Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your Skin Color Matters

If you want to make yourself more attractive, you need to focus on three things when you are choosing your clothes: style, fit, and color. The need for a suitable style is obvious to most people - your clothes should reflect or magnify your personality. Simple enough. The need for the right fit should be obvious, but it is apparently less so to many women (and men). Too many people don't wear clothes that flatter their figure. However, color is the most misunderstood and neglected of the three, and it is arguably the most important.

In the same way that your clothes need to work with your shape and personality, they also need to compliment your color, or more specifically, your complexion, which is the combined appearance of your skin tone, eye color and hair color. Have you ever noticed how Latin and Mediterranean women almost always look amazing in red and black? or how middle eastern women look far better in the deeper shades of most colors (navies, olives, maroons, etc. as opposed to blues, greens and reds)? If so, you've noticed the effect of color working well with complexion. This effect has been studied, broken down, and rebuilt into a science for more than 100 years by students of fashion and cosmetology.

Here are a couple examples. Note how Courtney Cox and Katherine Heigl look better on the left, where they are shown wearing colors that work well with their complexion. The effect is subtle but it is strong.



If until now you've chosen colors based on something you saw a friend wear, or colors you "just like," there is a good chance you look bad in them. Men notice this, even if only subconsciously. If you haven't taken the time to learn what colors make you look best, you are throwing away potential attractiveness, and therefore undercutting your chances with men. I've observed in many instances that a woman is far more radiant and attractive due to her choice of a color that magnifies her natural beauty. The effect is significant.

I won't tell you how to choose your best colors, because there are other resources that can tell you far more than I. My main goal is to simply to convince you that color matters. But I can point you in the direction of a couple of those resources...

The best book I've found for women about color is called Color Me Confident. I bought a few different ones for men and women, and this one blew the others away (as did its counterpart for men). I like it because it uses modern celebrities as examples, does a good job of explaining the categories it uses to group complexions, and also has sections about the fit of clothes and makeup as well.

This book could reliably be your only resource. However, I have one other suggestion. Find a female celebrity that has your complexion (including eye color, which makes a lot more difference than you'd think) and spend some time looking at images of her on the internet, paying close attention to the colors she wears. Try the following: do an image search for her name and a color, and scan the results. Pay attention to how many instances there are of her in that color. Just as importantly, pay attention to what doesn't come up when you do these searches - i.e. the colors for which you cannot find many instances. Take Penelope Cruz for example. Click on each of the following image search links and notice how the results show whether or not the respective color (and what shade) works for her, based on the collection of images that appear in the search results:

Penelope Cruz Red 
Tons of instances of her wearing red, and she looks smoking hot in it (Latin women...)
Penelope Cruz Blue
Plenty of instances of her wearing blue, but notice how in most it is navy rather than a lighter shade
Penelope Cruz Orange
Basically just one orange dress, and notice how it is a burnt orange rather than bright

There are also a ton of websites out there that either describe how to choose colors that work for you, or else offer online (or in-person) consultations. There are some good videos on YouTube as well. While searching for some of the pictures above I bumped into a few good blogs, which have a lot of examples of color done well, as well as explanations of the theory. Take a look:
http://seasonalcoloranalysis.blogspot.com/
http://12blueprints.com/
http://www.prettyyourworld.com/

While it should only take an hour or so to learn the principles and figure out what are your best colors, it can take much longer to implement them in your wardrobe. It won't be easy to overcome some of your misconceptions. Someone may have told you once that pink was your color (for example), and you've worn it ever since, convinced by the confidence of their compliment that it made you look good. But their statement may very well have been wrong, in part or completely - even if you thought they knew what they were talking about when it came to fashion. Maybe they just wanted to make you feel good. Treat every color (or color combination) as suspect until you know it really does work on you. Be prepared to throw some of your clothes away.

I know these things because I paid no attention to my own color for years, and my appearance suffered because of it. Sometimes I would put on a shirt and recognize that it looked good on me, but I would never know why. Frankly, I never really wondered - I was just content that it did look good. And when I finally learned about the need to address my complexion and learn what looked best on me, I started to realize why those shirts had looked good. In fact, my memory of those instances eventually served as examples in figuring out which complexion I had and what would work well with it.

So if you aren't up to speed on your color, go buy the book, do some research online, and hit the mall. Men notice, and it will make a difference.

19 comments:

  1. You also might want to check out what these two British fashionistas have to say about colour:
    http://www.trinnyandsusannah.com/live/content.php?Item_ID=13&Start=0
    I found it to be a useful, succinct guide for building my own wardrobe.

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  2. I remember when you said you'd do a post on this and have been waiting for it, but what you've come up with is so much better than what I had anticipated. This post has been really, really helpful. Thanks, Andrew. :)

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  3. Thank you for mentioning my Blog! Glad to find Yours! Following You!)

    Yelena,

    Seasonal Color Analysis

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  4. Sort-of-interesting article, blah, blah GAAAG! KATHERINE HEIGL! gawaararaawaawrgh [Homer Simpson noise]

    Dang! That woman is too beautiful for my own good!

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    1. i honestly dont think shes that hot

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  5. I agree with this. It's astonishing that women buy so many clothes without doing just a few hours research that saves time and money. It's like baking a nice homemade cake and sticking ready-made frosting on the top - you've gone to some effort but that bit of lack of consideration has made the final effect less impressive.
    But then I've always been good at art and unless you understand colour and tone you won't get very far. When I explain that a red colour can have a blue or yellow tone they look at me like I've spoken in a foreign language. But as someone with particularly pale skin, any reds or pinks on me that have a blue tone will look good on me - and most women wouldn't be able to explain why.

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  6. Three Points:

    Point one: I've read articles suggesting that men find pictures of women in red sexier. I don't know how strong the effect is, having not read the associated paper or papers, but might this trump general skin tone- wardrobe color effects, I wonder. Perhaps different shades of red for different skin tones would be advisable...

    Point 2: I assume the total effect of color in the lookin' good equation is quite small (both in the variance it explains and the changes in attractiveness any individual can expect to obtain); having it matter much is inconsistent with my observations of life.

    Point 3: This reminds me of interactions (there aren't a ton, I might add, consistent with Point 2) with my boyfriend in which he expressed particular liking or disliking of certain clothes, including colors, though he couldn't describe patterns of preference. It adds that little bit extra of happiness to moments and little bit extra feeling of being lovely to me to have that little bit extra happiness in him. This is an addition to your article: a particular man's preferences may differ from average and it could be nice for you to try appealing more to your boyfriend's fashion taste, while not compromising your own (whatever you might say, self respect is the priority, and the more aesthetically sensitive and perhaps sensitive to female sex appeal that you are, yourself (implied that I'm talking about women), the more you owe it to yourself to be beautiful or sexy to you for you).

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  7. Also (same person as above commenter) thanks for the tip about observing a celebrity with similar hair, eyes and skin color to see the effect of clothing color on overall appearance. I'm going to try that!

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  8. Found a good image that helps illustrate complexions in terms of warm and cool coloring: http://www.threecustom.com/ximages/static_images/cool_warm_overview_map.jpg

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  9. Hi Andrew, some good advice on what looks good with certain skin tones and ethnicities, but what about for dating/relationships? I mean, do you think women of different backgrounds should apply game differently in some respects? Like interracial/ethnic/religious dating/relationships or other areas?

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  10. I just thought I should clarify that I wasn't asking specifically if you think women of different backgrounds should pursue interracial/ethnic/religious relationships, but rather, if they're already in one, then you do you think they approach it differently than if they were dating men of similar backgrounds,and in what ways? Thanks

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  11. Thanks Andrew for this post. I'm an ethnic woman & I have followed your advice. Basically I spend some time looking at images of Kerry Washington on the internet & picked pictures in which I thought she was stunning. The result is crystal clear. My colors are: white, black & any combination in between. Some silvers are beautiful. A specific kind of blue (navy perhaps) suits me.
    Other colours? No way. Unless they are heavily mixed with either white or black.

    Hope this helps.

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  12. Andrew why dont you feature black women on your blog?

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    Replies
    1. There are pictures of both Beyonce and Nicki Minaj. As for ethnicity, there are quite a few pictured.

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    2. LOL at Beyonce and Nicki Minaj being considerd "black" -- they are light-skinned and closer to white.

      How about featuring real black women, those that look like Alex Wek?

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    3. "Real Black Women" ??? Who are you to say what defines a real Black woman? We are all unique ranging from light to dark. Its is insulting and divisive that you would even state that in this forum.

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    4. Are you kidding me!? Just because YOU ARE DARK skin does NOT MEAN that makes you a REAL black woman? Please get over yourself, that is ridiculous. Don't go looking for problems where there are none, Andrew is simply showing people who are in the media because its more relatable as they are public figures.

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    5. To anon 7:53am Because unfortunately this is america where women cant be black unless they are light skinned or mixed. Either look up Euro blogs or blogs from black women. Feminine black woman is a good one where she talks about this topic a lot.
      Rule of thumb...if they dont speak for you; dont wait- find those who do or speak for yourself.

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  13. I too enjoy the articles on this site, however, I do note that darker skin toned African American beauty is rarely featured on the site. I will continue to read the articles however.

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