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Choosing the right fashion hues
Choosing the right fashion hues

Bright colours and pastel tones are trends in summer clothing almost every year, but they raise a question: Exactly which complexions are best suited to wear them?

After the long winter it can be challenging to make pale skin look fresh, and it doesn’t always help to simply follow fashion trends set by designers and fashion magazines that emphasise particular colours each season. In stores, shoppers often discover it can be very difficult to avoid these colours.

Photographs of fashion models in glossy magazines always look good, no matter what colour the women are wearing or what colour is on their nails and in their hair. But when women who don’t have stylists put on a trendy garment, it can make them look years older, even sallow or pale.

The reason is that not every skin type is in harmony with every colour.

"Light is reflected onto the skin by the colour in the clothing," said Ulrike Mayer, a textile operations manager in Germany. "Not every skin type corresponds with every colour."

Many women are familiar with skin and hair categorisations that roughly follow the seasons, a system that has been around for many years. But this is now considered too narrow.

"The colour palette has expanded to nine different types," said Berlin-based style expert Lisa Zimmermann. There are now categories such as light-warm-cold. It’s a better system for people with mixed features who aren’t easily classified in the simpler method that follows the seasons.

Colour analysis is, however, not always essential. If a shopper can’t always take along colour cards to ensure that the colours are right, then she should be sure to look closely at herself in the mirror.

"Roughly stated there are two types - warm and cool," said Mayer. Colour analysts tend to begin by selecting one or the other.

"Hold a silver cloth up to the face and if the skin radiates, it indicates the woman’s complexion is cool and blue tones dominate in the skin. Women whose skin radiates when a gold cloth is held up to their face have more golden parts in their skin pigment."

The same principle is used to find out what looks best on a woman. She can stand in front of a mirror with each garment.

"She can usually see very quickly how the skin turns sallow when a women chooses a colour that doesn’t belong to her skin tone," said Mayer.

"Basically, the lighter the skin, the cooler the skin type, and therefore the clearer the colours should be," said Zimmermann.

Darker skin types shouldn’t choose extremely loud colours, but may select intensive tones. A warm skin type looks better combined with bright colours such as gold, orange and melon, while cooler skin types look better in pink, royal blue and cool green.

"The closer the colour is to the face, the stronger the effect," said Zimmermann. The colour of the garment can overpower the complexion.

The selection of pastel and nude tones can be a little more difficult.

"A classic ’winter’ - Snow White, for example - should steer clear of these tones," Mayer said.

Hot-blooded Mediterranean types on the other hand can usually wear them. And the light-skinned warm types, those previously in the spring category, should go for cool pastel tones. Women in the category of summer look most radiant in a clear rose.

One colour that suits almost every complexion is blue. Dark blue with a large quantity of black looks well on women in the cool category. If the skin colour leans toward red, the colour is more harmonic with warm skin tones, said Zimmermann.

Finding the right colours is not just about matching clothing to skin tone. It’s also important to consider eye and hair colour when selecting colours.

"A blonde women whose hair is becoming more and more ash-coloured often chooses a yellow blonde hair colour," said Mayer.

A woman who is a cool blonde, however, should use a cool blonde that doesn’t look too grey.

And in the end it’s always possible to enhance the face with make-up to make it look more radiant.