How to Wear the Best Colors for Your Skin Tone

Pairing the right colors with your skin tone isn't just about having a good eye. There's a science to it, folks. The core fundamental of color theory is that specific color combinations create specific visual effects — harmonizing or abrasive or something in between. That rule applies as much to your morning routine as it does to art. And when it comes to good impressions, abrasive is probably not the road you want to go down.

If you haven't even considered mastering your personal color algorithm, it's time to save your future self from bad outfit days. We've studied the color wheel to find and compile your best colors. What we discovered is that in most cases, opposites do attract.

Skin tone: Light

You’re pale white, possibly freckle-faced, and very prone to sunburns. Your skin’s undertone falls between pink and yellow, and because of this you want to stay away from warm neutrals. Light colors will wash you out, so instead opt for bold colors with dark undertones. Channel Dita Von Teese with scarlet red, dabble in plum, or go for royal blue like this Margiela dress.

Check Out: BCBG Max Azria Jaklyn Draped Front Blouse in Royal Blue, $158, Amazon

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Skin Tone: Fair

Like Jessica Biel’s, your skin has a subtle peachy undertone. Wear earthy shades of blues, greys and greens to help bring out the blush in your cheeks. Berry colors like dark cherry and raspberry will also work, especially if you’re looking to add a little more color to your complexion. Try this A.P.C. mid-length skirt.

Check Out: Jill Stuart Scoop Neck Racer Back Dress in Berry, $328, Amazon

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Skin Tone: Medium

A medium skin tone tends to have yellow to brown undertones, which makes it pair well with rich tones of almost any color on the wheel. A bright pink will bring out the red undertones of your skin and make it radiate. Go for greens like emerald or olive — try this Topshop satin tank — to bring out your brown tones.

Check Out: Trina Turk Liv Crepe Sleeveless Top in Emerald, $116, Amazon

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Skin Tone: Tan

Avoid colors close to your skin tone — that means beiges, browns, and muted oranges. Deep jewel tones are great because they pop against your skin and illuminate your eyes. Think sapphire, ruby, or deep turquoise like this Reformation long dress.

Check Out: Haute Hippie Draped Crossover Blouse in Sri Lankan Sapphire, $118, Amazon

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Skin Tone: Brown

Like those with tan skin, if you have brown skin, you’re best off steering clear of colors close to your skin tone. You, too, should play around with jewel tones — pair them with even brighter hues of any bold color to pop against your skin and warm up your overall complexion. Solange brings this home with her choice in yellow. This DKNY crepe dress will yield similarly awesome results.

Check Out: BCBGeneration Drop-Waist Dress in Amber, $118, Amazon

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Skin Tone: Dark Brown

Dark brown skin is heavily pigmented with blue, red, or olive undertones. The key to color pairing with dark skin is to bring out those undertones and make them glow. Dive into light brights like yellow, purple, or orange — just make sure they have a cool undertone. Lupita Nyong’O floored red carpet attendees with her sky blue Prada gown, and you can bring that effect to the office with this Malene Birgir crepe blazer in the same color.

Check Out: Rebecca Minkoff Blanche Top in Blood Orange, $128, Amazon

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