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A Stylist’s Guide to Skin Tones and Color Palettes

December 18, 2019 | Filed in: Your Closet

For most women, understanding our skin tones and color palettes can be somewhat overwhelming. Which season are you? Which colors look great against your skin? How do you properly pair colors? We get it! It’s a lot to think about, but since you have #betterthingstodo, we’re here to steer you in the right direction with the help of our team members Samone, Maria, and Kailin. While we don’t have every skin tone covered here, we’re breaking down the fundamentals in a digestible way, from warm to neutral to cool. Now let’s get down to the basics, shall we?

How to Find Your Tone

First things first, it’s time to determine your  skin tone. Are you a warm, cool, or neutral? Quite frankly, you’ve probably been aware all along without realizing it. The colors you choose to wear say a lot about what you (unconsciously) think works best for your tone. For example: Do you own more true whites (cool) or creams (warm)? If you’re still unsure, ask yourself these questions and you should find the answer: 

Samone: The Warm Tone

Samone wears the Ashley dress.

Shop similar styles: The Toi dress (left). The Malley top and Cobble Hill skirt (right).

Like Samone says, “I find that I look best in gold jewelry, which I know is an attribute of someone with a warm tone.” Ding ding! Along with gold jewelry, colors like yellows, oranges, browns, off-whites, and warm greens and reds work great for her, which is why colors like brick red and mocha pair well against her skin. When it comes to dressing for your warm tone, think earth tones and other colors that will still allow your skin to glow regardless of its presence. 

These M.M. colors work, too: acorn, oregano, saddle, dark olive

Maria: The Cool Tone

Shop similar styles: The Emily dress, Beebe belt, and Lillie earrings.

Shop similar styles: The Charli top and Cobble Hill skirt (left). The Monica top (right).

When we’re talking cool tones, lean toward blues, pinks, purples, cooler greens, and reds. Your physical features (complexion, hair, eyes) tend to pop with these colors, which Maria can attest to. “I love wearing blue, because it makes my hair so much brighter,” she says. Your color choices should enhance, not overpower, your skin tone. Colors like Santorini and deep sea are go-to options for her because both complement her tone, rather than masking it. 

These M.M. colors work, too: deep teal, Amalfi, ink, navy

Kailin: The Neutral Tone

Shop similar styles: The Merritt jardigan, Aubry top, and Hockley jeans.

Shop similar styles: The Nora top (left). The Emerson cardigan, Nora top, and Cobble Hill skirt (right).

If it’s almost impossible for you to confirm your tone, you’re a neutral. And in this case, your options are pretty much endless. Kailin’s cool features and warmish undertone place her in the neutral category. If you’re like Kailin, you might like to take colors from both ends of the spectrum and combine them in one look. Prime example: The Aubry top in mars (warm) and Hockley jeans in ink (cool) make a great pairing for her tone, and the Merritt jardigan in black (neutral) ties it all together. The key to keeping it neutral is making sure one color doesn’t take away from the other—or worse, you

These M.M. colors work, too: blood orange, spring green, dusty indigo, ivory.

And if you love a color that doesn’t work well for your tone, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for it. Take note of these easy style tricks:

As we always say, we’re here to give you the tools, not the rules. Samone says it best: “I honestly don’t pay attention to the rules that surround warm, cool, or seasonal coloring. I just go with whichever colors I feel like wearing at the moment.” With that said, it’s your world—wear what you want and how you want. Our only ask is that you wear it well. 

Photos by Yan Ruan.

Styling by Nyjerah Cunningham. 

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Nyjerah is the Brand Stylist at M.M.LaFleur, and a lover of all things style-related. Her wardrobe motto is simple: take risks and wear them well. Read more of Nyjerah's posts.

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