How to Choose Your Best Clothing Colors

Three Parts:Finding Your Color ProfilePicking Your NeutralsCoordinating Your Wardrobe

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 make them look their best and another that makes them look their worst. Coordinating the right colors together makes the difference between a stunning outfit and an ugly one.

Part 1
Finding Your Color Profile

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    Determine your skin's undertone. You will want to mostly stick to colors that match your undertone. While there are many different skin tones, there are only two undertones: warm and cool. Warm skin has a yellow or orange tint, while cool skin has a blue or pale pink one. There are two main ways to figure out which category applies to you.
    • Vein test: Look at the veins on your wrist or palm. People with warm undertones have green-looking veins, while people with cool undertones have veins that are blue or purple.[1]
    • Jewelry test: Under natural light, wear a silver bracelet on one wrist and a gold one on the other. Look at each hand and figure out which enhances your complexion better. If it's gold, your undertones are warm. If silver looks best, your undertones are cool.[2]
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    Learn how to tell if a color is warm or cool. A rule of thumb is that warm colors have a yellow tint, while cool colors have a blue one. Understanding this dichotomy takes practice. A general list of warm and cool colors:
    • Warm: reds, oranges, yellows, yellow greens
    • Cool: true greens, blues, purples[3][4]
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    Keep your skin's shade in mind. In addition to your undertones, your main skin tone can also determine which color families look best. A good rule of thumb is that colors that create a contrast in brightness with your skin are more flattering. If your skin is dark, saturated oranges and yellows almost always look great, even if your undertone is cool.[5] Likewise, bold "jewel tones" like emerald, ruby, and amethyst flatter paler skin regardless of undertone.[6]
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    Wear tops and scarves that bring out the color in your eyes. If you want to make your eyes "pop," make sure a flattering color is near them. You will want to pick either a color that matches your eyes closely or one that produces the greatest contrast. Deep reds also bring out the richness of brown eyes and serve as a stunning complement to pale eyes.[7]

Part 2
Picking Your Neutrals

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    Grab six objects, each a different neutral color. In this context, the six neutrals are light and dark gray, light and dark brown, navy, and black[8]. Grays and browns come in warm and cool variations, so pick ones that match your color profile. Make sure the object is roughly as long as your face and is almost entirely monochromatic.
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    Look at your face next to each object. Do this under bright natural bright with a hand mirror. Try to decide which color makes you look your best. The right color will make your eyes look brighter and your skin healthier. Neutrals that make your skin look ruddy or sallow should be avoided. If you have trouble choosing, ask a fashionable friend for their opinion.
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    Choose one or two neutrals. These colors will make up the workhorses of your wardrobe. A majority of your pants, dresses, jackets, and shoes should be your chosen neutrals. Avoid mixing neutrals in an outfit.

Part 3
Coordinating Your Wardrobe

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    Choose colored clothing that matches your undertone. Pick a few of your favorite shades from your color group and make these your main colors. This part can be tricky, so be sure to do the mirror test to make sure these colors look great on you. Theoretically, you can pick as many colors as you want. However, the number is realistically limited by the sizes of your budget, your closet, and your patience for coordinating outfits. A good outfit is usually made up of one neutral and one main color with an optional small amount of accent color.[9] More colors than these at once tend to make an outfit look busy.
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    Pick a few accessories in complementing, opposite tone colors for your accent color. Use these sparingly if you want to liven up an outfit.[10] An orange tie or pocket square can make you stand out in an otherwise conservative navy suit. Likewise, an aqua belt on a salmon dress can be an unusual but stylish choice.
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    Stick to one type of metal for accents and jewelry. Even though they make up a small part of your outfit, the gleam of metal attracts the eye quickly. Using two different colors of metal can clash or look busy, especially if you're already wearing a few different colors. Silver and platinum are cool-toned metals, while gold and bronze are warm-toned.
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    Practice putting together outfits. A fun and easy way to do this if your current wardrobe is limited is through picture boards online. Switch out each piece until you perfect your look. Come up with a few different combinations before you begin shopping to have an idea of what to look for. Once your wardrobe has matured, you can do the real-life equivalent with the pieces you own. If you're planning for an important interview or a night out, it's best to make sure your outfit definitely "works" ahead of time. Wear all component clothing and accessories and check to see how it looks in front of a mirror. If the weather is appropriate, be sure to match your outerwear for a sophisticated look.
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    Keep in mind what you want to convey with your colors. Earth tones and light, unsaturated warm colors can make you look friendly and approachable. Bright reds are attention grabbers. Dark, monochromatic colors can make you look stern or powerful. Wear muted or pale colors if you want to be noticed less. Bright, bold colors, especially purple, may make you seem more creative.[11]


  • Figuring out the right color profile for you can be difficult. If you're not sure if a color is quite right for you, the best way to figure it out is to try it on.
  • Take note of what colors you're wearing when people compliment you. This can give you a good clue to which colors look best on you.
  • Certain colors, such as burgundy, have properties of both warm and cool tones. You will need to evaluate these individually to see if they work for you.
  • Your best neutral is often close to your natural hair color.
  • Avoid clothing that is too close to your skin color.

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Categories: Color in Fashion