Style tips: How to choose clothing in colours that suit your complexion

Style tips: How to choose clothing in colours that suit your complexion

Wearing the right colours can make you look radiant and help you to feel more confident.

But how do you determine which colours make you look drab versus the ones that elevate your complexion and give you a glow?

Well, it turns out there is a little science to it.

Personal stylist Trish Murray said when it comes to selecting colours that compliment your complexion, there are three aspects to take into consideration: skin tone, hair colour and eye colour.

In essence, a particular collection of colours will suit people with a combination of certain colourings.

However, it can sometimes become confusing because many women dye their hair, apply a darker foundation and use fake tan, which can completely alter their overall complexion.

As such, if your hair and eye colour or skin tone changes, the seasonal colour palette designed to suit you may also change, Ms Murray said.

Determining your complexion type: how to find colours that suit you

To determine your complexion type and the colours that will look best on you, it is best to begin by assessing whether your skin tone has a pink or yellow base, Ms Murray said.

If you have a pink undertone you will generally suit cool colours. If you have a yellow undertone, you generally suit warm colours.

When trying on colour, pay attention to your overall complexion.

If the colours don’t wash you out or make you look sickly, then you’re on the right track. Ideally, colours that work for you should make your features appear brighter, your complexion should glow, and you should feel good in the colour.

Changerooms in fashion stores often have poor lighting which can alter the appearance of colour of clothing as well as your complexion, so be mindful of this when shopping.

It’s important to review your garments when you get home – try them on without makeup and in natural light.

But before you dash to the stores to try on every shade of blue, there is a way to determine what your suitable colour palette is.

These colour palettes are grouped by the four seasonal names and are based on a system that selects a colour palette to suit your complexion, as taught by Ms Murray at the Australian College of Professional Styling.

Are you an autumn, winter, spring or summer? Read on to find out.

Style tips: How to choose clothing in colours that suit your complexion - AUTUMN


Those who suit an autumn colour palette look best in warm, earthy colours. Think of soft, deep and warm shades.

Skin tone: Warm, golden undertone. Often has a rich overall complexion. Can range from fair with ivory or peachy tone, to medium and dark copper tones. There is a low contrast between skin, hair and eyes.

Hair colours: Medium brown to black, medium to deep red. Highlights with red, golden and copper undertones.

Eye colours: Hazel, dark brown, black-brown, olive, warm green.

What are the autumn colours?

Flattering colours include navy blue, olives, golden brown and deep warm greys. If you like to embrace bold colours, go for shades like orange, red-orange, lime green and chartreuse.

Avoid clear and bright colours, as well as pastels and blue tones, as they can make you look washed out.

Black and white typically do not suit an autumn type as it can make them appear very pale. This doesn’t mean they can’t ever wear black – they may need to incorporate black with a complimentary colour or brighten up their makeup to give their complexion a lift.

Style tips: How to choose clothing in colours that suit your complexion WINTER


Those who suit a winter colour palette often have striking and contrasting features. For instance, they may have dark skin and light features, or light skin and dark features. Winter types should select garments in clear, dark and cool shades – colours are vivid and sharp.

Skin tone: Cool or olive undertones. A high contrast between skin, hair, eyes and often with a deep overall complexion.

Hair colours: Ashy medium-brown, or dark brown to black. Hair colour has a cool undertone.

Eye colours: Mid-brown to black-brown, grey-blue, clear blue, cool green.

What are the winter colours?

A winter colour palette is made up of dark, bright and strong colours with a cool undertone. Royal blue, red, hot pink and emerald green are all winning colours. Cool, icy shades also work well.

However, avoid yellow-based shades like beige, camel, orange and gold as they can make your skin tone look too yellow.

Winter types can pull off pure white or jet-black best. Tip: mix jet-black with a bright colour like hot pink or red for the ultimate striking look.

Style tips: How to choose clothing in colours that suit your complexion SPRING


The spring palette includes clear, light and warm colours – some delicate, some bright. Go for colours that look like they are bathed in sunlight.

Skin tone: Light and ivory complexions (warm/yellow undertone).

Hair colours: Golden blondes, auburn, or strawberry blonde redheads. Often have freckles and rosy checks.

Eye colours: Clear and light blue, green, hazel and light brown.

What are the spring colours?

Clear, sharp colours are best suited to a spring type.

Opt for warm orange-reds, clear and bright warm pinks, lemon yellow, bright yellow-greens, periwinkle blue, peacock blue, emerald green.

For white, the best shade is a cream, ivory or off-white shade. For black, you can wear the shade, but try accessorising with a bright spring colour, especially near the face.

Style tips: How to choose clothing in colours that suit your complexion SUMMER


Summer tones are gentle and feminine, and reflect the light and fresh aspects of the season, including clean and crisp pastels. Think of soft, light and cool colours.

Skin tone: Fair and rosy pink. Cheeks often turn a cool, rosy pink when blushing. There is a low contrast between features, such as hair and skin.

Hair colours: Usually blonde, ranging from ash blonde to dark blonde (or you were blonde in childhood and have developed light brown hair as you’ve matured). Hair bleaches easily in the sun.

Eye colours: Blue, grey-blue, grey, green, or a grey-brown.

What are the summer colours?

Colours in the summer palette are generally cool-toned. Avoid bright, bold colours and opt for the softer pastel shades.

Core colours for a summer colour palette include navy, burgundy and plum, soft rose brown, rose beige, rose taupe, blue-greys and off white. Pink, light blue and light grey are the best complimentary colours.

Know which colours suit you: Be flexible and embrace colour

Of course, the four seasonal colour palettes are not the ultimate definition of what does or doesn’t suit your complexion. It is more of a guide, said Ms Murray.

“You can be a combination of two seasonal colour palettes, so in fact that opens up more options,” she said.

“Most people know instinctively what their colours are because we are drawn to them. I always ask my clients: What colours are you attracted to? What do you feel good in?”

Ms Murray also said when selecting colour to suit your complexion, choose the right hue of a colour you like.

For example, you may like the colour blue. Someone with typical autumn colourings will find the colour navy flatters them far more than brighter and lighter shades of blue.

But it is okay to break the rules sometimes.

Ms Murray said most of the colours we wear relate to how they look against our face. So, if you like a colour but it doesn’t flatter your complexion, you may be able to wear it on the bottom half of your body.

“The best colour for you is the colour you feel fantastic in. If you’ve got an affinity for a particular colour, you must own it,” she said.

For those who continue to have difficulty finding which colours work for them, Ms Murray suggests experimenting with colour and wearing more colour.

“If you wear colour, you’ll eventually get it right. You’ll learn what works for you,” she said.

“People often get compliments or feel good when they wear a certain colour, so I’m going to suggest you keep buying that colour.”

Lastly, be bold and confident with your colour choices.

“Back yourself with the colours, and have a bit of confidence with it. If you’re still completely clueless, hire a professional. Spending time with a stylist is valuable because they can help you to learn what to recognise. And once you have that knowledge, you can’t forget it,” Ms Murray said.


*Information on seasonal colour palettes thanks to Australian College of Professional Styling.


Editor’s note: This article was originally published on November 4, 2018 but has since been updated to include new information.

Sharon Green, editor

Sharon Green

Sharon Green is the founding editor of SHE DEFINED.

An experienced journalist and editor, Sharon has worked in mainstream media in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Forever in search of a publication that confronted the real issues faced by modern women, Sharon decided to create her own.