I bet something like this has happened to you:
Your wife or girlfriend tells you that you need some new clothes. You go shopping to appease her. You walk out of the dressing room wearing what you think is a perfectly good outfit, but when she sees you, her face contorts into a look of disgust the likes of which you have never seen before.
Hey wait a minute! You are there because SHE insists you buy new clothes. What’s the deal?
Well, guys, there is a secret to this clothes thing that most men don’t know. And most women instinctively know, whether they realize it or not.
The colors and patterns you wear can either wear YOU or YOU can overpower them if you aren’t careful in your selection. The ideal is to create a balance between your personal coloring – your hair, skin and eye color – and the colors you are wearing.
This is a technique used masterfully by the wardrobe stylists at ESPN. They dress such a variety of skin tones – for the camera, which is extremely difficult - and they make everyone look marvelous. (My heart goes out to John Kruk – I don’t know a wardrobe expert alive who could make that poor guy look better!)
Here’s how it works:
We are all born with a God-given set of traits. One of these is our coloring. We’re not going to focus on whether you are brown-haired, salt-and-pepper, black-haired or a redhead. Or what your eye color is. Instead we are going to focus on working with the contrast level you were born with – this means how your eye color, hair color, and skin tone work together and how they relate to the clothing you choose.
In the example below, the colors the model is wearing on the left are too washed out for his medium coloring and dark hair. In this case, the anemic outfit looks blah and fades into the background because it has no visual interest (i.e., color contrast) to strike a balance with his coloring.
In the picture to the right, there is a much better balance between the model’s features and what he’s wearing (a combination of light and dark). This is the visual harmony to look for when you are getting dressed.
Below, I have used three models: Daniel Craig is the example of Low Contrast Light – he has blonde hair, light skin and blue eyes. Taye Diggs is Low Contrast Deep – because of his deeper skin tone, hair, and eye color. Despite the fact that they are both low contrast, you can see there is quite a difference between the clothing the two would select to flatter them.
Our last example is Danny Ocean, George Clooney. He is a phenomenal example of a High Contrast male. He has dark hair and eyes and considerably lighter skin. There is a reason he looks so good in a tux. His coloring naturally favors high contrast ensembles like black and white.
It is important to note that if chosen unwisely, the colors, contrast and patterns you wear can be at worst visually distracting – hurting the viewer’s eye - or they can even make you look pale and unhealthy!
By keeping color combinations and contrast levels that flatter you close to your face, you will be able to create a sense of balance between you and your clothes. The human eye is attracted to this kind ovisual harmony and it will make you more attractive to current and potential clients and to the opposite sex as well!
Keep in mind that as we age, we lose pigmentation not only in our hair (going gray), but our skin and eyes fade too. As you start to become more “distinguished”, the colors you wear should get a little lighter as well – as if you’re gently and slowly moving closer to the lighter colors that Daniel Craig wears so well.
Can you see yourself in one of these examples? Or are you a combination of two? You may very well be.