Finding the Right Neutrals – Warm & Cool

Why do some neutrals look better on us than others?  The likely reason is that the ‘undertone’ of these neutrals is in harmony with that of our skintone.    Like our skintone, colours have an undertone as well.

In describing undertones, we use the words ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ to describe the ‘feel’ we get from them.

In this colour wheel, we roughly divide warm and cool colours this way:

In general, if a colour has more ‘yellow’, it’s considered ‘WARM’, if it has more blue, black or white, it’s ‘COOL’.

Left: Cool Neutrals (colour combo)
Right: Warm Neutrals (colour combo)

 

How do we know if a colour is WARM or COOL?

Truth is:  determining a single colour’s undertone is  DIFFICULT.  The best way to do so is by COMPARISON.

If Colour A has no yellow in it, while Colour B has, then Colour A is COOL

So, the presence of yellow / a greater amount of yellow makes a colour ‘warm’ or ‘warmer’ than another.

A greater amount of blue, black or white in a colour makes it ‘cooler’ than another.

The colour on the right has the most yellow, therefore it is the ‘warmest’ among the 3 colours.

Even blues can be warm.
Left: Coolest colour, Right: Warmest (has the most yellow)

 

If your skin tone is warm, then the colours that are in harmony with you are warm as well.

If you find that a colour just doesn’t seem ‘right’ on you, it’s likely that that colour has the opposite undertone.  A person who has a warm undertone will find that colours with yellow in them look more  HARMONIOUS with their skin tone.

The following pictures are used the illustrate how colours of a different undertone look out of place – they stick out like a sore thumb, drawing attention to themselves.

Original Colour Scheme (done by Nippon iColour Visualiser)
Warm Neutrals

 

 

The colour of the decorative partition has been changed. Notice how it doesn’t jive with the rest of the colours in the combination. The original on the left looks a lot better. This colour is too ‘cool’ for the whole colour combination.

 

The same partition has been ‘repainted’ – this colour is better than the earlier one, but it’s still not the best.

 

Finally, this colour fits best into the general colour scheme. It attracts the right amount of attention without being strangely out of place.

The same principle applies in choosing neutrals for your outfits.

To find the best neutrals for you:

  1. find out your skin undertone
  2. select different colours and put them against your face, ask yourself, does the colour look ‘weird’ on me?  If the colour shouts for attention in a negative way, then it isn’t the right colour for you.

 

 

 

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