What colour suits me? How to pinpoint the most flattering shades for you

Looking through your wardrobe and asking, what colour suits me? Enter our expert guide on the best colour matches for your skin tone

three women showing examples for what colour suits me
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What colour suits me is a fashion dilemma that never goes away. If you've found yourself pondering this idea, don't worry, we've got the answers. We've spoken to experts in colour analysis to help you find your perfect colour match and how to wear them in the months ahead.

While there are no real hard and fast fashion rules, and you should always wear what makes you feel great, asking what colour suits me, will help you find the shades that work with your natural complexion best and give you an instant boost. When it comes to bold hues, dopamine dressing remains a key fashion colour trend for the months ahead, and these mood-boosting brights are unlikely to go anywhere, anytime soon. So nailing the shades that make you shine is a great idea.

Investigating 'what colour suits me' will help you easily navigate every new fashion season, giving you the tools to build a colour and print palette that ensures you feel confident in every look you buy. According to research from online personal styling service, Stitch Fix UK, a third of Brits (29%) say their mood is lifted when wearing bright shades, and 35% experience a boost in creativity when dressed in colourful clothing. And this is an idea we whole heartedly agree with.

"Wearing bright colours such as yellow, red, pink, and blue come with genuine psychological and physiological benefits," explains Shakaila Forbes-Bell, fashion psychologist and founder of Fashion is Psychology.

"Red and yellow, for example, have been found to increase blood pressure, heart rate, and eye movement, causing us to feel more alert, aroused, stimulated, and energetic. Blue, by comparison, produces calming bodily responses, making us feel more relaxed and serene.”

And when it comes to working out 'what colour suits me' there are heaps of hues to choose from this season, from bold pops of red to gorgeous blues of all varieties, you’re bound to find a shade to suit you. And don’t worry if your favourite colour doesn’t typically match your skin tone, you can always introduce it through your accessories, or further down your outfit, away from your face. Both the autumn/winter handbag trends 2023 and autumn/winter shoe trends 2023 were packed with vibrant pieces, so try adding a pair of heels in a bold hue to inject your favourite colour into your outfit. Far enough away from your face, it doesn't matter if the colour of the shoes doesn't technically 'suit you', so there is no need to sacrifice on the colours you love.

What colour suits me?

When it comes to what colour suits you best, it's really about finding the right shade or a particular colour. According to experts, you can wear nearly any colour, but placement (as in where and how you wear it) alongside the exact hue is the real trick. 

While darker colors have historically been seen as slimming, they can also be quite draining. Go too dark and your clothing will throw black onto your face, which "tends to widen and drop the jawline," explains Polly Holman, an associate lecturer at the London College of Fashion.

Meanwhile, "a colour that is too light will throw white up onto your face and make you look washed out." The darker your eyes, hair, and skin, the bolder you can go. The lighter your natural coloring, "the paler and closer to pastels you should go," she advises. However, knowing which colour family you belong to can help you to figure out exactly which hues will flatter you. Wearing one of ‘your' colours close to your face will light you up and make your hair and eyes 'pop'. Further down, your body though? Anything goes! This means you're mainly concerned with colours that will be closest to your face.

But if you're desperate to keep hold of all your black clothing (which can cause shadows to pool in lines and crevices when worn too close to the face), inject colour and brightness through colourful scarves or bold colourful jewelry. This styling trick means you can keep wearing black and dark hues on the top part of your torso, without draining your face. These colourful accessories should become wardrobe essentials

Read on to find out which shades you should be looking out for to bring out the best of your specific coloring.

What is colour analysis?

Colour analysis is a surefire method of answering what colour suits me?, because it determines which colours of clothing and which makeup shades harmonise with a person's skin complexion, eye colour, and hair colour. It will also help you figure out the finer details, like what colour of jewellery suits you (*starts filling a basket with jewellery gifts to self.*)

There are two areas to consider when analysing your colour - your base skin tone and your overall colouring. Your base skin tone will be either warm or cool, while your overall colouring takes your eye and hair colour into consideration.

Anthony McGrath, a celebrity stylist, and lecturer at London's Fashion Retail Academy advises that it can be useful to "have a colour analysis with a stylist or professional colour analyst," however there are ways to figure out your colouring by yourself.

"In a nutshell, you can use your skin tone (skin, hair, and eyes) to determine whether you are warm or cool-toned, and your overall colouring - so how dark your skin is and the colour of your natural hair - to determine whether you are light or dark."

What skin tone am I? 

The first step of using colour analysis to determine the best shades to suit you is to first figure out whether you have a warm or cool skin tone. A couple of colour analysis tests can help you figure your skin tone out quickly and easily.

Arm test

"Look at the underside of your arm in natural daylight, if you have a pink or rosy undertone and blue-tinted veins you have a cool skin tone," explains personal stylist Elaine Davies. "If you have a golden or apricot undertone and green-tinted veins you have a warm skin tone."

Fabric test

Still not sure? Try holding a piece of gold fabric under your chin (or trying on a gold necklace).

Now do the same with a piece of silver fabric or jewellery. Which shade lights up your complexion and makes your eyes pop? If it's silver, you're cool. If it's gold, you're warm.

What colour suits my skin tone?

Now that you've worked out your base skin tone, you can start to choose fashion and makeup colours based simply on whether you are cool or warm-toned.

Cool skin tone

Lucy Liu and Lupita Nyong'o have cool skin tones

Lucy Liu and Lupita Nyong'o have cool skin tones

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have pink or rosy undertones (like Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Lucy Liu or Halle Berry), your skin tone is cool.

These skin tones usually burn easily in the sun and either don’t tan, struggle to get a tan or go red in the sun, as the skin will usually contain less pigment. Cool skin tones will usually have a pink or bluey-red undertone. This skin tone is also more likely to blush easily.

People with cool skin tones usually look best wearing clothes or makeup with blue undertones. Bright greens, deep purples, pinks, and both pale and bold blues will suit this skin tone well. If you have a cool skin tone you might want to check out how to wear the Pantone Colour of the Year 2023, Vivid Magenta, as this will look wonderful on you. Cool skin tones also tend to suit silver jewellery or even rose gold better than yellow gold jewelry.

Warm skin tone

Viola Davis and Gwyneth Paltrow have warm skin tones

Viola Davis and Gwyneth Paltrow have warm skin tones

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have golden undertones (like Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Viola Davis, Heidi Klum or Beyonce), your skin tone is warm.

Warm skin tones will usually be able to tan quite quickly and easily and don't tend to get burnt very much, as usually they will have more melanin in their skin. Warm skin tones will usually have a yellowish or an olive brown undertone.

People with warm skin tones tend to look best in yellow-based colours, as they bring out the natural undertone more. Greens, browns, warm reds or oranges, peach, coral, and gold also suit this skin tone well. Gold jewellery will also help to bring out the warm undertone of the skin and help you look more glowy and is a great accessory to add to a minimalist capsule wardrobe to add in texture and newness each season.

Colour analysis based on your overall colouring

If you want to pinpoint more precise colours that will suit you, you need to look at more than just your skin tone and consider your overall colouring.

You might have heard friends referring to themselves as spring, summer, autumn, or winter types. But what does it all mean? Well, if your skin tone is cool, you belong to the summer or winter family. If it's warm, you have spring or autumn colouring. Some people span multiple groups, but one tends to be primary.

Summer colouring

Jennifer Lawrence and Dakota Johnson have summer coloring

Jennifer Lawrence and Dakota Johnson have summer coloring

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a cool skin tone, naturally ash-toned blonde or light-mid brown hair (with no red or gold highlights), and pale blue, green or grey eyes, you have summer colouring.

What to wear if you have summer colouring

Teresa Chambers, a lecturer at London's Fashion Retail Academy advises, "summer types look best in soft pastels with blue undertones. Think light blues, pinks, yellows. Grey and blue hues (from pastel blue to navy) will also look great." These shades will all look good in dress styles, whether it's the best dresses for spring, or best shirt dresses for work. Look out for new season knits in soft ice cream hues that will instantly brighten your look. 

"However, yellow-based colours such as orange, tan, mustard, coral, and salmon pink are less flattering, and pure white may wash you out, so opt for soft off-white tones instead."

Fashion editor’s picks…

Winter colouring

Zooey Deschanel and Anne Hathaway

Zooey Deschanel and Anne Hathaway have winter coloring

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a cool skin tone, ash-toned medium to dark brown or black hair with no red or gold highlights, and deep blue, green or brown eyes, you belong to the winter family.

What to wear if you have winter colouring

Winter colouring calls for the boldest and richest of blue-based hues. This means that a bold top with your favourite jeans should be a go-to look. 

Teresa Chambers said, "Vivid, icy, cool, and clear primary colours are great. Vivid blues, reds, and golden yellows will compliment your skin tone. Think scarlet red, fuchsia pink, royal blue, emerald green, and deep purple. You can also get away with black, charcoal grey, pure white tones, and deep purple."

The spring/summer 2023 runways were a riot of colour, making this year, your year. Embrace your ability to wear bold hues and make the most of standing out from the crowd. Inject into everything from the best cashmere sweaters to striking summer dresses. 

However, you should try to steer clear of muted pastels and yellow or orange-toned shades, including rusty browns and brick reds.

Fashion editor’s picks…

Spring colouring

Claire Danes and Jessica Alba

Claire Danes and Jessica Alba have spring colouring

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a warm skin tone and golden blonde or light-medium brown hair with golden highlights, you have spring colouring. Spring types may have a mixture of warm and cool elements to their colouring.

What to wear if you have spring colouring

Spring types suit warm ‘true' brights such as brick red, coral, salmon pink, and true blue. Beige and ivory hues will also flatter. However, icy pastels, deep tones, or muted shades may drain you.

Anthony McGrath said, "Warm and delicate with yellow undertones are good for spring types. Dusky pinks, soft greens, neutral light greys are great. Although these types can also wear burnished oranges and deep purples and look fabulous."

With colour really making a comeback this season, you can take some key silhouettes to the next level. These bright tones will offer instant mood-boosting abilities so don't be afraid to pack a stylish punch. Look for the best blazers in pinks and reds that will instantly refresh your look, or get occasion ready and nail what to wear to a wedding with a brightly coloured flattering jumpsuit.

Fashion editor’s picks…

Autumn colouring

Beyonce and Zendaya

Beyonce and Zendaya have autumn coloring

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a warm skin tone and red, auburn, dark brown, or black hair with red, gold, or chestnut highlights, you belong to the autumn colour family. If you are pale, you probably have freckles. 

What to wear if you have autumn colouring

Anthony McGrath advises, "rich autumnal colours flatter autumnal skin most, often with a warm/golden undertone, so think earthy reds, bronzes, rich browns, chocolate, and burnished golds. Warm muted tones like olive and dark greens, terracotta red, and burnt orange enhance autumnal complexions." 

This means that autumn dressing is where this skin tone gets to shine. Invest in earthy hues for your best winter coat and enjoy these rich tones in sumptuous roll necks and chunky cardigans as they will really light up your face.

Luckily for those with autumn colouring, earthy reds, bronzes, olives and burnt orange colours tend to be available year through, meaning that even though insipid pastels wash you out, you don't need to panic when warmer months roll around. Make the most of gold accents and tones in the summer months, injecting this into some layered necklaces from the best jewellery brands and gold-framed sunglasses or reading glasses to tap into the eyeglasses trends 2023 to really brighten your complexion. When it comes to blues, you can get away with navy, but other blue-toned hues might not work so well.

A deep autumn capsule wardrobe is ideal for autumn colours and will ensure everything in your closet slots together into a cohesive palette.

Fashion editor’s picks…

Can my colour change?

It is possible that you had a colour analysis years ago but feel now that your colour has changed over time. Although your primary colour remains the same throughout your life there are things that can alter how flattering certain shades might appear. For example, dying your hair, going grey or even getting a tan can change how things seem and sit against our skin tone. 

Getting a tan may mean that 'spring brights' appear more flattering than usual, whilst your usual 'summer' pastels suddenly start to wash you out. If this happens, you might want to think about a warmer hair colour to complement your holiday glow. 

It is true however that as we age, skin and hair begin to lose pigmentation. But this does not change our natural coloring. With this in mind, it highlights the importance of knowing which colour family we belong to so that we can choose shades that enhance, rather than drain, our complexions. If you've found that your colouring has changed as you've gotten older, you may want to think about decluttering your closet to create an over 50s capsule wardrobe.

What clothes colours will look best on me?

And just remember, there are very few colours you won't be able to wear, it's just working out the styling to make them enhance your face.  the horizon, the first stage should really be a full analysis of your existing clothing. We've got a great guide on how to organise your closet, which should make this a breeze. But keep in mind as you're going through your clothing, do they match your colour family profile. If they don't that doesn't mean you need to get rid of them, but you might need to reassess how you wear them. If the item is part of a group of colors that drain you, can you add jewellery, a scarf or even a cardigan to readdress the colour balance? If it's a dark top, can it be reworked under a bright blazer so that the largest amount of colour near your face is more flattering? 

And just remember, there are very few colours you won't be able to wear, it's just working out the styling to make them enhance your face. 

Charlie Bell

Charlie is the Deputy Fashion Editor at Future plc across multiple women’s magazines including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own.

She bagged her first magazine job in 2009 and has previously written for titles including Stylist, Closer and Dare. Over the years Charlie has embraced anything that was thrown at her from styling celebrities to testing out the best jeans on the high street to writing about must-have beauty buys.

With a weakness for a printed midi dress, Charlie is on a mission to shop more sustainably and loves finding new ethical brands and second-hand buys.

With contributions from