Warning: Wearing the Wrong Colors Will Make You Look Like Crap

Editor’s Note: If you want to get a few easy color-matching tricks, you should check out my guide: Color-Matching Made Easy. You’ll never have to worry about wearing the wrong colors again!

My Face against an orange and blue background
Which Color Makes Me Look Like Crap?

“That really isn’t your color.”

You may have heard this before. It’s a nice way of saying “That color makes you look like crap.”

See, we all have good colors and bad colors.

  • Our good colors bring out all our best features, making us look younger, healthier and more energetic.
  • Our bad colors bring out all our worst features, making us look like we’re about to die from sleep deprivation. (Just watch the video below… YEESH!)

As a rule, when you wear colors, you want them to fall into the first category.

But many guys are blind to this difference, and some even try to get one of each color in their wardrobe. They’re like color collectors. Gotta catch em all!

But your wardrobe doesn’t need em all. It only needs the ones that make you look good.

So I’m gonna help you figure out what those are.

But first I’m going to show you a video, so you can see exactly what a terrible effect the wrong color can have on your face.

Watch One of My Bad Colors Drain the Life From My Face

To show you just how terribly the wrong colors can affect the way you look, I created the following video. I will slide from a blue to an orange background and you’ll see the life drain from and return to my face as I slide back and forth.

Check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk2vHh49BJM

See what I mean?

Then you understand how important it is for you to know what your good and bad colors are.

Why You Have Good and Bad Colors

Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister: Coolest of Cool, But Warm of Skin

So, people come in three flavors; warm, cool and neutral.

And no — no matter how cool you think you are, I’m not talking about your personality.

I’m talking about your skin-tone.

See, we all have natural undertones in our skin.

  • Warm people have yellow undertones
  • Cool people have blue undertones
  • Neutral people have no dominant undertones

These undertones determine how colors look on you. They determine whether a color flatters your face or washes it out.

Knowing which undertones you have will help you pick colors that make you look awesome and avoid those that make you look ill.

And I happen to know a quick test you can do to figure out where you belong on the warm-to-cool spectrum.

The Gold/Silver Test

The gold/silver test works as follows:

Grab two pieces of jewelry; one silver, one gold.

Now, hold each against your skin and see which looks best on you. (Get a couple of second opinions if you’re not 100% sure.)

  • If gold looks best, you’re a warm
  • If silver looks best, you’re a cool
  • If both looked equally good, you’re a neutral

And there you have it.

Take this test, and then come back here to find out which colors you can safely wear, and which you should avoid.

(Alternatively, you can run a similar test with white and off-white fabric. Pure white will look better on cool people, while off-white will look better on warm people.)

face against white and off-white background
Left: Off-White. Right: Pure White. That Means I’m Cool, Yo.

What Are Your Good and Bad Colors?

Now that you know whether you’re a warm, cool or neutral, you can figure out which colors you look best in.

  • Warm people look best in warm colors — yellow, orange and red
  • Cool people look best in cool colors — green, blue and purple
  • Neutral people look good in everything — lucky bastards
Stick to Colors That Fall In Your Camp
Stick to Colors That Fall In Your Camp

And when you know your good colors, figuring out your bad colors becomes easy. When you’re a warm, avoid cool colors. When you’re a cool, avoid warm colors.

Now, this is a very black-and-white guideline, and exceptions exist to these rules, but in general it will steer you in the right direction.

Still, when you’re a cool and a green shirt looks very off, trust your judgement.

Might be it’s not your shade. Might be it’s a yellowish green. Might be it’s a matter of personal taste.

In any case, you won’t feel great wearing it, so put it back on the rack.

Note: If you want to go much deeper down this rabbit hole though, check out this seasonal color analysis, which is on a women’s fashion site and in womens-fashiony language. So be warned: It’s pretty fucking confusing. (I’m still not sure exactly where I land on there.)

Try it Out

Go to a mall and try on a whole range of colors.

Try on both warm and cool colors, and see the difference it makes on your overall look. Try on colors you never-ever considered trying on before. Try on everything.

Don’t buy, just try and try and try. Make the salespeople think you’re a lunatic.

Seeing the difference between your good and bad colors will help train your eye. When you have a trained eye, you no longer need guidelines like these to help you decide whether something looks good on you or not. You’ll just know.

Your gut will tell you.

You just need to train your eye and trust your gut.

But until then, stick to your recommended colors.

And rock the shit out of them.

 

Do You Want to Master the Art of Color-Matching Once and for All?

» Check Out These Easy Color-Matching Tricks «

 

 

  • Ella says:

    Are you sure the lighting conditions are the same on these photographs? I am not questioning your premise, you obviously look great in cool colours. But the whites photograph contrasts have an obvious difference in the colours of the background. The wall appears more blue on the left. Different time of day?

  • Angela says:

    I have a neutral undertone I look great in rose gold. So for me I have to be in the middle. But I just can’t wear blue, yellow or green. Makes me look sick, makes me look darker, just a big no.

    Plus I have red-orange undertones which should be “cool” but is more warm.

  • Now I understand why I gravitate toward teal/blues/darker greens: it looks good on my cool-type. I never understood why until now! Thanks, man! I’m gon’ git right, I promise! :)

  • crmuns88 says:

    Thank you for this! I had bought a shirt recently that, after getting it home and wearing for a day, I just didn’t end up liking. It just didn’t look right. It was mostly in the cool range of colors and I have warm skin. Makes sense now!

  • Albert says:

    Very good article! I love the perspective it gives when you actually do a video showing a real life example!

    • Robert says:

      Thanks, Albert. You know, I hadn’t actually planned the video — was a very random idea that popped in my head as I was taking pictures of myself.

  • Nick P. says:

    Wow! This was really helpful in breaking down an easy way to show people their correct colors. I really like what you have going here. There really is a need for the beginner to find good resources to help them and not feel intimidated by the fashion forward out there.

  • Gabriyel says:

    I think the camera is adjusting the white balance when moving between the colored sheets that’s why your face is looking more saturated in one and more colder in the other. Just look closely at the top of your “Off-white and Pure White photo” and you can see what am I talking about. The colors of the wall and objects differs in both photos.

    • Robert says:

      Hmm… Will have to look into that! Maybe it exaggerates the effect.

      • Gabriyel says:

        Maybe if the distance between you and the camera would be greater it would not be exaggerated.

        • wouter says:

          if you look at the video ecample then you can see that there’s a little bit of a difference not really that big of a difference if you as me

    • MyCsPiTTa says:

      Agree with this. If you cover up the video to show only your face, the pale change still happens even without being able to see the background. And in the photo above, even the wall behind you changes dramatically more blue with the off-white background. You probably can’t turn off the auto colour balance, but you could photoshop your face onto 2 different backgrounds.

      Still, good advice. I’m gonna have to find out what undertone I am.

  • Harrison says:

    Not going to lie, this is pretty brilliant. I see how shirts can have this effect, but what about pants? If you’re wearing a shirt and a pair of closed shoes, you’re looking at about 2 feet of distance to your face – does that matter? Or is it the whole package?

    • Robert says:

      Good question. Avoid your bad colors around your face area, because that’s where they do the most damage. You can get away with them on your pants, though they still won’t be very flattering.

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