What Color Pencil Dress Best Suits Your Skin Tone?

Woman wearing a red pencil dress and heels near a window with curtains

Black is often the go-to choice for many people, but what about when you want to wear a bit of color?

Have you ever spotted that perfect pencil dress, perhaps for a wedding or simply to add to your growing collection of smart dresses for work, you put it on, but it just doesn’t look right?

Well, it could be down to the color choice and how it’s working with your skin tone, or in some cases – not working.

Choosing the best color combinations is not easy and deciding what works best with your individual skin tone can be a minefield.

Just over fifty years ago, Aemelius Müller, a professor at the Academy of Winterthur in Switzerland, devised a formula that he believed could predict the popularity of a color combination.

He discovered that if a combination followed the natural brightness of colors, then it will be far better received.

If a combination contradicts the natural brightness of colors, they clashed.

This theory is all well and good but doesn’t leave much in the way of creating and adding a bit of personality to your dress.

Below is how to best match your specific skin tone to which colors works and what doesn’t.

How to Know What Color Pencil Dress Best Suits You?

Woman wearing a pale yellow pencil dressThe aim of the game here is to ultimately choose colors that contrast against your skin tone.

This is, of course, easier said than done and In order to decide which color is best for you, it helps to know what undertone your skin has.

So how do you find your undertone?

There are three main categories that most people will fall within – Cool, Warm and Neutral.

There are several ways of distinguishing which category you fall into.

First and most obvious being – look at your skin.

Colors commonly found within cool skin tones are as follows:

Blue, pink, red or rosy.

Colors found within warm skin tones are:

Yellow, peach, green, light brown or even a golden tone.

Another popular way to establish your undertone is by looking at the veins on your wrist.

Blue tones will suggest you have a cool undertone, whilst green will suggest you are warm.

A lesser-known tell-tale sign of what undertone you have is how your skin reacts to the sun.

If you’re rather prone to burning, then you most likely have a cool undertone.

The irony… On the flip side, if you can easily to a nice golden color then you most likely have warm undertones.

But what if you can’t relate to any of these? – Then you are probably neutral. This means that your undertone relatable features of both cool and warm tones, meaning, you can pull off pretty much any color you wish.

What’s The Science Behind All This?

There are three main chemicals that determine your skin tone:

Haemoglobin, which is red.

Melanin, which can be either blue-brown or red-yellow.

Carotene, which is yellow-orange.

Your DNA will then determine how these three chemicals combine to create your tone.

The amount of melanin will determine whether you are cool or warm, and the hemoglobin and carotene will then further determine your shade within cool or warm.

For example, dark cool, light cool, dark warm or light warm.

What Color of Pencil Dress Would Best Suit Pale Skin?

Traditionally, when it comes to pale skin, it’s often thought best not to overpower with strong, bold colors.

Dark blue, royal blue, red, rose and lavender will work particularly well, however, stark black or white can sometimes make you appear washed out.

If you are wanting to stand out from the crowd and pull off more saturated colors, then jewel tones ought to do the trick.

How To Wear Light Colored Pencil Dresses on Fair Skin?

Woman wearing a pale purple or lilac dress and heels

Although you’re looking for contrast against your skin, that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear lighter colors on fair skin.

Pastel colors look great against a lighter skin tone – royal blue with a pop of red lip will work particularly well.

When you are wearing a lighter pencil dress on fairer skin, accessories can be great to add a pop of color.

Bracelets, watches, lipstick or even the eyeshadow you choose.

It’s your chance to add a bit of dash.

Best Pencil Dress Colors for Olive Skin

If your Olive skinned you can wear, well, pretty much any color.

Olive skin contains multiple undertones, most commonly browns, yellows, and subtle reds.

Amongst the many options available, pink is most popular with the olive-skinned – a bright pink pencil skirt will bring out those red undertones giving you a beautiful, natural glow.

Another strong choice to enhance that natural olive complexion is white, either a white shirt or a strong, white fitted pencil dress will make your skin look deeper and richer.

Mustard is another strong color choice, it’s one that encompasses a lot of the undertones found in olive skin – from yellows, browns, and greens.

So whatever your stronger tone is, it’s sure to be picked up and enhanced. Perhaps a classic mustard vintage pencil dress.

Additional Colors to Look Out For


Much like pink, maroon will give a subtler warm glow, perfect for adding a bit of color and warmth for the winter months.


Green is a highly underrated choice, and in particular – olive green.

Olive green can create a great contrast against the eyes and hair.


This will help bring out the warm yellow undertones of olive skin, perfect for a spring day.


Black is an often-overlooked choice for the olive skinned.

A sharp black pencil dress can really make the eyes appear deeper on someone with this skin tone.

Dark Blue

Much like maroon, dark blue will also bring out the warmer undertones making it perfect for those cold winter months


Purple is great for adding a bit of depth to your look, and, did you know?

It is also known as the color of royalty, so if you’re feeling rather regal, is a perfect choice.

Which Color Pencil Dress Best Suits Dark Skin?Woman wearing a bright red pencil dress and heels by a red wall

It’s important not to wear anything too dark as it can bleed into you.

Instead, stick to colors several shades lighter than your skin.

You could even go as far as pure white – this will create a strong contrast and highlight certain features.

Much like olive skin, you want to try warm colors such as orange, yellow, deep reds, and olive greens.

Cobalt blue will look fantastic against dark skin, and a pale yellow will also stand out, however, try to avoid pastels.

But what if your favorite color isn’t a good match for your tone?

All is not lost – try wearing you’re your favorite color as an accessory.

With jewelry, the general rule of thumb is – gold will work best with warmer undertones, and silver will work best with cooler undertones.

Why do Certain Colors Work Better Together?

Now you’ve decided which color pencil dress is best suited to your skin tone, let’s take it a step further and look at why certain colors work well together, and others look, well, somewhat of an eyesore.

The natural order of color is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. If you repeat this order, it creates the traditional color wheel.

According to color analysts, there is five main type of harmonious color combinations.

First, on the list – the neutral colors – greys, blacks, creams, and browns should all work well together to create a smooth palette.

In the same way that all neutral colors work together, it would make sense that different shades of the same color will also work well to create a simple, easy of the eye, look.

This is known as monochromatic.

Flipping these two on their head, next on the list is complimentary, these are simply colors that compliment one and other.

But how do you know if they complement?

Complementary, in this instance, refers to colors that are stark opposites on the color wheel.

Quite literally opposite each other on the wheel.

For example, blue and orange and red and green.

Opting for a complimentary look can seem daunting at first, but for the brave, it will create a striking ensemble.

Much like wearing the same shades-wearing colors that are side by side on the color spectrum also work very well together.

For example, red, orange, and yellow.

There is, however, an exception to this rule – pink and red.

As we’ve learned already, pink is cool color and red is a warm color and so pairing these two together in a bold way creates an imbalance.

Perhaps wear this combo as accessories to avoid such a harsh clash.

Finally, the Triadic.

As the name suggests, this will consist of three colors.

But not just any three, they must be of an equal distance from each other on the color wheel.

The best example of this is pink, green and orange.

What Colors Should You Avoid Wearing Together and Why?Woman wearing a bright blue pencil dress

There are certain color combinations that are not seen as aesthetically pleasing as others.

These are generally colors that do not hold relatable properties.

For example, warm tones will clash with cool tones and vice versa.

When a color combination clashes it’s generally due to an imbalance.

When wearing brown shoes with a black dress for example – the black can appear too heavy for the brown.

If you were to flip this around and wear black shoes with a brown dress, it would work better, however, the combination is still generally not advised.

Colour combinations that follow this precedent and should ideally be avoided are as follows:

  1. Brown and black
  2. Grey and brown
  3. Blue and black
  4. Red and green
  5. Green and pink
  6. Green and orange
  7. Purple and yellow

See What Works For You

It’s important to remember that there are no strict rules and regulations surrounding what you can and can’t wear.

But when you’re looking to make the most out of your wardrobe and look the best you can in every occasion, remember these simple guidelines.

Cool skin tones are most flattering in cooler colors – blues, greens, and purples.

But when wearing warmer colors, look for similar undertones, red with a deeper, blueish base for example.

Warmer skin tones are more flattering in warmer colors, reds, yellows, and orange.

And when wearing cooler colors keep an eye out for those warmer undertones.