Here’s a simple to understand guide on how to choose the perfect color for your clothes!
There are two things men know about color:
- What color their own hair is, and
- If that famous model was wearing a red or blue dress on the late night show
What colors will look good on you, and make you look your best?
The only other place I can work is to enlist in the Army, as khaki is a smashing color with my reddish hair and beige skin.— Erma Bombeck
Skin Tone vs Hair Color: Best & Worst Colors Chart
If You Have Pale Skin
|Hair Color||Best Colors||Colors to Avoid|
|Black||Blue, medium to Light Gray, Green||Brown, Yellow, Tan, Light Gray|
|Blond||Blue, Navy, Gray, Red, Green, Brick||Dark Brown, Beige, Yellow, Light Gray, Black|
|Brown||Olive, Gray, Tan, Brown, Blue, medium Gray||Dark Gray, Mustard, Orange|
|Gray||Navy, Gray, Maroon, Black||Browns, Green, Tan, Yellow, Pastels|
|Red||Browns, Medium Gray, Green, Blue, pale Yellow||Light Gray, Red, Yellow, Orange|
If You Have Dark Skin
|Hair Color||Best Colors||Colors to Avoid|
|Black||Ivory, Tan, Blue, Green, Pink, Yellow, Violet||Dark Gray, Blue|
|Blond||Beige, Light Gray, Pink||Dark Blue,|
|Gray||Most Colors Work! Lucky you!||Yellow, all pastels|
|Red||Tan, Brown, Gray||Red, Yellow|
You can check out the charts, but if it says your best color is fuchsia, then consider it for casual social clothes, or a color in your tie to bring attention to your face, but avoid wearing a fuchsia dress shirt to your next meeting.
Use a color combo that doesn’t compliment your eye, hair and skin tone, and people will ask if you’re feeling okay. Not so bad if it’s a good-looking nurse asking you that!
If you look washed out in yellow, wear a yellow shirt the day before you call in sick to go to the beach. Everyone will be talking about how bad you looked the day before!
Colors May Not Be That Critical For Men
Most guys look great in Navy or gray suits, white or blue shirts, and an appropriate power tie.
Maybe that’s why we were smart enough to bless them as the official colors of corporate business.
Besides using this information to pick the “right” tie color, this is great knowledge for when the time comes to pick your next car color, or paint your living room.
Now if you could just get your favorite bar or nightspot to re-decorate in colors that make you look great!!
And if you really like a style you think might not look the best on you, don’t worry – wear it anyway. These are just guidelines.
I’ve seen very heavy blond guys in yellow floral shirts that looked great!
Just to complicate things there are a couple other factors too
Eye color is important
Women actually notice what color your eyes are, and they like it when you make your necktie match your eyeballs. Or vice-versa. In other words, the color of your eyes can make a difference in shades of the colors that look good on you.
Colors can look drastically different in different lights! If you’re coordinating an ensemble that will be worn in an office, under fluorescent light, make sure you don’t put it together at a store or your bedroom that has incandescent lighting.
To describe a color with reasonable accuracy, three basic properties have been designated to identify the dimensions, or qualities, of color:
- Hue, the name of a color;
- Value, the degree of lightness or darkness in a color, can be expressed by shades, tints, and tones;
- Intensity (saturation or chroma), the degree of purity or strength of a color (hue) or how bright or muted the colors are. For example, an intense red is one that is a very strong, pure red color. When a lighter or darker color is added to a color, the intensity will be less bright.
For more information about colors and color coordination, please see our Color Coordination for Men article.
More Color Tips
If you’re trying to look slim, save the bright colors for accents.
With a gray or navy suit a red or yellow tie will draw favorable attention to your face.
Light hair and skin would pair well with powder blue, while dark features are complemented by navy blue.
Royal blue would work for somewhere in between.
Dark and dull colors recede thus making you look thinner, and smaller.
Light and bright colors project, which tend to bulk you up and make you look larger.
Dark colors are more formal than light. Bright colors in large amounts become tiresome to the eye.
Want to emphasize your shoulders and de-emphasize your hips? Wear a lighter colored sports jacket with dark trousers. (You can also apply this principle to a polo shirt and trousers).
Men with muted or softer coloring look better in “dusty or hazy” colors that have a touch of gray or are faded. For example, light hair and skin would pair well with powder blue.
Men with darker complexions and hair look better in bright, crisp, clear, rich colors that pop out. Navy blue would be an example.
Cool & Warm Colors
Colors can be divided into cool and warm colors.
Cool colors: (green, blue, violet) are associated with water, sky and foliage.
They are calming, unassuming and they appear to recede.
This is handy knowledge if you want to appear less heavy or are in the witness protection program.
Dark, cool, muted colors in a suit can make you appear 10 to 15 pounds slimmer— Lois Fenton, author of Dress for Excellence
Aside from being classic suit colors that command authority, navy, and charcoal gray (also black for social or New York City occasions) appear to distance you from observers and tend to make you look less heavy.
Warm, bright colors: (red, orange, yellow) are associated with fire and the sun. They psychologically suggest emotion, energy and warmth while optically appearing larger. They will appear to bring you closer and bulk you up. Now you can skip the gym and still bulk up!
How To Determine If Your Colors Are Warm or Cool
To determine if your face, hair and eye colors are warm or cool, stand in front of a mirror in bright daylight and hold up something blue alternately with something red or red/yellow.
If you look better next to the blue item, you’re cool.
If you look better next to the red/yellow, you’re warm.
Depth refers to lightness and darkness of your coloration. Light hair and skin would pair well with powder blue, while dark features match navy blue. Royal blue would work for somewhere in between.
Intensity is how bright or muted the colors are. Men with muted or softer coloring look better in “dusty or hazy” colors that have a touch of gray or are faded. (President Bill Clinton is an example of muted coloring.)
Men with darker complexions and hair look better in bright colors-crisp, clear, rich colors that pop out. (Here’s something that you’ve probably never read before: Sylvester Stallone is bright.)
How to Look Your Best – More Articles to Read
This article is part of our “How to Look Your Best” series. This series is dedicated to helping people learn how to project their best image.