What determines the best colors for you to wear?
It’s not just what colors to wear, which I talk about in this article, but how to wear them. In dressing, one 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 that head-separate-from-the-body look.
I call it the decapitated barbie doll look. When the outfit colors seem unrelated to the person’s coloring? You see the person and … head tilt. You know something is off but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
Dressing in Harmony Is Easy On the Eyes
When dressed in harmony with your own coloring, the eye will scan quickly from head to toe and back to your eyes. Color harmony is one way to keep the eye from lingering on features you are self-conscious about. Dressing in harmonious coloring head to toe prevents ‘distractions.’
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 if you want the colors you wear to create a fluid look.
The brain looks for things to match what it expects. Our brain naturally looks for patterns and recognizes discrepancies. The result is that colors that do not look harmonious will stand out.
Value Contrast is Part of Color Harmony
Color harmony occurs when the colors in your outfit are harmonious with the coloring in your hair, skin and eyes. 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. There’s light, medium and dark values in each color. In this image below, the colors have a dark value on the outside ring and as you move to the inside, the colors go to medium and then light value.
A blonde with fair skin and light eyes, has low value contrast. All three of the features, hair, skin and eyes, are light. There is little contrast. Mirroring that value in outfits will achieve harmony with that coloring. Look at this model.
She is wearing a low value contrast flannel shirt from Land’s End in the dark navy and dark green. She also has low contrast values herself. She almost has the right value contrast, however, there is one problem. Her overall features with her light hair, light skin and light eyes are all very light. 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.
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 from Land’s End has dark brown hair with no apparent red or any other color and brown eyes and light ivory skin. She will look most harmonious wearing 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. She is wearing a top that 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, there is a ‘cheat’. Add lipstick in a color, wear it all day, reapplying after lunch, and you can wear one color in your 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. You could also pop 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.