The key to a good colour match is to first identify what skin tone you have. Broadly speaking, there are three complexions: pale, medium and dark. If you’re having trouble identifying exactly where you fall, try experimenting with various colours until you find the best match.

Some people may find they natural sit on the borderline between two complexions. If this is the case, try picking the best of both worlds. Remember, the best match is the one you feel most comfortable with.

Pale Skin

light skin

Fair, light coloured skin. Traditionally found on red-heads, dirty blondes and nighthawks who avoid the sun. Pale skinned guys also tend to have brighter eye colours too, so it’s important to find something to subtly offset all the lightness.

Your best bet is to stick to restrained tones that blend with your complexion. Try wearing pastel shades. You’ll look great in blues, browns and beiges. Avoid vivid reds, yellows, pinks and purples – these will look too vibrant and ‘hot’ against your skin, leaving your features washed out.

Medium Skin


The broadest category of the three, and one which most men fall into. With the middle tone you can get away with just about anything, the only exception being clothes that closely match elements of your skin tone such as olive or tan. Good contrast colours include black, dark blue and beige.

Dark Skin


Those with a darker complexion need to find clothes that give contrast to their skin without being outrageously bold.

Your top colours include light blue, pink, grey and cream; these subtle shades deliver good contrast without piercing your retinas or washing you out. Avoid shades of black, navy and deep brown that closely match your specific skin colour wherever possible.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

9 Responses

  1. Guy Style Guide | Identifying Your Skin Tone – Revisited

    […] I’ve covered the topic of skin tone and complexion a number of times now; however, discovering your true pallor can be a complicated process. Slight tone variations across the body, isolated tanning spots and the occasional over/under exposure to sunlight can make the identification procedure fraught with problems. […]

  2. Corey

    I think this article is useful. I learned a long time ago….sometimes colors look great in and of themselves…just as certain shoe types and the like. Big difference, however, between clothing one appreciates in an aesthetic or artistic way versus being practical and actually wearing without looking loud a peacock.

    For example, while I admit every now and then I may notice a sail boat, palm trees and a beautiful sunset on the back of a Tommy Bahama shirt, it is highly improbably I would walk around wearing such an item with a straight face.


  3. Donovan

    pretty good advice, but you have to consider each part of your complexion to find the colors that suit you best.

    you should check out which will generate a list of colors that match you based on your eye, skin and hair color

    • Johnathan

      Wow! What a great little tool; definitely one to add to the bookmarks guys!

      Thanks for this Donovan