How to Dress for Your Skin Tone, Part 1: Know Your Skin Complexion

Tim Dessaint
5 min readJun 1, 2018


They’re an integral part of fashion and we all like to play with a little color here and there.

Most of us know that stepping outside of your comfort zone by wearing some bold colors can nail you some serious style points, but those experiments can often end terribly wrong if you don’t understand which colors look good or bad against your skin.

Now it’s not rocket science, and with these few pointers you should be well on your way to better understanding how to choose colors to complement your skin tone. So let’s get into it!

Understanding Skin Tone

First off, we need to understand the difference between skin complexion and skin undertones, which together form your skin tone.

Skin complexion, or skin color, is basically the shade of your skin; you can have a light/pale complexion, a medium/olive complexion or a dark complexion.

Your skin undertone is different from your complexion, and will remain the same regardless of your skin color. There are three different undertones: cool, warm and neutral.

So the term ‘skin tone’ basically refers to the combination of your skin complexion/color with your skin undertone (i.e.: “pale skin with cool undertones”, “olive skin with warm undertones”).

In this article we will discuss the general colors that will look best for your skin complexion, and we will discuss undertones in part 2.

How to Dress for Your Skin Complexion

First step: look at your forearm. Is your skin closer to a snowflake or dark chocolate? You should fall in one of three categories: light/pale skin, dark skin, or medium/olive skin. Depending on which category you fit in, different colors will be more flattering against your skin.

Light/Pale Skin

Colors to wear

If you have pale skin, you want to wear colors that clearly contrast with your complexion. Look for rich, dark colors like navy, charcoal grey, burgundy, forest green, dark brown. Those are the kinds of colors that will sit well next to your skin and bring it alive.

Colors to avoid

You want to avoid wearing soft, pastel shades and bright colors as those will tend to wash you out…