You don’t need a little black dress. People with fair skin prefer BLUE, while those with tanned skin should choose orange.

  • Researchers asked volunteers for help in choosing clothes colors to match different skin types. 
  • According to the findings, skin color can affect our colour preference for clothes.
  • The link between darker skin and warmer climates could explain this. 

A new study has suggested that your skin can be a source of inspiration if you are having trouble deciding what clothes to wear. 

Research in Scotland has shown that people who are fair are most likely to wear blue clothes, and people with more tanned skin are better suited to wearing red or orange colors. 

Shop assistants and fashion stylists will often recommend clothing colors to compliment a client’s individual appearance. For example, a pale-skinned person might prefer a light blue dress.

The new research provides scientific proof that doing this is actually fetching. 

In the experiments, fair-skinned people (left) were judged to best suit blue clothing, while people with more tanned complexions (right) were thought to go best with 'warm' orange and red hues, experts at University of St Andrews report

According to University of St Andrews experts, people who have fair skin (left) were found to suit blue best. People with deeper tanned skin (right) were found to prefer a warmer shade of orange or red.


RedThe following words are important: heat, hate, caution, anger and love 

Orange: warm, autumn 

Yellow: happy, fun, young  

GreenNature, calm and good luck 

Blue: stability, professional, cold, trust, intelligence 

Purple: wealth, mystical, decadent 

BrownThe perfect combination of vintage, warmth, and practicality. 

We are white: sterile, innocence, peace, truth, cleanliness 

Black: sophistication, death, night, contemporary 

Source: ONS 

According to Dr Reiner Sprengelmeyer (University of St Andrews), “Clothing can be important for self-esteem as well as psychological health.” 

“The global fashion industry has a value of trillions of dollars. Colour is an important factor in choosing garments. It is important to find rules that make people feel their best.

To conduct the study, 160 people were recruited to share their views on the best colours for different photos. 

Researchers used 12 facial images of white women captured under standard lighting – six fair skinned and six who were more tanned. 

The results of measurements showed that those who had tanned skin were darker than the rest and their skin was more yellow. This is due to higher levels melanin.  

The differences in human skin colour are based mostly on melanin, but also haemoglobin – the protein found in the red blood cells – and carotenoid pigments.

Participants could modify the colours of the clothing to match the faces of each target by using customized software. 

Prof. David Perrett, the lead author of this study said that participants were given a wide range of colors to pick from. 

“In addition, you can adjust the brightness (vividness) of the colors.

Participants had to match different faces to the colour that they thought best matched the person's complexion using special software. Participants could pick any colour displayed in a rectangular rainbow (pictured)

Participants were required to match the different colours to their faces using special software. Participants were allowed to choose any color from a rectangle rainbow (pictured).

Even though there were many hues to choose from, most participants chose blues and reds.   

In all, 75 per cent of participants thought blue hues looked better on women with a fair complexion, and, likewise, 75 per cent thought orange/reds looked better on women with a darker complexion.

Professor Perrett stated that he was surprised by the good consensus among people about what colours go best with different complexions. 

This study is the first to show that skin tone can be used as a foundation for clothing color aesthetics.  

The presence of melanin - a pigment responsible for skin color - causes darkening of the skin

Melanin is a pigment that gives skin its color. It causes skin to darken.

The results could be explained by the association between warmer climates, darker complexions and cooler northern climates. 

Many people subconsciously associate blue (or cool) colours with cool weather. They may therefore choose to wear blue for fair-skinned individuals. On the other hand, red is often associated with heat. 

Future research should examine the colour of clothing in relation to a full range of melanin levels defined using spectrophotometry – a technique that uses different wavelengths of light. 

The study has been published in the journal Perception/i-Perception. 


A 2019 study found that navy blue is most peaceful. 

University of Sussex researchers found blue accessories, objects, and clothes can make it easier to live an easy life.

The colours that are most associated with calmness include dark blues and turquoises as well as pinks. Luxury colors include orange and purple. 

The researchers asked 26,596 people from more than 100 countries to name their favourite colour. This was then used to determine the most associated word with that hue. 

The most commonly used words to describe colours are happy, calm, bright and warm, sky, ocean, sun, summer, vibrant, sunny, and fresh. 

The survey found that people worldwide associate colours such as’strong’ and shades of orange, red, and blue.

The colors dark blues and turquoises are most associated with calmness, while the shades of green were often used to represent future possibilities.

Purple, orange and white were the colours of luxury.