We’ll cut to the chase—picking out clothes is tough. Figuring out what’s flattering for your body type to deciding which denim cut works best for your legs is basically a part-time job. Even though these clothing guidelines and suggestions can seem overwhelming at first, they’re sure to help ease your shopping and dressing process. Today we’re talking about which colors will work best according to your skin tone and hair color. We’re moving on from old-school color rules like “redheads shouldn’t wear red” or “blondes shouldn’t wear yellow,” because let’s get real, those color combos can be pure gold.
Below, we break down various different skin tones, the most common hair colors associated with those skin tones, and which clothing colors will compliment them. We also asked Siobhán Quinlan, Creative Director of New York’s Art + Autonomy salon for some insider tips.
But before you dive into figuring out the color of this week’s outfit, step one is figuring out your skin undertone.
Finding your Skin Undertone
An undertone is the complexion of your skin, and most people fall between one of three categories: Cool, Warm and Neutral. By understanding what your undertone is, it can help you discover the best shades of color to wear.
- Color Check: Look for specific colors that stand out in your skin. Warm-toned skin has yellow, peach and gold tint, while cool-toned skin has more pink, red or blue.
- Look at Your Wrist: Look at your veins. If you see blue or purple veins, you’re most likely cool-toned, and if you see green, you’re warm.
- Look at your Eyes: “Does their eye have golden flecks? They will look better with something warmer. Does their eyes have blue or grey flecks? Then I will probably suggest something cooler,” says Quinlan. Generally, cool toned people have blue, gray or green eyes, and warm toned people have brown, hazel or amber eyes.
- Look at your Hair: Look at your natural hair—cool tones will have silver or ash undertones and warm tones will have red, orange or yellow undertones.
- Celebrity Match: Look for a celebrity who has similar skin tone to you and see if you both have cool or warm tones. You can also see how a hair color, or a color looks on them, and if you like it.
Now, what if you don’t identify with any of those or feel in the middle? You’re probably a neutral skin tone, which means you can wear either cool or warm tones—go, you!
Some general color guidelines based on your skin undertone are:
- Warm undertones look better in gold jewelry, whereas, cool undertones look great in silver jewelry.
- Generally, warmer skin tones look flattering in warmer colors (like red, orange and yellow) and cool skin tones look flattering in cooler colors (like blue, green, purple).
- Look for colors with the same undertone—if you’re cool toned, find a red with a blue-ish / deeper base, and if you’re warm toned, look for warmer brick reds.
Cool Tone: Julianne Hough | Warm Tone: Taylor Swift
Best hair colors include: Platinum, ice/silver blonde, red, ashy blonde, champagne, gold, honey
Best colors to wear: Neutrals, pastels, jewel tones
“Something too dark or light (in hair or clothing) can sometimes feel harsh for everyday,” says Quinlan. “I tend to advise my clients to stay away from those extremes unless they are really going for more of a ‘look’.” You can add subtle contrast with darker neutral colors and jewel tones.
Cool Tone: Emma Stone | Warm Tone: Blake Lively
Best hair colors include: Red, dirty blonde, golden blonde, light brown, butterscotch, strawberry blonde
Best colors to wear: Lavender, seafoam green, blush, soft yellow, mint green, coral, ivory, peach
Cool Tone: Penelope Cruz | Warm Tone: Jessica Alba
Best hair colors include: Golden brown, caramel, ash brown, dark brown
Best colors to wear: Olive, Purple, Mustard, Cranberry, Forest Green, Royal Blue, pink
Medium skin tones can wear darker, more bold colors without washing them out.
Cool Tone: Rosario Dawson | Warm Tone: Jennifer Lopez
Best hair colors include: Golden blonde/brown, caramel, chocolate brown
Best colors to wear: Earth tones, green, orange, olive, blue, navy, pink, emerald, burgundy
Cool Tone: Kerry Washington | Warm Tone: Beyoncé
Best hair colors include: Espresso, jet black, honey blonde (for warm tones)
Best colors to wear: Jewel tones, plum, white, orange, pink, yellow, ruby
Cool Tone: Lupita Nyong’o | Warm Tone: Viola Davis
Best hair colors include: Jet black
Best colors to wear: Jewel tones, white, fuchsia, yellow, royal blue, blush