Choosing the Best Clothing for Your Skin Tone

January 01, 2020 8 min read

If you're looking to build your wardrobe but don't know which colors will look best on you, you'll want to know all about how your skin tone can impact the clothing you wear. Knowing your skin tone can help you choose colors that complement your natural skin undertone while avoiding those that clash with it.

The best clothing clothes for skin tone use colors that flatter your skin tone, making you stand out in a crowd. In contrast, clothing in colors that don't match your skin tone result in your hair and skin looking dull or even sickly.

This article explains how to determine your skin tone and the best colors for it so you can dress for your skin tone.


Determining Your Skin Tone

As you look to build your wardrobe, you'll want to find clothes to match your skin tone. To clear up any confusion, your skin's surface tone, or what you'd generally describe yourself as having, is not the same as the undertone. When you're looking for clothes to match your skin tone, you're actually looking for clothes that complement your skin's undertone rather than the surface tone.

Even though people have a variety of skin colors, there are only three different categories of skin undertones — warm, cool and neutral. Warmer complexions consist of yellow undertones, while cool complexions consist of pink undertones. A neutral complexion has a mix of both warm and cool undertones. Though your skin's surface might change its color depending on how tan you are, your skin undertone will not change.

If you don't know what your skin undertone or how you can determine if you're warm or cool, you can find out using the following steps:


1. Examine Your Veins

To determine what your skin tone is, start with your veins. The blood vessels on your elbows, temples and wrists are often close to the surface due to the skin being thinner. With light skin, you can often see the veins through the skin, making it easier to determine what color the veins are.

As you look at your veins, check to see if you have blue or green veins. Blue veins signal that you have a cool skin tone, whereas green shows that you have a warm skin tone. If you can't tell if you have green or blue, it's likely that you have a neutral skin tone.


2. Use the Paper Test

If you can't see your veins or want more confirmation, the next step to determining your skin tone is to administer a white paper test on yourself. Place a white piece of paper against your skin to help you identify the colors that jump out to you. These colors then inform your skin tone.

Instead of placing a piece of paper next to your face, you'll want to place it near your chest or throat. The face can have reddish tones for a variety of reasons, such as sun exposure, and can give you a false reading for your tone.

Hold the white piece of paper up to your chest or neck, looking for the colors that become more obvious compared to the white paper. If you notice pink and blue colors, your skin tone is cool, and if you noticed gold and green colors, your skin tone is warm. A neutral skin tone likely has fluctuating skin colors depending on the amount of sun exposure and the time of year.


3. Think About How Your Skin Reacts to Sun

If you're constantly getting sunburned, especially in the summer months, you're likely to have cool-toned skin. In contrast, those with warm skin often tan instead of burning. Additionally, if you rarely ever get burned, but you also don't tan, you may have a neutral tone. Another indication of a neutral tone is if your sunburns often heal quickly and turn into a tan.

To test this, don't go out and overexpose yourself to the sun to see if you burn or not. Instead, think about how your skin has reacted in the past. If sunburns are rare, you'll have your answer.


Learn Your Seasons

In fashion today, many people like to make further distinctions between those whose skin has warm and cool undertones. In fact, there are two subcategories under both the warm and cool skin tones that can help you further craft your look to accentuate your undertone. These subcategories often place people into four different seasons to illustrate the differences. Below you can find the differences between the four main types of skin tones:


Cool Tone Seasons

Both summers and winters are cool tones and have many similarities. However, they do have some differences that men who know how to dress will be aware of:


  • Summer: While administering the white paper test, you'll notice that this skin tone has pink, red or blue undertones. Those with a summer skin tone will have hair and eye color that provides a gentle contrast to their skin color.
  • Winter: For those with a winter skin tone, the white paper test will reveal the same undertones of pink, red or blue. However, someone with a winter skin tone will have eye color and hair in stark contrast to their skin. For example, someone with black hair but pale skin will have a winter skin tone.


Warm Tone Seasons

Springs and autumns have warm undertones, but there are still some differences between the two skin types:

  • Spring: A spring skin tone has undertones of peach, cream and golden that you can see during the white paper test. Springs usually have strawberry red or straw-colored hair, along with freckles, blue or green eyes and rosy cheeks.
  • Autumn: For those with an autumn skin tone, a white paper test will reveal golden or yellow undertones. Autumns often have darker hair and eyes compared to someone with a spring skin tone.


Colors for Cool Skin Tones

The best colors for cool skin tones are on the cool end of the color spectrum. The top colors to wear include emeralds, deep purples, lavender, pink, ice blue and bright blues. If you want to incorporate a warmer color into your outfit, you can use extremely pale yellows, rose reds and rubies. More neutral colors that work include bright white, gray and navy.

The reason to choose these colors comes down to creating an attractive contrast with your fair skin. As a cool skin tone often means your skin is pale or has light features, you'll want to use darker colors. The best outfits for pale skin often rely on colors like emerald green, navy and bold shades of blue.

If you like to incorporate watches or other pieces of jewelry into your outfit, choose cool metals like platinum or silver rather than gold or copper. You'll also want to avoid wearing orange, strong yellow and tomato red. These colors will clash with your skin and keep you from looking your best.

You can go a step further by selecting colors that match your season skin type. While wearing clothing from the other cool tone season often looks better than wearing a warm tone, a good bet is to choose colors that match your season to look your best. Here are some recommendations for those with summer or winter skin colors:


  • Summer: Summers look best when they choose softer colors over more vibrant ones. Some specific colors you can use include pale blue and lilac, along with softer neutral shades that have undertones of rose. Pastel shades also often look attractive on summers.
  • Winter: Winters look great in clothes that have the classic undertones of pink and blue. They also tend to be especially eye-catching when they incorporate sharper colors like navy blue, white or black into their outfit.


Colors for Warm Skin Tones

Colors for Warm Skin Tones

If you are wondering what colors to wear with warm skin tone, then look no further. For those with a warm skin undertone, earth tones are an excellent choice. The best colors for warm skin tones often include colors like green, brown, mustard yellow and warm reds. Other warm skin tone colors that you can work with are peach, coral, amber and gold. If you want to use cool colors with your outfit, choose ones that are warmer, such as olive, orchid, violet-red and moss.

You can also work with some neutral colors. Softer neutral colors like cream, beige, taupe, mushroom gray and cappuccino all can pair nicely with a warm skin tone. Natural, warm colors generally work well with warmer skin tones.

For watches and other pieces of men's jewelry, select warm metals, such as gold and copper, rather than silver or platinum. While this doesn't mean that you can never wear platinum or silver, gold is going to be your go-to choice as it pairs nicely with your undertone. Additionally, try not to wear colors with icy blues or jewel tones in them. These colors often wash out your skin tone and cause your skin to appear gray.

To pick up your fashion game, you can also rely on colors that fit your season. Here are the main colors to rely on as a spring or autumn:


  • Spring: Yellow, orange, peach, coral and ochre colors look exceptional on springs. For jewelry, springs should go with gold.
  • Autumn: Autumns look great in clothes that use colors like caramel, green, beige, tomato red and coffee. Like springs, autumns can use gold accessories, but they are more versatile, as they can also safely wear copper and bronze.


Colors for Neutral Skin Tones

If you don't have a clear warm or cool skin tone, the clothing world is your oyster. Colors for both warm and cool skin tones will work great for you. Pulling from both sides of the color spectrum, you'll have the widest variety in color choices that will make you shine.

Despite most colors working for those with neutral skin tones, the best outfits for dark skin use colors that fall right in the middle of the color spectrum, such as jade green or light pink. Additionally, when you build your outfit, remember that just because most colors work doesn't mean you have to combine them all at once. If you go with a bold color like cobalt blue, choose complementary and subdued colors to balance the outfit.

Avoid brown shades that make your clothes look like they're blending into your skin. As neutral skin tones are usually darker, brown clothes simply don't provide enough contrast.

Other colors that you might avoid include black and navy. Though these colors will still look good on you, they won't make the most of your flexible skin tone. Different colors will make you stand out for your skin tone but also because most men's wardrobes are filled with black and navy. By keeping these colors to a minimum, you'll separate yourself from other men.


Colors for Every Skin Tone

No matter your skin type, you can wear pale pink, bright red, teal and dark purple with confidence, as they are all universal colors that work with all skin tones. Though these colors look great, it doesn't mean that you should show up to work or a social event wearing all four at once. Instead, use these colors individually with the rest of an outfit and look exceptional when paired with accessories


Consider Adding New Outfits to Your Wardrobe

Consider Adding New Outfits to Your Wardrobe

Now that you know what your skin tone is and are an expert at matching clothes with skin tone, you're ready to add skin tone appropriate outfits to your wardrobe. If you want to consult with a fashion professional as you pick out new clothes that match your skin tone, speak to a professional at Penner's.

As a premier men's fashion store in San Antonio, Texas, that has been in business for over 100 years, Penner's knows men's clothing. You can be confident that you're getting the best advice and selection of clothes when you shop at Penner's. If you can't make it to the store, you can browse the store's offerings online. You can also give us a call at 210-226-2487 if you have any questions.