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The Best Colors for Neutral Skin Tones - How to Find the Perfect Dress

Young woman in a neutral-colored dress

Before diving into the best colors for neutral skin tones, it’s important to discuss what skin tone is. When you think of skin tone, what comes to mind? It’s not just another word for skin color. It’s not even the shade of your skin. Your skin tone is actually your skin’s undertone. Believe it or not, knowing your skin’s undertone can actually help you to determine your best dress colors. If you have a neutral skin tone like Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, or Kerry Washington, you actually have one of the widest color palettes available. Read on to make sure you’re choosing the best colors for neutral skin tones.

What Is a Skin’s Undertone?

There are three primary undertones that your skin may have: cool, warm, or neutral. It’s important to know your skin tone not just because it helps you select the right foundation, but because it can help you to make better style choices.  

Your undertones are the colors that show from beneath the surface of the skin, affecting its hue. It doesn’t matter if your skin is light, dark, or anywhere in between. Anyone can have a cool, warm, or neutral tone.

  • Cool: Cool undertones are characterized by traces of blue or pink complexion. 
  • Warm: Warm undertones are characterized by traces of yellow, peach, or golden complexion. 
  • Neutral: Neutral undertones have no apparent color of their own. The skin’s natural color takes precedence.

These distinctions shouldn’t be confused with color analysis (i.e. whether you have a winter, spring, autumn, or winter complexion). While undertone is an important feature of color analysis, it’s only one ingredient. There are many different factors involved in determining the best colors for neutral skin tones, but skin tone is a very important component.

Determining if You Have a Neutral Skin Tone 

Before we break down the best colors for neutral skin tones, it’s important to confirm that you’re actually working with neutral undertones (if you haven’t already confirmed this on your own). The easiest way is just to examine the underside of your wrist, an area not usually prone to excessive color change due to sun exposure. Examine it in natural sunlight. You should be able to see the underlying color. If you can only see your natural skin color, you most likely have a neutral skin tone. 

There are also other ways to tell. For instance, if your skin tans easily but doesn’t sunburn, you likely have a warm to neutral tone. People with warm skin tones tend to have veins that appear green. If your veins appear blue to deep purple, you probably lean more toward the cooler end of the spectrum. A person with a neutral skin tone will usually have veins with a more subtle color, rather than the deeper, more vibrant colors characteristic of both warm and cool skin tones. 

Best Colors for Neutral Skin Tones

young woman in her best dress color

If you have neutral undertones, the next step is to determine your best dress color. The great news is that people with neutral undertones have a wider range of complementary colors than anyone else. In fact, you can usually get away with almost anything on the color spectrum, but you’ll usually want to emphasize softer shades. 

For instance, colors like mauve, dusty blush, champagne, mint, and blue lagoon look amazing on someone with a neutral skin tone. They’re vibrant without being overpowering, which are usually the best colors for people with neutral skin tones

One obvious question you may be asking is: Can someone with a neutral skin tone wear neutral colors? It’s a fair question, but luckily, the answer is a resounding yes—so long as you emphasize the right neutral shades. Off-whites work really well, as do mid-range grays. And black dresses, of course, are always a safe bet. 

Some Colors Are Universal 

While some dresses do work especially well on someone with a neutral skin tone, other colors (like the aforementioned black) are universal. Almost anybody can pull them off. Bright reds, light pinks, and deep purples are just a few examples. There may be no rhyme or reason as to why certain colors just work, but they do! 

For example, if you’re a neutral but you’re looking for something bold to wear in winter, try donning a burgundy dress for your next holiday party. Not only is burgundy one of the most timeless winter colors, it flatters almost any wearer. 

It’s Not Just About Skin Tone 

We can further break down the best colors for neutral skin tones by considering other factors in addition to undertones. There are a variety of skin characteristics that should be considered when you’re trying to decide on the best dress color. For example, if you have light skin, dark colors can provide an excellent complement. If you have naturally dark skin, lighter colors can provide a beautiful contrast. And for those with medium-hued skin, primary colors like red, blue, and yellow are a slam dunk. 

When Layering and Accessorizing 

It’s one thing to find the best dress color, but the dress isn’t always enough. Most of us have our favorite accessories, and certain seasons lend themselves to heavy layering. So when looking for the best colors for neutral skin tones, you have to think beyond just the dress.  

In general, the same rules apply, but you’ll want to throw in some neutral apparel to bring the whole ensemble together. For example, let’s say that you’re wearing a mint-colored dress and you want to layer it with a stylish coat. By choosing a neutral off-white coat, you can stay warm in winter without falling victim to clashing colors. 

It’s All About Knowing Your Personal Style 

Finally, remember that there are no absolutes. The best colors for neutral skin tones may not always be the colors that speak to you, and that’s okay too. If you’re passionate about deep orange, follow your bliss. If your favorite dress is a dark shade of violet, wear it with pride. Ultimately, it’s just about understanding how different colors compare and contrast against different skin shades. What matters most is how it makes you feel. 

Experiment with different colors and dress styles, and find what truly inspires you!