844-276-2410
FREE SHIPPING/RETURNS ON ALL ORDERS OVER $75.00
0 CART

The Plus Size Guide to Warm and Cool Colors

Posted on September 29, 2020 by Jen Anderson | 1 comment

We plus size women get judged on our appearance more than slender women. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. All women are judged by our appearance, but our body sizes put us at different starting points. You know how it is - when a thin woman runs out to the store in pajama pants, it's cute. But if a plus size went to the supermarket in PJs, that would be considered so slovenly that onlookers would snap pictures to share online.

Obviously, the opinion of people who would do that doesn't actually matter. Everyone's entitled to their wrong opinion. But everyone has unconscious preconceptions and biases, and we actually do care about what our bosses, clients, employees, and friends think. At the very least, we don't want them to be distracted by trying to figure out why you look a bit off today. 

print top with warm and cool colors

When we wear the "wrong" colors for our skin tones, we all look a bit not-quite-right. It's not fair, but people tend to notice that more when we're plus size.

Warm vs. Cool

We've discussed this before, but I'll sum up. Look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If they look blue, you look best in cool colors. If they look greenish, warm colors look better on you. Rainbows start out with warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and then move on to cool colors (green, blue, purple). But wait - some purples are warm, and every single neutral shade isn't exactly neutral in the battle of warm vs. cool.

This is where it gets complicated. Depending on how well you understand the nuances, this can be frustrating or liberating. 

The way to tell if a certain shade of purple or brown (for example) is warm or cool is to think in terms of red/pink/orange and blue. Amethyst is a cool purple. It definitely leans towards blue. Warm purples lean towards red or pink. Chocolate brown (like Navy blue) is dark enough to be truly neutral, but we've all seen shades of brown that are orange-y.

allegra in an orange top

"Kinda" is a useful word here. Grays can be neutral or kinda-pink-but-not-exactly. The kinda pink grays are warm. Warm purples are kinda-red, and warm browns are kinda-orange. 

Prints Can be Both

Prints sometimes use only warm or only cool colors, but many prints use both. If you want to categorize a print, glance at it and name the first color that comes to mind. Or go by which color is dominant in the print - that could be the color that appears in large patches or it could be the color that's used more than the other colors.

That doesn't mean you can only wear warm or cool prints. You have a lot of wiggle room here. If a print seems warm, but has "enough" cool shades to balance it out, then cool toned women can wear it. ("Enough" is in quotes because you get to decide what enough is.) Or a cool print with warm shades up by the neckline may be right for a warm-toned gal.

The Scarf Trick

If you look unwell in a certain color, you can still wear it as long as you pair it with a neutral scarf. Arrange the scarf so that comes between your face and the rest of your outfit. You can also do this with a print scarf, especially one that uses both warm and cool colors.

You Get to Decide

You don't need to memorize color theory. Just figure out which shades are for you and ignore the rest. If you wear cool colors, see a warm shade of brown and say, "nah," you don't need to explain why. If you don't think you look any different in warm vs. cool colors, then just wear whatever colors you like. 

Check out our other posts about plus size style.

Posted in plus size style


Next

Previous

1 Response

Tara
Tara

September 30, 2020

Thank you for bringing up the topic of warm versus cool colors because it makes a tremendous difference in how we look. I love your blog!

Your suggestion to look at the veins on the inside of one’s wrist to determine whether their skin color is warm or cool is technically correct but most people will not be able to do so accurately for the simple reason that even veins that have a greenish cast are still predominantly blue. Only if a warm-toned person compared her veins to those of a cool-toned person would she likely be able to see that her veins are comparatively green.

In fact, comparison is the best way to learn which colors are warm and which are cool. But, first, the easiest way to determine whether you have warm or cool skin is whether your natural (note that I said natural) hair has (or had) gold highlights. If it does, you are warm. If it doesn’t, you are cool. If your natural hair had gold highlights but your current, colored, hair doesn’t, it’s time to switch to a warm hair color. You’ll look better. Makeup should correspond. Helpfully, most hair colors are labeled warm and cool.

Pigments are yellow-based or blue-based. Compare the difference by holding up various reds. Scour your closet. If necessary, use food labels but find as many reds as you can and line them up from yellow-based reds to blue-based reds. You will be able to see the gradation between a yellow-based orange-red on one end to a yellow-based tomato red, either of which someone with warm coloration can wear to a cooler blue-based red to a distinctly bluish red either of which someone with cool coloration can wear. Hold up both warm and blue reds next to your face and note how one brightens-up your face and the other dulls it. Don’t judge by which color you like. Judge by which color likes you! Now do the same with greens.

Surprisingly, there are yellow-based blues which can be worn by warm people and there are blue-based yellows that can be worn by cool people. Learn by doing the same tests you did with reds. You’ll soon be able to tell at a glance which clothes are cool and which are warm.

But do not judge whether a color is warm or cool by how light or dark it is or simply by whether it has red or pink in it. Reds and pinks can be yellow-based or blue-based.

As for “neutral” colors, again look for yellow-based or blue-based. There are warm and cool greys and warm and cool browns. If you are a warm, wear cream. If you are a cool, wear white. If you are a warm, black is probably not going to look the best on you as a basic wardrobe color but a clear, light warm navy (not a midnight navy) will. If you are a warm wear gold jewelry and if you are a cool wear silver jewelry. If you’re a warm and you already have already invested in basic blacks, wear a warm top or scarf in order to have warm closest to your face.

Once you have determined whether you are a warm or a cool, decide whether you look better in darker or lighter versions of those colors. For example, most fair-skinned warms look best in light, bright clear warm jewel tones, caramel and cream. They are overwhelmed by the darker colors like rust and olive green and dark chocolate brown that look so good on other warms. A word of warning: if you are a warm, however delicate your skin and eye coloring, you will not look good in pastels.

I hope this helps. As you can probably tell, color is my “thing.”


Leave a comment