Colors are wonderful. Every time we open our eyes in the morning, we are flushed with so many colors. And as humans, we are distinctively unique that we can perceive a wide spectrum of colors, in different hues and tones. Our skin tones are no different. It varies from ethnicities to regions and race.

Our brain reacts to colors in more ways than we can imagine. From choosing the right shirt, getting a tattoo or even buying underwear, we deck ourselves with so much color that understanding them should be in our repertoire of knowledge. However, most of us fall flat when colors come into play.  I guess the big question is where do I begin? A good way to start is to understand the color wheel and know the distinction between warm and cool colors. Warm being more yellow and cool being bluer.

Color Wheel

Identify your Skin Tone

There are myriad of ways to identify your skin tone. From the vein test to gold and silver foil test to even clustering people by seasons. Those methods may work but not necessarily easy to comprehend.  I believe in making things simpler. Hence, we are classifying it into three categories, warm, cool and neutral. The point of this method is to find out how yellow or blue your skin is. So here’s what you have to do. Under natural light, grab an off white (yellowish, not grey) shirt, prop it under your face and look into the mirror.


Always remember to look at your face and not your arms when matching colors to your skin. The whole idea of wearing the right color is to focus the attention to your face.


Warm– If the off white shirt blends to your features and makes you look alive and radiant, congratulations! you have a warm skin color. Your skin has a yellow to brownish. Warm skin people don’t easily get sun burned and most likely, easier to get a bronze tan. The intensity and richness of their skin tone is a perfect backdrop for bright and vibrant colors (Yes, neon included). Remember, the more yellow the color the warmer it gets.

Color Suggestion: As you notice, yellow is added into the primary colors to make it warmer. Opt for earthy tones, bronze and ivory ones.

Warm Low contrast

Warm High Contrast

Example of warm skin tone:

 d33      Warm ASiandanielliu-theoutlaw-2

 Cool Now, if the off white shirt makes you look dull and washed out, you are a cool skin kind of guy. On a hot sunny day, you tend to burn easily like a lobster, even after applying SPF50 sunscreen. Your have pink, red and bluish undertones. The paleness of your skin rejects the yellowness of the off white shirt. Hence, one should avoid warm colors. You are best suited in the bluer tones and hues of the color spectrum.

Color Suggestion: Over here, blue is added more into the primary colors to make it cooler. Opt for blues, violets and even emerald green.

Cool High Contrast

Cool Low Contrast


Example of cool skin tone:

 Cool Caucasian      Cool Asian

 Neutral– If the off white shirt don’t make you look washed out and at the same time, a clean white shirt makes you look sharp, then you are a neutral. They have the best of both worlds, lucky folks. They have both warm and cool undetones. What you can do is harmonize your look towards warm or cool colors. For example, match a cool blue blazer with cool tone yellow trousers (like what Brad Goreski’s wearing) OR a head to toe warm, earthy color outfit (Gant Rugger Models).


Photographed by Tommy Ton


It may take a few hits and misses to understand skin tones and colors. Take your time and experiment. A good tip would be to identify with a celebrity and observe what he is wearing. Study his skin tone and the colors he wear. Get your best friends or siblings to try out this method as well. Our goal is to give you suggestions on how to look your best by knowing your skin tone and contrast (Part2).  At the end of the day, your personality should shine more than anything else.