Johnny Depp1 252x300 - Coordinating Dress and ComplexionWe will start off by issuing a proclamation that the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. would surely contend with; all skin colors should not be treated equally. Now before any protest of this fine online publication can be arranged, allow me to provide the disclaimer that this particular statement is, and rightfully so, limited to the realm of men’s style. One of the most important, and often overlooked, factors in dressing well is finding attire that accompanies and accents your natural hair and skin color. You can be pristinely dressed in clothes that correspond properly with your body type, but if you are wearing colors that detract and mute your complexion, all the other principles of a gentleman’s dress are all for naught. It would be similar to having a mint condition Aston Martin DB5 with all of the bells and whistles, and having tires on it that belonged to a Big Rig Semi Truck. Separately there is nothing wrong with either one, in the appropriate context, but putting them together could result in quite disastrous consequences, not least of all would be its appearance.

BeigeSuit 225x300 - Coordinating Dress and ComplexionThe importance of skin and hair color is derived from the main function that male clothing is supposed to serve, and that is to escort the viewer’s eye toward your face. Wearing the correct color heightens your faces expressiveness and its magnetism. A simple thing to always remember is that your face is ultimately the picture and whatever you put on your body is the frame. There are some frames that go great with certain pictures and there are others that have absolutely no business whatsoever being attached to a particular subject. It is imperative that you make sure you choose proper colors that do not push the picture into the background. You would never find a Da Vinci painting bordered by a neon yellow and flamingo colored frame. Much like the Mona Lisa, when someone sets their eyes on you there should never be any doubts as to what it is that commands their attention. You certainly want to make sure that your clothing illuminates you; however you also want to make sure that it does not outshine you.

denzel washington1 300x212 - Coordinating Dress and ComplexionIn order for you to know what colors should and should not be mainstays in your wardrobe if is important to first identify what category your hair and skin color falls under. If your hair is very dark and your skin is very light you have, I am sure what comes as a shock, a high contrast complexion. Johnny Depp would be a great example of this category, it is of no great coincidence that he oftentimes wears basic blacks and stark whites, this is what best accents his natural contrast. If you fall under the category of having an average contrast such as Tennis Pro Rafael Nadal, then you have the style equivalent of Type O negative blood, you are compatible with a variety of different colors and can wear them quite well. The category of the “light bright” would be someone similar to the complexion of singer Rod Stewart. In this case you would take cues mainly from your eyes and then hair color. You would be served well by wearing light browns, tans, rust, gold, and blues. Finally, those with both a dark complexion and dark hair such as Denzel Washington would best be suited for colors that are bright and dramatic. The more bold the color the better you will look and the more radiant your skin will be. A gentleman should never be at odds with himself or with what he is wearing. No matter how expensive or extravagant, it makes no sense to allow your clothes to be more of a focus and command more attention than the man wearing them. To use a line from the incomparable Mae West, “It’s better to be looked over, than overlooked.”

Marcus Green is the author of A Year Without April, and lives in Seattle,WA.  His motto is that “90% of life is simply showing up…dressed well.”

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