Are you clueless about what you wear?
You’re not alone. Tons of men don’t know what clothes they’d look best in, and end up settling into a groove, even if it’s a style that doesn’t work for them.
So, then, what do you wear?
One of the best ways to start ditching your rejects and building your wardrobe of champions is to look in the mirror and take your skin tone into account.
Skin tone is a wonderful compass that can point you in the right fashion direction.
Depending on your skin tone, your look may naturally favor warm reds or cool blues–or cool reds and warm blues.
There are an infinite number of options, which can make the process even more difficult. Or, more exciting once you nail down the basics.
In this guide we’ll talk about how you can diagnose the nuances of your skin tone, and what that means for your style.
Then, we’ll move onto the kinds of color combinations that may work best for you.
However, you should keep in mind that there is no formula for what looks good on which skin tones.
Everyone’s skin tone is different, as well as personality.
If something looks great on you but goes against our guide, or you want to wear something that goes against our guide, there’s no excuse not to try it on and see how it looks.
You’re the boss and you make the decisions around here.
This guide focuses on men with medium to dark skin tones. Let’s get started.
What is skin tone?
What’s the difference between skin color and tone?
Nothing, really. Skin tone, most basically, is the natural color of your skin.
Skin color–you guessed it–is the lightness or darkness of your skin.
But we’re also talking about another thing when we talk skin tone: skin undertone.
Your undertones are more subtle, and fall on a spectrum from warm to cool.
Stay tuned, because undertones will get more attention in just a moment.
Both of these are important when you think about what colors will complement your skin tone best.
The first step is to actually find out what your unique skin tone is.
How to determine your skin tone
You may have known you skin tone for a while, or you might not be sure where you fit in.
That’s okay; generally speaking, skin tones range from light, to medium, to dark.
This step of the process is rather direct, since we’re simply talking about the broad color and tone of your skin.
Do you consider yourself lighter or darker, and how do light and dark colors look on you?
All you want to do here is get a sense of where you fall on this scale.
For instance, the skin tones we’ll focus on in this guide are olive, amber, and dark.
This still allows for a lot of variance, though, and once you determine your general skin tone, you can narrow it down even more by finding out your skin undertone.
How to determine your skin undertone
Undertones are the subtleties of your skin tone.
No matter how light or dark your skin is, you will likely have undertones on a scale of warm to cool, including neutral.
There are a few easy ways to determine your skin undertones, and the easiest is to look at the veins on the undersides of your arms.
If they’re a greenish or yellowish color, you may have warm undertones. If they’re bluish or purple, you may have cool undertones.
If you can’t quite figure out what color they are, you may have neutral undertones.
Not sure about your undertones?
No problem. Next, try dressing up with silver and gold jewelry, really paying attention to how they contrast with your skin.
Silver jewelry tends to look better on cooler undertones, while gold tends to favor warmer undertones.
If both look good on you, that’s great news! You may have a more neutral tone.
The same guidelines apply to clothes. Try on a few different shirts, and see what looks good on you specifically.
Cool colors, like blue, black, white, and purple, tend to look better with cool undertones.
Warm colors like yellow, olive, and peach generally go with warm undertones. Again, neutral undertones can often go with anything.
If you want to be thorough, try the sun test.
Here, skin with cool undertones is prone to burning, while skin with warm undertones is prone to tanning.
Have a sense of your undertones?
It’s alright if you don’t; undertones can change with the seasons and sun exposure, so you might need to live with greater skin awareness for a little bit to really flesh out your decision.
Even if you’re 50% sure or less, it’ll get easier as you move on.
Speaking of moving one, let’s choose some colors.
What colors to pick for your skin tone
Time to reimagine your closet!
Again, remember that there’s no correct fashion formula.
Everything depends of your unique skin tone, and the specific look you’re trying to achieve.
That said, let’s talk about guidelines that generally check out.
Choose colors that look different from your skin tone.
For example, wearing colors similar to your skin tone can wash you with a single color, and can make you look nude or monochromatic.
Instead, colors that contrast with your skin tone tend to better complement your overall look.
A man with a cool cacao skin tone may pull off blues, dark purples, and whites, while a man with a warmer olive tone might want more earth tones like light greens, yellows, and reds.
However, if the colors you like go against our guidelines, don’t panic.
You can still wear colors that blend with your skin tone; just be sure to balance in out with colors on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Black pants may work if you have dark skin, as long as you wear a brighter colored shirt.
Now we’re going into more detail on what to wear by skin tone.
Keep in mind that while we’ve narrowed darker skin tones down to these categories, they are still pretty broad.
On the lighter end of the darker skin spectrum, olive or honey skin tones complement with earthy and dark tones well.
Here, the darkness of your clothes will contrast nicely with your skin.
Prime color examples of your best look include burgundy, navy, and beige.
Colors to avoid are soft pastels and bright colors like light green, mauve, and olive.
Other examples of good choices are bottle green and bold shades of blue. Gold jewelry is the accessory of choice here.
In the mid-range, we have amber or umber skin tones. This range is quite versatile, and many colors fit in very well.
There’s a lot of wiggle room in this category, since it encompasses many different skin tones.
Generally, a balance of colors is going to work here. Lights and darks will look good, as well a variety of jewelry colors.
Because of this versatility, your best bet is to try on a variety a new things, and see what works for you specifically. Your wardrobe is your oyster in this case.
This skin tone refers to men in the espresso to cacao category.
And good news: you can wear pretty much anything and look impeccable. Splendid. Inspirational. You choose the right word.
Everything from bright whites to dark purples and silvers to golds truly pop here.
You really have the flexibility to experiment with what rings true to yourself and your personal style.
Sorry gentlemen, but you’re not totally exempt from the guidelines.
Some colors that meld into your skin are brown, black, and navy blue, which can turn you into a single-color blob.
If you keep these to a minimum, you should still have plenty of options.
Though we’re not delving too deeply in makeup, it’s an important aspect to consider for your overall appearance.
It can be intimidating for a man to consider wearing makeup for many reasons.
However, you shouldn’t rule it out if you think that using it requires an all-out makeover.
For men, wearing makeup can be a simple and non-intrusive way to improve your complexion, or general appearance of your face.
And since your face is one of the moneymakers of fashion, what better reason to include it here?
At its basic level, using makeup could be simply applying foundation to a clean face to smooth out roughness.
Another level is to add concealer to hide any more specific features, like acne.
There are more layers to add, but even with these two steps, the improvement in your appearance is noticeable, but the makeup is not.
We’re not advocating one way or the other. If it’s something you might be interested in, it may be worth a look.
Hopefully you’ll have a better idea of how to plan your wardrobe based on your unique skin tone.
But if all this talk of how-to is intimidating you, there’s one simple rule: try wearing something you like, and if it seems too cool, go for something warmer.
If it seems too warm, try something cooler. In short: wear what works for you.
The cycle continues, and your skin tone may vary slightly from season to season.
Keep paying attention to how your clothes look on you during times of the year, and you’ll gain a new fashion awareness that’ll keep you looking sublime.