What Colors Look Best on Me? (And Why It Matters in 2022)
Picture the scene: it’s morning, and you’re getting ready for your day. You’re in a rush, and you need to get dressed – fast! You open your closet door, and the overwhelm hits you: you have a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear.
How could this possibly happen? It seems like in today’s world of endless clothing choices (with fast fashion playing a bit part), you should have TONS of outfits right at your fingertips, to throw on at a moment’s notice.
Well…you CAN have all those amazing outfits. But problems often come into play:
- You have colors in your wardrobe that run all over the rainbow spectrum – from bright to light to dark to mellow to toasty to vivid – and it’s challenging to put together matches.
- You’re not totally confident that one piece goes with another. (For example, pieces don’t follow traditional matching rules of the exact color being part of the pattern of another piece.)
- You’re not totally confident that the color looks *right* on you. (Psst – if you’re not sure, you probably want to trust your gut!)
OK, OK, so I’m making it clear that color plays a HUGE part in putting together outfits. And if you want to be ultra-efficient, you can put together a capsule wardrobe with pieces that mix and match to your heart’s content – IF you’re savvy about what colors look best on you.
Soooo…you’re probably asking at this point the burning question, “What colors look best on ME?” Read on to learn about choosing the most flattering colors for YOU!
Table of Contents
How clothing colors are grouped into palettes or “seasons”
You may have heard of the four traditional clothing color palettes – Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. In my education to become an image consultant, however, I learned that there are actually 10 palettes to choose from!
So, how do these palettes or seasons come together, and why do they matter when it comes to the question, “What colors look best on me?” The key to these color palettes is that they all share some kind of commonality. They aren’t just randomly put together – there’s a real science behind why these colors are grouped together, and they can actually go into great detail as far as sub-groupings. (This is why I LOVE color analysis when it comes to image consulting – it speaks to my analyst side, coming from an IT background. 🤓)
Here, however, I’m going to keep things super simple for you so that you can not only quickly pick your color palette, but you can also feel confident using them to put together a capsule wardrobe – helping you get dressed with ease and with FUN.
First, it helps to know what factors are used when building clothing color palettes:
- Temperature. Are the colors warm or cool? Don’t get fooled by elementary art class rules here. Reds, oranges, and yellows are not exclusively warm. Likewise, blues, greens, and purples are not exclusively cool. There can be warmth or coolness to any and all of them!
- Light vs. dark. Exactly what it sounds like – how light or dark is a color? Or is it somewhere in the middle? Everyone has a range that works best for them, and clothing color seasons take this into consideration.
- Bright vs. soft. This is also straightforward – is a color vivid (in its purest, brightest form), or does it have a tinge of gray or brown to it, making it softer? Some complexions and features can handle a lot of bright colors, while others do better with a softer look.
The role your unique features play in selecting colors
I should start this section by saying that another favorite part of being an image consultant is showing women how to shine in their truest form. We all sometimes wish that we could change something about ourselves. If only this one thing were different, I’d look fabulous! Well, I’m here to tell you that you ARE fabulous AND beautiful! And a fantastic place to start bringing out your true, pure beauty is with your color choices.
Now, back to the question: “What colors look best on me?” We’ve talked a bit about how color palettes are built, and this is important because it all ties into how an image consultant would study your features to best select your most flattering clothing colors. So, we’ll take those same factors and apply them here when looking at the three main features we use for selecting colors: eyes, hair, and skin tone.
Easy 3-step process to assessing your features
Have you stared into your own eyes lately? No? Then grab a mirror and let’s get to it!
Take a good look at your eyes. Do they shine brightly? Are the whites of your eyes bright white, or are they a bit softer? Are they a color that shines brightly, or are there hints of gray (cool) or gold (warm) in the iris? Are they lightly colored, or are they deep? Write these all down as you go!
See how these traits line up with the three factors we covered earlier? We’ll do a similar exercise for hair and skin.
Now, take a good look at your hair. Does your hair shine under the light? Is it glossy? Or maybe it looks softer and textured. Is it light or dark (or somewhere in between)? Is it a cooler color (like a gray, platinum blonde, burgundy red, or black), or is it warmer and more golden or brown? Again, write down what you observe.
What’s your skin tone temperature? Does it contain more olive, peach, brown, or golden tones? Or is it more pink, reddish, or have cool blue or grayish undertones? Is your skin light, dark, or in the middle? Would you say your complexion is bright, or softer?
Quickly select your best clothing color palette
Now, look at the notes you took in the exercises above, and circle anywhere that you see the words “warm,” “cool,” “bright,” “soft,” “light,” or “dark.” Apply these words where they may be missing and would make sense, and be sure to circle them. Count and see which word has the most – this is going to be your dominant trait.
It’s possible you may have a tie between two or three words, and that’s OK, too!
Now, select the color palette that best matches your dominant trait(s)! Refer to the cheat sheet below:
- Spring: Light, Warm, and Bright
- Summer: Light, Cool, and Soft
- Autumn: Dark, Warm, and Soft
- Winter: Dark, Cool, and Bright
But what do these colors LOOK like? Your next step: check out my ultimate guide to all 10 color palettes for sample mini-palettes and more info!
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What if i don’t fall into one color palette? Say, for example, my dominant traits are Light, Cool, and Bright – now what? No problem! You have a few options here:
- Choose the season that has two of your dominant traits. In this case, it would be Summer. It’s up to you to decide if this season works for you or if it might be too soft for your bright trait.
- In this situation, you could alternatively choose the lightest colors in the Winter palette. Not all colors in Winter and Autumn are super dark, just like not all colors in Spring and Summer are super light. There is a little bit of give and room to play in all the palettes!
- As a third option, you could also combine colors from the Light, Cool, and Bright palettes to come up with your favorites!
- What if I’m not sure about how to assess one of my features? (Most often, this question comes up for skin tone.) I have a few hints and suggestions here:
- Makeup counters are often a good place to start if you aren’t sure about your skin tone. A makeup artist or consultant can determine the best foundation/powder/concealer for your skin and will know what kinds of undertones (warm or cool) the makeup has.
- I know this process can sometimes be tricky, and this is where an image consultant can really help you out! Search the web for image consultants in your area to schedule an appointment. (In the Charlottesville, Virginia area? Schedule with me here.)
- I don’t like my palette. Can I pick a different one? Of course! You can always pick your favorite, especially if one really speaks to you and you feel beautiful and confident wearing those colors. And the great thing about each palette is that you can color coordinate and mix and match items to make the perfect capsule wardrobe. Go for it!
Still asking “What colors look best on me?” Learn about all the color palettes for building capsule wardrobes and browse samples here.
I hope this was helpful! What did you learn about yourself from the exercises? Did you pick a palette yet, or still deciding? Tell me below in the comments!