are also a few colours that go with almost all skin tones such as bright red, pale pink, teal and aubergine.

General Tips: What works and what doesn’t?

For fair/light skin – Pick hues that clearly contrast with your skin tone. This will bring some colour to your complexion. Darker colours such as brown, burgundy, grey and navy will work. Avoid an abundance of pastel shades or soft colours as they will only wash you out.

For olive/medium skin – If you’ve got medium skin that tans rather than turns red in the sun, you have a ‘warm’ complexion, which suits a wider spectrum of colours compared to those with fair skin or ‘cool’ complexions. To add some contrast, you will look best in shades that are either a little brighter or darker than the middle ground. Avoid wearing shades of green or yellow – these colours may be too close to your skin tone.

For dark skin – The safest colour to match with a darker skin tone is white, but if you want to try other colours, light shades of purple, pink, peach, orange, yellow and green will look great. Avoid brown – similar to how pastel shades can wash out lighter skin tones, brown won’t contrast nearly enough with dark skin and detract from your outfit.

Take a look at the examples in the gallery above to see how certain style icons pick their colours to suit their skin tone.

How to choose your best clothing colors

Contrary to what many of us believes, your clothing colours matter a lot in making up your looks. Usually people are obsessed with their hairstyles, dresses, jewellery and other such stuff and they do not put much attention to their clothing colours.

Choosing the perfect clothing colours is a tough job especially if you are not a professional. But this is something that should not be forgotten. You can do a lot of this when it comes to choosing your best clothing lines such as working with your hair colour and putting more makeup on your eyes.

You can compare colour of your skin against your outfits and other such stuff.

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Choose according to your hair colour

Your hair colour plays an important part in finalising your outlook. If you are blonde, bright shades such as yellow, rust and orange can suit you to a large extent. For brunettes, choices are more vast and easy as compared to blondes. They can choose colour like green, brown, blue and even pink. As far as redheads are concerned, brown and orange look best on them as well as ivories and green. People with gray hair look good in b right colours such as red, maroon, purple and other gold. But they need to stay away from gray and pastels.

Underlying skin colour

You have to check your underlying skin colour before you can think of choosing your best clothing colours. Put your tanned skin aside and see what you real colour is. There are several ways to check that and once you are done with that, pick the clothing line accordingly.

Compare colours against your skin

Take a number of colours and test them against your skin. Each person is practically different from other and so is the colour of your skin. So you have to compare the coloured fabrics before making the final call. Choose the colours that make you look healthy and make you skin glow and avoid those colours that make you look blunt, washed-out and unhealthy.

Colour Analysis

If you are unable to figure out the colours, try using help of a professional. They can help you out and you can save a lot of time. But even in that case, put your preferences on top and don’t let anybody dictate you.

Try out different colours

Don’t be shy to try out different colours and try, try again before choosing you best clothing colours.

It’s all about your skin’s undertones.

Incorporating more color into your wardrobe might seem overwhelming and near-impossible at first, but the truth is it’s pretty easy. Of course, there are no “rules” to fashion — you can literally wear whatever colors you’d like, and we bet you’ll look darn good in them, too. That being said, identifying which colors best flatter your specific skin tone can help you stand out in a crowd and radiate from the inside out.

“Color is the number one most important thing to me when it comes to styling; it’s what makes my service unique,” stylist Cristina Ehrlich — who works with Laura Dern, Rachel Brosnahan, Uzo Aduba, and Natasha Lyonne — told InStyle. “The first thing I do with a new client is study their skin tone and figure out what’s going to look best. It’s easy to wear black, but color can be so beautiful.”

Just like with makeup and hair, the key to finding your most flattering colors starts with skin tone, or rather, skin undertone, which can be grouped into three categories: warm, cool, and neutral.

“Many people have a natural proclivity to understanding which one of those categories they fall into because it’s fairly obvious,” said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of More Alive with Color. “Beauty rules based on skin tone would also apply to what you would wear, which will make up the nucleus of your wardrobe.”

To make it simple, we asked stylists to break things down for us and reveal which skin tones look best with certain colors — and how to figure out which group we belong to in the first place. But remember, take these suggestions with a grain of salt. What matters is that you wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.

Be honest. How many times have you purchased something just because you “loved the color”? Other than fit, one of the first things that we look at when choosing a new item of clothing is the color.

Unfortunately, as we age, our skin changes, and many of the colors that looked great on us when we were younger no longer make us sparkle.

How to choose your best clothing colors

By the time we reach our 60s, we know what we like in most aspects of our lives. This is definitely true when it comes to colors. When we walk into a store or browse online options, it is completely natural to gravitate towards items of clothing with colors that we love.

The problem is that your favorite colors aren’t necessarily the best colors for your skin tone.

The best thing to do is try each item of clothing on and remind yourself to look objectively at how they look next to your skin. (If you purchase online, look for stores with simple return policies.) If you still want to wear the colors that you love, even if they don’t compliment your skin, consider wearing them on the bottom, not on top.

For example, while very few older women will look good in a red scarf, having a red belt may be completely appropriate with certain outfits.

Barbara Schwartz explains: “Color analysis is the process of identifying the colors that will be most flattering to a person, based on her or his skin tone, natural hair color, and eyes. Suzanne Caygill first brought to the public’s attention the Seasonal System of Color Analysis in 1980, when she published Color: The Essence of You.”

This system categorizes people into four seasons, based on the undertone of their skin. Those with a cool (blue) undertone are Winter or Summer; those with a warm (yellow) undertone are Autumn or Spring.

More recently, the four seasonal palettes have been expanded into 16, to take into account the fact that many people have coloring characteristics common to more than one season.

Shopping for clothes at any age is hard work. This is especially true given the fact that sales assistants are not necessarily compensated to make us look great; they are paid to sell us clothes.

Shop assistants will sell you anything. Very few of them will tell you the truth about the color.

The advice here is to take a friend with you on your shopping trip. Not only will they be more likely to give you an honest opinion about how each item of clothing looks on you, but they can help you to stand up to the shop assistants and take the time you need to make good fashion decisions.

Karen Brunger, a leader in the industry today, answers this question: “As an image consultant, I consider color to be the most important element in having my clients appear their very best. Colour can help us appear healthier, more alive, personally powerful, and in harmony with ourselves. Conversely, color can make us appear jaundiced, anemic, unhealthy, insipid, and jarring.”

Has anyone ever told you, “That top looks fantastic with your eyes!” Be careful. Most of the time, people actually mean that the color in an item of clothing “matches” our eyes.

Trying to match our clothes to our eyes can be a big mistake. You think that the blue is bringing out the color in your eyes. In reality, it is doing exactly the opposite. Instead of trying to match your eye color, pay close attention to how your clothes look next to your skin tone.

As we get older, our skin tone changes. Specifically, our skin tends to get a bit “redder” as the capillaries in our face get more fragile and break. This is one of the reasons that it is so difficult for many women our age to make reds look good with our skin.

The same goes for pastels, which have a tendency to “mix” with our skin. This is yet another example of why color selection is so important when it comes to fashion for older women. It’s better to stick with dark colors, such as black, dark blue, or bordeaux, for your basic items of clothing. You can always accessorize them with other colors. Just be extra careful with reds and pastels.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to keep color in perspective. Compared to “fit,” it’s just not that important. What you really want to do is technically fit your body, so that the clothing fits you. Then, the color can be added.

Do you agree with these tips for choosing colors that look great on you? Have you ever chosen an item of clothing that you loved because of its color, only to find that it didn’t look good on you?

What’s a wardrobe color palette? It’s a palette with the colors that are the essence of your wardrobe. And why should you build one? Well for two very good reasons: easy shopping decisions and style.

Having a wardrobe color palette, even if it’s only for one theme in your closet (like work clothes), will help you make a lot more outfits because you’ll be able to match new purchases with existing clothes on your closet. You’ll easily look stylish with no effort. Plus it’s way more conscious and sustainable.

I will show you in five steps how to build your own cohesive clothing color palette.

Before you start adding new colors, look at your wardrobe. Probably you already have some favorite colors. See the pieces that you use often and write down their colors.

Which color pieces are there that you don’t use? Is it for lack of neutral pieces to pair with them? Is it because you just don’t feel comfortable in those colors? This is important.

How to choose your best clothing colors

If you don’t know what colors to choose for you wardrobe staples to download a complete Guide + Workbook for FREE so you can find your best colors through a seasonal color analysis. This eBook will help you find your personal style. It includes color palettes and instructions on how to make your own personal color palette. You can do the exercices on your computer.

Sometimes we prefer certain colors for work and others for date nights and leisure. What are the most frequent activities in your daily life?

Here some examples of activities:

• office and meetings
• sport and other activities
• casual activities
• university
• chic for events and special dates
• party and dates
• comfy daily errands
• work at home

Try to build a cohesive color palette around your main activities. Or even a capsule wardrobe. The amount of time you’ll save on looking polished could be used for other activities you love.

See below the ideal structure of a color palette for your clothing:

How to choose your best clothing colors

There are different kinds of cohesive color palettes you can choose for your wardrobe.

1. An overall neutral color palette
2. Palette with neutral basics, complementary key and accents pieces
3. Palette with neutral basics and key pieces with different colored accent pieces

E.g. My winter color palette. I chose the 2nd option. A Palette with neutral colors for my basics (beige, coffee and tan) and for my key and accent pieces I chose colors that are matchable so I can make outfits with any clothes I choose in the morning.

How to choose your best clothing colors

Check also these neutral colors that you can pair with any colors you choose.

How to choose your best clothing colors

Before you make new purchases based on your new color palette, head to the biggest clothing shop near you and try the new colors you chose for your wardrobe color palette. How do you feel in them? Are you going to wear them often? Are they good for the upcoming season?

This is the fun part, so go out of your comfort zone and try as many colors as you like.

How to choose your best clothing colors

I put together 15 sample color palettes. You can download them clicking below:

Now, these are just meant to be starting points for you to create your own personalized color palette. Here’s how:

  1. Open Adobe Color Palette
  2. Explore the color harmony feature to find color combinations you like
  3. Import an image of your choice to add colors. (tip: snap a picture of your wardrobe)
  4. Save it under your themes
  5. Go to Coolors website to generate a new color palette
  6. Copy and paste the color codes from Adobe Color Wheel on your Coolors Palette
  7. Export the color palette in png and save it

Don’t forget the structure I gave previously. Neutral colors for your basics, your most used colors for key pieces and your other chosen colors for accents.

A cohesive wardrobe color palette will give your wardrobe or capsule wardrobe a sense of personal style. Your looks will stand out and make you look polished and stylish at the same time. You’ll be able to pair easy outfits without sacrificing your time. Keep your new wardrobe color palette in your phone and use apps like Style Book or Cladwell to save your closet online.

Tell me, what colors are you going to choose for your wardrobe?

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Take the Quiz

1. What kind of jewelry looks better on your skin?
(a) Silver
(b) Gold
(c) Both

2. Which tends to make you look tired or washed-out?
(a) Ivory
(b) Pure white
(c) I look the same in both.

3. Which lipstick shades complement you better?
(a) Bluish pinks and reds
(b) Corals and orangey reds
(c) They’re all equally flattering.

Get the Results!

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If You Answered More A’s: Cool Undertone

Your Skin

  • Cool white (like Anne Hathaway)
  • Rosy beige or rosy pink (Lucy Liu)
  • Olive with blue or green undertones (Mindy Kaling)
  • Black with blue undertones or rosy brown (Lupita Nyong’o)

Your Natural Hair Color

  • Ash-blond, sandy blond, or towhead
  • Ash or dark brown
  • Black with blue undertones
  • Auburn
  • Snow white or silvery gray

Your Color Prescription
Your predominantly blue undertones pair nicely with sea shades, as well as frosty purples and pinks, fresh greens, berry reds, cool grays, and crisp white. Use orange, tomato reds, and yellow sparingly. “Super-warm shades pop too much on a cool person, making it look as if the color is wearing you,” says New York City–based makeup artist Nick Barose.