What determines the best colors for you to wear?
Your best colors are not just a matter of which colors to wear, which I talk about in this article, but also how to wear them. In dressing, a primary goal is to create outfits in colors that are harmonious to your hair, skin and eyes.
What you wear below the shoulders should be similar in color characteristics to what’s above the shoulders. This is one way we keep from creating a head-separate-from-the-body look.
When the outfit colors seem unrelated to the person’s own coloring, you instantly know something is off, even if you can’t put your finger on it.
Dressing in Harmony Is Easy On the Eyes
Color harmony is one way to keep the eye from lingering on features you are self-conscious about.
When wearing colors in harmony with your own coloring, others will scan quickly from head to toe and back to your face. The goal is to have the attention focused at your face as this is where we communicate.
Harmonious does not mean ‘the same color as’. So I am not saying the outfit colors have to be the same color as what occurs in your hair, skin and eyes. However, they should be harmonious to create the best look.
Our brain naturally looks for patterns and recognizes discrepancies. The result is that colors that do not look harmonious will stand out.
Sometimes fashion catalogs will put models in colors that are stronger than the model or significantly lighter than the model’s coloring. That way the eye will stay focused on the outfit.
Value Contrast is Part of Color Harmony
When the colors in your outfit are harmonious with the coloring in your hair, skin and eyes, you have achieved color harmony. This includes not only your color code (what specific colors), but also the value of those colors.
By value I mean how dark or light the colors are. In the color wheel below you can see the colors with a dark value on the outside ring. As you move to the inside, the colors go to medium and then light value.
A honey-colored blonde with light skin and light eyes, has low value contrast. All three of the features, hair, skin and eyes, are on the light side. Mirroring that value contrast in outfits will achieve harmony with her coloring. Look at this model.
On the one hand she is wearing a low value contrast flannel shirt in dark navy and dark green. That is low contrast just like her own features. However, there is one problem. Her overall features with her light hair, light skin and light eyes are all light in value. Therefore, she will look most harmonious wearing overall LIGHT values with LOW value contrast. This shirt is overall very DARK in value, even though it has low value contrast. Her top is not harmonious with her own color value.
What looks better on her is this shirt which is overall light and the contrast is a medium-low contrast.
The lavender has a dark and a lighter lavender and of course the white. That lighter lavender color creates a bridge between the darker lavender and the white, which decreases the overall light to dark contrast. Anytime you add a lighter color between the darkest and lightest colors in a print, it lowers the value contrast. The darkest lavender was already a medium value creating a medium contrast with the white. When the lighter lavender is considered as well, the medium value contrast is decreased to a medium to low value contrast.
Side by Side Comparison
Color Contrast is Also Part of Color Harmony
Color contrast has to do with how many different colors you wear in your outfit. If you have neutral eyes (brown) and neutral hair (brown with no red tones) and brown eyes, you have 3 neutrals above your shoulders. Color harmony would recommend wearing all neutrals and very small amounts of color, if any at all.
This model has dark brown hair with no apparent red or any other color and brown eyes and light ivory skin. Her best look and most harmonious outfits will be
- neutrals with very little color in her outfit and
- high value contrast.
She is wearing the highest value contrast possible – black and white and no colors. Her top is harmonious with her own coloring.
Two Ways to Wear Color When You Have All Neutral Features
If you have all neutral features above the shoulders but would like to wear more color, here is a ‘cheat’.
- Add lipstick in a color,
- wear it all day,
- reapplying after lunch,
That’s one way a woman with all neutral features can wear more color in her outfit and still look harmonious.
Also, if you have a vibrant personality, you can get away with wearing more color in your outfit than what you have in your hair, skin and eyes.
Put on some earrings in a pop color if you want to wear more color below the shoulders and still be harmonious with what’s going on above the shoulders.
Color Tip: Wearing colors that are similar to your own hair, skin and eye color will create color harmony. Color harmony helps keep the eye from being distracted or stuck on features that make you feel self-conscious.