The Magic of Color Theory: Find Out What Colors Look Best on You

Have you ever fallen in love with something on the rack while shopping only to take it to the fitting room and find out it didn’t look good on you at all? It could have been the fit, or style, but more likely it was the color—it made you feel “washed out”—and you didn’t even know you were choosing the wrong hues for your skin all along. So if you don’t already know what your colors are or even if you do but you’re curious to learn more—read on and hopefully you’ll find some life-changing (okay, at least wardrobe changing!) tips below.

Some like it hot, some like it cold.

Color wheel courtesy of Pinterest (click to enlarge)

 The broadest of categories when it comes to decoding your own personal color code are warm and cool. Each color category is divided and  separated into left and right on the color wheel. You are most likely a “warm” if you have:

  • Black, dark brown, auburn, red, or golden brown hair
  • Brown or green eyes
  • Olive or golden skin
  • Beige skin
  • Skin that tans easily
  • Yellow skin undertones

You are most likely a “cool” if you have:

  • Light to medium brown hair
  • Light green, hazel, or blue eyes
  • Natural blond hair
  • Fair or pale skin
  • Skin that burns easily
  • Pink skin undertones

If you haven’t quite figured out which one you are, click here to a nifty quiz by Seventeen because next we’re going to tell you that warm complexions look best in:

  • Red (Warm, as in tomato)
  • Peach
  • Orange
  • Golden Yellow
  • Golden Brown
  • Olive Green
  • Gold Jewelry

And cool complexions look best in:

  • Red (Cool, as in cherry)
  • Pink
  • Blue
  • Teal
  • Turquoise
  • Purple
  • Mint Green
  • Silver Jewelry

You’ll notice when you start wearing the colors that are proven to pair with your skintone you appear more healthy with an attractive glow. Below is a chart that will help you figure out that vein question (are they blue-purple or blue-green?) and also clue you in on where you stand when it comes to makeup foundation, where are shades are usually categorized into warm, cool, or neutral.

Undertone Infographic
Click to Enlarge

 Fishing for complements.

 Once you’ve got the whole warm/cool thing down, and know what colors look best on you (we’ll call those your “power colors”!) we can move on to complementary colors. No, not colors that tell you that you look hot in those jeans, (those are complimentary) but colors that are situated directly across from each other on the color wheel. When you understand how to use complementary colors together, you can create some seriously dynamic outfits. Say you’re warm and you’re putting together a look with a yummy golden yellow top that you know is going to make your hazel eyes look positively regal. Think about what you can pair with that top to make it stand out even more. Yellow’s complementary color is purple or violet, so pair your top with a deep purple-toned indigo jean or simply a violet-hued accent scarf. Get it? Yeah, your friends will be calling you Mix Master Jay in no time.

 Ready for some instant outfit inspiration? Check out this awesome color spectrum of ideas all centered around the every day summer staple: white jeans. Pick your favorite complexion complementing hue and style away!

 For further reading on this oh-so-important topic, check out a classic throwback style bible, Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson
because while trends come and go throughout the years, the rules of color in style never change!



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Julianne Zigos

Julianne Zigos is a freelance fashion and lifestyle editor, writer and reporter based in New York City. Former projects include editor for Glam Damn It and The Upswing. Her work has been published via various online editorials from Daily Front Row to Business Insider. She’s most likely found on the red carpet covering film premieres and events, backstage interviewing designers at NYFW, or on the couch killing zombies as a recently converted gamer. Her favorite things to do are run, ride motorcycles, and travel, scouring the world for up-worthy trends and the best places to take selfies.

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