Which colours suit me? Pick the most flattering colours for your skin tone.

Written by Bronwen | 30/09/2020


How To

What are the best colours for pale skin? Does white make you look washed out? What if you have a darker complexion? We’ve all been there. You try something on, it’s recommended for your body type, it’s on trend, so it should be perfect? But for some reason, it just looks wrong, and you can’t quite put your finger on what.  When this is the case it usually means the colours of your outfit don’t compliment your natural complexion and skin tone.

three men are sat on a wall in the countryside smiling and laughing

Of course, you can wear whichever clothes you like regardless of skin tone, and sometimes colours that typically wouldn’t work do! However, the colour of your clothes can work to your advantage, so it’s handy to know which colours tend to help you out more than others. Before we start with advising you on what you can and can’t wear, you need to work out where you fit on the skin tone spectrum.

It may seem like a no-brainer for some people, but often you may find yourself between categories, not to mention if you treat yourself to a cheeky tan now and then. To keep it simple we’ve opted for four skin-tone groups; pale, light, olive and dark. Match yourself up to the description that describes you best and get shopping for your skin tone.

What Colours Match Best with Pale Skin?

If you burn at the mere thought of a sunny day, rarely tan and at the slightest bit of sun your freckles are already blooming, it’s likely you have pale or fair skin. With pale skin some colours tend to make you look washed out. Try and avoid wearing light, pastel shades on their own as it will make your appear duller than you are. Stay clear of blacks as it will contrast too harshly and whites as they will have very little contrast.

a man is laughing to the camera wearing beige shorts and a dark blue Barbour Beacon polo shirt

Stick to greys, beiges and navy. They will bring out more colour in you. If you do like a lighter colour, then mix it with some darker shades. Layer up a pastel t-shirt underneath a navy bomber jacket or a green over-shirt.

What Colours Match Best with Light Skin?

Okay so your skin can tan without burning but you still have pink undertones to your skin. Good news! You have lots of options, but there are still some considerations to be made.

Similar to pale skin, unless you’ve got a bit of tan, stay clear of pastel colours, nude shades and anything thats bland and pale. The aim is to bring out your natural glow, warm undertones. Not drain the colour out of you.


A young man is looking beyond the camera. He is wearing a blue k-way rain jacket, a red bucket hat and a black K-Way logo tshirt

Choose earthy tones such as greens, khakis, browns and even blues. Layer up over a white t-shirt and pair with some indigo. A good autumnal shade like burnt orange, maroon or a mustard yellow will work well with a monochrome base layer. Monochrome is also your friend, go entirely monochrome with your outfit or simply keep a few staple pieces in your wardrobe to layer with.


What Colours Look Best with Olive Skin?

Do you make people envious with your all year-round, natural tan? Do you have a yellowy-green undertone and a naturally warm complexion? If so, read below for what to wear to compliment your natural olive skin tone.

a man is grinning to the left wearing an all pink Barbour Beacon outfit

Avoid colours that again are too similar to your skin tone, any yellows, greens or browns that are too close to your skin colour should be avoided. You want people to do a double take for the right reasons. Bright colours can work well if balanced and worn with neutral shades. Aside from clothes that make you look like you belong on a nudist beach, anything goes. So have fun and experiment with layering up contrasting colours, from blues to pinks.

What Colours Look Best with Dark Skin?

You’ve won the colour-matching lottery. If your skin tone is darker than olive skin, you have the best pick of the bunch. From pastels to bright bold colours, your skin perfectly complements the rainbow. Just stay clear of browns, again you don’t want to look naked. Its fine to wear the occasional t-shirt, you avoid head to toe. Black is a solid option in full head to toe, you can still look great.

a man leans on one leg wearing a colourful hoodie and black jeans

Opt for lighter colours more as your skin tone will offer a natural contrast. Stock up on pastels, pale shades and whites without the fear of looking washed out. Bright colours work good too, use one vivid piece and layer up with other simple pieces for some good results.


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