From The Straits Times    |


Photo: Zara

Why is it that some people can look absolutely incredible in bold yellow and, others (me included), look a bit rubbish? What’s worse, is you can never quite put your finger on why that is, so you think ‘I just can’t pull this off’ or, ‘I’m never trying orange again’. But why is that? How can you find a colour that does suit you? That one killer shade that makes YOU absolutely incredible?

If you find yourself out shopping with the intention of adding some colour to your wardrobe, but skulking back with a haul of ‘safe colours’ in black or white (we’ve all been there), then it may be a simple case of working out which colours do suit you once and for all – and trust me, there are some.

colourful wardrobe

Photo: ASOS / Facebook

Just like if you change your hair colour, the tone of your skin will determine whether you’ll get those head-turning ‘wow that suits you so much!’ compliments, or the deafening silence of disapproval, which confirms your worst suspicions and makes you wish you’d waited a while before cutting out the tag on that cobalt sweater.

So are you ready to ditch the black? (Well, some of it anyway.) Let’s find ‘your colour’.




Determining your skin tone

Your skin has a surface tone, which, like it says on the tin, is your colour on the surface. This determines whether you’re pale, medium or dark. However, what a lot of people don’t realise, is that your skin also has an undertone, which is the colour beneath the surface. It’s this undertone that gives us the coolness or warmth, and, it’s the reason why an emerald green makes your mate look like a fashion goddess, and you, a washed-out hospital outpatient.

skin undertones

Photo: Sephora / Facebook

You’d imagine that pale-skinned people would have a cool skin tone, and darker skinned people a more warm tone, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A lot of pale people are warm-toned, so trust us; taking the time to work out your undertone may be the most productive two minutes of your day. Work through the following questions to help you to decide.


1. How does your skin look next to a white piece of paper?

Grab a white piece of paper, any will do, and hold it up next to your face in a mirror. What colour does it look in contrast to the white?

If it looks:
Blue or pink: You probably have a cool tone
Yellow, light brown or green: You probably have a warm tone
Greyish: You probably have a neutral tone


2. What colour are the veins on the inside of your wrist?


Photo: 123rf

If they look more:
Blue: You probably have a cool tone
Green: You probably have a warm tone
Can’t decide: You probably have a neutral tone


3. What colour jewellery suits you best?

Try not to think about the colour you like the most, but the one which always seems to suit you more.

If it’s:
Silver: You probably have a cool tone
Gold: You probably have a warm tone
Can’t decide: You probably have a neutral tone

Now you’ve got a grasp on which skin tone group you fall into, we can start looking at the colours that suit you the most. This isn’t to say that you have to only wear the colours in your group, after all, in the fashion world rules are made to be broken, but it’ll give you a good idea on the best base shades to wear. You can always go crazy on your accessories, adding pops of colour on belts, handbags or shoes to get your spectrum fix.


Cool skin tones

If you’re cool toned, you’re probably the person on holiday who runs around frantically in search of shade after 10 minutes in the sun. You burn easily and your hair lies somewhere from dark brown or black through to ashy blonde.


Best colours for cool skin tones: Anything blue-toned is going to complement your skin best, so try and go for cobalts, shocking pinks, navys lavenders, greys, deep purples and cool reds. Frosty colours like ice blues and lilacs are your new best friend, as are (you’ll be pleased to hear), metallics.


Worst colours for cool skin tones: Yellows and anything with a warm orange tone. Warm colours will never look quite right next to your cool hues.


Cool skin tones would look great in…

metallic dress

Metallic flowing dress, S$89.90, Zara


cotton sweater

Cape-style cotton sweater, S$135, Massimo Dutti


Neutral skin tones

With elements of both cool and warm skin tones, you’re a neutral tone if you seem to fall in the middle and can’t be certain of the answers to the earlier questions. Your hair is a combination of ashy and warm tones and you’re the annoyingly lucky people who can pull off pretty much anything.


Best colours for neutral skin tones: The world is your oyster, but your best colours are muted and fall in the middle of the colour spectrum. Think blush-toned pinks, jade greens, off-whites, taupes and dusty blues. Softer colours work better than bolds on you, but a single-shade outfit in a muted colour, paired with statement accessories in a bolder shade will work a treat.


Worst colours for neutral skin tones: Anything over-saturated like shocking pinks and striking blues, which can often overwhelm neutral tones.


Neutral skin tones would look great in…

satin blouse

Satin blouse with tied-bow detail, S$59.90, Zara


beige trousers and blazer

Checked tailored trousers, S$195, textured weave suit blazer, S$345, Massimo Dutti


Warm skin tones

In contrast to cool toned people, you’re able to tan in the sun, and your hair ranges from dark brown to dark blonde with more honey tones coming through.


Best colours for warm skin tones: Beautiful warm reds, oranges, yellows, warm greens, reddy purples, creams, camels and browns. Head for  anything gold or honey-hued.


Worst colours for warm skin tones: Frosty blues, purples and ice greys. Also steer clear of bolder colours, which have a more bluish tone, like ruby red.


Warm skin tones would look great in…

long flowing skirt

Long flowing skirt, S$175, Massimo Dutti


satin gown

Satin gown, S$129, Mango