Best colors for darker skin tone

Dear Kathi,

I enjoyed your recent article about power colors. I am Hispanic and wonder whether there is more specific advice about my darker skin tone. Also, I am sure that there are few African American readers who would like to know what to wear for their skin tones. After all, not all of us are blond haired and blue eyed.

Thanks for your help, Claudia


Your question is justified and I am sorry that I didn’t include more information about your skin type into the ‘power color’ equation. Wearing the right colors enhances your skin tone, makes you look younger and healthier, brightens your hair and eyes and makes you look more stylish.

To get to the root of which clothing colors are your ‘power colors,’ you need to understand what your real natural coloring is, as we often change our hair and even eye color these days. It is sometimes best to go back in time. What was your hair color as a pre-teen? Remember that time in life before your hair colorist became your best friend?

To see your true skin tone, look at your face without make-up in a mirror. Go outside in natural light if possible. Look for warm or cool skin undertones in your face.

If you can’t determine warm or cool by looking at your face, look at the inside of your wrist. If the veins look green, you are have warm skin undertones. If they appear bluish, you are cool-toned.

These cool skin tones have pink, reddish or blue undertones:

• dark brown
• brown
• pure olive
• medium with faint pink or no color in cheeks

Black skin with cool blue undertones can be very dark or have a soft grayish tone if fairly light. Black or brown skin with cool blue undertones is enhanced by bold, vivid, primary colors or icy, cool pastels. Consider wearing cool colors such as black, true white, blue reds, royal blues, fuchsia, lemon yellow, hot pink and blue greens.

These warm skin tones have golden undertones:

• very dark brown
• brown
• golden olive
• medium

Black, true gray and navy make great base colors for black, brown or olive skin with warm, yellow and golden undertones. More colors that complement your features are aqua, turquoise, evergreen, tangerine and orange-based reds.

To confirm whether a color is working for you or against you, look at yourself against a white or off-white background. When you first try on a new color, ask a good friend for an honest critique. Friends can usually provide an undistorted opinion about the colors you are wearing.

Once you know which colors are best for you, it is time to go through your wardrobe. Separate the clothes that embody your new-found ‘power colors’ from the rest of your wardrobe. Discard and donate all clothes that no longer epitomize your new image. If you can’t bring yourself to part with a few of the old items, at least put them towards the back of the closet. You might get away with wearing them if they are not near your face. Each day as you dress, concentrate on the ‘good’ color clothes and ignore the ones that do not flatter.

Over time, you will discover the rewards of wearing clothes that actually work for, and not against, you. It will become very easy to let go of the old clothes as you bring in the new. Have fun discovering your power and don’t hesitate to write again with additional questions.

Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Want to learn more about what clothes work best for your body? Check out this special report ~ The 18 Essential Wardrobe Elements For Women

Need more information for your specific challenge? Please submit your question in the comment section below.


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22 Responses to Best colors for darker skin tone

  1. Christy says:

    Thank you so much!This article was very helpful!=)

  2. Amanda says:

    Great article. I am black (dark-skinned) and have been looking for someone to explain how to determine undertones. Very informative. Thank you.

  3. salome olali says:

    thanks for boosting my self esteem with your article. Looking forward to seeing a new me.

  4. Saro says:

    What is cool and warm skinned tone I have black skin .so which colour dresses are suitable for me and also what type of dress (jeans,midi)look me better.I am a hip-fat girl

  5. cicil says:

    thank yu fr de article. very informative. 🙂

  6. marissa says:

    If you want to appear lighter, just wear black, and never wear white. I made that mistake when taking a yearbook photo, when I finally got to see the photo I looked really dark, but really I’m not. So anyways I looked at other photos of people who I think have the same skin color as me, and they were wearing black, and they looked light.

  7. Niij says:

    Claudia, the way you say it makes it seem like being dark is a bad thing. Slavery doesn’t exist anymore, being lighter won’t get you in the house out of the cottonfields. 🙂 But I’m darkskinned and I loved this article!

  8. honey says:

    Whoa,, vry informativ & helpful. Thanks alot! I am black wit brownish-dark hair n eyes, & today i learnt that i hav warm skin cool! i hav usually had a prob choosin colours.
    I am also wonderin wat colour of pants wil suit me most betwn dis two colours- dark purple & claret ..! help guys..wc one wud u go 4 wit my undertones? thanks alot!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Janice,

      I am glad this article helped. Dark purple and dark claret would look nice with almost any dark neutral colored slacks including black, dark gray or deep brown. I think deep chocolate brown combined with dark purple looks very rich. If you choose brown choose the deepest darkest brown possible so it does not wash out the undertones fo the purple. If you cant find dark brown, black is an easy combo.

      Thanks for asking! Send in a photo of your new outfit once you put it together. I am sure everyone would like to see this interesting choice.

  9. Sandra jay says:

    Very informative. I have dark skinnd, brown eyez, black hair and slim, pls which colour of geans, polo n tops wil match my colour and how to combine them.

  10. Ammu says:

    this is a good information and thanks for sharing

  11. Divine says:

    thanks alot. I have been struggling with suitable colors for my dark skin awhile now. I have only ventured to purple n blue. I call them my safe colors.
    I would really like to break away from my black and navy suits for work. I dont feel confident in them at all!!! i would like to wear a color-block outfit to work this summer.I think fuschia top and pink bottom (pencil skirt) would look very nice on me.
    What do u think?

  12. embarrased freak says:

    I have a dark tone cuz i m pakistani/south asian. i luv bright colours but whenever i wear those colours everyone tells me that i m black and that i dont need to wear colours like these. i feel bad. pls reply thanks!!!

    • Kathi Burns says:

      I am sorry to hear that people tell you that you should not wear bright colors. The right choice of bright colors will look fantastic on your skin. I have written an article for you to help you choose which colors to wear. Click here to read.

  13. Tutangata says:

    Thank You so much! Im a guy from New Zealand finding something to wear for my Ball (prom) and this really helped me alot! You rock 😀

  14. Rose says:

    It is so hard to figure out WHY more people don’t write articles like this. This one was hard to find. Thank you for writing it Kathi and thank you for answering the girl that likes bright colors. That’s me, I seem to fit Autumn but I like pastels. I’ll be reviewing that link.

  15. houston austine says:

    helpful article…thnx alot

  16. Nathalie E says:

    I love ur good works kip it up n God bles

  17. Pam says:

    Thank you so much, your article really helped me a lot, I am brown skin Indian from Trinidad and I really did not know my skin tone and the colours to wear, thanks much..

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading
    it, you can be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark
    your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great work, have a nice evening!

  19. Poonam T says:

    I have warm undertones with I think olive skin. And I totally do not agree with this article’s advice. The best colors that suit me are pastels, turquoise and silver etc. bold colors like red, orange, brown look absolutely horrible on me. I think there must be a mistake somewhere. Ps. I am of Indian decent and cannot have cool undertones. Unless my understanding of the term undertones is flawed. However my veins look kinda blue green.. And I am more yellow than pink. Any help?

    • Kathi Burns says:

      Hi Poonam,

      If pastels and silver look best on you, I would say that you are definitely more blue tinted. It sounds like you have more blue undertones, than green. This would indicate that you will look better in cooler colors.

      This is also confirmed by the fact that you say your veins are more blue than green.

      It is so hard to write one rule for all people. The good news is that you know what you look good in and that is five steps in the right direction!

      We would all learn more if you submit a photo showing you in your best color. Quite honestly, there is not enough quality information published for darker skin tones.

      Here is an excerpt from an article published on About Style that explains skin tones very well:
      Undertones are in the categories of:

      Cool (pink, red or bluish undertones)
      Warm (yellow or golden undertones)
      Neutral (a mix of warm and cool undertones)

      Some include olive as a separate, fourth category, but most consider it neutral because it has a mix of warm and cool undertones.
      This sounds like it could be your skin tone and that you are closer to cool than warm.

      If you have time, please submit a photo. I would love to see a picture so that we can demonstrate what looks good on your lovely olive complexion.

      Thanks so much for your feedback!

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