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

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

three images of women with different skin tones on a beige background, to signify what color suits me
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

What color suits me? It's the fashion dilemma that never goes out of style. So we've turned to color analysis—the expert method of determining which colors suit your skin tone best.

If you don't fancy handing yourself over to a fashion stylist, how on earth do you figure out what colors work for you? Well, there are easy ways to figure out your underlying skin tone and which color family suits you best based on your overall coloring.

So we sought out the wisdom of personal stylists to help you find the colors that will best enhance your natural complexion and make you feel more confident. Whether you're shopping for a killer capsule wardrobe, or wanting to give one of the latest clothing trends a try, no matter what occasion you're shopping for, color matters.

What color suits me?

According to the experts, we can all wear virtually any color—it's simply a matter of figuring out which shades suit us best. 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 color 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 color family you belong to can help you to figure out exactly which hues will flatter you. Wearing one of ‘your' colors close to your face will light you up and make your hair and eyes ‘pop'. Further down, though? Anything goes!

So, if you can't bear to bin the black (which can cause shadows to pool in lines and crevices when worn too close to the face), add a colored scarf to your 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 color analysis?

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

There are two areas to consider when analyzing your color—your base skin tone and your overall coloring. Your base skin tone will be either warm or cool, while your overall coloring takes your eye and hair color into consideration.

Anthony McGrath, a celebrity stylist, and lecturer at London's Fashion Retail Academy advises that it can be useful to "have a color analysis with a stylist or professional color analyst," however there are ways to figure out your coloring 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 coloring—so how dark your skin is and the color of your natural hair—to determine whether you are light or dark."

What skin tone am I? 

The first step of using color 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 color 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 jewelry. 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 color suits my skin tone?

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

Cool skin tone

what color suits me? Angelina Jolie cool skin tone

(Image credit: Getty)

If you have pink or rosy undertones (like Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, 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. They also tend to suit silver jewelry or even rose gold better than yellow gold jewelry.

Warm skin tone

what color suits me? Gwyneth Paltrow warm skin tone

(Image credit: Getty)

If you have golden undertones (like Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, 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 colors, 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 jewelry will also help to bring out the warm undertone of the skin and help you look more glowy.

Color analysis based on your overall coloring

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

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 coloring. Some people span multiple groups, but one tends to be primary.

Summer coloring

Jennifer Lawrence close-up

(Image credit: Getty)

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 coloring.

Winter coloring

Zooey Deschanel close-up

(Image credit: Getty)

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.

Spring coloring

Beyoncé Knowles close-up

(Image credit: Getty)

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

Autumn coloring

Zendaya close-up

(Image credit: Getty)

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 color family. If you are pale, you probably have freckles.

What colors should I wear?

Now that you've figured out what color family you sit in, based on your skin tone and overall coloring, it's time to pinpoint the exact shades that will work best with your look.

What to wear if you have summer coloring

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, best shirt dresses or the most popular Kate Middleton dresses.

"However, yellow-based colors 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."

What to wear if you have winter coloring

Winter coloring calls for the boldest and richest of blue-based hues, so opt for a bright top with your best jeans.

Teresa Chambers said, "Vivid, icy, cool, and clear primary colors 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."

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

What to wear if you have spring coloring

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."

These shades will all look great in blazer form or you could get hold of some flattering jumpsuits in these colors to suit your look.

What to wear if you have autumn coloring

Anthony McGrath advises, "rich autumnal colors 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. Opt for earthy winter coats with your best winter boots. And in the summer months make the most of gold accents with your best sandals and a practical dress with pockets.

However, you should be wary of insipid pastel tones and harsh brights. You can get away with navy, but other blue-toned hues might not work so well.

Can my color change?

Have you had your color analysis years ago, but now feel like your color has changed over time? Your primary coloring remains the same throughout your life, but going grey, coloring your hair, or even getting a tan can alter how flattering certain shades appear.

A tan may cause 'spring' brights to appear more flattering than usual, for example, whilst your go-to ‘summer' pastels seem to wash you out—you may even wish to consider opting for warmer hair color to complement your holiday glow. As we age, skin and hair begin to lose pigmentation. This doesn't change our natural coloring, but makes it even more important to know which color family we belong to so that we can choose shades that enhance, rather than drain, our complexions.