What's your Hue?
By: Noelle McBride
There always comes a moment when I'm standing at the dressing room with a client, they are wearing a silhouette they've never tried before, have their head cocked to one side trying to assess if they like it or not and inevitably they ask the question. "Can I wear this color?" My reply is always; "Absolutely!"
I can answer this question pretty unequivocally in the affirmative because one of the rules of shopping is to not bother trying on colors that don't work for your skin tone. (Yay, less to try on!)
Now you may be asking; "well, what if I'm not shopping with you, Noelle?" How can I tell what colors look good with my skin tone?
First, let's talk about the building blocks of a good wardrobe. We can even begin with defining what a good wardrobe looks like!
But wait! Why are we talking about wardrobes and closets when all I want to know is my colors?
I promise, we'll talk colors in just a minute-but follow me for just a moment…
A good wardrobe is one that allows you walk into your closet and pull pieces together to make an outfit that compliments your skin tone and flatters your figure.
You can't build a wardrobe with your colors (even if you know them!) unless you know how to create a good wardrobe to start with. So let's talk about the Basics of an overall good wardrobe.
A good wardrobe consists of five Elements or Basics that then incorporate your best colors.
(Ding, ding, ding-we are talking about colors again. Yay!)
Elements of a Basic Wardrobe
Tops: 2 long sleeve button downs, 2 button down sweaters, 3 tees Black, White, Gray (BWG), 3 tanks (BWG) plus a LBD (Little Black Dress)
Bottoms: 2 Pants, 3 jeans, black skirt, 1 shorts
Jackets: Leather, Trench, black suit jacket, seasonal coat
Shoes: a pair of heels, a pair of ankle boots, classic flats, summer sandals, sneakers
Accessories: watch, good pair of earrings or a signature necklace, 1 small handbag, 1 moderate handbag, everyday ring, scarf
This is where you can start if you're looking to create a wardrobe that allows you to walk in your closet and pair things together with ease and confidence. These elements are known as the Basics of your wardrobe. You can pair everything else with them because they go with everything else!
Now that you know the pieces you want to have in your closet, let's talk about the colors you want those basic pieces to be.
See, I promised you we would get back to colors! What colors look good on you, right?
The first thing to determining the best colors for your skin tone is to learn what your undertone is. Your undertone determines which color of say, "blue" will look best on you-because if you've ever been shopping there are about a gazillion choices of "blue"-that all change seasonally. Which then leaves you wondering which shade do I pick?!
This can be especially frustrating because retailers change colors seasonally and there is even a "color of the year," they incorporate into their fashion line. Pantone picks a color every year that they decide is going to be THE color of the year. This color is then sent to fashion designers and every retailer. This color may or may not look good with your skin tone but it will be everywhere, for an entire year. This is awesome when the color works for you, but not so much if it doesn't.
Ok, back to Undertones…
There are three basic undertones that are found no matter the depth of fair to dark skin tone you may have. They are warm, cool and neutral undertones.
There are some easy ways to tell what your undertone is, today we are going to do the most reliable, in my opinion. It is known as the wrist test.
Flip your wrist to the underside where you can readily see your veins and look at them in natural light. Decide if they look blue, purple, green, olive or blue-green.
For COOL undertones your veins will appear blue or purple.
-Your skin will have a pink, red or blue tint to it.
-Silver jewelry flatters your skin more than gold.
-Basics for your wardrobe are cool gray, bright white and navy.
-For WARM undertones your veins will appear slightly green or olive.
-Your skin will have yellow, gold or a peach tint to it.
-Gold jewelry flatters your skin tone best.
-Basics that work for you include taupe, cappuccino, cream and mushroom gray
-For NEUTRAL undertones your veins will be blue-green.
-Your skin is neither pink/red or yellow/peach but somewhere in between.
-You can wear both silver and gold jewelry. Rose Gold looks the best on your skin tone.
-For Basics try off-whites, coffee, mid-range grays and black.
Once you have your undertone down you can determine which colors look best for you. As a general rule of thumb if you are warm; colors of the sunset and earth tones are going to make your skin glow. If you are cool, you want to gravitate towards colors of water or the sky to look your most radiant. Neutral tones can borrow colors from both ends of spectrum. (Lucky you!)
A color wheel can also be helpful in visualizing exactly what colors look best with which undertone.
Using undertones as a way of determining flattering colors for your skin tone is very rudimentary. There are more detailed analysis' out there that incorporate your hair and eye color, plus your undertone to find your best colors. These methods use the seasons and often pair them with descriptive words like; "Cool Spring or a Warm Winter, etc" to differentiate your most flattering tones and shades. If you find these helpful, by all means I encourage you to do it. I have a girlfriend that had "her colors done" in this format and even got a palette that she could put into her purse and whip out when she wanted to reference whether a color looked good or not for her. She loves it and it has helped her feel more confident in building a wardrobe she loves.
I think "having your colors done" can be a great resource and if you are ready for something more in depth, go for it!
But if finding your undertone made you raise your eyebrows a little and you are still thinking about which colors really look good on you, not to mention wardrobe basics-here is another tip that is absolutely foolproof when it comes to colors!
There are 4 colors that look good on every.single.skin.tone. Say what?! Yes, it's true! There are 4 colors that are known as universal colors because they look good on everyone!!! (Hurray!)
These are colors you can always fall back on with confidence, no matter your skin tone. They will always be flattering for you!
There you have it, ladies! These are the basics of choosing colors for your skin tone and the elements of building a basic wardrobe that is functional versus just filling up space in your closet.
Still not sure? Go for colors in the universal spectrum and your recommended basic colors and build your wardrobe from there.
I also encourage you to listen to what other people say. If you always get a compliment when you are wearing a particular color of shirt or dress, take note and know that is a good color for you!
Most of all-Have Fun!