How To Choose The Best Clothing Colors For Your Skin Tone

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Style Tips

If you’re spending time picking out nice clothes to wear, at some point, you’ve probably wondered to yourself, “What colors look best on me?” Which makes sense, because why not take that extra step to pick colors that look best with your skin tone?

So let’s talk about what looks best with your skin color. There are plenty of ways to figure out the best colors for your skin tone, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

If we men follow a few simple pointers, we should be okay. So let’s chat about how to find the best colors for you.

closeup of box of crayons with all skin tones
Photo via Flickr

Finding The Colors That Look The Best On You

Believe it or not, color is a hard thing to get wrong, and luckily for guys, it doesn’t matter that much anyway. There’s a set of colors I call #menswearNeutrals that works great for all guys.

As far as the chart I put together (see below), there’s a good chance you may not have the exact coloring of any of these examples, and that’s fine. Just choose the one who’s the closest match. And if you’re in between two guys’ skin complexion, you can wear colors (and avoid colors) assigned to both of them.

Just keep in mind that most colors look fine on everyone, and you can’t really go wrong.

Not sure which colors look best on you?

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Skin Tone And Clothing Color Quick Tips*

*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.

  • 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 white, rich vibrant colors, primary colors, and pastel colors than most

Assuming you can remember those basic rules, you’ll be good, but let’s dig in a bit deeper.

What Are The Best Colors For Your Skin Tone?

Looking for the large PDF? Click here to download (right click > Save As…)

Light Skin tone: Fair, slightly pink

If you have light, fair, or pale skin, and / or skin tone with a slight pink to red undertone (like Conan O’Brien):

  • Wear: 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.

Light Skin tone: Fair, slightly yellow

If you have light, fair, or pale skin, and / or skin tone with a slight yellow undertone (like Justin Timberlake in that photo, or most guys of Asian descent):

  • Wear: Pastels, they 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.

Medium Skin tone: Tan / Olive

If you have medium, tan or olive skin (like Adrian Grenier, or guys that are Pacific Islander, or Mediterranean, etc.):

  • Wear: 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.

Dark Skin tone: Brown

If you have dark, brown skin, or a darker complexion (at least as dark as Will Smith in the photo above, or if you’re of African descent, South Asian descent, Indian descent, etc.):

  • Wear: Dark colors like black, charcoal gray, and navy look great on you. 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 are the least flattering colors.

“Do these colors go together?”

In this video, I’m giving you 5 easy tips for matching your outfit. These are tips you can use right now, and they’re super simple to remember.

And yeah, I tell you why you shouldn’t worry too much about skin tone when getting dressed. Just follow the tips in the video.

By the way, are you subscribed to Effortless Gent on YouTube? If not, you should be 😉

Four Colors That Look Good On Everyone

According to this article, there are four colors that are “universally flattering”, regardless of your skin tone. These colors are Eggplant, True Red, Indian Teal, and Mellow Rose.

Kinda weird names, I know. But look at the photos of the women below. All different complexions, but none of them look sickly or pale when wearing these colors.

How would guys wear these colors?

  1. Put together an outfit of menswear neutrals (watch this video if you don’t know what menswear neutrals are).
  2. Take one item in your outfit, and have it be one of these colors. Some examples?

And that’s just two examples I thought of in 15 seconds! If you keep your entire outfit menswear neutrals except for one of the items, you can easily throw in one of those universally flattering colors.

Did this help you figure out which colors work best for you?

If not, how can I be more helpful? Let’s chat about it on Twitter or tag me in some photos on Instagram.

What’s changed?
06/27/2022Added Instagram examples, fixed links, updated text
07/08/2021Fixed broken links
12/22/2018Added video resource, added more info to all sections
04/21/2011Original publish date