I have a burning question: How do I create interesting outfits as a medium-high value contrast and low color contrast gal? Everything about me is warm – my skin, eyes, and hair – all a shade of gold-ish caramel/chocolate. I am by no means Jennifer Lopez, but I feel like her coloring matches mine well (and I’m talking about her with her darker natural hair color, not with all the blonde highlights). I feel like I am stuck wearing all browns, and I even feel like I can’t wear denim jackets or jeans without it looking like a blue color on me (rather than a neutral). I also want to wear olive greens, rusty oranges, golds, and burnt reds so badly to switch things up a bit, but I am afraid because of my low color contrast levels, I have to be very careful about how I do so… So how do I make this happen with warm browns as a neutral without looking like colorful clown?
Another issue is that browns and other warmer neutrals just aren’t in right now. They are very difficult to find in the styles I like, whereas black, gray, and white are super gosh darn easy to spot anywhere you go… I despise the old rule that black is best… It is such a dreadful color on 95% of the population. Perhaps I’m just bitter that my colors are not available! It just makes shopping so difficult. I just want some brown pants – NOT an easy find when you factor in all the other considerations that also need to be made when purchasing a pair of pants!
Any advice for these two dilemmas? I would love a discussion on denim and how to wear neutrals as a low color contrast warm palette gal. Please! In a world that worships black, gray, and white, us warm girls need you!
Black not being a great option does certainly make it harder to find clothes in the mass market.
Have you thought about having some brown pants made for you? Often you can get them made for around the same price as a good quality pair of trousers from a major chain store (it can surprise you!).
Low Colour Contrast Dressing Princess Style
Jennifer Lopez may have similar colouring, as does, by the sounds of your description, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark who manages to dress in the kinds of colours that you describe well.
1. Go Monochromatic
Ideally think about either monochromatic outfits (and remember that monochromatic doesn’t mean black and white or neutral) like these examples of Princess Mary of Denmark.
2. Neutral + a Colour
Or wearing one to two neutrals with a colours. This allows you to wear all those colours, from reds to orange, green to blue, yellow to violet. Just wear one at a time back with your neutral base.
3. Denim Dilemma
When you think about jeans, do find the denims that are less obvious, often the darker denims are much less blue than the lighter ones. So if you’re wearing a lighter blue jean – treat it as your colour – and team it with neutrals and other blues. If a dark denim, then you can also pair it with another colour.
4. Pattern Like the Princess
When wearing patterns, look for lower colour contrast options such as neutrals with one to two colours in a more analogous or monochromatic scheme like these examples.
As a low colour contrast person there is no reason you can’t wear many colours – you just don’t want to wear them all at the same time!
Want to understand more about colour and value contrast? You can discover your colour and value contrast with this free guide, Then download my free guide with examples of outfits for different contrasts.
Imogen, thank you SO much for addressing my question in such a specific way! I love the detail and the pictures are EXTREMELY helpful… Wow. Cleared up the confusion for me. She is beautiful by the way – why haven’t I ever really looked at the way she dresses?! Very classy and her clothes go together so well.
Thanks for restoring my faith in colors. I was caught between looking like a clown and being blah! This definitely hits the middle ground perfectly. I cannot stop thanking you!!!
Also, I had no idea you could get trousers made for you… What a thought! I wonder if I could just get my white pants dyed a dark, chocolate brown? I love the fit and comfort of them, and white isn’t my color anyway (as I’ve discovered since purchasing them), so perhaps this is the solution.
You are awesome, and I am so grateful to have stumbled upon your blog.
One more thing… For more casual outfits (jeans and a tee or blouse of some kind), would it be color appropriate to wear a dark, muted pair of jeans and a color? I’m thinking of the picture under number two above where Princess Mary is wearing an emerald blouse with a dark pair of pants.
If I wanted to add a shell to that (like a cardigan), can it be another neutral from my palette besides a navy to match the jeans or a different shade from the shirt (much like the green outfit under number three)? For example, if I were to wear a rust orange blouse with dark navy jeans and then add a very neutral terracotta/taupe cardigan (of a similar shade to the orange blouse) and wear shoes of a similar neutral color, would that be TOO much color for my low color contrast? My understanding is that if the neutrals are warm and they flow within the same color category as the one color you wear, then you’re good. Correct me if I’m wrong.
I have been following your for a number of years, I purchased never Never short on Style a about 4 years ago, it is by far the most useful tool I have ever come accross, so big thank you.
Big confusion with this article on colour contrast, I consider myself of cool colouring, I thought Princess Mary was cool? Many sites use her as an example of cool.
I feel I am most similar to her, I have Gray/green eyes, medium pink based skin and dark brown hair, which is now turning a nice silver ‘ash blond ‘ as I like to call it?
I would really appreciate your advice on this matter
Nope she’s warm – I’ve looked at lots of pics of her and she looks way better in warm colours than cool. Many people have brown eyes and brown hair and a beige skin – as she does – some are warm and some are cool. She’s a warm variation. I couldn’t tell you about your colouring without doing a colour analysis and seeing colours next to your skin – I do this as part of my 7 Steps program if you’re interested. https://insideoutstyleblog.com/7-steps-to-style-system
Here are some examples I found of what I was trying to describe:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863867838/ (Color is turquoise and the neutrals are camel and dark brown)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863837522/ (Color is turquoise and the neutrals are oatmeal and a taupe-y brown)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863867547/ (Color is mustard yellow and the neutrals are dark navy blue and camel)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/500603314800511298/ (Color is rusty yellow -orange and the neutrals are dark olive, chocolate brown, and a taupe-y brown)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863867505/ (Color is mustard yellow and the neutrals are light oatmeal and a deep navy/teal)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863936699/ (Color is a muted rust orange and the neutrals area taupe-y brown and dark brown)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863936722/ (Color is a rusty orange and the neutrals are black, medium taupe brown, and light taupe brown)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863867494/ (Color is bright rusty orange and the neutrals are golden brown and medium taupe-y brown)
Are these executable outfit color combinations?
And some more outfits that I’m not sure I could wear…
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863837515/ (Color is the denim and neutrals are the oranges and camel… Would this be a way to wear a denim jacket? Just pair it with some warm neutrals as the rest of the outfit?)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863867713/ (Colors are rusty orange and terra-cotta pink and the neutral is a taupe-y oatmeal… Would this be analogous? And if so, is it too much color for a low color contrast gal?)
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291537775863867823/ (The deep rusty orange is the color and the neutrals are all the reds… Or am I wrong? Are these both considered colors in this case?)
I have read around that very dark shades of colors (to where they are almost close to black and only show some color in light) can be used as neutrals. Should the low color contrast girl not touch this, though?
You probably want to delete me off of here by now with all of these long posts… Thanks for all of your help!!!!!!!!
For some reason I can’t open the pins, but from what you describe – wearing a few neutrals that relate to either each or to the colour is an easy way of now overwhelming yourself with too many colours. Yes dark shade can be used as neutrals- I wrote about it last year. You just don’t look great in the ‘colour blocking’ style of outfit that the more high colour contrast do.
Thanks so much, Imogen. Such helpful info.
I meant “acceptable” outfits NOT “executable” outfits!!! HA HA! The irony!
Nice explanations and photos to illustrate. I’m more color contrast than not but this was still informative.
I will try and find a great example of a colour contrast dominant woman and do a similar post!
I love your blog, Imogen. I always seem to learn something new.
When you’re looking for an example of a high color contrast dominant woman – can you also make her “light” (Exquisite or Tranquil type coloring)? This would be “me” and I need some inspiration – I have no problems with dressing in light colors from the waist up, but still tend to go dark – too dark, sometime – on the bottom. This is both out of habit and fear (“light colors expand”…) and I really should stay medium to even low value contrast. Dresses are one solution – but they do not always fit my lifestyle, especially for work. I always look forward to your posts! Thank you!
I’ll defintely see who I can find – any ideas of celebrities with similar value contrast to you?
Renee Zellweger, Amanda Seyfried, Heather Locklear, Doris Day
This was a great article. I was quite dissapounted to find that i am low colour contrast (dark brown hair, olive skin and brown eyes) and low/medium value contrast as i love bright colours! This cheered me up to see that I can still wear colour just not lots of colour at once. The interesting thing is i think i instinctively already knew this as i do tend to lean more toward monochromatic outfits. I always assumed this looked better because i’m short- now i see there’s more too it than that 🙂
Hmm. I understand that she’s low color contrast, but, isn’t she also high value contrast? So, she looks good in the pale pink monochromatic dress, but where the value contrast in that outfit? I guess i’m still not getting it….Thanks for any help you can give.
She does look good in that pale pink because it’s a skin enhancer. She’d look better if she had a dark shoe and bag, but at least because the colour works that’s why you like it.
Your blogs is just great .. SInce I started myminimalist journey I have been struggling to find the ‘ right ‘ outfit for me.. You blogs have helped me to figure that out. Especially your color and value contrast examples and this post has answered even thos elittle questions lingering around why few patterned dresses (that have oclor) are good on me when I am a low color contrast.
It’s not exaggeration to say you helped me bring back my confidence, my money and most importnatly ME 🙂 Thankyou