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How To Work Out Your Colours (Part 2): The Rules & Wearing Black

Not wanting to be at all prescriptive because we are after all our own people, so please don't think this is the only way to wear colour. It's purely a method that I find works for me.

So last time we looked at how to work out which colour palette we belong to. Refresher here or click on any of the beautiful ladies in the menu bar of this blog. Now that we know where we belong, we need to know how to apply this knowledge.

I'll take each palette individually and give you

  1. The rules!
  2. A few colours to play with
  3. How to wear black (because admit it, you can't live without it
By the way, we're only talking about colour 'up top', you can wear what you like on your bottom half. And, there are always exceptions to the rule for example everyone looks better with a tan so can get away with a lot more. And beautiful people are exceptions to all of these rules - they look good in everything (cows).

And I should point out that we're only looking at colour here, not the shape of a dress or top - that's another story!


1. Your rules

You have a very delicate look so theory dictates that to achieve balance, your clothes should have a very delicate look too. So, two light colours can be worn together (eg. soft white and nude), a light and a deep together (eg. navy and mint) but never two deep colours (e.g. black and burgundy). If you're wearing a dark coat or jacket, try adding a lighter colour next to your face by way of a scarf or top.

2. A few colours to play with

light grey and pastel pink
light navy and primrose
rose brown and nude
stone and light teal

Arrggghh why do they do that! Totally ruins my theory. Anyway, this next top should have a Claudia Schiffer head on it (not a Deep). She looks okish but don't forget, she's young, has great lighting and no doubt lashing of make-up on. This is a perfect Breton for a Light - the soft colours won't overwhelm your delicate look.

Gap Modern Stripe Boatneck tee £12.99

Yes Dorothy Perkins! This little top is a fab pattern for a Light. The colours are spot on and the pattern won't overwhelm.

Dorothy Perkins Tile Print Tie Front Top £15

The colours and pattern of the next top could easily over power a Light. I'd perhaps suggest you leave this one for a Deep to wear.

Dorothy Perkins Neutral Aztec Tile Print Top £24


3. Wearing Black

Ok, now don't all go yelling at me at once but the bad news is that you don't get black (I'm sorry). In fact the nearest is light navy and medium grey. Rubbish isn't it. I always throw in charcoal grey (believe me, it's light black!) as I think worn with a lighter colour, it gives, particularly for business dress, many more options. That said, I think a Light can look stunning in black (I'm nothing but a rule breaker) - the contrast against light blonde hair is just gorgeous. But and this is a big but, keep it away from your face so look for lower cut tops and dresses.

And as if by magic, a black, low cut dress.

Atterley Road Agata Black Layered Dress £58


1. Your rules

Totally opposite to a Light, you have a very strong look so theory dictates that to achieve balance, your clothes should have a strong look too. So, two deep colours can be worn together (eg. black and burgundy), a deep and a light (eg. navy and white) but never two light colours (eg. beige and pink) - you'll look washed out and pale. If you wanted to wear say a beige jumper, team it with a dark coloured scarf - maybe leopard print which you can get in a whole host of colours these days. Or wear a really dramatic necklace in a darker colour.

2. A few colours to play with

charcoal and teal
black and emerald green
scarlet and white
black and primrose yellow
charcoal and burgundy

Love this Gap top for a Deep. Shame the model isn't one as I think the colours would look so much more intense on someone with dark hair.

Gap Modern Stripe Boatneck Tee £12.99

I defy any Deep not to look fabulous in these next colours. And how stunning is she!

French Connection Jersey T-Shirt £35

This next top a no! It will no doubt wash you out unless you're young and beautiful. Mind you I think the model is struggling to pull this one off! Probably the reason why it's in the sale (all sizes available)! Softs, Lights and Warms, you can do this!

Gap Split-neck Hoody £12.99


3. Wearing Black

Go for it girls! You get black in your palette and I bet most of you have a wardrobe full of the colour. Don't be afraid to mix it with other deep colours too. Oh, and for those that have warm tones in your hair, try black-brown. It's difficult to find but if you come across it, buy it. Looks stunning!

Take this particular dress for example. Very few women can get away with such a high neckline in black. You can (although big busted women might struggle with the shape). She looks amazing!


1. Your rules

You have such a golden and rich look that you should balance this by wearing gorgeous warm colours.  And, your look is neither light nor deep so medium shades are your friend. If you're wearing a 'flat' neutral such as navy or charcoal, warm it up by adding a warmer contrast colour such as orange or sage or aqua. Stay away from baby pink, raspberry, violet - they won't do anything for you.

2. A few colours to play with

chocolate and lime (no you won't look like a sweet, I promise)
bronze and amber
aqua and mint
orange-red and cream
khaki and yellow

The traditional Breton of navy and white isn't rich enough for you (although you can add jewellery or a scarf to warm it up). Try this one as an alternative.

Gap Modern Strip Boatneck Tee £12.95

A lovely summer top that would work equally well on it's own or underneath a navy or charcoal jacket for business wear.

Dorothy Perkins Lemon Embellished Bubble Top £28

Or how about mustard - stunning on Warms and just the right depth of colour for you.

Next Poet Top £30

I'd leave this next one on the shelf - the pinky-blue undertone won't do you any favours!

Mango Dolman Sleeves T-shirt £11.99


3. Wearing Black

Oh heck, you're another one who doesn't get black - eek! It's too boring on you. I mean why would you choose black when you could go for brown? It's still as slimming you know.  But don't despair, there are options. You can sometimes pick up black lace dresses that have contrasting nude or bronze linings. Far gentler on the skin. Make sure you always wear a gold or warmer toned necklace with a black dress - it will reflect warmly under your chin.

Wearing a brown leather belt and wooden jewellery is a great way to wear a casual black dress.

Next Black Boho Dress £26

With this...

Top Shop Triangle Crystal Stone Wooden Collar £16.50


1. Your rules

Totally opposite rules to a Warm, you have such a cool skin tone that in order to achieve balance, your colours should have a cool blue undertone. This means that every colour you wear should have lots of blue in it (eg. your red will be a raspberry and your green will be a blue-green). Your look is strong so consider some contrast especially if wearing lighter colours next to your face.

2. A Few colours to play with

dark navy and sky blue
charcoal and rose pink
black and icy green
teal and icy blue
raspberry and white

You don't actually get yellow in your palette - worn next to your face, it can really make you look sallow. That said, this is a perfect example of how you can incorporate yellow into your wardrobe.

Wallis Striped Colour Block Top £24

Similarly, you can pick out accents of 'forbidden' colours in bags and shoes. Honestly, it won't matter.

This pink Hush top worn over a white cami illustrates my point of wearing contrast. The shirt is absolutely fine on it's own and so is the white but together with the colour of your hair, you'll look sensational.

Hush Classic Silk Shirt £112

And if you're wondering about green, this is yours! Peacock or blue-green is perfect. Fantastic on it's own or under a  navy blazer.

Dorothy Perkins Green High Neck Cami Top £12

Sadly this next top is a no. The acid yellow undertone won't do you any favours. Leave it for your arch enemies, the Warms.

Next Print Frill Sleeve Top £26


3. Wearing Black

What a lucky girl you are, black is in your palette and it's quite important too. You wear it well. Try it with pinks and blues and lilac or on it's own. I'd stay away from combining it with deeper colours such as royal blue, charcoal and pewter as you'll lose that little bit of contrast that really makes you look lovely and fresh.

You're always going to look better in silver jewellery so this dress wins on both fronts. Let's not talk about the length though (it's a tad short). Might be ok if you're less than 5ft 5.

Hailey Logan at Debenhams Black Sleeveless Crystal Embellished Cocktail Dress £70 
(winner of longest title ever - it's them, not me!)


1. Your rules

So you have lots of contrast between your eyes and hair colour. In order to achieve a balanced look, you should wear lots of contrasting colours. Or bright colours on their own. I call this the jewel palette - ruby, sapphire and emerald are all colours that you do well. If you're wearing a sludgy colour such as tape, you really need to wear an uplifting one with it. Oh and I need to mention that it's all in the material for you. Look for fabrics that reflect the light (eg. satin) , they'll look fabulous on.

2. A few colours to play with

black and white (of course)
cornflower blue and mint
scarlet and light apricot (red features a lot in your palette)
royal blue and light grey
emerald green and white

Of course you can do huge contrasts so go for it on the Breton front.

Gap Modern Stripe Boatneck Tee £12.95

She looks truly horrified doesn't she. Well being a Soft, she would. So much better on a Clear!

A perfect, perfect top next. Bright teal (tick), satin (tick), go and buy it (tick), lie to hubby how much it cost (tick)

LK Bennett Rhodes Sleeveless Top £125

You'd also look great in the pink top in the Cool section above.

This is a no I'm afraid. The soft muted pattern will wash you out. It's doing a fine job on the model - another one who looks thrilled! You'll lose the intenseness of your eyes in something like this.

Zara Printed Blouse £25.99


3. Wearing black

Yeay - you get it. It's an important colour to you and rightly so. The stunning simplicity and depth of colour totally, totally makes your eyes shine bright. Pick a perfect shape for your figure, long or short, high or low neck, you'll rock it. You can do a contrast if you want but it's obviously strong enough on its own.

I'm not even going to say anything about this dress. I'll leave you to salivate.

All Saints Alex Dress £79


1. You're the opposite to a Clear. You have a vey blended, muted look or you may have been confused and find that you have characteristics from some of the other palettes. I call this the dumping ground! Sorry. But hey, we're in good company, Kylie Minogue and Kate Winslet are Softs too. So to achieve a balanced look, you should choose soft, muted colours in fabrics that absorb the light such as wool and cotton. It doesn't mean that you have to wear sludge colours - jeez, I hate sludge brown (ha ha ha). You still get all the colours but tone it down a little. So geranium red instead of scarlet. Jade instead of bright emerald. Finally, look for colours that you can wear tone on tone. If you wear say charcoal, balance it with another colour that is only one or two tones lighter such as sky blue as oppose to going full on white.

2. A few colours to play with

mocha and turquoise (see me in these colours here)
pewter and nude
stone and soft white (far nicer than a brilliant white)
charcoal and light periwinkle
light navy and jade

Breton's are often VERY LOUD which of course isn't what we're all about in this palette. Try to find stripes where the colours are much closer in tone to one another. Because yeah I practice what I preach. This is the best one I could find and would work really well on a Soft although I'm not sure about that pocket. Can you see how much softer it looks compared to the Clear one above?

BHS Blue 3/4 Sleeve Yarn Dye Stripe T-Shirt £7

The Breton in the Light palette above would also work but I didn't want to use the picture twice. See, I'm giving you all variety.

And this my friends is how to do pattern, soft and muted but not at all boring.  I do find that Mint Velvet really cater for Softs season-on-season. A.D.O.R.E.

Mint Velvet Bluebell Printed Boho Top £69
And one more because they're so good at what they do. Look how the pattern is very tonal in two greys but not so much so that they contrast with each other. Tone is what we want, not contrast.

Mint Velvet Sylvie Print Double Layer Top £69

Erm, just no. Leave the next one to the Deeps, Clears and Cools. It's too loud and vibrant for you to pull it off. Buy the one above.

French Connection Shadow Bloom Tunic Top £70


3. Wearing black

No you don't get black so let's leave it there.

I'm kidding! How could I deprive you of black. Ok it isn't in your palette but I'm not going to wean you off it anytime soon so the least I can do is give you a few tips. Think fabric first of all. Full on shiny black ain't doing you any favours no matter how much bronzer you cake on. Look for lace, chiffon, velvet, texture, anything that is softer to the skin. Next, colour. Yes there are different tones of black. A deep charcoal grey will look tons better than black any day. Similarly a washed-black. Thirdly, keep your neckline low, we're not talking indecent ladies of the night low, just enough to keep it away from your face.

This dress fits 2 of the 3 criteria above (it fails on the colour) but that's not so important in this case as the fabric is away from the face. The pleats in the material give it a lovely soft feel. Go on, I give you permission to buy this one ;-)

Attorney Road Britta Black Pleated Dress £38

Well, that's me done. I'm outta here. These posts are epic (as in long, not as in fabulously fantastic) and I'm about to lose the will to live. So I'll scoot off now - the ITV drama, Safe House is beckoning. Allie has something fishy about her, mark my word. I've seen many a Columbo movie to know these things.

I'll be back with something a little bit lighter later in the week.

27 comments on "How To Work Out Your Colours (Part 2): The Rules & Wearing Black"
  1. Another blummin' FANTASTIC post Donna, it really helps to visualise what colours to choose! Thank you for taking the time to do this, I'm sure many others will find it as brilliant! X

  2. This is a brilliant post Donna! I wouldn't have a clue where to start and though I doubt if you will ever drag me out of my black, navy and grey favourites this would be a fantastic guide to use as a starting point! xx

  3. Morning Donna, love your blog. Still don't know where I fit in!!!!! Perhaps tis years of 'enhancing' my natural assets- I'm a mish mash. I know I cant wear grey anywhere near my face as it ages me about 10 years. Keep up the good work!xxx

    1. Hi, send me a head shot preferably in natural daylight and I'll have a look for you. Thanks for your kind comments xx

  4. Fantastic post Donna! As always I'm fascinated by colour and how it can make women look and feel. I've had mine done twice now, first time I was spring and second time I was predominantly light with a bit of soft/cool and deep/cool chucked in. I had mine done again because as you said about hair colour and skin changing as we get older I felt my colours were wrong as I got greys in my hair. One day I will have enough cash to do the course (when the kids have buggered off and got jobs!) Great post xxx

    1. When I was actively doing colour consultations, it was so rewarding seeing ladies blossom. You would absolutely love it Sue. The courses I went on were just brilliant and you meet lots of lovely people too x

  5. Thanks so much Donna. I love these post and am learning so much. Thanks to you I bought a navy dress over black and get heaps of compliments. I also started buying the right fabric after a post you did well over a year ago. Makes such a difference and seems so obvious, yet it wasn't until you blogged about it! I am a soft and really really want that grey top, may have to divert some of the grocery budget this month. Lucy :-)

    1. That makes me so happy Lucy. You're right. Just a few subtle changes can make oodles of difference not only to how you look but also to how you feel. Look, I'm not going to encourage you to spend but.....it is rather gorgeous isn't it! Baked beans are quite cheap at the moment!!!! Donna x

  6. Love these posts Donna! Although I'm probably still doing things wrong I guess I want a white/cream lace top this season but now I don't know if I should! xx

    1. Oh, Jenny everyone gets white. There's so much to write about, maybe I didn't cover this colour enough. Do it - you get soft white but to be honest lace is very forgiving so even white-white will be fine. I'll do a white post soon - promise x

  7. Love this - though I probably won't adhere to the rules lol - I actually prefer navy and charcoal these days to black - I love a dark grey. Red is also a favorite at the moment but I am moving away from color more and more...

  8. I love this post, so useful. I always feel better in 'clear' colours but would love you to check I'm on the right track! Can I tweet you a head shot please? x

    1. Yes of course Julie, send me a headshot either via Twitter or Email x

  9. This really is a great series of posts Donna. I do try to stick to the colours that suit me, but I'm afraid I do always get drawn back to black eventually! Must try harder! xx

    1. Ha ha ha, you and 99% of the population I should think x

  10. Fab post but I still have no idea what colour I am if anyone wants to help?
    I've naturally dark brown hair with reddy undertones but it's dyed a dark ashy blond. Blue/grey eyes, fair freckly skin that burns, with fair eyebrows. Black does not suit me at all but that's the only colour I've figured out yet!
    Love your blog xx

    1. Thanks Emma. Send me a head shot in natural daylight and I'll have a look. You'll find my email address under the contact details x

    2. Brilliant post! Would love help deciding which group I'm in. Xxx

    3. Drop me an email and I'll have a look x

  11. I love these posts Donna. Thank you for putting all the time & effort into them. Could I maybe send you a head shot too? I think I'm a deep (very dark brown hair) but I have green/brown eyes. Would love to feel more confident in the colour of clothes I buy. Thank you so much x

    1. Of course Juanita, drop me an email and we'll work you out together x

  12. You're amazing Donna! How you manage to get all of this down in a post is just brilliant! You've certainly helped me loads & although I'm still not very adventurous with colour my wardrobe is certainly brighter then it was! It really helps knowing what suits me & building up more colour is a work in progress! I'm just so glad you're around to advise me & clearly you're inspiring many others too! You've a gem! Andrea xx

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