How to Wear Unflattering Colors

5 Ways to Make the Wrong Colors Right

123rf-©Nanette Grebe-21498138_sSometimes a girl just wants to wear what she wants to wear.  So what happens when it’s a color that doesn’t flatter?  Since personal color is a passion of mine, I’ve written lots about it.  My consistent recommendation is to choose the colors that light you up — the hues that bring your features to life, making your eyes sparkle, your teeth shine, and your skin glow. (Yeah, color really can do all that.)

But here’s a secret:  when I’m working with a client in her closet, I’m often telling her how to wear the colors that don’t flatter her.  It’s not that I’m trying to trick her.  It’s that, inevitably, after having a personal color analysis, she finds that her closet is filled with clothing that doesn’t really suit her features.  And c’mon, who’s going to go out and replace half their wardrobe in one day — or even one year, for that matter.  So, it becomes useful to know how to adjust for colors that aren’t “friendly” to their wearer in the meanwhile of being transitioned out of the wardrobe.

5 Tips on Wearing the Wrong Color:

1. Distance your face from the offending color.  I worked with a musician who, in her role Unflattering color solution - spaghetti strapplaying in a symphony orchestra, was required to wear black as a matter of protocol.  But that black left her looking tired and washed out.  Since “cocktail” and black-tie attire were appropriate for her on-stage work uniform, the perfect solution was spaghetti-strap and relatively low-cut gowns that left lots of skin showing around her face.  The black, an unflattering color for her, was further away from her features than if she wore a blouse or jacket.  She was left surrounded by what was natural for her — her skin!

unflattering color solution - scarves2. Create a barrier with accessories.  Sometimes a low-cut neckline just isn’t an option.  (Generally not the best choice for a business meeting.)  In that case, use an object to separate an unflattering color from your face.  Unflattering color solution - statement or bib necklaceScarves work wonders in this situation.  Alternatively, a bib necklace that takes up space with color can fill in a neckline area with a more-suitable hue.  This works really well with black which, despite its popularity, is unflattering to many.

3.  Wear a collar with your jacket.  If you wear suits and jackets in your professional life, you may find that some of them aren’t in colors that give the visual lift you’d like.  Similar to the strategy of creating a barrier with scarves and necklaces, choose a collared blouse in place of a shell.  The collar of a blouse, layered over a jacket’s less-than-ideally-colored lapel, surrounds your face with the blouse color, not that of the jacket.

4.  Isolate the color to your lower body.  When you decide you’re committed to weeding out some wrong-colored members of your wardrobe, and need somewhere to draw the line, do it where pants and skirts are concerned.  As long as you have coordinating items to wear on top that are flattering, let your bottom garments be where you compromise in color.

5.  Break the rules with shoes & bags.  If the season’s hottest fashion color isn’t Unflattering color solution - accessoriesanywhere near complimentary to you, and you really want to play in that space, then buy a bag, a fun watch, or a pair of shoes and go crazy!  And, no, your shoes and bags don’t have to — and shouldn’t — match.

Have a comment? Question? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below. I read them all. (You just might be the inspiration for my next blog post.)

Want to learn more? Work with me.


Patty Buccellato Image CoachPatty Buccellato is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls!  To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

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