Have you been told in the past that a certain shade of blue brings out the colour of your eyes, or that you should avoid a certain shade of red as it “just isn't your colour”? Ever wondered why?
As a general rule, different colours can complement your skin tone more than others. So, while a man in this day and age is encouraged to experiment with colour more than ever, it's probably a good idea to know which hues to look out for and which to avoid. Whether you're choosing a tie, scarf or cravat to sit next to your skin, we strongly recommend working with your natural complexion, rather than against.
So how do you determine which colours are best for you? We thought we would lay out a simple guide to help you determine which colours should be your go-to, and which you may want to think twice about.
Before you read on, try to remember that these guidelines aren't gospel, and can be stretched - for example, a key fashion trend for 2022 is Dopamine Dressing, where you incorporate bright colours into your outfits in order to boost your mood and wellbeing. How we dress has a great impact on how we feel, and can boost our confidence. Playing with colour and injecting some more exciting shades into your wardrobe will no doubt brighten your mood, even if the weather is gloomy outside.
If you love a particular shade or colour which supposedly you should be avoiding according to the guidelines, it doesn't mean you have to cut it out completely. If it's a secondary or minor shade in the spectrum of colours you're wearing, it's far easier to get away with incorporating it. For example, if you love a particular shade of orange which doesn't necessarily complement your skin tone, a plain orange cravat around your neck won't be doing any favours for you. It may be better to avoid having it sitting next to your skin and opt for a pocket square with orange elements instead. There is always a way!
Determining Your Skin Tone
First of all you work out what skin tone you have - this is different from skin shade. The colour of your skin doesn't necessarily determine your skin's undertone - for example, it's possible to have a cool complexion with dark skin, and a warm complexion with pale skin.
Do you have cool undertones, warm undertones, or neutral undertones? An easy way to determine your skin tone is to take a look at the underside of your arm or hand in natural daylight. If you burn easily, have pink or rosy tones and your veins look blue or purple, you have cool undertones. If you tan well, have golden or apricot tones and your veins appear more greenish than blue, then you have warm undertones. If it's hard to tell either way, it is very likely you have more neutral undertones.
If you find you have cool undertones, shades that contrast with your skin tone will bring some colour to your complexion. Darker colours as a base for your outfit, combined with some lighter colours in the detailing, will work best. Greys, cool or muted browns, burgundy, bottle green, navy and bolder shades of blue will contrast your skin tone nicely. As a general rule of thumb, people with cool undertones suit cooler colours such as purples, greens, charcoal greys and deep blues.
Conversely, if you have cool undertones, you should avoid soft pastel shades or bright reds, oranges or pinks as they have a tendancy to make you look pink-faced or wash you out. We recommend choosing purples over pinks, and darker instead of brighter reds, or vermillion red-orange as opposed to bright orange. The same goes for neutrals, rather than light grey, beige or stone, choose richer shades such as sand, camel, khaki and slate grey. Again, look at the shade - red can work well if you pick the right one. It's generally a case for finding colours or hues which are contrasting enough against your complexion.
If you're lucky enough to have a warm complexion, and you tan rather than blister in the sun, you're also blessed with a wider scope of colours to play with. Having said this, try to opt for shades that are either brighter or darker than the middle ground. In other words, choose pale beige rather than warm sand if you're opting for light neutrals (ideally you don't want it too close to your own skin tone), or choose a brighter shade of purple for example. A lighter and more vibrant colour palette would be perfect for those with warm undertones.
There are some colours which you are better off avoiding, such as any shades that are too close to your own skin tone; warm shades of yellow, beige, brown or orange. The basis of this is to avoid looking too nude or washed out; you need some contrast.
Just like if you have a warmer complexion, having neutral undertones means you pretty much have free reign over the colour spectrum. Your complexion will marry well with the vast majority of hues and shades, and doesn't run the risk of being washed out unlike cool undertones. Be bold with your colour choices but don't go mad - choose colours that complement each other, rather than clash. You can even dare to experiment with pastels or more vibrant hues.
There is one colour you may want to avoid however - yellow. Yellow won't contrast enough with your skin and again, will wash you out or do nothing for you. Also, while black and navy are common colours for most men's wardrobes, you should keep these to a minimum to make the most of your versatile skin tone.
So once you have an idea of what shades may suit you best, why not take a look at our full collection of silk accessories here, and see how you can inject the right colours into your wardrobe to suit you.