Let’s talk about what looks best with your skin color.
Color and complexion are pretty important topics we haven’t discussed much here.
This seems to be monumentally important to the ladies when they apply makeup, which makes sense when you’re basically coloring your face.
I doubt guys give it much thought; to be honest, I hardly do either. But if you’re spending time picking out some nice clothes to wear, why not take that extra step to pick colors that look best with your skin tone?
There are plenty of ways to determine the optimal color palette for your skin tone, but it really doesn’t have to be complicated.
If we men follow a few simple pointers, we should be okay.
Not sure which colors look best on you?
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It’s important to experiment
Admittedly, color is a hard thing to get EXACTLY right, and luckily for dudes, it doesn’t matter that much. Just do your best.
There’s a good chance you may not have the exact coloring of any of these examples, and so some color suggestions won’t apply to you. Or perhaps they’ll all apply to you… who knows.
For example, you may have olive skin but see a color under a different list that you like. Go for it! Try it out; it will probably look just fine on you.
This list isn’t scientifically proven, so use it as a general guideline, and deviate when necessary. Remember that none of this is set in stone with no exceptions; it’s important for you to try stuff and see what looks good on you.
Some things to remember off the bat: If you have a lighter, paler complexion, avoid stark black and white. If you have a medium complexion, the primary and bold colors will suit you well. If you’re a darker skin tone, you have more freedom with whites and pastels than most.
Assuming you can remember those basic rules, you’ll be good, but let’s see if we can dig a bit deeper.
Dress for your skin tone
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If your complexion closely resembles Conan O’Brien, focus on warm khaki colors, peach tones, teals, red, bright blues and greens.
Try to avoid: Black and white. The stark contrast is too much for your skin and will only accentuate the lack of color.
Let’s say you have the coloring of Justin Timberlake. Pastels look best on you. Think baby blue, light pink, lavender, pale yellow. Neutrals also look good on you, such as a lighter beige and heather gray.
Try to avoid: Really striking or primary colors. Also, too much deep, dark color can wash you out. Stay away from all black or all navy.
If you have more olive or tan skin like Adrian Grenier, try warm colors such as rich browns, orange-yellow, olive green, deep reds, and purples.
Try to avoid: White and black, pastels, any kind of faded color. These don’t work well with your complexion.
Lastly, let’s say you have a complexion like Will Smith. Dark colors look great on you like black, dark gray, and navy. Rich, deep colors also look good. Think emerald green, sapphire blue, royal purple. Bright white and pastel colors look great as well.
Try to avoid: Earthy tones and washed out colors; these don’t do anything for you.
Four universally flattering shades
Apparently, there are four colors that are “universally flattering”, regardless of your coloring.
How would guys wear these colors?
Easiest way would be to do it one item of clothing at a time. Don’t go trying to incorporate every color into one outfit.
So for example, Indian Teal and Eggplant (or similar variants) would look great as sweaters.
True red? Try a Polo shirt. Mellow rose is basically a light pink / peach color, so try a dressy button-up under a blazer. As long as you find something in between those two hues, you’re good.
Is this helpful at all? Let’s chat about it on Effortless Gent’s Facebook page.
This is one of EG’s most popular posts. You can find the whole Back To Basics series here. This article was originally published April 21, 2011, and was last updated December 21, 2015.